Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Complete Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Vegetables

Farm Update


Our new (old) cultivator should definitely help us keep these
weeds in our drive rows under control!
Hi everyone!  It’s been a hot and humid week at the farm, pushing 90 degrees most days!  We’ve finally hit the point in the season where the weed pressure starts to abate.  Not only are there fewer weeds because it’s been so dry (the weed seeds don’t germinate as much when they can’t get moisture from the ground), but there seems to just be an invisible line on the calendar each year when, independent of all other factors, the weeds just slow down.  We’ve just hit that line, and it’s definitely a relief.  We’re also excited about our new (old) cultivator!  Fred was able to get one of the many old cultivators you often see around the countryside, left over from a time before GMO crop varieties when even conventional farmers had to do some cultivating.  Now very few conventional growers do any cultivating, so all of the old machines go for a song to those of us who can use them.  In our case, ours will be perfect for keeping the drive tracks between our rows of vegetables mostly weed-free, because they often do get a little out of control.  And the more weeds there are (even in the drive tracks), the more weeds that will go to seed, and the more weeds that will start popping up in the actual rows of crops.  So this should definitely help.  We also had an amazing crop of blueberries this year!  We did quite a few bulk blueberry orders on top of bringing blueberries to everyone in the CSA last week, and we’ll have more blueberries in the shares again this week.  Several people have asked if we'll be taking more bulk blueberry orders, and we will!  So if you are interested in 10 pounds of blueberries for $33, just let me know and we'll bring them to the drop-off for you.  Another thing we’ll have lots of is green beans, and I am so excited!  Even though the calendar indicates that it’s been summer for a month, the first green beans are the real start of summer for me!  We'll have enough of those to take bulk orders for preserving as well, and those will be $19 for 10 pounds.   I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! J

What to Expect in your Share this Week


If you are picking up at one of our regular drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland) this week, here are the options you’ll find at each station!  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you’ll choose two.

Blueberries
Green beans
Carrots or 2 zucchini
Potatoes or beets
Kale, Swiss chard, or cabbage
Lettuce or 2 cucumbers
Onion or herbs


And if you’re having your share delivered or picking up in Lansing, Okemos, or the Midand hospital, here are your options.  If you have a half share, choose either share A or share B, and if you have a full share, you get to choose two.

Share A:                               Share B:
Blueberries                           Blueberries
Green beans                         Green beans
Carrots                                 2 zucchini
Potatoes                               Beets
Kale                                     Cabbage
2 Cucumbers                        Lettuce
Onion                                   Onion

The Complete Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Vegetables


Right now is the beautiful time of year that marks the transition from spring to summer veggies!  It certainly feels like summer out there, and we’re just on the edge of many summer favorites coming out of the fields.  In preparation for all that veggie goodness, here is The Complete Guide to Getting the Most out of Your Summer Vegetables, from Quartz.  I’m actually out of town this weekend for a family event, so instead of spending a few hours writing a feature, I’m going to share this one, because it’s pretty much exactly what I would have written anyway.   Enjoy! J

Recipes



It’s green bean season, and I couldn’t be more excited!  Here is a super easy, super delicious recipe for Buttery Garlic Green Beans from allrecipes.com!  Or if you’re looking for something that’s still light, but a little more involved, check out this Frisée-Lardon Salad from Bon Appetit!  A lot of people have asked me what to do with frisée besides just mixing it with your spring mix, so here is a traditional French preparation perfect for a hot evening like the ones we’ve been having!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fruit and Veggie Spotlight: Blueberries

Farm Update


Jane and Jessamine enjoyed helping Fred harvest blueberries
earlier today!
Hi everyone!  It’s been a pretty packed week!  We were really glad to get some rain earlier in the week, and it definitely helped the crops along.  Our blueberry bushes are doing well!  In fact, we have more blueberries this year than we’ve ever had, so we’re going to be offering bulk orders of blueberries next week!  They’ll be in 10-pound increments, and it will be $33 for ten pounds (which is about 13 pints).  If you’re interested, just let me know how many you’d like, and I’ll plan on bringing you some at the drop-off!  We are also starting to see the first of the ripe cherry tomatoes, and we even got to eat a few on Thursday!  We probably won’t have enough to bring to the CSA this week, but we might have some next week.  We had a pretty crazy day on Wednesday during our Lansing area deliveries when our delivery vehicle broke down on us right in the middle of a busy road.  The alternator went out, and fortunately Fred was able to get into the left turn lane just as it was dying, so at least we weren’t blocking traffic.  So after having the truck towed to a mechanic, we still had to figure out how to get the rest of the veggies delivered.  A huge thank you to Fred’s cousin Sarah, who lives in the area and kindly drove us around to do the rest of the deliveries, and his sister Mary, who drove down from Alma to pick us up at the end!  We could not have done it without them!  We’ll still be without the vehicle until Wednesday, so you’ll likely see us towing a trailer full of veggies and blueberries to the drop-offs this week.  Life at the farm is certainly never boring!  Just let me know if you’re interested in bulk blueberries, and we’ll see you at the drop-offs! J

What to Expect in your Share this Week


If you are picking up at one of our regular drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland) this week, here are the options you’ll find at each station!  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you’ll choose two.

Blueberries for everyone!
Potatoes
Carrots or broccoli
Lettuce or cabbage
Herbs or 2 cucumbers
Kale, Swiss chard, or 2 zucchini
Onions, kohlrabi, or fennel

And if you’re having your share delivered or picking up in Lansing, Okemos, or the Midand hospital, here are your options.  If you have a half share, choose either share A or share B, and if you have a full share, you get to choose two.

Share A:                               Share B:
Blueberries                           Blueberries
Potatoes                                Potatoes
Carrots                                  Broccoli
Cabbage                                Lettuce
2 Cucumbers                        Herbs
Kale                                      2 Zucchini
Onions                                  Kohlrabi

Fruit and Veggie Spotlight:  Blueberries


This picture, taken back in May, shows the blueberry patch
beautiful in full bloom.
Unlike many fruits and vegetables that migrated from Europe or Asia to the New World, the blueberry was already here when European settlers arrived centuries ago. Many Native American tribes, most often in northern regions of the Americas, used blueberries in many ways. It was very common for them to dry them during the summer to eat during the winter months, but they also used the plant for dyes and medicinal purposes as well. The modern blueberry varieties that we have today are actually not far removed from the original wild plants here in the Americas, as the first significant varietal selection from wild blueberry plants did not occur until 1908. Michigan one of the top three leaders in blueberry production here in the United States, because the berries thrive in the high water tables and acidic sandy soils that are commonly found throughout the state.

Our blueberry patch actually predates both of us, and we are not even sure of when it was planted, but we do know that it was at least 40 years ago.  It is actually on the property of our neighbors, Mike and Sherri, who live about half a mile up the road from us.  The blueberry patch has been there since before they bought the property, and it’s been so long since the bushes were being actively managed for production that we were able to have them certified organic the first year we had them.  A few years ago, Fred pruned them back pretty heavily, and after that they started producing quite a few more berries than before.  And this year is the most abundant year yet!

Blueberries are always formed on the new growth held on the woodier parts of the bush. In the spring there are new shoots of vegetative growth that grow longer throughout the season. In the fall, the leaves fall off the plant as the bush goes into dormancy for the winter. Then in the spring the new shoots that were formed in the last season bloom. There are millions of blooms at the same time, and the patch hums with the sound of bees and other pollinating insects. Then the leaves come out and the flowers turn into berries that began to ripen and fill out.  Blueberries are actually extremely cold-hardy; this year we pretty significant frosts while the blooms were on the bushes, and they still formed berries without any trouble.

Our blueberries are pretty easy to raise most of the year, because they don’t require any of the seeding, weeding, etc. that most of our crops need.  The most labor-intensive part of raising blueberries is the picking, because it takes a long time to get all those little berries!  It’s worth it though, because they are so delicious, and we often go overboard putting them in just about everything we make this time of year!  We also freeze quite a few for use in the long winter months as well.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do! J

Recipes


My guess is that you already know exactly what to do with your blueberries, so you probably aren’t in need of recipes for them!  But fennel might be another story.  With kind of a licorice flavor, both the bulb and the fronds of the fennel can be used for a lot of things.  Here are some recipe ideas from Bon Appetit!



Saturday, July 8, 2017

The 2017 Dream Team: Our Fantastic Farm Crew!

Farm Update




Fred, Carson, and Ben harvesting baby carrots for the shares
a while back.
Hi everyone!  We are heading into week 4 of the CSA, and it seems like this season is just flying by!  We’ve been planting, harvesting, and getting veggies ready for delivery this week, as well as moving the irrigation lines around quite a bit.  Despite the consistent rains we had a week or two ago, we could actually use more now.  We didn’t get the major flooding that hit the Midland and Mt. Pleasant areas, so while our ground was pretty saturated, it was able to handle all the water with just a minimal upset in our lower back field.  And now it’s bone dry again, so we’ve been irrigating quite a bit.  It’s amazing how quickly it changes from needing rain, to wanting the rain to stop, to needing it again!  In other news, Fred was at the Midland Farmers Market this morning, so I bet some of you saw him there!  As always, we look forward to seeing you all this week!  J







What to Expect in your Share this Week


If you pick up your shares at one of our regular drop-offs, here’s what your options will be!  If you have a half share, choose one in each category, and if you have a full share, choose two.

  • Blueberries for everyone!
  • Carrots
  • Beets or pearl onions
  • Cabbage, kale, or cucumbers
  • Spring mix or head lettuce
  • Frisee, 2 kohlrabi, or assorted herbs
  • Zucchini or fennel


And if have your share delivered or pick up in Lansing or Okemos, here are the options this week:

Share A:                               Share B:
Blueberries                           Blueberries
Carrots                                  Carrots
Beets                                     Pearl onions
Kale                                      Cucumbers
Head lettuce                         Spring mix
Herbs                                    2 Kohlrabi
Zucchini                                Fennel


The 2017 Dream Team: Our Fantastic Farm Crew!


Jewel, Carson, Ben, Mary, and Emily taking a few minutes out
of their day to pose for a picture
At the farm, each year is so different, and one season often bears little or no resemblance to the one before it.  You win some and lose some, and this year, we definitely won the jackpot when it comes to employees!  We have a really great team that includes a few high school kids, a few college kids, and one grad student, and they have been a joy to work with!  So when you get your shares each week, these are the people who helped bring your veggies to your table!

Mary:  Mary is Fred’s youngest sister, and this is her second year working for us.  She just finished up her freshman year at Spring Arbor University, and when she returns to school in the fall, she is going to continue working on her nursing degree.  In her spare time she likes to hang out with her friends, cook, eat great food, and baby-sit our kids.  We seriously rely on this girl for everything, so if you see her around, definitely give her a pat on the back!  Her favorite thing to do at the farm is washing and packing up the veggies for CSA shares and wholesale orders, and also picking our edible nasturtiums.  The skills she has been glad to learn at the farm include how to plant crops and how to not freak out about spiders.

Jewel:  Jewel is the daughter of some family friends, and she is just about the sweetest person you’ll ever meet.  Her older brother Keegan worked for us for several years, and Jewel has taken over for him now that he is studying to become an airplane mechanic.  At the farm, she most enjoys harvesting carrots and transplanting, and cites learning how to deal with being in the hot sun all day as the most useful life skill she’s learned at the farm.  That will come in handy, because she and her family are involved in ministry work in Iraq.  They have spent a significant portion of the last two years there, and they’ll be headed back in the fall.

Ben:  Ben is another family friend whose older brother, Joe, worked for us for several years.  Ben is one of our high school kids, and he has been great to have around!  His favorite thing to do at the farm is transplant, and learning how to use the transplanter has been his favorite skill to learn.  In the fall, he is going to return to his studies, but since he is homeschooled, we hope to still have him work for us part time throughout the season.

Mary harvests kale for the CSA shares
Carson:  Carson is our resident grad student, working on his PhD in fisheries at CMU.  His favorite thing to do at the farm is form the plastic beds into which we plant many of our veggies.  He has learned that this is an art to getting the plastic laid straight and flat, with no tears, and the proper width, and he appreciates the beauty of a nicely-done series of plastic beds.  He has also learned this year just how much work goes into farming, and what a wide variety of skills everyone needs to have.  You really need to be a jack of all trades every day, and he likes looking around the farm at all of the projects he’s been involved in.  In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, reading, and playing guitar.  After the farm season, he is planning on continuing his doctoral research, and he has a lot of home improvement projects planned for the house he bought recently.

Emily:  Emily is another long-time family friend; in fact, she and Mary have been running around together since their preschool years.  Her favorite thing to do at the farm is harvesting and bunching the pearl onions, and she also really enjoys washing and packing veggies.  Her favorite new skill she’s learned this year is seeding the flats of transplants.  In her spare time, she likes to hang out with her family and friends and watch movies on Netflix, and in the fall, she’s headed to England to be part of a theater troupe and study drama for a year.

Therese:  The most recent addition to the crew is Therese, and we really appreciate her sweet attitude!   In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends and family, and in the fall, she’s going to be returning to Olivet for her sophomore year.  Around the farm, she likes catching snakes, is a friend to the baby bunnies, and she doesn’t mind touching the stinging nettle!

So that’s our fantastic 2017 farm team!  It has been so nice to work with each of them so far, and I can’t say enough good things about them!  Just having a group that is reliable and doesn’t mind hard work is pretty awesome, but these guys are also really fun to be around and have great attitudes to boot!  We’re definitely looking forward to spending the rest of the season with them!

Recipes


If you’re like many people, you probably feel like you know what to do with most fruits and veggies in the kitchen, but you might feel a little less confident with fresh herbs.  Never fear!  Here is A Guide to Fresh Herbs from the Food Network, and some helpful tips from the Kitchn forhow to use Summer Savory!



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Organic Weed Control at the Farm

Farm Update



It’s been a wet week at the farm!  It’s been raining pretty consistently, but it dried up enough for us to sneak in a planting on Monday evening after the Alma CSA drop-off.  We were able to get the next round of crops in the ground, which we were really hoping to do this week, and we were also able to transplant on Wednesday.  The insect pressure at the farm has been low, because bugs really prefer dry weather. But wet weather does bring out some plant diseases, so we’re monitoring those closely.  The weeds are also coming on strong, but we’ve fortunately been able to keep up with them.  Our cool-season crops, like onions, lettuce, and kale, are doing really well!  Also, Tuesday is the 4th of July, so if you are unable to make it to the drop-off this week, just let me know!  You can either pick up your share at one of our other drop-offs this week, or we can postpone your share and get you a double share next week.  Just let me know if you need to make arrangements for your share.  See you all next week! J



What to Expect in Your share


If you pick up your share at one of our regular drop-offs, here are your options!  If you have a half share, choose one item from each station, and if you have a full share, choose two.

Pearl onions
Carrots
Beets, cucumbers, or bok choy
Spring mix, romaine, or head lettuce
Kohlrabi, cilantro, or micros
Zucchini
Kale or Swiss chard

If you have your share delivered to you or you pick up at the Lansing or Okemos drop-offs, here are your options for this week. If you have a half share, choose one, and if you have a full share, choose two.

Share A:                               Share B:
Carrots                                 Carrots
Beets                                    Cucumber
Spring mix                           Romaine
Kohlrabi                               Cilantro
Zucchini                                Zucchini
Kale                                       Swiss chard

Organic Weed Control at the Farm


Our two old Farmall Cubs have custom cultivators
underneath them that help us take out the weeds between
the rows of vegetables.
When the weather turns warm and wet, our plants start growing by leaps and bounds.  For quick crop growth, you just can’t beat warm temperatures and frequent rains.  The only trouble with that is that the conditions in which our veggies thrive also bring out the weeds in full force!  People often ask how we keep weeds under control in an organic system.  “Doesn’t all that weeding take forever?” they ask.  The short answer is a resounding yes.  The long answer is that although keeping the weeds under control is nowhere near as quick or efficient as it is in conventional systems, where a farmer can just spray an herbicide over the field and call it a day, we do have methods of making sure there are fewer weeds in the first place and efficiently taking care of the ones that do pop up.  Some are newer techniques popularized in the last few decades, and some are methods that your great-grandparents knew and (probably didn’t) love.

One of the best ways to keep weeds from emerging in the first place is to plant the crops in plastic mulch, which is a layer of plastic similar to a garbage bag that you spread over the whole row where you intend to plant the crops.  We then drive over the plastic row with a machine attached to the back of the tractor that pokes holes in the plastic at regular intervals.  After planting, the crops grow up out of the holes, but the weeds are kept from germinating.  So then it is really easy to just go through and pull out the few weeds that have managed to find their way up out of the holes.

Another way to keep the weeds down is to starve them of water.  We use a drip irrigation system in the fields, which is basically a thin hose with tiny perforations.  We run the drip line right along the base of the plants, and the water seeps out of the perforations and into the soil directly surrounding the plant.  That way the plant we want gets watered, and the weeds don’t as much.

Two other amazing tools are our cultivating tractors!  Fred had two custom-made cultivators attached underneath our old Farmall Cubs (one is from the 1940s and the other is from the 1950s).  When the time is right to cultivate, he drives over the rows of veggies, and the cultivators take out the weeds in between the rows of veggies.  We have one with shanks that dig into the soil and disturb the weeds, which we use for plants that have already reached a certain size, because it has a higher and wider clearance for bigger plants.  And we have one that has rotating metal baskets that work up the soil between the rows of crops and put the soil right back down where it found it.  This is used for smaller plants.  Cultivating really makes weeding faster by taking out all the weeds between the rows so we can focus on pulling up the ones right in the rows. 

We plant our Swiss chard in black plastic to keep the weeds
from growing up around it.
We also engage in a ridiculous amount of good old-fashioned hoeing and hand-weeding.  Hoes are used to scrape out the weeds that have emerged right in the rows of veggies and couldn’t be taken out with the cultivator.  They are great for things like cabbage, which have quite a bit of space between each plant.  And then, of course, there is hand weeding.  Sometimes things (like carrots and onions) are grown so close together that a hoe would run too much risk of damaging the plant.  For those things, we get out there and pull up the weeds the old school way, with just our hands and a good pair of garden gloves.  This is a time-consuming prospect when the weeds start taking off, but it is a great way to make sure that all of the weeds are pulled up.

So that is how we control the crazy weed population at the farm!  It’s by no means quick, but we feel really strongly about not spraying our fields with artificial chemicals to control the weeds, because that is the best for all of our health and for the environment.  And we are so thankful for all of our CSA members who support us in this endeavor!  You all help us make a small difference in the overall face of agriculture, and for that we are really grateful!


Recipes

You've probably noticed that everyone gets zucchini this week!  Rural areas joke about the glut of zucchini that appears in August, where you can't even give away a bag of garden zucchini because everyone already has too much of their own. Well, our glut of coldframe zucchini has come early, and you are all the beneficiaries!  Here are some ideas of what to do with it. :-)

Zucchini Chocolate Cake:  I made this yesterday, and it was awesome!  Here is a great way to make dessert just a little bit healthier.

We also grill a lot of zucchini, and it's one of our favorite ways to prepare it!  Here are a few different ways you can do it from myrecipes.com.  

Enjoy! :-)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

How to Store Your Spring Veggies so They Last a Really Long Time

Farm Update


The weeds are really taking off at the farm!  Fortunately we
have Ben, Emily, and Jewel to help keep the weed population
under control. 
Hi everyone!  What a difference two weeks makes!  Before I jumped into this whole farming thing, I had no idea of the love/hate relationship farmers have with rain.  Rain can either make or break our season, whether by not having enough, or by having too much, or having it at the wrong time.  When we've had several weeks of drought, there is nothing more beautiful than a dark rain cloud moving in our direction.  Then a few weeks later after we've had pretty solid rain and just need the field to dry out enough to plant, those same clouds draw a groan.  That's what is going on right now, so we're really hoping we can get a break in the rain for a few days, so we can get into the field and plant the next round of crops.  Fortunately we didn't experience the severe flooding that some other areas did, so none of our plantings got washed out.  And the crops are coming along well!  The blueberry bushes are loaded down with unripe berries, to the point that the plants are starting to lean over a little, so we should have plenty of blueberries!  We've got green tomatoes on the vines in our coldframes, and they're growing quickly, putting on 8 to 12 inches a week.  The cucumbers and zucchinis are also producing more, and everything is starting to take off, including the weeds.  When the weather is wet and warm, the weeds go crazy, so we've been spending a lot of time weeding.

We are also super grateful for our new deer fence!  The deer were our constant enemies last year, and this year, they haven't caused any damage because they just can't get in.  In fact, a few weeks ago, Fred was walking along the inside of the fence, and he scared up a deer who was sleeping on the other side after giving up on trying to get in.  That has made such a huge difference to the farm!  The woodchucks and rabbits are still around, but they don't do nearly the damage that the deer did.  It seems like as time goes on, we make incremental changes to the farm that drastically improve our efficiency, our ability to control factors like deer and draughts, and our quality of life.  We're already living so much better now that Fred doesn't have to go out in the middle of every night and scare away deer like last year, so who knows what summers will look like 10 years from now?  I don't know for sure what the future of the farm will bring, but I am excited to find out!


What to Expect in this Week's Share


If you're picking up at one of our regular drop-offs, here are next week's choices.  If you have a half share, choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, choose two.

  • Broccoli or radishes
  • Spring mix, head lettuce, or romaine lettuce
  • Baby carrots
  • Kale or Swiss chard
  • Cucumber, zucchini, or bok choy
  • Green onions or pearl onions
  • Microgreens, herbs, or 2 kohlrabi
If you are having your share delivered to you or you're picking up at our Lansing or Okemos drop-offs, here are your options:

Share A:                        Share B:
Broccoli                         Broccoli
Spring mix                     Romaine
Baby carrots                  Baby carrots
Kale                               Swiss chard
Cucumber                      Zucchini
Green onions                 Pearl onions
Microgreens                  2 Kohlrabi


How to Store Your Spring Veggies so They Last a Really Long Time


Mary harvesting kale for the shares last week.
One of the great things about being part of the CSA is having such fresh produce!  When you pick up your shares each week, the produce in it has been harvested either that same day or the day before, which is about as fresh as it gets.  So when you store it right, it will last a really long time!  Here's what you need to know to get the most life out of your spring CSA shares:

Broccoli, head lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, green onions, pearl onions, cucumbers, zucchini, bok choy, unbagged herbs:  store separately in plastic grocery bags in the fridge, and they will last a good week and a half, or maybe longer.

Radishes and baby carrots:  Both radishes and carrots will last months if you remove the greens and store them in a plastic grocery bag in the fridge.

Spring mix and bagged romaine, micro greens, bagged herbs:   The best way to store these things is to just leave them in the bag and put it in the fridge.  You don't need to wash them or anything.  In fact, if you do rewash them when you get home and put them in the bag, that will likely decrease their lifespan because the moisture in the bag will cause them to go bad sooner.

Kohlrabi:  Just put it in the fridge, and it will last three or four months until you cut into it.  You don't need a bag or anything, because kohlrabi is one of the ultimate storage veggies. :-)

Basil:  If you get basil in your share, that is the one thing that you don't want to put in the fridge, because the cold will make it turn black.  In order to maintain its beautiful color, just put basil in a loose plastic bag on the counter.

So that's it!  That is how to get the most life out of all your spring veggies!

Recipes


If you've been in the CSA before then you'll recognize kohlrabi, but if you're a newbie, you'll probably wonder what that crazy bulb thing that looks like a space alien is.  Unfamiliar to most Americans, kohlrabi is actually a staple vegetable in Europe, as recognizable as carrots or broccoli are to us. So if you're not sure what to do with kohlrabi, here are some ideas from the Kitchn.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What to Expect at the First Drop-Off

Farm Update


Ladybugs are just one of the many helpful critters around the
farm that help us control pests organically.  They are a
natural predator of aphids, so we like having these little ladies
(and gentlemen) around. :-)
Hi everyone!  We are so excited to be starting the CSA this week!  Just like last June, it's been pretty hot and dry, so we and the plants were relieved to get a good rain today.  We've been irrigating like crazy, which involves a lot of moving our irrigation lines around, so it will be nice to not have to do that for a few days.  Because once the CSA starts, we'll need every spare minute we can get to do all the harvesting, washing, packing, and delivering for the CSA drop-offs, as well as all the weeding, seeding, planting, cultivating, etc. that also need to happen in every given week.  It's certainly a busy time of year!

In other news, if you happen to have egg cartons kicking around, we would really appreciate them!  Our hens have been laying prolifically, and we've run through all of our egg cartons this winter.  So if you have any you can bring to the drop-off, that would be fantastic!  Also, for our Mt. Pleasant members, the 4th of July is on a Tuesday this year.  The drop-off will be happening as usual, but if you are unable to make it, just let me know by July 3rd, and we can make arrangements for your share. You can either have someone pick up your share for you, or we can postpone harvesting for you that week and get you a double share the next week, or you can pick up at one of our other drop-offs.  Just let me know if you want to make arrangements for your share!

The other thing we wanted to let everyone know about this week is that we have made the decision to supplement our strawberries in your CSA shares with strawberries from another organic grower.  We really deliberated over this decision, because we have never before brought anything to our CSA members that wasn't grown by us.  But our strawberries did very poorly this year due to a convergence of many circumstances, and we would only have had enough for a small percentage of you.  Then we were approached by Jonas Miller, a certified organic Amish farmer we know, who has way more strawberries than he can sell to his limited market.  It's naturally really difficult for Amish growers to find and communicate with customers, so we made the decision to include his strawberries in the shares along with ours.  It seems like a win-win, because it allows us to bring everyone some fantastic, high-quality organic berries, and it means he doesn't have all of his strawberries go bad in the field because he doesn't have anyone to buy them.  But we wanted to make sure you all knew about this, because we never ever want to pass someone else's produce off as our own, and we're definitely not going to make a habit of including anyone else's produce in the shares.

We are so looking forward to seeing all of our returning members again and meeting all of the new folks this week!  Just let me know if you have questions about anything, and we'll see you in a few days!

This Week's Share Options


If you are coming to one of our regular drop-offs, these are the stations you'll find this week.  If you have a half share, choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, choose two items.

  • Kale or cooking greens
  • Spring mix
  • Green onions or garlic scapes
  • Microgreens or herbs (might include cilantro, summer savory, basil, dill, or Thai basil)
  • Swiss chard, spinach, or bok choy
  • Zucchini or cucumber
  • Strawberries

If you are having your share delivered to your home or workplace, or if you're picking up at our Midland hospital drop-off, here are your share choices.  If you have a half share, choose one bag, and if you have a full share, choose two bags.

Share A:                                   Share B:
Kale                                         Cooking greens
Spring mix                               Spring mix
Green onions                           Garlic scapes
Microgreens                            Cilantro
Swiss Chard                             Spinach
Zucchini                                  Cucumber
Strawberries                            Strawberries


What to Expect at the First Drop-Off


One thing I love about farming is the community of awesome Michigan CSA farmers we've gotten to know over the last seven years!  In the off-season, we get to meet up with a super fun group of growers from all over the state at conferences and meetings, and I've learned from talking to all of them just how different each CSA can be.  So if you've never been part of a CSA before, or if you've just never been part of ours, you probably have some questions about what to expect at your first drop-off.  So here's a rundown of what you'll need to know:

All the veggies laid out in their stations.  There will be signs
to tell you what each item is and how many to choose.
When you arrive, you'll see some tables laid out with all of the produce options for the week.  There will be seven or eight stations, each one with a sign, and at each station, you get to take some veggies.  If you have a half share, you'll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you'll choose two items at each station.  The sign will tell which choices go with each station, and how many to choose.  So when you get there, first make sure you initial the sign-in sheet so we know that you came to get your share, then when you get up to the tables, you can just go on down the line and choose your veggies at each station.  Then at the end, we have our trading table.  That way, if there was a station where you just weren't crazy about the options, you can take your choice from that station down to the trading table and trade it for something you like better there.

So that is how the drop-off works!  Now for some tips:

  • If you have one, bring a bag.  We'll have some grocery bags available at the drop-off, but if you have a basket or reusable bag, that's even better!  
  • It's a good idea to get there early for the widest variety of choices.  We try to anticipate what percentage of people will want one choice or the other at each station, but that is an inexact science at best.  So sometimes if there is a really popular veggie at one of the stations, people who come later in the drop-off find that that item has been snapped up and just the other choice remains.  A lot of people start lining up early in order to make sure that all of the choices are there when they go through the line, and there is kind of a rush for the first 10-15 minutes of the drop-off.  On the other hand, if you don't like waiting in line and you don't have a preference for one veggie over another, you might choose to come later in the drop-off once the rush has gone through, because you'll definitely get to choose your veggies more quickly!
  • We'll often have other things for sale at the drop-off, like our free-range eggs (which are $4 per dozen), or extra blueberry pints at the height of blueberry season.  We'll have those available at the beginning of the tables near the sign-in sheet, so if you're interested, it's a good idea to have some cash with you.  :-)
  • If you find you're running late to the drop-off, you can just call or text me at 517-896-6884, and I can pack up a share for you and leave it at the drop-off.  We usually start packing up right at 6:00, but we can definitely pack up a bag for you and leave it there for you to pick up when you get there.  Or if you know in advance you won't be able to make it to the drop-off, if you let me know by the day before, we can postpone harvesting for you that week and get you a double share when you get back.
  • It happens pretty often that someone just gets busy and forgets to come to the drop-off.  If that happens to you, just let me know, and chances are good that we can get you some extra veggies the next week to make up for what you missed.  Before each drop-off, we harvest the exact number of shares for the people we know are coming, so I can't necessarily add an additional share to the harvest list for you the following week, but we can probably still get you some extra produce.  Since there is a strong chance that a few people will forget to come, we often have some shares left at the end of the drop-off, so if you come through the line after the rush goes through, I'll have a pretty good idea of what we'll have left at the end, and you can pick out some additional produce to make up for what you missed the week before.
For the folks who have their shares delivered, it's a little different.  You can choose either Share A or Share B from the list above and let me know which one you prefer, and we'll make sure to bring you that share. Or if I don't hear from you, I'll just choose for you.  If you do request the share you want, please let me know the day before your drop-off so I can put those specific veggies on the harvest list.  We'll be dropping off your share sometime from 2-4:30 on your appointed drop-off day, and you don't have to be there when we deliver your share, but it's a good idea to have a cooler out near your door to help your veggies stay fresh and cool until you get home.  :-)

So that's it!  If you have any questions, just let me know!  See you in a few days!


Recipes


One thing I absolutely love is introducing people to new veggies they've never tried before!  Most of the options this week you're probably already familiar with, but garlic scapes are probably the exception.  So if you've never tried them, you're in for a treat!  They have a fantastic garlic flavor, but the texture of a fresh green bean, and they look super fun in their curly bunches.  If you choose garlic scapes this week, here are some ideas from Bon Appetit for how to use them!



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

CSA Start Date! (And Giveaway Contest!)

Hi everyone!  We have an official start date for the CSA!  We're going to be kicking off the drop-offs the third week of June, so the first deliveries are as follows:

Alma: Monday, June 19 (5-6 PM at His Place)
Mt. Pleasant: Tuesday, June 20 (5-6 PM at Herbs, Etc.)
Lansing/Okemos: Wednesday, June 21 (4:30-close at both locations of Mert's Meats)
Midland: Thursday, June 22 (5-6 PM at Eagle Ridge Church of God)

Just let me know if you have any questions about that!  Also, we still have some shares available, so to help get the word out about the CSA, we’re going to be hosting a giveaway this week! We’ll be giving away a gift basket that includes:
• Some of our lovely organic spinach
• A bag of our organic spring mix
• Some of our organic baby bok choy
• three dozen of our free-range eggs
• and a copy of the cookbook “From Asparagus to Zucchini”, which has a TON of great recipes for virtually any veggie you can think of! 

And we’ll even deliver the basket to you at your home or workplace next week when we’re headed in your direction! So here’s how it works:

Every day between now and Friday, I’m going to post something on our facebook page (you can find that right here). When you see it, tag your friends you think would enjoy seeing the post or knowing more about the CSA. For each person you tag, each post you share, or if you comment on a post, you’ll get one more entry into the raffle for the gift basket. Seriously, tag your friends! We want this to be huge!

I’ll keep track of how many entries each person has, and on Friday night, I’ll draw one lucky winner! Okay everyone! Ready, set, TAG!