Saturday, September 23, 2017

CSA Newsletter for September 23, 2017

Farm Update

Ben harvests cherry tomatoes for the
shares on Thursday.
Hi everyone!  Wow, what a hot, dry week!  We've been irrigating a lot more lately than we usually do this time of year, because it has just been so dry.  Folks to the north and south of us got rain this week, but so far nothing has hit the farm, so keep your fingers crossed for us!  We've also had higher than normal insect pressure for this time of year (especially the white aphids), because of the extended hot, dry weather.  This week we've been continuing to plant for the fall; we planted some spinach this week and transplanted lettuce into the hoophouses.  We're also going to be seeding some arugula tomorrow.  We harvested the rest of the shallots this week, so they are all officially out of the ground.  In some funny news, apparently we've made the list of top 100 organic blogs in the web, coming in at #100!  I'm not sure what metrics they used to create that ranking, but we're on the list, and you can check it out here!  See you all this week! :-)


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.

Carrots or potatoes
Broccoli or cabbage
Lettuce
Green beans or Brussels sprouts
Cherry tomatoes or 4 larger tomatoes
Onion or kohlrabi
Kale, herbs, or collards

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:
Carrots                                 Potatoes
Broccoli                               Cabbage
Lettuce                                 Lettuce
Green beans                         Brussels sprouts
Cherry tomatoes                   4 tomatoes
Onion                                   Kohlrabi
Kale                                     Collards



Recipes


You know I always like to give you recipes for things in your share that might be new to you.  This week, that thing is collards.  (Unless you're from the South, in which case, you probably know how to handle collards like nobody's business, and I should take some lessons from you.)  So if like me, you're a Midwesterner who hasn't been eating them since you learned how to walk, here is a great recipe for Kickin' Collard Greens from allrecipes.com!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Veggie Spotlight: The Humble Carrot

Farm Update

After being harvested and washed, these carrots dry in our
packing area before going into your shares.
Hi everyone! It's been another buy week at the farm!  This morning Fred and Logan cleaned 2000 pounds of onions using an old root washer Fred found in one of our outbuildings.  Although it's designed for washing potatoes, beets, and turnips, it also does a great job of taking off the excess peels of onions and brushing off the dirt.  We also pulled the last wave of onions and shallots out of the ground, and they are now drying on top of the soil in the field.  It's been really dry lately, so we've been irrigating a lot as well, but we know in a few weeks, drizzly October will arrive and we'll have to irrigate a lot less.  The tomato vines are starting to get old and worn out, and once that happens, the tomatoes begin to dwindle until they eventually die back for the year.  But even as one crop begins to wind down, others are just starting their lives.  Our fall radishes and spinach have germinated, and they've just poked out of the soil and emerged into the light of day.  It won't be too long until they're fully mature and ready to harvest and eat.  Each farm season is a series of beginnings and endings, and fortunately, we still have seven weeks of veggies left before the season winds down for good.




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.

Cherry tomatoes or slicing tomatoes
Carrots
Potatoes
Onion or garlic
Cooking greens mix
Surprise veggie (choices from a whole bunch of odds and ends coming from the field)
Lettuce, green beans, or Brussels sprouts

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:
Cherry tomatoes                  Slicing tomatoes
Carrots                                 Carrots
Potatoes                               Potatoes
Onion                                  Garlic
Cooking greens mix            Cooking greens mix
Surprise veggie                   Surprise veggie
Lettuce                                Brussels sprouts


Veggie Spotlight:  The Humble Carrot


When harvesting carrots, we use the undercutter attachment for
our tractor to loosen up the ground underneath the carrots, which
makes harvesting them by hand a lot easier.
The carrot is extremely common in the American diet.  Orange carrots are found in every grocery store across the country, and virtually every small child knows what they look like (even if they’re a little shaky on identifying many other vegetables). But what do you really know about this ubiquitous food that you’ve probably been eating your whole life?  Welcome to the life and times of the humble carrot.

This popular vegetable originated somewhere in modern-day Iran or Afghanistan, but was extremely different from the orange carrot we now have at our tables. Thousands of years of traditional breeding have turned the original carrots from a tough, thin, bitter purple root into the typically orange sweet root we have today. The first carrots were mostly used for the aromatic foliage and for the seeds, much like we now use dill, which is a close relative of the carrot. Through medieval times it is referenced many times for medicinal purposes. When it first came to Europe is widely disputed, and there are a lot of historical unknowns due to its confusion in ancient writings with the closely related parsnip. However, its movement to the Americas is a little more certain, as it showed up very soon after Columbus came to the Americas is 1492. Back in the 1600s, more definite descriptions of carrots appear, and orange is mentioned along with many other colors of carrots that were present. The real push in the US and Great Britain came during the first and second world wars, when other foods were highly rationed but carrots could be grown at home and stored well. During World War II, Great Britain didn’t want the Germans to know how effective their radar was, so they famously spread the rumor that their fighter pilots could see so well at night because of their high carrot intake.

The carrot has great nutritional benefits, the most well-known of which is the high beta carotene levels found in the orange carrots.   This beta carotene, once ingested, either converts to vitamin A (which the body can use in a variety of ways), or becomes an antioxidant to help mitigate the harmful effects of free radicals in the body.  Our mix of carrots is yellow, purple, and orange, and you can see that each has a slightly different flavor than the others.  The sweetest is the orange, where there have been more breeding efforts. We expect in future years there will be greater improvements in the yellow and purple carrots that will increase the sweetness and ease of growing.

Our carrots start their lives out by being seeded directly into the ground during the first planting of the season. They are also one of the last seedings of the year due to the extremely frost-hardy nature of this plant. After being seeded, they come up and are cultivated with our basket cultivator, and then they are hand weeded two or three times before becoming mature. During most of the summer, they are irrigated heavily with our drip tape, mostly to germinate the seeds, but also through dry periods to prevent the bitterness that sometimes occurs when the plant is stressed by lack of water.  They are then harvested by hand and cleaned through a combination of soaking in our wash sinks and being sprayed by a high-pressure hose. Carrots can be harvest very late into the year; it is typical to harvest them through December, although care has to be taken to harvest when the ground is still thawed. They can also be covered and harvested anytime that the ground thaws throughout the winter. 


We really love cooking with carrots, and have many favorite preparations when it comes to this surprisingly sweet root.  We hope you enjoy them this season as much as we have been! J

Recipes



Okay, I can't be the only one who got a little bit geeked when I saw this gorgeous carrot cake from Martha Stewart!  This is just one of her many fantastic carrot recipes, just in case you're looking for something new to do with an old favorite.  And if you're new to the concept of cooking greens (which everyone will be getting in the shares this week), here is what we do with them:  Normally we cut up some bacon into little pieces and cook it down until it's not quite done, and we add some coarsely chopped cooking greens to the pan.  Cook them until the greens are slightly wilted, and then add a little salt and brown sugar to balance the flavor.  Apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette are also great.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

CSA Newsletter for September 10

Farm Update





Jewel shows off her solution for the nest of hornets that have
taken up residence in a section of metal piping in our packing
area, occasionally stinging people and generally making
themselves annoying.  She simply made a plug out of a
potato and put it in really fast before the hornets could get mad.
Because sometimes you just have to work with what
you have on hand. :-)
Hi everyone!  Well, it certainly got chilly pretty quickly! We had our first frost last weekend, which fortunately was a light, patchy frost that didn’t end up being too serious.  The frost last night seems to have been deeper, but we’ll be able to see more clearly later what effects it’s had at the farm.  We’ve also been irrigating a lot lately, which seems counterintuitive considering the cold moisture in the air lately.  But since all the rains we’ve gotten have been pretty light and pretty sporadic, the plants have needed some more consistent watering.  We’re putting in some of the last fall plantings for the year as well!  We recently planted spinach, cilantro, and the last field plantings of lettuce, so any subsequent lettuce plantings this year will be in the greenhouse.  We’ll also do a few more plantings of spinach this year, because it actually overwinters in the field under layers of insulating plastic, and then it gets growing again early in the spring.  We’ve also started planting in the greenhouses again; we just planted some bok choy in the heated greenhouse, and we’ll be putting spinach and lettuce in the coldframes pretty shortly.  Over the next week and a half, we’ll have our last major round of hand weeding!  Around this time of year, the weeds really slow down and they become a lot easier to manage, and we definitely look forward to getting past the heavy weeding time of year.  Although it still seems too early, it’s beginning to look like fall, and I’m starting to be drawn to root vegetables and sweaters.  But even though it feels like the end of summer, we still have plenty of weeks of veggies left!  Just in case you’re wondering, our final CSA dates are October 30th-November 2nd.  Also, thanks so much to everyone who filled out Carson’s research survey!  He is still needs several more people to fill it out in order for him to achieve his desired number of participants, so if you haven’t filled it out, we’d really appreciate it if you would!  You can find the survey link below.  Thanks so much, and we’ll see you this week! Carson's Survey:  Hunting, Fishing, and Food Values Study

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.

Carrots
Potatoes
Lettuce or beets
Kale, chard, fennel, or basil
Onion or kohlrabi
Tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

Cucumber, parsley, or heirloom tomato


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:
Carrots                                  Carrots
Potatoes                                Potatoes
Lettuce                                  Beets
Kale                                      Swiss Chard
Onion                                    Kohlrabi
Tomatoes                              Cherry tomatoes
Cucumber                             Heirloom tomato

Recipes



When the weather gets colder, my thoughts turn to beets.  Although available throughout the season, for me beets are the quintessential fall food.  Probably because long after the tomatoes, cucumbers, and blueberries are but a memory of a warmer time, beets remain.  As a kid, the only beets I ever had were the sad canned ones from the store on Thanksgiving, so I had no idea what I was missing!  Now, a saute of root vegetables including potatoes, carrots, beets is one of the most common dishes on our table throughout the fall.  Another very popular (and delicious) way to prepare beets is to roast them.  Or, you can check out these 45 Beet Recipes for Roasting, Frying, and More from Bon Appetit!




Saturday, September 2, 2017

Finding the Truth About Food

Farm Update


These red lettuces are looking really nice now that the weather
is getting a little cooler, and since we've been irrigating
a lot lately.
Hi everyone!  We are squarely into the second half of the season, and we’ve noted the subtle shift in weather that generally accompanies this time of year.  In fact, we had the first frost last night, which is unusual.  Normally we don’t see any frost until mid-September, and we were really surprised to get hit with it so soon.  We assessed the frost damage this morning, and because it was a fairly light frost, most crops made it through just fine.  We did see some damage on some of the green beans, and it seems to have hit the winter squash fairly hard as well.  A few more days will tell if the squash are going to swing back, or if they’ll be consigned to oblivion.  Fortunately, we don’t have another chance of frost for at least a week.   Another change around the farm is that our crew is two people smaller than before!  Mary and Therese have gone back to college, and Emily is soon to follow in a few weeks.  Fortunately, the rest of our crew (Carson, Logan, Ben, and Jewel) will be able to work at least part time for the rest of the season, so we are going to be in great shape going into the fall!  Because once the weather gets cold and wet, it seems like just about everything takes longer than it used to, so we’ll really need all the hands we can get.  We are so glad to have such a great team this year!  In other news, we had our annual organic inspection today, which is the culmination of tons of careful record-keeping and saving everything.  Fred has been going through our files for the last few days, both physical and digital, compiling all of the information he’d need to show our inspector this morning to verify that all of our seeds and plants are from organic sources, that we haven’t applied anything synthetic to our fields, that none of the posts from our new deer fence were made of treated lumber (to protect against chemicals leaching into the soil), etc.  It was a huge job, but it’s done now, and we can breathe a sigh of relief.  And now we’re launching into week 12 of the CSA!  Just a reminder that this Monday is Labor Day, so if you’re unable to make it to the drop-off, let me know, and we can make arrangements for your share.  See you soon! 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.

Fennel or 4 tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Potatoes
Carrots
Onion, shallot, or 2 jalepenos
Kale or herbs
Lettuce, beets, or cabbage


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:
4 Tomatoes                           4 Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes                   Cherry tomatoes
Carrots                                  Carrots
Potatoes                                Potatoes
Onion                                    2 Jalepenos
Herbs                                    Kale
Lettuce                                  Beets

Finding the Truth About Food

So as a farmer, former teacher, and accidental foodie, I have read a lot of literature about food.  And it turns out that food isn’t just food; there are so many aspects of a topic so fundamental to human life and culture.  There’s nutrition, which deals with the chemical breakdown of what we eat, and how it interacts in our bodies.  There’s cooking, whereby we take ingredients and turn them into meals (wonderful or otherwise).  There’s food culture, about how people groups interact with and build systems, and norms, and traditions around their food.  There’s food activism, where food and the production and procurement thereof becomes a jumping off point for positive social change.  There’s the relationship between food production and the environment in which it is grown, raised, produced, or created alchemically in a lab, as the case may be.  And since there are so many topics surrounding the concept of what we eat, and when, and why, there are plenty of well-intentioned and respectable authors who completely disagree with one another.  So how do we cut through the noise and get at the truth?  Quite simply, I don’t think we do.  It’s probably possible, but I am definitely not qualified to be the sage advisor when it comes to processing all of the entirety of human food knowledge.
But here is what I do know, or at least think I do:

·        Food should be savored and appreciated.  I think traditionally in the US, we’ve had a tendency to vilify food, because we were never quite sure whether what we were eating was “good” or “bad” for us.  It’s hard to be 100% certain when even the experts change their minds every decade or so.  I think some people are so paralyzed by food choices that they would opt out of eating altogether if they could.  Which is kind of sad, really.  Because enjoying food should be a pleasurable experience, without stressing about whether you’re getting the right mix of nutrients, or worrying that something you’re eating might be found to be deleterious to your health in a few decades.  The best way to stay sane is to be mindful about appreciating your food, rather than being anxious about it.

·        Natural whole foods are better than foods created in labs.  While food scientists have tried for decades to break foods down into their constituent parts and rebuild them better, they haven’t managed to get it right, because there is still so much we don’t know.  But what we do know is that traditional foods have been nourishing people for millennia.  A good rule of thumb is to stick with foods that can be seen growing, walking, or swimming in nature.

·        Food that is grown or raised closer to where it is consumed is better than food grown far away.  There are plenty of economic arguments for shipping in food from regions where it is more efficient to manufacture to places where it isn’t; in fact, I’m pretty sure Adam Smith would heartily disagree with me on this.  But I’m basing my decision to favor local food over distantly-produced food on a different set of criteria than the father of modern economics.  For me, eating local is a means to reduce the negative impact on our environment, as well as a way to support my local community and economy.  I love that I can use my food dollars to support people I know who grow and raise quality food, and that when I do, my money has a better chance of continuing to circulate around the local community to the benefit of my friends and neighbors.  I also know that the more industrially-produced or far-flung food I consume, the more resources are consumed in order to bring that food to me.  If I eat locally-produced food, I reduce the potential negative environmental impact of my food choices.  That said, there is no way I am ever giving up coffee.  (See the above section on enjoying food without stressing about it. J)


So I guess that’s my food manifesto, if you want to call it that.  I know that it is pretty simple, and perhaps overly simplistic (for instance, I ignored the whole debate about what constitutes a whole food).  But just in case you’ve been struggling to work your way through all the conflicting opinions, I hope this additional opinion is more beneficial than detrimental in your search for what works for you. 

Recipes


One thing I love about the CSA drop-offs is getting to talk to people and find out how they prepare different veggies!  I was talking to a lady at our Midland drop-off this week who was telling me what she does with kale, and I realized that I am in a kale rut, always preparing it the same way (sauteed in olive oil with a little garlic and onion, and sometimes some shiitake mushrooms).  So if you're like me and you have been making kale the same way every week, here are some ideas to shake it up!  Check out these 16 Quick and Easy Kale Recipes from Good Housekeeping!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

CSA Newsletter for August 27

Farm Update


A whole bunch of onions after the big harvest this week!
Hi everyone!  It's beginning to feel a little bit like fall out there!  We brought in a big onion harvest this week of about 3,000-4,000 pounds of onions.  Right now they're all spread out to dry in an empty coldframe.  We got an old root vegetable washer working that we found in an old outbuilding, so that should make washing all those onions a lot faster.  The insect pressure at the farm is still pretty mild, although we are starting to see some white aphids on the Brussels sprouts, which is pretty normal for this time of year.  The tomatoes really came on all of a sudden, so there will be lots of them in the shares this week!  We have tons of cherry tomatoes and also a lot of slicers, and our heirloom varieties are also starting to show some color.  They generally ripen later anyway, and it's been even more so this year because we planted them later.  This is also the time of year when the fields start to get a little emptier, because many of our spring plantings have been harvested and spent.  When this happens, we turn the leftover plant remains under into the soil to increase the organic matter, and then we plant some of them with cover crops, which serve the same purpose.

Several people have asked me about canning tomatoes, and we will have some available this week!  They'll be available by the half bushel, and the cost will be $12 per half bushel.  These will be regular slicing tomatoes, as our Romas are likely to be pretty late this year because of the cooler summer.  So if you're wanting Romas specifically, you'll be better off waiting another month or so, but if slicers work for you, we've got them now!  Also, next Monday, September 4th is labor day.  Our Alma drop-off is still occurring as usual, but if you won't be able to make it to the drop-off, just let me know!  You can either postpone your share that week and double up the following week, or you can arrange to pick up your share at one of our other drop-offs that week if you're unable to make it on Monday.  If you want to make arrangements for your share, I'll just need to know by Sunday the 3rd.  Thanks so much!  See you all this week!

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.

Cherry tomatoes
4 Tomatoes
Potatoes or carrots
Green beans, beets, or lettuce
Basil, leeks, kale, or cabbage
Zucchini or green pepper
Onion or kohlrabi


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:
Cherry tomatoes                   Cherry tomatoes
4 slicing tomatoes                 4 slicing tomatoes
Potatoes                                Carrots
Green beans                          Beets
Kale                                      Cabbage
Zucchini                               Green pepper
Kohlrabi                               Onion

Recipes


For most of his life, my dad has been absolutely certain that he hated cabbage.  Then a few years ago my folks started getting a CSA share.  Whenever my mom would make cabbage, he would always say, "Wow, what is this?  This is great!"  "It's cabbage," she'd respond.  So my dad has finally come to realize that he actually loves cabbage, and that there are plenty of really great ways to prepare it!  So in case you're like my dad and you're not quite sure what do to with this extremely versatile veggie, here are 29 Recipes to Make Anyone Love Cabbage from Bon App├ętit!



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Veggie Spotlight: Tomatoes

Farm Update


Mary, Therese, Jewel, Ben, Carson,
 and Logan (our newest team
 member!) getting ready to do some
weeding earlier in the week.
Hi everyone!  Things are looking pretty good at the farm.  The rain we had on Thursday really helped things along, especially the cool season crops like lettuce.  Most of our plants are looking really healthy right now, but we are starting to see some disease, mostly because of the cooler night temperatures and morning dew.  Anytime the plants' foliage is wet for an extended period of time, that allows diseases to proliferate, so that is more common this time of year.  We've noticed over the last few days that our Brussels sprout plants are looking especially big and healthy, so we're hoping for a good crop this year!  Our warm season crops (such as peppers) seem like they're a little bit behind, but they're coming along.  Same thing with the tomatoes; we still have plenty of green tomatoes on the vine that are gradually ripening, which is actually pretty great!  A few years ago, we had a heat wave and all the tomatoes ripened at once, meaning we had massive numbers of tomatoes for a very short duration of time.  So when they ripen slowly, that means we have them for much longer, and we may be enjoying tomatoes well into October.  Only time will tell though, so I intend to eat as many tomatoes as possible in the meantime.  See you all this week! :-)

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.

Carrots or green beans
Cherry tomatoes
Potatoes
Beets, slicing tomatoes, or lettuce
Kale, Swiss chard, or cabbage
Onion, kohlrabi, or garlic
Zucchini 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:
Carrots                                  Green beans
Cherry tomatoes                    Cherry tomatoes
Potatoes                                 Potatoes
Beets                                      Slicing tomatoes
Kale                                       Cabbage
Onion                                    Onion
Herbs                                    Zucchini

Veggie Spotlight: Tomatoes


There's nothing like brilliant red just-harvested tomatoes!
There are few garden plants more popular than the tomato, and it is one of the most widely eaten vegetables in the world. However, this widespread use of the tomato as a food has really become a lot more prevalent since the 19th century. Before this it was thought by Europeans to be poisonous, and it was often used for more ornamental purposes, both on the table and in the garden. (The tomato foliage does have mild toxins; however the fruit has very little, and you would have to eat a lot of tomato foliage to get ill.) The tomato’s origin is still debated in academic circles, and is thought to either have come from modern day Peru or somewhere in Mexico. However, most of its early recorded use is in Mexico, where evidence of its cultivation dates back to 500 BC. From then until the very early 1500s the tomato was only found in the Americas, but after Spain began its exploration and exploitation of the Aztecs and their land, the tomato soon made its way to Europe and quickly spread over the rest of the world. The first tomatoes that came over from Mexico to Europe were yellow, which remained the most common color of the early tomatoes in Europe. The tomato varieties that we grow today are mostly the result of a plant breeder from Ohio named Alexander Livingston, who greatly improved the flavor and eating quality of tomatoes that we enjoy today.  Before his work, tomatoes were commonly hollow with a hard core.

You’ve probably also heard the debate over whether the tomato is a fruit or vegetable. This issue was even taken to the Supreme Court in 1893 in the case of Nix v. Hedden, which determined that for U.S. customs purposes, the tomato should be considered a fruit.   Actually, it is both. Botanists consider it a fruit, because it forms from the ovary of a flower (it is considered a berry fruit). However, it is considered a vegetable to horticulturists, due to its annual growing culture and lower sugar content than other fruits.  The fruits vary widely in nutrient content and antioxidants, depending on variety and color. However, all tomatoes have a lot of vitamins A and C and contain the antioxidant Lycopene, which is thought to prevent cancer and heal the skin, especially from the effects of UV rays.

Green beans and cherry tomatoes
about to head out to the CSA drop-off.
On our farm, the tomatoes start in the greenhouse as seeds planted in trays in mid-March. These seeds turn into fast-growing plants that are transplanted into our coldframes and field. The planting of the tomatoes took place throughout May this year, both inside and outside. The plants that go in the coldframes are put into raised beds with plastic mulch. Stakes are put in the rows of plants every 8 feet. Then as the plants grow, lines of twine are put tightly around the rows of plants to guide their growth upward so they are not sprawled over the ground. At the end of the season most vines are 10-15 feet long. The system we use for the tomatoes improves the quality and flavor of tomatoes. This time of the year, we only water the tomatoes a little bit, so they can concentrate the flavor and sugars of the fruit for better eating and nutrient value. When tomatoes are overwatered, the taste is less intense and the nutrients are more diluted. By only giving our tomatoes a little water, we sacrifice a little on total yield, but we feel it is way worth it in flavor.  The outside tomatoes are exposed to more difficult conditions, but since we need more tomatoes than the coldframes can produce, we plant a few outdoor beds each year.


We absolutely love tomatoes at our house, and we are thrilled each year when the first tomatoes start to come in.  We leave cherry tomatoes out on the counter, and our kids eat them like candy.  We also use slicers for caprese salads, bruschetta, on top of omelets, on BLTs… the uses are endless!  Tomatoes are one of those things that really ought to be eaten in ridiculous quantities in August and September when they’re in their peak season, because the February grocery store tomatoes really aren’t worth eating.  So to aid you in that plan, we have a lot of tomatoes in the share again this week!  Enjoy!

Recipes


And here's another idea for your tomatoes!  Try out these Parmesan Roasted Tomatoes, which are so quick and simple, and so delicious!  Or try this excellent Garden Fresh Bruschetta with some good bread!


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hunting, Fishing, and Food Values: A Research Survey by our Very Own Grad Student, Carson

Farm Update


Jewel, Ben, Therese, and Emily
bring bins of veggies up to the
packing area after harvest.
Hi everyone!  Even through we have another month and a half of summer according to the calendar, we're starting to see subtle signs of the shift from summer to fall at the farm.  We have some summer issues (such as the hot weather causing our lettuce, which is a cool season crop, to struggle a little bit) overlapping with some fall issues (like the pretty persistent morning dew that promotes the growth of plant diseases).  But that's pretty much par for the course this time of year.  Part of the art and science of organic farming is knowing how to adapt to the ever-changing conditions of flora, fauna, and weather as the year progresses.  We've been planting a lot of the veggies that will make their appearances in the shares throughout the fall, and we pulled over 5,000 pounds of potatoes out of the ground last week as well!  I was also able to put away the first few quarts of tomato sauce (out of about six dozen I'll make in the next month or so) with the leftover tomatoes from Thursday's drop-off.  So while we're very attuned to the particular feel of each part of the season, there are some aspects of the farm that feel like it's always simultaneously spring (planting), summer (canning), and fall (harvest).  That's the rhythm of life at the farm, and although I mostly take it for granted, I can't help but be grateful for such a distinctly seasonal lifestyle when I stop to think about it.  Thank you also to all of you who help us make this happen, and in turn get to enjoy the fruits and veggies of each particular season!  

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.

Cherry Tomatoes for everyone!
Green beans or several small slicing tomatoes
Potatoes or broccoli
Carrots or Swiss chard
Kale, basil, or cabbage
Onion or kohlrabi
Zucchini, cucumber, or slicing tomato


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:
Cherry tomatoes                   Cherry tomatoes
Green beans                          Slicing tomatoes
Potatoes                                Broccoli
Swiss chard                          Carrots
Cabbage                               Kale
Onion                                    Kohlrabi
Zucchini                               Cucumber

Hunting, Fishing, and Food Values:  A Research Survey by our Very Own Grad Student, Carson



This is Carson, setting up irrigation lines
last week.
A few weeks ago in the newsletter feature about this year's awesome farm team, you probably remember me talking about Carson, our crew member/ CMU grad student.  Well, he's working on a research project and would super appreciate you guys filling out a short survey to help him gather data for his study.  His research focuses on food values, and how people's support of local organic food production relates to their participation in hunting and fishing.  So instead of an article this week, we would really appreciate it if you would hop over to Carson's survey and fill it out!  I completed it, and it took me about 15 minutes.  Thanks so much in advance for helping Carson out with his research!


Recipes




Oh, cherry tomatoes!  So small, but so delicious!  Just in case you're wondering what to do with them besides putting them in salads and just snacking on them, here are 21 amazing cherry tomato recipes from Rachel Ray.  Enjoy!