Saturday, October 24, 2020

CSA Newsletter for Week 19- Final CSA Week!

 

Farm Update


Hi everyone!  Well, here we are in the last week of the CSA!  It's been quite the year for all of humanity, and certainly for us at the farm as well.  As the weather gets cold and the days grow shorter, we are glad to be getting the farm ready for its long winter's nap.  Each season has its own combination of struggles and successes, joys and frustrations, and as the year winds down, I look back over the CSA season and breathe a deep sigh of relief.  Relief that we made it through the rains, the dry periods, the bugs, the weeds, the labor shortages, the exhaustion, the aches and pains, the extreme heat and the bone-chilling cold.  We're about to steer the proverbial train into the station again after another long season, and take a break.  

And yet when I look back on the season, I'm grateful too.  I'm grateful to be so integrated into the community.  I'm grateful that while most of the world was in isolation, I got to see and interact with all of you each week, and life felt surprisingly normal.  I'm grateful that we got to spend our summer working outside in the sun, getting good exercise, and doing simple, rewarding, and measurable work.  And I'm grateful that our community came out so strongly to support our farm and other local businesses in this crazy year.  Thank you all for coming with us on this crazy journey we call the 2020 CSA season, and for making our whole farm possible!

And in case you missed it the last few weeks, you can sign up for the 2021 season by filling out this Google form!  The cost for a full share next year will be $600, but anyone who signs up and puts down at least a half payment by December 31 will get the early bird special of $580.  A half share will be $325 next year, but early birds get their share for $315.  If you have any questions, just let me know!  And if you're wondering where you can get our produce after the CSA ends, we'll have veggies available at Greentree Cooperative Grocery in Mt. Pleasant and at Argus Farm Stop in Ann Arbor until about mid-December, so look for us there!  Thank you all so much for another great CSA season, and we hope to see you again in 2021!

What to Expect in Your Share


If you are going through the line at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland), here’s what the options will be at the different stations.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you choose two items at each station! 

Spinach, lettuce, or sweet potatoes
Large squash (Butternut or Tetsukabuto)
Carrots or beets
Brussels sprouts or potatoes
Kale, a bag of small onions, or leeks
Cabbage or a small squash (Acorn or Delicata)
Cilantro, onion, or shallot


If you have a prepacked share, here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A, B, or C, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.  So just fill out this Google form by lunchtime the day before your drop-off to let me know which share you want for this week!  If it comes in after that, I might still be able to get you the share you wanted, but I can't guarantee it. And if I don't hear from you, I'll just choose for you. :-)

Share A:  Spinach, large squash, carrots, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, and onion.

Share B:  Lettuce, large squash, carrots, Brussels sprouts, bag of small onions, small squash, and cilantro.

Share C:  Sweet potato, large squash, beets, potatoes, kale, small squash, and onion.


Recipes


Oh, winter squash!  So delicious, and so versatile.  We love to slice them in half, bake them, and sprinkle them with butter and brown sugar.  We also love to make them into wonderful creamy soups, or dice them up, sauté them in butter, and top them with maple syrup or brown sugar.  Another hearty and delicious way to prepare them is to make Stuffed Winter Squash.  Check out this mouthwatering recipe and give it a try!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

CSA Newsletter for Week 18

 

Farm Update


Our old root washer cleans sweet
potatoes by spraying them with
water while they travel through a
series of rollers that gently scrub the
dirt off of them.  Then they fall into
the crates at the end, where we
separate them by size for the shares.
Hi everyone!  We've wrapped up another week of the CSA, and there are two more CSA weeks left until the end of the season!  So the final drop-offs will be during the last week of October in case you were wondering.  And things definitely feel like they're winding down at the farm.  The weather is getting colder, and we've had a number of hard freezes overnight.  We cover our more vulnerable crops with a layer of plastic to protect them from the cold and wind, but each time we get a hard frost, we know that some of them might not make it through.  The frost last night actually killed off our last planting of green beans, which we knew might happen.  We know that anything we plant after the first half of September is a gamble, and this year the weather was not in our favor.  But fortunately, the radishes and romaine (which are also among our more vulnerable crops right now) came through last night's frost just fine, so they'll be in the shares this week!

While there aren't as many types of farm work that need to occur now as there were in the early summer, the main one that remains (harvesting) takes a lot more time than it used to.  It is a lot harder to harvest when the weather gets cold and nasty, and takes a lot longer.  We also don't have nearly as many workers as we did in June and July, so basically, it's slow going.  It makes us really appreciate when we get to come indoors for mealtime, and we've been making some really great fall meals in our kitchen!  We've been enjoying lots of warm soups, and plenty of squash, sweet potatoes, beets, kale, and all the other great things that get their chance to shine in autumn!

If you're interested in signing up for next season, sign-up is open for the 2021 season!  The price will be going up next year to $600 for a full share or $325 for a half share, but we do have an early bird special!  Anyone who signs up and pays for at least half of their share before the end of the calendar year will get their half share for $315 or their full share for $580!  So if you have any questions, just send me an email, and if you're interested in signing up for the CSA next year, fill out this google for for the Monroe Family Organics 2021 CSA season


What to Expect in Your Share


If you are going through the line at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland), here’s what the options will be at the different stations.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you choose two items at each station! 

Onion, cilantro, or dill
Carrots
Brussels sprouts or leeks
Squash or sweet potatoes
Lettuce or potatoes
Kale or radish
Acorn squash, delicata squash, or a bag of small onions


If you have a prepacked share, here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A, B, or C, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.  So just fill out this Google form by lunchtime the day before your drop-off to let me know which share you want for this week!  If it comes in after that, I might still be able to get you the share you wanted, but I can't guarantee it. And if I don't hear from you, I'll just choose for you. :-)

Share A:  Carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, lettuce, acorn squash, and onion.

Share B:  Carrots, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, lettuce, kale, bag of small onions, and cilantro.

Share C:  Carrots, leeks, butternut squash, potatoes, kale, acorn squash, and onion.


Recipes


Everyone knows that radishes are great sliced really thin on top of a salad.  But did you know that there are a lot more great ways to use radishes in your meals?  Check out these 10 Best Radish Recipes from the Kitchn for some great ideas for this lovely cool-weather veggie!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

CSA Newsletter for Week 17 and 2021 CSA Sign-Up Info!

 

Farm Update


Hi everyone!  What gorgeous weather we had last week!  It was just a joy to be working outside!  Sometimes in the fall, when the weather gets rainy and cold and the harvesting conditions are miserable, it's the opposite of joyful.  But last week was the type of weather that makes me love being at the farm!  And I've been at the farm a lot more as of late, because as the season winds down, our few remaining employees have extremely limited availability.  It's definitely been a balancing act between the needs of the farm, the needs of my other off-farm job (which fortunately is extremely flexible), our three young kids, and all of the various home and life-maintenance tasks that keep things humming along.  It's definitely life on all cylinders in the month of October, and it's fortunate that the weather was so great this week, because we were really rushing every day this week to get everything harvested, washed, packed, and on the truck in time to leave for the drop-offs.  It's like constantly laying track for a train we can see coming, and the train can't slow down, so we just have to keep laying track as fast as we can.  But the end is in sight.  Just three more weeks until we get the metaphorical train safely into the station, and wrap up another successful CSA season!

And looking around the farm, things still look really nice!  We've had a few more frosts, but our greens are looking great, and we've got our massive harvests of potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and onions in the barn where freezing temperatures can't hurt them.  So I'm feeling optimistic about having several weeks of really great CSA shares ahead of us.  And we have Brussels sprouts this week!  Like many people, I thought I didn't like Brussels sprouts when I was a kid, but now they are one of my favorite vegetables.  We had the first Brussels sprouts of the year in our own kitchen yesterday, and they were just amazing, so I'm so excited to be able to bring them to you guys this week! 

If you're interested in signing up for the CSA next year, sign-up for our 2021 season is officially open!  The cost will be going up a little bit next year to account for the annual cost of living increase, and also because our labor costs are going up a lot, and that trend is only going to continue into the future.  For the last few years, it's been harder and harder to find good employees, for a number of reasons.  Because we operate seasonally and can't offer year-round employment, it makes it really hard to keep good people.  Most adults need employment all year, so each year we have to start from scratch and train new people, and they're often very young and inexperienced.  This year the work miraculously got done by a crew of teens, several family members and friends who made themselves available when they didn't have to be at their "real" jobs, and Fred just gunning it nonstop all season.  But living like that has been stressful and exhausting, and we can't keep doing it this way.  We considered downsizing and getting rid of one of our CSA drop-offs so the workload would more manageable within our existing structure, but we didn't want to do that.  We want to make high-quality, affordable, organic produce available to all of you, and every time we discussed which drop-off to cut, we just felt awful about all of the options.  So that is obviously not the answer.  What we need to be able to do is offer a good wage so it's worth it for qualified college-age or older people to work with us for the season.  As wages continue to rise, it makes working hard in the dirt and heat seem a lot less attractive when someone can make the same amount of money doing much easier work.  So we need to be able to raise our wages so we can get good people and pay them what they deserve.

So that's a really long way of saying that we are going to be raising our CSA prices this year.  In the past, we've raised the price by $5 every other year or so, but this year, they're going to be going up from $305 to $325 for a half share, and from $560 to $600 for a full share at our regular drop-offs.  After looking around at the prices of other local CSA farms around mid-Michigan, I was glad to see that ours is still less expensive than any of the other farms I checked out, because it's extremely important to us to make good food available to everyone, not just people with deep pockets.  And as always, we have an early bird special!  Anyone who signs up and pays for at least half of their share before the end of the calendar year will get their half share for $315 or their full share for $580!  So if you have any questions, just send me an email, and if you're interested in signing up for the CSA next year, fill out this google for for the Monroe Family Organics 2021 CSA season


What to Expect in Your Share


If you are going through the line at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland), here’s what the options will be at the different stations.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you choose two items at each station! 

Lettuce or potatoes
Carrots
Brussels sprouts or cherry tomatoes
Sweet potatoes or butternut squash
Dill, microgreens, small cabbage, or acorn squash
Radishes, beets, or kale
Onion, shallot, or a fennel bulb


If you have a prepacked share, here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A, B, or C, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.  So just fill out this Google form by lunchtime the day before your drop-off to let me know which share you want for this week!  If it comes in after that, I might still be able to get you the share you wanted, but I can't guarantee it. And if I don't hear from you, I'll just choose for you. :-)

Share A:  Potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, beets, and onion.

Share B:  Spring mix, carrots, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, microgreens, kale, onion.

Share C:  Spring mix, carrots, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, small cabbage, radishes, shallot.


Recipes


Pretty much every fall, one of our favorite things to make is roasted root vegetables!  It's so versatile, because you can use whatever potatoes, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, etc. that you have on hand, and it is warm and earthy and filling.  Perfect for when the weather starts to get a little chilly!  So check out this recipe for Oven Roasted Root Vegetables!

Saturday, October 3, 2020

CSA Newsletter for Week 16

 

Farm Update


Our trailer was loaded down with squash
after the big harvest on Friday!
Hi everyone!  It was another busy week at the farm, and I am glad to announce that we now have all of our storage crops out of the field!  We traditionally think of fall as harvest season, because that's when farms do a huge, all-hands-on-deck harvest of potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, onions, and other crops that will get them through the long, cold winter.  We don't have very many people working for us this time of year (just Fred and three part-time people who each come in a couple days a week), but we were able to round up a great crew on Friday to bring in the squash.  We had Fred, his sister Mary, our employee Lindy, her boyfriend Blake, and his friend Josh, and the five of them brought in all the remaining squash from the field.  So now that the massive harvest push is done, our day-to-day harvest for the CSA will be a lot more manageable.  We'll still be harvesting things like kale, lettuce, leeks, carrots, beets, and tomatoes, and peppers daily.  The warm season crops (tomatoes, peppers, and the like) will start to peter out as the season goes on, to be replaced by more root vegetables and leafy greens.  We did have some frost this week, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the forecast predicted, so the summer veggies aren't quite dead yet!  We'll still have cherry tomatoes in the shares this week, and while the larger tomatoes aren't going to be listed in the shares, it's likely that we'll still have some on the trade table, or interspersed on the tables throughout the week.  And there are still four more weeks of great veggies!  So we'll see you at the drop-off for week 16 of the CSA!


What to Expect in Your Share


If you are going through the line at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland), here’s what the options will be at the different stations.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you choose two items at each station! 

Lettuce
Sweet potatoes or potatoes
Squash or cherry tomatoes
Carrots or beets
Kale, cabbage, or fennel
Onion or garlic
Leeks, microgreens, radish

If you have a prepacked share, here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A, B, or C, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.  So just fill out this Google form by lunchtime the day before your drop-off to let me know which share you want for this week!  If I don't hear from you, I'll just choose for you. :-)

Share A:  Lettuce, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, kale, onion, and leek.

Share B:  Lettuce, potatoes, squash, carrots, fennel, onion, and leek.

Share C:  Lettuce, sweet potatoes, squash, beets, cabbage, garlic, and radishes.


Recipes



With more of a chill in the air, doesn't it just seem like the perfect time to make Potato Leek Soup?  This recipe calls for Yukon Gold potatoes, and those are not the potatoes we have in the shares.  But really, the author just wants to make sure that you're using a potato with great flavor, and our Red Norlands will certainly make a delicious soup!  So check out this Potato Leek Soup from Once Upon a Chef!

Saturday, September 26, 2020

CSA Newsletter for Week 15

 

Farm Update


Hi everyone!  It's officially fall, and it definitely feels like it out there!  Our cool-weather crops (the leafy greens and the root vegetables) are doing great, and will likely continue to do well until the end of the season.  Our warm weather veggies (peppers, tomatoes, etc.) are still doing pretty well, but they'll start winding down as time goes on, and by the time the snow flies, they'll just be a memory of a warmer time.  Interestingly, sweet potatoes (which most people link inextricably with fall due to their prevalence on the Thanksgiving table), require a long and hot summer to meet their full potential.  Cool, cloudy summers produce small and spindly sweet potatoes, but they look great this year!  Fred and our three remaining part time workers (all of our teens are officially back to school, so we're down to a pretty minimal workforce right now) have been working on bringing in all of the sweet potatoes from the field this week.  Now is the time, because that significant frost we got last weekend effectively killed the sweet potato vines, and once the vines are dead, the roots (that's the part we eat) need to come in quickly so they aren't ruined.  So that means it's sweet potato season!  Fortunately, the frost that affected some of our veggies also finished off a lot of the weeds, so most of the weeding we'll need to do for the rest of the season will actually be in the coldframes.  I relish weeding in the coldframes in fall, because by the end of October, it's the warmest place at the farm to be!  But for now, the weather is still pretty nice even out in the field, and we still have five weeks of veggies ahead of us!  The last week of October will be the final week of the CSA, so if you were wondering about that, you can mark your calendars!  In the meantime, check out the options for this week's share, and we'll see you at the drop-off! :-)



What to Expect in Your Share


If you are going through the line at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland), here’s what the options will be at the different stations.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you choose two items at each station! 

Spring mix or arugula
Cherry tomatoes or squash
Carrots or sweet potatoes
Potatoes or Roma tomatoes
Radishes or kale
Pepper or onion
Leeks or 2 tomatoes

If you have a prepacked share, here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A, B, or C, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.  So just fill out this Google form by lunchtime the day before your drop-off to let me know which share you want for this week!  If I don't hear from you, I'll just choose for you. :-)

Share A:  Spring mix, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, Roma tomatoes, radishes, pepper, and leeks.

Share B:  Spring mix, squash, carrots, potatoes, kale, onion, and 2 tomatoes.

Share C:  Arugula, cherry tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, kale, pepper, and leeks.


Recipes


It's soup season! If you're not sure what to do with kale besides making kale chips or sautéing it with olive oil and garlic (that's my favorite quick kale recipe!), check out this Vegetarian Kale Soup!  It's hearty, delicious, and perfect for this time of year! 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

CSA Newsletter for Week 14

 

Farm Update


Last night's frost hit us pretty hard! 
This is what the lettuce looked like
when Fred went out to the field this
morning.
Hi everyone!  Last week was just a whirlwind of activity between harvesting, getting ready for the CSA drop-offs, doing deliveries, getting our records ready for our organic certification inspection, and prepping the farm for the significant frost we had last night.  Fred was at the farm until about 12:45 last night trying to get as many plants as possible covered to protect them from the frost, and fortunately, most of our crops made it through with minimal damage.  Most of the coldhardy fall crops still look pretty good, and only time will tell whether some of the summer veggies will maintain their quality.  The peppers are kind of on the edge, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens with them.  It's that part of the year where one by one, our summer crops run their course for the season and we say good-bye to them until next year.  Fortunately, we still have plenty of variety coming out of the fields this week!  We'll have the first sweet potatoes of the year in the shares this week, as well as more cabbage and arugula, and of course, our old friends tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, and others!  So here we go into Week 14!  See you later this week! :-)



What to Expect in Your Share


If you are going through the line at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland), here’s what the options will be at the different stations.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you choose two items at each station! 

Tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
Lettuce
Arugula, kale, or cabbage
Potatoes or beets
Cilantro or 2 peppers
Squash, carrots, or sweet potatoes
Onion

If you have a prepacked share, here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A, B, or C, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.  So just fill out this Google form by lunchtime the day before your drop-off to let me know which share you want for this week!  If I don't hear from you, I'll just choose for you. :-)

Share A:  Tomatoes, spring mix, cabbage, potatoes, cilantro, sweet potatoes, and an onion.

Share B:  Cherry tomatoes, spring mix, kale, potatoes, 2 peppers, carrots, and an onion.

Share C:  Cherry tomatoes, romaine, arugula, beets, 2 peppers, squash, and an onion.


Recipes




When the weather gets cold, we naturally seek out foods that make us feel warm and cozy, and these Oven Fresh Seasoned Potato Wedges are the ultimate comfort food for a chilly evening!  

Saturday, September 12, 2020

CSA Newsletter for Week13

 

Farm Update


Charlie harvesting cherry tomatoes
on Monday.
Hi everyone!   Wow, it got cold in a hurry, didn't it?  We're definitely into fall now, but we have high hopes that it won't be this chilly and damp for the rest of the season.  When the temperature drops, it really slows down the ripening of the tomatoes.  The upside to that is that we will have canning tomatoes again this week, because they didn't all ripen last week like we thought they would.  So if you're interested in romas or slicing tomatoes for canning, just let me know! They'll be $12 per half bushel.

The cold and wet weather also made harvesting a lot trickier than it is in warmer, dryer parts of the year.  The dampness in the air causes our cherry tomatoes to burst, which means we need to harvest a lot more of them to make sure that you are all getting the best cherry tomatoes without any splits in them.  So they take a lot longer to harvest, and a lot longer to package in those little pint containers, because a much larger percentage of them need to be tossed out.  Harvesting basically anything is also less pleasant in the cold, so we're really hoping the nice weather comes back soon!

The cooler fall weather has certainly been good for our lettuces though!  We finally have tons of spring mix again, and it is looking and tasting great!  We've also started harvesting the first of the sweet potatoes, and we've put the first round out to cure.  Like garlic, sweet potatoes need to cure for a little while so that they can last for long periods of time at room temperature.  This makes sweet potatoes one of the ultimate storage vegetables for winter, because if they've been properly cured, they don't need to go into the fridge.

In other news, we have our big annual organic inspection coming up on Friday!  We'll be putting in a lot of time this week making sure we have all of our records in one place, because our inspector will want to see everything from a detailed record of what seeds we planted on which dates, to our daily harvest records.  He and Fred will walk around the main farm, the blueberry patch, the orchard, and the barn (which is where our packing area and walk-in cooler are) inspecting a bunch of stuff.  It's usually a process that takes about six hours, plus all of the hours (and months) of record-keeping that lead up to the actual inspection.  So it's a time-consuming process, but after Friday, we can cross that off of our to-do list!  So wish us luck!  See you at the drop-off!

What to Expect in Your Share

  • Potatoes or Roma tomatoes
  • Spring mix or arugula
  • Slicing tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • Acorn squash or leeks
  • Kale, Swiss chard, or a young romaine head
  • Microgreens, dill, or 2 peppers
  • Garlic, onion, or an heirloom tomato

If you are going through the line at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland), here’s what the options will be at the different stations.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one item at each station, and if you have a full share, you choose two items at each station! 

If you have a prepacked share, here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A, B, or C, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.  So just fill out this Google form by lunchtime the day before your drop-off to let me know which share you want for this week!  If I don't hear from you, I'll just choose for you. :-)

Share A:  Potatoes, arugula, slicing tomatoes, acorn squash, young romaine head, microgreens, and an heirloom tomato.

Share B:  Roma tomatoes, spring mix, cherry tomatoes, acorn squash, kale, dill, and an onion.

Share C:  Potatoes, spring mix, slicing tomatoes, leeks, chard, 2 peppers, and an onion.


Recipes


The Best Fresh Tomato Salsa

I love tomato season!  I miss tomatoes in the winter, spring, and early summer, and I just glory in them when they finally become abundant in late summer.  The only thing about tomato season is that there are just so. many. tomatoes!  But never fear!  If like me, you feel like you're swimming in tomatoes right now, this is the perfect time to make salsa!  Try out this Best Fresh Tomato Salsa recipe, and enjoy it with your favorite tortilla chips, put it on tacos, or use it to top some grilled chicken!