Sunday, October 14, 2018

CSA Newsletter for Week 18

Farm Update


This happens pretty much every fall, but the farm is a big
muddy mess right now!  So far we haven't had to pull the
delivery vehicle out of the mud with the tractor yet this year,
but it's only a matter of time.  Also, can you believe it was
this warm on Monday?
Hi everyone!  What a week!  It went from really hot in the early part of the week to downright cold in the later half!  So far, we still haven't had our first major frost of the season, which is almost unheard of by mid-October.  The forecast called for one about a week and a half ago that never materialized, and we were supposed to get one a few nights ago too, but some cloud cover moved in just in time and acted like a big blanket over the farm.  We ended up with just a few patches of light frost, so amazingly, the natural dying back of the crops that occurs after the first frost has not yet occurred.  Now that we are winding down the season (just three CSA weeks left!), most of our work revolves around harvesting, washing, and packing the shares, and preparing the farm for it's long winter's nap.  With the weather turning colder, pretty much all of the farm tasks take a little longer and seem a little more daunting, and we are definitely wearing warmer clothing out there than we were a month ago.  This is the part of the annual life cycle of the farm where we start feeling like slowing down and coming in out of the cold, and in a month or so, the fields will naturally oblige us in that desire by stopping production for the year.  At that point, we'll still have some veggies coming out of the coldframes and greenhouse, likely until mid-December, and maybe even up until Christmas depending on the weather.
     But even as this year is starting to wind down, it's time to start thinking about next year!  We are officially opening up CSA sign-ups for the 2019 season, so if you want to sign up for next year, just let me know!  The cost of the shares is going to go up slightly for next year, so a half share will go from $300 to $305, and a full share will go from $550 to $560.  But if you sign up and put down at least a half payment before the end of 2018, you'll get your 2019 share for the 2018 price.  The 2019 prices go into effect on January 1st, so if you know you want to sign up for next year, you might as well do it early and save a few dollars!  That also helps us out, because we incur most of our farm expenses in January and February, so having that cushion there is really helpful!  If you have any questions about next year's sign-ups or anything else, just let me know!  In the meantime, we have three more weeks of the CSA left, so I'll see you next week! :-)


What to Expect in This Week's Share


If you are picking up at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, or 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.

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Spinach or lettuce
  • Arugula, kale, or microgreens
  • Radishes or bell pepper
  • Onions or leeks

If you have a prepacked share (Midland hospital, St. Johns, Lansing, Okemos, or home delivery), here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A or share B, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.

Share A:                               Share B:
Sweet potatoes                     Sweet potatoes
Apples                                  Apples
Carrots                                  Carrots
Lettuce                                  Spinach
Kale                                       Arugula
Radishes                                Bell peppers
Leeks                                     Onion


Recipes



Photo of Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple, and Red Lentil Soup by zhidaomaNow that it is consistently chilly out, I have really been digging soups.  We've been making a lot of puréed soups at our house lately, from tomato basil soup with the very last of the tomatoes, to a yummy sweet potato and squash soup that we served yesterday at our Janie's birthday party.  The wonderful thing about soups is that they are warm and comforting, and they are just as good a few days later as they are when you first make them, so you can make up a big batch and eat the leftovers throughout the week.  This Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple, and Red Lentil Soup will stick to your bones, and it takes advantage of several major fall veggie staples!

Friday, October 5, 2018

CSA Newsletter for Week 17

Farm Update


Danny and Carson get ready to transplant lettuce in one of
the coldframes.
Hi everyone!  This week was definitely a transitional week for us at the farm.  We cleaned many of the summer veggies that are done for the year (such as zucchini) out of the coldframes to make room for some more cold-hardy crops like lettuce and spinach, which will last well into the fall.  We were glad to have missed the frost that seemed imminent on Thursday night/ Friday morning, which means that more of our veggies will be in better shape for longer.  Fred has made the executive decision that tomatoes are pretty much done for the year; for a while now, it has been pretty hard to come up with enough nice ones for the shares, and they're only getting fewer and farther between as the year wears on.  So with the exception of a few tomatoes that might make their way onto the trading table, we probably won't have any more in the shares for this year.  But as the tomatoes move out of the shares, we have more apples moving in!  The apples in the share this week will be Ida Reds, which are great for fresh eating and also for baking.  If you happen to be looking for a really phenomenal apple pie recipe, I made this one a few weeks ago, and it was amazing!  In other farm news, our very own Carson defended his doctoral dissertation on Lake Michigan Steelhead management this morning, so (after his official graduation in December) he is now our very own Dr. Carson!  A huge congratulations to him!


What to Expect in This Week's Share


If you are picking up at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, or 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.

This tray of lettuce transplants waits to be
planted in the coldframe.
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash or potatoes
  • Lettuce, arugula, or Brussels sprouts
  • Apples
  • Radishes, microgreens, or leeks
  • Cippolini onions or kale
  • Bell pepper or onion

If you have a prepacked share (Midland hospital, St. Johns, Lansing, Okemos, or home delivery), here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A or share B, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.

Share A:                               Share B:
Sweet potatoes                     Sweet potatoes
Apples                                  Apples
Winter squash                       Potatoes
Lettuce                                  Brussels sprouts
Radishes                               Radishes
Cippolini onions                   Kale
Bell pepper                           Onion


Recipes



It's Brussels sprouts season!  I always forget every year how good these wonderful little gems are, and then I'm reminded every fall when they come back around.  If you happen to be one of the haters of this delicious but oft-maligned veggie, let this be the year you give them another try!  The key is simple:  Do. Not. Boil. Them.  I'm convinced that's why such a large number people hate them, because so many well-meaning mothers and grandmothers completely ruined them in a pot of boiling water.  So now that we have the most basic rule down, you may be wondering what would be a better way to prepare them.  Never fear!  Here is a fantastic (and fantastically simple!) recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts to get you started.  Another favorite in our house is to simply pan-fry them in olive oil and toss them in an apple cider reduction with a pinch of brown sugar, but there are a thousand really awesome ways to make Brussels sprouts.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

CSA Newsletter for Week 16

Farm Update


The pie pumpkins we had in the shares last week are a sure
sign of fall!  
Hi everyone!  We are entering the home stretch of the CSA season, with 15 weeks down and 5 more to go!  The weather has definitely shifted to be fully autumnal, and those hot summer days are a mere memory now.  A lot of the insane workload of summer has passed too, and most of our work in a given week revolves around harvesting, washing, packing, and delivering the vegetables.  We're still doing a little planting, but that has definitely decreased as well now that the remaining months of production are dwindling.  We finally finished up our massive sweet potato harvest this week, which is a huge thing we can cross off the to-do list, and we also finished up our various inspections for the year.  So the farm is starting to wind down for the season, which is somewhat bittersweet. On one hand, it is nice not to have to work at such a frantic pace, but on the other hand, I always miss the sheer vitality and alive-ness of summer when it passes.  But as Thoreau said, we should live in each season as it passes, and the nice thing about seasons is that they all come back around again.  So now is the time to settle into fall and all that it entails, and summer will be back soon enough. 

In other news, if you get a prepacked share delivered to your home, or you pick up at our Lansing, Okemos, or St. Johns drop-offs, I wanted to let you know that we do have eggs available!  Normally we have them for sale on the side at our regular drop-offs, but I wanted to let you guys know about them too, in case you wanted to set up a weekly egg order, or just order some every once in a while.  They're $4 per dozen from our very own free-range, happy hens.  So just let me know if you want to try some out! :-)


What to Expect in This Week's Share


If you are picking up at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, or 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.

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes or potatoes
  • Lettuce, arugula, or eggplant
  • Squash
  • Radishes, leeks, or a bag of small/medium onions
  • Bell pepper or onion
  • Kale, cilantro, or microgreens

If you have a prepacked share (Midland hospital, St. Johns, Lansing, Okemos, or home delivery), here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A or share B, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.

Share A:                               Share B:
Sweet potatoes                     Sweet potatoes
Tomatoes                              Potatoes
Lettuce                                  Arugula
Butternut squash                   Butternut squash
Radishes                               Leeks
Bell pepper                           Bell pepper
Green kale                            Red kale


Recipes


Our two newest additions to the roster this week are arugula (also called rocket, which is kind of fun!) and radishes, which are finally back in season!  If you're not quite sure what to do with these new veggies, here are 31 Arugula Recipes so You Can Eat It All the Time from Bon Appetit, and Radish Recipes from the kitchen queen herself, Martha Stewart!  There are a ton of ideas that range from pretty basic to fancy and complicated, so you're sure to find something that's right up your alley!  

Saturday, September 22, 2018

CSA Newsletter for Week 15

Farm Update


The sweet potato harvest continues!  Danny and Ben harvested
a whole bunch of them on Wednesday!
Hi everyone!  We are officially into fall now, and the weather definitely reflects that.  Another sure sign of fall is the massive harvests of sweet potatoes we've been doing lately!  So far we've gotten about 7,000 pounds of sweet potatoes out of the ground, and we have another 2,500 or so to go.  Harvesting is definitely our most time-consuming project these days, as the time spent weeding and irrigating (our other two major time-consuming tasks at the farm) are less important this time of year than they were a few months ago.  In other news, we had our inspection for our organic certification yesterday, and it went really well!  So that's out of the way, and now we just have our food safety inspection on Monday, and then we're set for the year.  Another fun thing is that on Wednesday, we had a photojournalism student from Central Michigan University come out to the farm and take some pictures for a class project she's doing.  She has been assigned to shadow and photograph a farm family so she can tell our story in pictures.  So Wednesday she came out and got pictures of Fred and me packing up the shares for our Lansing area drop-offs, and she's going to come to our house tomorrow evening and take pictures of the whole family.

I've also had a lot of people ask when the final drop-off will be, so just in case you're wondering, the last week of October is our final CSA week.  The last Alma drop-off will be October 29, Mt. Pleasant will be October 30, Lansing will be October 31, and Midland will be November 1.  But we still have six weeks of veggies left until then, so get ready for a bunch of seasonal fall goodies coming your way!


What to Expect in This Week's Share


If you are picking up at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, or 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.

  • Sweet potatoes
    Carson pints cherry tomatoes in preparation for
    Tuesday's drop-offs.
  • Butternut squash or cherry tomatoes
  • Roma tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplant
  • Slicing tomatoes or lettuce
  • Pie pumpkin, delicata squash, or 2 bell peppers
  • Kale, cilantro, or microgreens
  • Large onion

If you have a prepacked share (Midland hospital, St. Johns, Lansing, Okemos, or home delivery), here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A or share B, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.

Share A:                               Share B:
Sweet potatoes                     Sweet potatoes
Butternut squash                  Cherry tomatoes
Roma tomatoes                    Potatoes
Lettuce                                 Lettuce
2 bell peppers                       Pie pumpkin
Cilantro                                Kale
Onion                                   Onion


Recipes




There are a lot of tomato options in the shares this week!  So if you are as much of a tomato lover as we are, you really could get a ridiculous number of them if you so choose.  If you're reading this and thinking, "That's an awesome idea!  I think I'll do that!", here are some great tomato recipes to help you on your way, from Chili-Lime Shrimp Fajitas to Heirloom Tomato and Onion Quiche.  Enjoy!


Saturday, September 15, 2018

CSA Newsletter for Week 14

Farm Update


Fred takes a break from the sweet potato
harvest to strike a pose for the camera.
Hi everyone!  Even though we have one more week of summer on the calendar, fall is definitely upon us!  The traditional fall veggies are starting to make their appearance in the CSA shares, and we were thrilled to add sweet potatoes and butternut squash to the roster last week!  In fact, last week and this week, harvesting as many sweet potatoes and winter squash as possible (as well as the other veggies in the shares) is the name of the game.  Another thing we spent way more time on this week than we would have liked was avoiding the mosquitos!  They were just ridiculous this week!  Did you guys notice that too?  Another big deal around the farm this week is our upcoming annual inspections.  Next week (not this week, but the following one), we’ll have both our organic certification inspection and our GAP (food safety) certification inspection, so there is always a flurry of activity surrounding those.  Both certifications involve a massive amount of paperwork, so Fred and I will spend the next week making sure our I’s are dotted and our T’s are crossed in preparation for the arrival of those inspectors.  There will be a lot of making sure our harvest logs are up to date, that all of our seed purchases are recorded and verified, and making the farm as shiny and sparkly as you can get a place that is, by definition, covered in dirt.  So wish us luck with that all the preparations, and we’ll see you this week for week 14!



What to Expect in This Week's Share


If you are picking up at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, or 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.

  • Sweet potatoes
    The beets are growing up quite nicely in the coldframe.
  • Cherry tomatoes or slicing tomatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Potatoes or lettuce
  • Basil, microgreens, or kale
  • Delicata squash, leeks, or a bag of small/medium onions
  • Bell pepper or large onion

If you have a prepacked share (Midland hospital, St. Johns, Lansing, Okemos, or home delivery), here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A or share B, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.

Share A:                               Share B:
Sweet potatoes                     Sweet potatoes
Cherry tomatoes                   Slicing tomatoes
Butternut squash                  Butternut squash
Potatoes                                Lettuce
Kale                                      Basil
Delicata squash                    Leeks
Large onion                          Bell pepper


Recipes



When I was a kid, I thought I didn't like sweet potatoes.  That's because we only ever had them on Thanksgiving, and my wonderful aunt who brought them was fond of mashed sweet potatoes with those little marshmallows on top, which is probably my least-favorite preparation.  So I was very surprised to learn as a pseudo-adult how much I actually love them!  So if like me, you prefer your sweet potatoes unmashed and unmarshmallowed, try out this awesome recipe for Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes.  Or if this fall weather is making you feel like baking a pie, here is my go-to Sweet Potato Pie Recipe!



Saturday, September 8, 2018

CSA Newsletter for Week 13

Farm Update



Our chicken girls have definitely been enjoying how fast
the grass has grown since it's been so warm and rainy!
They've shown their appreciation by finally transitioning to
almost all full-size eggs, rather than the medium-sized pullet
eggs a lot of them had been previously laying. (I don't know if
the grass actually had anything to do with it, but the timing
was pretty spot-on!)
Hi everyone!  It definitely feels like fall out there today!  We’ll likely get the last of the warm temperatures this week, then it will truly transition away from summer for good.  And like the weather, the vegetables are also in transition.  Yesterday we started our large sweet potato harvest, which is a sure sign of fall!  We were pleased to see that many of the sweet potatoes look like they’re a good size, because you can never tell what they look like under the soil until you dig them up.  Some years they’re just kind of spindly and disappointing, but this year they look nice!  We’re also continuing to plant our hearty fall greens outside, because they can withstand the cooler temperatures that we’ll be getting over the next few months.  We actually transplanted the last of the outdoor lettuce yesterday, and then the next planting will be in the greenhouse, because by the time that will be ready, it will just be too cold, windy, and damp in the open air for lettuces to do well.  Some of you were able to get the first of the winter squashes in your shares last week, and this week we’ll be doing a major winter squash harvest, so there will be more coming!  We’ve been doing a little weeding this week, but the weed pressure this time of year is a lot less forceful than in early- and mid-summer, so it’s a lot easier to keep up with now.  The pace of the work at the farm is starting to slow, which it does every year as nature starts its slow wind-down to winter.  So let’s all enjoy this last warm week, and the last few weeks of true summer veggies!  Here we go into week 13!


What to Expect in This Week's Share


If you are picking up at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, or 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.

  • Cherry tomatoes or spring mix
    Ben harvests cherry tomatoes in the coldframe.
    Bless that boy for putting up with me randomly
    taking pictures of him working when I happen
    to be walking by! 
  • Basil or kale
  • Potatoes
  • Bag of small/medium onions, leeks, or microgreens
  • Green pepper or large onion
  • Sweet potatoes or butternut squash
  • Pears, apples, or tomatoes

If you have a prepacked share (Midland hospital, St. Johns, Lansing, Okemos, or home delivery), here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A or share B, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.

Share A:                               Share B:
Cherry tomatoes                  Spring mix
Kale                                     Basil
Potatoes                               Potatoes
Bag of smallish onions        Leeks
Green pepper                       Large onion
Butternut squash                 Sweet potatoes
Pears                                   Tomatoes


Recipes


It doesn't happen all the time that I get super excited about a recipe idea, but I have to admit, scrolling through these 26 Easy Butternut Squash Recipes from Good Housekeeping, my eyes were getting wide and I decided I have to make each and every one of these before squash season is over.  Butternut squash, leek, and goat cheese galette!  Butternut squash pancakes!  Spice-Roasted Butternut Squash with Cider Vinaigrette!  There are so many amazing recipes here, we'll all be going happily squash-crazy until there isn't a single one left in the field! :-)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

CSA Newsletter for Week 12

Farm Update



All those lovely pears, just waiting to be harvested!
Hi everyone!  We finally have enough rain at the farm, that’s for sure!  We needed more rain for most of the season, but it can definitely stop now!  This week has been a fairly smooth transition from summer into fall as most of our employees went back to school.  Mary, Jewel, and Daniel all left this week to pursue their educational ambitions, so we’re down to Ben, Carson, and Danny.  Given that we’re down to half of our workforce, things were less crazy this week than we expected, so we’re super grateful for that. Weeding and harvesting definitely were the most time-consuming projects this week, but Fred was also able to put in a big planting of carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and arugula this morning before more rain comes.  We were also pleased to have some surprise pears this last week!  Our orchard is extremely old, and most years it doesn’t actually do very well because such old trees aren’t well-suited to organic production.  Most years, we’re able to get just a few crates of apples and no pears, but this year, the apples have done better than I’ve ever seen them do.  The pears were quite a surprise to us last week, because we never expected to get any! We also weren’t sure about the corn, because the raccoons took out most of our first planting, but the second planting turned out really well!  We’re likely to have more pears and corn this week too, but they’ll be in smaller quantities in the surprise veggie category.

Just a reminder that Monday is Labor Day, and we are having the Alma drop-off as usual, but if you’re unable to make it to the drop-off Monday, please just let me know by Sunday so I can adjust the harvest list.  Then, you can either arrange to get a double share next week, or pick up Tuesday at our Mt. Pleasant drop-off instead, whatever works best for you.  We hope you all have an awesome holiday, and we’ll see you next week!


What to Expect in This Week's Share


If you are picking up at one of our traditional style drop-offs (Alma, Mt. Pleasant, or 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.

I just love looking at those endless rows of different
colored lettuce for our spring mix!  They seem
especially long when it's weeding time, but they
certainly look pretty! :-)
  • Potatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes or slicing tomatoes
  • Snap beans or lettuce
  • Surprise veggie
  • Kale or a bag of small/medium onions
  • Zucchini, leeks, or microgreens
  • Green pepper

If you have a prepacked share (Midland hospital, St. Johns, Lansing, Okemos, or home delivery), here are your options.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose either share A or share B, and if you have a full share, you can choose two of them.

Share A:                               Share B:
Potatoes                                Potatoes
Cherry tomatoes                   Slicing tomatoes
Snap beans                           Lettuce
Surprise veggie                    Surprise veggie
Kale                                     Bag of onions
Zucchini                               Leeks
Green pepper                       Green pepper


Recipes


For us, breakfast is definitely a big deal!  Since farm work is so physically demanding, our habit is to power up with a hearty and healthy breakfast that will last us until lunchtime.  So Fred (who is definitely the chef at our house) always makes up something filling and delicious. Even if you're usually a piece-of-toast-while-you're-running-out-the-door type person, with the long weekend, you'll hopefully have time for an extra delicious breakfast!  To take advantage of the potatoes and green peppers in your share, try out this recipe for the Best Breakfast Potatoes Ever from Ree Drummond, and maybe even linger over a second cup of coffee. :-)