Saturday, June 24, 2017

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

Farm Update

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

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

What to Expect in this Week's Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What to Expect at the First Drop-Off

Farm Update

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

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

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

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

This Week's Share Options

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

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

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

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

What to Expect at the First Drop-Off

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

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

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

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

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


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