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!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

At the Farm: This Week in Pictures

Farm Update

We brought some of the first tomatoes of the year to the drop-off
this week, and there are more to come!
Hi everyone!  It has been a great week at the farm!  Very seldom do we ever get a week where we feel like we got most of what we needed to done, and this was one of those rare weeks.  It was just an enjoyable week to work outside too. (Except for harvesting potatoes in the rain on Friday.  Major props to Mary, Therese, and Fred who braved the cold rain to get the first round of potatoes out of the ground!)  As always, there are so many tasks that need to get done at the farm, and this week I remembered to chronicle some of them in pictures.  In other news, our resident grad student, Carson, is conducting a research project about CSA membership.  He's created a research survey for you all to (please please) fill out that will really help him collect data for his project.  We're going to be publishing the link to his survey in next week's newsletter, so be on the lookout for that.  See you 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 kale
Cherry tomatoes or sweet corn
Broccoli or potatoes
Lettuce or beets
Cabbage, fennel, or 2 zucchini
Herbs, cucumber, or garlic
Onion or slicing tomatoes


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                                 Kale
Sweet corn(4 ears)               Cherry tomatoes
Broccoli                               Potatoes
Lettuce                                 Beets
Cabbage                               2 Zucchini
Cucumber                            Herbs
Tomato                                 Onion                                   

At the Farm:  This Week in Pictures


I always enjoy when news sources run "This Week in Pictures" type articles.  Perhaps it's because a picture is worth a thousand words, or perhaps it's because I just like a visual representation of the big and small things humanity has been up to.  So here are some of the moments I captured this week at the farm, so you can see what a week at the farm looks like.


Monday:  I discovered two volunteer sunflowers next to the
coldframes.  We never actually planted these, but we did plant
some sunflower microgreens earlier in the spring.  So we
suspect that a couple micro sunflowers somehow migrated over
here and took hold, growing to beautiful fruition.


Monday:  Carson moves and sets up some of our drip line
irrigation.  We irrigated pretty heavily during the early part of
the week, and moving all of the irrigation lines around is a
pretty time-consuming process.
Monday:  Jewel and Ben harvest green beans for the CSA
drop-off.

Thursday:  Ben shows off the unusual cherry tomato he found
wile harvesting.  This one has the appearance of a tiny pumpkin.

Wednesday:  Fred left the tractor at the end of a section he was
undercutting to make the carrot harvest easier.  Carrots can be
really hard to pull out of the ground, but if we go through with
this attachment that loosens up the soil underneath the carrots
first, it makes harvesting a much easier task.

Monday:  Mary weighs out carrots for an order in our makeshift
packing area.  When crops come in from the field, we wash them
in our repurposed restaurant sinks, spin the leafy stuff in our
giant salad spinners (that were clothes washers in a former life),
and bag them up for the CSA and wholesale orders.  We then
put them in crates and move them into our adjacent walk-in cooler.

Tuesday:  I set up the tables before our Mt. Pleasant CSA drop- off.

Monday:  Fred cultivates a lettuce bed to help keep the weeds
down.  The cultvator disturbs the soil in between the rows of
lettuce, pulling up the weeds.  That means that the only hand-
weeding we need to do is right in the rows, where the cultivator
can't reach.

Thursday:  We had a nice surprise visit at our Midland drop-off
from one of our old crew members, Nate.  He came by to
pick up his parents' share while he's in town, and we got to chat
with him for a while.  It was so nice to see him!



Thursday:  Emily shows off an oddly-shaped zucchini she found.
Usually when we find vegetables that don't look normal, we set
them aside and take them home to eat.
Friday:  Mary harvests potatoes in the rain.  After Fred drove
through the potato bed with our old potato digger (which picks
up dirt and potatoes alike and deposits the potatoes on top of
the soil, making the harvest a lot easier), Mary and Therese
would go along and collect all of the potatoes into crates.