Saturday, June 30, 2018

CSA Newsletter for Week 3

Farm Update

The veggies are all set up and ready to go at our Alma
drop-off on Monday!
Hi everyone!  It is certainly a hot weekend!  Fortunately, we got some good strong rain a few days ago, so the ground contained a lot of moisture going into these few hot days.  That will allow the plants to be significantly less stressed than they would be otherwise with these temperatures.  With the heat and the rain, quite a few of our warm weather crops are taking off.  Over the next few days, we’ll see a lot of growth on our cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash, and we’ll likely have a pretty abundant zucchini situation this week!  We’ve started to eat the very first of the ripening tomatoes at home, so we hope to have the first appearance of tomatoes in the CSA shares in the next few weeks as the hot weather speeds them along.  The same weather that encourages such rapid growth on our crops also causes the weeds to go crazy, so we’ll be doing a ton of weeding this week!  The blueberry bushes are also looking really strong and healthy, so it’s likely that we’ll start having blueberries in the shares in two or three weeks!

It’s also been a festive week!  We (mostly) took a break from farm work yesterday to celebrate Fred’s brother Charlie’s marriage to Lexi, the newest addition to the Monroe clan.  Those of you who came to the Midland drop-off on Thursday probably got to meet our kiddos, who joined us at the drop-off while the rest of the family (who normally babysit them while we’re at the farm) were at the rehearsal.  It was a lovely wedding, and we’re so excited to have Lexi in the family!

Speaking of festivities, this Wednesday is the 4th of July!  If you are unable to make it to the drop-off this week due to parties or travel plans, just let me know and we’ll plan on postponing your share.  We are actually moving our regular Wednesday deliveries in Lansing, Okemos, and St. Johns to Friday, July 6th.  Because we deliver prepacked shares in these locations and two of our drop-off spots are closing early on the 4th, and because we heard from so many people that they would be unable to make it on that day, we’re rescheduling the drop-off for the first time ever.  If you’re at one of these drop-offs, you should have received a separate email about this, but just in case you missed it, there will be no Wednesday drop-offs this week!

We are also pleased to announce our new partnership with Full Circle Farms, who raise pastured organic meats in Lakeview, MI!  If you want to purchase any of their fantastic products at their online store, they’ll bring your purchases to us, and you can pick up your items at our regular CSA drop-offs!  They have many different types of meat available whole or by the pound, as well as cheeses, soaps, maple syrup, and other odds and ends.  Check out their website to learn more about their mission and philosophy, and their store to take a look at their lovely products!

What to Expect in This Week's Share

The blueberries are looking good!  They're not quite ripe yet,
but we expect to have them in the shares in a few weeks!
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.

  • Carrots
  • Beets or cucumbers
  • Spring mix or romaine
  • Basil mix, kohlrabi, or fennels bulbs
  • Kale or Swiss chard
  • Zucchini
  • Radishes, bok choy, or cabbage

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:
Carrots                                 Carrots
Beets                                    Cucumbers
Spring mix                           Romaine
Basil                                     Kohlrabi
Kale                                     Chard
Zucchini                              Zucchini
Cabbage                              Bok Choy


recipe active photoWeather this hot calls for recipes that don’t involve standing over the stove or turning on the oven!  If you’re looking for a great way to use your carrots and cucumbers, and like me, you’re slightly obsessed with tabbouleh, check out this delicious recipe for Quinoa Tabbouleh from!  Or if you’re going to be grilling this week (and that’s almost all of us!  Yay for Independence Day!) throw some zucchini on the grill with this Balsamic Grilled Zucchini recipe!

Friday, June 22, 2018

CSA Newsletter for Week 2

Farm Update

Ben and Jewel trellising the tomato plants on Tuesday.  (BTW,
my guess is that Ben hid behind the post on purpose, because
he totally hates getting his picture taken!)
Hi everyone!  Well, the first CSA week is over and done, and it was a success!  It was so nice to see everyone again, and to meet all the newbies!  As usual, we had a ton of different things going on around the farm this week.  We got our walk-in cooler up and running in time to start the harvest on Monday, which was good, because we had one of the parts go out pretty much as soon as we thought we had everything working, and we had to figure out how to replace it on short notice.  We’ve also been doing a ton of weeding, as well as the harvesting, washing, and packing that goes into getting everything ready for the CSA.  Things are definitely growing quickly!  Ben and Jewel re-trellised the tomato plants the other day because they’re getting so long that they’re ready for the next tier of supports.  But we’re glad for this cooler end to the week, because that will keep the strawberries from becoming overripe too soon.  Fortunately, it looks like they are going to hold on long enough for almost everyone to get some strawberries in their shares again next week.  We hope you’re all enjoying your first week of veggies, and we’ll see you next week! J

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.
  • Strawberries or beets
  • Carrots or zucchini
  • Head lettuce or spring mix
  • Pearl onions
  • Basil or kohlrabi
  • Swiss chard, kale, or collards
  • Bok choy, radishes, or fennel

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:
Strawberries                         Strawberries
Carrots                                 Zucchini
Butter head lettuce               Romaine lettuce
Pearl onions                         Pearl onions
Kohlrabi                               Basil
Collards                                Kale
Radishes                               Fennel


Pretty much every year, one of the main questions I get when it comes to vegetables is, “What is this weird looking thing, and what do I do with it?”  (I guess that’s actually two questions.  Oh well!)  The weird looking thing they’re almost certainly asking about is kohlrabi, one of the most underappreciated veggies out there!  While it’s extremely common in most of Europe, kohlrabi is still relatively unknown in the United States, so you don’t often see it at the grocery store.  Just in case you’re one of the many people who has no idea what to do with kohlrabi, here are 5 Tasty Ways to Prepare Kohlrabi from The Kitchn.

Another somewhat uncommon veggie in the shares this week is fennel.  This lovely green, frondy vegetable has a slight licorice flavor, and you can use both the bulb and the fronds.  If you’re unfamiliar with fennel, or if you’re just looking for some inspiration, check out 53 FreshFennel Recipes that Make us Fall for it All Over Again, from Bon Appetit!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Newsletter for CSA Week 1

Farm Update

Our edible nasturtiums are looking bright and cheerful!
Hi everyone!  It’s been a pretty hectic week tying up the many loose ends that need to be tied before the CSA starts next week!  Along with the usual work that fills our weeks, Fred and Carson have been reconstructing our walk-in cooler, because we dismantled our old cooler system when we built the new barn.  Now that we’re going to have a ton more produce going out each day, we’re going to need some significant cold storage, so they’ve been getting that set up.  I’ve also been getting all of my ducks in a row.  Every year, I forget the sheer number of hours it takes to make sure everyone has all the information they need, and that I have all of the information and supplies I need in order to be prepared for anything on drop-off days!  I kind of feel the way I did each time I was nesting before having a baby, only this time the baby is the CSA!  And like when you bring home a new baby, there will likely be things I didn’t think of, and it will probably take a week or so to work out all the kinks.  So if you ever have any questions, or find a detail that went under my radar, definitely let me know!  Getting things up and running is always a huge job, but we are so excited to be getting started again, and we are so looking forward to seeing you all next week!

What to Expect in This Week's Share

Everyone will get some of these gorgeous strawberries in
their shares this week!
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.
  •          Strawberries for everyone!
  •         Romaine head lettuce or spring mix
  •         Green onions
  •         Cilantro, basil, or frisee
  •         Bok choy or Easter egg radishes
  •          Kale or Swiss chard
  •          Zucchini, carrots, or beets

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:
Strawberries                         Strawberries
Spring Mix                           Romaine head
Green onions                        Green onions
Basil                                     Cilantro
Bok Choy                             Easter egg radishes
Kale                                      Kale
Zucchini                               Carrots

Also, a note on the basil:  You’ll want to keep it out at room temperature on the counter, because if you put it in the fridge, it will turn blackish.  If that happens, you can still eat it, but it just doesn’t look as nice.  So it’s best to just leave it out and let it make your whole kitchen smell good! J


Exactly seven years ago when we started the CSA, kale was not as much of a household staple as it is now.  In fact, more often than not, people would nod knowingly at the carrots, radishes, and lettuce, and stop short when they came to the kale.  “What’s this?” they’d ask.  That almost never happens now, because kale has since come to be known as a superfood, and you’ll find recipes for it in any newspaper, magazine, or blog that features recipes.  But just in case you don’t have a favorite kale preparation, or you’re just looking to try something new, here’s a great Sautéed Kale recipe from the New York Times.  This is very similar to how we usually cook it at home, and you can’t go wrong with a quick, delicious side dish like this!

And if you’re not quite sure what to do with bok choy, here is a fantastic recipe for 10 Minute Lemon Garlic Sautéed Bok Choy from Inspired Taste!  Can you tell I love fast recipes with sautéed veggies?  They’re so easy and yummy!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 11, 2018

What to Expect at Your First CSA Drop-Off

Farm Update

Fred holding one of our new hens!  We got a
 new group of ladies last week, and we hope
they'll start producing some eggs soon.
Hi everyone!  The start of the season is coming up quickly, and we are so excited to get started!  We finally have an official start date, and it's going to be next week!  So Alma is going to start on Monday the 18th, Mt. Pleasant will be Tuesday the 19th, the Lansing area drop-offs will be Wednesday the 20th, and Midland will be Thursday the 21st.  Thanks so much for your patience as we've been trying to figure out when we'd be starting.  We've basically been waiting on the strawberries to ripen, and we weren't sure until today if they'd be ready in time for next week.  But now we're confident that we'll have some good, ripe strawberries for next week, which is the perfect time to kick off the CSA!

In other farm news, it’s been super busy at the farm!  June is always a whirlwind of planting, harvesting, irrigating, seeding, weeding, delivering, and random construction and repair projects.  Fortunately, this year we’ve had plenty of rain when we needed it, so we’re super thankful for that, and we also have a fantastic farm crew in place.  So as far as we can tell, it’s shaping up to be a good year!  We’re looking forward to seeing you all next week! J

What to Expect at Your First CSA Drop-Off

One thing I’ve learned over the years of being a CSA farmer is that each CSA operates a little bit differently from the next.  So if you’ve never been part of a CSA before, or you’re just new to Monroe Family Organics CSA, here’s the rundown of what you can expect at your very first CSA drop-off!

First of all, we actually have two different styles of drop-off.  If you are picking up in Alma, Mt. Pleasant, or Midland, you’ll have our traditional “market style” drop-off.  When you show up at your appointed drop-off, you’ll see several long tables set up with seven or eight different stations, and at each station you get to make a choice.  Each station will have a sign that says something like “Spring Mix or Romaine Lettuce:  Half Share Choose 1, Full Share Choose 2”.  So then you’d get to choose a bag of spring mix or a bag or romaine if you have a half share, or you could choose both if you have a full share.  Then you’d go down the line and make a choice at each sign until you get to the end, which is our trading table.  The trading table exists so that if there is some veggie that you really don’t like, or you already have some of it at home, or whatever, you can take an item from one of the stations and trade it for something you like more at the trading table.

If you have a reusable bag or market basket, bring it along!  We’ll have some heavy-duty grocery bags there just in case, but if you bring your own bag, it’s more earth-friendly and also allows us to go through fewer bags.  As always, we’ll be there too to answer any questions you might have, offer recipe ideas, etc.  We’ll often also have additional farm items for sale on the side, such as extra pints of blueberries when they’re in season, or our free range eggs.  So if you’re interested in any of those items, you’ll want to carry some cash.  We’ll see what the egg situation is for the first few weeks of the CSA; we just got 52 lovely new Isa Brown hens, but they’re not laying yet as of right now.  So my guess is we won’t have a ton of eggs at first, but the supply will grow as the season goes on.  Keep your fingers crossed!
Here's what the tables at our traditional style drop-offs look
like!  This picture was taken last year at the Midland drop-off.

So that’s pretty much it for the traditional drop-offs!  Our other kind is the type with pre-bagged shares.  If you pick up in Lansing, Okemos, St. Johns, or the Midland hospital, or if you have your share delivered to your home or workplace, this will be your style of drop-off.  Basically, the way this works is as follows:  I’ll send out the newsletter each weekend, and there will be a section entitled “What to Expect in Your Share this Week”.  You’ll see listed the choices for “Share A” and “Share B”, each of which will have seven or eight items.  Then you can just choose which share sounds best to you, and let me know by email or text at least a day before your drop-off.  If you have a half share, you’ll choose one bag, and if you have a full share, you’ll choose two bags.  Then we’ll pack up your preferred share in a bag with your name on it, and drop it off at your pickup location.  Pretty simple!

If you’re new to the CSA (welcome!) and don’t remember when and where you’re supposed to pick up, here’s the schedule:

  • Alma: Mondays from 5-6 PM in front of His Place (200 W. Superior St.)
  • Mt. Pleasant: Tuesdays from 5-6 PM behind Herbs, Etc. (503 E. Broadway)
  • Lansing: Wednesdays from 4:30-10:00 at the Soup Spoon Café (1419 E. Michigan Ave).  Just pop in and tell them you’re picking up a CSA share, and they’ll get it for you!
  • Okemos: 4:30-6:30 at Mert’s Meats (1870 W. Grand River)
  • St. Johns: I’ll send you guys a separate email because the drop-off is actually at someone’s house, but it’s going to be Wednesdays any time after 4:30, just a few blocks from the downtown shopping district.
  • Midland: Thursdays from 5-6 PM in the pavilion behind the Eagle Ridge Church of God (2808 Waldo)
  • Midland hospital: Thursdays after around 4:00 at the seating area behind the Center for Women’s Health.
So that’s the schedule!  Here are some additional notes:

Every time a bank holiday rolls around, I have a lot of people wondering if the drop-off is still happening that day.  And the short answer is “Yes, it is.”  If your drop-off happens to fall on the 4th of July or Labor Day, it will still be occurring as scheduled, but we totally understand if you have an event going on and can’t make it to the drop-off.  In a case like that, just let us know at least a day in advance of the drop-off you intend to miss, and we’ll make some alternate arrangements. You can either have a friend pick it up for you, or postpone your share and pick up double the following week, or pick up at one of our other drop-offs that week, or even arrange ahead of time to pick up a double share the week before.  We can be pretty flexible about that, we just need to know at least a day ahead of time so we can adjust our harvest schedule.  That also applies if you’re going out of town or if you are otherwise unable to make it to the drop-off on a particular week.

Also, if you ever realize one evening that you totally forgot to pick up your veggies, never fear!  You can just email or text me to let me know, and here is what we usually do.  Because we harvest the right number of shares for the people we know are coming, we can’t necessarily add an extra share to the harvest list for you the following week, but chances are good that we’ll still be able to get you some extra veggies to make up for what you missed.  There are always a few people who forget to come to the drop-off, so we pretty much always have a few shares worth of veggies left over at the end.  So the week after your missed drop-off, if you come by after the main rush has gone through (usually around 5:15), we’ll have a pretty good idea of how much extra we’re going to have, and you can probably pick out some extra veggies to make up for what you missed.

That brings me to one major piece of advice!  At the traditional drop-offs, there is usually quite a line of people waiting when we open up at 5:00.  That’s because early in the drop-off, all of the options at all of the stations are still available.  As the drop-off goes on, some of the choices often get snapped up, so toward the end of the drop-off, some of the variety is gone.  If you want to have the widest variety possible, getting there a few minutes early is a good idea.  Conversely, if you hate waiting in line and don’t have strong preferences about which veggies you get, you might want to come later.  It’s usually fairly packed until 5:10-5:15, and after that, there’s almost never a line.

So that’s it!  If you have any questions, just let me know, and we’ll see you soon! J


After a long, long winter of mostly stored root vegetables, having such an abundance of fresh green veggies is wonderful!  And as anyone who gardens or has been part of a CSA before knows, June is full of a bunch of leafy greens.  Fortunately, I’ll have plenty of recipe ideas during the next few weeks on how to use your leafy green goodness, starting with this Strawberry Romaine Salad from!