CSA Weekly Update for June 18th- 22nd!
How exciting! This is our first of many "Weekly Updates" from the fields. We will spend a lot of time here together learning about the produce that we will be harvesting and utilizing this season! Please note that I sent out a CSA Member Handbook specific to each site to your email, please review the handbook which includes a lot of important details for the season.
We will always start with the update from the fields. Ben & I have are staying busy, there is always something to be done on the farm! Weeding and hoeing are our main tasks at this time of year. Now that we’re done planting and the plants have taken root, we need to make sure the weeds don’t outgrow the small plants. Weeds grow a LOT faster than the produce.
For example, it takes Sugar Snap Peas over 10 days to germinate. Once we use the push-seeder to plant the seeds, it takes 10 days just to see a little sprout poking out of the dirt. I.e. The weeds are already over shadowing the peas by the time they germinate- because of how fast the weeds grow. We have to weed & hoe varieties like the peas at least once per week for a successful harvest. Don’t worry, we’ve got this covered!
One thing I want to make sure to mention is the CSA Share box rotation. We will deliver a CSA Share box full of produce and at that same time we will pick up the empty box that you left for us the week prior. These boxes are FDA food grade wax covered boxes, making sure they are strong and keeping your produce safe during travel all season long.
The label on each CSA Share box with a member’s last name helps us avoid mistakes during packing, I also have a check off list that is checked 3 times for each member throughout the delivery day (the box is returned, the box is packed and loaded, the box is delivered). If you don’t remember to return your box one week don’t worry, we have extras. However, it is much appreciated if I have the boxes as it makes it much easier to double check my deliveries with each member’s last name.
The varieties you can expect in your CSA Share this week: Strawberries, Rhubarb, Kale, Spinach, Radishes, Romaine Lettuce and Chives.
FYI: Each week we predict what will be included in our CSA Shares which is what is included here. We’re pretty accurate with our forecasts. Although sometimes we might think a variety will be ready & it’s not quite ready, or a variety is ready for harvest faster than what we thought. Just know, there could be slight variations to our expected varieties due to weather or other factors.
The variety of the week is Rhubarb!
Rhubarb is a very seasonal treat, we include it once per season because by the time the second week of CSA Shares come around the temperatures are usually too hot to harvest the rhubarb. The flavor changes once there has been significant heat, they are best right away in the spring. The rhubarb is fairly clean, but make sure that if there are any bits of leaves attached to the stems to cut that part off and dispose of it right away. The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten.
Strawberries in Minnesota will be smaller than the ones you’ll see in the grocery store, but they’ll also taste better! The varieties that are grown here are often specific to MN because of our shorter growing season. We will be supporting a family farm about 5 miles away from our farm in Big Lake; the strawberries are hand-picked and most importantly, fresh! As with almost all fruits, they will keep best in the fridge.
Kale is the “super food” that we’ve all been hearing about. It’s included in many sorts of shakes and smoothies at restaurants, and has many options for preparation. Some recipes call for cooking the kale, for example, wilted kale and eggs. Although, kale is most often consumed raw and can be mixed in with other greens for salads.
Funny story for everyone, this season we seeded the kale in the greenhouse and transplanted it into the field as normal. Once they started getting bigger, we noticed that there are a couple kinds of kale included in our patch, which was all supposed to be the traditional large leaf kale! So, if you are getting a variety of different kale in the same bunch, just think of it as a way to get the maximum amount of nutrition through diversity. We talked to our neighbor farm who had the same issue with seed that he purchased from the same company.. so I figure that the seed company must’ve accidentally mixed the seeds during the drying process. Oh well, we are all human!
I am especially excited to be including Spinach. This is something that has always been a challenge for us because of the fields we were renting and the growing conditions we had at hand. We have now moved the spinach to the Zimmerman field and are happy to share we’ve got Spinach for you! Because we aren’t spraying pesticides you’ll notice there might be a hole or two on a leaf. We’d rather offer you spinach with a hole than sprayed spinach, I hope we’re all on the same page there.
Radishes are a staple in the classic early season varieties. We chose a variety that isn’t very spicy (in the scale of radishes), so hopefully it’s more approachable for the majority of our CSA Members. If radishes are something you’ve tried and don’t like- try cooking with them. By roasting radishes or chopping them into matchsticks and adding them into a stir-fry, it takes out a lot of the heat and flavor.
When we balance the varieties of produce and quantities we do keep in mind that there are people who really like radishes, and some who despise them. We are trying our best to make sure to please everyone, but please understand that we’ve got to grow them and include them at least a couple times.
Romaine lettuce is a variety that everyone seems to enjoy! What you don’t see is that the romaine lettuce plants themselves are huge! What we cut is the “heart” of the romaine plant, which is what you’ll see in the grocery store too. The outer leaves are usually damaged because of how the plant grows, they are usually sitting directly on the ground instead of sticking up like the head. For the greens, make sure to keep them in a plastic bag with a paper towel on the bottom so they last longer in the fridge.
We rinse the lettuces at the farm but don’t wash the lettuces completely because to do so, we would have to disassemble the head of lettuce. When you’re washing greens at home, we suggest separating the leaves and running them under water one at a time. Rinsing the top and bottom of the leaf while running your fingers up and down the center to remove all the dirt.
Chives are something that Ben and I throw into everything we eat when they’re in harvest. They aren’t super strong in flavor, but adding colors into our food is fun! The ascetics of your food is almost as important as how it tastes, as many studies will confirm.
I enjoy writing the newsletter updates, because I think it's important for everyone to know what we are up to in the fields and how we are maintaining your produce! Thank you for joining our family's harvest this season!
The more information we can provide here, the better! Essentially, we want to create a team of educated consumers- YOU! You're in charge of what you eat, let's make those choices even easier.
~The Farmer's Wife