To start with the most important part of this blog edition I would like to thank all of you for participating in our CSA Share program this season. While I know things didn’t go as any of us had planned, I am thankful for all of your words of encouragement throughout this challenging season.

This upcoming week will be our last CSA Share delivery of the season, from September 30th through October 3rd (the actual day of delivery for you depends on your pick up site location). This was the originally scheduled last week of CSA Shares, but we were hoping to be able to extend the season. We did receive frost on Friday night into Saturday morning, although the varieties we are including this week won’t be held back by the frost. So yes, you DO have a CSA Share to pick up this week and this week will be our last delivery.

I would also like to note that I usually send this newsletter on Fridays. This weekend however, I’ve been doing a kind of soul searching, brainstorming for the right words to share with you as our farewell to the season. This season is especially challenging because of all the strong emotions. There was a lot of disappointment and sadness as we watched our fields get pummeled by hail and heavy rainstorms. There was a lot of relief as well, when we went out into the fields and could say, ‘alright, this is bad but we can manage’. There was a lot of happiness throughout as well, watching certain crops flourish because of the cool weather (like the broccoli and cauliflower) and more. It was a little harder to relax this season but we did find plenty of joy throughout, it can’t all be business all the time and we did have some laughs this season.

To get a little sappy with all of you, I’d like to tell you that this is the season of reflection. This is the season that made us thankful for every little thing in our lives that has gone right. Bringing us back to the ground zero, valuing the important things in life like respect for others, having our family and our health, appreciation of others & how our community encourages us, and having support from you, our friends. These things can be taken for granted during the high times, I think we’re probably all guilty of being caught up in a world that moves too fast. Well this season slowed us waaaay down. Although these kinds of lessons are the hardest to learn, they could also be the most important..

Thank you for being with us throughout the rollercoaster ride of 2019, certainly a year for the books!

I went and picked up Honey Crisp Apples today for your CSA Shares this week from Apple Jack Orchard in Delano, MN. Geeze that is a lot of apples, and a really fun place to visit if you get a chance. Every CSA Share will get apples this week! And if you have purchased an Apple Share, you will also receive a box full of apples in addition to your CSA Share.

Since this is the last week of CSA Shares, a lot of people like to bring reusable bags to transfer their CSA Share box contents into so that they don’t need to take home their CSA Share boxes and make a special trip to return them the following week. It is your choice, and you’re welcome to take your box home or use reusable bags, whatever you prefer is great!

This week in our CSA Shares we will have Acorn Squash, Russet Potatoes, Honey Crisp Apples, Brussel Sprouts, and Green Cabbage.

Brussel Sprouts are the LONGEST produce variety in the field. They need 110 days to reach harvest, which is over 3X longer than some varieties like radishes for example. They are a sweet treat- and one that I encourage you to try. If you’ve had Brussel sprouts before and didn’t like them, let me ask if they were straight from the farm field? I think everything tastes different when it’s fresh but you can be the judge of that :)

These sprouts need to be handled right away. I make sure to mention this every year because if you simply put the whole stalk in your fridge they will expire quickly. The sprouts on the main stalk are nicknamed mini cabbages, and look just like that! The sprouts have small leaves that are tight, but the loose ones need to be trimmed off right away to prevent them from deteriorating. If you leave those little brown leaves on, you’ll lose a lot of the sprout (after a couple days, it doesn’t happen immediately). The sprouts are often times on a really long stalk, so we end up cutting it in half. If it’s a shorter stalk we might not need to cut it in half and could fit it into the box diagonally. The biggest sprouts are always towards the bottom, and they get smaller as they go up. They’re usually not super uniform in size although they all taste the same.

Remember that all of the varieties we grow are listed in the 50 page “Farm to Table Storage Guide” that I provided you with at the beginning of the season. If you need me to send you another copy, just shoot me an email.

Last season we had a friend write some posts for the blog. She is a Registered Dietitian and has a great understanding of nutrition and what each produce variety has the potential to offer us! She wrote a great post about the benefits of cabbages and their ‘minis’. Read that here:

Acorn squash is the squash that we all think of when we think winter squash. It is definitely one of the most popular and it is desirable in all sizes. The small ones can be cut in half and stuffed to create an individual serving for each person eating. 1 squash is really 2 meals because you stuff them with meat rice, beans, or anything really! This is a great way to get creative. Another recipe that we’ve always enjoyed is stuffing the acorn squash with a mixture of cut up apple pieces, granola, and honey or maple syrup! Once it’s done, top it with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream- that could even serve as your supper because it has just about every food group! Haha! The big ones can be cooked and scooped out of the flesh and used to make a spice cake. All the sizes in between are desirable (which is unlike some other squashes).

Honey Crisp Apples! We get our apples from Apple Jacks in Delano, MN. That’s about 35 minutes away from our farm. They have a lot of field trips come there and a huge orchard to play at so if you’re around the area I would suggest adding this stop to your fall trips! They’ve got apple picking, lots of kid activities, hay rides, a pie shoppe and also some specialty programs for adults only. The reason we chose Apple Jacks as our favorite apple orchard is because we went there many years ago with our preschool class field trip and had a blast. I asked about the trees they had and was impressed by Matt’s knowledge and understanding of the needs of these trees. I had no idea it was so complex! Anyways, these were harvested fresh for us and I just picked them up Sunday morning for the first half of the week. I will also go there Tuesday evening to pick up the remainder of the apples for the week!

Instead of having a variety of the week, I wanted to share a bunch of recipes that use some or all of the produce we included this week. Look at the email newsletter or click back to the ‘blog’ and the recipes will all be listed at the top.

This year was a doozy. We had many hardships this season with the delayed planting, flooding, extreme weather events like the hail and down pouring rains. We can confidently say this was the worst growing season we’ve ever encountered. I’m glad that we ‘pulled it off’ but our CSA Shares were not as full and contained less varieties than they have in previous years. Thank you for all of your kind words through this season, it definitely helped Ben and I keep chugging along. Knowing that we have the opportunity to grow for so many local families is truly an honor. I apologize the season didn’t turn out as planned, but I hope that you still got a good value from the produce, recipes and field information we shared this season.

Thank you for your patience through this season and it’s hardships, we greatly appreciate it!

With love, ~The Browns

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