FARM NEWSLETTER // WEEK 12
Happy Labor Day weekend!!! I hope you have safe travels and a lot of fun where ever you are this weekend <3
I'm writing my blog post from my bed this morning. You might be thinking that means I slept in, but really I was up harvesting with Ben at 6am for the farm stand so I am just now retreating back into my room, haha! We had a little pizza party last night and watched a movie with the kids, they stayed up a little later than normal and are still slumming it on the couch- I told them to soak it up because school starts in 2 days! Side note- I'm at almost 4,000 steps on my Fitbit and it's not even 9:30 in the morning lol!
First thing for this week- a reminder that we don't deliver on Labor Day. That means that if you pick up your CSA Share on a Monday that you'll actually be picking up your CSA on a different day of the week. Instead of delivering our weekly CSA's throughout 4 days, we're trying to get them all in within 3 days- so please be patient with us this week as we work as fast as we can to get everyone their veggies-- Look at the graphic here to see when you're CSA will be available this week!!
*Also please note that your CSA could be delivered up to an hour later than normal this week.
This is the trade off for offering you the freshest produce possible. Many other farms will harvest in advance and then just pack Shares with older produce. We're out there every morning harvesting your veggies in our commitment to offer you the freshest produce possible! <3
**For those wondering why we don't distribute the sites evenly it's because we factor a few things into our decision; first is the delivery route and where it's usually going/ how close it is to the additional sites, the number of people picking up at each CSA site, and also how many CSAs we have on those 3 days originally without the additional sites.
HONEY order deadline:
Honey Share orders are due by TONIGHT. I'll be closing it down this evening, so if you're interested in getting your orders in please visit our website on this page to order online: Become a CSA Member - Brown Family Farm (brownfamilyproduce.com)
With the start of school this year coming fast, I wish you and yours the best through your in person, distance, online, homeschooling and every other avenue of learning!
I LOVED school when I was younger, and even though I was somewhat of a trouble maker in college I was almost always on the Dean's List or the President's List throughout most of my college semesters! I know that's because I really love learning. I wasn't a farmer and didn't come from farming background but here we are. I had never kept chickens until we moved out here to Oak Park, and now we have a couple dozen! We had never raised pigs to sell before, but we've got more than a dozen in our "front yard". The point is, education and learning, in whatever form and at whatever age, is the BEST thing you can do for yourself. Kudos to everyone taking a big step in this season of life <3
My dad always said the only thing that can never be taken from you is your faith and your education. That still rings true!
Get ready for the waterworks. We've got out youngest off to Kindergarten this year! When they're babies and people say, "don't rush this, you'll miss it" or "they grow up in the blink of an eye", I used to shrug it off and think- I'm covered in baby spit up and haven't slept for more than a couple hrs at a time in months, I won't miss it that much.. Well I guess I'm super flexible because I've got my foot in my mouth now!! I'm sure all of you with older kids, those heading to college or graduating high school this year probably have a few words of advice for us with youngsters still...
Anyways- this week is a big one for CSAs but also for our family! I need to mentally prepare myself beforehand... Here is a picture of Kelsi enjoying the rain (and puddles) that we've gotten over the past few days and last week. She told me since there are frogs in the puddle that's where she wants to be, lol!! Who am I to argue? I would have said the same thing at her age!!
For the holiday week, you're welcome to have someone else pick up your CSA for them to enjoy. Another option is donating your Share to the food shelf if you're out of town. If you're having someone pick up your CSA box for you, please make sure that they know they need to look for your last name. It seems comical that we'd have to discuss it really but for those who aren't familiar with the CSA program or how it works, it makes sense that it could be overlooked. They approach a home they've never been to, and walk up to the house (with no one around), feeling a little awkward perhaps, and just snatch a box and go. It's happened plenty of times so I wanted to touch base on this.
We've actually had a lot of people taking the wrong boxes lately so this reminder is especially important now. There is a fine associated with taking the wrong box. It's there to cover the cost of our time, additional produce, and potentially extra deliveries even. Next year we'll be increasing the fine, but right now it's at $40.
We work hard to make sure our season is a successful harvest and that everyone gets their produce; but if someone takes the wrong box there is a plethora of emails, phone calls, follow ups, and one frustrated farmer. It is my job to make sure your CSA is waiting for you every week and when that doesn't happen (especially with the great effort put into it!) it is probably the saddest thing that could happen in a CSA season. Not to mention that I've actually had someone say they won't sign up again next year regardless of the quality & quantity of produce; it's because of the inconvenience of not having a share when they should have. Please help us get this program to run as smoothly as possible by telling people your CSA literally has your name on it :)
This week in your CSA Boxes: The Jumbo & Family Shares can expect: Yellow watermelon!, Muskmelon*, Sweet corn, Spaghetti squash, Bell peppers, Grape Tomatoes, Sage.
The Single Shares can expect: Yellow watermelon!, Muskmelon*, Sweet corn, Spaghetti squash, Bell peppers, and Sage!
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how the farm season doesn't wait for anyone. Muskmelon is a variety that you need to be ready for when the time comes. It goes from green to yellow in two days. After it's ripe we need to take it off the plant and it only takes between 2-4 days until it's ripe & over ripe. It's like a flash of lightning!! One trick to get it to stay good longer is by cutting it up and putting it in the fridge as soon as you get it. Keeping it in the fridge at that temp will cause it to slow it's ripening process.
We will be adding these this week as well, though we do usually plan for the muskmelon and the watermelons not to land in the same week, we'll welcome this tasty sweet harvest this week again!! We don't wash these- we brush off whatever dirt we can but we don't ever submerge them in water because that would further decrease their shelf life. We're coming to the end of the patch production. There aren't many out there anymore. If at any point we run out of ripe ones to pick, we'll substitute it out with something else :)
**Tomatoes: (Romas and Slicers) We are getting towards the end of our tomato patch. We still have some but not a ton, so as we sneak them into the boxes we will record it and get the others the following week. That's why these aren't on the list above for your CSAs, this will be a spotty addition over the next couple of weeks I'd assume. Ben and I walked the fields and from what I see, we should be able to get them to everyone at least one more time this season.
Yellow watermelons! These are so fun because of their coloration- the flesh is literally yellow! Without fail, I get an email every year about a "bad watermelon" but that's because it's still so new and not many people have even seen them before. On the other hand, there are probably many of you who get them regularly! When you cut yours open make it a point to show someone!! Get the word out!! :P
Sweet corn is back in! There are so many ways to prepare it! Many of us just boil it or grill it, but if you're looking to put some up for the winter you'll need to blanch it first, and then cut it off of the cob. I've heard of people freezing it on the cob but personally I don't have the freezer space for that. To blanch corn, get a pot of water to a rolling boil. Shuck your corn and put the ears into a pot of boiling hot water. Let it stay in there for a couple of minutes, and then take it out and put it in an ice water bath. The way I do it is filling my sink with water and then dumping ice cube trays in there. Once it's cooled, cut it off of the cob. Grandma roasts hers with butter in the oven before she freezes it. Personally I would rather freeze it as is, and then add the butter or whatever else when we're taking it out of the freezer in the winter.
Squash--- I want to touch on the variety as a whole. Winter squash grows on a vine and there are several squash on every plant. These will continue to grow in size and develop seeds until they've reached maturity. At that point, they will start to ripen. Another cause for ripening is too much stress on the plants. We had some small squash plants produce a handful of winter squash that started ripening in mid- August. That's likely because that plant isn't very healthy. A good way to gauge winter squash and their health is by looking at the number of fruits (squash), the vines (notice if they're dying off or still going strong), and also the squash itself (is it traditional in shape and size, or is it small or misshapen).
The first sign to us when the squash are ripening is the foliage dying off. You'll see the leaves and stems start to soften, lose their lush green color, or even turn yellow. The greens dying on the plant means that it's now putting all of it's energy into the ripening process of the squash. Ultimately the best tasting squash (or anything that ripens on the vine, also muskmelon for example) will be pushing all of the sugars from the plant into the fruit. The reason for that (which results in the best flavor!) is actually biological, because it actually provides the best environment for their seeds to overwinter. The more sugar in the melon or squash, the better the germination rate for the following year. I'm sure there are details I'm leaving out but in a nutshell, we leave the squash on the plants as long as we can so that they take on that super sweet flavor!
Have you ever noticed a spot on the bottom of your squash, muskmelon, watermelon, or anything else that grows on a vine like that? That's the ripening spot i.e. where the fruit actually sat on the ground. The slight discoloration is a cue to you that it was ripened on the vine (SO important for flavor!). In the winter at the grocery store I can tell you one of the first things I look for in watermelons is finding the ripening spot (signaling to me that it was ripened on the vine and not in the back of a semi).
Grape tomatoes! We grow these every year and haven't been able to add them in a couple of years because of some terribly timed rain storms, so I'm very happy to have them this week for you!! (Excessive rain will cause them to crack or pop open, spoiling them).
These aren't washed at all. Just like the tomatoes- we don't wash them. When they're dry we can often just brush the dirt right off of the skins. Make sure you're rinsing these before enjoying them :) We are harvesting these for the Jumbo & Family Shares this week but next week we should have enough to harvest for (just) the Single shares! So no need to worry, Single Shares will be seeing these next week ;)
We were hoping to have some cucumbers or pickles this week but it was a STRETCH to get them for this last week. You'll notice that some of the cukes you got might have had a little crooked shape or some scarring on the outside. This is normal for this time of year as these plants are essentially dying. They start producing oddly shaped cukes, ones that are inconsistent in widths, and less of them too. We'll have to monitor what they do this week and we'll re-evaluate for week 13 together to see if we can get enough for your Shares again this season.
SAGE! This is a WILD SUCCESS guys!! If you're wondering why I'm so enthusiastic about this herb it's because of the weather we've had to work with this season. Many of you probably haven't noticed the lack of perennial herbs in your CSAs this season but we usually do offer a few more varieties. I thought these were a goner until Ben told me about them yesterday! I'm PUMPED!
This herb is known for being very strong. Sage is often found in many holiday dishes and is commonly used to season poultry or sausage, infuse butter, or to add flavor to root vegetables like potatoes or parsnips. In fact, the most common time you've probably tasted sage and not even known it is in a Thanksgiving stuffing.
To store: For short-term storage, stand upright in a container with an inch of water. Then cover the herbs loosely with a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
To dehydrate: Remove leaves from stem and place piece of paper towel on glass plate. Cover with another piece of paper towel. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Leaves will be dry. Crinkle them with your finger and place them in a dry container, such as a Mason jar with a lid.
To freeze: Frozen herb cubes are easy to make. One frozen herb cube is equal to 1 Table- spoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried herb. Just add a cube when your recipe calls for the herb. To prepare herbs for freezing: Rinse them gently in cool water. Chop the leaves fairly coarsely. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the herb into each compartment of an ice cube tray, add about 1 inch of water to each compartment, and place the tray in the freezer. Remove the frozen herb cubes from the trays and bundle all the cubes in a plastic freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible, seal and store in the freezer for up to a year
IT'S NOT THE END, FOLKS!
I know that we've been through a LOT together this season already. So many fun varieties and stories, trying new recipes and produce varieties... but we still have a LOT more to look forward to! This week is week #12 of our CSA Season together and we actually offer 16 weeks of produce with our CSA program. We grow as long as the MN weather allows us to! Our season will continue into the first week of October!! So we still have time for all of the fun fall varieties too <3
Thank you for joining us on this adventure together this season!!
Happy Labor Day,
Stay well friends! ~The Farmer's Wife