FARM NEWSLETTER // WEEK 2
I hope you guys are enjoying your first week of Shares this season with us! We have had a BIG week, and overall I would say everything went really well! The hardest part of the whole week was probably the logistics in the pack shed. We haven’t ever had so much room to work with (what a problem, haha!) and we also haven’t ever had 3 sizes of CSAs. So just trying to sort out how best to make the prep & wash stations, making sure we don’t miss anything, etc. was probably the most difficult- which we are super thankful for!! :D
Real quick- I want to remind you that the boxes you receive are in a rotation. So next week when you go and pick up your CSA share, please return your empty box at that time. Please make sure to collapse your boxes so your hosts don’t have to do it for you. We are thankful for them hosting and want to make it as easy as possible so they continue to do so. Plus, with the corona virus we just want to make sure as little people as possible are transferring/touching. Pro tip- some members will bring a reusable bag to transfer their produce into right away so their share box never leaves the site. You are welcome to do it however it works best for you- if that’s one way or the other, or a combo of both- we just want this to be easy for you!! :)
To address a question, if you forget to return your share box you will still receive a share the following week. It’s not like we won’t pack a box for you just because you forgot it. We have some extra boxes on hand so that if you do forget, we can use one of those extra boxes (though it won’t have a fancy label on it, it’s handwritten by yours truly). If you forget to return your box, there is no punishment/ fine etc. though we do certainly appreciate getting your box back every week because it makes it a lot easier for us to keep track of shares being packed.
Last bit of housekeeping- please don’t pull into the driveway if you’re picking up at a residential site. If you’re picking up at a site that is out in the country, on a county road for example, please pull into the driveway for your safety! If you have difficulty getting to your CSA/ walking please let us know and we can work out an arrangement to accommodate. Also, please do not approach your site if anyone else is picking up at the same time. This is a covid safety measure that is super easy for us all to do, we appreciate your understanding. You never know what someone is dealing with or how they feel so please give fellow members the common courtesy to just wait a minute.
Now the farm update. We need rain, bad. We spent ALL day running irrigation on patches that we didn’t plan to irrigate. But we did plan ahead and get a ton of extra t-tape for this reason exactly. Like 25,000 feet of extra t-tape just in case… well we all glad we did! When moving into a new house and farming new land in general, you don’t know what the normal patterns are like so it just pays to plan ahead.
T-tape is what we call our irrigation, it’s formally called drip tape. It’s basically a thin black hose that lays the length of the field and has pin pricks every 6 inches or so where water will slowly leak out of the irrigation lines. T tape is the safest type of irrigation according to the MN Dept of Ag because it is ground water pumped up to the surface. Surface water (like a pond for example) is the most dangerous way to water because that has risk of bacteria. The water that’s going onto our fields is actually pumped up through our house and has been tested very recently to make sure it’s potable. It’s 100% safe for our family to drink and also 100% safe to water the plants with!
We were hoping to include the chives this week but they are totally burnt. We will have to start from square one and mow them down basically. There is zero moisture back at the Big Lake farm where they are growing (until we transplant them this fall to their new home here). They are basically drying while still intact with their plants. Lots of varieties are on the fence right now with the lack of rain, so if you see anything in addition don’t be surprised.
This week in the Jumbo & Family Shares: Sugar Snap Peas, Red Romaine, Green Romaine, Kohlrabi, Collard Greens & Fresh Yellow Onions!
This week in the Single Shares: Sugar Snap Peas, Red Romaine, Green Romaine, Kohlrabi & Fresh Yellow Onions!
I know we need to touch base on the quantities again. The single shares will not receive all the same produce varieties as the family and jumbo shares during the same week (normally). I’m sure some of you are thinking, well why don’t we see chard on the list this week? Because it is working hard to grow with the lack of moisture. Ben said he expects to have the chard in the single shares the following week, and that the collards will be in the single shares the week after that (week 4). This is tentative, and I usually won’t go into this kind of detail but if you have questions feel free to reach out. The quantities and varieties are important to us too and we will make sure you still see all the same veggies throughout the season as the larger shares though it’s on a different schedule :)
The romaine is almost bigger than our little farmer Kelsi!
We will be including both Red & Green Romaine this week! Romaine is one of the classic lettuces, and it isn’t as tart as some of the other lettuces. Last week, some of the butter crunch lettuce had brown edges on some of their leaves. That happens when the weather is like this- super hot and dry. It’s basically ‘burnt’ like the chives that I mentioned above. That doesn’t happen to all types of lettuces though, so we don’t expect to see much (if any) of that with the romaine. The romaine looks so good, it’s getting really big now!
For the romaine, most people recognize it by the tight little heads that come in a 3 pack in the produce section. Yes, that is romaine too! Those are the ‘hearts’ but the romaine plants are much larger than that. They grow out first, and then grow up. So as the heads are growing, they are fairly wide. Once they reach a certain size they’ll start producing a solid heart in the center, putting more energy into the tight center of the plant. The center is also where their reproduction occurs- they will shoot a stalk straight up that will produce seeds. In MN our weather gets really hot really fast (literally a month ago we lost some muskmelon plants to frost..). Our weather doesn’t really give lettuces the opportunity to produce large hearts because they want to grow slow and steady. Therefore, the heads aren’t as tight but they still taste the same and the leaves look the same! The biggest suggestion I have for lettuces is wash them right away. We harvest them every morning for you because fresh is best, and if you clean them right away you’re much more apt to pick up a salad for a snack later on this week.
We will be including collard greens this week for the first time ever!! We haven’t ever grown them before, but have had requests for a few years now. They are staples in the southern cuisine and I’m sure anyone you know from the south will say that fried collards are a part of their normal meal rotation. A good friend of mine swears by cooking them in bacon fat. Hey whatever you need to do to enjoy them- but I wonder does it even count as a veggie if you do that? Hahah! I’m totally finding a recipe for this… As they say we may as well try it at least once! ;P
Because collards are new to us this season, I didn’t think to add them into the handbook this spring when I was revising it. I have a note to add them for next season though. In the meantime, here is the info you’ll need about storing them: Wrap unwashed greens in a damp paper towel & keep them in an open plastic bag in the fridge. Try to use them within about a week of harvest. (According to Myrecipes.com).
Collard greens do not get rinsed after they’re harvested. They’re literally coming right to you, so we can preserve flavors the best we can! Plus, washing them ahead of when you’re using them decreases their shelf life a lot.
Since this is chemical free produce, you WILL see some evidence of pests at some point throughout the season. What I see when I went and checked was some very minimal marks from likely a caterpillar. Keep in mind that not all damage is pests; the strong wind around here has caused a bit of damage or bruising on the leaves too.
The onions are small and we did include them with the dirt intact on purpose. That’s because the only real way to clean an onion is to remove the outer layer(s) of the onions and with how small they are, we figured you would want to remove the outer layer yourself. Otherwise, when you go them home you would likely peel another layer back, leaving less onion. To store the fresh onions: store then unwashed in a plastic bag or Tupperware container. When you’re ready to use them, peel off the outer layer and cut off the roots. You can use the bulb and the greens separately, the tops are essentially ‘green onions’ and the bottoms are comparable to scallions because the flavor is more mild when they’re smaller. These are a very seasonal treat- you won’t find these in a grocery store because they don’t hold as well as dried onions. The only time of year we ever use these in our kitchen is when we grow them ourselves!
The picture above is the broccoli, but there are peas in the background! I was so excited about the broccoli that I didn't even take a picture of the snap peas directly lol. Looks like we have more to look forward to!!
Sugar Snap peas are another one of these special varieties that you may only see one time this season. We plan for having 2 weeks’ worth of peas but depending on the rain situation they may only produce enough for a single week. Fingers crossed! These are very perishable, please use them within 4-5 days of receiving them. To store, keep them in the fridge in a perforated plastic bag, or a bag that is slightly open. The bag that you receive them in will be a produce bag similar to the ones that you will see at the grocery store. I would use that bag to store them too, just simply open up the top a bit for a little airflow. These are a staple in traditional Asian cuisine, but there are a million ways to enjoy them. Check out the blog for recipes! Go to the search bar at the top of the blog page and type in peas to see what recipes we have posted in the past.
Kohlrabi- the name says it all: kohl (cabbage) rabi (turnip). This plant was developed by crossing a cabbage with a turnip. The edible part of the plant is an enlarged section of the stem that develops just above the ground. It comes in two colors: a light green and purple bulb. We planted both this spring and they’re looking great! (I missed the part of the handbook that mentioned flooding- that was last season- NOT this season). This year they’re looking great!
This picture was taken about a week ago, so they're larger now but they aren't jumbo sized. Every size has it's purpose, but generally with kohlrabi you'll want to choose the smaller ones because they're more tender and can be enjoyed fresh. Make sure to trim off the outside, kind of like peeling an apple!
We have always referred to the kohlrabi as one of those all-purpose kinds of produce varieties. You can bake with it, you can use it in a stir fry, chop it into small match sticks (like you would a carrot), to top a salad, or shred it and use it to make fritters! Fritters sound like a fancy dish right?! Well, it’s literally grated kohlrabi that has the water pressed out, add an egg and some bread crumbs, some herbs if you’d like and bake them. Our kids think they’re potatoes- but our oldest is catching on because he spends more time watching me in the kitchen now than he has in the past. He likes them dipped in ketchup- they look and taste similar to hash browns!
I hope you guys have enjoyed our first week together. We are very excited for week 2 in the new farm!! We feel right at home here <3 Thanks for making this so fun!!
Have a great weekend, ~The Farmer’s Wife