Farm Newsletter ** Week 12
I hope you're having a great Labor Day weekend!!
I can't believe it's almost time to get back to school already again. It feels crazy that we're transitioning again in the CSA season and now we're looking to all the fall and winter crops. I had someone ask me the other day about how long our CSA goes and they were surprised- we still have a whole month together! We run through the first week of October, and then the second weekend in October is the Fall Sale. (Lots more on that to come! If you want it in your calendar its Oct 13-15th!)
Right now on the farm we're as busy as ever. I can't even express how busy we are right now... maybe sending out the weekly newsletter on a Sunday night will do the trick, eeek! All jokes aside- I really am sorry it's taken so long to get this to you this weekend! So many updates!!
As you know, since we don't deliver on Labor Day we redistribute the CSA sites later on in the week. Everyone still gets their CSA this week!! Please give us a few extra minutes for deliveries this week. We'll have 1.5x as many CSAs on Tuesday and Wednesday this week so it might take a few minutes longer than normal to get there. Zimmerman & Brooklyn Park are moved to Tuesday deliveries and Blaine, Andover, Coon Rapids and Ramsey are moved to Wednesday deliveries.
This weekend our kids went with my Mom & Dad to visit my Sister & family who live in Nisswa. They got to play with their cousins all weekend, fish, kayak, shop, you name it! They had a blast and are very tuckered out!!
I stayed home to be with our livestock and take care of the day-to-day of the farm here while Ben is at the farm stand. That's filling orders for folks who stop by, feeding/watering (we're feeding 800 pounds of feed a day right now, these bags are moved by hand/not an automated feeder), helping direct our employees who were here every single day this weekend, and also catch up on life at the house. Friday is my usual office day but my office day was null and void when we realized we filled up literally every single tomato basket on the farm. That's never happened. Ever.
This is our top garage as we call it. That's the shed that is closest to the house. We've never even had to put tomatoes here before, let alone hundreds of pounds. We already filled up the tomato lean-to which is on the backside of the barn, also filled up the work shop, which is attached to the tomato lean-to on one end. They're everywhere.
I go to Sams Club 2x a week and take all the empty flats they have there at the exit. (You know, the ones they have there for folks to pack and take out to their cars, since they don't have bags). I take grape flats mostly and also any of them that stack nicely with each other. Then I'll go into their produce cooler and move stuff around for more empty flats. The employees have stopped me before and thanked me because I'm literally moving produce/organizing the cooler and helping them do their job. I need the flats and they need to get rid of them, it's the best partnership ever!
I bet I've got a hundred at the farm here right now and they're all full. We sort the tomatoes by color first and then by grade. There are #1's as we call it, and then there are canners. The canners are ones that have some kind of blemish, which is why they're cheaper and intended for canning. #1's are tomatoes that go into your CSA Shares, and ones that we sell at the farm stand in quart trays.
So Friday instead of working in my office, I started emptying baskets into the grape flats that we sort into. When I empty out the baskets, it's literally sorting them tomato by tomato into a flat and then stacking the empty baskets for them to go fill again. So ALL. DAY. LONG. I emptied baskets of tomatoes into grape flats and they'd take out the empty baskets and fill them and bring them back in to me. I am at a loss for words; that doesn't happen often! The best tomato crop our farm has ever seen and also some of the worst hail we've gotten combined to make the biggest tomato harvest of all time. The problem is, with the plants dying they're all ripening at one time and we've got SO many red tomatoes. I am very thankful we have the yield to share, but in a perfect world the plants would have lived longer and not ripened all at one time. It makes for a fast and furious tomato season that's for sure!
I also canned some salsa this weekend in between other jobs. I got over 100 jars made up in the last 3 days and we've sold almost everything I have made already. I don't make it often so when folks see it at the stand they buy multiple jars at once. Another good problem to have I suppose!
There just aren't enough hours in a day or days in a week. We need to add another day in there so we have one day of catch up between CSAs 4 days a week and the farm stand 3 days a week, we're running like crazy! For as uncertain as the season was there for a short time, we're really feeling very fortunate to have what we have! The peppers won't ever make a full come back and there are some definite losses, but overall our season is being propped up by a bountiful tomato crop, the squash looks great and a lot of the other fall crops are doing awesome. Ben's squash look fantastic!!
In farming there are always losses; we're just fortunate enough to have some really big 'wins' in the field this season too!
So excited to share those with you in the coming weeks!!
We're selling pork again this season and we're taking orders for halves and wholes. This is considered custom processing, where you pay your farmer to raise your pig and then also pay the butcher to process it for you. The options for processing are straight forward but you can request just about anything special be made! They'll walk you through the options for processing, questions like how thick you want your pork chops and how many you want in a package.
We always prioritize our CSA Members whenever we can! So you've still got some time to sign up for whatever you'd like. We will start taking orders from the public to fill our butcher spots at the end of the week (starting Sat Sept 9th). If you'd like to make sure you get your spot, please read through the announcement below and follow the prompt for submitting a pork order or send me an email.
There is no payment when you submit your order through the form, I send an invoice afterwards confirming we have availability. I will make sure any requests made during this week are fulfilled before we take any non-Member orders next Saturday. The link below also has info on pricing, what to expect as far as pounds of pork in your freezer, & lots of other info.
THIS WEEK IN YOUR CSA YOU CAN EXPECT:
Jumbo & Family Shares: Sweet corn, Butternut Squash, Kohlrabi, Sweet Peppers, Carrots & Tomatoes!
Single Shares: Sweet corn, Acorn Squash, Sweet Peppers, Carrots & Tomatoes!
PLEASE HANDLE THESE BOXES LIKE IT'S PRODUCE YOU'RE BRINGING HOME! We stack the boxes 3-4 high at different sites and you might have to move around other people's Shares to get to yours. Please consider the great amount of effort and care that goes into the process of getting it from the field to your kitchen and handle them gently. We appreciate your attention to detail!!
CSAs are a very special relationship where Members of a farm get to see what the whole season looks like. I think that the seasonality of a CSA is part of what makes it very valuable. What is in harvest when, eating with the season, understanding why certain things are grown at specific times of the year and why we celebrate those varieties as they come and miss them as they go.
*Butternut squash with my canned pickled peppers for size reference (from last season, I don't have peppers to make pickled peppers).
Squash is a big time of year on the farm. It's one variety that holds super well into the fall with very little effort. It doesn't need to be blanched or cut off the cob, doesn't need to be canned, it can just... be there. They'll last for months if you store them in a cool, dark place. I always store ours in the basement with a fan on them. Air flow is important to all vegetable storage when it comes to squashes and root crops. Stagnant air makes produce expire more quickly. Keep them away from the dryer/ water heater or anything that has the potential for heating up the squash because the temperature fluctuations will make them expire faster.
In the coming weeks you'll see a lot of winter squash varieties, and each is appreciated for different reasons according to our squash connoisseurs. Over the years I've had enough squash to tell the difference in the sweetness and texture and can say I do have favorites now! We'll get to my favorite later this season- but let's start with the two we'll see this week!
***If you have a really big squash and you're struggling to cut it in half, watch out for your fingers!! Kidding. Put it in the microwave for a minute or two and it'll soften up a touch so you don't have to put so much pressure on such a big knife.
The Single Shares are getting Acorn squash (pictured below) and the Jumbo & Family Shares are getting Butternut squash (pictured above).
Acorn Squash! These are almost always the FIRST true winter squash variety we harvest every season. They are always the first to ripen. It can be peeled, but it is more often cooked with its skin on. Peel and dice or cut into slices along the natural ribs. Toss with oils, herbs or spices and bake or roast. Serve with or without the skin. If you cut this the right direction, you’ll end up with two halves that look like flowers! :) This one is a very popular squash to stuff and I think it’s because the shape is so beautiful! This one is one of the driest squashes we grow.
Butternut Squash provides the most value of any squash, dollar for dollar in my opinion. It has thin yellow skin with a small cavity containing fewer seeds and less waste than with most other squashes. As with many other squashes, the flavor of a butternut squash deepens when baked.
This squash is the ideal soup squash because it’s very rich and dense. Once cooked the texture is unmatched by any other pureed squash; hence the famous “Butternut Soup”. This is also the squash I would specifically recommend for making baby food because it's creamier and purees so smooth! Just add a little water or milk/formula to thin it out if it gets too thick. When our kids were babies, I'd puree lots of squash and freeze it in ice cube trays to defrost individual servings for later. I'd also fill the ice cube trays half full for small cubes and then put them in the little mesh teether bags. That way they can get the flavor and also get some relief for those poor little gums.
This is one that everyone loves to see in their CSA boxes. It's a kitchen classic that almost everyone uses on a regular basis, right?
We will bag the carrots this week because they're topped. That means there won't be any greens on them, they'll be bagged into the same bags that the green beans & hot peppers come in. That way, you can keep them right in that bag and they can go straight into the fridge that way! Keep them in the plastic wrapping or they'll get soft quickly. If your carrots do get soft, chill them in some cold water and they'll firm right back up. These are very fresh!
Kohlrabi is coming in the bigger boxes this week! This is the last time you'll see this, this season. These are generally a spring/early crop and this year Ben decided to do another later patch so we'd have them for you again (we love kohlrabi!). They did 'ok' but not all of them bulbed nicely. We watered plenty but between the heat and hail, we didn't get the turn out we were hoping for. Hence why they're only in the bigger CSA boxes.
Please remember that this is a variety you can use the bulb and the greens! Peel the bulb before enjoying it. It can be cut into match sticks and used to dip in hummus, or finely diced on a salad, shredded into 'potatoes' and fried or baked in patties with some egg and bread crumb. So many options! The greens on top can be used to saute or to cook down into other dishes to add more 'meat' to the dish not to mention they are loaded with nutrients! It's a more porous leaf, comparable to spinach. We've used these in our salad mixes before and really enjoyed them!
Sweet Peppers are in all of the Shares this week! We're going to do our best to get a good variety of the different sweet peppers we grow for you. The bell peppers are recovering from being picked down; we had to get all the damaged ones off so they're coming back but growing slowly. We plan to harvest gypsy or banana peppers for you this week! Their flesh is slightly thinner than the bell peppers but they're sweeter. We will document who gets what so that everyone gets everything this season!
Check out the full moon! This one was called a "Blue Moon". It's not because of the color, but simply because it's not common to have two full moons in one calendar month. Making it a "once in a blue moon" type of event. Now we know where the saying comes from!
It was also a Super Moon! That means that it's slightly closer to earth in it's orbit, making it appear brighter and slightly larger than most full moons. **Have I ever told you, I'm a total geek and I love it? Did you know our dogs' name is Luna? Because it's a cute name but also because I adore the moon and cycles of the stars! It's one of those hobbies that costs you absolutely nothing. Everyone has a piece of sky to look at and wonder about!!
That'll do it for this week folks.
I really am sorry it took so long to get this to you!! I know you got the picture earlier but... it's the busiest time of the year. We had a couple of our helpers head off to college and back to high school but we did hire back a couple of employees who work seasonally with us!
They're really just friends who work for the farm this time of year because they see how much there is to be done. What a blessing! To have the farm and the produce to harvest but also to have friends, family & CSA Members who support us on this journey.
We love what we do; thank you for sharing this with us!!!
Eat Good & Be Well,
~The Farmer's Wife