FARM NEWSLETTER // WEEK 4
Updated: Jul 17
Good morning All!
I hope everyone is having a great weekend and enjoying their fresh veggies from the farm!!
Life is good over here. The produce and pigs are keeping us busy! We started the farm stand today over in Zimmerman at the Hardware Hank. Outside of our CSA, we operate a single roadside stand (still zero farmer's markets). We've got all the same stuff you've had in your CSAs, and usually we wait for sweet corn to start the stand but this year it's behind so much we didn't want to wait to start the stand in fear that we'd waste some other varieties. Starting Friday, we'll operate up there every weekend; Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the snow flies!
We do have several of our pigs that are going into butcher at the end of the month. They're growing SO FAST that we had to make additional butcher spots earlier than the others that we had scheduled already. It's just in their nature to eat like... pigs. They eat, sleep and run around when they feel like it. With our free choice feed they have the chance to eat around the clock if they want to. We did double check with everyone from last season and it sounds like 95% of those folks are getting a pig again this season. We did double the number of pigs we're offering this season though- we have 40 on the ground here right now and I'm picking up another 8 more this weekend from a farmer up the road.
We only sell our pigs to our CSA Members. We work for our CSA Members and always prioritize you where we can!! We have a waiting list from last season that we're working through and I look forward to reaching out to those folks in the coming weeks with updates on availability. To be clear, if someone submitted their name on the waiting list but didn't sign up again this season, they're automatically removed from the lineup. ***EDITED TO CLARIFY: IF YOU SIGNED UP FOR A PIG LAST SEASON AND ARE A CSA MEMBER THIS SEASON, YOU'RE AT THE TOP OF THE WAITING LIST!! I'm so sorry I wasn't clear enough on this. We are starting with those who signed up in May of 2021.
If you're interested in getting on the list- please go to this page and scroll to the bottom where you can enter in your contact info to get on the waiting list. www.brownfamilyproduce.com/pork
I actually made a website for our butcher- check it out! Through the years I've learned a lot about our website and what it takes to make it operate well- this was a first for me... I've never gifted anyone a website before, but I can tell you this won't be my last! www.qualitymeatsmn.com
You're probably thinking, why would I make them a website? The answer is simple. They didn't know how and they wanted to streamline some of their ordering to make their busy season in the fall go smoother. Better ways to track what's going where & whose bringing in what critters when. They even process bison! So if you do get a pig from us this season, I'll point you over to their website and online ordering form that I created for them :)
The broccoli is so close!! You can see it heading in the center there- it's about the size of a quarter. By the end of this coming week that'll be as big as my hand!! Ben's looking this morning and they are not big enough yet, but if they do end up growing fast enough (fingers crossed) they'll be in your CSAs this week too. If not, you'll see them next week!
As the season is heating up we're saying good bye to all of our spring varieties and welcoming in the summer produce! Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, melons, spaghetti squash & eggplant, they're all doing awesome and we expect them in the coming weeks. We started harvesting peppers but we only take the largest ones off the plants so that the plant knows to make more flowers. By picking off the first peppers of the season you're signaling to the plant that it can spend more time focusing on more flowers (more peppers) instead of pushing the current singular pepper to grow bigger. i.e. a larger production over the lifespan of the plant.
We WANT to include blueberries in your CSA!
Carol from J&Q fruit farm is happy to work with us again this season so we can buy their blueberries for your Shares. As many of us know, labor, especially on farms, is hard to come by. She was telling me that she can't even get her grandkids to help out at the farm, but that's really not that surprising nowadays, so it's a question of 1. are the fields going to produce enough to fulfill our order, and 2. do they have the labor to harvest for us. They did offer for us to come harvest and bring our crew over but we have our own stuff to harvest here every morning (and blueberries take a LONG time to harvest because the baskets don't fill quickly with that small berry size). So unless we ask our folks to work around the clock, that's not a viable option. But believe me, we're considering every option to get these blueberries in your CSA.
As we're working out details I mentioned that we do sometimes split up the varieties where the Jumbo & Family Shares will get something one week, and then the following week the Single Shares will get that variety, or vice versa. Since she knows she isn't able to fulfill our entire order in one fell swoop she suggested breaking it down in hopes that we could require a more manageable number. In case you're wondering, we need 500 pints of blueberries to satisfy one week worth of CSAs. That's a lot of berries. So we might break it down into the size of the CSAs for the week or we might break it down to Monday and Wednesday get blueberries the first week and the following week Tuesday and Thursday get berries. I understand that this is a lot of explanation for something that isn't on the list this week, but if she calls and she has enough for them, we're adding them into the shares regardless of if it was on your CSA list.
Last season with the drought, the blueberries didn't do well and we weren't able to get them at all. In that case, we substituted with other fruits, which happened to be apple varieties, to make sure you're still getting the same value with your CSA! We like the fruits at our house too and understand that's a special part of the CSA season :)
This week in your CSAs you can expect:
Jumbo & Family Shares: Kohlrabi, Zucchini, Pickles, Kale, and a farmer's choice lettuce!
Single Shares: Kohlrabi, Zucchini, Slicers, Kale, and a farmer's choice lettuce!
*The farmer's choice lettuce is because we have enough lettuce for another week of our Shares but not enough of one variety. So we're going to go out and cut the biggest of each variety so everyone gets some lettuce this week! Sad news though- this is the end of the lettuces for the season. Remember when I told you that time would come too fast... Well that time is here already. We'd have a second planting of lettuces but the problem is that if they grow in the middle of the summer they get bitter and their flavor isn't enjoyable (the whole point!!) so we just don't grow them in the heat of the summer. In the fall, we already have way too many fall specific varieties to even consider adding lettuce to the line up.
We will do our best to make sure that everyone gets everything that is on their respective lists. If at any point we don't have enough of something, we will substitute with the closest available option.
We try to mix up the colors of our zucchini so you're getting the yellow and green mixture. Some people swear there is a difference in their flavor but I have to disagree. They are both zucchini summer squashes, and the difference is the color of their skin. We grow both for a simple reason, because they're pretty, haha! In a stir fry or salad, fritters or zucchini bread. As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes before our stomachs!
We do also have crook neck summer squash coming up in the next few weeks. Those are a lighter color yellow and have a very soft delicate skin, I would say those summer squash do have a slightly different flavor!
Every week the zucchini harvest may fluctuate, meaning that one week we might have a lot of zucchini and the next we might have half as many. It depends mostly on the rainfall or irrigation, but the age of the plants also plays a role in their production. When the first start producing they are gearing up, and at the end of their life they're gearing down. So mid-summer we will have the most! But- we also have multiple plantings for this reason exactly so we really never see the different patches taper off too much.
Just like the harvest quantities change, the size may change as well. We harvest them down to about 7 inches I'd say. Anything bigger than 7 inches is harvested and brought into the pack shed. When packing CSAs we give everyone a proper portion for their CSA size. That could mean one large one or multiple small ones, on a bigger or smaller scale. What I'm getting at: Please enjoy them at the size you get them at! For larger ones, I suggest baking with them or making boats (recipe included this week!). For smaller ones, I suggest slicing to top your salad or to add in stir fry.
The reason that they're used in different ways at different sizes is because the seed cavity dictates what it could be used for. The larger zucchini has a larger seed cavity of course, and if you were to stir-fry a big zucchini the center would cook very quickly and be too soft. (If I'm stir frying a big zucchini, I just cut out the center so it doesn't get soft). The smaller ones have such a small seed cavity that it doesn't cook at a different rate. Just like pickles and slicing cucumbers that can be used interchangeably, you can use big ones or small ones for any purpose in the kitchen!
Part of a CSA is understanding what is in season, when & also how best to enjoy the seasonal flavors! This is a great example :)
Cucumbers- This is one of the staples of the farm season. We'll offer these as often as we can, and we harvest them every other day all season long so we should be able to keep you in cukes all summer! We do intentionally take a few weeks off throughout the summer, there are so many other things we need to fit into your boxes too.
To store: Put cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to a week. Fun Fact: Keep them far away from tomatoes, apples, and citrus which accelerate their deterioration.
Kohlrabi- please make sure you're peeling the bulb before enjoying it. It's kind of like an orange, you can eat the outside, but it probably tastes just like an orange peel, lol! Kohlrabi is considered like a zucchini or potato around our house. These have nothing in common besides the technique I use in the kitchen. Potatoes, zucchini, and kohlrabi all have an awesome versatility. Baked, fried, sliced, diced, I could go on but you get the idea. There is a lot of potential for this one crop!! This is our last week of Kohlrabi for the spring, Ben does have some more seeded already for this fall but we'll have to see if we have a spot to transplant it to- the fields are full already!
Next week we'll actually be spending some time working up spots where the lettuces used to be. Out with the old and in with the new, haha! This space is already spoken for though, as our first direct seedings didn't germinate well. There is still plenty of time though!!
I am sorry this week took so long to get you the newsletter! I usually try to post it on Fridays but this weekend we had a tournament & we have been at the ball fields all weekend (we have 2 in baseball). We actually have two more games already scheduled this morning, but we might end up having more depending on how they do. Then the girls have a birthday party & I have to pick up pigs this afternoon. Don't worry- we've been conditioned over years and years that this is how busy our summers are ;P
Life is good!! <3
Stay well Friends,
~The Farmer's Wife