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  • Writer's pictureThe Farmer's Wife

FIRST CSA NEWSLETTER

Updated: Jun 21

Greetings All,

I hope you're doing well and not floating away in all of this rain! I know that this week we have been dreading today, as we were supposed to get at least a couple inches of rain. While there is still rain in the forecast for this evening overnight, I am happy to say that we haven't gotten ANY RAIN today!!!!! That's a win.


I want to address current conditions in the field before we dive into the CSA goods. We did lose quite a bit of crops in the last week or so. The thing is, it's all the stuff that carries the first couple weeks of the CSA Season. The early season crops like lettuces, greens, radishes, kohlrabis, etc. And as you all know- we plant way more than what we need. SO, we're happy to share that we're confident we have enough of those varieties to make it through the next couple weeks! Then after that, we transition into the warmer crops, cukes, peppers, zucchinis, beets, lots of goodies. All of those crops are looking great! So this 'flood' really looks bad in some of the pictures but as far as your Shares go, you are pretty insulated from that loss. This makes us SO HAPPY.

Now, let's get into the good stuff.


This is the first edition of our Farm Newsletter for 2024!! We are happy to welcome our Members for another season of sharing farm fresh goodies every week. We've got a big season ahead and can't wait to show you what's in store for you ;)


Every morning starts the same around here during CSA Harvest Season. I give Ben a honey-do list. Except it's really like a honey-harvest list. We harvest, pack and deliver CSAs for 4 days a week and every day has a different number of shares and different sizes. So I'll give Ben a list for 125 heads of romaine, 5 bushels of kale to bunch, 75 heads of broccoli, for example. Ben has a handful of helpers in the field and I have a handful of helpers in the pack shed. We rinse the produce lightly and then pack the CSAs, and then load and deliver your produce!


The purpose of explaining that was to express how fresh everything is going to be. We don't harvest a week's worth of anything at a time. We harvest what we need each day, and then start the process over the next day. That way you're getting the best tasting, fresh produce in your kitchens!

**These are the green buttercrunch lettuces coming home with you this week! We also grow romaine lettuce which you'll get next week. We're sending buttercrunch this week because these are already really big... so we're concerned they won't fit in the boxes next week.


HOUSEKEEPING


To make sure the season goes smoothly, I have a couple reminders!


1. The boxes are on a rotation, so when you pick up a box you need to bring back your empty box from the week before. This first week you won't have a box to return. Some people bring reusable bags and empty their CSA contents into their bags and leave their boxes at the site. However you want to do it is great, we just need to have one of your boxes back every week.


2. Everyone’s names are on their CSA Share boxes. It’s a safety precaution to make sure that we have the least number of people handling your CSA boxes and it's more hygienic knowing that the boxes are yours and that no one else is using them.


3. Make sure you take your CSA box. You’d be surprised by how often it happens that folks take the wrong box actually. It’s almost always when you’re out of town and send someone else. People don’t always look before they grab a box and go. There is a fee if you do end up with someone else’s’ box because it’ll help cover the special deliveries and additional produce we’re out. The only time there is any chance of an additional charge throughout the season is if you take the wrong box ($100) or if you dispose/wreck your boxes ($5 replacement fee).


4. Please make sure to pick up within the time frame your site has assigned. If you don’t pick up in that time frame your CSA is considered forfeited, unless you make arrangements with me in advance, in which case we’re happy to help communicate that with your host! If you’re looking for your pickup time frame, it’ll be in your handbook at the top of the second page.


WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT IN YOUR CSA SHARES:


This is where you'll come every week to see what you are getting in your boxes. The Jumbo and Family Shares always receive the same varieties. The Jumbo Shares get 2x everything that is in the Family Share.


The Single Shares aren't always exactly what the Family & Jumbo Shares receive. We often alternate varieties so that one week our Jumbo/Family Share Members get Kale & the Single Shares get Swiss Chard. Then the following week the varieties are flip flopped and the Singles get Kale for example. The quantity in the Single Shares is smaller too, that's how we designed it- so that it's an appropriate amount of produce for 1-2 people (or more depending on how often you cook/ how big your eaters are).


JUMBO & FAMILY SHARES: Green Buttercrunch, Red Buttercrunch, Rhubarb, Kohlrabi, Kale, & Radishes.


SINGLE SHARES: Green Buttercrunch, Red Buttercrunch, Rhubarb, Kohlrabi & Swiss Chard.


Let's start with the lettuces and greens. Most folks aren't used to getting them literally straight out of the field. We rinse them to cool them down and then pack them into your shares. That being said, they will come with some dirt. They're not dirty but they do have residual dirt around the base of the leaves.


Two ways to go about it- you can either prep the lettuce right away and wash it, or don't wash it and put it in the fridge with intentions to use it in the next few days. Keeping it unwashed and in the fridge will help it store longer, though at this time of year you'll be getting greens every week for a few weeks so I'd suggest micro-prepping because it just makes it that much easier to use during the week when we're all busy.


Have you ever stood in the fridge with the door open? Think of reaching for a baggie with lettuce vs a head of lettuce you that need to wash. Biggest tip I can give you this season is to care for all the produce you get right away. Don't leave the box on the ground in the entry way for a couple of days... it certainly won't look like the produce we harvested for you.

The red buttercrunch lettuce is so nice and supple! I adore buttercrunch lettuces because they've got a little more of a spongy texture, comparable to spinach. They still have a little crunch with the smaller leaves in the center too, so it's a great balance!

To prep the lettuces and greens I always start with a clean sink that I rinsed out wish dish soap. I have a clean dish towel to the side of the sink ready for the fresh goodies! I start by running water into the sink and then carefully breaking off the leaves from the head one at a time. Discard the core because it is tart and usually hard. As the sink is filling up with water I start rinsing the leaves individually. Make sure you're running your fingers along the center rib and all over the leaves through the creases so that there isn't any hidden dirt. Make sure to rinse once under running water and then lay out your lettuce and greens on your clean dish towel or paper towels.


When they've dripped dry as much as possible, add a paper towel to the bottom of a plastic baggie and put your greens in there. If you have a lot of greens, I suggest adding a couple paper towels throughout. You don't want them to be 100% dry, but you also don't want residual moisture sitting on the leaves because it'll make it deteriorate faster.


Please keep in mind that these greens are the way nature intended them; they're not sprayed. While we don't see damage on there from pests, if you see a spot simply cut away that bit.



The first time I tried kale chips, I wasn't impressed. Word to the wise Make sure you're massaging the leaves with olive oil. It sounds silly and you're probably thinking, well, why can't I just toss them in olive oil, right? By massaging the kale you're getting it into all the little cracks and crevices, and hence you will get the texture you're hoping for. Nice and crispy throughout!! I didn't do it right the first time but I'm glad I gave them a second chance, they're so good!!


 Adding it to a mixed salad is a great way to include it without eating a straight kale salad (because that can be overwhelming to some), or you can add it to things like your eggs or stir-fry's. I've got some recipes on the blog too- if you go to the blog and just search for "Kale" I have a half dozen+ recipes that will pop up for inspiration.


RHUBARB! This is a seasonal treat that you will see one time. This is it!! It's a cooler weather crop that everyone in MN knows about. If you haven't used it yet- I highly suggest making a dessert with it. The most characteristic feature of Rhubarb (in Minnesota at least) is that we can't help ourselves but to douse it in sugar. Rhubarb tarts are the most popular way to enjoy it and although I like to try to go light on the sugar, it is the most popular recipe for a reason!!


Fun fact about rhubarb- the leaves are POISONOUS. We cut the greens off and we're left with the nice red thick stems. The leaves have a high amount of oxalic acid that can lead to difficulty breathing, nausea and even kidney stones. Word to the wise, if you see rhubarb when out and about walking your furry friends, make sure they don't ingest any leaves.



RADISHES are one of those varieties that can either be a hit or miss with some. I'm the same way- it took me a while to enjoy radishes. I'll be honest- I have very midwestern tastebuds and I'm shy towards spicy varieties in my salads. Depending on the weather radishes can be mild or HOT. Even though they're all from the same seeds, the level of heat in the radish is dependent on the growing weather.


An easy way to prepare them differently is cutting them into match sticks instead of slices. I think it's true that we eat with our eyes first. I'm not a chef by any means, just a self-proclaimed foodie (who never has enough time to cook in the summer, haha!!). A fun fact that I want to share is that if you cook the radishes in a stir fry, it cuts down the heat a little bit and still adds a great texture (think water chestnut).


Kohlrabi is a really fun variety that not everyone has experience using. It has a bulb at the bottom that grows above the ground. The leaves are porous and also remind me of spinach. They're edible and for those of you who are feeling ambitious: rinse the leaves good and then fold the leaves in half and cut the center stem out. The stems are edible and could be used in a stirfry but I wouldn't add them right into a salad unless you dice them small because they can be tough. When using your kohlrabi, peel the outside layer off with a paring knife. Then you can cut them into sticks and use with a veggie tray. One of our favorite ways to use kohlrabi is shredding it and making fritters. Which sounds intimidating if you've never done it but think meatball, lol. It's just shredded kohlrabi, egg, bread crumb and some seasonings basically. There is a recipe for these on our blog too- just search "kohlrabi" in the search bar above (AFTER you get through the rest of this email ;) )


THANK YOU FOR JOINING US THIS SEASON!!


We've got a big season planned! I'm sure you already know this- but we don't even go to farmers markets anymore. We have one farm stand on the weekends at Hardware Hank in Zimmerman and we open when we have sweet corn. Our sweet corn is about 2 weeks ahead of normal because Ben started them in the greenhouse and then transplanted them into the fields!


We focus a huge majority of our produce into our CSA program and curtail what we grow and how much of it, depending on what we're hearing from you guys on a year-to-year basis. Our entire farm is focused on CSA Shares, and we hope that's reflected in the amount of care and enthusiasm we have for sharing all of these farm fresh goodies all summer long!!


There is literally no way that I can tell you everything I want to share with you. I hope you come back next week and read some more about the produce you're going to be seeing in your kitchen very soon!!


We look forward to a great first week of CSAs and are hopeful for great harvest weather! Even though you know we're harvesting either way ;) Rain or shine, baby!!


Eat Good & Be Well!

~The Farmer's Wife

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