Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a wonderful producer consumer relationship; one in which a consumer agrees to get his/her main source of vegetables for a season from one farm and that farm agrees to produce a diverse range of high quality vegetables. It is a hyper local diet because the farm is oftentimes located in the same county as the consumer and the weekly harvest is dictated by the season (ie sugar snap peas for 2 glorious weeks in June, copious amounts of tomatoes in August, and no sweet potatoes until October–but it’s worth the wait!).
It’s a win win for both the farmer and the consumer. The consumer hears directly about how their food was grown and the freshness and quality of the vegetables usually results in superior tasting food. We often hear things like “I didn’t even realized I liked beets!” and “I don’t even buy greens from the grocery anymore.” The CSA customer is encouraged to try new foods. We hear from CSA members that they eat more vegetables during the 24 week CSA season. They welcome this challenge and enjoy the health benefits that come with it. The farm, in turn, benefits from having a season long relationship it can count on, often beginning in the dead of winter before any seeds are even started!
tomatillos make a delicious salsa
not your ordinary green bean, dragon tongue beans are sweet and crunchy
purple cauliflower is pretty and tasty
fairytale eggplant is a no-fuss eggplant. it cooks quickly and isn’t bitter
In fact, now is the perfect time to sign up for a CSA! We have a lot of expenses at the front end of the season. Seeds and plants are purchased in January and cost more than $5,000! We are also restocking the farm of all the supplies we’ll need for the season from tomato stakes to fertilizer to irrigation lines. It is much easier to get these supplies in winter before we are too busy managing plants. We also usually have a major piece of equipment to buy each season or a costly project and having funds from CSA members helps pay for these big ticket items. Finally knowing what our CSA membership is before the start of the season helps us plan accordingly.
While we are calling on folks to join now, we recognize that paying upfront doesn’t fit everyone’s budget. We strive to keep our CSA affordable and have several payment options. You can break up the CSA cost into 3 or 7 installments and you can pay with credit card or check. For those members who can not get through a box of produce every week, we offer a biweekly delivery schedule. You can even place your deliveries on hold if you go out of town so you won’t have to pay for something you’re not going to get. Boxes picked up at a neighborhood pick up location are just $25 a week, farm pick boxes are $23, and home delivered boxes are $29.
Sound good? Sign up HERE today! To see more about our CSA visit here.
Tomatillos are native to Mexico and Central America. They are common in Mexican cuisine–mostly known as the main ingredient in salsa verde. They are a tart tomato lookalike but ripe when green and from a different plant. They are usually cooked–which brings out more flavor– and made into sauces or salsa. Tomatillos last a couple weeks in the fridge. The husks are not edible so slip the tomatillos out before use.
Perhaps an inedible strong- smelling vegetable comes to mind when you hear “Brussels Sprouts”. But when they aren’t boiled and overcooked, they are so good! They grow for a long time and take awhile to develop the mini cabbage buds. We wait to harvest until at least few frosts have hit the plants as the cold weather sweetens them.
We typically harvest the entire stalk so you’ll need to pluck each sprout from the stalk. Put them in a plastic bag or other airtight container and place in the coldest part of your fridge. If kept near freezing, they’ll last 5 weeks, but more typical fridges would be slightly warmer were they’ll last a couple weeks.
Roasting sprouts whole or in halves is a common way to prepare. They are also often thinly sliced and cooked or even eaten raw. They are often paired with Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, bacon, nuts, mustard, or brown sugar.
Rutabaga is a direct cross between turnips and cabbage! They look like turnips but are generally larger. Their flesh is also more golden–especially after it is cooked– than a turnip. It’s flavor is milder and sweeter than a turnip as well. It is creamy like a potato, but with a lower starch content. Rutagabas are very healthy– high in fiber and vitamins. Just 1 cup of cooked rutabaga provides 53% of your daily value of vitamin C!
If stored properly rutabaga will last at least a month. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge (plastic bag is fine). If they are left loose the moisture will wick away and cause them to shrivel.
Rutabaga can be boiled, roasted, mashed, or put in gratins, soups and stews.
Ringing in the New Year means it’s time to think about getting yourself signed up for a CSA! The freshness and taste of veggies grown right here in Montgomery County can’t be topped! And Mile Creek Farm is certified organic to boot! Here’s 22 of the 24 weekly shares that we delivered last year.
Treat yourself to weekly or biweekly deliveries from May 29 to November 6. We all know vegetables are good for you, and we think our vegetables taste great too! Sign up is now live! https://csa.farmigo.com/join/milecreekfarm/2018csaseason
CSAs of all sizes exist all over the country. Some have less than 50 members while others have a membership reaching in the thousands. Some run year round and some are less than 20 weeks long. Some are multi-farm while others are single-farm sourced. Our 200 member 24 week season single-farm sourced only CSA puts us pretty much in middle of the spectrum. We like this size, especially having the season extension add on that we’ve had the past 2 years, which helps bring in additional income.
One of our goals for the farm is to help create a vibrant rural economy and to that end employ people year round. We are getting closer to that goal and this year we ran payroll a month longer in Spring and a month longer in Fall. We were able to employ Audrey and Ricky from mid February to mid December. They had a major hand in every vegetable that went through this farm from seeding, to planting, to weeding, to harvesting to cleaning!!
We meet Audrey at a farm workshop we gave while she was working on an organic division of Fulton Farm, The Happy Box. That meeting led us to recruit her when the program at Fulton’s closed. We were lucky she came with Ricky! A common thread I see among organic farmers is they often have a passion for art and Audrey and Ricky are no exception. In fact they meet through their art. They are also animal lovers and in addition to caring for pets at home, have rescued several wild animals.
It’s wonderful they came to us with prior experience on an organic farm and we’re looking forward to having them back next season and help them gain more specialized skills like tractor operating. I also hope they get to experience some exciting animal encounters and perfect weather!
Farm improvements are endless and during the season we accumulate a large to do list, all of which must wait until winter. We have to take care of fall clean up before we can delve into projects. We’ve blown out the irrigation lines so there is no water in them which could break the lines upon freezing. We’ve gotten the remaining plastic and drip tape out of the fields and pulled up the tomato and pepper stakes.
We are glad to have some late season help this year to get lots accomplished while it is still mild outside and keeping 2 crew members on for November and December has allowed us to start in on several projects. We are giving our greenhouse a major makeover. After 9 years, the greenhouse floor is finally getting a layer of gravel installed. Ben spent all day on the tractor bringing loads of gravel in the bucket to Audrey and Ricky who shoveled and wheelbarrowed an even layer of gravel all throughout the greenhouse. Next we’ll lay out landscape fabric. This floor should be nice and flat and reduce water buildup and suppress weeds. We are also totally rearranging the table layout and hope to end up with a clean space that keeps our greenhouse starts healthy and lends itself to an organized flow to maximize productivity. Ben’s been thinking about the greenhouse since spring so it feels good to tackle the beast! Both our plants and our crew spend a lot of time in the greenhouse and good management starts here.
We love that this time of year we are still providing customers with tasty organic food but aren’t too busy to take steps to get ready for next year. Winter always goes quickly and our plate is full with projects just like the greenhouse. Maybe this year we’ll actually get everything on the winter to do list done!