CSA WEEK 11

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

Last week we said farewell to one of our summer crew members. Kelli teaches 4th grade at the kids Elementary school here in New Lebanon and was looking for a summer job. She had experience working on market gardens in northern Ohio so she knew what she was getting into. She really enjoyed working with everyone on the crew, our Spotify radio stations played over our new Bluetooth speaker in the packing shed, learning how to lift heavy things with her legs not her back, and eating the fruits of her labor. We really enjoyed her laugh, stories, enthusiasm, positivity, and desire to be helpful at all times!

One of Kelli’s jobs on squash harvest days was riding on the harvest wagon and receiving the squash as they traveled down the conveyor belt. She had to bin them up and then lift the full bins to the back of the wagon, grab an empty bin and repeat the process. On particularly heavy harvest days she’d fill and move 30 bins! We definitely hope Kelli joins us again for another summer! And while we have enjoyed all the teachers at Dixie elementary, I sure do hope Isla gets Kelli when she is in 4th grade!

Kelli bins up the squash. The conveyor method of harvesting was new this year and it is great!
Kelli helps plant the winter squash we will enjoy in the fall.

I plan to highlight all of our employees on the blog. The produce you enjoy was touched by everyone on the crew at some point–whether it be the seeding, the planting, the weeding, the harvesting or the washing. We are grateful to our employees- new and returning alike!

Recipes

Garlicky Kale and Roasted Carrots with Tahini Sauce

Chinese Eggplant and Pork

Roasted Tomato Soup with Crispy Kale

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…..) carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, onions, tomatoes, watermelon, red bell peppers, sweet Italian peppers, sweet corn

CSA WEEK 10

This Week’s Harvest

Weekend cantaloupe harvest with the kids

Farm News

The start of August. A time of year when normally the farm is all consuming but summer break is winding down and it’s time to start thinking about school. In a typical year we actually do very little thinking about the start of school. Ben’s mom, Vicci, gets school supplies, new shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes and the kids just magically appear ready to go. We are such unreliable partners in this effort, that Vicci just by-passes us all together and has learned to go to the school website and download class supply lists herself.

This year, though, we are forced to think about school in an unexpected way. Like so many families, we are reviewing school opening plans and deciding if our kids will go to in-class school or if we will opt to do on-line learning. With the kids circulating through the community more, we have to consider the risks it would pose to the farm and our employees, who work so hard to bring you this good food. It has not been easy to think about -neither choice sounds particularly good- and I am sure many of you can relate!

I know that a lot of our CSA members are teachers, health care workers, parents–where ever you fall we are all navigating the coronavirus pandemic. I hope everyone is doing well! We are so appreciative of your support and confidence in us to provide good safe food-especially during this time. Hang in there and hopefully you are eating some really good home cooked meals while you are stuck at home!

Recipes

Coming up next week (our best guess……….) Tomatoes, Carrots, Sweet Onions, Shishito Peppers, Sweet Italian Peppers, Fairytale Eggplant, Sweet Corn, Watermelon

CSA WEEK 9

This Week’s Harvest

  • Salt and Pepper Cucumbers
  • Green cucumbers
  • Sweet Corn
  • Tomatillos
  • Poblano Peppers or Jalapeno Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
  • Tendersweet or regular cabbage
  • Golden Beets
  • Basil
  • Sweet Onions
  • Eggplant

Farm News

We hope you are enjoying the sweet corn as much as we are! Sweet corn comes ready all at once so a trick to extend the harvest window is to plant 2 varieties that have different maturity dates at the same time. Last year we found “American Dream” and it became a quick favorite. The problem was that the other variety we planted was only ahead of it by 4 days so the harvest window was too narrow. One of our co-op partner farmers suggested the variety “Catalyst” which matures 11 days earlier than Ameircan Dream.

We do 4 seedings of each variety every 2 weeks for an 8 week non stop sweet corn season. This is the first year the varieties work in perfect sync to the plan and the first year we were able to plant all 4 plantings. So hopefully that translates to more corn for you all!

I took a picture of 3 of our sweet corn plantings on the same night to show the succession planting plan at work.

Yesterday was the last chance to cultivate the final round of corn with the tractor. There is a little bit of clearance under the tractor, so once crops get too tall the tractor isn’t able to drive over them without damaging them. We nearly missed our window and even though it was dark, Ben got the job done thanks to tractor lights!

We continue to fight the birds eating the tops of the corn. Last year our theory was that the birds were actually after the worms, so as long as we had worm free corn they wouldn’t be a bother. This year, though, our corn is relatively worm free but the birds are here! The new theory is that there are no mulberries for the birds this year (remember that 27 degree low on May 9th?) so they’ve settled on a corn diet. We just saw the other day that a farm we follow on Instagram lost 6000 ears to birds! Yikes. With a combo of a noise cannon, scare ribbon and balloons, and a portable radio playing loud music all day, we hope we can keep the birds at bay for our final plantings!

Recipes

Eggplant Parmesan

Scrambled Eggs with Cabbage, Tomato and Hot Pepper

Salsa Verde

Marinated Cucumber, Tomato and Onion Salad

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess……) salt and pepper cucumbers, melons, sweet corn, sweet onions, tomatoes, sweet Italian Peppers, basil, carrots, and more!

CSA WEEK 8

CSA Week 8

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News
A couple years ago our cooperative, Great River Organics, was invited by Whole Foods to participate in a local supplier summit. The summit took place in Washington, DC , and since I have an aunt in the area I thought I would go and get a visit in with family at the same time.

Pre-conference instructions suggested that participants bring a sample of their product for a photo shoot opportunity with a professional photographer. The conference was in March so we didn’t actually have any of our beautiful fresh produce to showcase. However, we did have some purple daikon storage radishes still kicking around in our cooler so I decided I would bring the daikon radishes with me for the product photo opportunity.

I went to the summit with our co-op’s manager, Jaime, and our main objective was to further develop our relationship with Whole Foods. The conference took place at The Nationals’ baseball stadium. So there I am at a fancy conference at a fancy venue with a bunch of purple daikon hanging out in my purse. The conference speakers included employees of Whole Foods as well as vendors whose products were on Whole Foods shelves. We meet the regional buyer of produce for Whole Foods, ate delicious food and meet other small business owners.

When I first arrived and checked in, I set up a time for the photo shoot with my product. 1 o’clock rolls around and I take my purse with my daikon and head to the photo shoot area. There I find a table with a pristine white tablecloth and I was told by the photographer to place my product on the table. I lifted my purse and dumped out the radishes. I felt a little awkward with my obscure vegetable whereas most people had an identifiable item but the photographer genuinely seemed very excited about the produce. He took some photos of just the daikons and then instructed me to hold them and took pictures of me. I was also told to come up with a quote about my product so I frantically texted Jaime. She responded with a few excellent quotes, I picked one of them and wrote it on a card.

I honestly had forgotten about it and wouldn’t have even brought up but last week a friend tagged me in a Facebook post and said I was famous. She was shopping in the Mason Whole Foods and snapped a picture of a picture of me and my daikons. I am pleased that the poster is properly placed right in front of our zucchini spread.

So far this season we have sold over 5000 pounds of our summer squash to Whole Foods through our co-op. You can also find our cabbage, kale, scallions, head lettuce and parsley in the Dayton and Cincinnati area Whole Foods. The co-op has been a very important piece of our farm’s success. Small vegetable farms can take on many shapes and sizes and there are different options for selling. We have found that direct sales to our customers through CSA and market alone would not provide an adequate income so we added a wholesale piece, which has enabled us to make investments in the farm, increase our employees pay, and focus the farm structure to maximize efficiency.

Recipes

Braised Cabbage and Onion

Beet and Zucchini Fritters

Beet and Sweet Corn Salad

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Tomatoes, sweet corn, poblano peppers, tomatillos, golden beets, shishito peppers, basil, sweet onions and more!

CSA Week 7

This Week’s Harvest

  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Basil
  • Sweet Corn
  • Scallions
  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Swiss Chard
  • Salad Mix

Farm News

Last week I spoke about the long hours we’ve been putting in and this week was no different. I realized I took a few pictures around sunset so this week’s blog is a series of late evening pictures. The kids are spending time with cousins for a couple of weeks so both Ben and I keep working well after the crew has left for the day. It’s good to get a lot done but we do miss the kids–and the balance of life they provide!

Recipes

Corn, Scallions and Squash Flat Bread Pizza

Grilled Zucchini Lasagna

Chard and Sweet Corn Tacos

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…) Sweet corn, cabbage, sweet onions, poblano peppers, beets, salad mix, fennel and more!

CSA WEEK 6

This Week’s Harvest

  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Red Butter Lettuce
  • Cilantro or Parsley
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Basil

Farm News

There are not enough hours in the day or days in the week! We had a to do list for Sunday and at the end of the day, when only half the list was crossed off, I thought I should share it as a snippet of what farming is really like– a series of to-do lists that we never ever get to fully check off.

“Seed beans” is the most frustrating item on the list. We still have not seeded any beans for this year! First we had the dry spell and since we couldn’t keep up with irrigating, we weren’t adding anything new that would also need to be watered. On Father’s Day, we finally we got rain (yay!) and were able to think about seeding beans. So it was on an earlier to do list and Ben was literally in the barn getting the seeds and planter ready when we got hit with nearly 2 inches of rain in 30 minutes from a thunderstorm cell that just happened to develop right over us. Beans would have to wait. Bringing us to Sunday when they made it back on the list. But first, beds would have to be made- that was the item that did get done – “prep corn beds”. But we ran out of time to seed the beans (by the way, running out of time means it was 11 pm and we were still working through the list!). The reason behind the push to get it done was that we were planning to plant corn on Monday and wanted to water the freshly planted corn and bean beds at the same time. Well we managed to get the corn planted Monday and Ben was planning to seed the beans in the evening and then run the irrigation all night. I don’t even remember at this point what on Monday’s to-do list was ahead of beans (probably fix the irrigation water reel which had broken?!) , but we ended up running out of time again!

Sadly I can’t report yet that beans have been seeded. We have 3 more weeks to seed them before it’s actually too late to get a crop in. This is enough time and I am not too worried. We’ll have beans at some point. The wait will make us appreciate them all the more as soon as they do make it in the weekly shares!

Harvest tools lined up and ready for another week on the farm

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Sweet corn, eggplant, peppers, salad mix, swiss chard, sweet onions, basil and more!)

CSA WEEK 5

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

The most exciting farm news from the past week is that we have a new way of harvesting summer squash. Summer squash is one of the crops we grow for our co-op, Great River Organics. So we grow a lot of it! After a couple years of schlepping 30 lb zucchini bins down 400 foot beds, we are excited to kiss that practice good-bye. We got a harvest conveyor which is really like a giant ladder with a moving belt that stretches across 5 beds. We harvest the squash and place it on the belt and the belt moves it down to our harvest wagon where someone is waiting to bin it all up.

We are starting to use it for other crops too. The video above is of a kohlrabi harvest. We pulled the entire bed, which was around 1500 pounds, and used the conveyor to bring it all in. It’ll be a great way to bring in our storage cabbage! The crew is really excited that we get to save our backs for the next 3 months of squash harvest! And we are excited we have added another improvement to the farm!

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) kale, broccoli, summer squash, cucumbers, salad mix, scallions and more!

CSA Week 4

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

The big news on the farm this week is relief. We had not had significant rain since May 20th and had been scrambling to keep the farm well watered. It was actually impossible to water everything and our potatoes were left to fend for themselves and other crops just given the bare minimum to survive. Simply put, our crops were not thriving (the fennel in this week’s box is a good example–it’s perfectly fine but the bulbs are definitely smaller than they could be).

We are also still in the thick of planting season and planting into crumbly dust is difficult and prepping bone-dry fields is impossible. Not to mention the more we plant, the more crops that then need to be watered! We actually held off on planting and ended up a little behind on that front. On Thursday and Friday last week we finally got caught up on planting and then on Sunday it rained!! We are so relieved. Our potatoes will be happy, our sweet potatoes finally have some real saturation to take off, the corn and salad mix will thrive, Ben doesn’t have to devote 70% of his time to irrigation set up (at least for a few days!), and the ground will be a good moisture level to start prepping our cover crop fields and fall production fields! So all in all very good news for the farm and farmers!

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess……) Cucumbers, Parsley, Zucchini, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Fennel, Salad Mix, Scallions and more!

CSA Week 3

This Week’s Harvest

Beets with greens
Scallions
Spigarello
Kale
Red butter lettuce
Salad mix
Red round Radishes
Cilantro
Sugar snap peas

Farm News

Not all farm news is good news and we do have crop failures from time to time. Sugar snap peas are a CSA member favorite but they can be tricky. For years we had issues of seed corn maggot eating our snap pea seeds when we direct seeded. About 3 years ago we switched to transplanting pea plants. This has definitely worked. This year we wanted to spread out the pea harvest over a longer period of time in hopes that peas would be in the CSA share more than once. We decided to sow 2 varieties of peas on the same day whose maturation date varies by 10 days. So sowing and transplanting would happen at the same time but harvesting would be a week apart.

Transplanting sugar snap peas

Well this week’s box features the later maturing variety which worked great with good yields and yummy fruit. Unfortunately peas were supposed to be in last week’s box too but the other variety was a crop failure. I am not sure if it was the 27 degree night that set it back beyond repair or the 90 degree days in May and June, or maybe the variety just doesn’t transplant well. In any case the difference between the 2 varieties is about 100 pounds. Next year we will stick with the variety that produced well and do 2 plantings 1 week apart. Now we’ll just have to hope the weather works out for us to be able to plant both sowings! It is nice to be able to have solutions to crop failures but such a bummer to have to wait an entire year to implement them.

Recipes

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/healthy/a27255965/seared-coconut-lime-chicken-with-snap-pea-slaw-recipe

https://food52.com/recipes/13241-broccoli-rabe-sausage-and-cannellini-beans (use spigarello in place of rabe)

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/roasted-and-marinated-beets-with-burrata-charred-kale-and-hazelnut-vinaigrette

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Beets, Swiss chard, Cilantro, Bok Choi, Salad Mix, Purple Scallions, Summer Squash and more!

CSA Week 2

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

You may have noticed your share is full of greens. This is greens season! Greens like the cooler weather of spring and early summer so we grow lots of them this time of year. Several greens are then absent during the warm months of July and August, but return to the harvest list in the fall. This will likely be the last week for arugula, spinach and braising greens until the fall. While we have several more plantings of head lettuce to enjoy, it is unlikely the heads will be as glorious as they are in the month of June and then again in October.

We do try to have a consistent supply of salad mix all season long. To do this we start a round every 2 to 3 weeks for about 20 weeks! One day last week I took a picture of all the plantings of salad mix we had going at once.

First round of salad that we are currently harvesting.
Next round of salad nearly big enough to start cutting
3rd round of salad waiting to be planted
In the greenhouse with the the 4th round of salad mix just recently germinated

The third round of salad is giving us a run for our money. We planted it last Wednesday since the forecast was calling for a 90 % chance of rain on Thursday. Well after it rained everywhere else but on us, we dragged 4 hoses out to water it by hand on Thursday. I then decided to water it by hand again on Saturday night. We are using the overhead sprinkler to water everything else on the farm, field by field, and these 2 beds of salad have to wait in line for the sprinkler. They were looking really sad in the 90 degree heat and their turn for the overhead sprinkler isn’t until Tuesday night. So I gave them a little more water to hold them over. The things we do for fresh salad mix!!

Recipes

Spanakoptia with mixed greens

Watermelon Radish and Arugula Salad (you can use any nuts. My go to salad “nuts” are toasted sunflower seeds)

Carrot soup with collard greens (use kale or braising greens place of collards)

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…….) Kale, Salad Mix, Radishes, Snap Peas, Beets, Scallions, Red Butter Lettuce, Leaf Broccoli