What is a CSA anyway and why should I join one in winter?

 

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inspecting the crops
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harvesting summer squash
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view from the sweet corn patch

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!).

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spring boxes feature greens, fast growing roots, and seasonal treats like garlic scapes
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summer deliveries consist of peppers, tomatoes, beans and other heat loving crops
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fall boxes welcome the return of greens and crops like sweet potatoes and pie pumpkins make their debut

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!

 

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.

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equipment like this transplanter are purchased in winter
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at least one farm upgrade, like this new well, happen each year
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seeds are ordered and organized in winter

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.

CSA week 1

This week’s harvest

Mustard Greens
Garlic Scapes
Green Kale
Salad Mix
Red and Green Head Lettuce
Kohlrabi OR Radishes
Strawberries (grown chemical free by a neighbor)
Potted Herb (chose between Sage, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Savory, and Mint)

Fruit Share
Strawberries from Downing Fruit Farm

Welcome to Week 1 of the 2013 CSA season! Before we fill you in on what has been going on the farm this week we are going to take minute to let our members know how to find information about their CSA box (don’t worry if you aren’t immediately familiar with everything in your box, we’ll tell you what everything is and give you ideas on cooking all of these great vegetables).

All CSA posts can be found in the CSA category link that you should see in the toolbar to your right. Simply click on the “CSA” link and you can find all posts related to the CSA.

If there is a vegetable that you are not familiar with or are looking for new ideas on using less familiar veggies try typing it into the search bar or click on the vegetable in the list of veggies in today’s box. Most unfamiliar vegetables have their own page with descriptions, cooking information, and some recipes. Veggie notes can also be found under the “food notes” category.

We will also be posting farm notes with updates and information on what we are working on and how the crops are doing. These notes can be found under the “farm notes” category.

Hopefully all this info will help you get the most out of your CSA boxes and will give you a look into what we do to grow your veggies. Please let us know, either via email or by commenting on a post if you have any questions.

Farm Notes:

The thing about the weather so far this year is that the forecasters have been way off! We are constantly trying to plan our work days around the weather to get everything done. We are so glued to weather websites that both our children learned the word “radar” before they turned 2! So, it has been frustrating to plan a raining day work day when the chance of rain has been 90% only to have it not rain and vis-versa. Last week we got caught in rain storms not once but 3 times! All three times Ben was on the tractor!

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The picture above shows us side-dressing the crops with ReVita fertilizer — one of the tractor jobs Ben was doing when rain hit last week. Fortunately the rain hasn’t keep us out of the fields for long and all of the vegetables have since been side-dressed!

Another major task of the week was seeding the sweet corn. That morning the chance of rain had actually gone down, so we started in on other jobs first. Then at around 3 it became clear that some major weather was about to happen so Emily grabbed the seeder and corn and headed out to the fields. She got 3 and 1/2 beds seeded before she was tackled by pellet sized rain drops coming in hard and sideways. Needless to say, she was soaked in seconds along with all that sweet corn seed. If seed gets wet it’s ruined. Fortunately we had a couple flexible workers working that day, so we all shifted gears and seeded the wet corn seed into flats –just like we do with all transplanted crops. These flats are already happily sprouting corn in the greenhouse. So the first round of sweet corn will be a combination of transplants and direct seeded plants. We had wanted to trial these two methods of planting side by side anyway so it all worked out in the end!

This week’s recipes
Don’t forget to see even more recipes on the linked vegetable pages

Strata with greens and garlic scapes (use kale, mustard greens, kohlrabi greens or a combination)

Garlic scape carbonara

Simple mustard green sauté (instead or garlic cloves, use 5 garlic scapes, chopped)

Garlic scape salad

10/2 CSA week 20

In this week’s box:

Celeriac
Celery
Scarlet turnips
Sweet potatoes
Garlic
Onions
Lettuce
Swiss Chard
Daikon radish
Napa Cabbage
Baby Beets with Greens

Fruit share: Apples from Scott Downing in Darker county and blackberry jam from Berryhill in Xenia. The two varieties of apples are Winesap (nice balance of sweet and tart in a firm apple; dull green / red) and Monroe (sweeter than winesap and nice and crisp; bright green / yellow / red)

Farm notes:

This week will be the final week of our 2012 CSA season. As always we really enjoy doing the CSA and we are really grateful for the support of all of our members. Perhaps in the years to come we will extend the CSA season further into the fall / winter. This is probably our favorite part of the year to farm in because the weather is generally a bit more mild and the cool weather grows some of our favorite crops really well! So for those of you who like the turnips, radishes, greens, broccoli, etc. you can still find us at 2nd Street Market on Saturdays from 8-3.

Recipes

Fall Roasted Vegetables
Cut into bite sized cubes assorted vegetables totaling 5 cups: sweet potato, diakon radish, turnips, onions, beets and celeriac. Place in deep baking dish and toss with generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. This time is approximent. veggies are done when they pierce easily with a fork.

Gorgonzola Chicken with sweet potato and swiss chard

Vegetable Soup

Indonesian Sweet Potato and Cabbage Soup (use Napa Cabbage)

Daikon Radishes

Daikon radishes are widely used in Asian cuisine. Some grow quite long and regularly will grow more than a foot long. Others are more rounded. We grow white and purple daikons round ones as well as the long icicle type. The spice is in the skin and the centers are crunchy and sweet. You can eat daikons raw in salads or cooked in stir fries along with napa cabbage, bok choi, and any other stir fry favorites. Store them in the fridge in an air tight container or bag. They should last at least a month. img_0144

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Celeriac

Celeriac is a variety of celery selected for its enlarged root (actually a tuber). It is not common in America but is a stable in Europe. It has a more condensed celery flavor and celery is prepared like a root vegetable. Peel the skin of the celeriac bulb and cube. Then it can be roasted, stewed, or boiled and mashed. If you are looking for an easy way to prepare this unfamiliar vegetable try preparing mashed potatoes using half celeriac and half potatoes. It will store for a long time in the fridge in an airtight container.

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Recipes

Celeriac and Potato Latkes 

Celeriac and Fennel Slaw

Celeriac and Apple Soup

Scarlet Turnips

While scarlet turnips can be used in any turnip recipe, we like to harvest them when they are young and tender and can be eaten raw. If you find the skin too tough or too spicy it can be peeled, but we prefer to eat these turnips whole (like an apple!).

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Also don’t forget to use the greens! When harvested young the greens on these turnips are especially tasty. Use them in place of mustard greens or kale.  Remove greens from roots and store separately. Use the greens up within the week, but the roots will keep much longer.

Napa Cabbage

Napa Cabbage is a large, leafy cabbage, also known as Chinese Cabbage and is very prevalent in Asian cooking. It can be enjoyed raw, thinly sliced in a salad with a sesame oil based dressing, or added to spring rolls and wraps. When cooked it works well in stir fries or soups.