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August 29, 2015

This Week's Share

We are really on the cusp of the seasons which means a little uncertainty for share prediction this week. Summer squash, zukes and cukes are on their last legs so maybe we'll see them one last time this week. The broccoli is just coming on so we'll probably be seeing it back in the share. This is just the start of our fall broccoli bounty, we literally have miles of broccoli, cauliflower Brussels sprouts planted.

We are just starting our winter squash harvests. Many varieites like butternut and pumpkins require a time of curing under specific conditions to improve their flavour and storage quality, but the delicata and spaghetti squash are ready to eat out of the field.

Spaghetti squash can be sliced in half and baked on a cookie sheet. Then you can scoop out the stringy insides and top with whatever you would like.

Delicata squash are my all time favorite winter squash. These are sweet as can be and fast cooking. DO NOT spend time trying to peal them, their skins are 100% edible and really add to the texture to the squash. Just scoop out the seeds and bake them at 450 until tender (around 20 minutes or so). No need to add butter or anything, they are so good.

This is the time of year when I start to freak out that I havn't put anything up for the winter. My must haves for the winter are tomatoes, colored peppers, greens, and herbs. We are lucky to have the witner share so these combined with some winter roots really get us through the winter. What do you like to put up? I am always looking for new recipes and ideas!

Recipe of the Week: 

Chickpeas with delicata squash, kale and coconut milk

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger
  • 1 hot red chile, chopped
  • 1 delicata squash, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 organic carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • one 15 ounce jar of canned organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or use 2 cups chickpeas that have been soaked overnight and cooked until tender
  • 1 cup of organic coconut milk, well stirred
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons organic dark brown sugar
  • 1 handful Tuscan or other kale, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 handful of minced cilantro
  • fresh lime juice, for garnish
  • optional garnish- 1 hot red chile, minced and mixed with 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon organic brown sugar
Directions: 

1. In a cast iron or other large skillet, warm coconut oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook for a minute or two.

2. Reduce heat a bit, add the garlic, ginger, and chile, and cook for another minute or two. Add the chopped squash and carrots to the pan, then add the chickpeas, the coconut milk, the water, and the brown sugar. Stir all the ingredients together in the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until the squash and chickpeas are very tender. Add more coconut milk and/or water to the pan while cooking, if necessary, or if you desire a finished dish that's more like a stew.

3. Add the kale and the cilantro to the pan, stir everything around, and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and make the chile sauce while it cools a bit.

4. To make the chile sauce, combine minced chile with rice vinegar and brown sugar in a small bowl.

5. Serve the chickpeas over cooked brown rice or quinoa, with a small spoonful of the chile sauce, and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice on top.

Credit: 
www.healthygreenkitchen.com

How the cookie crumbles

Miles and miles of brassicas.
Miles and miles of brassicas.

Dear Friends,

Where once we woke to early morning light steaming through our windows, now it is as dark as dark gets. This past week, morning chores have been a chilly endeavor, accompanied by a head lamp and sweat shirt, as we tend to the cows, chickens and horse. By the time 7 o’clock rolls around and the crew begins to gather, the day is bright and warm, the earlier chill all but forgotten. The change in the season is evident everywhere we look. The melons have come to an abrupt halt and have already been harrowed in and seeded with cover crop. The tomatoes are still producing strongly but the plants are showing signs of fatigue. The cucumbers and summer squash are shells of their former selves, barely holding on.

While there may be a lot that comes to an end with the start of fall, there is also a lot to look forward to. Potatoes and sweet potatoes sizing up underground. Leeks growing strong and straight, there dark greenish blue leaves glowing with dew in the morning. Over 2 acres of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts thriving in the cool, long nights. I love the fall. It is without a doubt my favorite season on the farm. The first geese flying over head elicits a tangible joy in me as I begin to think about the coming autumn. Storage crops and sweater weather, seeding cover crop by tractor headlight, warm cider. We’re not there yet, but it’s right on the verge. There is a lot to love about the summer but for me fall is the season that excites and inspires me more than any other.

As we begin to think autumn, we begin systematically harvesting our storage crops and checking them off the list. First to go are the onions, which are safe and sound. Next up is the winter squash. Winter squash is typically harvested around the first week of September. While a tried and true storage crop, unlike some the other winter vegetables we grow, squash actually hates the cold. Prolonged temperates lower than 50 degrees aren’t great for the squash and anything below 40 can do irreparable harm. As such, we always want to make sure we get the squash out of the field long before the first frost warnings start to pop up on our weather forecast.

Every year some crops do great while others putter around in mediocrity. Unfortunately, it looks like the winter squash is going to be the later this season. We grow over an acre of squash and this season, things just didn’t go their way. It was too wet when they needed it to be dry, and too dry when they wanted it to be wetter, too cold when they would have liked it warmer and too hot when they would have preferred it to be cooler. The crop is incredibly variable. With some spots of the field, covered in grass with barely any squash to be found and other areas where the vines are healthy and robust with a treasure trove of butternuts awaiting our arrival. What this means, is there will certainly be winter squash in the share but not quite as much as we’ve had in years past.

No variety has suffered as greatly this season as the spaghetti squash. Last season we heard a tremendous amount of feed back that you all wanted more spaghetti squash in your share. It is always our goal to give you want you want, so we seeded more spaghetti squash. More than twice as much in fact. Last season we grew around 400 row feet and this season we planted over 900 row feet. We pulled the spaghetti squash from the field last week and were dismayed to find that we actually harvested less this season than last season. Barely enough to give every share one spaghetti squash, let alone more than last year, which was our intention.

It is always tough for us when a crop does poorly. Especially when it is something as beloved as winter squash. We rack our brains trying to figure out what went wrong and what we can do to solve the problem in the future. The truth of the matter though, is that we are dealing with forces far more powerful than ourselves and situations that are out of our control. No matter how hard we try, how carefully we plan, how much we want things to be good, ultimately we have to stand back and let nature take it’s course.

This can go both ways. Last year we had more carrots than we knew what to do with. We planted that same amount of row footage that we normally do and found ourselves with almost 6,000 more pounds than we expected. That of course is a great problem to have. As much as we tried to to figure out what went different to yield such amazing carrots, so we could recreate the magic. Ultimately we came up with the same answer we have for this season’s subpar squash. The weather…maybe?

The truth of the matter is that farming is not truly a science. There is a quote from The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry that I first read in 2007 when I first began farming that has always stayed with me

"Because the soil is alive, various, intricate, and because its processes yield more readily to imitation than to analysis, more readily to care than to coercision, agriculture can never be an exact science. There is an inescapable kinship between farming and art, for farming depends as much on character, devotion, imagination, and the sense of structure, as on knowledge. It is a practical art."

One of my favorite things about the CSA is that it varies year to year, month to month and week to week. We are not at the super market, with avocados, mangoes, sweet corn and broccoli on our shelves 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. What we offer is something different and what we hope to create for our share holders is an experience that you can’t find on the shelves of a grocery store or order off of Amazon.

Hannah, Mary, Marycia, Erica and Larry

Your Farmers

Max and Kerry

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