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August 12, 2017

This Week's Share

Wow, what a harvest week last week. We pulled in almost 20,000 lbs! A hearty storage onion crop went into the greenhouse to cure. Literally tons of melons and tomatoes were brought in for the share.

The cantaloupes are just startling to trickle in and we are happy to report they are pretty tasty too. Wet years can dampen the flavor of a musk melon, but it hasn't been too wet since they started to ripen and so they are pretty sweet. Cantaloupes are harvested ripe, so you will want to store it in the fridge if you are keeping it for more then a day. Watermelons should be ok outside the fridge for a little bit, but if you are holding it for a while, I would get them into the fridge too.

The field tomatoes are starting to ripen. This includes the old standard red as well as heirloom types as well. We have pinks and yellows, rose with green stripes, and striped Germans with are large yellow fruits with red tips. These are tasty but tend to hold less well then the red ones so eat them up in a few days. If you are confused about if they are ripe, ask Hannah and Holly and they will help you.

We will start to have tons of tomatoes if they continue to hold up under the late blight siege and will start selling extras for sauce in the share room for $1/lb. I usually like to eat in season even in the winter, but tomatoes are one of my "must put up" crops and its really easy to do!. Freezing is the easiest. I am not too picky, so I just chop them up skins and seeds and all and put them into a freezer bag and straight into the freezer they go. Easy peazy! Then they are there for me all winter long for soups and pasta sauce. If you can't make it through all your share's worth of tomatoes, this is a great thing to do with them!  You can also get into canning with them (which does have better flavor, but is a little more complicated) and making sauces and salsas too.

I am hoping everyone will have the opportunity to sample the sprouting cauliflower. This is a new crop we are trialing for our favorite seed company Johnny's so we have had it in very limited quantities. It looks like a weird head of cauliflower with long stems with white tufts. In terms of eating it, this crop is really all about the stems which are the yummy part. It reminds us of asparagus somewhat. We really like it and we think it will make a nice addition to the deep summer crops next year if they decide to put it into production. Let us know what you think if you have tried it.

I have spotted inch long cukes in the next planting so we will have a break from them this week, but I hope to see them again soon. The eggplants have really been slowed to a trickle thanks to these cooler summer days. They come in flushes so we hope to see another flush soon. A note about eggplants, these guys just don't like to be cold. They like to be cool, just around 50 degrees which makes them a challenging crop to hold. They tend to degrade quickly in refrigeration and you might notice especially the white ones will start to brown. I don't think it affects the flavor too much but you might want to use them fairly quickly when you bring them home from the share, or if you have a particularly cool basement, they might like that too.

 

Recipe of the Week: 

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Ingredients: 
  • Olive oil
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: 

Heat the oven to 350°F and line 9x13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. (Note: This step is optional, but it will make cleanup faster.) Spray the baking dish with baking spray, or rub lightly with olive oil.

Chop the tomatoes roughly but evenly. Spread them in the baking dish. Stir in the minced garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and about 1 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cut the butter into small cubes and scatter evenly over the tomatoes.

Bake the tomatoes for 2 to 3 hours. This is very flexible; you can bake them until the tomatoes simple begin to break down and release their juices. Or you can continue baking until their edges blacken, and the juices are reduced significantly. I baked mine for about 3 hours, and that was perfect for my purposes. You can also move them to a pot and cook them to desired consistency with whatever herbs you prefer like basil, oregano, and rosemary.

Credit: 
thekitchn.com

A little bit of serendipity and sunshine

Triumphant crew! Loads of melons coming in!
Triumphant crew! Loads of melons coming in!

Dear Friends,

So much happened on the farm in the past week it’s hard to remember where we were at the beginning of the week and how we got here. What I do recall is more wet and damp days filled with fog. We were standing in our onion field when the fog lifted Wednesday morning. We found ourselves basking in sunlight, surrounded by a beautiful field of onions who all the sudden seemed very ready to come in. We had planned on picking the red onions this week and saving the big, heavy yellow onion harvest for a later date. But standing there, with the sunshine pouring down, the forecast clear and August flying by, we could feel our plan for the day changing. The plan didn’t only change for Wednesday, but really we could feel the whole rest of the week shift under our feet.

The storage onion harvest is by far the most weather dependent of all the harvests we do on the farm. It is probably in the running for the most weather dependent task we do at all, period. In order to get onions to store, we need to get them to dry. And in order to get onions to dry, we need them to be dry. If it rains too much the onion necks will fill with water, and than when we bring them in to the greenhouse they will rot instead of curing. So much of the process is out of our control. No matter how nice the onions look, if you don’t have good weather at the beginning of august, it’s almost impossible to get your onions to store well.

The other thing about onions, is that we grow a lot of them. The sheer size of the onion crop coupled with the need for hot and dry weather can lead to some somewhat stressful harvests. Often times we end up harvesting onions on the hottest days of the year. In the past, we had loaded the onions into harvest barrels and lifted them onto the trailer by hand. A full harvest barrel probably weights about 80 - 100 pounds. We grow between 10,000 and 12,0000 pounds of onions each year, so as you can imagine, that is a lot of lifting. After watching our intrepid farm crew wilt and wither during a particular horrendous heat wave in 2015, we switched from harvest barrels to bulk bins. These are the same giant cardboard boxes we harvest melons and winter squash into. These bins weigh far more than 80 pounds but the bins sit on pallets and the tractor does all the heavy lifting instead of the humans. You’re never lifting more than an arm full of onions at a time.

With the sun out on Wednesday morning and a clear forecast the rest of the week we decided to expand the scope of our harvest from the reds to all the onions. We began by pulling all the onions out of the ground and leaving them in windrows to dry over night. This allows the green tops to wilt a little bit and makes the onions take up less space in the bins and in the greenhouse. Thursday afternoon, with the sun blazing we came down, armed with a tractor, a whole bunch of bins and pallets and our stupendous farm crew. Before we knew what happened we had 14 full bins ready to be brought back to the farm and emptied out into the green house. After that it was just a matter of loading up trucks and making some logistics work and our greenhouse was filling up with thousands of pounds of onions right before our eyes.

Our crew really knocked it out of the park this week, and as always we are so grateful to have such a wonderful group of people working with us. Between onions, 7,000 lbs. of melons, tomatoes and everything else we harvested close to 20,000 pounds of food this week! While I am proud of that fact, at this point I am more proud that everyone was still smiling and laughing (albeit, a little tired) on Friday afternoon after such a monster of a week. Not everyone is exactly cut out for this line of work, so having such a cohesive and productive group of people makes this all worthwhile.

Your farmers,
Anthony, Chris, Erica, Hannah, Holly, Kelsea, Kerry, Larry and Max

Focus on a Farmer

Hannah Tripp, part 2

I am a little embarrassed to admit I forgot to mention one thing that makes Hannah very special to us. Way back in the winter of 2016, Hannah bravely and heroically held the farm together for several weeks when I was admitted to the hospital for the preterm birth of Shepard. While I laid there on bed rest trying to hold a baby in, Max communicated every day with Hannah to keep things running back at home. Feeding cows, keeping the winter share running, making the crop plan, she had to take care of a lot things with instructions over the phone but she rallied for almost a month while we resided in the hospital in Farmington fighting for Shepard's life and is partly responsible for his great success story.

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