Farm Newsletter August 3, 2021
Living in the heart of summer!! The easiest time to cook. Fresh and juicy, and sunny, lovely weather to boot.
Some of you have noticed the different types of zucchini and summer squash we have in the share this month. Summer squash with a green bottom, golden zucchini, ridged and striped zucchini. It’s fun to have those funky types around again! We grew most of them, and others, in years past, for their cool looks and sometimes nuances of texture and flavor. Over time they didn’t yield consistently for us and were more prone to disease than standard varieties or modern hybrids, so we phased them out.
But this June, our third planting of squash and cukes got eaten to the ground by cucumber beetles within a week of germinating — they popped out of the ground and were skeletonized before they could put on a true leaf. So we texted a few veggie farmer friends in the area looking for replacement plants — within a few days we got just the right amount, from two different farms. So glad to have veggie growers in the area to help each other out in a pinch!
We didn’t know we were getting some of the funky varieties — we just were glad to have anything — so it was a fun surprise when they started maturing. They’ve yielded a little low but enough to keep your shares full, and they’ve held off diseases so far … and brought smiles to some of you seeing them for the first time!
If you pick up your share after 5, you’ve noticed that Alexandra has taken over Ben’s shift in the barn at that time. Ben misses seeing you , catching up, or sneaking you an extra strange tomato! But it’s a good change for him, and for the three of us. He’s always worked a few too many hours, but with the stresses on the whole farm in 2020, followed by family challenges over the winter, he’s needed to cut back a little bit more this year. That’s been going well, and giving up the shift in the barn has been strange but really, really good. This crew has been fantastic at sharing the load, and every year they take on more of the many levels of tasks that keep this place running. Alexandra is really enjoying seeing you all from 5-6:30, and is doing a fantastic job. And we’re grateful to put a little more balance in our lives! You might see her in some of the earlier time slots too, to give Erin some much-sought-after weeding time.
As always we welcome your feedback — hearing what you think about the farm and the share is always interesting and helps us be better farmers — so if you don’t catch us here you can always send us an email to rave, gripe, make an observation, etc. We enjoy serving you! But we just have so much on our plates it’s good for us to step back and be in the fields and with each other a little more.
And that picture above is Alexandra driving the tractor for catching beets during a beet harvest. We all have more than a few skills and jobs around here!
Tomatoes, Garlic, Cilantro, Basil !! The stuff that dreams are made of! Green peppers are here too! Red peppers and hot peppers will start in a couple weeks.
The melon plants have held on enough to give us a melon per share, this will be the 3rd week now. And while some have been bland or unripe (but had to be picked and a chance taken on them, since the plants had kicked the bucket), many have actually been really good! Thanks for the feedback on that. Nearly every year we get 4-5 weeks of melons, with a couple weeks of 2 melons per share …. we won’t have enough this year for 2 melons any given week, but this is week three and it looks like we’ll have them next week too. We won’t wholesale anywhere near what we planted for too … but we’re doing pretty good considering how bad the plants have been looking!
We are right on the edge of major summer bounty — peppers should start in the next couple weeks, and tomatoes are now ramping up. We still have the staples that we’ve had — plenty of summer squash and zucchini and cucumbers, and broccoli, cabbage, greens and lettuce, sweet onions, plus fennel. We might pause on kale and swiss chard to let them regrow and catch up. . If we run out of sweet onions, we’ll put out some of the newly harvest but uncured storage onions — it is safest to eat them within a week, or put them in the fridge. Once they’re fully cured in a couple weeks they’ll keep well into winter at room temp or cooler.
What’s for U-Pick?
Cherry Tomatoes! We added a row this year so get ready to pick and pick some more! They will probably be unlimited by the weekend or next week. It’s always a good idea to go to the far end of the rows and/or the outside edges.
And Tomatillos — it’s super easy to make salsa verde / green salsa, and it only takes 2-4 tomatillos to make a meal’s worth . Just boil the tomatillos for about five minutes (without the husk) — Put all the ingredients in a blender — usually tomatillos, onion, cilantro, hot pepper and salt — and boom you just added a lot of flavor and value to your beans and rice! You can also grill the tomatillos or other veggies.
New herbs: Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Anise Hyssop — All are in the cilantro/basil area, in a bed in the middle, with white signs. It’s weedy in there but we’re trying to make time to get in there and clear it out.
Cilantro and Dill are cruising along. Get your Basil !!! It’s still pickable but the browning of the leaves is the fungus that showed up in the US a few years ago and has hurt basil harvests all around the country. Once it gets going it’s hard to stop, both for conventional and organic farms. A good collaboration between university breeders and seed companies released a few varieties resistant to the fungus (basil downy mildew) — hooray for public funding of agricultural research in fruits and vegetables! The new varieties are all we’ve grown the last couple years, and they hold off the fungus longer but once it starts it still spreads throughout the planting.
Beans are still abundant! There are additional beans almost ready south of the first plantings; the flags will be in both places once they’re ready.
Nuts and Bolts
Bulk Produce for You
We like to offer you the same produce beyond what you get in your share, at or just above our wholesale prices, to use for parties, special events, serving guests, or just filling your family’s bellies each week.
This week’s selection is : Beets, Carrots, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, for $1.25 / lb, Broccoli for $1.50 / lb. Green Cabbage for 75 cents/lb, aka $1.50-$4 per head, you can choose what size if you want. Great for sauerkraut! Lettuce $5.25 / lb.
Tomato boxes should are starting this week, for folks who pre-ordered. We may have a couple extra available for spontaneous purchase too, but probably not for another week or two. Our main , biggest planting is just taking its time ripening — they look fantastic though so we should have plenty to go around when they get here.
To place a bulk order, simply email us at least 2 days ahead of the day you’d like to pick it up. Orders can be picked up at the farm during our regular pickup hours, but it doesn’t have to be your share pickup day.
From Luann in the Medicinal Herbs Garden:
Check out this post I wrote about making your own Garlic Onion Syrup. It’s a fabulous cough syrup as well as sore throat remedy (that also tastes great on toast)! I make several quarts every fall with onions and garlic from Open Hands Farm. This came to mind after reading this recent article describing the delta variant of COVID-19 which references the heavier viral load present in the back of the throats of persons infected with that variant. Even if you don’t agree with the writer’s viewpoints, I’m sure you will agree that this is one tasty syrup which is sure to stop most viruses in their tracks! And best of all – you can make it yourself!
Push Pin Sign-In When you come to pick up your share, please “sign in” with the push pin by your name, inside the barn door. This helps us know how many people came each day, so we can be sure to pick/have more than enough for everybody.
For split shares — instead of leaving notes on the sign in sheet, you can email or text your share partner to communicate “Who gets what this time”.
Share Pickup Hours TUESDAY and THURSDAY 1:30-6:30 pm.
Change Pick-Up Day Form — Click here. Please fill out this form instead of emailing us. Thanks! If you need to come during a different time slot on your same pickup day, that is ok, no need to email us or fill out the form.
Where is the farm? 4151 320th Street West, Northfield.
Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.
If You Send Someone Else to Pick Up Your Share — Please forward them the basic pickup videos that we sent you a few weeks ago. Then just tell them to introduce themselves to us in the barn, just so we know.
We love having all of you come to the farm! Thank you for making it such a great place to be!
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Alexandra, Alissa, Amelia, Emily, Erika