Farm Newsletter August 9, 2022
Wow, fall is in the air!! What a sweet , mellow weather pattern this is!
It should be warm enough to ripen and finish off the crops that are still growing. In wet years these cooler evenings can really increase bacterial and fungal growth — the pathogens we don’t want to thrive — but we’ve had so many dry sunny days, there’s barely any disease pressure on the plants right now. And we did finally get some of the rains passing through! Almost an inch combined, Saturday and then Sunday night, very gentle. Dreamy, really.
We’ve been having some laughs about the oversized squash in the picture above. Erin and Ben were gone for a few days and the crew did a fantastic job running the farm, taking care of the harvests, irrigation and weeds in perfect fashion. When we got back, there was a bouquet of flowers and a nice note on our table — and huge zucchinis with carved faces all around the house! On the couches, on the stairs, and even one in the fridge with two cold bubbly drinks! We laughed a ton. Thanks to our fantastic crew and the zucchini welcoming committee!
We used to have a big compost pile on the farm, in various corners or out of the way places over the years. We needed a place for veggies that rotted on us in storage, or were culled as not fit for human consumption due to major cracks, soft spots, off flavors, etc. A few years ago that pile became home to too many rodents. After several exciting but unsuccessful attempts at controlling the population, involving chickens (they will often eat rodents), our great dog Cody, shovels, rods, traps, boot stomping, etc, we knew we needed to get rid of the food source, just like you would for ants or fruit flies in the house. So we started partnering with Jake and Theresa and Get Bentz Farm, just a couple miles away, who feed it to their sheep. They raise Icelandic sheep, a breed which for centuries was partially fed the root vegetables of their northern climate. In some places cows, pigs and other livestock were also fed roots — generally reliable crops which can store well as feed through the winter. Icelandics more than other sheep breeds devour the unmarketable carrots, beets, and other roots, and most of the other veggies, that are the inevitable byproduct of a veggie farm, so it is a great match for us!
We planted a few too many summer squash and zucchini this summer, and it’s been a very productive summer for them. This is a year we could have underplanted and had enough! We’ve harvested the max we need for the share and that the Northfield Food Shelf could distribute. Food shelves and warehouses often get so many squash and cucumber donations in the summer, that they need to limit what they’ll accept, since everyone can only eat so much of one thing. So we let some go unharvested, and naturally they made baseball bats. Which, naturally, are good for carving. And which, naturally, the nearby flock of sheep was happy to devour. They’ll turn “the welcoming committee” into wool and meat for the Bentz’s customers in the area.
We’ll come back to the carved squash in a minute, but first we’ll digress to CSA history :
The idea for community supported agriculture (CSA) sprouted around the world in response to the modern concentration and industrialization of the growing of food. Usually Japan, Switzerland and the US are cited as the places where farms and communities began experimenting with the model, mostly in the 1990s. As you can guess, it was in response to the modern food system separating most people from the production of food, and the desire to eat better than what was being offered, including for eaters to have more connection to the farms and farmers growing the food. Combine that ancient human connection with the need for farmers to have more stable income than the modern system offers, and some creative visionary people came up with variations on the CSA that you’re a part of now.
In the US, such arrangements came to be known as Community Supported Agriculture. In Japan the word for the “new” versions of the farmer-eater relationship was “teikei.” We’re not language experts, but in the context of farmer-eater relationships, we’ve read that has been translated as “food with the farmer’s face on it.”
We dunno if those carved squash were meant to look like any of us, but watching the carved squash get eaten was just silly, and also reminded us about the idea of “food with a face on it!”
What a treat to have almost all the summer veggies in the kitchen!! Peppers are coming this week too!
We’ll start harvesting green bell peppers this week. They look great and we should have them into October. Red, orange and yellow peppers are the “ripe” versions of green peppers, and we’ll start seeing some in a couple weeks.
Maybe watermelons this week! They’re looking great but starting to ripen slowly. Cantaloupe also looks great, probably starting to ripen next week. A late melon year.
Also fennel -yay!
We’ll have : Tomatoes, Green Bell Peppers, Fennel, Carrots, Beets, Broccoli and Cabbage maybe (lots planted, we’re just in between plantings), Eggplant, Sweet Onions, Cucumbers, Summer Squash and Zucchini! Plus green and lettuce, kale and swiss chard.
The spring kale still hasn’t recovered from the bad potting soil, but the fall plantings are planted in the field now and have really taken off! We’re sorry for the lack of kale this summer but it’s looking likely that we’ll have good harvests starting in September.
What’s for U-Pick?
Cherry tomatoes!! Please walk as far as you can into the planting! The front part is getting over-picked and the far end has tomatoes splitting and going by.
The sungolds, better than candy, and a couple red cherry and grape varieties, are all here, although ripening a little slow. It looks like it’ll be a great cherry tomato year, we will be getting to unlimited as soon as we can. Wander through the planting to find the different colors.
Tomatillos are looking really good and will be open soon.
Herbs: Cilantro, Basil (plus Thai and Lemon Basil), Dill, and MORE :
Sage, Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Cutting Celery, Nasturtiums and Anise Hyssop!! can all be found in a bed next to the herbs, just look for the white signs and the wide variety of plants.
Beans!! Looking good for many weeks ahead, pick to your hearts’ content. There are many beds open this week. We are trying to get them weeded soon, at least the later plantings – hopefully!
And oh, oh, the Flowers!! Now there’s no limit on picking, thru September and a few into October.
This spot in the newsletter will keep you informed, and always check the U-pick board when you’re here to see what’s available and picking amounts.
Nuts and Bolts
Bulk Produce for You
Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.
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.
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.
An email for TOMATO BOX PREORDER will come out this week – hopefully Wednesday or Thursday.
This week’s selection is : Carrots, Red Beets, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Zucchini for $1.25 / lb, Sweet Onions for $1.50 / lb, Lettuce for $5/ lb.
Notes from Luann with the Medicinal Herb Garden:
– It’s been great to connect with many of you over the past weeks. With temps cooling, I hope to be there more often and always enjoy chatting about our wonderful medicinal herbs growing both in the gardens as well as all around us.. Several have asked if I could bring my herbal products with me for purchase during CSA pick-up time. I’m trying to come up with a less cumbersome system for doing that. For now, check out my products page and let me know what you want and I’ll have it ready for you when you pick up your share on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Or you are always welcome to pick up products at my house instead.
– Susannah Shmurak, also a CSA member at Open Hands Farm, has written another fabulous article, this time about goldenrod, once of my favorite herbs for tea, both fresh now and dried for year-round use. In fact, goldenrod tea may actually offer relief with seasonal allergies and is actually quite effective for cat allergies. Check out Going For the Gold, a blog post that I wrote during the olympics last summer, as well as Susannah’s article and give it a try.
– Another tip – You can find calendula growing in the u-pick flowers on both sides of the driveway. Calendula is often used in all sorts of natural skin care salves as it is so beneficial for your skin. You can easily make your own calendula infused oil. Ask me about that at the garden or check out this video about making oils on my website.
– Finally, I had scheduled a plant walk for this Thursday evening at 6:30 that I need to adjust due to a granddaughter’s ballet performance. Instead, meet me at 2:30 at the medicinal herbs garden for a walk-about the garden and around the farm. Join in any time for however long you can stay.
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 — 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!
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 last week. 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, Emily, Maddie
Quick Pickled Sweet Onions
|1||Onion (sliced, You ‘ll end up with about 2 cups, sliced)|
|½ cup||Apple Cider Vinegar|
|1 ½ teaspoons||Sea Salt|
- ▢Stuff the onions into a pint-size mason jar.
- ▢Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, and heat them until they boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. This should only take a few minutes. Turn off the stove, and pour the hot brine into your jar. The heat from the brine will soften the onions.
- ▢Screw the lid onto your jar loosely, and set it on the counter to cool. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can tighten the lid and stick the jar into the fridge.
Gurkensalat (German Cucumber Salad)
|2||Large Cucumbers (sliced thin)|
|½||Onion (sliced thin)|
|½ cup||Sour Cream|
|2 tablespoons||White Sugar|
|2 tablespoons||White Vinegar|
|1 teaspoon||Dried Dill|
|1 teaspoon||Dried Parsley|
- Step 1Spread cucumbers and onion on a platter; season with salt and let rest for 30 minutes. Squeeze excess moisture from cucumbers.
- Step 2Stir sour cream, sugar, vinegar, dill, and parsley together in a large bowl.
- Step 3Fold cucumber and onion slices into the sour cream mixture.
- Step 4Refrigerate 8 hours to over night; garnish with paprika to serve.