Week 11 CSA Newsletter – Prime Time

We had our best-ever sales day at the Saint Croix Falls Farmer’s Market this week, the boxes are packed to the brim with tomatoes, we couldn’t even fit everything inside so there are melons on the side – this is Peak Produce season.

We’ve been smoking vegetables (in the Frankensmoker, not in a pipe), roasting onions and canning salsa and basking in the rare and precious beauty of a summer without mosquitoes and taking kids and dogs and farmers and helpers to the creek, and we’ve been looking for blackberries and finding less blackberries and searching for chokecherries and wild grapes but finding neither and hunting for mushrooms and finding lobster mushrooms and we’ve been pulling out some weeds and letting other weeds get happily overgrown and writing this sentence.

It’s been good. I don’t know anything more about the future than I did this spring, but summertime just reminds one that it’s quite OK.

found this at the base of an oak tree while blackberry picking with Otis. likely been there for a hundred years

The sunshine is a powerful thing, and the summertime food reflects it too.

Inside Box 11

  • Tomatoes – At last, the massively-laden vines inside the high tunnel have decided to change their fruit from greens to reds. Or oranges. Or even to different shades of green, in certain cases (if you got a green tomato, it’s ripe, or damn close,
  • a Melon – ok that’s not actually inside the box but whatever. You probably have a perfectly-ripe cantaloupe (eat it eat it eat it before you risk living with the regret of a mushy mucky overripe fruitfly hotel), but maybe you got a watermelon or a Lily or a honeydew. Cut it up, eat some, store the rest in the fridge for later.
  • Edamame or Tomatillos or Okra – if you’re not sure what to do with yours, we can help
  • Cucumbers – they’re almost done for the season. Some farms plant “succession crops” weekly, so that their fields produce a constant stream of cucumbers throughout the season. We feel like there are wonderful times both to have and not to have cucumbers.
  • an Eggplant – Asian or Italian style
  • Kohlrabi – it is simple to peel and slice them up to eat raw with a little salt & pepper.
  • Zucchini – ain’t done yet.
  • Cherry Tomatoes – a few pints of mixed Sun Golds and Jasper and/or Purple Bumblebee.
  • Beets Our first planting of beets did terribly but the second one did well enough and this is them. If you boil or roast them first, the skins will then slip off , no need to pre-peel.
  • Sweet Corn – It’s a different variety than last week – we staggered the planting of different types but somehow they still came ready barely a week apart. Which do you prefer? (PS This will be the last sweet corn for the year.)

Week 10 Newsletter – rainclouds Ahoy

IT RAINED.

A lot, and then later some more, and then again, and some drizzle too.

At first it was a cause for great joy and then eventually turned to mild alarm … too much rain at this time of year splits tomatoes & cabbages, encourages crop blights, and waters down the flavor of melons. When it rains, it pours, yeah yeah yeah. A farmer’s fret is never done.

However the more recent thunderstorms returned to our regular program of skimming just barely past us, so all is good in the hood.

In other news, there are rabbits in the field. They eat things and Widget chases them. A new WWOOFer family arrived – and they have a kid Otis’s age! Will be a good three weeks working and living alongside them. The high tunnel plants are doing .. a little too well? I feel like a jungle explorer just trying to get from one side to the other. The tomato plants are a dozen feet tall, some of em. The wild blackberries are slowing down, lobster mushrooms are coming up – as are other fungi thanks to the recent rainfalls.

Inside Box 10

Summer is here; we had to upgrade to bigger boxes this week just to fit all the bounty inside.

  • Melon or Ground Cherries – if you got a melon last week, you’re getting ground cherries. Otherwise, you’ll discover that the heaviest item in your box is either a watermelon or a cantaloupe. IF CANTALOUPE EAT ASAP, they are ready!
  • Sweet Corn – speaking of ASAP eatting … sweet corn is BEST RIGHT NOW and you should enjoy it soon, before any more of the sugar gets converted into starch There is all kinds of stale “sweet” corn available later in the year for pennies, but this is as fresh as a non-farmer can get it.
    PS if you never have eaten it raw, humor me and try at least one unheated, unbuttered, and unsalted. It’s the best damn grass you’ll ever eat.)
  • Cherry Tomatoes – Fun fact: these are really hard to find within the massive plants. Enjoy the ripest ones first, let the ones that are still a bit on the firm/greenish side ripen up on your counter.
  • Tomato Tomatoes – they’re mostly still teasing us … SO MANY beautiful but green tomatoes, lurking. Taunting. But slowly starting to ripen …
  • A green pepper and some jalapenos – for some reason many of the sweet pepper plants just aren’t producing fruit. Hmm.
  • Pickling and/or Slicer Cucumbers this week I was reminded that not everyone knows that you can simply eat “pickler” cukes just like you do “slicers.” The only reason for the name is that you cannot pickle Slicers (their skin is too tough and their innards too mushy).
  • Zucchinis
  • Microgreens – two people are getting sunflower shoots, everyone else gets zingy radish.
  • Onions and/or Shallots
misty morning after The Rain

Week 9 – Season’s Midpoint

Today is my birthday, and I’m going to use that as an excuse to not write much (even though the real culprit is Otis watching ‘Scooby Doo’ in the van and my inability to like, think straight while the silly dialog and laugh track blast into my cranium). Jeepers!!

Here’s some stuff that happened this week:

if you watch closely, it never actually storms on the blue dot (the Farm)

Zoinks!!

Inside Box 9

Yikes!!

  • Sun Jewel Melon -or-Big Tomatoes w/Eggplant -or- Ground Cherries
  • Cabbageeither Red or Green
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchinis
  • Bag o’ Beans
  • Bag o’ Basil
  • Bag o’ Broccoli & Side Shoots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sunflower Shoots

Week 8 Newsletter: generationing

Well, it’s hot again but we did finally get a real rainfall this week – damn near two inches worth on Friday. This produced a bumper crop of cucumbers. Of course, by harvest today the ground was dried out again; Grandma Deb had to run water all along the carrots just so that we could extract them from the concrete grip of the heat-blasted field.

Speaking of Grandma Deb helping – have I told you lately how lucky we are that Kristin’s folks come out for every harvest and plenty more? Jim’s processing area roof is moving right along, and today he restored the Weed Steed lawn tractor – while Deb grandma-ed and assembled the harvest squad sandwich feast.

Back when we named the farm with “Sehr” built in, I didn’t really realize just how apt it would prove to be; not only literally making our living on the Sehr family land but with Sehr support making our lives there possible.

So, I guess here’s another newsletter about gratitude and about how yeah I have poison ivy and some of the winter squash plants are too far gone to save and it’s stiiiiiill dry and hot and that might be Climate Change and it might be the beginning of the end of human civilization as we’ve known but, maybe not, and in the meantime there are some damn Good things in our lives like co-existing with family and ripe wild blackberries eaten by the fistful in the woods and baby chicks and the vegetables that abide and help us do the same.

next ge

I love how writing this Newsletter encourages me to step back and think about the bigger picture, the larger backdrop that the drama of our problems and fears play out on, and to remember how beautiful and amazing it is, and how lucky we are.

Inside Box Eight

  • Peppers – (one green & a few jalapeno)
  • Cucumbers – a couple slicers & a handful of picklers. The cukes are rocking this week.
  • Kale etc Mix (Curly Blue, Scarlet, and Tuscan aka Dino aka Lacinato kale, plus a few random collard and Swiss chard leaves)
  • Tomatoes – (either cherries, plums, or a full-size) – the tomato plants are happy and have plenty of green fruit on them, but for some reason they are playing hard to get and ripening in slow motion.
watching the tomatoes theme music
  • Microgreens (Basil & Cilantro) – the cilantro is awesome in tacos. The basil is great with tomatoes.
  • Zucchini & Summer Squash
  • Beans (Purple, Green & Yellow) – note that the purples turn green when cooked, if you’re into them one way or the other.
  • Carrots – we debated about whether or not to include the greens again. You got them. Probably for the last time this year though, unless there is an outcry or threats. Might be a good time to look up a carrot green tabbouleh recipe if you already did a pesto with them.
who got The Lovers in their box this week? (the carrots are the Lovers, not Marty & East Coast Pete)

Week 7 CSA News: Greening the Wasteland

Once upon a time, Kristin and I collected & watched all the old VHS movies in the genre of ” Post Apocalyptic Wasteland Warrior” films. When we left the grid, I abandoned my plans for a web presence based on these films. I never thought they’d turn out to be great preparation for our new life as an organic farm family.

OK, that might be slightly exaggerated.

But man. The drought has settled in worse than ever, in spite of the meager rainfall we received last week. The heat wave is back on, set to bake us in the 90s well into August. These dry roast conditions are beloved by the grasshoppers … and nothing says “apocalypse” quite like a plague of locusts devouring your crops. This morning we awoke to a world cloaked in a haze of smoke, blurring vision and infusing all scents with woodsmoke from the wildfires consuming the forests of Canada, not all that far to our North.

smoky hazy day

But somehow, all of this isn’t depressing at all. It’s oddly invigorating. I’m prepared. I have my V8 car and my fingerless gloves and a feral kid and a firm understanding of how to come out on top in the role of outsider antihero, helping peaceful agrarian villagers outwit the rampaging marauders.

And we even have an upbeat end-of-days soundtrack – all, day, this song has been in our heads and on our lips:

Rejoice! Canada is burning! Rejoice! The locusts are well-fed!
[Play on repeat for duration of Newsletter – I did while writing it … obviously.]

But seriously, I guess it’s because things … really aren’t all that bad. We are adapting. The irrigation quenches the thirsts of the rows of roots on a daily schedule. We refresh regularly in one of the several local beautiful swimming holes – which would normally be swarming with mosquitoes, back in the Rain Times.

The crippled, sad, disastrous Spring crops are being replaced by the heat-loving crops of Summer. And the field … it looks happier. The high tunnel is lush and lively. And we’re feeling it, too.

I spy a Farmer Kristin

The drought, the ravenous grasshoppers, the blast furnace weather … it’s all the context and the contrast that reveal our continued existence to be a bright and shining note of magic, luck, abundance, and wonder. We are here, and we are not merely surviving.

The crops may struggle, we ourselves may be broke and dusty and ill-prepared and overwhelmed, but here we are and here it is and we can see, with crystal clarity, that it is … wonderful. To have this opportunity to live this life is something to rejoice, indeed.

Hopefully, the food tastes as good to eat as it felt to grow it – and you can take a moment to love your own strange little life and its beautiful limitations and absurdities, while you chew.

Thanks for being out there to receive

Box Seven

  • Broccoli – it’s doing better, with the relatively cooler weather. However, now the grasshopper plague seems to strongly favor broccoli leaves … we’ll see how they fare. We plant a second round for the fall so que sera, sera.
  • first of the Green Beans or first of the Tomatoes there will be plenty more of both coming, for now, we had just enough for everyone to get one or the other.
  • Zucchinis
  • Cucumbers
yes that’s a cucumber – our favorite variety to eat, in fact. (Armenian White)
  • Onions
  • Bag o’ Basil
  • Green pepper – don’t worry / not spicy
  • Microgreens: Red cabbage, kale, kohlrabi or peas – we are going to order less-ventilated containers for these soon – in the meantime, if you’re not going to eat them quickly, maybe store in the crisper or in a bag … but really, they’re at peak-nutrition if you eat them sooner or later, anyway.
  • Carrots & Carrot Greens – carrot greens are a bit like parsley, and can make a damn fine pesto.

what will be will be