I can't believe that it's already June and our first week of CSA pickup has arrived. I have been very absent on our blog and so much has happened since my last post in October of last season. The farm is in full production with summer crops showing their first signs of fruit while we are just getting into the bounty of crops planted in the cold, rain drenched soils of spring. This is my third season tending this land and it is truly incredible to see how much the farm has changed in such a short period. One of the biggest differences this season is the addition of three amazing apprentices. These folks have joined our farm crew for a full season of working and learning, and their passion and love for the work is evident in how beautiful and abundant the farm is looking. My new role as both a farmer and manager has had some definite periods of growing pains but I'm beginning to ease into the new role and am loving how much learning I'm accomplishing while I attempt to teach these lovely folks how to run a small diversified farming operation.
I learned so much from last season's successes and failures and have tried to make changes to our operation based on what I observed last season. Some improvements this year are using a hooped remay system using 9 gauge wire hoops cut to six foot lengths that we lay our remay over to keep the cold and pests off of our early season crops. Despite the initial labor and cost of set up this system has definitely yielded great results with less overall pest damage and much earlier harvests then we were able to manage last season. Another improvement is using "Surround" on all of our brassica transplants which also seemed to ward off the early flea beetle damage that can be so devastating in our area. We also installed a caterpillar tunnel and I found the Broadfork Farm Blog a great resource on installing these low cost season-extension structures. Our caterpillar tunnel is currently filled with heirloom and paste tomatoes, eggplants and green peppers, I'm excited to see how the implementation of this new system affects our overall yield and crop health.
This season we have decided to switch to a mainly on-farm CSA which means our customers will also be able to buy raw dairy, homemade salsas and sauerkrauts, eggs and frozen pasture raised chicken directly from the farm. I've always been very attracted to a more full diet style CSA model and am happy to be taking small steps to support our local food system in a more full way.
This week's CSA offers a nice mix of spring veggies, here's what folks will find in their box this week:
- 1 bunch radish, French Breakfast
- 2 heads mini romaine lettuce, Spretnak
- 1 bunch beets, Ace
- 1 bunch garlic scapes
- 1 bunch cilantro, Calypso
- 3/4 pound salad mix
- 1 bunch chard, Oriole and Rhubarb
- 1 bunch green onion, Pride
Each week, one of the farm apprentices will contribute an offering to our farm blog, this week Gabbi is providing some lovely chard recipes for our CSA members to try.
Sauteed Chard with Garlic and Lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- about 12 ounces of chard, ribs and stems removed
- and cut into 2" pieces
- Kosher Salt and ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and half of Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and remaining chard and cook, tossing, just until all chard is wilted, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper.
Chard and Pecan Pesto
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 10 leaves Swiss chard, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 1 cup pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 ounces of grated parmesan cheese
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the Swiss chard and garlic in the hot oil until the chard leaves have wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Process the basil, pecans, sea salt, Parmesan cheese, and remaining olive oil in a food processor until all the ingredients are well integrated. Add the Swiss chard mixture and the lemon juice to the food processor; continue chopping until the mixture is pureed. Season with salt and pepper.