This week on the farm has been bittersweet for me. Farming is so much more than a job; for me it is everything: my heart, my soul, my passion. When you are so intimately tied to the work that you do the highs and lows can have a sharpness to them that is both incredibly beautiful and deeply painful.
This crazy warm spring has brought our earliest ever harvest of cucumbers, and summer squash and tomatoes are just around the corner! To compete in the market as a small farm it is crucial to bring crops to market as early as you can and to extend the harvest for as long as possible. While some farms do this with heated greenhouses and other fancy infrastructure, on our farm we try to accomplish these goals on a shoestring budget. This often means babying our crops along using low-tech methods such as remay cloth, heat mats in our propagation house, biodynamic compost and field sprays and of course, lots of love! It is sweet to reap the rewards of all this attention to detail by seeing our crops thrive, our garden flourish and our table fill with the bounty of summer. All these accomplishments come with some sacrifice though and today after working a fourteen-hour day I'm feeling the edge of all that I give to make this farm thrive. It's definitely a dynamic recipe and sometimes I feel that I know how to set boundaries and to give enough that I still have some energy left for myself, but at other times the farm is demanding; animals get sick and need constant attention and supervision, an oversight leads to crop loss, and things break that we need to have working for the farm to function. The older I get the more I realize how important patience is to this whole process. The farm is her own own animal and one can only control so much of such a dynamic creature. I am more proud of this small piece of land then I've ever been of anything. Our produce is coming out of the field vibrant and full of life and health. Our systems are coming together in a way that makes the work more enjoyable and accessible. And we are all well-fed from the littlest chicken to my fellow farm workers.
This week's share includes kohlrabi which may be new to some. Think of it as a broccoli stalk on steroids: all the sweetness and crunch with none of the stringiness. Kohlrabi is great raw or cooked. I love it cubed in coleslaw, roasted in butter and shredded on salads. It can be peeled or the dark purple skin can be left on to add some color to your plate. Here's some insight into using kohlrabi from Tom, one of the lovely apprentices here on the farm:
"One of my favorite vegetarian (if you are comfortable eating eggs and butter) recipes is Kohlrabi Scallopini. We used to send kohlrabi in for the chefs at Esalen when the dinner meal was Turkey Scallopini so we could highlight kohlrabi for our vegetarian and omnivorous friends alike. Here's a turkey scallopini recipe I'm using this week, substituting 1/4"-thick kohlrabi discs for some or all of the turkey."
CSA Tips and Tricks
For many folks a CSA can be both a pain and pleasure and knowing what to do with all that fresh produce can feel a bit overwhelming at first. Here are some tips and tricks to help you ease into having a fridge full of vegetables so that you can get the most from your share:
Root crops - For the longest shelf life remove the greens from your root crops; this means cutting the tops off of beets, carrots, radishes and turnips as this will help the roots stay fresher longer. The tops can be eaten or used for veggie stock. I like to keep a plastic bag in my fridge for vegetable stock items. Once it gets full I put the scraps on the stove in enough water to cover and simmer the pot until it cooks down to half. This healthful liquid can then be used as the base for cooking grains, soups and stews or as a braising liquid. Here's a helfpul blog post with more details on making vegetable stock.
Greens - I love to chop my bunched greens such as kale, chard and collards before I stick them in the fridge. That way when I'm preparing my meals I can add a handful of greens to whatever I'm cooking up. They also take up less room when cut into ribbons or chunks. The stems can be added to your stock bag.
Fruit Crops -Tomatoes and tomatillos store best outside of the fridge. The refrigerator tends to give these veggies a watered-down mushy taste.
Fermenting, Freezing and Canning - Give it a try! Making sauerkraut is a wonderful way to utilize the bounty of summer. I love Sandor Katz's book Wild Fermentation. It is full of great recipes for all sorts of delicious vegetable ferments. Canning and freezing some of your excess produce can be a great way to extend the bounty of summer into the leaner winter months. Here's one of my favorite canning blogs to help you get started.
Smoothies and Juicing - Drinking your veggies is a great way to add more nutrition to your diet. I love throwing a handful of greens into my morning smoothie and breaking out the juicer for fresh carrot, cucumber and beet juice.
I hope these tips help lead you down the path to CSA success. Please feel free to share any recipes with us so we can share them with our other members!
This week's share:
- 1 bunch of Goldkrone dill
- 1 pound Gypsy broccoli
- 1 bunch of Rogue kale
- 1 bunch of Kolribi kohlrabi
- 1 pint of peas
- 1 bunch of Pride green onions
- 1 heads of Spretnak lettuce
- 1 bag of Toucan spinach
Til Next Week...