September 4, 2017
The Geese are Flying
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Okay, these are vultures, not geese, aren't they cool?
The geese are flying, a sure autumn on the farm. Other clues include chilly toes in the dewy mornings, the groan of school buses passing in the lane, the grumpy teenager dealing with early school mornings and and the murmuration of starlings. Friday afternoon I walked through fields newly planted with fall crops and startled a small flock of bluebirds. What a treat!
Another sure sign of fall is the sudden disappearance of half of our crew. This strains those left behind, as the demands of the field, while less, are still significant. It is true, the crew is tired after the long summer push. Soon, however, the weed pressure will drop dramatically and the fall planting will be finished. Beautiful September days will remind us that what we do here is worth it.
Many of you might be thinking that the season must be winding down, but actually we are only a tad past the half way point of the Main Season. With 9 weeks still ahead, an array of fall goodies will start to appear on the list. We apologize that eggplant did not land on the proper list this week, for those of you who noticed, and hope to have it available next week. We are also sorrowful that the tomato crop, while not a total failure, struggled with blight and we will not be able to make our signature pasta sauce this year - boo hoo for the Farmer's Wife! And basil too, in case you didn't notice, failed utterly. I hear local gardeners complaining of the same problem. An entire field of it just up and kicked the bucket before I even had a chance to think pesto. When eating from a small farm, you must adopt the motto, "There's always next year!" Of course, for most of us you could also say, "There's always Whole Foods." Not quite the same as fresh from the farm, but at least there are options.
Of course, we are hoping that you will jump into the fall season which starts the week of November 6 (the final week of the Main Season is the week of October 30). Prorated Main Season and/or Fall Shares are available to any and all. We have LOCAL FOOD for you!
August 20, 2017
Singing the August Blues
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The morning arrived fresh and inviting today, restoring hope to the Farmer's heart. It's been a rough couple of weeks. Everyone knows that farming is hard work, long hours in all types of weather, and physically demanding. Actually that is the part of farming that appeals most to our Farmer, and to many who dream of trading their desk job for a life out of doors. The physical work is the easy part. The challenge lies in the unexpected, be it weather issues, employee drama or equipment breakdown. Any of these can pitch a twist in our daily routine, or tip the delicate scale of our economy and amount to a significant load of stress. August always presents a challenge for us. Although it still feels like summer, the power of the sun is shifting towards the equinox while the insect and disease pressure is burgeoning.
We have learned to expect the unexpected. We expect too much rain to insult our tomatoes. We expect the crew to get over-tired and less enthusiastic by now. We expect equipment, which is used hard all season, to falter. It's all part of the deal, part of being a working farm. But these past few weeks have held a run of out-of the-ordinary unexpecteds, such as a significant theft and an accident with the delivery truck that demolished an entire delivery on Tuesday and left the truck in the repair shop indefinitely. Many of our Tuesday members, who were disappointed to miss their Tuesday box, reached out with kind words and even donations, all of which touched and inspired us to pick up and keep going. No one was hurt with either incident, thank goodness.
Two things help us put it all in perspective. First is the beauty of the day before us, the cicadas singing staccato, the indigo bunting flashing blue among the foxtail, the cool dew-bedazzled mornings and the lullaby of the crickets and katydids as we drift into sleep at night. Second, is the people around us: the crew pulling together for the push of the second half of the season, our friends and family reaching out with support, and you, our CSA members, many of whom have stood by us for over a decade of Augusts. We read every note, every email, whether a brief thank you, or a lengthy story of how our vegetables have impacted your life, and every single word goes to heart. You are the reason we do this.
The concept of CSA was born from a passion for supporting small farms and for a grass-roots endeavor to reconnect with where and how our food is grown. I maintain this blog with the primary intention of helping our customers know us and our farm. I write with my heart on my sleeve, because I believe that our customers care about the welfare of their farming family as much as about the convenience of having their local food arrive in one box. I want our customers to know without a shadow of a doubt their dollars are supporting the livelihood of a small Pennsylvania farm and their support makes this farm a better provider of fresh, high quality, safe food for people throughout our region.
Many of you ask how you can help:
1. If you are not a current member, please join
today! Our CSA is the only one in the region offering weekly online ordering. Our produce has never been as lush and abundant as this year. We are GAP certified and offer a prorated price to jump in for the second half of the Main Season.
2. If you are a member, refer a friend. Tell them about our farm - share this post.
. Sign up for our Fall Share
. We are extending our season by 6 weeks this year and are opening our fall share at almost all sites. Your Fall Share commitment is a HUGE help to us this year
. In addition to fall veggies this year, we are offering Egg, Apple, Bread and Cheese shares. We also have listed some local artisan crafted gifts which help support the farm as well as small-time crafts persons.
4. Come to our Garlic Planting Picnic or VIP Farm to Table Dinner - both super delicious and a fun way to experience the farm. Anyone is welcome to these events, even in they are not a member. Inquire for details.
As always, we are grateful every day for the opportunity to feed you and your families. Thank you for your continued support.
August 13, 2017
Making Time to Make Dinner
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
A nifty NYT article popped up on my Apple newsfeed today, What to Cook This Week
by Sam Sifton. It spoke to me, since I have been disheartened and even worried about a previous article about how Americans like the idea of cooking, but don't really make time for it. A CSA thrives on customers who actually prepare their own food
from scratch. Our Farm, depends on you to take time to prepare your own food. As food services madly scramble to make cooking as cookie-cutter and streamlined as possible, the Farmer and I look at each other and wonder at all the waste that goes into this carefully pre-chopped and otherwise prepared, wrapped and packaged pre-cooked meals. It seems so simple to us to take a few items from the field and create a meal that satisfies us in the deepest way imaginable.
Besides a shortage of time, we are all so crazy busy and tired these days, what keeps you from cooking? Do you need ideas? Recipes? How-to classes? Would you like a class on preparing one skillet meals in under 45 minutes?
We like to think that the weekly arrival of your CSA box acts as an encouragement, not a nag, that cooking for yourself is healthy, satisfying and delicious.
When you eat a home-cooked meal that includes local produce, you are supporting a small family farm, an essential part of the the Pennsylvania rural landscape...in our humble opinion, that is!
Join our Fall Share
, and be part of our "Farmily."
July 29, 2017
Wrap Your Salad
a Note from the Farmer's Wife
I am always looking for new, easy and creative ways to pack more vegetables into my family's diet. Of course delicious is also key to success!
Featured as the first course at our recent Farm-to-Table VIP dinner, these wraps are easy to adapt to what is lingering in the fridge and make a fabulous light lunch.
Summer squash, grated or sliced into match sticks, about half as much as carrots
Cipollini, or mild onion, to taste
Pumpkin seeds, optional
Chick peas, optional
Basil, chopped, or whole leaves
Juice of a lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Lightly sauté squash with onion - only a minute or two. Let cool slightly. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Feel free to use cucumber, hot pepper, sweet pepper, tomato or anything that tastes delicious. Quantities depend on the number of wraps you are making and what you have on hand. Place bowl in fridge to marinate while you fix the sauce.
The juice of several limes - about 1/2 cup is nice
1 jalapeno, or less, to taste
1 green tomato, or several tomatillos chopped fine
Cipollini, or sweet onion, minced
Salt and pepper to taste - more is better in this case
Mix all ingredients together and let sit 20 minutes if possible.
Generous-sized lettuce leaves, for wrapping
Avocado, 1 slice per wrap
Lime, sliced very thin, 1 slice per wrap
Lay lettuce leaf on plate. Place 1 avocado slice and 1 lime slice in center. Dollop salad mixture on top of that. Top with a spoonful of sauce, drizzling juice over salad and adding chunky bits to top of salad mixture. Swaddle salad mix with the lettuce wrap. Garnish with a lemon or lime slice and a basil leaf. Serve with extra sauce and a fork to catch the bits that don't make it to the mouth.
June 29, 2017
It Takes a Village
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
If you live alone, hang out by yourself most of the time, or feel lonely even when people are around, your risk of kicking the bucket in the next seven years increases to about 30%. This startling statement in a Wall Street Journal
article this weekend caught my eye. According to Susan Pinker, author of "The Village Effect" (is she married to the guy who wrote the Dorito Effect?) our social habits more accurately predict how long we will live than our eating and exercise habits.
For many of us this news makes us think of aging parents or other elders we know who no lack the gumption to get out and connect with friends or even family. Is it possible that the sky-rocketing rate of dementia in this country connects to a growing isolation of our elders? Is a nursing home the answer? Even residents of retirement facilities can feel very alone, perhaps even more so if they grieve the loss their familiar turf.
"Isolation is the beginning of disease." So stated Malidoma Some, West African shaman and author or several books. Indigenous cultures have known since ancient times the value of a supportive community.
How does this connect to the CSA? First to my mind springs the satisfaction of a shared meal. Does your family sit together and begin the meal together? An article in the Washington Post
highlights a myriad of benefits for families that sit down to a meal together. Young children learn more vocabulary at family dinners than they do from being read to, teens are more likely to get good grades in school and suffer less obesity once they are on their own. Families that eat together tend to eat more fruits and vegetables - have you ever subbed a bowl of cereal for a meal as a loner? Even medical conditions such as asthma were improved by eating together.
The article stresses that the atmosphere is essential. No TV while eating together and parents should be "warm and engaged" versus stern and controlling. I suppose this research has finally put to rest the old adage, "Children are to be seen and not heard."
One of the most interesting and frequent comments on our 2014 survey highlighted the social connection our members get from picking up their box at a communal location. This may vary from site to site, but I was surprised and pleased to see how much people value connecting with other dedicated vegetable eaters. In the flurry of business that seems to be part of everyone's lives these days, it is interesting to note that this small community building activity of the weekly box pick up seems to be worth the extra effort. Perhaps getting a box of food in the mail is easier, but only lends to the nuclear isolation that is plaguing our culture.
So remember that the acronym "CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Take a moment to connect with your fellow CSA members, and build the community around you. If you prepare your meal together and sit down together, after socializing at your pick up site, maybe you will live a little longer! Especially if you eat your vegetables!
May 13, 2017
Kitchen Magic: Mastering Kale
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
CSAs have what some might consider a bad reputation, others might argue good, for sending a lot of kale to their customers. If you are a kale lover, you can probably stop reading here, since you likely know all your favorite ways to consume large amounts of the nutrition-packed green. But if your taste buds balk at a big green pile of mushy brassica, you might want to read on.
Here are some tips on preparing a tasty feast out of your kale bonanza:
- First, be aware that while spring kale is quite tender, as the season progresses it gets a little tougher and the cooking time lengthens. If undercooked, it often remains on the dinner plate.
- Second, the bitterness of this green can deter some palates which proper seasoning can overcome.
Let’s look at three recipes that are simple and tasty for those who have been intimidated by kale in the past. Mind you, I’m often a hurried cook, and work in the kitchen from the seat of my pants, more than from a recipe book. I’m also partial to using seasonal, local veggies whenever possible, so if I use a recipe, I often adapt it to suit what’s in my CSA box. At the end of each recipe, I offer a link to a “real” more formal version, for those who want more detailed instructions.
1. Portuguese Kale Soup
2 large yellow onions diced fine, or chopped as you wish!
2 TBS butter or olive oil
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2-4 potatoes sliced 1/8 inch thick, or peeled and cubed if you prefer
1 bunch, or bag of kale, stripped from the stems, torn or chopped into bite size, and steamed for 10 minutes.
1/2 lb of chorizo, or mild sausage if spiciness is an issue for your crowd. Feel free to sub a vegan sausage.
Cannellini beans, 16 oz can, drained and rinsed
1-2 sprig rosemary, or 2 tsp dried
1-2 sprig thyme, of 1 tsp dried
Salt, pepper to taste
A dash of turmeric and paprika (optional)
Fresh basil for garnish, or sliced of lemon
In bottom of sturdy soup kettle, saute onions in butter, on medium heat, just until clear. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes and simmer 5-10 minutes. I often take a potato masher and loosely crush the potatoes into smaller pieces. Add kale and sausage. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Add beans, rosemary and thyme and seasoning to taste. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Serve with garnish. Double the recipe for fantastic leftovers.
2. Kale Pesto - I have yet to try making this, but plan to use it to make a nutrition-packed pizza. Spread the pesto on a prepared crust (preferably homemade) and top with your favorites: cheese, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic top my list.
3. Kale Salad with Hemp Seeds: The key to a successful kale salad is to massage it and let it marinate. This tenderizes it and gives it time to soak up some great flavor to counteract it’s bitterness. Take 1 bunch of kale, stripped from the stems and torn into bite size pieces and place it in a large salad bowl. Drizzle olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, salt to taste and add crushed garlic. Massage until the leaves turn oil and darker green. Let sit for at least an hour if possible. Add dried cranberries, hemp seeds, grapefruit and radishes. Drizzle a small amount of date balsamic vinegar, toss and enjoy.