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Middle Way Farm - Spring Share - Week 3 - 2016 
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Spring Share Newsletter 
Week 3
May 22, 2016
Spring share pick-up will be at the farm (3633 Hwy 146) on Wednesday, May 25 from 3 - 6 pm. See pick-up details below.
Share pick-up will be "buffet-style", so bring your own bag to take your produce with you. Extra bags will be available should you forget yours. 
Summer share starts next week, Wednesday, June 1. Note that your drop site may change for the summer share, so refer to your sign-up e-mail to see which drop-site you selected. An e-mail will be coming soon for those doing a custom summer share on how to place your weekly orders. 

What's in the Share
Asparagus (chemical-free from Prairie Rose Farm in Harlan, Iowa) - 1 lb. bunch 
Baby Spinach - 6 oz. bag
Chives - 1 small bunch (w/ flowers)
Green Onions - 1 bunch
Mesclun Mix (lettuce, arugula, baby kale) - 6 oz. bag
Red Radishes - 1 bunch


Possibilities for First Week of Summer Share:
Parsnips, green garlic, more salad greens, kohlrabi or Chinese cabbage? 

CSA Share Pick-up

3 - 6 pm, WEDNESDAY
May 11
3633 Hwy 146, Grinnell


 2/3 mile north of Grinnell on the right side of Hwy 146. Look for the big blue barn, 2nd farmstead on the right after leaving town. Pull in the driveway with the "Grin City Collective" sign. Follow the driveway straight until it forks. Take the left fork. You will see a "Middle Way Farm" sign just ahead by the corner of the blue barn. You can park in the driveway past this sign, in front of the dumpster, propane tanks, and greenhouse. To your left as you pull in to park will be a large red metal building with a garage door. Share pick-up will be here. 

If you are unable to make pick-up on WEDNESDAY, please try to send a friend or family member in your place. If that's not possible, call or text Jordan at (641) 821 0753 to make an alternative arrangement. Shares that are not claimed will be placed in the walk-in cooler. After one attempt to contact the shareholder is made, shares will be kept in the cooler until Friday morning. If the shareholder does not claim it by then, the share will be donated to the MICA food pantry midday Friday.
Farmer Reflection

Its dry! This was our first real week of outdoor harvest and the most striking takeaway was how limited our pick of spinach, salad mix, arugula, baby kale, and radishes was because of the lack of rain the last two months. I was swimming in radishes and greens last year around this time, in large part because of a spectacular spring of warm temperatures and steady, even rains. Water is the biggest limiting factor for plant growth. On a garden scale, its relatively easy to water your plants. On a farm-scale, its more of a production. I started laying out the plastic lines to carry water to the field this week, and we put down drip irrigation lines on a handful of beds. I also hand watered several beds of greens that I wanted to make sure had enough water to grow. We'll continue working on irrigation this week, even with rain in the forecast. In reality, even an inch of rain would not make up for the deficit we have accumulated through April and May. Sometimes it make sense to water even when there is a good chance of rain, especially when that rain may not wet the soil as deeply and persistently as you need it to. Dry soil absorbs water quickly, meaning that even a heavy rain doesn't last very long as wet soil.

I'm very happy to see the forecast of rain this coming week, and even happier to see that Monday will be dry, which will mean that the farm crew will have a whole day to get in last minute soil preparation, planting, and weeding before the rain rolls in. Its also great that Grinnell College graduation will be dry for the 21st year in a row! We are preparing to plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, cucumber, and watermelons soon (all transplants), in addition to direct seeded plantings of edamame, green beans, carrots, beets, salad mix, dill & cilantro, arugula & baby kale, and more. The upside of the lack of rain is we have stayed on top of the weeds! The farm looks clean and beautiful right now. May and June are critical months for weed control. With warm temperatures and enough moisture, weeds can quickly get out of hand, going from seemingly harmless seedlings just out of the soil to one foot tall bullies in seemingly no time at all. We've already weeded several early plantings twice and are working right now on hand weeding the carrots and beets. 
 
Oh what a time of year though! In addition to the birds, the insects have really begun to come alive with the warmer night and days. Walking around the farm this time of year, its such a riot of life its hard not to be overwhelmed by the menagerie of sights, sounds, and smells. I feel so privileged to get to see the farm grow and develop over the course of the year. The ordinary transformations of the season continue to strike me as miraculous, and I hope I will always have that reaction to spring. 

Your farmer,

Jordan
What to Do with Your Share

Asparagus - I'm fortunate to be able to take advantage of a service called Farm Table Delivery, based in Harlan, Iowa. This start-up business connects growers with wholesale customers through a delivery service that spans Omaha to Cedar Rapids. I was able to get asparagus from a grower in Harlan though this service (after my local go-to asparagus growers said they were limited), while also having them pick-up product from me to deliver to the Iowa Food Coop in Des Moines. I will use Farm Table Delivery occasionally throughout the season to source products that I do not grow on the farm but want to make sure are included in the CSA share. I will always identify the origin of products not grown on the farm and make sure that if not certified organic, they are declared chemical-free by the farmer. 
 
Preparation & Cooking: While many people like to steam their asparagus or lightly saute, I'm a big advocate of roasting, and roasting till its actually beginning to get crispy I actually don't really like asparagus that much when it is just lightly cooked, but its one of my favorite vegetables when roasted in oil, with soy sauce and vinegar added after cooking.  You can roast whole spears or cut them up into bite size pieces. My personal approach: Put the oven up high, 425 - 450 degrees. Toss the spears in a generous amount of high heat oil. Roast in the pre-heated oven until the tips of the spears have begun to crisp a little bit and the asparagus is completely soft and tender. Just be careful that you don't let them go too long and burn them. Add soy sauce or salt, pepper, and a nice vinegar after roasting, toss and let stand for a few minutes, then enjoy! The Recipe of the Week contains similar instructions for roasting asparagus.

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. You can also put asparagus in a glass of water on the counter or in the fridge (covered with a plastic bag if in the fridge), which will keep the spears crisp but the water needs to be changed daily so it doesn't go bad. 


Baby Spinach- Spinach is a wonderful early season green that can germinate in cold soils and thrives in the mild temperatures of spring. Spinach will be in its glory over the next month, but usually it gets too hot to grow it starting in mid-June. These leaves are true baby size, so should be excellent for eating raw in salads.

Preparation & Cooking:  This mix has been double washed, so it is basically ready to eat without any further rinsing. You may need to pick out a bad leaf or piece of chaff before serving.  Be aware that if you wash it again, you will significantly shorten its storage life. Always spin dry or towel dry greens that have been rinsed before serving and before storing.

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Should keep well for a week or more. 

Chives - Chives are a perennial cousin to leeks, onions, and garlic. They are very hardy and grow in large clumps which come up early in the spring and flower quickly. I overwintered some chives in large pots in the greenhouse after removing them from an aborted herb garden that got completely overtaken by weeds last summer. The flowers are also edible - they would go great tossed in the mesclun mix along with the chives themselves! See the Recipe of the Week for an idea for combining roasted asparagus and chives. 

Preparation & Cooking: With a nice mild onion flavor, chives go great chopped up into salads or tossed on top of cooked dishes such as eggs, potatoes, meat, sautes, etc. Use the entire chive except for any woody or tough part at the bottom of the stem that should be trimmed .

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Should keep in good condition for a week. 


Mesclun Mix - This mesclun mix will include baby lettuce as well as a smaller portion of arugula and baby kale. Mesclun literally means "mixture" in French. The term originated with the markets of the Provence region of southwestern France. It refers to any combination of young leafy salad greens, which typically includes lettuce and a combination of other, typically stronger flavored greens such as arugula, beet greens, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard, and radicchio 

Preparation & Cooking: This mix has been double washed, so it is basically ready to eat without any further rinsing. You may need to pick out a bad leaf or piece of chaff before serving.  Be aware that if you wash it again, you will significantly shorten its storage life. Always spin dry or towel dry greens that have been rinsed before serving and before storing. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Should keep in good condition for a week. 

Green Onions - These onions are a combo of some harvested from sets, some harvested from this year's seedlings, and some from onions that managed to overwinter in the 2015 onion patch (those are the largest ones). 

Preparation & Cooking: When preparing, trim off the root and the top third or so of leaves that are yellowed or tougher. Rinse under running water, especially under the layers of leaves, which may harbor soil or other debris. Slice thinly, using both the white and green parts of the plant. Fun fact: not only will the mature onions regrow if planted, you can regrow scallions from their roots. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer on high humidity. Use within a week  or so.

Radishes - With another week of growth, these radishes are a bit larger than last week's but still should be crisp and have good flavor. The dry weather I'm sure has contributed to them being a bit spicier. I did water the patch last week to make sure they could put on some size for this week's share. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Trim off the top and the root end. Eat whole as a snack with a dip such as humous or soft cheese. Slice them thinly and put raw on your salad. Grate onto a sandwich. The tops can be used as a cooking green. Toss them in with your nettles when your boiling them or with the spinach if you're cooking that. Radish tops are quite hardy and nutritious. They are prickly so not great raw, and they tend to spoil quite quickly, so use them immediately if you are not composting them. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer on high humidity. Separate green tops from roots and use tops immediately or within a few days. Use roots within a week or two. 

Recipe of the Week
From foodandwine.com

Oven-Roasted Asparagus with Chives

  • TOTAL TIME: 25 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound thick asparagus
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoon snipped chives

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus and garlic with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the center of the oven for about 18 minutes, until tender and charred in spots. Transfer the asparagus to a plate, garnish with the chives and serve.
Photo of the Week
All of the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, and cucumbers are outside hardening off, waiting to go in the ground. I typically leave plants outside the greenhouse to harden off for up to a week before planting. This helps reduce transplant shock of going directly from a warm, protected greenhouse into the drier, windy outside. I've been using bird netting this spring to ward off woodchucks and rabbits that had been making regular meals of transplants when they left the greenhouse. 
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