What's in the Standard Share
(With Custom Order Options and Prices)
Broccoli - 1 pound+ bag of large stalks ($4/bag)
Cucumber - 3 cucumbers ($.50/small cucumber; $1 per large cucumber) (OVER ABUNDANCE SALE)
Eggplant, Globe - 1 eggplant ($2/eggplant or 3 for $5)
Eggplant, Japanese - 2 eggplants ($1.50/eggplant or 3 for $4)
Green Beans - 3/4 lb quart ($4/quart)
Lettuce, Head - 1-2 heads ($3/head)
Pepper, Green & Purple - 3 peppers ($1/pepper or 3 for $2.50)
Tomatoes, Medley (Cherry, Juliet, Roma, and Slicers) - Amount depends on harvest (Standard Share only)
Watermelon, Yellow - 1-2 melon depending on size ($6 per 4-5 lb melon)
Also Available for Custom Order
Basil, (Choose Italian, purple, cinnamon, lemon, or Thai) - $2.50/1.5 oz. pint or 2 pints for $4
Beets, Bulk - 1.5 lb bag for $4.50
Beets, Greentop - $3/bunch
Beets, Small Pickling- 1 quart (~1.33 lb) for $3
Cabbage- Choose green, red, savoy, or Napa. $2.00/head or 3 for $5 (REDUCED PRICE)
Carrots, Bulk - 1.5 lb bag for $4
Carrots, Greentop - $3/bunch
Garlic, Hardneck - $1.50/bulb
Kale, Lacinato - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Kale, Red Curly - $2/ bunch or 3 for $5
Kale, Green Curly - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Kohlrabi, Green or Red - $1/bulb or 3 for $2.50
Parsley - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Tomato, Medley (cherry & juliet) - $4/pint
Turnips, Scarlet - 1 quart (~1.33 lb) for $2.50 or 2 quarts for $4
Zinnia (flowers) - $5 per bunch with returnable quart jar
Cucumbers - 6 pounds (enough for most pickling recipes) for $7.50
All annual & perennial herbs and annual vegetable plants are $2 each
Blueberries - 1 pint (anticipated)
Blueberry season is winding down at Berry Patch. Apple picking has not quite started yet, but there may be some available next week. There are some chemical-free Bartlett pears at the farm that look good to harvest and could be in the fruit share next week!
Possibilities for Next Week
Tomatoes have moved into their main season and are available for custom order. There will likely be at least another week of broccoli harvest from this planting, with a whole other planting yet to start. Peppers, eggplants, and CUCUMBERS are still going strong. Zucchinis are just about petered out, so I'm dependent on Julia at Lacewing Acres for any zucchini until the planting we just made starts to mature next month. We are in the process of finishing onion and potato harvest, and then I will have a better sense of what is available for the rest of the season. I grew fewer potatoes this year and had lower yield than last year so will likely be sourcing organic potatoes from friends who have an over abundance. Hoping on some certified organic, local sweet corn being available in 2 weeks from FarmTable Delivery, which connects farmers and wholesale customers with each other across the state of Iowa.
I was just driving away from the farm after unloading from farmers markers on Thursday night when I noticed just how menacing the clouds looked rolling in from the north. I decided that in addition to rolling down the sides, I had better batten down the greenhouse before leaving. The storm that rolled through in the next hour was certainly the strongest one of the season so far, knocking out power for hours and leaving numerous branches downed in yards and the street, as well as toppling a number of trees. I had about an inch of rain in the gauge at the farm and besides some wind blown plants, there was no immediate damage in the fields. Losing electricity is always a reminder of the relative fragility of our life(style) support systems (electricity, water, gas, etc.) Like how being sick makes you appreciate health (homeostasis), being without a basic service makes me appreciate when those services are normally functioning. I think without a electricity I would get more sleep, because when it came down to candlelight and batteries on Thursday night, I just went to bed!
The newsletter goes a little bit later tonight because I was returning from a weekend trip to Wisconsin with my fiancee Emily to visit her family and see a friend in Madison. Its the first weekend I've gotten away in a while but I'm happy to be home now to finish the newsletter and take a look at the farm before the week starts. We visited the Dane County Farmers Market on the capitol square in Madison on Saturday morning, which is the biggest producer-only farmers market in the country. It completely rings the state capitol and there are huge numbers of vegetable vendors, many selling very similar produce for almost identical prices. It got me thinking about how a customer decides who to buy from in those situations, and how a farm sets themselves apart in the midst of that kind of competition and develops loyal customers. The presentation of the stand is certainly important, but I think marketing a small farm goes beyond just the aesthetics of one's booth. What unique products, services to customers, qualities of the farmer, and intangible experiences and feelings that the farm provides set one farm apart from another, especially in a market as saturated as one like Madison? This is an interesting question for me to ponder as a grower in a different but related market down here in central Iowa. Its also maybe a question for you to ponder as well. What drew you or draws you to Middle Way Farm? What keeps you interested and engaged in what this farm provides based on the other choices you have (both locally and globally) for buying produce?
It was also interesting to see what the vendors at the market had available this time of year and also to spot so many big home vegetable patches, commercial market gardens, and roadside produce stands during our drive. My base reactions upon seeing other farm's produce or fields are usually to feel either a) jealous if it looks better, bigger, or more abundant than what I'm currently producing or b) self-satisfied when I think I'm doing a better job. I'm a little sheepish to admit that, but I think many other farmers would agree with me. Upon further reflection, I usually can let those feelings of jealously pass and be more generous towards myself and other grower's situations. The relative successes and failures of any given season are highly dependent on circumstances specific to each farm and they fluctuate throughout the season. I was joking with my friend Julia the other day that we can feel either elated or depressed over the course of single day depending on what crop we are thinking about or working on. While I may be frustrated with the relative slowness of the tomatoes or the lack of zucchini (when everyone else seems have wheelbarrows full), I can also look at the crops that did well, as well as ones that did well beyond expectations. In the end, what actually matters is not the success or yield of any one particular crop, but whether I provided good, abundant food to my CSA members and market customers.
This is the final week to give feedback in the mid-season survey if you have not already. I will also be sending out a link for the end of season survey after the conclusion of the summer share in October. The Mid-Season Joiner share starts in 2 weeks and the farm is looking for new members. Please spread the word!
What to Do with Your Share
Broccoli - This first harvest of broccoli was a very pleasant surprise last week - 100 pounds of some of the nicest looking and well sized heads I've ever grown. Each bag will continue several large stalks weighing over a pound.
Preparation & Cooking: Broccoli comes clean and "ready to eat", sitting high atop a plant away from the soil. However, with organic broccoli you may encounter the occasional insect that has hidden inside the head. I spray a non toxic organic pesticide for cabbage loopers (caterpillars of cabbage moths), but you may find one in there if their population has built up enough. To make sure your heads are insect free, just soak them in a bowl of salted water for 15 minutes. Any insects will float to the top. While many steam or boil broccoli, I always suggest roasting it.
Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Use within a week, broccoli does not store well.
Cucumbers - I grow several prolific American, burpless slicing varieties. While the European types with thin skin are wonderful flavor, they are more difficult to grow and sustain more pest damage. I don't grow small pickling types. Cucumbers have been peaking the last few weeks and are available in 6 pound bulk orders this week for pickling.
Preparation & Cooking: I like to leave some of the cucumber peel on by peeling them in stripes. Check Recipes of the Week from the Week 9 newsletter for a good ways to get your fill of raw cucumbers.
Storage: Keep cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity and use within a week or so.
Eggplant - Japanese eggplant are the long, skinny type with either dark purple or pink skin. The globe eggplant are the larger purple eggplant. They can be used together but each has unique qualities that make them suitable for particular dishes. See below.
Preparation & Cooking: Japanese eggplant's thin skin does not need to be peeled, but globe eggplant should be. Japanese eggplant tends to be milder and less bitter than the globe variety but also spongier, so it soaks up marinades (but also frying oil) more readily. There are many ways to cook eggplant â€” try grilling, sautÃ©ing or baking thin slices coated lightly in oil. Baba ganoush is a simple and wonderful eggplant spread using just a few ingredients - eggplant, lemon, garlic, salt, and tahini (sesame seed paste). We particularly like roasting slices of eggplant until they are very tender and just a little crisp, then tossing in soy sauce or salt. Delicious! Eggplant picked at the right stage should have few or no seeds inside and will not be bitter. However, in order to ensure that there is no residual bitterness, you can slice eggplant up, coat in salt, and leave in a colander for 15 minutes or so. The eggplant will begin to "weep". You can then rinse the salt and liquid that has weeped off the eggplant.
Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Use within a week, while the eggplant is still relatively firm. It will begin to shrivel and discolor when it gets too old.
Green Bean - I am now picking from the 2nd planting of green beans, with the 3rd one not too far behind. So far its been much better than the first planting!
Preparation & Cooking: Like cabbages, broccoli, and just about any other vegetable, roasting is a great option for green beans. They can also be sliced and sauted in oil or butter as a side dish. Green bean pate is another favorite recipe of mine.
Storage: Store in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer for up to a week.Green beans, like peas, diminish in quality fairly rapidly the longer they are stored, so the sooner you use them the better.
Green Peppers - We divide the pepper field up into two sections each season - one where we pick green peppers as soon as they are large enough and the other where we leave those green peppers to ripen into red (or orange or yellow depending on the variety) peppers. The next few weeks, only green peppers will be available. You may receive either green or purple peppers, both of which are "green", and you may also receive peppers of various shapes and sizes, but note that they are all sweet peppers.
Preparation & Cooking: Being "immature" peppers, green peppers do not have the sweet flavor of colored peppers. I like to saute them with onions in the skillet for eggs. To quickly prep, cut the pepper in half lengthwise and pull out the stem and seeds from the top of each side and discard. Slice the peppers lengthwise.
Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Use within a week or so, while the peppers are still relatively firm. They will begin to shrivel with age.
Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer on high humidity. Use within a week or so. The tops with begin to yellow as they age.
Head Lettuce - More summer lettuce from under the shade cloth! May be greenleaf, red or green butterhead.
Preparation & Cooking: These Salanova type lettuces are unique in that you can make one cut at the bottom and the heads fall apart into separate leaves. Wash any dirt that might have been hidden on the inner parts of the leaves. Make sure to spin or pat dry before consuming or storing. Wet lettuce leaves go bad faster!
Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Should keep well for at least a week.
Tomato Medley- Standard share medley will include cherry and juliet (mini-roma) tomatoes as well some ripe romas and slicing (hybrid or heirloom) tomatoes.
Preparation & Cooking: Both cherry and juliet tomatoes are wonderful for snacking and salads but you can also slice them and lightly roast or saute as well (they can also be dried in dehydrator this way).
Storage: NEVER refrigerate tomatoes unless you're trying to keep them from going bad for a short period of time. They lose their flavor in the fridge. Keep them on the counter and use ripe tomatoes within a few days. Unripe tomatoes may be held separately from ripe ones and given a few days to develop full ripeness and flavor.
Yellow Watermelon When I decided to stop growing winter squash, pumpkins, and melons, I did make one exception. I think these small 4-5 lb. yellow watermelons are truly unique in their flavor and worth the space needed to grow them. I got more positive comments about these watermelons than anything else last year, so that's what really convinced me to continue growing them. I determine ripeness by three signs (in this order of importance, I've found) - 1) the small tendril where the watermelon fruit stem meets the watermelon vine is dead and shriveled, 2) there is a well developed yellow ground spot where the watermelon rests on the soil, and 3) ripe watermelons when tapped with a finger have a deep, resonant hollow sound. Unripe melons just sound dull.
Storage: Keep these watermelons whole or sliced in the fridge. They will keep best and have the best flavor upon slicing if they are kept cold, although watermelons can keep well for a few days without refrigeration.Their small size makes them easy to fit in a fridge (icebox melons!).
Recipe of the Week
In honor of the continued abundance of eggplant, I would like to offer this wonderful Middle Eastern, vegetarian eggplant dip as an option for clearing up that backlog of eggplant in the fridge! Eat with pita bread or any other kind of bread.
From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Mark Bittman
1 large or 2 medium eggplants (globe would be more traditional but Asian would work)
3 garlic cloves, coarse chop
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
juice of 1 large lemon
extra virgin olive oil
- Roast eggplant (425 degrees, 30 - 40 minutes) until is charred slightly and eggplant has collapsed.
- Let cool slightly then peel and puree eggplant pulp in food processor with garlic and tahini.
- Add lemon juice & salt to taste. Serve with oil & parsley in hollow in center of serving bowl.
Photo of the Week
Great idea gleaned from the Madison farmers market - this garlic grower never trims his garlic. He sells it in various size bundles with stems attached, bunched with zip ties He says that it keeps air from getting to the bulb to dehydrate it, which allows the garlic to store longer. Makes sense to me.