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Summer Share 2016 - Week 5 - Middle Way Farm
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Summer Share
Weekly Newsletter 

Week 5
June 26, 2016
What You Will Find in This Newsletter
  1. Important Notes
  2. What's in the Share?
  3. Place Your Custom Order
  4. Farmer Reflection
  5. What to Do With Your Share
  6. Recipe of the Week
  7. Photo of the Week
Important Notes
PLACING A CUSTOM ORDER
AS STANDARD SHARE MEMBER

Standard Share Members - if you are interested in ordering anything extra from the custom order list below, in addition to your regular share, please e-mail me at middlewayfarmer@gmail.com and I can add it to box. Please e-mail me prior to Tuesday morning if you are in Ames, or prior to Wednesday morning if you are in Newton or Grinnell. I will manually add the order total to your account and you will be billed for any extra charges at the end of the CSA season. 
CUSTOM SHARE MEMBERS
CAN USE CSA CREDIT AT FARMERS MARKET

As a custom share member, you are allowed to use your CSA credit at the Thursday Grinnell Farmers Market. After market, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with your order total after I have input to Small Farm Central. I prefer that farmers market purchases be used as supplement to your normal custom ordering, rather than a replacement, as the manual input of custom orders is extra work on my end. 
NEW FARM E-MAIL ADDRESS & WEBSITE 

You can still use middlewayfarmer@gmail.com for the time being to contact me, but you will receive e-mail newsletters from jordan@middlewayfarm.com. This is in response to policy changes with e-mail clients that may prevent delivery of mass e-mails coming from my Gmail address. I will be transitioning to using the jordan@middlewayfarm.com address for all farm e-mail during the rest of the year. I also have a newly rebuilt website at middlewayfarm.com. Its still in progress but is now launched!

What's in the Standard Share
(With Custom Order Options and Prices)


Beets, Greentop - 1 bunch ($3/bunch)
Cabbage, Green - 1 head ($2.50/head or 2 for $4)
Garlic Scapes - 1 bunch ($1/bunch or 3 for $2.50)
Green Onions - 1 bunch ($2.50/bunch or 2 for $4)
Green Beans - ~1 pint (Standard Share Only)
Head Lettuce - 2 heads ($2.50/head or 2 for $4)
Kohlrabi - 3 bulbs ($1/bulb or 3 for $2.50)
New Potatoes, Red - 2 lb ($5/2 lb bag)
Snap Peas -  1/2 lb bag ($3/bag)
Snow Peas -1/2 lb bag ($3/bag)
 
Also Available for Custom Order

Arugula - $4/6 oz. bag or 2 bags for $7
Baby Kale - $4/6 oz. bag or 2 bags for $7
Broccoli - $4/lb
Cabbage, Napa - $2.50/head or 2 for $4
Chard - $3/bunch
Dill - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Kale, Green Curly - $2.50/bunch or 2 for $4
Kale, Lacinato - $3/bunch
Kale, Red Curly - $2.50/ bunch or 2 for $4
Lettuce Mix - $4/6 oz. bag or 2 for $7
Parsley - $2/bunch NEW
Turnips, Salad - Choose red or white. $2.50/bunch or 2 for $4

All annual & perennial herbs and annual vegetable plants are $2 each (6 oz. cups or single soil blocks)

Fruit Share

Blueberries - 1 quart (anticipated)

Possibilities for Next Week
This looks to be the last week of pea harvest. I hope you have enjoyed the bounty! The green beans should be more abundant after this first initial harvest. This is close to the end of the garlic scapes and fresh garlic harvest may start next week. The head lettuce under the shade cloth looks GREAT and will extend the lettuce season for at least several more weeks. Carrots are slowly sizing up (they are about finger size right now) and may make it in the share next week. New potatoes and cabbage (including napa) will be abundant over the next few weeks, as will kohlrabi. Arugula and baby kale will be gone for a while as there are no new plantings coming up in the near future.  
Place Your Custom Order
How to Place Your Custom Order
  1. Go to middlewayfarm.csasignup.com.
  2. Click on Member Log-in and use the Log-in Via E-mail the first time to generate a log-in link. You can then change your password and log-in via password in the future. 
  3.  Click the "Store" link under Place Your Order on the left sidebar. 
  4. You have until Tuesday midnight to place your order (Tuesday pick ups have a separate Sunday deadline). You will not be able to place an order after then. Add items to your "shopping cart" as you would any online store. 
  5.  Your share will be pre-packed in a wax box, but please plan on bringing your own bag so that the boxes can stay at the distribution site. I like to reuse the boxes many times and the best way to do that is for them not to go home with members! 
IMPORTANT: Make sure to complete your order by completely checking out. Your order is not submitted unless you receive a confirmation e-mail. That let's you know that I got your order on my end. Every so often there is a member who thinks they have placed an order but didn't fully checkout and then are disappointed when there is no share packed for them, so be wary of that!

E-mail middlewayfarmer@gmail.com if you have any problems ordering or other questions.
Farmer Reflection

It was a tiring but good week on the farm. We tackled the weeds head on, with hands, hoes, and mowers, and came out triumphant (for now). The fields are looking as good as they have in well over a month. Its feels like we are finally getting over that spring to summer hump and settling into a still busy but more even rhythm of summer. The 1/2 inch of rain last night and the forecast of high 70's this week are both welcome after several weeks of consistently hot and dry weather. The photo at the top of the e-mail is a preview of some produce in the share this week (beets, new potatoes) as well as some produce to come (carrots, garlic, onions) that I harvested on Friday night. I take frequent field walks this time of year, checking on plant health, possible pest problems, what needs to be weeded or mowed, and harvesting as I go to see what's ready and what needs a few more days or weeks before harvest. 

On the insect front, we are experiencing what looks to be the start of a plague of grasshoppers! I'm used to seeing their population build up in late August and early September, but I can't recall seeing so many young grasshoppers scattering under foot this early in the summer. The mild winter and the dry hot weather, and a strong grasshopper population last year, seem to have combined to produce an epic season this year. So far the most visible crop damage has been limited to turnip greens and napa cabbage, although I'm sure they are causing less noticeable damage on other crops. Poweshiek County was historically known for its high grasshopper population and its interesting to see that even after 99% plus of the landscape has been altered from its native form, that this reputation still holds true. Or at least it is in our corner of the county! I was recently asked what I do to control pests on an organic farm. Some people may think organic simply means "no spraying" and hoping for the best. There are three things you should know, though, about pests on organic farms: 

1) For most organic farms, only a handful of insects actually constitute "pests" that require our active intervention to control. The truth is that 99% of insects are either beneficial or benign. Only 1 % or less of insects are actually threats to crops. With that in mind, we don't want to damage that 99% in order to get the 1%. The 99% helps keep the 1% in check, so other insects are probably the best long-term pest control. For that reason, we tolerate certain types of damage and don't intervene until its necessary to ensure crops will be able to survive and produce. 

2) We do have access to a number of effective organically approved pesticides that we use when necessary. These naturally derived products are less broad spectrum, less persistent, and less toxic than most conventional, chemical pesticides. They also tend to have less powerful and lasting effects than conventional pesticides, which means that early and frequent intervention is necessary, and typically we are using these organic pesticides to set back pest populations rather than eliminate them completely. Some of these pesticides are meant to kill insects on contact, like most conventional chemical pesticides, but a number of organic pesticides have more novel, targeted modes of action, such as preventing molting and feeding (neem oil for leafhoppers on potatoes) or requiring specific species to consume the pesticide to be affected (BT - bacillus thuringiensis - for caterpillars on kale). Another product I use is kaolin clay, which is a white clay that I mix with water and spray on squash family plants to protect them from feeding by cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Its use dates back thousands of years in China, where farmers used it on fruit trees to protect them from sun scald and pests. 

3) Plants have immune systems like humans. In an organic system, we feed our plants "whole" diets of slow release, natural fertilizers, compost, organic matter, and micronutrients, and make sure that they have adequate water through irrigation. In conventional systems, the fertilizers used can be compared to an IV drip of nutrients for a human. It will keep them alive, but it does not constitute a healthy diet. Healthy plants are more able to resist pests and disease and tolerate damage. There is good science showing that distressed plants actually give off chemical signals that draw pests in. A nearby healthy plant may be unaffected by the same pest. Our goal as organic farmers is to grow healthy, resilient plants (what you might call a plant positive approach) rather than trying to eliminate all possible pathogens and pests, as is the typical mindset in conventional systems. That's not to say that organic farms do not suffer from pest problems, but I believe that over time an organic farm will become more resilient to outbreaks of pathogenic organisms. 

As we move into the summer and the CSA boxes increase in size, you may be starting to build a backlog of vegetables from previous weeks. The harvest continues to be abundant and diverse, and I want to pass that bounty onto you as members. If you have the chance, I highly suggest doing some small batch freezing. I give recommendations for how to preserve items in your share in the What To Do With Your Share section below. In our house, we also love to do one pot stews and soups where we throw in as many of the vegetables in the fridge as we can. No recipe, just a high diversity of ingredients and long cooking time leads to big batch of tasty leftovers that we can eat for lunch and dinner all week. 

Your farmer,

Jordan
What to Do with Your Share

Beets Beets often seem to be a love it or hate it vegetable. Fortunately, I think a good portion of the people who think they hate beets have only had them pickled or boiled. There are of course of some people who truly just don't like the flavor of beets, but until you've had them roasted I don't think that you've given beets a fair shot. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Trim off the leaves just above the root. Beet greens are wonderful themselves, probably my favorite cooking green. They can be boiled, steamed, or sauted. They do not keep well, so use them as soon as possible. I learned the technique below from chef Kamal at Relish and its now my preferred way to prepare beets. Trim off leaves and scrub beets clean but otherwise keep them whole. Put as many beets as you want to prepare in an all-metal stockpot with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Bring to boil on moderate heat with the cover on. As soon as the water boils, put the entire stockpot in the oven, covered. The beets will steam in the pot over the next half hour to one hour, depending on the size of the beets and the number in the pot. There is no risk of burning the beets and little risk of overcooking them, so this is a great way to prepare beets for kitchen multi-taskers like me. Remove from the oven once beets can be easily pierced with a fork. Leave out to cool or run under cold water if you want to use them immediately. The skins with slip easily off the cooked beets and you can use these cooked beets themselves or use in other recipes calling for beets. I love them sliced in a salad with hard boiled eggs. They can also be stored immediately with the skins on and pulled out of the fridge, peeled, and chopped as needed. 

Storage: Keep greens in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity and use within a few days. Roots should also be kept in a sealed plastic bag but can keep for well over a month. I have kept unwashed beets in cold storage from October to June and could have kept them longer if I hadn't sold them all! 

Cabbage Like beets, cabbage often gets a bad rap, largely because of how it is prepared. Most people have experienced overcooked cabbage that has been boiled or stewed into bad tasting mush. Fresh cabbage that has not been dehydrating in storage, properly prepared, is something else entirely. 

Preparation & Cooking:  The key with cabbage, as any vegetable, is to not overcook it! Lightly sauted cabbage, just enough to soften and brighten, is excellent. You should remove the cabbage from heat before its color begins to dull. Roasted cabbage is also great if little known way of preparing cabbage. By far the favorite cabbage recipe in my household is Kenyan Curried Cabbage. Then there are of course cabbage salads and coleslaw.To prep cabbage, first remove the leathery, damaged outer leaves. Slice the cabbage in halve and cut out the pithy core at the bottom by the stem. You can leave cabbage halves intact for roasting or slice thinly across the cabbage for other recipes. Halves, quarters, or sliced cabbage can be refrigerated in a sealed plastic container for a week or more if you can't use the whole cabbage at once. See the Recipe of the Week for a way to combine the cabbage and new potatoes in this week's share.

Storage: Keep uncut cabbage in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer. It will store for several weeks or more. If the outer layers go bad, you can usually peel them away to find good leaves underneath. Spring grown varieties are not meant for long-term (months) storage. The fall cabbage varieties, which will appear in the final summer shares and the fall share, are specifically meant for long-term storage through the winter months. 


Garlic Scapes - Scapes are actually the slender, waxy, curly flowering stalk of hardneck garlic plants. They grow out of the middle of the plant in mid-June, about a month prior to harvest. The scapes are traditionally removed so that the garlic plant puts energy into its bulb rather than its flower, although this conventional wisdom may not not be fully accurate. In any case, I remove them because they also happen to be a wonderfully edible with a unique mild garlic flavor. Scapes are not actually a true flower. If left on the plant, scapes will actually form "aerial bulbils" or tiny garlic bulbs that if planted will sprout and grow small garlic. 

Preparation & Cooking: Cut off the unopened flower bud itself and chop up the rest of the green stalk into small pieces. Garlic scapes can be substituted for bulb garlic in any recipe. As a rule of thumb, I treat one scape as equivalent to one clove of garlic. Although a single scape has more volume than a single clove, scapes are milder so I figure it more or less works out. They can be grilled whole. If you've still got green garlic from previous weeks, you might think about making double garlic soup, which uses both green garlic and garlic scapes. I think this is the same recipe that shareholder Carolyn Jacobson has raved about for the last several years. Check out this site too for more ideas about garlic scapes.

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Scapes can actually keep for a surprisingly long time. I have stumbled on scapes in my crisper drawer in July and August that were still good to use. 

Green Beans - I like to time green beans so that the first planting begins producing just as the spring peas are petering out. I plant green beans 4 or more times over the course of the summer and usually keep picking them until the end of September or later.

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 Onion - I use green onions as a substitute for bulb onions this time of year, the only difference being they are milder and more tender than bulb onions, so they can be substituted more heavily and with less cooking time than bulb onions. 

Preparation & Cooking: When preparing, trim off the root and the top of part of the leaves that is 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.


Head Lettuce

Preparation & Cooking: Cut off the first inch or two of the bottom of the lettuce head and discard. 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. 

Kohlrabi - Kohlrabi are a lesser known member of the broccoli family, actually closely related to cabbages. They are the swollen lower stems of the plant, cut off from the root at ground level. Some people have compared kohlrabi to jicama, the Mexican root vegetable. I like to call it a cabbage apple. It has a mild, sweet cabbage flavor with more of the texture and appearance of an apple. Great for snacking raw and in cooked dishes. If you're wondering whether there's a difference between the green and the red, I think the red is slightly sweeter, but I'll let you be the judge. 

Preparation & Cooking: Many people enjoy kohlrabi raw only, but its sweetness improves when cooked. Peel the waxy outer skin with a paring knife. Cut into slabs for eating raw. You can put raw kohlrabi in a plastic container in the fridge immersed in water to keep it crisp and fresh for a while. When cooking, cut into smaller, thin slices so it cooks quickly and evenly. Grated kohlrabi is great as a raw addition to sandwiches or salads or can also be added to cooked dishes. Check out this farm's page for some other ideas about kohlrabi. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Kohlrabi's waxy outer skin keeps it fresh for up to several weeks. Its outer appearance will diminish with time but the flesh will still be good to eat once peeled. 

New Potatoes - New potatoes are the first young tubers that are dug from potato plants, starting approximately 2 months after planting or when the plants begin to flower. New potatoes can be "stolen" from underneath the plant or, in the case of the farm, we dig whole rows of early producing varieties that are specifically planted for new potato harvest (6" spacing between plants rather than the normal 12").

Preparation & Cooking:  New potatoes have delicate skin that easily flakes off. You will notice some damage to the skins from handling them during harvest and packing. We may or may not wash them prior to delivery depending on how dirty they are and how delicate the skin is upon harvest. Later potatoes that have cured skins do not damage as easily and will always be washed prior to delivery. Scrub them gently under running water to remove soil when you are ready to use them (not sooner). New potatoes are more tender and sweet than cured potatoes and will cook faster. They can be steamed or boiled whole or sliced and pan fried (my favorite way). New potatoes are excellent for cold potato salads. See the Recipe of the Week for a way to combine the cabbage and new potatoes in this week's share.

Storage: Unlike cured potatoes, which can stand being at room temperature for long periods of time, new potatoes should always be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and should be used within a few weeks. 


Peas -  Standards shares will receive both snow peas (flat, curled pods with barely formed peas) and snap peas (thick, straight pods with more mature peas). Unfortunately I do not grow the third kind, garden or shelling peas. 

Preparation & Cooking: No one needs to be told to eat peas raw, but you should know that I only grow stringless varieties, so the whole pod is edible. Snow peas (and snap peas) lend themselves particularly well to stir fries, incorporating other share vegetables like kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, garlic scapes, and turnips. Peas can also be frozen by cutting off the stem end, blanching them in boiling water for 2 minutes (no longer), then removing immediately and cooling peas under running water in a colander in the sink or in an ice bath, squeezing out as much water as possible, and packing into labeled freezer bags. Frozen peas will keep well for about 6 months. 

Storage: Keep in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer for up to a week. The flavor of peas is best enjoyed soon after picking. 

Recipe of the Week

From the NYTimes.com, Martha Rose Shulman

Smashed Red Potatoes with Cabbage

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed
Salt
1 pound cabbage (1/2 medium cabbage), quartered, cored and cut in thin shreds across the grain
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
2 heaped tablespoons chopped scallions (about 3 scallions)
â…” cup low-fat milk (more as needed)
 Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced chives(optional)

PREPARATION

  1. Cover the potatoes with water in a saucepan, add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover partially and cook until tender all the way through when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Do not drain the water, but using a skimmer or a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes from the pot to a bowl. Cover tightly and allow to sit for five to 10 minutes. Then, using a towel to hold the potatoes steady (because they’re still hot), cut them into quarters.
  2. Meanwhile, bring the water back to a boil, add more salt if desired and add the cabbage. Cook uncovered until tender, five to six minutes. Drain.
  3. Heat the butter or oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet, and add the scallions. Cook, stirring, until they soften, about three minutes. Add the potatoes. Smash the potatoes to a coarse mash in the pan with a potato masher or the back of your spoon. Stir in the hot milk, and mix together well until the potatoes have absorbed all the milk. Stir in the cabbage, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the chives, stir together until heated through and serve.
Photo of the Week

Young grasshoppers sitting on top of the lettuce shade cloth after I tilled the adjacent beds. Seemingly every surface of the farm right now is covered in grasshoppers that scatter in all directions where you walk. 
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