Middle Way Farm 2015 CSA - Week 10
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What's in the Share - Week 10 (even)

For Delivery Wednesday, August 5

Standard Share
Also available for custom order unless otherwise noted
Aronia Berry - 1/2 pint (Standard Share only)
Cabbage - 1 head (savoy, green or red) $3 per head or 2 for $5
Carrots - 1 bag - $3.50 for 1.5 lb bag or 3 lb for $6
Cucumber - 3 cukes - $1.50 each or 3 for $4 (Limited availability)
Eggplant - 1 eggplant (Standard Share only)
Garlic, Cured - 1 head - $1.50/head or 3 for $4.00

Onions, White Fresh - 1 pound - $2.50/pound
Pepper, Green - 1 pepper (Standard Share only)
Sweet Corn - 4-6 ears - $3.50/order
Tomatoes, Assorted - 1 tomato or 1 small pint of cherry tomatoes (Standard Share Only)
Turnips, Spring - 1.5 lb (Standard Share Only)
Zucchini - 3 zukes - $1 each or 3 for $2.50

Available for Custom Order
Basil - 1 pint (1.5 oz) - $2.50/pint or 2 for $4
Beets - 1.5 lb bag - $3.50 for 1.5 lb bag or 3 lb for $6
Beets, Green Top - 1 bunch - $2.50/bunch or 2 for $4
Carrots, Rainbow - $3.50/1.5 lb bag or 2 bags for $6
Kale, Winterbor (green curly) - $2.50/bunch or 2 for $4
New Potatoes, Red Gold, Purple Viking, or Yukon Gold- $3.50/quart (1.5 lb) or 2 quarts for $6
Parsley - 1 bunch - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Sunflowers - 3 stem bunch - $4
Seconds Produce
Cabbage (small) - $1.50/head or 3 for $4
Available for Bulk Order 
Basil - 8 oz. - $10.00
Beets - 6 lb - $10.00
Beets, Small Pickling - 3 lb - $6.00
Carrots - 6 lb - $10.00
Garlic (smaller heads) - 1 lb - $7.50

Berry Patch Farm Fruit Share
Blueberries - 1.5 pints

Every other week share - EVEN Number Week

Sandy Hill Farm Egg Share

Every other week share - EVEN 
Number Week

Plant Starts Available for Custom Order

All plants are $2 each or 3 for $5

Perennial Herbs 
Rosemary - tender perennial
Garden Sorrel - early season, perennial lemony green
Winter Savory - perennial version of summary savory

Flat leaf - Italian type
Mid-Season Reminders
Left up from last week. Take a look if you haven't seen it yet.

Boxes! -
If you've been squirreling these away at home, now is the time to return them! Also, please take care when opening and unfolding the boxes. If done incorrectly, they will be ripped and I will have to throw them out when they are returned. If you're not sure how to unfold them, just leave them folded. Please also take care to protect your boxes from dirt, dust, pet hair and other contaminants and don't use them for household uses like recycling. Don't leave them outside except on the day when they will be picked up. Remember that whatever gets in the box is something that will get on food! We do our best to clean boxes and throw out ruined ones, but your assistance in keeping them in good condition is greatly appreciated!

Paper or plastic pints & quarts - As long as they are good condition (plastic containers can be washed) I will take them back. I reuse the paper containers and Berry Patch Farm has told me they reuse their plastic containers. Note: They do not reuse plastic containers with other company's logos, so if you give these to me, I recycle them. 

Plastic bags - Please reuse these at home or throw them out. I can't reliably reuse these on the farm. 

Twist ties - If still in good condition, I can reuse these so feel free to return them. 

CSA Ordering - Custom shareholders, remember that your order has not been submitted to me unless you get a confirmation e-mail. If you do not get that e-mail, your order has not been submitted and you may be surprised to not have a share available that week!

Mistakes - If you think you might have missed something in your box, didn't get a fruit or egg share when you should have, or otherwise have a question or concern about something in your share, don't hesitate to contact me. I occasionally make mistakes or overlook something when packing shares and I want to know when I do so I can make it right!

Market Gardening

Frequently when I'm talking about the farm with someone, they will refer to it as a garden and then pause and ask me, slightly embarrassed, if I prefer to call it a farm. Over the past three years I have used garden and farm interchangeably, out of both convenience but also because the scale of my operation doesn't fit comfortably into either term, so both have appeared to fit depending on my mood. 

When I first conceived of Middle Way Farm back in 2012, it was as a market garden serving Grinnell. The term market garden doesn't have much resonance in our modern understanding of agriculture nor is the term used much in the local food and alternative agriculture world. I think that's too bad. Market garden refers to a small (probably less than 3 acres and as small as a 1/4 acre), intensive vegetable growing operation on the outskirts of a community that sells produce directly to customers or local retail outlets.  The focus of a market garden is on growing intensively, rather than extensively, by producing high yield in a small area through careful management, high soil fertility, and careful selection of crops, varieties, and growing schemes. You might call it micro-farming - applying the professional techniques and business sense of farming onto a scale more applicable to a large homestead garden. 

As a young farmer, I have a certain amount of insecurity about how big and how important what I'm doing seems to other people, particularly other farmers. Small operations in this context seem less meaningful than larger ones, the kind of farms that are helping to "scale up" the local and organic food market by selling wholesale to grocery stores, institutions, schools, and larger markets. While I appreciate these farms and want to see them grow, proliferate, and succeed (I used to work for one), I have increasingly come to see my farm operation and my role as different. I am a market gardener. I don't necessarily want to change our whole food system; I want to change the way my friends and neighbors eat. I want to increase my yields, sales, customer base, and quality within my current structure, rather than through extensive physical growth. I want to keep my daily work close to the food and my connection to customers close. Market gardening best fits these desires and what I'm actually good at.  

Our culture as a whole embraces the constant upward trajectory of limitless growth and profit. A business is only truly successful when it becomes next the Apple or Google and the owners are millionaires or billionaires. In the non-profit world, its a similar story. Non-profits often fall into the trap of growth - more programs, more donors, and bigger grants - rather than simply trying to maintain their current programs well. What is lost when we conceive of success in this singleminded way is that while intentionally staying small, maintaining what we already have, and improving without growing is a less ambitious approach, its a potentially more satisfying and effective way to do business, non-profit work, and life. In reality, this is the life that most of us are living anyway, but we are often seduced into thinking that it is inadequate. The market garden embodies the small is beautiful (and viable) approach in agriculture. I'm proud to be a market gardener, even if it means some confusion about whether I am called a farm or not!

Place Your Custom Share Order!

What's New in the Share

Aronia berries - They look like blueberries, but they are not! Aronia berries are an example of successful rebranding that has led to increasing popularity in recent years among growers and customers. They are considered extremely high in antioxidants, hence their cache as a health superfood. Formerly chockberries (not chockcherries, which are a different species altogether), aronias are native to eastern North America but have been planted throughout the US and Europe as a commercial fruit crop. Originally named chockberries for their astringency, which will make your mouth pucker, they are only slightly sweet and can be eaten raw, but are best sweetened and used in jam, juice, syrup, baked goods, wine, salsa, smoothies, and other cooked and processed foods with other ingredients. These berries come from a short row of berries I planted on the farm in 2013 and 2014 as a perennial windbreak and to add diversity to the annual crop fields. This is the first year they have produced any significant crop. Check out this link and this one for some ideas for how to eat them. If all else fails, a smoothie will always work!

Sweet Corn - Last week's sweet corn was a surprise (that it was ready to eat in such a timely way and that there was enough of it to put it in the standards shares) but this week I'm anticipating having slightly more and thus I am offering it to the whole CSA membership. Last week's variety was called Sugar Buns. This week's variety is a much more special variety called Blue-Eyed Blonde or Dan's Blue. It was developed by Practical Farmers of Iowa member Dan Spect, who farmed livestock and row crops in northeast Iowa until he was killed in a tragic farm accident two years ago. The seed of his sweet corn variety, which shows up as a deep blue when fully mature, has been given to many farmers in Iowa in hope that it will be preserved and improved. I'm doing my part by growing a small plot this year. The corn at this stage has just a blush of blue on the kernals, but I've decided that it is ready to pick and eat as sweet corn. I'll leave a few plants to fully mature so that I can save the seed to plant in future years. This is an open-pollinated sweet corn with a special history and connection to Iowa. Enjoy!

Eggplant - Eggplant will be available in future weeks for all CSA shares but for now its still just getting started. You will receive either an Italian globe or an Asian long eggplant. I use them interchangeably. The Asian eggplant is a little easier for me to produce reliably and is not as prone to bitterness as the globe eggplant. It also has thinner skin so doesn't have to be peeled. If you're unfamiliar with eggplant, I suggest leaving it whole, scoring the skin with a knife so it doesn't explode in the oven, and roasting on high heat (400-425 degrees) until the skin begins to char a bit and it has completely cooked through and 'deflated'. Remove the skin and eat the eggplant with some salt and pepper or you can puree it and make baba ganoush, an excellent Middle Eastern dip and spread. We've also liked just cutting up eggplant into cubes, salting it and leaving in a colander for 15 minutes or so to leach out any bitterness that can be present if the eggplant is over-mature, and then tossing in oil and roasting on high heat till tender. 

Green Peppers -  Same as the eggplant - peppers will be available in future weeks for all CSA shares but for now its still just getting started. Early in the season we start with green peppers but green peppers left on the plant will ripen and mature into the colored peppers that are so prized for their sweetness and flavor, whether red, orange, or yellow. Colored peppers typically begin to appear more towards the end of the summer and into early fall. 

Spring Turnips - The return of the spring turnip! I had just a few of these left in the cooler after harvesting them all in July, so I thought I would put them in the share for a final taste before they return again in 6 weeks or so this fall. Like kohlrabi and radish, these turnips are totally suited to being sliced and eaten raw. They are also delicious sliced and sauted in butter or a nice quality oil, with some onions and garlic if you prefer. Or roast them along with your potatoes, carrots, and beets! 


If those zucchini are starting to pile up, not to fear...I've got a recipe for you!

Zucchini Fritters
From the Smitten Kitchen

1 pound zucchini (~2-3 medium size)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
2 scallions, split lengthwise and sliced thin (substitute thinly sliced white onion)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil or other oil for frying
freshly ground black pepper

To serve (optional): 
1 cup sour cream or plain, full fat yogurt
1 or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
pinches of salt
1 minced or crushed clove of garlic

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (for keeping fritters warm once cooked)

Shred zucchini, toss with 1 teaspoon salt and let stand 10 minutes. Wring out with towel or hands to squeeze out as much excess water as possible. Taste & add more salt if needed (1/4 teaspoon is about right). Stir in scallions/onions, egg, and pepper. Mix flour & baking powder well separately from zucchini, then stir into zucchini mixture. Mix well. Form into thin 1/2" patties of whatever size suits your purpose. 

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in skillet and cook fritter patties at med. high heat for 3-4 minutes on one side, and 2-3 minutes on the other. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in the oven. Re-oil pan for each batch. Serve with sour cream/yogurt topping and a poached or fried egg on top. 


What's on the Horizon...What's on the Way Out

The fall crops planted so far look great - carrots and beets germinated well and the transplanted cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, and brussels sprouts are moving right along. I also got the first planting of fall spinach, radishes, and turnips planted yesterday. 

Leeks are weeded and looking good. They will start showing up in shares by the end of the month. 

The second planting of zucchini and cucumbers is in and I hope that it will start producing right around the time the first planting is petering out due to pest and disease pressure, which are beginning to build up right now. 

I've continued to plant salad mix (as well as arugula and baby kale), and I'm hoping for more abundant harvests as the weather cools. For now, the summer plantings are still spotty so I can't say with much certainty whether there will be enough for CSA in the next few weeks. 

We'll continue with eating with white onions for now, but soon I'll also start offering large sweet candy onions, followed by sweet Italian cippolinis (yellow and red) and yellow storage onions. Unfortunately the red onions were mostly a loss due to weeds. 
I enjoyed visiting Pheasant Run Farm in Van Horne this afternoon for a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day. This highly diverse operation produces cut flowers, produce, fruit, row crops, and livestock, both certified organic and conventional. They're a great example of what's possible to accomplish on an Iowa farm by embracing diversity and using innovative techniques.  This is a photo of their young blueberry planting. 
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