Middle Way Farm - Spring Share - Week 1 - 2016 
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Spring Share Newsletter 
Week 1 
May 8, 2016
Spring share pick-up will be at the farm (3633 Hwy 146) on Wednesday, May 11 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. 
There will be vegetable transplants and a limited amount of extra produce available for sale at pick-up. You may pay for these additional items at pick-up or you can put them on your CSA account for later billing. E-mail ahead if you would like to reserve anything. See list of plants below. 

What's in the Share

Parsnips - 1.5 pounds
Carrots - 1.5 pounds
Green Onions - 1 bunch
Green Garlic - 1 bunch
Rhubarb - 1 bunch (1.5 - 2 pounds)

Possibilities for Next Week:
Spinach and lettuce are close but not quite ready to harvest. They should be ready next week! I plan to include asparagus from another local grower in the share next week. 

Sold as single plants unless otherwise noted

Single - $2 or 3 for $5
4-pack - $4 or 3 for $10
6-pack - $6 or 3 for $15

Cabbage - Green, Savoy, Red & Chinese/Napa - 4 packs
Rainbow Chard 
Head Lettuce - 4-packs & 6-packs
Kale - Green Curly & Red Curly
Leeks - 4-pack
White Onions - 4-pack
Sweet Majoram (annual herb) - $3
Garlic Chives (perennial herb) - $3
Chives (perennial herb) - $3
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.
Next Farm Plant Sale
10 am - 1 pm, Saturday, May 21

Warm season vegetables and herbs for sale
Cider tasting
11 am farm tour
Extra produce for sale
Farmer Reflection
Welcome back returning members and to those joining for the first time! Its amazing to me that the CSA season has already started. The spring share is a short 3 week long supplement to the 20 week main season summer share that will start June 1. Think of it as a preview to the main event. The spring shares are smaller than the main season share, reflecting the more limited availability of produce during the early part of the spring. For this share, you will pick-up your produce at the farm from bins into your own bags, rather than receiving a pre-packed wax box, as will be the case for the summer and fall shares. Also, instead of offering the online custom order form as is typical during the summer share, I will offer transplants and some extra produce for sale at pick-up time. Below the Farmer Reflection you will see tips on storage and preparation for all the items in this week's share. The parsnips this spring in particular are a real treat. They spent the winter in the ground, which results in high sugar content when they are harvested in the spring. The carrots are also exceptionally sweet and flavorful, having the spent the winter in storage in the walk-in cooler, which also results in increased sugar content. Both parsnips and carrots will likely make two appearances in the spring share this month.

So far on the farm its been a good spring. The fields are looking very clean (aside from a few areas that have intentionally been let go to weeds for the time being) and beautiful. I would encourage you to take a walk around before or after your pick-up this week. We've been able to stay on track with greenhouse work, tillage, outdoor seeding and planting, and weed control. My two employees, Megan and Kate, have been working part-time since mid-March and early April respectively, and having their help early in the year is key to staying on top of what needs to be done each week. I've also had the timely help of work share volunteers Kyle, Jenn, and Ally (who is also hosting a summer & fall drop-site in Newton this year) as well as a temporary helper in Tom, who is an artist in residence at Grin City, for 6 weeks this spring. 

Each year that I farm I get better at anticipating tasks that need to be done rather than simply reacting to things as they happen. I can now recognize patterns and make observations based on prior season's experience, which is invaluable. The first seeds of the season were planted in the greenhouse in early March, while the first outdoor seeds went into the soil just at the end of March. The first transplants were planted in early April and we have been steadily seeding and transplanting since then. Everything in this week's share comes from plants that are either perennial (rhubarb), were harvested last fall (carrots), or were planted last fall (parsnips, green onions, green garlic). Next week should be the first harvest of produce planted this growing season.

Spring weather can be so variable and this greatly affects the pace of outdoor plant growth and seed germination. Both can be sporadic early in the year before the temperatures have evened out, usually around this time in May. The timing of rain is also critical, and this April was drier than ideal, although I'm always grateful for the rain we did get. Perennials and overwintered annuals tend be less susceptible to these swings in air and soil temperature and precipitation, since their root systems are better established. We had seen abnormally warm and dry conditions in late February through mid March, transitioning into a cold late March, followed by quite cold temperatures in early to mid April (several nights with lows of close to 20 degrees), followed by a mild and dry end to April, which ended recently with two days of very needed, but very cold rain that cooled the soil down and slowed plant growth.

It now looks like we have moving into more stable late spring weather, with nighttime temps around 50 degrees and daytime temps in the 60's and 70's. The warm-season transplants like peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, melons, cucumbers and more are still safe and growing in the greenhouse.They will make their move outside after the Three Frozen Kings, May 12-14. I first learned of this piece of folklore from my landlord Tom, who's family ancestry is Czech. The last few years it seems we always get a last shot of cold weather around this time, so I've found it wise to hold off planting any tender plants until after mid-May. I hope to have tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and more potted up and ready to sell at the plant sale on May 21!  

Your farmer, 

What to Do with Your Share

Parnips- These are not the prettiest looking roots. They have some blemishes on their skin and have been trimmed in places. However, I think their flavor more than compensates for their less than stellar appearance. This variety of parsnip is known to be more susceptible to diseases that result in diminished appearance, which is why I've decided to switch to a new variety for future plantings. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Although I don't typically recommend peeling vegetables unless they are conventionally grown, these parsnips should be peeled and trimmed of any blemishes. Parsnips are great roasted or in creamy soups. See recipe of the week for a great way to include parsnips in a dish.

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Should keep for a month or more. Will start to grow a new top after a while - its still good to eat!

Carrots - You will not find a sweeter, better tasting carrot than Bolero carrots coming out of storage in the spring. These carrots were harvested in November and have been kept cold and unwashed in the cooler since then. Don't be put off by "ugly" carrots that are not long and straight or very large carrots. I can assure that all taste just as good as the perfectly shaped and sized carrot. Because of the higher clay content of my soil, the carrots tend not to grow as straight and uniform, but the high quality of the soil results in flavor that cannot be matched by any perfect looking store bought carrot.

Preparation & Cooking: Peeling is optional, depending on preference. Excellent flavor raw. See recipe of the week. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Should keep for a month or more. Will start to grow a new top after a while - its still good to eat!

Green Garlic - Green garlic is to garlic as green onions are to onions. They are simply the immature form of a mature garlic plant. They can be used like a green onion, as a garnish or as a mild-flavored substitute for bulb garlic. Green garlic is typically available starting in the later part of April until early June, when the garlic plants begun to form their bulbs. 

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. The white part works well as a tender substitute for bulb garlic (best added at the end of cooking to prevent burning and preserve flavor) and the green part works best as a raw garnish. 

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

Green Onions - These onions are actually a perennial variety that was planted in the fall and overwintered. They emerge early in the spring and reach harvestable size well before the spring planted onions. Otherwise, they are similar in flavor to the typical scallion you might be used to. 

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.

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

Rhubarb - This perennial plant, closely related to other edible plants such as sorrel and buckwheat, produces thick stems that are harvested in the spring and known for their sour flavor. Although rhubarb could be harvested throughout the year, its most tender and flavorful in the spring from April through June, and its best for the plant to cease harvesting by June so that it can grow uninterrupted during the summer months. 

Preparation & Cooking:  A classic paired with apples or alone in rhubarb crisp. Can also be chopped finely and added to savory dishes such as spring soups or simmered with water and sugar to taste and strained to make a rhubarb syrup for drinks. Freeze by cutting up and packing into plastic bags, no blanching required.

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

Recipe of the Week
From Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Winter Vegetable Stew
2 onions, chopped (about 2 cups) - can substitute some green onion and/or green garlic
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil
2 medium carrots
2 parsnips
2 large potatoes
10 oz green beans (about 2 cups trimmed and halved)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram (1 teaspoon dried)
1 cup beer or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
1 green or red bell pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 6 oz.)
 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon molasses
salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a heavy pot, sauté the onions and celery in the oil until the onions are translucent. While the onions sauté, peel and chop the carrots and parsnips, Stir them into the pot. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes, and stem and halve the green beans. Add them to sautéing vegetables along with the dill, marjoram, beer or stock, and water. Bring the stew to a low boil. Coarsely chop bell pepper and slice the mushrooms; stir them into the pot. Add the mustard and molasses and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Photo of the Week
Megan getting some timely weeding of the onions done early last week, while Kate wheel hoes peas with the greenhouse in the background. 
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