Middle Way Farm 2015 CSA - Week 22
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Last week of regular season share...thank you for a great season! Sign-up for next year's CSA will begin after January 1, 2016. There are still a few fall share spots available.

Sign up for Fall Share

Please read the important notes below!

Click the button below to take the end of season survey. This is a very important tool for the farm to receive feedback. Once you complete the survey, you will get a coupon code for $5 off of next year's CSA share. 

Take the End of Season Survey

Outstanding balances for custom orders (including uncharged home delivery cost if applicable) will be billed starting next week. Fall share members can pay their balances at the first fall share pick-up. Others can mail or drop-off a check by Dec. 1 after receiving their bill. Positive balances may be rolled over into the fall share or next year's CSA, but will not be refunded! E-mail me at with questions.

I want your leaves! As you clean up your yards and bag your leaves, I am happy to pick up bagged leaves or you can drop them off at the farm. This allows you to avoid the fee at the brush dump and contribute an abundant source of mulch for Middle Way Farm. E-mail me at or call/text 641 821 0753 to arrange pick-up or drop-off. 

CSA Pick-up - Please bring reusable bags, boxes or other containers to get your share. All wax boxes must be left on the farm. Please remember to bring any wax boxes that you still have. 

CSA Delivery - Delivery will be made in cardboard boxes rather than wax boxes. Please recycle/reuse these boxes when you are finished with them, but they do not need to be returned to the farm.

Bulk orders for winter storage are available, particularly if you have a positive balance that you want to spend down. 

What's in the Share - Week 22 (even)

For Delivery Wednesday, October 28

Standard Share
Also available for custom order unless otherwise noted
Broccoli - 1/2 lb - $2.00
Brussels Sprouts - 1 lb - $3.50/lb or 2 lb for $6
Carrots - 3 lb - 1.5 lb for $3, 3 lb for $5, 6 lb for $9
Garlic, Softneck - 3 heads - $1.50/head or 3 for $4
Kale, Lacinato (flatleaf heirloom) - 1 bunch -$2.50/bunch
Onions, Yellow Storage - 3 lb mesh bag - 1.5 lb loose for $3, 3 lb mesh for $5, or 5 lb mesh for $7.50
Pears - a few - (Standard Share Only)
Pie Pumpkin - 1 small pumpkin (avg. 4-5 lb each) - $3/pumpkin or 2 smaller ones for $5 (custom order pumpkins will be from Berry Patch Farm)
Popcorn - 2 ears - $1 per ear (limited custom order available) (from Brandameyer Popcorn Company in Ankeny, IA)
Potatoes, Kennebec Storage - 5 lb mesh bag - 3 lb mesh for $5, 5 lb mesh for $7.50
Squash, Butternut - 1 squash - $3/squash
Sweet Potato - 3 pounds - $3 for 1.5 pounds, 3 pounds for $5, 6 pounds for $9 

Available for Custom Order
Apples, (Berry Patch Farm) - $9 for 3 pound bag
Beets - $3/
1.5 - 1.75 lb quart, 2 quarts for $5, 4 quarts for $9
Cilantro - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Green Beans Dragon Tongue (leftovers only) - .75 lb for $2, 1.5 lb for $3.50
Kale, Redbor (red curly) - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Kale, Winterbor - 1 bunch - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Kohlrabi, Green - $1 each or 3 for $2.50
Leeks - $1 per leek or 3 for $2.50. $2.50 per bunch of small leeks or 2 bunches for $4
Potatoes, Red, Purple Majesty (Purple Flesh), Carola/Nicola (Yellow Flesh), or Purple Viking (Purple Skin, White Flesh) - 1 quart (1.75-2 lb) - $3/quart or 2 quarts for $5, 4 quarts for $9
Radish, Beauty Heart - $2.50/1.5 pound or $4 for 3 pound
Radish, Daikon - $1 per radish, or bunch of 3 radishes for $2.50
Turnips, Salad (no tops) - $2.50/1.5 lb or 3 lb for $4 (mixed varieties)
Turnips, Purple Top - $2.50/1.5 lb or 3 lb for $4
Available for Bulk Order 
Beets, Carrots, Potatoes (Kennebec & Yellow), & Sweet Potatoes - 10 lb. unwashed for $10, 10 lb. washed for $12.50 
Beets, Small Pickling - 3 lb. for $5.00
Green Beans Dragon Tongue (leftovers only) - 3 lb. for $6
Kale, Winterbor - 5 bunches for $7.50
Kohlrabi, Green - 10 bulbs for $7

Onions, Yellow - 10 lb. for $12.50

Berry Patch Farm Fruit Share
3 lb of Honeycrisp apples (best keeping apples when kept in the fridge)

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
Rosemary - tender perennial - $3 or 2 for $5

Reflection on the 2015 Season

This week's share concludes our 22 week trip through an Iowa growing season, with some of you extending that season with the fall share. I realized this week that Middle Way Farm has now put out over a year's worth of CSA shares (61 weeks total) over the last three seasons! Planning for next year's CSA and crop production is already well underway. Please take the time to fill out the end of season survey as soon as possible (while the season is fresh in your mind) so you can help me with planning for next year. As a reward, you will get a coupon code for $5 off next year's CSA share at the conclusion of the survey. 

So how was the 2015 season? From the perspective of CSA, I think it was a great year. The shares were abundant from the start of the season in June thanks to an early spring, and aside from a few leaner weeks (at least from my perspective) during the August doldrums between the start of the spring and summer crops, the diversity and consistency of produce met or exceeded my expectations. I was able to grow a number of crops this year successfully that I hadn't been able to in prior seasons and was happy to have lettuce mix available nearly every week of the season, which had long been a goal of mine. Tomatoes were definitely a disappointment, particularly cherry tomatoes, and disease in the spring and fall brassicas due to excess moisture in June was challenging and led to some total losses and diminished yield. However, the yield of most crops this years, thanks to the abundant rain, was excellent, well beyond what I expected. The great yield was sometimes a challenge in not overwhelming the standard shares with too much of any one vegetable. I think I mostly succeeded at this, but that's why I really want to hear from you in the survey!

From the farmer perspective, this was simultaneously the most difficult and the most successful year on the farm. It was difficult because I worked longer hours, supervised more employees, and managed significantly more ground than in previous years. I also added an early morning Saturday farmers market in Cedar Rapids and a regular Tuesday delivery run to Ames. I struggled with work life balance and physical and mental fatigue, particularly during June and July. In previous years, when I might have let certain things slip because of inexperience or inattention, this year I caught those things, which meant I was more effective as a manager but also more overworked. Since mid-season, I have been able to recalibrate my general approach and establish a better routine and schedule around farm work. 

It was also the most successful because I was able to use my two prior years of experience to put together a solid plan for the year, I was able to execute it with the help of more hired help, and the weather cooperated with mostly mild temperatures and very regular rains. I had much of the infrastructure and equipment in place from the start of the season (a walk-in cooler in particular) that made field preparation, planting, and harvest work better than prior years and I'm looking forward to honing in my systems next year. I also realized a level of farm income this year that for the first time made me confident that I could do this work as a full-time livelihood, and that it was possible to do it in a smaller land area than I had previously imagined. I realized as well that CSA is clearly the market that has the most potential for long-term growth and for supporting a viable farm business. Farmers market and other venues will continue to be part of the mix, but my sense of faith and trust in the CSA model was renewed and strengthened this year. 

This was also a significant year, because we learned that Grin City Collective will be ending its residency program at the Lacina farm in July 2016 and transitioning into an independent, mobile non-profit that will continue to work with artists to do social practice art throughout Iowa and the Midwest. Grin City and Molly Rideout, who will now take over as sole director of the organization, are the reason that I'm farming where I am right now. It was through her reaching out to me in 2011 that we started a garden at Grin City, which led into me launching Middle Way Farm in late 2012. The residency was important to me for a number of reasons, including providing labor in the form of volunteer work days or work practice positions, providing a community and social support around my farm, sharing resources and tools, and giving my farm exposure in its early days. I got the chance to meet a number of great artists and human beings who have enriched the farm and the last few years of my life in unexpected ways. For all these reasons, I'm very grateful for what Grin City has done and hope that it finds continued and new success in its future form.

Next year I will begin renting 10 acres of farmland from the Lacina family as part of a long-term lease that we hope will continue indefinitely. I will continue to use the existing farm infrastructure and equipment while managing the 10 acres in several ways, including about 2 acres of produce, orchards, native prairie and a hay field that will provide a buffer from spraying in the adjacent conventional fields. Fruit and perennial plantings and livestock (sheep, chickens, and/or pigs) are all potential enterprises that may develop alongside the vegetable operation in the coming years, as well as more season extending high tunnels for late fall, winter, and early spring growing. My relationship with Relish also continues to develop as Kamal and I mull ways in which we can further collaborate beyond just chef and farmer. 

What will you do when the CSA produce runs out? There are still a few spots left in the fall or Thanksgiving share, but only two weeks left before it starts. Sign-up for the 2016 CSA share (which will include spring and fall options available right from the start) will begin right after January 1, 2016. There will be a schedule of discounts for early sign-up, with the discount diminishing in the months leading up to the start of CSA. You can also find some Middle Way Farm storage crops like carrots, beets, and potatoes (while supplies last!) though monthly orders with Grinnell Local Food Source. In addition to my produce, you can find a variety of other local products, including meat, eggs, baked goods, grains, flours, salsa, and more. Orders are placed online in the week leading up to the third Tuesday of each month and then distribution is held on that Tuesday afternoon in Grinnell. First time orders do not require membership and you have the option of continuing to order as a non-member customer if you're hesitant about investing in annual membership.  

Thank you for your trust in and commitment to Middle Way Farm and your support for a local, community based food system. I continue to be grateful everyday for customers who value what I'm doing, appreciate the flavor and quality of the food they get, and let me know that they are thankful for the farm. A farm is not just the crops and the soil - its the people who eat from it too. You are a part of this farm as much as I am. Have a great winter and look forward to seeing you next spring!

Your farmer,

Place Your Custom Share Order!

What's New in the Share

Brussels Sprouts - Formerly maligned, now mostly exalted, the humble brussels sprout has done as much of a 180 degree change in perception as just about any vegetable can. They keys to its turn around? 1) Roasting! I advocate every week for roasting vegetables over boiling or steaming, and that advice goes double for brussels sprouts. Toss them in oil and roast at 400 degrees until tender and caramelized on the outside. Finish with soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.  2) Cutting the large sprouts in half. They will cook faster and more evenly. 3) Local brussels sprouts are in a higher league than grocery store sprouts (which mostly come from the mild California coast that never gets close to freezing). Once they have experienced a frost, the flavor of brussels sprouts is vastly improved, going from bland to sweet. Brussels sprouts are one of the champions of fall growing. They can be frozen solid in the early morning, thaw out at sunrise, and be ready to harvest by midday. They are the last vegetable that is harvested from the field, typically in late November or early December in a rush with an ax or hacksaw while snow is falling and the temperature is precipitously dropping.  

Pears -
These pears come from a single tree on the farm. I have never been able to tell which variety they are. My best guess is D'Anjou. Unlike Bartlett pears, they hold on the tree very well late into the season and they do not seem to start ripening until they have been picked from the tree. These pears have been kept in the cooler for several weeks. They are not ready to eat right now, but put them in a paper bag and let them sit out at room temperature, checking them until they get soft. Their skin is discolored, many have blemishes or spots, and you may find some mealy spots, but I found the flavor to be very sweet and worthwhile.  

Pie Pumpkin - We sometimes forget that pumpkins are just another winter squash, like butternuts, acorns, and others. They have mostly been relegated to sweet dishes and desserts (the pumpkin spice phenomenon, anyone?), but pumpkins are much more versatile in savory dishes than one might think. The jack-o-lanterns purchased for carving and decoration at Halloween might be edible, but they are massive and stringy. The best flavor comes from small pumpkins and in particular pie pumpkins, which are varieties specifically grown for eating. We have a favorite recipe for pumpkin mac & cheese we discovered a few years ago that is sure to be a hit in your house too. Replace the canned pumpkin with roasted pumpkin in an equivalent amount to a 15 oz. can. Make sure to save the seeds for roasting!

Popcorn - These little ears of popcorn come from Brandameyer Popcorn Company in Ankeny via Berry Patch Farm, where they sell the ears and packaged popcorn at their farm stand. I thought this would be fun last share addition. The popcorn is called "Iowa State" because it was developed by the university decades ago. To remove the kernels from the ear, just work your thumbs over the rows with some force and pop them off into a bowl. Careful, you may have a few kernels go astray! I found each ear yields about 1/2 cup of kernels. To make perfect popcorn, follow these direction: Heat 3 tablespoons of high smoke point oil like canola, peanut, or grapeseed oil in a large pot with lid at med. high heat. Put 3-4 kernls in the pan and cover. When you hear the kernels pop, add the rest of the kernels and immediately move pot from heat/turn the burner off. Let sit 30 seconds. Return pot to heat. Once kernels start popping, gently shake the pan and keep the lid slightly ajar for steam to escape Once you hear several seconds between pops, remove from heat and empty immediately into a large bowl. Melt butter in hot pot. Drizzle butter on popcorn. Add salt to taste, as well as any other seasonings you want to try: paprika, nutritional yeast, cayenne, chili powder, curry powder, cumin, grated parmesan cheese, etc. 

Brussels sprouts on the plant. You can see the sprouts on top are larger than the ones on the bottom. The top ones are picked first, allowing the lower ones to size up. 

Recipe of the Week

One of my hands down favorite recipes of all time. If you haven't had kale pesto before, you're in for a treat. Unlike basil pesto, which is mostly unpalatable unless parmesan cheese is added, kale pesto is good enough to eat without a cheese. The lemon zest and juice really brightens the flavor and makes the dish. 

Pasta with Kale Pesto and Roasted Butternut Squash

From New York Times Cooking
Ingredients - Serves 2-3 people, 45 minute prep. time

1 ½ pounds butternut squash
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, more for squash
 Freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch (about 1/2 pound)lacinato kale, center ribs removed
8 ounces pasta (penne works well, as does rotini)
â…“ cup toasted pine nuts (replace with walnuts if desired)
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
 Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
 Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
 Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Halve butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place face down on a greased baking sheet in the oven. Roast until golden brown and tender, about 30-45 minutes. Should be easily pierced with a fork when done. Pull out and allow squash to cool, then peel with a paring knife and cut into cubes for combining with pasta. 
  2. Meanwhile, while squash is roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; have ready a bowl of ice water. Drop kale into boiling water and cook for 45 seconds. Use tongs or slotted spoon to transfer kale to ice water. Bring water in pot back to a boil, adding more if necessary so there is enough to cook pasta.
  3. Drain kale well, then wrap tightly in a dry kitchen towel and squeeze thoroughly to remove any excess moisture. Roughly chop leaves. When water in pot comes back to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions.
  4. In a food processor, pulse together kale, nuts, garlic, salt and lemon zest until mixture is smooth and salt has dissolved. With motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until fully incorporated. Taste and add more salt dissolved in a little lemon juice, if necessary.
  5. Drain pasta, reserving a little cooking water. Toss pasta with kale pesto and some pasta cooking water if necessary to help it coat pasta. Add cheese, lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve topped with squash and more cheese.
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