Middle Way Farm CSA - Week 17
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Weekly Announcements

CSA shareholder Jonathan Kaplan recently underwent emergency heart surgery after a routine exam revealed multiple blockages. He is at Mercy right now in Des Moines for the next few days but will be recovering for several weeks at home in Grinnell. Friends have been taking care of his dog Buddy and will be assisting him with meals and housework once gets home. If you have any interest in helping out Jon during this time, please contact Kenji Yoshino at, who is coordinating everything.  

Returning Boxes - Thanks for getting boxes back to me this week. For the final week of CSA upcoming, I am asking that those picking up their shares bring bags and leave their boxes at the farm, while those receiving home delivery will get heir share in plastic bags and cardboard boxes that can be reused or recycled. 

End of CSA - Right now the final week of CSA is set for Oct. 15. I'm reserving the right to extend the CSA by a week or more depending on how supplies of different vegetables are holding out. I will let everyone know as that time gets closer. Billing for the CSA will occur after the end of deliveries. 


Sweet potatoes have made it into the greenhouse, all 1500 pounds of them! This has generally been a very abundant year, but the sweet potatoes, more so than other crops, made me feel overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the harvest. Working at Grinnell Heritage Farm, I got used to handling huge amounts of produce: 70 bushels of peppers picked in an afternoon, thousands of pounds of onions, hundreds of bunches of kale harvested in a few hours. When I started Middle Way Farm last year, it was on such a smaller scale than Grinnell Heritage that the harvest felt very manageable. But with farm growth and abundant yields, I'm beginning to see the sheer volume of vegetables it is possible to produce, even on a relatively small piece of land. The sweet potatoes occupied about 3600 square feet or less than 1/10th of an acre.  Keep in mind also that since the sweet potatoes were part of an on-farm research trial, there were different types of mulches used, which led to variable yield. If I had used all plastic mulch (which appears to be the best in terms of yield), the overall yield could have been up to 1.5x as much. The Kennebec storage potato harvest has also been impressive in an already impressive year for potatoes - 180+ pounds of potatoes in an 85 foot row, including a number of very large potatoes.

Large-scale industrial farm production produces a high volume of food but it does so relatively inefficiently in terms of resources and land area. The most productive and efficient farms are small, diverse, and intensively managed. The United Nations has gone so far as to say that small, organic farms are what are needed to feed a growing human population, not large, centralized, chemical operations as is the conventional wisdom of the phrase "feed the world". Of course, small organic farms require more labor and don't produce food AS cheaply, so the debate will rage on. But this season I feel like I have witnessed first hand the sheer productivity of an acre of land and it is profound. My employee Ryan has commented on number of occasions that having never worked on a farm before this year, one of the biggest surprises was just how much food was produced in a small area. 

I have to give thanks to the abundant and mostly well dispersed rainfall, mild summer temperatures, and of course the rich soil I get to grow in for this year's abundance. I mentioned this at the field day, but the farm includes some of the best soil in the state (Tama clay loam and Muscantine clay loam) and therefore in the WORLD. It is a privilege to be able to grow food in such naturally rich soil and its my goal to not only sustain but improve this soil over time, so future harvests can be even more abundant, nutritious and flavorful.
Some of the sweet potatoes curing in the greenhouse. They won't be washed until after curing and right before they are ready to be sold.

Notes on This Week's Share

Arugula is really available this week. Having had two weeks to regrow after the last cutting, it looks good. A third cutting may be possible before the end of CSA, otherwise this will be the final week for arugula!

This will be the last basil of the season and bulk orders are encouraged. The plants got hit hard by the cold temperatures last week, developing spots on their leaves and blossoms. While the weather for the next week looks beautiful, the lower night time temperatures will continue to take a toll on the plants and therefore its time to make a clean cut of the patch. The basil certainly doesn't look as good as it did a few weeks ago but it is still just as edible. Time for pesto! Below you will find my favorite recipe for pesto, as well as recommendations for freezing. Pesto is definitely not a one size fits all food and requires individual experimentation to find out what proportions of garlic, salt, nuts, basil, and oil work best for you. Take this recipe as a starting point but feel free to deviate.  

A large part of the Dragon Tongue bean patch has gone unpicked this month, which means there are a lot of pods with maturing fresh beans in them. After reading that Dragon Tongues are a good all-purpose beans since you can use them for green beans, fresh shell beans, or dry shell beans, I decided to offer them as a fresh shell beans. This means that you'll get a bag of Dragon Tongue bean pods with fresh beans inside that you can shell and eat fresh or use in cooking, a very similar process to shell peas. You can use them in place of a canned or cooked bean. Many people are familiar with Lima beans as a fresh bean, but just about any type of green bean can be allowed to mature to produce fresh beans. If the pod is allowed to dry, you end up with dry beans. This website has a good overview of fresh shell beans and how to use them. 

The Red Russian kale did poorly through the heat of summer but has finally begun to look good again with the cooler temperatures. With fall now upon us, kale will be making regular appearances in the CSA for the last few weeks, with best flavor to come after the first frost. The near frosts last week have certainly improved the flavor of the kale. 

Before the end of CSA, I wanted to include flat leaf parsley one more time. I will also be digging up these parsley plants before they die and potting them up for sale as a winter pot herb. 

Some of the last of the purple potatoes are in the share this week, so this is probably your last chance to get them. I for one have really enjoyed the Purple Majesty potatoes, along with the lighter colored All Blues, this season. Both will keep relatively well so you can stock up if you'd like. 

Salad mix makes a return after several months. Lettuces thrive in cooler weather, so spring and fall are best times to grow it, although its possible to grow baby salad mix all season long. This mix looks excellent and there should be a second cutting of it before the end of CSA. The mix will include spinach, which did not do as well as the lettuce and is not abundant enough to offer stand alone. 

Fruit share this week will be Honey Crisp apples from Berry Patch Farm. Honey Crisps is a relatively recently developed variety (released by the University of Minnesota) that has quickly gained popularity as the ideal eating apple. Its sweet, tart, and firm, retains its pigment well and has good shelf life. The following week of fruit share will be a return to Bartlett pears from the farm. 

Recipe of the Week

Use these proportions as a starting point, but the final proportions should be determined by taste. 

Basil Pesto

From Vegetarian Cooking fro Everyone, by Deborah Madison

1-2 plump garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons pine nuts (or walnuts)
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, washed and dried
1/2 cup grated parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) 
2-3 tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano to taste (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon soft butter (optional)

With food processor, combine garlic, salt and nuts till finely chopped. Add basil and drizzle in olive oil till smooth. Add cheese and butter and process just to combine. Add salt to taste. Add more garlic, nuts, basil, oil, or cheese to taste.

To freeze, put pesto in ice cube tray. Once frozen, remove cubes and put in sealed bag. Can also be frozen conveniently in 6 oz. yogurt cups or small tupperware containers. 

Sweet potato harvest in process. After digging out each plant, the sweet potatoes are laid out on top of the soil for a while to dry in the sun, before being gathered and moved to the greenhouse. 
CSA Availability For Delivery on Wed, Sept. 24

Orders should be placed at by Tuesday morning if at all possible. Please submit all orders by Wednesday at noon at the latest. Go to the website and click Member Log-in. If you have any trouble logging in, use the E-mail Verification tool to receive a link to access the store. You can change your password to whatever you want and use your e-mail and password to log in for future orders.Please e-mail me at if you have any problems with access or ordering. 
  1. Arugula - 6 oz. bag ($3.25 or 2 for $6)
  2. Basil - 1 bunch ($2/bunch or 3 for $5)
  3. Beans, Dragon Tongue (pods with fresh beans) - 1 lb ($3.00/lb or 2 for $5)
  4. Beets, Red (no tops) - 1 pound ($2.50/bunch) or 3 pounds for $6
  5. Carrots (no tops) - 1 pound ($2.00/pound) or 3 pounds for $5
  6. Garlic, Hardneck - 1 bulb ($1/bulb or 3 for $2.50)
  7. Kale, Red Russian - 1 bunch ($2/bunch)
  8. Onions, Yellow or Red Storage  - 1 lb ($2/lb or 3 lb for $5)
  9. Parsley, Flat Leaf - 1 bunch ($2/bunch or 3 for $5)
  10. Pepper, Green/Purple - 3 peppers ($1/pepper or 3 for $2.50)
  11. Pepper, Red (limited availability) - 1 pepper only ($1.50/pepper)
  12. Potatoes, Red, Yellow or Purple - 1.5 pound bag ($3/bag or 2 for $5)
  13. Salad Mix (Lettuce & Spinach) - 6 oz. bag ($3.25/bag or 2 for $6)
  14. Tomatoes, Roma - a few (.50 each or 3 for $1)
  15. Tomatoes, Heirloom Slicing -  1 tomato ($1 each)
  16. Tomatoes, Hybrid Slicing  - 1 tomato ($1 each)

  1. Sweet Basil - 8 oz. bag ($8)
  2. Bulk Tomatoes (mix of romas, juliets, and slicers) - 5 lb ($9)

  1. Dragon Tongue Beans - 3/4 pound ($3) or 1.5 pounds for $5
  2. Globe or Japanese Eggplant -  $1.50/Globe eggplant, $1/Japanese eggplant
  3. Kale - $2/bunch or 3 for $5 - Choose Winterbor (green, curly), Redbor (red, curly), or Lacinato (heirloom green flat leaf)
  4. Peppers, Hot - Choose jalapeno ($.75 each) or Martin's Carrot ($.25 each or 5 for $1)
  5. Tomatoes, Juliet - 1 pint ($2/pint or quart for $3.50)

Coming Up
Sweet Potatoes
Butternut Squash

Fruit Share
2 pounds of Honey Crisp apples (conventionally grown - Berry Patch Farm, Nevada, IA)
Storage Tips: 

Tomatoes - If not fully ripe, store on a window sill or counter for a few days until ripe. You can put them in a paper bag to prevent fruit flies from congregating on them. Once ripe, use as soon as possible. You can refrigerate them if you can't use them to make sure they don't spoil, but they will lose some flavor and texture. However, this is better than a rotten tomato! 
I took some photos of the emerging cover crops after the light rain early Saturday morning. The top photo is oats and the bottom photo is winter rye, which is part of the fallow area I've described in previous newsletters. 
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