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2013 Middle Way Farm CSA - Week 1
Middle Way Farm
Farmers Market

Farmers Market

A photo of my stand from the first Grinnell Farmers Market on Thursday, May 16. I really appreciate the relationships I've developed through farmers market over the years with customers and other producers. While its important to make sales and justify attending the market financially, what keeps me coming back to farmers market is the social aspect of it. That's the social capital that can't be measured in dollars and cents. If you are not a regular visitor to the market, consider stopping in next Thursday and supporting other local vendors. 

Dear CSA shareholders,
 
I can't say that this is the ideal start to the CSA season. I watched last night in disbelief as the rainfall totals crept further and further upward. I've seen reports anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of rain have fallen in the Grinnell area since last night. I stopped by the farm this afternoon and despite ponding water around the raised beds and some significant erosion from run-off through the field, most things were more or less okay. Some leafy plants (salad mix, swiss chard, head lettuce) took a beating from the rain and are showing some bruising that may or may not make them harvestable. I will be a few days before I can tell you extent and persistance of the damage.

I am continually amazed at the resilience of plants. One of my favorite quotes related to vegetable growing (in paraphrase here) comes from Jan Libbey (daughter of Middle Way Farm CSA shareholder Jean Libbey), a CSA farmer in north-central Iowa: "Trust the garden. The plants want to live." Those are certainly word I have returned to many time so far this season. But I have also realized that in addition to trusting the plants and I need to find intelligent ways to give them the best chance of succeeding. The challenges of this year so far (wet, cold start to spring, early May snow, high winds (one of the windiest May's ever!), the current deluge) have impressed upon me as a beginning farmer the need to build resilience into my farming operation, to deal with the unexpected weather conditions that are bound to happen. While farmers and gardeners may dream of perfect seasons where it never gets too hot or cold, or too windy or rainy, the truth is that no season is perfect and that we become better, more capable growers and land managers through directly facing challenges and set backs. As much as I may wish for a perfect, mild season for my first year of growing, I know that the lessons I will learn this year will be invaluable for future years. 

Please note that due to the recent weather and the continued forecast of heavy rain, items with asterisks* below may or may not be available for delivery on Friday. Please go ahead and order what you are interested in anyway. 

For delivery Friday, May 31st. Please e-mail middlewayfarmer@gmail.com with your order (for items from all categories) by 11 pm on Tuesday night. 

Produce
  • Green garlic - 1 bunch ($2.00) 
  • Green onions (locally sourced, chemical free) - 1 bunch ($2.00)
  • Chives (locally sourced, chemical free) - 1 bunch ($2.00)
  • Radishes - up to 2 bunches ($1.50 each)
  • Rhubarb (locally sourced, chemical free) - up to 3 bunches ($2.00 each)
  • Head lettuce - up to 2 small heads ($1.50 each)*
  • Asparagus (Sojourn Farm, Brooklyn)  - up to 2 bunches, 1/2 lb each*
Storage Tips: For all of this week's produce (except asparagus), store in the crisper drawer of your fridge in separate, sealed plastic bags to keep them from dehydrating. For asparagus, place it upright in a class of water in the fridge. You can cover it with a plastic bag to help keep it from dehydrating. 

Plant Starts
  • Basil plant - up to 5 plants - ($2.00) 
  • Oregano plant - 1 plant ($2.50)
  • Lacinato kale plant - up to 3 plants ($2.50 each)
  • Kohlrabi plant - up to 2 plants (first come, first serve) ($1.50 each)
  • Heirloom tomato plant - up to 3 plants ($2.50 each)
  • Roma tomato plant - 1 plant ($2.50) 
  • Sweet pepper plant - up to 3 plants ($2.50 each)
  • Aloe vera plant - up to 2 plants ($3.50 each) NOTE: Aloe veras will generally be available every week throughout the year. I will continue to list it for the next few weeks but even after I have stopped feel free to inquire about availability. I will also have them weekly at farmers market. 
  • Aeonium plant - up to 2 plants ($3.50 each) NOTE: Aenoniums will generally be available every week throughout the year. I will continue to list it for the next few weeks but even after I have stopped feel free to inquire about availability. I will also have them weekly at farmers market. They are a succulent, easy to care for ornamental houseplant that can also be put outside during the summer. They propagate easily and require little attention. Perfect for people without "green thumbs". 
Baked Goods (Sarah's Simples)
  • Please look for a follow up e-mail which will have Sarah Simples baked goods list attached. 
Many of you may be familiar with Dave and Margery Devilder of Sojourn Farm from the Grinnell Farmers Market. Since I currently do not have enough asparagus in production at my farm to supply the entire CSA, I've put an order for asparagus from the Devilder's, but Dave has let me know that his ability to fulfill the order will be dependent on weather and their ability to continue harvesting. A note from Dave Devilder of Sojourn Farm about the production methods for the asparagus:

"We are not organic.  We don't spray chemicals on the asparagus until after the last harvest.  At the end of harvest last year we sprayed roundup and other approved herbicides on the then-standing crop."

I will also note that asparagus is listed among the "Clean Fifteen," an annual listing put out by the non-profit Environmental Working Group that rates store bought fruits and vegetables based on the presence of persistant agricultural chemicals after being washed and peeled. To view a printable PDF of the EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, click here. The guide is meant to help shoppers make educated choices about what to purchase organically. While I always advocate going with the organic or chemical free option, its nice to have a guide to know when its safer to purchase conventional produce.

For the heirloom tomato and sweet pepper plants listed above, I will choose the varieties for you based on what I have. If you are interested in particular varieties and want to choose, please make a note in your e-mail and plan to visit my farmers market stand on Thursday to pick your plants out. Also, if you are interested in greater quantities of the plants that I have listed above, please e-mail me your specific request and I will let you know whether I can fill it. 

Here's hoping for sunny weather, dry basements, and abundant vegetables to come!

Your farmer,

Jordan Scheibel
middlewayfarmer@gmail.com
(641) 821 0753
Green garlic

Green garlic

Green garlic, like green onions, is simply the immature garlic plant before it has formed its distinctive bulb. You can use it just like you would a clove of garlic, although it will have a milder flavor. You can also use it like a green onion, as a garnish or added near the end of cooking. Cut off the root and use up to the place where the leaves begin to separate from the stems. If you are unsure what to do with it, take a look at these recipes from Marquita Farm
Rhubarb

Rhubarb 

Most of us are familiar with the classic rhubarb crisp or rhubarb pie, but rhubarb can be much more versatile than just a dessert food. You can add diced rhubarb to spring salads, soups, or hot or cold cereal. It goes well with savory dishes, particularly game meats. Its also easy to make a simple sweet sauce with rhubarb: chop into 1" chunks, cook in small amount of water and sweetener of your choice. When fibrous talks become stringy and mushy, its done. Rhubarb also freezes well, chopped and cooked or raw, so order extra to freeze for the coming months. 
green onions

Green onions

These green onions pictured from earlier this month should be ready within the next few weeks. I grow two kinds of onions: ones picked exclusively as green onions and bulb varieties that I thin out and use as green onions. While green onions in the grocery store are always of a particular size, locally grown green onions can change over the course of the season as they mature. Later in the summer I will have green onions with small bulbs before I harvest fully mature onions to cure and store. 
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