Hello Happy Eaters!
What a week! I know, it’s only Tuesday, but we’ve been so busy at the farm prepping up for fall that it seems like we should be having a weekend at least by Thursday. Working to plan for fall is a significant challenge. Unlike spring, we have a window of a few short weeks in late August-mid September to get everything planted and ready for the cooler weather. That means putting a lot of plants in the ground, and fast. Over the past few days we’ve worked past nightfall transplanting hundreds of broccoli, collards, cauliflower, lettuce, pac choi, kale, komatsuna, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and chard. We’ve direct-seeded row upon row of carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, winter herbs, arugula and salad mix. It’s staring to look like a farm again after the strain of the late summer heat and drought, and that brings a satisfaction that defies description.
To top it all off, we decided to purchase two new high-tunnels and build those in our “spare time”. For those of you new to the CSA, a high-tunnel, or hoophouse, is a large, unheated greenhouse structure that allows us to grow crops year-round. Tender crops are protected from desiccating winter winds and torrential fall downpours which lets us continue to produce high quality food long after most growers have thrown in the towel for the year. You can grow tomatoes through November, carrots in January. Everything seems to grow better when placed in the high tunnel and hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will see three houses packed to capacity with happy crops. High tunnels are one of the best investments a local farmer can make, and we can’t wait to finish construction.
Unfortunately, we have had some challenges with them as well. For all their advantages, a high tunnel is basically like a giant kite anchored to the ground. Kites want to fly. We found that out the hard way this past April when a tornado ripped through the property taking down over 300 trees and both of our high tunnels which we had put together over the winter. Losing the hoophouses was one of those gut-checks that really tests your resolve and dedication. The sight of twisted steel and destroyed crops was a chilling reminder of how weak we can be when put to the test of nature. Fortunately, we were able to salvage and rebuild one structure out of the wreckage of two, and we are building the new houses with improved anchoring, hoping that we can keep them on the ground this time. They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results. I believe you have to be a little off to consider farming as a vocation, so I’m going with it. If insanity allows me to work in an 80 degree hoophouse in short sleeves in January, then call me crazy…
Take Care and Eat Well,
In The Box
This week we are reaching out to farmer friend Brian Heatherington of Beech Creek Farm near Tallapoosa, Georgia. Brian grows the best apples I’ve ever eaten and after careful consideration, we’ve decided to offer them to you. These apples are not organic, but Brian uses an incredible IPM (integrated pest management) program to grow his fruits. By setting out insect traps and monitoring changes in temperature, moisture and other weather patterns, Brian is able to grow delicious fruit with minimal environmental impact. I have yet to find an organic apple grower in the south and there is good reason for that. In order to keep all of the bugs and blights at bay, you would be required to spray a noxious combination copper, sulphur and amoxicillan every FIVE days for most of the year, killing all of the natural soil biota in the process. Brian sprays his tree fruits Twice. All year. There are times when it is important to question what Organic really means. Is it an iron-clad government program to follow at all costs despite knowing the the details, or is it a philosophy and a code of ethics that creates healthy food and ecosystems? I intend to offer Brian’s apples several more times this season before our production gets going full steam, but I’d like to hear your opinion. We like to think of our CSA members as co-producers, and we want to involve you in the decisions we make in order to empower your understanding of local food systems. We hope you enjoy them!
-1# Ginger Gold Apples (great for baking!)
-1 bunch Arugula
-1/2# mixed green and purple Okra
-1 African Squash (delicious heirloom winter squash)
-1 1/2# Potatoes
-1 bunch Japanese Salad Turnips (sweet enough to eat raw- don’t forget to cook the greens!)
-1# Chinese Eggplant
-4 mixed Bell Peppers
Recipes and Ideas
Our first recipe comes from Roz Howard, a fellow member. Please feel free to share any delicious recipes you have stumbled on, it will help everyone discover ways to better enjoy our weekly offerings.
Southern Living Okra
I use my Burge okra, onions and garlic for this. The recipe is originally from Southern Living magazine with my spin, but I still call it Southern Living Okra1/2 Cup vegetable oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 onion sliced in rings (the small red ones are pretty here)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 lb okra (use young slender okra, no more than 1 1/2″ long), trimmed and blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes. Mix the Vinaigrette. Add the onion, garlic and blanched okra. Let marinate in a bag or flat bowl for several hours. Serve at a cool temperature. Will keep for a few days in the frig.
French Style Turnips
I don’t usually cook the small salad turnips that we grow, mostly because our kids love eating them raw. But when I do cook them, I go this route, try it, it’s delicious!
-1 bunch turnips, greens removed
-1/4 cup of water, or enough to barely cover turnips
-2 tbsp butter
-2 tbsp sugar
combine turnips, water, butter and sugar. Cook on high until liquid has evaporated. Deglaze with a little white wine, and eat immediately.