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The Alleged Farm is located in the Town of Easton, in the rolling hills of southern Washington County, New York. We farm on fields under continuous cultivation since 1788 and take our stewardship of the land seriously. For us, that means a commitment to sustainable practices such as crop rotation, controlled grazing, minimal tillage and the use of cover crops and compost in order to promote and maintain the health of the earth.

We are also committed to growing tasty and healthy crops. We believe that fresh local produce tastes better and that crops grown without the use of synthetic fertilizer and pesticide are better for you and for everything that lives on our farm. We do everything we can—from choosing varieties to choosing when to harvest a crop—to ensure that our customers receive the best possible produce.

If you want to try some of our produce—and we grow everything from artichokes to zucchini–you can join our CSA or visit our stand at the Glens Falls farmers' market. Individuals and businesses can also contact the farm to arrange purchases.

Thomas Christenfeld
The Alleged Farmer

Newsletter – 10 July, 2014

This Week’s Share: Basil, Chinese cabbage
Garlic, Lettuce, Onions
Peppers, Savory, Squash
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Next Sunday a bunch of guys from Argentina or Germany will win a soccer game and hoist possibly the most coveted and ugliest sports trophy. And they will be hailed by many as the world champions. But of course they won’t be. There is no such thing.

To be fair, the FIFA World Cup champions will at least have had to make it through a tournament that includes teams from nearly every country. It is a legitimately global enterprise. As opposed, for instance, to the World Series, which has considerably less to do with the world. Baseball is played seriously in maybe eight countries, and only two of those field teams that qualify for the World Series. Not that this stops people from declaring the winning team the world champions. But that is patently hyperbolic and parochial.

Soccer’s near global popularity and the broad participation in the World Cup tournament, however, do not make the eventual winners champions of anything but this specific tournament with its particular rules and structure. Change some element–and there’s no reason you could not–and the outcome could change too.

Imagine, for instance, that FIFA set up the World Cup like a tennis tournament, with the top seeds carefully distributed throughout the draw. Or that they gave up on penalty kick shootouts as tie breakers and made teams actually play soccer to determine a winner. Or that they decided that it is not worth suffering brain damage for any game and outlawed heading the ball. Or came to the conclusion that amping up nationalism does not serve mankind and randomly assigned the top players from each country to mixed teams with self-effacing anthems. Would we still be watching Germany and Argentina play for the title on Sunday? Hard to say. But we would certainly be watching a different tournament.

Of course, if your team wins the World Cup you want to imagine them world champions. And for sports writers it’s more concise and has far more flair. And for the rest of us it is satisfyingly and simplifyingly definitive. There’s a logical system for sorting out international soccer and FIFA has applied it and we have an answer.

Isn’t that one of the points of sports? They offer us a neatly enclosed world of simple, self-referential rules and clear, fair outcomes that recognize superiority. In order to understand the game we just need to know the game. Not that it leaves no room for argument. It clearly leaves room for almost endless argument–about the enforcement of the rules, about luck and timing, about tactics, about skill, even about some of the rules so long as tinkering with them will improve the point of the game, not alter it. You can argue about the existence or placement of the three point line, but not about whether players should get extra points for dressing up as eggplants or reciting verse. You have to accept the basic rules, arbitrary though they may be, as they are, as if nature or some ESPN god had decreed them.

I am not immune to the pleasure of sports, but there seems to be ac problem. Whatever we want to think, the individual results are entirely conditional. When you win a tournament or a game or a set or chukka, you win only that thing played at that precise moment in those precise conditions. In order to be able to sort out competitors in any meaningful way, you have to have them play one another over and over again until the accumulated results begin to take on some actual statistical significance. But we don’t seem to like that way of arriving at knowledge. After amassing the results of 2430 regular season games to sort out major league baseball teams, we resort to a far more arbitrary playoff system to choose the one true world champion. For some reason, that seems more definitive to us.

Which does not really matter when we are talking about baseball. But sports, instead of enhancing our ability to hone our perception, play to our misleading desire for simple drama and clear answers. And that does matter when, for instance, we are talking about climate change. Sure, there are years (thousands of years) of data pointing to some very real changes and trends in our planet’s climate. Enough to convince pretty much every climate scientist not on the payroll of an oil company that there’s something real happening. But the statistics strike as somehow unconvincing. They’re niggling little things, too wimpy to stand up by themselves and boldly declare the truth. They travel in swarms like insects, buzzing about our heads irritatingly, almost impossible to catch, distracting and confusing us. Sure, they add up to something, but what precisely? Nothing that really gets us up on our feet, chanting, clapping, adrenalin coursing through us, caught up in the one true moment. We need that winner take all climate change event, that definitive world champion 600-foot-tall tidal wave washing over Manhattan.

We can go ahead and get caught up in the drama of Sundays soccer match and celebrate–or bemoan–the outcome. But it might help us to recall, once we have put away the flags and washed off the face paint, what we witnessed: not the revelation of a world champion; just a game bound by its own rules to come to a conclusion that tells us only who won and lost at that one moment. And perhaps if we learn to accept the conditional nature of that single event, however glorious or heartbreaking, we might in time learn to appreciate the rather quieter and more compelling force of accumulated facts. And then maybe we won’t have to have that tsunami at all.

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Vegetable notes: Herbie told us a couple of weeks ago that we would have a dry summer. He said that’s what the Farmer’s Almanac predicted. Maybe he misread it. Maybe they just got it wrong. Too bad. I like a good drought. But we have had multiple (I have lost count) torrential rain storms this week. It messes with our schedule. We cannot cultivate or sow crops when we should. And it is having a bad effect on the basil. Actually, downy mildew is the real culprit, but it flourishes in humid conditions. It turned up early this year (it comes in on the wind) and now it is running amok. Our basil looked fine on Friday and awful yesterday when I went to pick it for you. I got some acceptable side shoots, but mostly I just ripped the tops off the plants and threw them away. That is not very satisfying picking.

Fortunately, most of the other crops are putting up with the wet conditions well enough so far. The squash has slowed down a bit, but that is not a bad thing. The garlic needed some water. Maybe not this much, but it should help the heads size up before we need to pick them in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we pulled some green because I don’t want you to go a week without garlic. At this stage is is still quite moist and mild. If, for some reason you don’t want to use it right away just put it somewhere cool and dry and it will cure. But be warned that we have another few thousand heads where this one came from. You will be getting more. So you might as well just use this one up now. Squeeze a head into some salad dressing. Saute another with the Chinese cabbage. And puree the rest with the basil and a little savory (the other bunch of herbs, which also makes a nice addition to a squash soup or roast chicken or roasted potatoes) and put it on your grilled squash and onions.

Newsletter - 3 July, 2014

This Week’s Share: Basil, Beets, Cilantro
Garlic Scapes, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Radicchio,
Radishes, Scallions, Squash, Yukina savoy

________

We went to a local tavern to watch the US-Ghana soccer game a couple of weeks ago. We were the only people in the place watching soccer. As one of the men at the bar pointed out, “god gave us hands so why did someone make a sport you play with your feet?” Hard to argue with that, though it does make one wonder who gave us feet. In fact, it raises some interesting questions about human anatomy in general. Were various beings involved in the design? That would certainly help to explain some things about us. We definitely show signs of having been engineered by a committee. And I do not say that to praise committees.

Sadly, the men at the bar, an odd assortment of Monday night drinkers, chose not to pursue this line of enquiry, fruitful as it might have been. They had bigger fish to fry. Such as what has gone wrong with this country. That something has gone wrong is apparently a given. I didn’t hear anyone speaking up for the US. But what precisely ails this country? What has led us from the good old days, when a man understood the value of hard work, and decency ruled, to the sorry mess we see before us now? The culture of dependency, filth, disrespect, our standing in the world shot to hell, and a farmer can’t even make a living any more.

Well, what do you expect with those people in charge. The whole lot of them down in Washington. Moochers. Grifters. So much damn corruption. No idea what is going on the country. Or just don’t give a damn. And Obama, he just hates this country.

And what is the evidence for that hatred? Well, just look at what he does. Things the men at the bar don’t agree with at all. Like, well, slyly convincing a lot of Americans to support the incompetent things he does. Apparently if Obama liked this country more he would use his evil to make everybody see that he has set us on the wrong course. Fortunately for us, there are still a few guys out drinking on a Monday night who have resisted the evil magic, who can still see the truth and tell Patriot from foe.

There’s nothing wrong with sitting at a bar grousing with your fellow drinkers, and there’s no surprise that around here that grousing would be about liberals and their kooky desire the make society a little more just. But these men were not simply disagreeing with the President’s policies. They were declaring him un-American, illegitimate, other. And doing so in the name of patriotism.

Well, they have a point. In many places refusing to admit the legitimacy of your political opponents does count as patriotism. Places like Turkmenistan, which is certainly a country to emulate. People in Turkmenistan know what’s what. Well, that or are they are in jail, which is where people who don’t agree with right-thinking people belong. Actually, our local paper gets a number of letters to the editor suggesting Obama belongs in jail. I wonder if the writers are all Turkmen. But, no, I believe they are all ardent American patriots.

But perhaps as we go into our annual celebration of patriotism we might pause to reconsider the notion and recall that our system functions not simply because we have the right to believe those we disagree with are fatheads, but also because we accept the legitimacy of those fatheads when against all reason they win elections. No matter how unhappily, we peacefully transfer power to our opponents, even ones whose electoral victories seem a little dubious. We may spend their time in power opposing their policies, marching in the streets, burning draft cards and grousing about them in bars, but we accept that sometimes we must cede power no matter how unquestionably in the right we know we are, because they have as much right to it as we do.

It is a bit like my relationship with fennel. I don’t like fennel. I don’t like the taste. I don’t like the smell. Picking lots of it sometimes makes me feel a little queazy. I am not convinced it should exist. In other words, I ardently disagree with fennel. It’s a fathead. But other people feel differently about fennel. And while they may not convince me to like it, they do remind me that it has a purpose. So I put up with it. In fact, I continue to grow it because no matter how I feel about it it is still a vegetable and this is a vegetable farm. It is sort of my patriotic duty to accommodate the crops I don’t like, though I draw the line at okra. Picking it makes my arms itch. And who likes okra anyway? To hell with it.

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Vegetable notes: I don’t know if you have found the previous vegetables this season at all mysterious. But here’s something that may stump some of you: yukina savoy. It is the rubber banded head of crinkly (savoyed) dark green leaves on crisp stems. Think of it as a bok choi with its own hip sense of style. In other words, its another sort of mustard green, a pleasant combination of tender sweet leaves and crunchy stems with a bit of that mustard bite. Steam it. Saute it. Stir fry it. Toss it in a soup. Put it in a vase.

For some reason, beets get bad press. I think in part it is because a lot of people first meet them as mushy canned vegetables with an odd, off flavor. That is a shame, because a good fresh beet is excellent. True, it tastes a bit like dirt, but really good dirt. And you can do all sorts of things with beets. They are good boiled, baked, roasted, even raw. You could just peel your beets and julienne them, dress them with some good oil, a little lemon juice, a splash of soy sauce and a healthy pinch of salt.

You could have your squash raw, too. I am not a huge fan of large chunks of raw squash. But you could cut it into pieces the size of thin french fries, salt it, and let it drain for a few hours. Then squeeze out as much moisture as you can and toss it with a garlic scape-basil pesto.

You could have your radicchio (the dense red head of leaves) cooked. Most people just add it to a salad. But you can quarter it, brush with oil and grill it, or cook it down like escarole (and add the beet greens too). It is good hot with some spicy sausage and garlic, maybe some white beans, and it is good cold with a splash of vinegar.

Newsletter - 26 June, 2014

This Week’s Share: Arugula, Basil, Bok choi, Dill,
Garlic Scapes, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Radishes,
Scallions, Squash, Turnips
________

I was actually going to write something nice about the weather. I have no idea what came over me. Surely I know better. I had not even put anything down before the deluge arrived, sending kayakable streams coursing through our fields and sinking a fair portion of the vegetable beds behind the house in a sizable pond. I am not certain, but I may have seen a hippo surface somewhere near the celeriac.

But we really had been having praiseworthy weather up until my stupid decision to praise it. Far, far better than what we had to contend with at this time last year. We were just coming to the end of a crushingly long rainy period that had kept our ground more or less saturated since early May. We had abandoned many poorly drained portions of our fields and given up on cultivating anything. The pepper plants looked a little smaller and a lot sadder than when we had put them out a month earlier. And by the time, our neighbor, DJ, was able to mow our hay fields they were so seedy we could not use the bales for mulch.

The weather has not just been better than last year’s, though. It has actually been good. For us and for the crops. It started with the real winter. For the first time in several years the frost got deep in the ground, which helps to loosen the soil, and the bitter cold helped to diminish pest populations and disease pressure (and the peach crop too, but you don’t get anything from the weather without some cost). Winter stuck around perhaps a little longer than necessary. We got our latest start ever on field work. But not so late that it actually mattered. Crops don’t really grown in upstate New York until some time in May, not even in the field houses. An early spring lets us put things in the ground, but usually they just sit there, huddled up, waiting for more sunlight and warmer nights. And every time we have had a warm, dry April, we have had a cold, wet May, which sets back everything. It does not really help to get the plowing done by the middle of April when it snows three straight days in late May, as it did in 2001. An extreme example, perhaps, but effectively not that far off from what we have contended with many years.

This year spring actually progressed in an orderly, and mercifully dry fashion, and we have squash a week earlier than normal. I won’t claim that the weather necessarily deserves the credit (or blame, depending on how you feel about squash) for that. The healthy greenhouse-grown transplants, raised beds, biodegradable mulch, hoops, row covers and fish emulsion-laced transplanting solution we deployed may have had something to do with it too. But we have been using all those things to grow squash for some years. Perhaps I have learned to use them more effectively, honed my timing, found better varieties, bought better equipment. I doubt I have improved enough to make a week’s difference. As always in farming, the weather is almost certainly the crucial variable.

That is just the nature of the farming experiment. We do everything we can to create a controlled environment in which to grow our crops. Hence the raise bed and row covers, the field houses and drip tape, the chisel plowing and weeding, the compost and drain tile, the straight rows and crop rotation, the fertilizer (composted chicken manure) and cultivating, the trellising and variety selection, the deer fence and flame weeding, the rototilling and hoeing, the hay mulch and fish emulsion, the bug netting and hand weeding, plus the weeding, of course.

We sustainable farmers get a lot of credit for being natural. That is merited up to a point. There’s a field of Roundup-ready corn across the road that is more like an industrial production facility than any of my land. But we grew eight of the crops in this week’s share in steel-framed, plastic-covered structures with drip tape and micro sprinkler irrigation. Yes, we used organic potting soil for the seedlings, and tons of compost in the soil, and super fine meshing netting to keep the flea beetles at bay, and pulled the weeds by hand. But there’ s still plenty of engineering involved, from the commercially bred varieties to the careful spacing in the rows. I don’t know that that counts as natural (natural, anyway, in the sense of not manmade, an odd but common distinction).

Were I truly natural I would probably just forage, and hand out, somehow, little piles of found objects. There’s plenty out there to eat, as my worker, Sean, keeps showing me. He has harvested ramps and chickweed and locust flowers and cattail pollen and lamb’s quarters and even some nettles (supposedly the stems are tasty, if a little painfully labor intensive to prepare). I don’t doubt I could find a market for such a CSA. In Brooklyn. But until that particular strain of artisanal hipster culture takes over everywhere (which cannot happen because broad popularity kills it; what’s the point of an earnest passion for craft pickling if everyone shares it?) I will stick with growing vegetables. And to do that at all successfully I need to take some steps to shape the conditions in which in which I grow them.

And hope the weather cooperates because I cannot do much to control it, and it can do a lot to change my growing conditions. Fortunately, so far this season it has not displayed its usual inclination to mess with us just for fun. I don’t know what has put it in a good mood–certainly not anything we have done–and I am not going to ask too many questions. Far better to leave it alone and be silently grateful (you see, I have learned my lesson) and get on with our work. Which this year includes using a lot of round bales to mulch our crops.
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Vegetable Notes: This week you just get the garlic scales, not the whole plant. We are hanging onto the rest of it so that it can grow some nice bulbs to be handed out later in the season. In the meantime, you could slice the squash into sticks and sauté them with the scales, and top with chopped basil at the end. Or chop the scales finely, cooks them until tender, mix with hot pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar and use that sauce on lightly steamed bok choi (the small, rubber banded heads of tender leaves and crisp stems). Or you could puree the scales and basil (and perhaps the arugula too) with oil, a little lemon juice, salt, pepper and a touch of hot pepper and use it as a dip for the kohlrabi and radishes. Or make a different dip by pureeing the scapes with the dill, a couple of scallions, lemon juice and thick yougurt.

Newsletter - 17 July, 2014

This Week’s Share: Chard, Cilantro, Black currants,
Garlic, Lettuce, Onions
Sugar snap peas, Squash, Turnips
__________

I know a guy who by the age of ten was certain he wanted to study birds. 40 something years on he is the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology at Yale and still as passionate about birds as an avid ten-year-old. He showed us around the collection once, pulling various rare and exotic specimens–passenger pigeons, an ivory billed woodpecker, a cassowary–out of drawers, his enthusiasm so infectious that after an hour of looking at dead birds, and with no previous inclination to do so, we all wanted to take up ornithology too.

It is unusual to meet someone like Rick who loves his work that much. Mosts of us get deflected from our enthusiasms at some point, and usually long before we start our working lives. I know plenty of people who like their jobs fine, even some who claim to enjoy them most of the time. But hardly anyone who is so deeply and joyfully engaged with what he does that he cannot help but show it, and those around him cannot help but feel it.

I envy Rick that. It must be wonderful to head off to your job every morning thinking, gosh, today’s going to be great. I don’t know if he actually sings as he walks jauntily through New Haven on his way to his office in the Peabody Museum. But I like to imagine that at the very least he hums quietly.

And yet I bet even Rick encounters all sorts of minor annoyances in the course of a work day. No matter what you do or how much you enjoy it, they are almost impossible to avoid. It is just one more of those things they don’t tell you about when you are a kid: the prevalence of annoyances.

I bought a power mister from another farmer this winter. It is great for putting fungicide on tomatoes because it covers all the leaves of even dense plants quite thoroughly, which you need to do to make fungicide work. And you want fungicide (we have four different organic ones we rotate through so the diseases don’t get used to them) to work, especially when late blight is around. It has been found in two counties already, so it could easily spread. If it comes here that would quite likely do in all our tomatoes and potatoes.

When I bought the mister it started up right away. And when I used it this spring it started. And when Sean used it last week to spray the greenhouse tomatoes it started. And when he went to spray the field tomatoes immediately after that it did not. Annoyance number one. We let it sit for a while and I tried starting it. The pull cord snapped. Annoyance number 2. Yesterday I tried to fix it, which seems like an easy task. Just put on a new piece of cord. The housing is held on by three bolts. Three, as it turned out after I had tried a number of wrenches and sockets, 10mm bolts. Anyone care to guess what wrench I could not find? Number 3. Getting to the cord only required removing 11 small, greasy parts, including two ridiculously tiny snap rings. 4. Have you ever encountered the recoil spring on a small engine? You really don’t want it to uncoil. Half an hour of cursing. 5. Or tried to reinstall two ridiculously tiny, greasy snap rings. 6. That seemed like the moment to switch to another task. So I put the cultivators on the Allis Chalmers G and headed out to the carrot patch. Well, half way out to the carrot patch. Then the engine quit. An hour and a half of work resulting in a still broken mister and a dead tractor.

Not that every hour and a half on the farm goes like that. Annoyances often seem to come in clusters. There may be some kind of mutual attraction, a sort of annoyance gravity that causes them to cluster in certain spots. I just had the misfortune to wandered into a little annoyance galaxy. And to be fair, annoyances tend to arise whenever I try to fix engines. Tools and repair played a minor role in my upbringing. We spent our time clustered around reference books, not engines. I can find Bulgaria on a map. Changing spark plugs tests the limits of my mechanical ability.

I really out to learn how to fix things, maybe even learn how to weld. Or hire a skilled valet who would take care of the grocery shopping, fold my laundry and tend to the machinery.

That or switch to a job involving fewer different sorts of occupations. Farming requires that you do a lot of not necessarily related things. The more things you do, the more chances for annoyances to find you. And when they do you are less likely to be equipped to fend them off. Or that is what I tell myself. I may be making excuses for my incompetence. Other farmers probably own snap ring pliers.

And anyway, who am I kidding. Farming is full of annoyances mostly because life is full of annoyances, no matter what you do. You can spend your days weeding carrots or happily contemplating the evolution of feathers, and either way little things will go wrong. I am pretty sure the universe is not designed to make our lives easy. Otherwise, string would not tie itself in knots.

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Vegetable Notes: We tend to use chard as the backup green. It keeps producing all season, so it is generally their waiting for us if we need it. But that also means we don’t feel the same urgency to use it that we do with other greens that decline quickly after reaching their peak. Consequently, we don’t often get around to handing out chard. Plus some years the bugs and diseases and deer get to it, and we cannot hand it out even if we want to. But so far the chard has had a good year. In fact, it looks so nice I felt we should hand it out no matter what. Plus, it tastes nice too, and you can treat it as two vegetables if you want. You can just cook the leaves and stems together (the stems add so good texture). I steam them in salted water, squeeze out as much water as possible, and them chop and saute the chard with garlic and hot pepper. It is good on its own, even better with pasta or on pizza. but you can also use them stems separately. Italians make chard stem gratin. I have also had tasty chard stem confit–diced stem cooked long and slow slow in a lot of oil with garlic and salt.

Speaking of cooking long and slow, do not do that to the snap peas. Please. Far better to eat them raw than to overcook them. And by overcook I mean steam them more than about two and a half minutes. They should still have some snap when they are done. I am sure you can add them to all sorts of dishes, but why bother? Just sprinkle on a little salt and eat them straight.

You can add black currants to all sorts of dishes, savory as well as sweet. I usually add them to anything–summer pudding, pie–I am making with mixed berries. They are excellent (cooked down with a little water and sugar until syrupy) on the bottom of a creme brule or over ice cream or on pancakes. I also use them in red wine sauces and stews. And because they have a lot of pectin they are useful (and tasty) in all sorts of jams and jellies. And you can pick out the stems, freeze them on a tray and keep them in a bag in the freezer for months to put in whatever you want long after their season has ended.

Newsletter - 19 June, 2014

The Alleged Farm News – 19 June, 2014

This weeks share: Arugula, Cilantro, Escarole, Green garlic, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard greens, Scallions, Hakurei turnip

Owner’s Manual – The Alleged Farm CSA Share, Model Year 2014

I considered writing this entire newsletter in that special instructional pidgin English that makes everything from setting up a TV antenna to boiling rice noodles so much harder and funnier than it ought to be. But it would simply have added to the effort of producing the newsletter–at the last minute as always–and the joke would have worn thin about 3 sentences in. So I will stick to my own idiosyncratic, meandering prose style, which should produce enough confusion as it is.

In any event, congratulation on your decision to purchase a 2014 CSA share from The Alleged Farm. We are confident that you will enjoy the many features of your new share, and that with proper handling and care it will provide you with weeks of sustenance and the occasional pleasant discovery.

In order to get the most from your share, please familiarize yourself with the instructions, safety warnings, snide jokes and fatalism in the owners manual. Failure to follow all of the instructions and obey proper safety precautions could result in serious injury to the box or the the loss of leafy greens.

In order to get anything at all from your share, you should probably get your share. And to do that you should go to the site you signed up for after the delivery time and take one of the share boxes. It does not matter which box. They are all the same. If you are having trouble choosing I suggest you take the one third from the left. Or maybe the bottom one on the right. Though, come to think of it, that one over closer to the door looks tempting. No, really, it does not matter. As long as you are at the right site, you can take whichever box you want. Note that “signed up for” above can mean the site you chose when you purchased your share or a different site that you have requested (through the web site or via email) we send your share to for whatever number of weeks during the season.

If you cannot get your share on delivery day it will probably still be there waiting for you the next day. A little glum, a

little resentful, but waiting anyway. At some point, however, your site host is going to take pity on it and find it a good home. If you cannot get your share at all you can always have someone else pick it up. The vegetables won’t mind. They just want to be eaten by somebody. And if you cannot find someone to take your box, please let us know. We will send it Capital City Rescue Mission.

Should you manage to get your box home, I would recommend opening it and taking the produce out. It is a lot easier to deal with the produce once it is out of the box, and it is much easier to undo the box and flatten it for return to us (leave it at your site and we will pick it up) when the box is empty. Not that it is as easy as it should be to flatten the box even when it is empty. To do so without tearing the bottom, pull the shorts sides back to disengage the tabs rather than pulling them straight up, which tears the tabs.

As for handling the produce, I leave that up to you. I do suggest that you dunk the leafy things in cold water to refresh them and put the herbs in a glass of water (don’t wash basil unless you are going to use it right away). Most of the other crops can go in the refrigerator, though onions and garlic should not (too cold and damp for them). There is an ongoing debate about refrigerating tomatoes. It may not be as disastrous (for the tomatoes) as claimed. Feel free to conduct your own experiments. If you want root crops to last longer, take the greens off (and eat them). Not that you should really be aiming for long term storage of anything because you will be getting another box of produce in a week.

I would suggest, instead–and keep in mind this is only a suggestion–aiming to eat the produce. Unless it is something you don’t like or work is just crazy or it is too damn hot to move, let alone make food, or you lose track of it in the bottom of the crisper drawer or you have such a busy social life you are just never home or …. Well, or all those things that get in the way of making food. In which case the vegetables can make a lovely gift or excellent compost or a make the rabbits in your yard ridiculously happy.

Perhaps you are hesitant to do anything with some of the produce because you don’t know what it is. I try to offer basic identification tips and cooking suggestions for unusual crops in the “Vegetable Notes.” I don’t give specific recipes. Some day if my web guru figures out how to do it, there will be recipes for lots of the crops on the website again (and I will solicit recipes from you to add to the collection). When in doubt about how to prepare a particular vegetable, just sauté some garlic in olive oil and add it. Hard to go wrong with that.

Even if you don’t eat all your vegetables, even if you eat none of them, even if you never get your box, you are still supporting a local, conserved, sustainable farm. You are helping to create jobs (the governor thanks you, though my son, Will, is a little less thrilled about the work), keep land open, improve the soil, feed the hungry (in addition to the unwanted CSA boxes we send to the Rescue Mission, we also donate about 3 tons of produce a year to Community Action) and protect farmland (we donate 1% of receipts to the Agricultural Stewardship Association, which holds the easement on our farm). Plus as a member, you get these scintillating newsletter and the chance to visit the farm and do our work for us. Oh no, wait, Liz told me I should not threaten you with farm work. I meant, you can visit the farm and participate in exciting and educational agricultural activities.

So I guess you don’t have to get your box in order to get anything get all from your share.

Still, I really would recommend getting your share and eating the vegetables.

Vegetable Notes: Why, you may wonder, have we given you several young garlic plants. Perhaps we expect you to transplant them and grow your own. You could do that, but you don’t need to. We have a lot more garlic growing here. I would recommend, instead that you eat it. You can use the whole plant. The dark green leaves are a little tough, but you can use them for flavoring in a soup. As for the rest of the stalk, from the curlicue scape at the top down to the bulb, you can chop it up and cook it. And there are small cloves you can use too. Because it is still young it has a milder, almost sweet–though distinctly garlic–flavor. You could sauté it in oil, perhaps with a little hot pepper and wilt the mustard greens (in the bag) in it. Or make a garlicky broth and add chopped escarole (the large green head). Or add a crushed clove to a vinaigrette. Or puree it with the cilantro or arugula and serve it with, well, just about anything. Including slices of kohlrabi (the spaceship-like, dense object), which has mild crunchy flesh.