Newsletter – June 21, 2012

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The Alleged Farm News
Issue Number 1 | June 21, 2012

This Week’s Share
Arugula,  Bok Choi, Cilantro, Escarole
Garlic chives,  Garlic scapes,  Lettuce, Scallions


Research indicates that discursive philosophizing on extremely hot days poses serious health risks. So while I hate to disappoint those of you who, for some reason, look forward to picking their way through my endless sentences on the off chance that my words will somehow cohere and perhaps even, eventually, touch upon something to do with farming, I have to think about my own well-being in these hellish temperatures and lay off the thinking until a cold front brings more musing-friendly weather our way. Whenever that may be. Who knows?

That is not a rhetorical question. As I have said in the past, if you can accurately predict the weather, especially months or even weeks ahead of time, please get in touch with me. I have a huge list of things that would improve the farm and my life on it. such as an unlimited supply of aged manure. A 20 ton manure spreader. A sophisticated robotic carrot weeder. A whole farm irrigation system with buried main lines, electronic valves and moisture sensors. A good taco truck to stop by around lunch time. An impregnable deer fence. A 24 brush vegetable washing line with rotating sorting table. A 12 x 20 foot cooler with washable interior. Another greenhouse. And another. A full time mechanic who can also serve fresh lemonade and coffee as requested. A high clearance cultivating tractor with midmount hydraulics and PTO. A… well, you don’t need the whole list. But I will tell you (in fact, I am telling you) that a reliable long range weather forecast would be among the most useful things on this list, right up there with the taco truck (and if you have a taco truck and are looking for lunch customers, please get in touch with me about that too).

I increasingly worry, however, that accurate long range weather forecasting, always iffy at best, is becoming even less possible. The weather seems to be developing strange new habits. Or, rather, doing away with habits altogether and adopting a disconcertingly carefree attitude. Not that the weather owes us any level of consistency, and I have certainly never actually trusted the weather. It has always displayed a predilection for cruel irony. But one used to be able to count on some general sorts of trends in the course of the year and worry less about extreme events like hail and hurricanes. Now we can go from early summer back to winter to spring and then straight into a Saharan climate. 

It does not just confuse me. It confuses the plants too. The perennial plants are several weeks ahead of schedule, the early annual crops a little behind. We had puddles full of tadpoles a week ago and now the breeze kicks up dust clouds from the fields. Plants stunted by the saturated soil have to struggle to find moisture. 

No doubt, this all has some deeper meaning, some lesson I could mine from the details. But it is way to hot to dig for anything. So I will stick to the stuff you actually need to know. Such as the fact that we hope to get those waxed boxes back, preferably with the tabs on the bottom intact so that we can use them again. To flatten the box without tearing it, push the the shorts sides on the bottom straight back until the tabs are free and then open the long sides and let the box collapse. You can return your flattened box to your site–or make your life even simpler by transferring the produce to your own container at the site and leaving the box there.

Speaking of sites, while we are delivering your first box of produce to the site you signed up for when you joined the CSA, you can have us deliver future boxes to other sites if they prove more convenient. In fact, we can deliver them to different sites even if those sites prove less convenient. You don’t really have to explain why you want your share sent somewhere different. You just have to tell us where to send your box for which weeks and tell us about any site change at least a day before delivery.

Not only do you not have to stick with the site you signed up for, you don’t even have to go to that site at all. If you want, you can send someone else. Just make sure that whoever picks up your share knows what site to go to and to take only one box from that site. And if you find that some week you cannot make it to your site for your box or convince anyone else to go and get it in your place, we would appreciate knowing that two days in advance so that we do not spend time picking your produce only to have it sit unclaimed at the site.

Assuming the produce does find its way to you, you are free to do with it whatever you want. We would like to think that we are working to feed people, but if you prefer to use what we grow as sculpture or rabbit food or trebuchet amunition then by all means do so. If you do want to eat it, but don’t know how to prepare it, you can find some recipes on our web site (and clicking on the underlined crops on the list above should take you to relevant recipes). If you are thinking about eating something in the box, but cannot identify it, you might find a description somewhere in the 
newsletter (often in a box entitled “vegetable notes”).

Vegetable notes 

The escarole is the larger, sturdier lettuce-like green. You can use some of the tender inner leaves in a salad, but I recommend steaming all the leaves, wringing out as much moisture as possible, chopping them roughly, and sauteing them in olive oil with garlic and a little hot pepper. They are excellent hot or cold.

You could also steam your two baby bok choi and then put a little vinegar, soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil on them.

The paler green arugula in the big bunch is an excellent, spicy salad green. You can mix it with the lettuce or make a salad with just arugula. Well, just arugula and dressing and perhaps a little goat cheese. It is a very tender green and would appreciate a nice cold bath when you get home. If you are not going to eat it right away, pull the leaves off the stems, dry them fairly well and wrap in paper towel. 

You can use the garlic chives, the small bunch of flat, dark green leaves, as you would normal chives or treat them a little more like a vegetable. They would be tasty steamed with that box choi.

There are two easy recipes on the web site for the garlic scapes, which are the unmistakably garlic scented curlicues.

If you have a recipe for something in the share that you think other members might enjoy, email it to me and I will add it to the site (if I can remember how to do that).

Occasionally, you will find something in your box that is not on the share list. We try to make every share the same. Sometimes, however, we do not have enough of something in any given week to put it in every box. A crop might just be starting to produce or have been decimated by rodents or slowed by weird weather or just be the sort of crop that does not produce heavily. When that happens we will either choose various different extra crops for all the sites or hand out a crop to a few sites at a time until everyone has received it.

Much less occasionally, I hope, you may be missing something that is on the list. We pack a lot of boxes over the course of a season. We are pretty good at it, but not necessarily perfect. Let us know if you don’t receive something and we will make it up to you.

Sometimes you might wish you had extra quantities of some crop. Perhaps you have an unquenchable desire for mustard greens or winter savory or white carrots. If you are interested in ordering more of something send an email. We will let you know if we have and what it costs and can deliver it with your share. 

If you have an unquenchable desire to do some farm work, let us know when you are available (or talk to a mental health professional). We are happy to have members visit the farm, especially when we have time to show you around. If you feel leery of intruding, you can wait for one of our scheduled farm days. We will try to have one a month during the season. I will post the dates and times on the web site and include reminders in newsletter. We hope you will take advantage of the chance to come to the farm. Most of the time we know shockingly little about what we eat. Having the opportunity to learn about where your food comes from is one of the benefits of belonging to a CSA. Plus there is an excellent ice cream stand a few miles up the road, which comes in handy in this sort weather. Whatever sort of weather this is. Don’t ask me