This week’s share: Carrots, Cilantro, Endive, Fennel, Lettuce, Onions, Peppers, Hot peppers, Radishes, Shallots, Tomatoes, Delicata winter squash
Sometimes I get a paragraph or two into a newsletter and encounter the distinct feeling that I have already written more or less the same thing some previous year. A sense of deja ecrit, I suppose.
Naturally, given my propensities, having written down the phrase “deja ectrit”, I now find I cannot shake the feeling that I already put it in a newsletter at some point. Fortunately, however, I am reasonably confident that I have never before mentioned a feeling of deja ecrit about writing about having a sense of deja ecrit, otherwise I might get stuck in some kind of endless loop.
Whether or not I actually repeat myself–and if I were deeply enough concerned about it I could go back through old newsletters and check, which would provide me with an excellent excuse to procrastinate, but usually just seems a little too tedious–I do usually try to find a more or less new topic. The themes, I admit, tend to reappear. Bad weather, bemusement, funny amphibians, pain, frustration, dirt. But I feel like that’s what themes are supposed to do. Otherwise, they would not really be themes.
There’s one topic, however, I know I repeat year after year, and not just because writing more or less the same newsletter saves me a little effort at a point in the season when my energy has been sapped. Each season I take this opportunity to tell you about Landscapes for Landsake, the art show benefitting the Agricultural Stewarship Association, which takes place this weekend in Cambridge, because I think as supporters of a local farm you might be interested both in seeing a good art show in a lovely setting in the rural county where your vegetables are grown and in supporting an organization that shares your interest in helping to sustain local agriculture.
ASA holds conservation easement on farmland (including all of The Alleged Farm) in order to protect it from development and ensure that we maintain our agricultural land base in this region. Farms around here survive and thrive for a number of reasons, many of them particular to the farm, the method of farming or the product farmed. Perhaps it is business acumen or a deep understanding of animal husbandry or mechanical genius or marketing skills or management techniques or work ethic. But whatever else farmers need in order to succeed, they cannot do so without good dirt. And while there’s a lot of dirt in the world, good dirt is a limited vital natural resource. Especially good dirt in regions with a reasonable growing climate, a workable topography, the infrastructure needed to support farming, access to good markets and a strong farming tradition.
Washington County has all that, and for the moment farmers still use a lot of the good dirt around here to produce food. But there is no replacement for that dirt and no easy way to go back once you have built on it, so we need to protect it. And that is what ASA does. It works with farmers and landowners to remove the development rights from parcels of good agricultural soils in order to preserve that land for farming for good. That does not guarantee that all the farms around here will prosper, or even necessarily that this will remain a farming community. But it ensures that an absolutely basic requirement for farming success and sustainability remains available.
And that is good not just for farmers, but also for the people we feed, the people we employ, the people we buy from, the people who live around us and the people who come to see this beautiful place.
Vegetable notes: there were times this season i thought we might never have carrots. I have been seeding them all along, but a number of the seedings failed when we had no rain at all, and the ones that did come up mostly came up sparsely and have grown slowly, their development not at all aided by the deer who come and browse on the tops at night. I had not precisely given up on them, but I had stopped paying much attention. It seems neglect suited them. Maybe I should stop paying attention to a few other crops and see what happens.
Actually, I have not paid the peppers much heed recently either, and they have done well too. In this case, however, I left them alone because we had done a lot for them early on in the season and they were happy and healthy enough not to need any more help from me.
The assortment of hot peppers in your tomato bag goes potentially (different bags got different mixes of peppers) from fairly hot Jalapeños to extremely hot habaneros (shiny yellow, orange or red) to potentially lethally hot Bhut Jalokias (crinkly red/orange). Keep in mind that however hot the pepper is, it is less hot at the tip and much hotter up at the stem end, particularly around the seeds.
You can, of course, do what you want with your Delicata squash. but I think the easiest way to cook it is to stick it in a 400 degree oven whole and roast it until it is completely soft. It steams itself in its skin and then you can just scoop at the flesh.