2016 CSA – Week 1: Greetings from the Farmers

CSA Week 1 Graphic

CSA Newsletter  – Week 1


Greetings from the Farmers

Thank you for joining us in our 19th CSA season! Last week, I saw the first heirloom tomato in the barn – a sure sign of the summer bounty that is yet to come. Your contribution as a CSA member provided a much needed kick start to our off-season allowing us to do such things as purchase seed and graft tomatoes months before the first harvest. The next 21 weeks is our way of saying thank you for your support.

Thank you to those who were able to contribute to the scholarship fund. This year we were able to make it possible for two local families take part in our CSA program.

The CSA newsletter is a way for me to share a little bit about the contents of each box, keep you up to date on farm happenings, and share ideas about ways to prepare your weekly supply of veggies. We would also love to hear from you! Share your favorite recipes or preparation methods, pictures, or questions. If you are social media savvy, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram at @gatheringtogetheringfarm and hashtag your pictures and comments with #gtfcsa so that we can find you! I will be sure to share tips, recipes, and questions in future newsletters.

Thanks so much everyone. Happy first week!

– Lily Walton, CSA Coordinator

 

Table of Box Contents:

☐ Lettuce ($2.00) Store greens in mesh bag (or paper towel) inside plastic bag or container in fridge.

☐ 1½ lbs New Potatoes ($4.50) Store in dry, cool, darkness. Don’t scrub until you’re ready to eat them.

☐ Red Kale ($3.00) Separate the stems from the leaves by holding base of the stem and sliding your the other hand along the stem towards the tip of the leaf. Reserve the stems for sautéing or for adding flavor to soups or stews.

☐ 2-3 Zucchini ($4.00) Great on the grill or sautéed with garlic and onions.

☐ Bunch Carrots ($3.50) Remove tops for storage. Eat them fresh, roast them, or add them to stir fry.

☐ 3 cucumbers ($3.00) Eat fresh or add to salads.

☐ 2 Storage Onions ($2.00)

☐ Fresh Thyme ($2.00)

☐ 1 Siletz Tomato ($2.50)

☐ 1 head cabbage ($4.00)

Box value at the farmers’ market: $31.00

 

Recipes:

The Versatility of Kale

Kale has become quite a popular vegetable touted for its nutritional value and cancer fighting properties. However I love kale because of its taste and versatility. It can be eaten raw, blanched, sautéed, you name it.

For a decadent raw kale salad, try this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. The vinegar in the dressing helps to break down the hardy kale leaves.


Killer Kale Salad

4 slices thin bacon, cut into bits

1 tablespoon butter

1 whole medium red onion, halved And sliced

8 ounces, weight white mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup white wine

Salt And pepper, to taste

4 ounces goat cheese crumbled

3/4 cups olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 bunch kale

  • Fry the bacon bits until slightly crisp. Drain on a paper towel.
  • Pour out most of the grease and add the butter to the skillet. Add the onions and cook them over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until soft. Remove them to a plate. Add the mushrooms, stir, then add the wine, and salt and pepper. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook the mushrooms for several minutes, until most of the wine has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft. Remove them from the heat and set them aside.
  • Add the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper to a mason jar and shake it to combine.
  • Remove the kale leaves from the stalks, then roll them up in batches and slice very thinly. Place the kale in a bowl. Add half the dressing and toss. Then add mushrooms, onions, and bacon and toss again. Finally, add the goat cheese and more dressing if needed, and toss. (Reserve extra dressing for another use.)

Oven Roasted Veggies, with or without Chicken

If the weather outside is any indication (at least in Philomath), maybe it isn’t quite summer yet. This box is perfect for roasted veggies – onions, carrots, potatoes, and season with olive oil, salt, fresh thyme and any other herbs that you have around. If you’re a meat eater, roast the veggies with bone in chicken thighs.

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 450 ° F
  • Cut onions, carrots, potatoes, and any other root veggies that you may have into evenly sized pieces. If potatoes are small, leave them whole
  • Toss with a few pinches of salt, thyme (oregano and parsley if you have it), and 3 tablespoons (or more) of olive oil
  • Place veggies in baking dish or a cast iron pan
  • Blot dry chicken thighs, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Place chicken on top of roasted veggies and bake for 40-45 minutes until the skin is crispy and browned and the vegetables are tender.

 

Humming Along

The bees are floating from blossom to blossom on the boysenberry vines, pollinating just they way we expect and appreciate so greatly. The cucumber plants are regularly wound around their support twine, ensuring healthier fruits. Swiss chard, fava beans, and tomato plants are all reveling in the sunlight. Strawberries surreptitiously arrive, often hidden in the shadows of their leaves. And like little treasures, hundreds of potatoes are being unearthed from dark soil. The farm is humming along nicely, as you can see.

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Margarita winds cucumber plants up around their support twine after they have grown taller.

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 Cucumber plants

2015-05-28 Cucumbers 060

2015-05-28 Cucumbers 059

PotatoesIMG_0415

Yellow Swiss Chard2015-05-28 Rhubarb 069

Red Swiss Chard2015-05-28 Rhubarb 067

Fava Beans2015-05-28 Fava Beans 048

Tomato Plants2015-05-28 Tomatoes 054

2015-05-28 Tomatoes 056

Strawberries2015-05-28 Strawberries 076

Fields getting some much needed water on a hot, sunny day.
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First Cucumbers and Zucchinis

The crew picked the season’s first cucumbers about a week ago. The tender young fruits were small and had a few bug-bites scabs, but they tasted of pure summer. This year, we’re growing ‘Socrates‘ because our favorite ‘Sweet Slice’ was unavailable due to a seed shortage. So far, they’re doing well, and we think they’re pretty good.

All our cucumbers are grown in greenhouses. You can read/see more about our trellising system here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the summer, the crew will harvest cucumbers about five times per week. It’s pretty amazing to see the size difference in one fruit after 24 hours of growth during the warm weather.

This week, the crew is also starting to harvest the first zucchinis grown in a greenhouse, and they will cut summer squash about five times per week for the rest of the season.

Often times, the first zucchini on every plant will be stunted and somewhat misshapen. These fruits must be cut off to encourage the plant to keep producing. The ugly ones are sent to the farmstand kitchen, or they’re taken home and enjoyed by staff.

The zucchini harvest can, at times, be a real hunt. When plants are young, the fruits are usually easy to spot, but as the foliage grows more robust, the green zucchinis can be a challenge to spot.

The first zucchinis will make their way to farmers’ markets this week and weekend.

These plants have been helped along by the extra warmth and protection of both the greenhouse plastic and plastic mulch laid on the ground. True zucchini and summer squash season won’t start for another month or six weeks when our outside plants begin to bear. By scheduling successive zucchini (as well as other summer squash) plantings both inside greenhouses and out in the fields, we should have a continuous supply throughout the summer and into the fall.

CSA 2011 – Week 8: Crop Rotation and Irrigation 101

Last week’s discussion with John was so interesting that I decided to follow Joelene Jebbia, our Irrigation manager, around for an hour to learn more about what she does. She began similarly to John, socket wrench in hand out to fix a spigot in the circle garden’s irrigation riser. I spent most of this time just watching what she was doing, and gazing at the amazing array of tools she has in her truck. Once she changed the spigot, we headed out to a greenhouse thatrecently had a fall crop of potatoes planted in it. Joelene was setting up the drip irrigation in it since the seedlings had started to pop out of the ground. As she was busy doing her thing, I got to pick her brain about how she decides what gets planted where and how intensive irrigating all 50 acres really is.

She explained to me that she keeps a record of everything that we plant each year, how much of it, and when it is planted. This aids her in the winter when she plans out where everything is going to go. For next season, for example, it is good to know where brassicas (kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc.) were planted so that we do not plant onions in those places because they seem to do poorly in an area where brassicas once were. It is also important to not plant the same crop into the same ground consecutively. For example, if you plant arugula in one area, and the last of the planting got flea beetles, as it often does, and then you plant more arugula into that same soil, then that new crop will not thrive because there are already existing flea beetles in the soil that will eat it before it gets a chance to thrive.

As Joelene pulled the drip lines down the rows of potatoes, she elaborated that she also takes into consideration the micro-climates of each field. For example, how much sun the field gets, and what time of day it gets sun, compared to how much sun the potential crop likes. Thinking about whether the field is on high or low ground, therefore if it will be wet or just moist early in the season, is another huge factor.

Joelene explained that every year her plans get thrown off a little just by the weather patterns. For example, this year she planned to plant our onion crop just west of the compost piles, but when it was time to plant, the ground was way too wet to plant into. So, she shifted the plan slightly and it will work out. When deciding where everything gets planted, she also thinks about ease of watering, her other main task at the farm. She has to make sure that she will be able to access all of the crops with either overhead or drip irrigation and make it logistically workable for her.

Irrigation takes up a lot of her time year round, and most intensively this time of year. We grow crops in 31 different hoop houses that need to be watered on top of our outdoor crops. For the outdoor crop irrigation, Joelene and Sarah will start laying pipes down in April and continue through June until all the fields are set. Of course, there are a lot of repairs on pumps, drip lines, and pipes that go along with this.

This time of year is the busiest for keeping up with all of the watering, and outdoor watering will usually continue well into October depending on the season. The variability of the weather patterns plays a huge role in all of this, and working with mother nature seems to be your best bet. The potato house was all set up for watering, 2 of 4 that would get done today. After she placed her tools back in their locations, she drove to the tractor where she would begin her next task.

What’s in the box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Rose Gold) – Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile.
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
1 bunch Walla Walla onions – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. Try them grilled! The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 bunch chard– steam, or sauté these greens, much like spinach but not quite as tender.
1 purple pepper– It is wonderful grilled, sautéed, roasted, or raw.
Assorted Summer squash – Try them sautéed, grilled, in a soup or stir fried. Try hollowing out and stuffing the round ones with a grain mixture, goes well with cheese, meat, mushrooms, then bake or grill them for 15-20 minutes.
1 cucumber – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 radicchio– They are wonderful grilled and topped with balsamic vinegar.
1 bunch cilantro– Make salsa with the tomatoes! Eat with cucumbers or squash.
Romaine lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
2 tomatoes – Chop raw on salad, sandwiches, or make salsa with cilantro and onions.
1 pint blueberries – I would be surprised if these made it home!

Stuffed Squash
4-5 assorted summer squash
3-4 small-medium Walla Walla onions, chopped
3/4 cup nuts, (almonds work best) ground
1 cup cooked brown rice, quinoa, or bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated cheese, (your choice, Swiss, cheddar or parmesan work well)
2 eggs
2 cloves finely minced garlic
Salt and pepper

For Zucchini, cut ends off and cut them in half long ways and scoop out the inside and set aside. For the rounded squash (patty pans or 8-ball) cut the first inch top off and scoop the inside out. Sauté the onions in olive oil, chop the squash flesh and squeeze any water out. Add this to the onions and cook a little longer. Beat the eggs and add to the nuts, rice (or grain of some sort), cheese, garlic, pinch of salt If the mixture is too runny add more of the grain. Stuff the squash with the mixture and bake in a slightly oiled pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Variation: add other spices if you would like, cilantro would go nicely, or even add some chopped tomato or chard.

Radicchio Salad
1 head of radicchio finely shredded
2 oranges, peeled and divided into sections
3 baby onions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Dressing:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Touch of sugar or honey

Place onions on an oiled cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake at 300 degrees for several hours, until onions are dried out and brown. Mix radicchio with dressing and top with orange wedges and onion slices.
Variations: Add cucumber, grated carrots or peppers to this salad. Also, chop your head of lettuce and mix it in with the radicchio for a larger size salad for more people.

 

CSA 2011 – Week 7: Soil Fertility and Cover Crops

I had the pleasure of following Farmer John around the barnyard this morning to get some knowledge of our soil fertility tactics here at GTF. We first discussed cover crops. John says that cover crops work well for farms that have long rotations, or space that they do not need to plant anything into for up to 6 months. In the traditional cover cropping system you let the crop go for awhile, sometimes until as much as 6 feet high. Then, you would disc it down and let the green material break down for another 6-8 weeks before it’s ready to plant in.

We have a bit more of an intensive rotational system because most of the land we farm is planted almost all year round without much of a break, since we over winter quite a bit of crops. We do however have some parcels of ground clear of food crops in the winter that we will utilize cover crops in. When we use cover crops we usually plant field peas, vetch, and rye. Our cover crop system is a little bit more modified than other farms. We will let them grow until just before we need to use the parcel to plant in, and then we use a forage chopper to truck away the greenery as one of our compost feed stocks. We can then plow, disc, and prepare the land to be ready to plant in the next day. This saves us the 6-8 weeks of waiting for the plants to break down in the field. In our case the cover still serves the purpose of holding the soil from eroding in the winter rains as well as keeping the micro-organisms healthy and happily eating away.

As I followed John around to assess a manure spreader that went out of commission last night, he explained that we will use this tactic especially in fields where we will be planting later summer crops such as melons. There is a point in the fall, towards the end of October, that it gets too late to plant a cover crop. If we don’t plant early enough the cover crop will not have a developed root system, and we will end up with an insignificant crop that will not hold the soil or build it. If we don’t plant anything into an empty field, winter weeds can serve the same purpose; or in fact chickweed, which grows in plenty around here, makes a great winter cover.

As John got out from under the manure spreader, diagnosed the problem, and then made a phone call to our loyal mechanic, he added that we tend to rely more on compost than cover cropping. Our compost is a stable addition to the soil. We do two main types of compost: your basic compost and composted chicken manure. The chicken manure compost along with a fish fertilizer that we run through our irrigation are our two main fertilization tactics for crops that need more nitrogen to thrive. We also apply gypsum to all of our fields since our soil is low in calcium. The good thing about gypsum is it doesn’t change the pH of the soil either, which is another important factor. As I wrapped up brain-picking with John this morning, socket wrench still in hand, I was just amazed with the amount of interesting information I had learned. Maybe I should do this more often!

Lisa Hargest
CSA coordinator


What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (purple viking) – See below.
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
1 bunch baby Walla Walla onions – chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. Try them grilled! The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 bunch beets – They are great boiled, roasted, or even grated raw and dressed. Eat the greens too; they are great sautéed with olive oil and salt.
1 green pepper– It is wonderful grilled, sautéed, roasted, or raw.
Summer squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, in a soup or stir fried.
2 cucumbers – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 bunch parsley – Chop it raw as an addition to a sauté, use in pesto with or without basil. See recipe.
1 bunch basil – Make pesto! Eat with tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and salt.
Romaine lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
2 tomatoes – Chop raw on salad, eat plain like an apple!
1 pint of strawberries

On Purple Viking Potatoes
These purple Viking potatoes were freshly harvested this week. The skins are sensitive and have not hardened yet. These potatoes are a bit more starchy, but do well baked or boiled. I would mash them up with some butter and salt. If you wanted to try something different you could boil them whole, then chop and add some balsamic vinegar, mustard and salt while still warm. They are also quite tasty roasted with the usual rosemary, salt and olive oil.

Tabouli
1/2 cup bulgar
1 bunch parsley, chopped finely
1 bunch baby onions, chopped, greens and all
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, julienned (optional)
1/4 cup or more lemon juice
1/4 cup or more extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: chick peas, cucumbers, a pepper

Boil 3/4 cups water, add to bulgar and cover. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, or until bulgar is tender. Add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place in
refrigerator. Add the rest of the ingredients about 30 minutes before serving. Serve cold.

Raw Beet Salad
1 bunch beets, greens chopped off and beets grated
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons honey, maple syrup or sugar

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and season to taste. This is a very simple salad. It goes great on any green salad.
Variations: add grated carrots or chopped parsley to switch it up.