In an effort to save paper, we will send out the weekly CSA newsletter via email, and just leave a few paper copies at the sites for those who prefer that option. However, this week everyone will get a paper copy just to make sure you all receive it. I am also emailing it to everyone who provided an email address. If you did not get this via email and would like to, let me know and I’ll make sure you are on the email list. For those sharing shares, make sure I have everyone’s address. Keep in mind that this letter may have wound up in your spam/bulk folder so check there as well. I will also post the newsletter on our website www.risingriverfarm.com and on facebook. It is important to read the weekly letter as we sometimes make special announcements. Now that that is out of the way….
Jim and I want to thank you for joining our CSA this season. We hope you enjoy the many weeks of tasty veggies to come. In getting a CSA share you not only receive a weekly box of fresh and delicious vegetables, but you are helping to strengthen our local food security, contribute to the local economy, keep green spaces intact, and preserve a small family farm (that’s us!) With just about everything we buy, there is a whole back story of where it came from, who made it, what is it made from, etc. In buying your food from us this season, we will share with you this particular back story and help you feel just a little more connected.
For those of you who are new to the CSA- a quick introduction. Rising River is run by me, Jennifer Belknap, and my husband, Jim McGinn. Jim started the farm in 1994 and I joined him in 1997. With the help of 10 or so seasonal crew, many of whom have worked with us for years, we tackle the many aspects of farming: seeding, transplanting, weeding, watering, harvesting, trellising, and other miscellany. We feel grateful to work at a job we love, with a fabulous crew, in a beautiful place we can call home. We also have two kids (Cylas and Hazel), who as they get older, help out a little more each year. Cylas even started using the tractor.
I’m sure you are aware this spring was (is) pretty horrendous from a farmer’s perspective. I haven’t seen a spring this bad since…oh…last year. La Niña in not a PNW farmer’s friend by any stretch. Perhaps you too have been working in your garden and have had to face the many challenges of colder than “normal” temperatures, excessive rains, and unfathomable populations of slugs. We can make all the plans we want in the winter, but unless the weather cooperates, our plans mean little. To give us a little insurance, there are many strategies we employ to hedge our bets. Firstly we plant multiple successions of many crops. Things like carrots, beets, lettuce, herbs, and broccoli are planted every two weeks throughout the spring and early summer. If the first few sowings don’t make it due to weather or pests, the others most likely will. Other crops that are a one shot deal, like winter squash or corn, spend the first month or so of their field life under a light-weight floating row cover to keep them warmer. We have several greenhouses where we start many of our seedlings in order to give them a jump on the weather and keep our successions more or less evenly spaced. We constantly tweak our plans. Though we have been farming for a long time, each season has something new to teach us. We take copious notes and often utter “Next year we should try….” And finally a resilient mental state is needed (probably the hardest strategy to employ). We must accept that not everything will work out, but trust that most things will. Those bolted radishes? Why that’s just a new and unexpected cover crop. Slugs ate the first chard planting? Oh well, one less thing to weed! You get the idea.
On a brighter note, yesterday’s weather was fantastic and gave us all a spark of hope-a perfect ushering in of summer. You could almost hear the sighs of relief coming from all the veggies in the field. “Sun, warmth, long days, ahhhhh,” they said. Or maybe that was the crew. Fear not dear CSA members for despite the slow start; most of the crops are looking healthy and determined. I have been pleasantly surprised at the performance of some. Take the corn for instance. Last year we lost 2 plantings that simply rotted in the cold wet temperatures. This year all 3 plantings are up and growing. The tomatoes are already in need of trellising-lush, green, and full of blossoms. The strawberries are loaded with flowers and little berries. We hope to have them for you next week. The fields are nearly ¾ full and we will be seeding and transplanting for many more weeks to come.
Even if this spring had been fabulous, the first few boxes are always slim, owing to the fact that most veggies take longer to ripen. Seasoned CSA members already know to expect lots of salad fixings and radishes early on, but before you know it you’ll be enjoying a more copious bounty.
A note on how we pack the boxes: You may wonder why a crop is mentioned in the newsletter, but it is not in your box. There are many reasons for that. Firstly, we chose to rotate certain crops so that you don’t get sick of them. Over the years we have gotten customer feedback such as “Enough cilantro, already!” ditto beets, chard, etc. So often times half of you will get one thing and half the other and it will switch the following week. Availability might also be the issue. As is the case with every crop, the first harvest is slim so there is not always enough to go around. In that case some of you would get it the first week, and everyone else gets it the next. Rest assured we keep careful track of who got what and when and it will all even out in the wash.
What is in today’s box:
Lettuce: We grow a wide variety of lettuce and will rotate the varieties around throughout the summer. You will eventually see green romaine, green leaf, red leaf, red oak, green butterhead, and summer crisp.
Scallions: A fancy name for green onions. Use them raw in pasta salads or as a garnish on hummus or other dips. Or use them in cooked dishes in lieu of an actual onion. We use scallions in all of our cooking until the real onions come along.
Scapes: The seed head of the garlic plant. These are the green curly-Q looking things in your box. Scapes have a mild garlic flavor-milder than actual cloves and have the texture of asparagus or green beans. Use them instead of or in addition to clove garlic in your savory cooking. You can also feature them as a side dish by tossing them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and grilling them or baking them at a high heat until tender- crisp. You can also try garlic scape pesto recipe.
Radishes: We grow pink beauty and easter egg blend. You’ll see some of each within the next few weeks. Thanks to cooler, wetter conditions the radishes are sweet and mild. Think you are a radish-hater? Give these a try.
Garlic: Our main crop won’t be ready until late July, but this variety is ready now. The heads are smaller and the cloves are medium strength.
Dill, cilantro, or Italian parsley: We rotate herbs around each week so you are not overwhelmed or bored. Rosemary and basil will eventually join the rotation.
Spinach: Sweet and yummy. What else can I say?
Chard or Broccoli: As mentioned before in the “Why aren’t all the boxes the same?” section, we didn’t have enough broccoli or chard for everyone, some of you get one and some get the other. In the end it’ll all work out.
Dry beans: This is a blend we have been growing for years. It is a mix of pinto, Swedish brown (solid tan), Calypso (black and white), Hidatsta shield figure (brown and white), and a few rogue crosses thrown in. You can use these beans for soups or refrieds or whatever you like to do with your beans. I find it is better for digestion if you soak them overnight and then cook in fresh water.
On the horizon will be strawberries, carrots, beets, and peas. They are all a week or two away.
Use the recipe section of website. A cool feature of our website is the” tags” in the bottom right corner of each page. Just click on a veggie and any recipe that has that vegetable in it will show up. Pretty cool….
Please share your favorite recipes with us and we can post them on the site or at least include them in a future newsletter. You can also post recipes on our facebook page so others can benefit from your culinary escapades.
For today’s box try try:
maple vinaigrette dressing
garlic scape pesto
carrot parsley quinoa salad
chard scramble with eggs breakfast sausage
Speaking of recipes, all new members get a farm cookbook. Returning members already have one. If anyone needs an additional copy, we have them for sale for $6. Let me know if you need one and I’ll leave one for you next week.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions give us a jingle or send an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Jennifer, Jim, and Crew