CSA Newsletter Box 2-June 30

by jennifer on June 30, 2010

It sounds like most everyone got their first box last week with a minimal amount of fuss and bother. It seems like every year we refine the system a bit more and the first day phone calls are few and far between. Remember, if you know you’ll be late getting your share, call the site host. If you need to skip a week due to vacation or something, call the farm (or better yet, have a friend pick it up for you.)Most of you are returning CSA members (thank you), but for the new folks, let me briefly introduce ourselves. I, Jennifer Belknap, and my husband, Jim McGinn, own and operate Rising River Farm. We are located in Independence Valley in the Chehalis River watershed. Jim started the farm in 1994 with 2 friends on 3 little acres leased from our neighbor. After 3 years, the other fellas (Chris and Jason) had other callings and moved on, so Jim and I decided to make a go of it. Over the years we increased our acreage to 15, bought the property next door, and settled with our 2 kids into to our current life right here in the valley. Living rurally can be a crap-shoot as far as neighbors go. We all want to get away from the “big city” for our own reasons.  It can be really isolating.  We are, however, fortunate to be surrounded by like minded friends and neighbors and a great farm crew.We cultivate roughly 12 acres a year, fallowing the rest to help rejuvenate the soil , foil pests, and minimize disease.  We sell our produce through our CSA, the Olympia Farmers Market, the Rochester Farmers Market, the Olympia FoodCo-ops, and occasionally to local grocery stores and restaurants. We feel like we have achieved an ideal size for ourselves. We are small enough that we can still walk the fields everyday and are able to keep a pulse on the place. We are big enough to offer a good diversity of food and not have to get winter jobs (knock on wood.)  A few additional acres would be nice to increase our rotation potential, but as far as the land we actually work each year , 12 acres seems to be a good fit. Though we have a few tractors for soil prep and cultivation, a lot of the work is done with hand tools, or straight-up bare hands! To help us keep our 12 acres planted, weeded, and watered we rely on roughly a dozen workers. This year we are lucky to have a mostly veteran crew. We love seasons like this, where everyone is already trained on the basics so we can just let them loose on most jobs. The longer they work here, the more specialized and “interesting” jobs they ask to do and we feel confident in their abilities. That frees Jim and myself up to attend to the myriad of jobs that only we can do, and would otherwise fall behind on. Rigo and Rita (year 10, I think) have been here the longest. They are a Rising River staple- utterly efficient, thoroughly reliable, can harvest anything, help in the greenhouse, and could out-hoe just about anyone.   Isaac (year 4) has become our foliar feeder and flame weeder  extraordinaire. He is our CSA delivery guy and one of our Rochester Farmers Market sellers. He is also spearheading a seed saving garden here at the farm. I’ll try to strong-arm him to writing about it in one of the upcoming newsletters. Jonathon (year 4) has the irrigation scene down pat-moving lines, running the pump, etc. He is also picking up some hours on the tractor, tilling and spreading fertilizer.  Andrew (year 2) has become friends with our old Super A cultivating tractor and is helping keep the beds and rows looking neat and tidy. Mechanically proficient as he is, he also helps to keep our machines in working order (no small task on a farm with many older machines.)   Leah (year 3), once our market helper, now is the main Friday market gal in Oly and spends the rest of her days on the farm weeding, harvesting, etc. Veronica and Julia (year 2) are proving to be capable at pretty much everything we throw at them. They came out west together last summer and we are so pleased they made the trek back again for another season. Lauren worked for us a little at the end of last year, but will be full timing it this year. Samantha and Sam are both new as well, and will be our market helpers.As for our roles, Jim is constantly on the move-planning out the next task, stopping to weed with the crew, tractoring (or fixing the tractor), problem solving, and generally keeping the whole shebang in a constant state of flow. You’ll also find him at the Oly market on Sundays. I am in charge of all the planting, greenhouse work, CSA packing, and much of the behind the scenes/administrative stuff, as well as selling at the Oly market  2 days a week. We have a truly great crew this year and it feels like our family is expanding a bit with all these fine folks around.WHAT’S IN THE BOX? Lettuce: leaf and baby romaineStrawberries: Eat your strawberries right away. Since we chose our variety for flavor and not shelf life, and picked them at the peak of ripeness (rather than grocery-store green), they just do not last long. I’m sure it won’t ever come to this, but if you had to you can freeze what you can’t use right away. We will have a lot of berries this weekend at market, if you want more.  You can buy them by the pint, half flat, or full flat. Berry season is a fleeting thing. Gorge while you can!Kohlrabi: Last week regular shares got one, this week smalls get one. It is the strikingly purple orb with leaves in your box. It is a brassica and tastes like the tender peeled stalk of a broccoli. Peel it and either eat it raw in salad or with dip, or add it to a stir-fry.Dry beans: We have been saving seed and growing these out for many, many years. They are from last fall’s harvest. The varieties are: Calypso (black and white), Hidatsta Shield Figure (brown and white), Swedish Brown (brown) and Pinto (light brown with dark speckles). They all cook at the same rate. Use for refrieds or in your favorite bean soup. It is ideal to soak dry beans for 8 hours +/- before cooking. Replace the soak water with fresh water to cook.Herbs (either dill, cilantro, or parsley)Beets or Chard (most of you)Peas: Either snap, snow, or shell. We will be rotating these around and the amounts are more of a taster. The first planting is less than abundant given the weather. The other plantings look more promising….Radishes: Easter EggScallionsGarlic: Last week’s garlic was just the warm up act. This week’s garlic is the true rock star. It is called Music (and I just realized my terrible pun-forgive me.) The cloves are huge and the flavor is very strong, not hot per se, but very pungent. Use less than you think you should until you get used to it. It is wonderful. This garlic is freshly picked and not cured yet. No need to refrigerate, it’ll cure on the counter (if it lasts that long!)Garlic scapesCarrots

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