Thank you for joining our CSA. I hope you all found your first box with a minimum of fuss. Sometimes the first week can be tricky. If you ever have any questions or concerns throughout the season, please let me know right away. You can call 360-273-5368 or email email@example.com. I (Jen) am the primary admin person, so you can direct most queries to me.
Let’s just dive right in with the box content! There are a few things you might be shaking your head about. Remember that the first few boxes are a little on the slim side, as most veggies need more time and heat to ripen. Over the years we have found the things that can thrive in our heavier soil early on. Rest assured that as the season wears on, the boxes will get fuller and more diverse. Some crops to look forward to in the next few weeks include beets, peas, and chard. Carrots are being annoyingly slow to mature, so they might be 2 weeks out.
Lettuce-red leaf (large shares get a baby romaine as well)
Sweet onions-These were planted in the fall and overwintered; a risky prospect. But when it works, we are psyched! These are sweet and mild.
Garlic-This is the best crop we have had in years! After a string of pitiful garlic years, we are finally rewarded with decent garlic. The variety is called “Music”. The cloves are big. The flavor is strong. We just love it. Even though it isn’t cured, you can just leave it out on your counter and it will last just fine. I’m sure you’ll use it up before next week.
Garlic Scapes: These are the crazy curly-ques in your box. Scapes are the seed head of the garlic plant. The flavor is milder than clove garlic and the texture is like green beans or asparagus. Chop them up and add to any savory thing you make for extra garlic flavor and interesting color and texture. Or make garlic scape pesto. Or cook them on the grill. So many options! Go to the website WTF is this vegetable for a tons of ideas.
Strawberries-The garlic harvest may be awesome, but the strawberries are not as impressive.
They came on early and sadly, aren’t that prolific. We had just enough to give all of you Wednesday people a sampling. Sorry, Thursday….
Shell Peas: The peas are just starting to trickle in. Thursday people, to make up for your lack of berries, you get the first peas! Shell peas are the ones you open up and eat the peas inside.
Radishes-bright and beautiful
Red Russian Kale-This is my favorite kale. It is more sweet and tender than other varieties. It makes great kale quesadillas, kale chips, or kale strawberry smoothies.
Cabbage: Also, sweet and tender. Use in coleslaw with creamy dill dressing, add it to your salads, or cook it.
Fennel– We don’t usually grow fennel, but thought we’d give it a whirl this spring. This may be the only time you see it. Fennel has a nice anise/licorice flavor and is very good for your digestion. Add the fronds to salads. Add the bulb to Italian inspired dishes. Google it! Go back the WTF is this vegetable site for ideas on fennel.
Kohlrabi-This is the strange spaceship looking thing with leaves sprouting from the top. It is in the brassica family (think broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc) and comes in both purple and green. We usually enjoy it raw, as it is so sweet, crunchy, and refreshing. It tastes a lot like peeled broccoli stalks, only leagues better. You can also add it to stir fries and such.
Dry beans: This is a blend of pinto, Swedish brown, Hidasta Shield figure, and calypso. We harvested these last fall. They are pretty all purpose. Use in soups, refried beans, or in any of your favorite bean recipes.
Herbs-You either got dill & cilantro or summer savory & Italian parsley.
THE NEWSLETTER: In an effort to save paper, we will send out the weekly CSA newsletter via email only. Please let me know if that option does not work for you and we can try to figure something out. Though the newsletter is mostly written before we pack the boxes, things come up post-packing that I need to mention; therefore I end up cranking out the final copy as soon as the delivery truck leaves. 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. Be sure to have me add additional addresses, rather than signing up for the newsletter on the website. (That just puts you on the generic newsletter list.) If you are getting multiple copies sent, let me know that, too. I will post the newsletter on our website www.risingriverfarm.com and on Facebook. It is important to read the weekly letter as we often identify unusual veggies, offer new recipe ideas, and make special announcements. Plus it keeps you connected to your farm.
VEGGIE ID: We will try very hard each week to help you identify the more unfamiliar items in your box and give you recipes and preparation advice. The email version of the newsletter will usually contain photos of the more unusual items (another good reason to read them!) Also, be sure to check our website regularly to see the new recipes we add. We invite you to share recipes as well. If you email them to me, I can post them on the website and Facebook. It is great when you can all help each other get the most out of your share.
WASHING YOUR PRODUCE: In an effort to give you clean and pretty produce, we field-wash most of what goes in your box. However, many items don’t like to be man-handled too much or be packed away wet (think strawberries, beans, basil) so we do not wash them. You should wash all your produce again before you use it.
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR CSA SHARE: To many of you, CSA eating has become part of your norm and you know how to adjust your shopping and menu planning accordingly. However, there are many new CSA members this year so let me give you some advice. You may be trained to think “what do I want to eat this week?” and then shop accordingly. But now you will get a box, whose contents will remain a mystery, delivered to you each week and the challenge will be how to incorporate the box contents into a week’s worth of meals. It is a good idea to skim through the farm cookbook and our website for recipes. On the website in the lower right corner of each page, there is a tag cloud. Just click on a particular veggie and all the recipes that contain that ingredient will pop up. In short, consider your CSA pick up day as the start of your weekly menu planning. See what’s in the box and plan the week’s dinners around it. Your weekly CSA will give you a true sense of what is in season now.
Also, try to rethink how you view recipes in general. Think of them more as a guide, rather than a hard and fast rule. Does your recipe call for onions but you only have scallions? Use the scallions, instead. Ran out of garlic, but have scapes? Use the scapes! Feel free to add additional vegetables than what your recipes call for. Most of the time, it works out great.
PICKY EATER SPIEL. All of you returning members know that I am a recovering picky eater. I hated most vegetables until I grew them myself and was able to enjoy them at their freshest. Just picked vegetables are amazingly sweet and flavorful. Most veggies you find in the store are at least a week old and have lost a lot of their sweetness and nutrition. So please, I beg you, try everything in your box before you declare yourself a particular vegetable hater. Try each thing in a simplified form, not overcooked or hidden in sauces. If it still doesn’t float your boat, most veggies can be “snuck” into dishes by grating or chopping very small. If you need to trick a picky partner or child, that is the best way to do it.
BARTER BOX: Okay, so you’ve tried chard six different ways and still don’t like it. Or perhaps you have a food allergy. What to do? To address that dilemma, we will set up what we call the Barter Box at each site so that you may swap out what you don’t like for something you do. The barter box might contain some produce that is more “cosmetically challenged” than what you receive in your box. It is still perfectly tasty and will hold up just as well as what you were initially given.
BOX RETURN: In an effort to keep costs down and conserve resources, we re-use the CSA boxes as much as possible. Please return your box next week for re-use, or better yet, show up at your pick-up site with bags to transfer your produce into.
I hope you enjoy all your veggies!