What a difference one week can make! It feels like summer again. More crops are ripening and we now have potatoes, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, and fennel! Shell peas are still in a torturous holding pattern, but should be ready soon. Next week we can hopefully start rotating snap peas around.
THE FIELD REPORT: Most of the farm is planted now, save for weekly or bi weekly succession plantings of carrots, beets, lettuce, herbs, broccoli, cabbage, beans, and a few others. We are at an ever so fleeting balance point weeding and harvesting. Pretty soon the scales will tip toward harvest, though the weeding is never really done. At some point it just becomes a matter of priority! So far we seem to be keeping up pretty well. Just when it seems to be bordering on out of control, Isaac will sweep through the fields on the cultivating tractor and the rest of the crew will follow behind to get the weeds within the row.
HAIL DAMAGE: We had a sudden, brief, and slightly damaging bout of hail last Tuesday. You will see some evidence of this on the peas and possibly the lettuce. It is amazing what 3 minutes of torrential pelting ice will do. We do not like to give out unsightly produce, but sometime it cannot be helped. Many plants look a little bedraggled, but since it is not the foliage you will be eating, it doesn’t really matter. I am glad to not live in a place where hail is a frequent visitor.
THE CREW: We are fortunate to have the bulk of our crew return from last year. Everyone knows what to do and what to expect. The more senior workers help guide the newer ones so the day flows pretty nicely. Some have been with us for over 15 years, and many others have been here upwards of four years. It is so helpful to Jim and I to have other capable folks to take on the more nuanced aspects of the farm. Tractor work, fertilizing, organizing and orchestrating the CSA and orders, keeping up with irrigation, all take time to learn and a certain personality to do them well.
Besides Jim and I, we have 12 full-ish time workers, with 2 more slated to start next week. We find it is better to hire a lot of folks and keep sane hours, than try to eek by with a smaller crew. We start at 6:00 and try to be done by 3:00 so that no one is out cooking in the heat too long. I will get a crew picture soon to include in a newsletter so you can “meet” all of us.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
Red leaf or green leaf lettuce
French crisp lettuce- large shares only
California White new potatoes
Cilantro or Italian parsley
Cabbage or kohlrabi
Beets or fennel
A WORD ON ROTATION:
Not everyone gets everything mentioned in the newsletter every week, but on balance, all the box values are the same. Very often we will give half of you one thing and half the other. Then next week it’ll switch. We also rotate items around the sites when there is not enough for all. Eventually you will all receive roughly the same things with the same value. We keep careful track of who gets what when. It all evens out in the wash.
BOX CONTENT ELABORATION:
POTATOES: These are tender new potatoes. We elected not to wash them as the skins are very fragile. Store them dirty in your fridge until you are ready to use them. The variety is called “California White.” They have white flesh, and are on the medium to moist side of the scale. They can be roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper & baked at 400 or 425 for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally. Or steam until tender and drizzle with melted garlic butter. Sprinkle minced parsley or last week’s dill on top. They also make great home fries.
KOHLRABI: (see photo) It is the round green or purple orb with kale-like leaves attached to it. It is in the broccoli/cabbage family and has a sweet, subtle broccoli flavor. I prefer it raw, but you can also cook it in a stir-fry or some such. To prepare, cut off leaves, cut bulb into ¼ inch rounds, then peel with a paring knife. We grow both purple and green ones. I find the purple ones to be crunchier and the green ones more delicate. Kids really like this veg. Well…some kids.
FENNEL: (see photo) Fennel is the bulb with the long ferny fronds at the top. The bulb and leaves tastes like licorice. It is used a lot in Italian dishes. The fronds can be added to salads. I wish I had more fennel recipes to share. Sorry, you’re gonna have to Google this one.
ITALIAN PARSLEY: As mentioned last week, try sprinkling fresh chopped herbs on your meals upon serving. Parsley is great in salads, pasta dishes, soups, and on potatoes. It is a great breath freshener and digestive aid as well. Put a few sprigs on everyone’s plate to chew on after the meal.
BEETS: Give beets a chance! I know there are some supposed beet haters out there. Read my picky eater spiel below and try them again. Our website has some great beet recipes, including a chocolate cake!
PICKY EATER SPIEL:
I say it every year, but for the benefit of the new members I will say it again. Please try everything you receive in your box at least twice before you decide you are not a fan. Fresh from the field veggies are nothing like what you buy in a store and are most certainly leagues better than canned or frozen versions. I am a bona-fide picky eater since childhood. I hated nearly every vegetable except iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and russet potatoes. I would choke down the occasional canned green beans, but nearly any other veggie I was served would cause me to recoil and protest mightily. However once I grew my own, tried them raw or lightly cooked, I was converted. I am still learning to like new things and am all the better for it. I also have two kids, 18 and 14, and have weathered many phases of kids loving then hating then loving any given vegetable.
Here are a few tips for converting veggie haters into veggie lovers (or at least tolerators):
- Try things raw. They tend to be sweeter, obviously crunchier, and lack the mushy texture that just freaks some people out.
- If you are going to cook things, aim for ”al dente”. Most of the time crunchy or firm is more appealing than mush.
- Try meals that are deconstructed. For example, a build your own burrito where each person can add as much or as little as they want. Making a casserole? Try serving the contents of said casserole separated out. Some kids (and yes, some adults) cannot deal with a whole bunch of unidentifiable ingredients all mixed together. I clearly remember mining out every onion and mushroom fleck in my mother’s meatloaf. I am not necessarily a proponent of catering to and preparing separate meals for whiny, picky kids, but if you can serve them what you are already making but in a different form, then it doesn’t seem as bad. Remember, the goal is to get them to love veggies! I just remember texture and mystery in regards to food being huge obstacles for me as a kid. (I still feel the need to apologize for the hell I probably put my mom through at dinner time.)
- Have your family/household members help unpack your weekly share, sample veggies, and brainstorm menu ideas. Most veggies can be eaten raw so sampling should be encouraged.
- Have your picky eaters help cook, or at least play sous chef. They will be way more likely to eat it if they know what is in it.
- Explore our website for recipes. Most of what is posted is easy to prepare. Rarely will you need some exotic vinegar, spice, or pantry item that you use maybe once a year.
SOCIAL MEDIA: We have a facebook and Instagram account. I try to post a lot of pictures of the farm and crew, as well as recipe ideas. Check us out!
Call the farm for general, non-pressing questions 360.273.5368
Call Jen’s cell for urgent issues. 360.584.6720
Please note that I (Jen) will be out of town through Sunday, so the farm number is the one to call.
Happy Eating from Jen and the Rising River Farm Crew