June 2014


Everyone who has gardened understands the process of bringing fresh food from the garden to the kitchen, but how about gardening for 2,000 families? Now it becomes more about farming than gardening. The harvest process consumes the week. We begin harvesting for the delivery on Friday. That means we harvest Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for Thursday’s delivery. So how do we keep your vegetables fresh for 4 days? We have 5 coolers, all able to be climate controlled for temperature and humidity. One very important step in the harvest process is how the vegetables are treated as soon as they are picked. Vegetables don’t want to be exposed to sun and warmth after being harvested. We harvest early in the morning when it’s cool, immediately put the crates of harvested vegetables in a covered truck, get them back to the packing shed as fast as possible and then cool them down quickly. This cooling process takes different forms depending on the vegetable. Some vegetables are placed in tubs of cold water to remove the field heat, others are put directly into coolers. Right now all of the coolers are set at 34 degrees. Burr, that’s what most vegetables want. When we begin harvesting the summer vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, beans) they will want 45-50 degrees, so one cooler will be set to accommodate them. The process of cooling down the vegetables is really important for the quality of the vegetable. So when you see a truck of sweet corn exposed to full sun, it’s not doing that corn any good. That corn would rather be in a 34 degree cooler.

Stacks of scallions, garlic scapes, turnips and broccoli.

Stacks of scallions, garlic scapes, turnips and broccoli.

Potatoes, kohlrabi, lettuce heads and escarole in another cooler.

Potatoes, kohlrabi, lettuce heads and escarole in another cooler.

Strawberries filling another cooler. We leave the lids open for at least a day to help dry the berries. Our harvest conditions were somewhat wet this week. They will keep better if dry.

Strawberries filling another cooler. We leave the lids open for at least a day to help dry the berries. Our harvest conditions were somewhat wet this week. They will keep better if dry.

Harvesting escarole and kohlrabi. (Barb, Tom and Chris)

Harvesting escarole and kohlrabi. (Barb, Tom and Chris)

That pretty much sums up the week. There’s lots of words we can put in front of this week’s weather. Rainy, hot, sweaty, humid, stormy, thundery, dark, windy, muddy, unpredictable, soggy, vegetable growing. And of course all things we do on this farm are based on the weather. Yesterday morning, as I checked the radar at 3:00am, I saw a big storm front heading towards the farm. I checked again at 5:00 and guessed it would hit us in about 2 hours. No time to waste. I was out in the strawberry patch with a harvest crew at 5:45. The next crew arrived in the lettuce garden at 6:45. We all knew we were racing against the storm. And then the sky began to darken. The front was moving towards us from the northwest. We all stopped to watch the amazing bank of dark clouds moving rapidly overhead. The wind picked up and the rain began sheeting down. We paused for a moment and then ran! Two box trucks full of soaking wet people. We drove back to the packing shed to wait out the storm. Dry, under a roof, we bagged potatoes and salad mix and banded scallions. We headed back out as soon as the storm passed.

Barb

Wednesday, 5:45 a.m., harvesting strawberries.  (Note: The harvest just began. Everybody will get strawberries within the next couple of weeks).

Wednesday, 5:45 a.m., harvesting strawberries. (Note: The harvest just began. Everybody will get strawberries within the next couple of weeks).

7:30, Here comes the storm!

7:30, Here comes the storm!

Tonny and Jesse running to the truck with the last of the strawberries.

Tonny and Jesse running to the truck with the last of the strawberries.

1:00; the rain has stopped and we are finishing the lettuce harvest we started in the morning. Just a little muddy! Pictured are Jesse, Barb, Becky, Jonnah and Eric Perkins. Joining the Perkins clan are Elisabeth, harvest manager/crew leader; Thomas, summer help extraordinaire; and Mary, Wednesday afternoon worker share.

1:00; the rain has stopped and we are finishing the lettuce harvest we started in the morning. Just a little muddy! Pictured are Jesse, Barb, Becky, Jonnah and Eric Perkins. Joining the Perkins clan are Elisabeth, harvest manager/crew leader; Thomas, summer help extraordinaire; and Mary, Wednesday afternoon worker share.

radish, spinach and ground beef curry with scallions

Radish, Spinach and Ground Beef Curry with Scallions

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil or other cooking oil
1 bunch radishes, greens included
1 medium sized bag spinach (6-8 oz.)
1 bunch scallions, diced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced (optional)
1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 pound ground beef (if possible, grass-fed)

1 ½ cups basmati or jasmine rice

 

Process:

Place 1 ½ cups rice in medium-sized pot and prepare for cooking by rinsing the rice to remove excess starch. Do this by adding water to the pot, swirling the rice and dumping out the water. Repeat 3 times. Add 3 cups water and cook over high heat until it reaches a boil. Watch the rice as you prepare the curry. Just as the water starts to boil turn the heat down to low until done.

Slice radishes in half and then thinly slice into half-moon shapes. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat and add oil. Add radishes. If using ginger, add. Sauté for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook ground beef in a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat. Break beef into small pieces and cook until no longer pink but not well done. Drain any grease.

Add coconut milk, tamari or soy sauce and curry powder and stir. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer until radishes are tender. If radish greens and spinach are dirty, wash and dry. Remove tough stems and roughly chop. Add cooked ground beef, chopped greens and diced scallions to vegetable mixture. Stir and allow greens to wilt; this will only take a few minutes. Serve over hot basmati or jasmine rice.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

www.therealfoodmama.com

This farm’s 20 year journey as a CSA has been a member supported, community inspired experience. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and that is what this farm has been for 20 years, thanks to all of you, our members. The 1995 season was packed with friends who wanted to support this crazy idea Barb and David had when they picked up and moved their family from the cozy confines of their east side neighborhood out to the Town of Vermont to that rather rickety farm to start growing vegetables. But we had a plan, a solid one. CSA was not known by many 20 years ago, but we knew it was a great way to connect people with their food. We’ve put ‘all our vegetables in one basket’ so to speak and have focused all of our time and energy to our CSA, not marketing at the farmer’s market or to stores or restaurants. We wanted to be the best CSA we could be and give all of our attention and vegetables to our members. This goal has been realized and the Madison community spoke out when the Isthmus pole voted our farm “Madison’s Favorite CSA” for both years that CSA was a category. We are entering our 20th season with fields full of vegetables and can’t wait to deliver them to you! Thanks for your support. Enjoy the food and the connection you make with the farmers who grow it and the land where it is grown. Hope to see you out here at one of our events.

Barb and David Perkins, your farmers

A glimpse of this week’s activities:

Rhubarb harvest

Rhubarb harvest

Radish harvest

Radish harvest

Bagging spinach in the packing shed

Bagging spinach in the packing shed

 

Simple & Seasonal

Weekly Recipes Written by the Farm Cook

It’s salad season! Homemade dressings are fast and easy. Here are recipes for 3 olive oil based, vinaigrette salad dressings.

For each dressing combine all ingredients into a pint sized mason jar or other container. Whisk thoroughly with a fork. And just like that you have made your own tasty dressing!

 

DSC07602

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/4 teaspoon each)

 

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/4 teaspoon each)

 

Toasted Sesame Vinaigrette

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup toasted sesame oil

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari

2 teaspoons honey

Optional: 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

 

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

www.therealfoodmama.com

The vegetables on this farm have it good. The soil they grow in is rich in organic matter and nutrients. Each seed is planted with great care. Water from the sky soaks the ground when it rains and when it doesn’t rain we irrigate. Many hours are spent carefully keeping the gardens clear of weeds. A light weight cover is draped over plants that are most likely to get chewed on by insects; rain, sun and breeze can penetrate but the insects can’t. We trellis the plants that need support and mulch between the ones that need extra protection from emerging weeds. As they happily grow in these deep, rich valley soils deer, turkeys, sandhill cranes, coyotes, raccoons and numerous other small animals and birds walk through and around them. The sun warms them and the cool evenings are often a welcome break. We hope you will enjoy receiving this farm’s bounty. Not everyone can say they know their vegetables.

Barb

These posts, carefully pounded in so as not to puncture the irrigation tape beneath the plastic mulch, will soon have row after row of trellising twine wrapped around them to hold up the tomatoes as they grow.

These posts, carefully pounded in so as not to puncture the irrigation tape beneath the plastic mulch, will soon have row after row of trellising twine wrapped around them to hold up the tomatoes as they grow.

Lettuce heads, soon to be harvested. At the end of the garden is irrigation. It travels through the garden when necessary.

Lettuce heads, soon to be harvested. At the end of the garden is irrigation. It travels through the garden when necessary.

Large, tender spinach leaves waiting to be harvested, leaf by leaf, for next week’s share. To the upper left is fabric row cover, over radishes, keeping out flea beetles.

Large, tender spinach leaves waiting to be harvested, leaf by leaf, for next week’s share. To the upper left is fabric row cover, over radishes, keeping out flea beetles.

In the hoophouse the tomatoes are already sizing up. They have been in the ground since April.

In the hoophouse the tomatoes are already sizing up. They have been in the ground since April.