Week 21 Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi Veggie Lovers!

*Tuesday Morning Update: Jon and I made the call yesterday to delay the Sunflower Shoots crop that was supposed to be in this week’s bag until next week.  He has been adjusting the planting schedule all autumn long but the timing is a bit off this week despite his adjustments.  I told him it was no big deal because it is an opportunity for me to explain to you some of the challenges of farming!

Basically, when the daylight hours become shorter and the temperature cooler, it takes longer for Sunnies to grow (I know you all could figure that out!).  However, adjustments take up to 2 or 3 weeks because by the time you figure that out, it’s already to late for at least the next batch and possibly the one after that as well.  Another thing that makes it hard to know is that shoots grow quite exponentially at the end, they “jump”: Basically they sit there for over a week not looking like much and then turn into leafy Sunflower Shoots in the last 3-4 days.  The difference between harvesting today, when the shoots are JUST at the critical jump stage versus waiting a week and sending them to you then means probably 3 times more shoots in the bag next week.  So we chose to wait for a greater reward at a later date!

This is our first autumn growing Sunflower Shoots in the shed and so having this year’s growing notes will help us in future years.  Plus, we see you every week anyway: Times like this is when CSA is really convenient!  We can’t magically make some other shoots ready for your bags this week and so none this week but double next week!

Thanks to everyone for a near-perfect pickup last week!  I really appreciate in winter when there isn’t much to come home with me.  The van arrives home in pitch dark now and it’s really cold outside so if I forget or can’t find veggies in the dark van when I get home, they don’t make it!  (So many frozen onions I have found rolling around in the van over the years!) The veggies in your not-picked-up bag don’t always make it through my errand run after the pickup without freezing, either.  So, having everything go to it’s intended home the night of pickup is really helpful.

On the same note, I mentioned to one of you last week that I often don’t even try to figure out who missed when there are bags left.  This is partly because (1) it’s not part of the deal (as in, if you miss your bag you miss it, and I shouldn’t need to know who missed really), also partly (2) to respect people’s right to not make it to the pickup (because things happen, and I don’t feel like you should have to feel obligated to explain or email me to apologize if you miss, we are all grown ups here!).  I also don’t want any of you to think that I am mad or annoyed when you don’t pick up.  I try really hard to be more generous than that with our membership (because being generous with people means giving them the benefit of the doubt and not making assumptions).

For our efforts of bringing your not-picked-up bag back to the farm, we are often able to re-sell the veggies for another purpose or eat them ourselves.  Sometimes I share not-picked-up bags with people I run into on my Tuesday night errand run.  Sometimes, if I hear from members right away via email I am able to be in touch and they can still meet me somewhere in town Tuesday night (The Safeway parking lot happens regularly, don’t tell them or they’ll kick me out for distributing veggies in their lot, lol!).  I’ve done the occasional home delivery of bags when I know it’s someone who never ever forgets, but it’s not at all our protocol. Basically, if we all follow the “rules” of the program, it should allow me to be able to do the occasional “above and beyond” for our members, and the idea is that I want to.  We really like going above and beyond, but if our inbox is flooded with requests then our capacity to go above and beyond occasionally is limited.   The only thing that annoys me a bit is when I get an email 2 or 3 days after the pickup asking “what to do, forgot my veggie pickup!”  The answer at that point is, “don’t email me!”: Said in the most generous way possible!

Here’s the link if you’d like to place a Veggie pre-order!
You can place an order anytime before Monday at 5 pm for the coming week and not much changes as far as availability from week to week this time of year so you can order any day, including Tuesday, for next week’s pickup if you want!

We encourage you to make use of the Pre-Order form if you would like additional veggies, preserves, pickles, etc.  There will no longer be a mini-market at the pickup.

We always anticipate the very last week of pickup to be busier than average due to folks wanting to stock up, so if you can help us spread that out a bit and not everyone wait until the very last week to stock up, we greatly appreciate it! (This is less important if your items are not things we need to wash or are already packaged eg pickles, honey, quinoa.)

The contents of the upcoming week’s bag are subject to change at the last minute, possibly without much/any notice, depending on harvest. It can be tough to estimate how much of a crop will be available before we actually harvest or pack it freshly for your bag.  So, this posting is meant to give you a good idea of what is in your bag, but just be aware that it may change and we will do our best to let you know if that happens!  At the very least, the posting on the website will be updated prior to delivery with the actual contents for that week, so that you can check that you’ve received everything you are supposed to!

Spoiler Alert: Stop reading now if you want to keep your bag contents a surprise!


Last week’s bag!

Your Week 21 Veggie Lovers’ Club bag  for pickup on Tuesday November 20th contains:

Parsnips, 1 lb
Potatoes, Red – 5 lbs* Grand Valley Strawberries
Sunflower Shoots, small bag COMING NEXT WEEK!!
Squash, Assorted varieties, 1 each
Dilled Carrots, 500 ml


*In the final 4 weeks of the CSA we plan to send you only 5 lbs more of potatoes after this week and they are unwashed & will store all winter in your fridge or cold storage.  This is the last time we plan to send you Red Potatoes this fall.  See the bottom of this newsletter if you want to peek on the next 3 weeks’ contents!

You can click the links above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season when it is available, storage tips, and lots more!  Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!

Spring Shoots Program Registration Now Open!

We are running a Shoots Program starting in March 2019: Registration is now open and all the details can be found on our website here!  You are the first to know!  I will reach out to our 16-week members next, and eventually our mailing list.  So you have at least until then to think about it, just don’t wait too long as there are only 40 spaces!

We plan to run it a bit differently than last winter’s Pea Shoot Program, this year it will have more of a range of items, run for a shorter period, and is WEEKLY pickup.  Make sure you read though the entire page before you sign up and let me know if you have any questions as you read it (because those edits I do help everyone!).

If you are reading this and not currently registered in our Veggie Lovers’ Club, you can still sign up for the Spring Shoots Program now if you want to!  Anyone who voluntarily reads our newsletters counts as a current Veggie Lover.  😛

About the Veggies in this week’s bag:


Steph and Jon harvesting parsnips, Sept 2018

Parsnips: We didn’t think there would be enough left to go in the bags again, but there was!  Probably at the detriment of my own winter food stores, but that’s ok.  Jon really loves parsnips but I could take em or leave em.  I know some of you make soup out of them, please share your recipe as I don’t have a favorite yet and I don’t like to share recipes I haven’t made myself!  It is often paired with apple or pear or spices which go well with the naturally spiced flavour of parsnips.

Jon washed half of them at Mom’s kitchen sink yesterday, that’s our winter wash station: it leaves much to be desired but it works and at least it’s warm and there’s hot coffee.  We don’t yet have the water hooked up in the shed and even if we did it would be a summer only option anyway.  Plus, we turned off the compressor for the cooler last week and the cooler immediately became 20C so we had to move all the veggies over to Mom’s winterized cold storage this week anyway.  It wasn’t my favourite, as we had assumed it would stay cool enough to keep the veggies in there at least until December!  It was mostly just seed potatoes and storage potatoes at this point anyway.  At least we didn’t have to move the squash!!  We’ve been spending more time over at the shed this year and so the average temperature is higher than it would have been last winter.  Long term we will install a vent or insulate the compressors so the cooler can hold temp even in the winter, but for now the easiest solution was to use the cold storage that is already up and running at Mom’s.

I made a really great squash cheese sauce for Myrah’s cauliflower last night, which she licked clean (as in, she didn’t eat one bit of the cauliflower but she loved the cheese sauce!)  Basically I made a roux of flour and water, added some stock, then some cheese, then some cooked squash I had on hand.  We use dye free cheddar cheese at home so it even looked the part of an orange cheesy sauce after the squash was added!  I tried to look up a recipe to share with you but all the quick searches revealed that most people use squash to completely substitute in recipes: There are tons of GF, Vegan, Dairy free versions of the recipe online.  So, rather than impose my squash sauce on you, I thought I’d just tell you about it and then you can look up the version that works best for your household.  Let’s face it, most of us are becoming more and more accustomed to navigating food allergies even if we don’t have them ourselves.  When I ask my dinner guests what they can and can’t eat it’s always a rare treat if they can eat everything!  The Christmas I made dinner for the vegan friends was hard.  It’s outside of my cooking comfort zone and also my nutrition beliefs.  (And I also cooked a turkey on the side for us carnivores!).  So, kudos to any of you who are not only cooking for your family but also navigating food intolerances, avoidances or preferences!

We’re running low on Squash now so this week we’re using some of the smaller kabocha, Red Kuri, and Buttercup for the bags, not everyone will get the exact same squash.  They are all suitable for most applications, and I’ve found the flavour of the squash to be incredible this year!!  Last week I made a soup with Winter Sweet Kabocha (the blue one), and I swear all I added was a sprinkle of salt and curry spice, stock, and cream and it was out of this world.  I told Jon at lunch time, this is ALL on that squash, not on me.

Delicata-Squash-macro-640If you have any Delicata Squash kickin’ around still, it is the shortest keeper typically so make sure you use it up sooner.  I HIGHLY recommend making the Delicata Squash “Smiles” (Loosely this recipe) but use a really good quality coconut oil (Not refined), and lots of it (4-6 T).  The coconut oil flavour combines with the squash and it tastes almost like candy!

IMG_0544Sunflower ShootsUpdate Tuesday: These will be delivered in next week’s bag as they are not quite ready today! Remember to budget time to rinse and de-hull your sunnies before eating them.  We remove as many hulls as we can easily but we could spend way more time than is reasonable doing it so instead we share the task with you.  It’s a good reminder to rinse them, too.
Another thing that’s good to do with your shoots is to check them a few days after you get them and remove any damaged or rotting parts that may be in the bag.  Especially with the sunnies, they can look fine when we cut them and inevitably, one or two stems turn to slime within a day or two.  If they are left in the bag the whole bag will turn to slime but if you remove them the rest of the sunnies will keep quite a while.

Dilled Carrots were made by Mom and I about a month ago, on a Nana Elaine Thursday.  My retired aunt lives in Brandon and loves Myrah and has been taking her once a week since September when Janelle went back to school.  It’s great for all involved as we get a daytime break, Myrah gets to see some different sights and people, and Elaine loves spending time with Myrah.  So, Mom and I get the credit for making the dilled carrots but it would have been a lot more difficult to complete without Nana Elaine! We have so many wonderful people helping us and looking out for us here, which is part of why we moved here to start our family.  We’re so grateful!

Screenshot 2018-11-17 08.46.40Our dilled carrots are made using the same recipe as our Dill Pickles, which are highly coveted by those who love them!  Mom’s pickles are made with love and care and great attention to detail.  They aren’t often part of our CSA, but we went to the trouble of making them this year due to anticipated variety needs at this time of year (read: we didn’t want to send you the same thing week after week).  We hope you enjoy them, and we will take the jars back when you’re done with them.

Teri’s Farm Update Bit:
The paragraph above inspired me to tell you more about our process.  The first year we did CSA we had each week planned out what we would be putting in the bags, so that we could take that and work backwards to build our planting schedule: You can’t put lettuce in the bags if you don’t start the seeds 8 weeks prior!  Plus, I thought maybe people would want to see an idea of what may come in the bags before signing up for a brand new program.  So, we did that and of course the plans were different than the actual execution, but we had a successful first year and figured out how many CSA members our farm could easily support at that time.  We increased the numbers a bit each year (50 in 2016, 65 in 2017, 80 in 2018), so this year was the most members yet, paired with the toughest growing season so far.  Despite that, this year we had the best variety of any year so far, and not once (until now) did we have any trouble finding items to put in the bags.  Each year we get a little better at growing and managing our CSA and crop planting schedule and streamlining efficiencies on the farm.

Things are a bit tighter this fall and we have sold through many of our crops, like Parsnips, Leeks, Onions, Sweet Potatoes, Celeriac, Colored Beets, Cabbage, etc.  It’s great to not have any trouble selling things and I’d rather have them already in your homes or bellies than still sitting slowly expiring in our cold storage.  Basically, the longer we store vegetables the more shrink we have (Shrink is the difference between what we harvest and what we sell).  The longer leeks & cabbage are in storage the more leaves need to be peeled back, the veggies on the top of the bins often dehydrate and wilt while in long term storage, rendering them “juice veggies” or compost, and there’s always an onion or two that rot, and new squash expiring all the time! (We are diligent checking them).  It means we will successfully be OUT OF STOCK by Christmas and so all the people I have turned away this fall saying we are sold out to remaining commitments (You!), I wasn’t lying to!

It’s hard to estimate exactly what we bring in and there always seems to be a little bit extra, until there isn’t!  Case in point, Parsnips: Mom said there *might* be enough to do 3/4 of a lb again in the CSA.  She washed them and between what I had in my storage we thought we might squeak by with just enough.  Then we found one more bag in Mom’s cooler!  So, we are able to send out one last pound to everyone.  But we are REALLY out now.  I knew things were going to be close this year and it’s always definitely on the radar that if we ran out we could end the CSA a week or two early and give people credit for next year, but we determined the last 4 weeks of shares yesterday and so we are going to finish this year filling all 24 bags of the best Veggie Lovers’ Club season ever!  A little less variety than was comfortable at the end, but it all worked out and since we had an inkling this would happen we have supplemented with making more pickles and preserves than we would typically want to include.

So, all that being said, I thought maybe some of you might want to see what is coming for the last 3 weeks of shares after this week.  We try really hard to keep the variety going from week to week, and though we don’t plan out the contents for the entire season ahead, we are always working ahead at least a week or two.  In fact, I do this so much this time of year because of shoots and planning that I can never remember what week it is!  Right now I am thinking forward to Nov. 27th as Jon is just planting the shoots for that week today and the red radish seed is still in transit via Canada Post from Saskatoon.  These are the kinds of things that shift our plans around!

SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading now and you won’t miss anything else in this week’s newsletter, I’m going to post the plan for the next 3 weeks of bags now, read on if you want to!:

Week 22 Nov 27th:
Carrots, 3 lb Rainbow
Beets, 2 lb
Pea Shoots, small bag
Squash, variety TBD
Crabapple Jelly, 250 ml
Sunnies from Week 21!

Week 23 Dec 4:
Radish Shoots, small bag
Potatoes, 5 lb Adora Yellow from Grand Valley Strawberries
Squash, Spaghetti
Onions, 1 lb
Pickled Beets, 500 ml

Week 24 Dec 11:
Carrots, 4 lb
Beets, 3 lb
Pea Shoots, small tray
Sunflower Shoots, small bag

Standard disclaimer, of course this could change before delivery so please refer to each week’s posting for the most accurate bag contents. 

Thanks, Veggie Lovers, see you at the pickup!

Teri 🙂