Hi Veggie Lovers!!
Thanks for a great first pickup last week! I kinda forgot to remind everyone that the first pickup is a payment due date for many, and it didn’t seem to matter as most of you were aware, which is awesome!
As we settle into a “perennial” CSA program, the rewards for us farmers have been great. The first pickup day used to be a very stressful day, but this year Tuesday and Wednesday were both great days where everything ran smoothly and was on schedule and flowed nicely. It’s partly about knowing what to expect, how much time things take, and having our systems down. But in large part, the first pickup running smoothly is in large part due to YOU – many of you being returning members and knowing how things work, and for those of you who are new to it, doing your part reading the information and following along with our systems, and helping things to flow. So, a big Thank You for that!
Everyone was so well spaced out last week, it was great!! In fact, I brought Mom along Tuesday because it was a payment week and probably could have managed on my own (but it’s always nice to have her along as Mom and I don’t spend that much time together anymore!). Rivers first ever pickup was great! It was nice to meet all of you and I was surprised (and not surprised) by how many other people stopped by to see what was up. Small towns are awesome! (I got “Everyday Encountered” of course, so watch for that in a future Rivers Banner!)
Apologies to Rivers folks, I am catching myself always writing “Tuesday” instead of “Week 2”, so just know that I am not intending to exclude you, I’m just in the habit of only Tuesday being the day, and now we also have Wednesday! I’ll get it soon!
Also, if it ever works better for you to pickup in Brandon (or vice versa, Brandon folks!) just let me know in advance and it’s no problem! If you miss pickup in Brandon and want to pick up the next day in Rivers, that will always be a firm No, as will Farm Pickups.
If you would like to add your partner’s email to the mailing list so they receive the Pre-Order form link and the pickup reminder, reply to this or send me an email and send me the email address you’d like added.
This week we plan to bring along some additional items for sale at the pickup as well as having optional pre-orders for those who want them. See below for a link to the Pre-Order form!
- Tuesday July 14th from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at Stanley Park in Brandon (14th Street between Princess Ave. and Lorne Ave.)
- Wednesday July 15th from 6:00 – 7:00 pm in Riverdale Community Centre (Rink) West Parking lot, Main Street, Rivers. (Under the shady tree!)
Pre-Order Form for Optional Order to come with your bag!
Click here to visit the Pre-Order Form and place an order for next week!
We keep a list of the crops we are able to harvest in addition to our CSA harvest for you to order from, if you wish. Your order must be placed by MONDAY at NOON to come with your bag on Tuesday (Brandon) or Wednesday (Rivers). This is to allow us time to plan and coordinate harvest between two locations efficiently. Your order will come in a bag with your order sheet & total stapled to it, and it will be available for self-serve pickup beside the van. You can pay for it via e-transfer, cash, cheque or debit at the pickup.
This time of year, and this year in particular, we are running a little short on things so the Pre-Order list is fairly limited. Our early potatoes and carrots at Mom’s suffered through the storms and have been set back so there is less available than we would like. It’s hard to judge how much is available so often if things are scarce it’s easier for me to bring what I can to the mini-market rather than open the item to pre-orders and receive more volume than I can fill. But I respect that you want the seasonal goodies and we’ll do our best to keep this list as complete as is possible for us to execute!
Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you’d better STOP READING NOW!!
The contents of the upcoming week’s bag are subject to change at the last minute, possibly without much notice, depending on harvest. It can be tough for us to estimate how much of a crop will be available before we actually harvest 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, this posting will be updated prior to delivery with the actual contents for the week, so that you can check that you’ve received everything you are supposed to! (and please do check!)
Your Week 2 Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:
Carrots, baby, bunch
Fennel, 1 large
Green Garlic, 1
Sunflower Shoots, large bag
You can click the links on the items above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season, storage tips, and lots more!
Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!
Teri’s Veggie Lover Tips and Farm Update!
First, a story about Priorities:
At market we only had 23 bunches of carrots this week, and our longest lineup ever. I have had to talk myself through the lineup issue over the years, because I’m continually seeing it as a “problem” when it’s actually a “thing” and people enjoy it. I’m at the back of the trailer collecting payments now, so I check in with people and nobody seems to mind one bit that they have to stand in line to get the stuff they want. In fact, people told me they are proud to stand in line and support us, and happy to see us so well supported. That’s SO KIND!!
23 bunches of carrots were gone instantly and I still don’t like the idea that people come and are disappointed, so we continue to work on increasing supply. (And that’s why I’ll laugh if you ask me if we’re going to be at The Green Spot every week: we can’t even keep our Lady market well stocked! However, we are sending anything we can with Laryssa on Saturdays, so you will find some of our produce there every week from 10 – 2 as available. At the very least go and get some of her tomatoes, they are wonderful!!)
In previous years we’ve worked to increase supply at markets so that there is a good selection all market long, but as soon as we do demand just seems to increase at a faster rate. This year’s storm events have set back the carrots (at Mom’s) we had slated for your July CSA bags. I’m sensitive about making sure our market doesn’t get prioritized over our committed Veggie Lovers. So, after Laryssa and I harvested 23 bunches on Thursday, I scoped the field and said, “I’m not comfortable harvesting any more than that, just so we can be sure that we have enough for 101 bunches next Tuesday”. The patch we were harvesting from was planted for markets, but with Mom’s set back now (carrots aren’t aquatic plants!!) we have decided to send them out this week to our Veggie Lovers, because you’re our first priority!
So when you see things hit markets before they hit CSA, know that it’s almost always a quantity issue. We had hoped there would be turnips for CSA but we had trouble with getting them to germinate so there were only 36 bunches total, so to market they went. Because of the crop losses we’ve had we’re going to try producing some things like that again, Jon and I are putting in a seed order today. Know that you’re always our first priority, we just have to secure enough supply before a crop can come in your bags. Things tend to start being ready in small amounts at the beginning of their season, and then by week 2 or 3 there is adequate supply.
About the Veggies:
Fennel!! Here’s the entry from the Veggie Guide about Fennel:
We’ve tried growing fennel in the past and not had good success, but this year’s crop is gorgeous and ready for distribution in our Veggie Lovers’ Club CSA this week! (July 14 & 15, 2020).
You may be familiar with Fennel Seeds as they are a widely used spice: Think Italian sausage! Fresh fennel bulbs are a bit different but the flavour pairs well with anything you’re already using fennel seeds in. The whites and entire green tops are useable.
Preparation Tips: Fennel is in the carrot/celery family (Apiacae) and has a pleasant anise flavour (licorice). It is shocking how well that flavour pairs with tomatoes. My secret to making the best tomato sauce ever, that tastes like an Italian grandmother slaved over it, is adding thinly sliced fennel to the onions and garlic while they’re sweating. It balances all of the flavours and acidity perfectly, and tastes divine!
This is a “weird one” folks, so I anticipate the CSA trade bin will see some traffic this week, and that’s ok. But I totally encourage you to try it!
The recipe that I first fell in love with Fennel over was this one:
Fennel Orange Salad
The link is to a very simple version, that can be easily improved by adding other greens. Highly recommend the addition of massaged Kale, and make sure you use the top “fronds” of the plant as well! Looks like dill, tastes refreshingly like licorice! The orange is usually juicy enough to not require any additional dressing for my taste.
Here’s Martha again to teach you how to cut a fennel bulb!
Generally, it’s best to slice it as thin as possible as it can be a bit tough to chew otherwise. I like to (very carefully!) slice it on a mandolin for even, thin slices!
Season: Fennel can be grown all year here but this planting was a trial. We will see how it goes over and if it goes well we will plan to have a few plantings in 2021! It is started as a transplant in the greenhouse but then quickly matures in the field, so we could easily do a few plantings most years.
Storage Tips: Keep this completely covered in a plastic bag or container in your fridge (you will probably need 2 grocery bags to cover it). Cut fennel will turn brown (oxidize) quickly when cut so if you’re cutting it ahead of time make sure you squeeze some lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar on it.
I believe in people, especially CSA members, getting the whole vegetable when possible, not just “the part that most people think is edible”. So we won’t be trimming this fennel much unless we need to for fitting it into harvest tubs or your bags. The entire top is edible and very flavorful! It might feel a bit overwhelming all at once. It’s a great thing to chop up and keep in the freezer for in the fall when you have an abundance of tomatoes and want to make sauce! I suggest eating the bulb now and some of the fronds, but maybe you’ll want to wash, chop & freeze most of the tops for later. It’s even a great addition to Pho broth, which is mine & Jon’s current culinary obsession!
I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love your feedback if you get a chance!
The Butter Lettuce is on the small side this week. Our lettuce plantings got interrupted by the storms and so we lost 2 plantings. (We plant lettuce every week for 16 weeks so that we can harvest it every week, that’s how growing lettuce works!). We’ll be back online next week I hope, and then there will be another gap later as we couldn’t plant for 2 weeks due to extremely wet conditions. At minimum it’s enough for a few leaves for your burgers, don’t plant to make lettuce wraps this week, but we hope to have full size heads in the CSA again sometime soon!
Carrots!! After all that supply worry, we extracted 130 bunches from one bed yesterday and so we have another bed for market this week. Mom’s grew like crazy and are catching up. Soon there will be carrots for all!
Don’t waste your carrot tops, make Carrot Top Pesto!
We are sending out Green Garlic this week as a risk mitigation measure. Our garlic crop is the crop we have the most time and seed expense invested into, and it’s been too wet for garlic to be happy lately. I’m not noticing any effects yet but I’m worried about it. We tore off the plastic mulch it was under (for weed suppression and because garlic often suffers if it’s too dry so it helps retain moisture when it is dry). We were hoping to save our own seed this year but that’s the last of my worries right now, so I want to get some out the door to cover our expenses thus far. This week our Veggie Lovers have taken $300 in Garlic, which is about half of our expenses (not accounting for time).
Green garlic is still forming, so you’ll find inside there are tender cloves inside encased in wrappers, as well as a hearty stalk that you can use. I’m roasting a chicken tomorrow and then making Pho broth and I saved my garlic stem to use in that. The stem may be hard in the middle but the outer green parts are usable as well!
From the Veggie Guide:
Very early in the season you can eat the entire plant, but once it starts to mature the stem will become hard in the middle. You can still use it all– think lemongrass, chop chunks of stem to add to soups (remove before serving) or stocks (stalk stock, haha, I’m so punny!), or any other slow cooking (in the slow cooker, with a roast, etc). Bear in mind that green garlic is milder and sweeter than the storage garlic– the oil is what makes it strong and the oil content is still developing in this crop.
(The reason I emphasize the Veggie Guide so much is so that you’ll remember to look there first if you’re wondering about something you’ve received in your bag! I’ve put a lot of work into compiling it over the years and those who use it tell me it’s a great resource for them, and that way I don’t have to repeat myself over and over again!)
We were pretty glad for the Sunflower Shoots yesterday so that there was a job to do inside. Those mosquitoes were bananas yesterday. It was almost inhumane to work outdoors, thank goodness we had a tent for Myrah to be in while we harvested. I rarely use chemical bug spray, usually a blend of witch hazel with a few drops of citronella and geranium oils is effective enough. We are all covered in bites despite reapplying chemical spray regularly! The worst part is that they inevitably get in the house and then there’s no respite.
But the sunnies are gorgeous, and the last of our Shoots as we shift gears towards summer. You’ll see the microgreens again in the fall CSA bags, or if we have any more inclement weather. This winter during stay home, Jon and I kept our immune systems healthy by consuming huge amounts of fresh shoots. They’re a great crop that we can produce at any time of year and have control of the conditions more than outdoors!
Kale! I have two favourite Kale Salad recipes. The first one is suitable as a meal on it’s own and was submitted by Erin last year and I love it SO MUCH!
The second recipe tells you how to massage the kale. I’ll post it on the socials too. Basically remove the stem, chop the kale, add some salt, acid, and a bit of oil and then squish the crap outta it with your hands. It makes the Kale such a nice satiny texture!
If you’re not a fan of the massaged kale, then another good way to enjoy it is cooked in soups or stews or curries or stir fries. It can stand up to a lot more cooking/heat than most greens. Mom loves this Kale and Chorizo Soup and makes it every year. Kale, Sausage, and Potato in a soup is a magical combination! Jon’s favourite way to enjoy it is just sauteed in lots of butter with some garlic. (I swear, every single time I cook with garlic Jon walks in the door and says “Mmm, smells good!”)
Peanutty Sesame Noodle Bowl Recipe Shared by Heather
I made a version of this last night and it was delicious!
It finally feels like we’ve come out the other side of those storms. The bridge is open and the evacuees have been allowed to return to their homes as of yesterday. The affects will last all season, some good, some bad. For the most part it was really dry, so whatever didn’t drown appreciated the moisture. We have ripe tomatoes already and I think that’s the earliest ever. The cucumbers are just starting to produce and there are tiny beans on the plants. Zucchini is underway though it will be a while before we have enough for the CSA. The cutworms early in the season got most of our first planting. Celery is ready and it feels like the flavours of summer are officially here!
As we become more known in our local area, the inevitable is happening, we have people “popping by to see if they can buy some veggies”. The answer is No, so please spread the word if your friends are asking. Mom used to allow farm pickups. When she was on her own it made it easier for her, and of course we are on a different scale now so things that work at a small scale don’t always work when you grow. In recent years we’ve wasted a lot of time with people popping by unexpectedly (the running joke when a vehicle drives in the yard is “Who the F is that?!”). If you do it, I might not even be nice to you, as I was to a neighbor this weekend who interrupted our kid free weeding time!! The clear and kind boundary is: We cannot accommodate farm pickups, ever. (In cucumber season Mom still does it occasionally at her place with people who are existing customers with pre-orders.)
This is an important boundary for me (judging by my reaction when it happens!). We live here and we work here and there is little extra time, our weeks are carefully planned and executed. Not to mention, we have supply issues as it is, so anyone who is not a member of our programs and wants veggies can buy from us in front of Lady of the Lake on Fridays, and that’s it (& limited occasional veggies Saturday at The Green Spot with Laryssa from 10 – 2) We don’t keep fresh veggies in inventory at the farm, because then they wouldn’t be fresh. I wrote a post on Sunday about why we’re small and not planning to grow, you can read it here if you like!
I’ll have a mini-market along with me at both locations this week. You are welcome to shop from it and items can be paid for at the time or added on to your account to be paid later! Additionally, the Pre-Order form is available if you’d like to order anything, it is updated Saturday mornings and I send an email out afterwards. You can order at any time but the selection won’t be updated until Saturday.
That’s it that’s all for this week folks! I wanted to share this photo of the farm team after market last Friday. Janelle, Sid & Laryssa, and Jon and I. We had a great very busy day at market and celebrated making it through the week with a cocktail! Mine was a Paloma, which was delicious. Lady of the Lake is such a nice place to spend time! Not pictured: Mom and Myrah, who went strawberry picking that day!
Have a great week, enjoy your veggies, & please remember to share any recipes that you’re enjoying so I can share them with everyone!
Take care & see you later!