October 15th Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is Week 16 of our CSA!

October 15th is the final pick up week for 16-week members.   I sent an email on Wednesday about optional extensions, so if you didn’t get that then you are in it for the 24-week long haul! If you want to sign up for an extension until December 10th there are still spaces available, just email me or talk to me at the pickup!

Following October 15th, all of our summer members (including 8 week) won’t have weekly bags to pick up but WILL have access to our pre-order form for placing weekly Tuesday orders as you wish.

Your newsletter is complete below.  I will have a few things for mini market today!


Pre-Order Form

Mini market season is over when there is snow on the ground! Please PLACE A PRE-ORDER if you’d like some additional items this week!

For currently registered members: Placing an order does NOT affect your weekly bag contents, anything you order is IN ADDITION, not “instead” of what is coming in your weekly bag.

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the October 22nd pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon!

(As mentioned above, if you are a 16-week member, you will be able to place pre-orders for pickup on Tuesdays after your program ends if you wish.  Our CSA delivery continues every week until December 10th– but our mini market is weather-permitting, so ordering is best if you want something specific.  Also, I don’t haul squash around for fun so you have to order that if you want it!)


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should 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 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, 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!

Week15

Your October 15th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Tomatoes, Roma, ripe quart
Carrots, 2 lbs
Red Beets, 1.5 lbs
Red Onion, 1 large
Green Peppers, 1 lb
Celeriac, 1 large
Jalapeno Peppers, a few
Melon, Cantaloupe or Charentais, 1 – 2

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!


About the Veggies this Week & Recipes:

SnowmanWow!! Week 16 and the end of the summer program.  Well, it’s VERY CLEAR that it’s not summer anymore.  We had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend at home.  It was great for all of us, and especially because it gave Myrah a chance to get caught up on her sleep.  We’ve been really busy lately and she’s been out of the house more often than not.  This weekend showed us what Myrah can be at her best, and it was good timing because the struggle has been pretty big lately.  It’s an overwhelming world out there!

You don’t always get what you want, you get what you need: This weekend was exactly that!  Snow wasn’t my first choice, but the storm gave us the break we otherwise wouldn’t have had.  This weekend would have been filled with all the crappiest jobs: pulling up irrigation lines, row cover, sunflowers, tomato cages, digging potatoes and harvesting leeks and radishes.  Instead we ate pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake and played in the snow and cleaned the house.  So, we’re all rested up and feeling great to tackle all of the remaining fall jobs after the snow melts!

Sorry, you were supposed to get Pea Shoots this week but they aren’t ready in time!!  It always takes some adjustment to the growing climate in the shed, especially when there’s a change in the weather.  They need 1 more day that they don’t have!  If you’re devastated and in the 16 week program, let me know and pop by on Oct 22 and I can have a bag of pea shoots for you!

zombiebrainThe Celeriac is washed but will require additional scrubbing by you at home.  Our winter wash station leaves much to be desired, and the better sprayer was buried under a mountain of snow!  I wasn’t going to bother washing them at all, so you have Jon to thank that you’re not taking home an additional pound of muddy dirt this week!
I tried the Zombie Brain recipe!  I tried it in the same way that I “try” most recipes: vaguely read it over, assemble most of the ingredients, and loosely follow the method.  My results were Meh, but we have A LOT of really gorgeous celeriac this year and so I have lots of opportunity to try again!  I will follow the recipe more closely the second time.  Celeriac is one of my favourite veggies to eat pureed or mixed into soups and stews and mashed potatoes!  I made fish cakes the other day and used grated celeriac in those.

Our Tomato crisis has abated.  I sorted them again yesterday and there were minimal losses and things are moving along at a reasonable pace.  We still have lots for next week if you want to order some, but there’s not much time left, so don’t delay much longer than that!  We will be out of peppers and cilantro very soon as well.  Just giving you a heads up in case any of you want to make one last batch of salsa or sauce!  Mostly Romas left now.

RomasThis week I’m sharing a recipe from member Brad, who picked up a couple of bags of roma tomatoes last week from the mini market and seemed so excited about them that I had to ask what he was planning to do with them!  Here I thought he was a Beefsteak guy.  Brad says he takes the Romas, slices them in half, scoops out the seeds, then puts a thinly sliced piece of garlic in the middle and drizzles olive oil over them.  Roast them in the oven until caramelized.  I tried it this weekend and was impressed, they were very good!  Here’s a similar version I found online to share with you: Rachel Ray’s Roasted Tomatoes.

Jalapenos freeze well, you can chop them however big you want them for your future recipe and just throw them straight in the freezer.  They will keep a long time in the fridge too.  I know not everyone is into hot peppers, so rest assured that they are considered a harvest bonus, and if you don’t like them just throw them in the trade bin and Mom will pickle them!  She didn’t want to make 80 lbs of jalapenoes into pickles so I thought I’d send some out to you and save her a lot of effort!

The Peppers are gorgeous and have been stored in the cooler for a couple of weeks now but are no worse for wear.  They’re almost all green: All of the varieties we grow ripen to red but there isn’t long enough in the MB climate most years to get all of them ripe, and the ripe ones are favored by every bug and rodent and pest.  My colleague Stefan at Blue Lagoon Organics (near Winnipeg) calls a perfect locally grown red pepper “a gift” and I agree, and now always think of them that way when I’m lucky enough to get one!  A delicious locally grown green pepper is a gift too!  From us to you!!

Those Melons…  They are pretty good, but I realized that I do not enjoy selling melons and I don’t really want to grow them again!  I am never sure what they are like inside and I never feel secure that they are ripe and not over ripe.  We also don’t really LOVE cantaloupe in this household.  Do you?  Let me know what you think/thought of the melons this year and if you really like them you might have to fight for them for next year!

The next section is the optional reading blog series I’ve been working on lately, but before I get into that I just want to say Thank You for supporting our farm this season, to all of you but especially to the 16-week members who have their last pickup today.  I’m not going to get overly sappy about it because I feel like I’ll be seeing most of you again, either in the Shoots Program or next year’s program, or at a pickup this fall, or around in the community!

I DO plan to send out a feedback survey at some point.  It’s usually out by now, but it’s good to mix it up and survey people at different times in the year.  And you’ll be hearing from me right away with the Pre-Order form link each week if you’d like to place an order from now until December.  So, thank you Veggie Lovers, take care, and I’ll see you tonight!!


Teri’s Ten Topics #3: Storage Tips for Fall Veggies!

Yes! This is such a great topic for this time of year. Thanks to my friend Shannon for suggesting this one! Also, just so you’re aware, we have a Veggie Guide on our website, where you can look up more specific storage recommendations for each different vegetable.  I have kept things simple and not talked too much about humidity or specific temperature because I realize most of you have option (a) fridge and (b) no fridge, but here’s a handy guide with more info if you’re really into this topic!

Part I: Storing your farm veggies at home!

Rule #1: In the fridge, in a bag or container to keep the air out! If you notice there is condensation inside the bag, it may help to poke a couple of holes in the bag which will help regulate humidity, or insert a paper towel (a great technique for shoots or microgreens).
Remember, your fridge is designed to keep things cold and to reduce humidity: it is basically a big cold dehydrator. If you stick veggies in there without protection, they will wilt very quickly!

 

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Kale is one of the veggies that benefits from crisping

If Rule #1 fails, try Crisping:
When veggies wilt, they have become dehydrated. A simple rinse in tepid/lukewarm water (which helps to open the pores of the veggies and allow them to take on more water) allow to dry a bit, and then into a plastic bag/container/beeswax wrapper in the fridge for a few hours will work wonders on your veggies and often bring them completely back to life! This is called “crisping”, and is a technique used by farmers and produce retailers alike to keep veggies, especially greens, looking great. 

Rule #2: Some like it warm!

  • Squash: Warm & dry. If you store squash in the fridge or in a cold storage/high humidity environment, it will rot! Keep it in the house at 10 degrees or warmer. (10 is ideal, but warmer is preferable to cooler).
  • Cured Onions and Shallots: “Cured” means with dry skins as opposed to a fresh onion without the protective skin. They don’t need the cold and should/can be stored in a warmer environment.
  • Tomatoes: The fridge spoils the texture and flavour of tomatoes, they don’t go in the fridge!
  • Cured Garlic: Cold signals to garlic, “Hey! It’s spring, time to sprout!”, so it’ll make your garlic grow sprouts! A garlic keeper is great for garlic, mine is pottery and has a few holes in it and lives on my counter, you can pick them up nearly everywhere these days, but if you don’t have one a dish out of the sun will work just fine!
  • Potatoes don’t necessarily prefer being out of the fridge, I think they are traditionally kept out of the fridge because of space being limited.  If your fridge space is limited, cured (skins set) potatoes will keep just fine out of the fridge in a dark, cool place.

unnamedRule #3: Beware Ethylene Producers and Ethylene-sensitive crops!
Ripe fruits like tomatoes, bananas, and avocadoes produce ethylene naturally. If you want to speed up the ripening process of tomatoes, you can place them in a paper bag with a ripe fruit. Some crops, like onions, potatoes, and carrots, are damaged by ethylene. Keep them away from each other! Probably the amount of ethylene you are producing in your kitchen having a couple of ripe things on the counter isn’t anything to worry about, but you don’t want to store your ethylene-producing apples with your potatoes and carrots. Ever noticed fruits like apples and pears rot really quickly when they’re around ripe bananas? Ethylene is the reason!

What to Use:
There are so many options, so you can go as green as you like, but I will say that those mesh reuseable produce bags are NOT a good solution for many veggies. They don’t exclude air! I don’t really get it, but I guess if you need something to carry your lemons around in, they’re a good solution. How many people returned to market to tell me their bunched carrots wilted and then divulged this little tidbit. *Shakes head* Rule #1: KEEP THE AIR OUT!!
Beeswax wraps are great if you like them, (they are also the BEST jar opening assistance ever!), member Lynne prefers them for storing her celery and says it’s the best way she’s ever found. My usual technique at home is to reuse various single use plastic bags, or to use glass containers. I’m not here to sell you beeswax wraps or the next best Tupperware invention for veggie storage, people have been storing veggies for a lot longer than people have been profiting on making people feel like they have to buy something special just to eat real food at home. Don’t overthink it! Most of our items come already in a bag so that we are setting people up for success. We often skip bagging items in our CSA to save time and plastic, because we have a closer connection to those customers and can more easily pass on the message to put things in a bag!
Items with roots or stems attached can also be stored in a glass of water, preferably still in the fridge. I find this annoying and I almost always knock the damn glass over and then I have a mess. But you can store herb bunches well this way if you find it works for you!

Part II: How we store veggies at the farm!

img_5693This is one of our most frequently asked questions every fall, mostly by other growers and gardeners!
We have a temperature and humidity controlled storage room at Mom’s, which has shelving for pickles and preserves as well as 6 large wooden bins.
This year we have:
1/2 bin of russet potatoes
1-1/2 bins of beets
2-1/2 bins of carrots
1 bin of rainbow carrots.

A few years back we had most of the bins full of potatoes, but since anyone and everyone can grow potatoes more efficiently and cheaper than us, and few can top our awesome carrots, we switched to growing more carrots. Those are our “long term storage” veggies, which will be used past December for wholesale orders and for our members in our Spring Shoots Program (Registration is open now!).

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Squash storage upstairs in Jon & Teri’s shed.  Also the pea shoot growing area!

Our “short term storage” is at mine and Jon’s farm in our cooler, which we just had my cousin move one of the condenser units for so we can use it past fall freeze up. Our CSA goes until December, so this reno will make life easier with less lugging back and forth from Mom’s. In the short term storage cooler right now there are a few hundred pounds of peppers, about 200 lbs of parsnips, 400 lbs of celeriac, a few hundred leeks, not enough cabbages, 80 lbs of jalapenos, a few hundred lbs of assorted beets, carrots, potatoes. Outside the cooler we have a couple thousand pounds of squash (stored upstairs and brought upstairs by tractor bucket, we’re not chumps!), about 1000 lbs of onions stored in mesh bags, and about 1000 lbs of tomatoes in crates (I wish I was exaggerating!), some shallots, garlic, and some of all the different pickles and preserves we have for me to fill fall orders for the CSA members with.

 

In our “outdoor storage” aka crops that we still hope to bring in this fall, we have (blanketed by a cover of snow!): colored beets, some German Butter Potatoes, about half the leeks, watermelon radishes, some spinach and kale, and about 500 lbs of carrots.  If we don’t get there, it’s not a big deal as we have lots of beautiful crops in storage already, more than we anticipated actually!

onions

Last week we moved the cured onions inside and put them into bags for storage

For most items, we store them in harvest containers like rubbermaid bins or black bulb crates, plastic bags, or buckets. We have to manage our harvest containers very carefully as there are not enough for everything to be in bins, and we need crates for our weekly activities, and for the most part if a crop is just sitting in the cooler, a plastic bag with some holes poked in it works just as well as anything. You can totally geek out on veggie storage and do things like store carrots or leeks packed in sand: I’ve tried it and found it messy, annoying, not very effective, and it’s totally not suitable for our scale. For all intents and purposes, even if you invest in a large bag of carrots from us, your fridge is the best place to store them, in a plastic bag with a couple of holes poked in it to regulate the humidity inside the bag. Low-tech and effective! 

Washed or Unwashed?
Our long-term storage veggies are stored unwashed. We put in some effort to make sure our carrots are harvested at the right maturity because it drastically improves their storage capacity. The lesson I learned the year we tried to store some baby carrots in the fall: They weren’t finished growing, so they grew white hairs all over and the tops regrew, which meant each one had to be scrubbed & trimmed, which is more effort than I’m willing to put in! Our storage carrots keep very well in our storage room all winter long with minimal sprouting, and we hope to have carrots year-round this year (we have always sold out in the past).
If I could, I would store all of our short-term veggies washed, as we don’t have a root washer at the farm and so when it gets too cold to use the hose and sprayer we are stuck washing at a sink. Each year we make some improvements and that one just hasn’t been able to happen yet, mainly because the small scale equipment isn’t super accessible, but also because we haven’t connected the water to our shed yet (long story, but it’s going to be a big expensive project if it can happen at all). Washed veggies will keep for a few months in the fridge no problem, if you’re wanting longer term storage than that then I recommend you order your veggies unwashed (or if you want to save us some time: I give CSA members a discount when they take unwashed produce).

 

I hope this helps to answer any questions you may have about how to store veggies at home, as well as how we store them at the farm!  Looking forward to finding out what you want to hear about next!  Email me at sales@brownsugarproduce.com or send me an Instagram DM if you have a topic suggestion for next week!

Teri 🙂

October 8th Veggie Lover’s Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is Week 15 of our CSA!

Next week, October 15th, is the final pick up week for 16-week members and 8 week members with extensions.  Following October 15th, all of our summer members (including 8 week) won’t have weekly bags to pick up but WILL have access to our pre-order form for placing weekly Tuesday orders as you wish.

24-week program ends on Tuesday December 10th!

Your newsletter is in complete below.  See you tonight, 4:30 – 6 at the park!

Looking for Part 2 of Teri’s Ten Topics?  Keep scrolling to the bottom of this post!


Pre-Order Form
There is a minimally stocked mini-market at the pickup, but you can also PLACE A PRE-ORDER to ensure that you get the items you want with your weekly bag.

Placing an order does NOT affect your weekly bag contents, anything you order is IN ADDITION, not “instead” of what is coming in your weekly bag.

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the October 15th pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon!

(As mentioned above, if you are a 16-week member, you will be able to place pre-orders for pickup on Tuesdays after your program ends if you wish.  Our CSA delivery continues every week until December 10th– but our mini market is weather permitting and will be wrapping up soon, so ordering is best if you want something specific.  Also, I don’t haul squash around for fun so you have to order that if you want it!)


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should 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 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, 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!

Week14

Last week’s bag!

Your October 8th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Pie Pumpkin, 1
Potatoes, Red 3 lbs Grown by Jody Weger
Parsnips, 1-1/2 lbs
Thanksgiving Herb Pack (Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Summer Savoury)
Onions, 2
Leeks, bunch

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!


About the Veggies this Week & Recipes:

Every year I laugh about the common reading error that would cause people to email me at the CSA desk asking where their pumpkin pie was, it wasn’t in their box!  As much as I would LOVE to make pumpkin pies for you all, I’m gonna have to delegate this task!

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

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Putting a cat in your pumpkin isn’t an essential step to this recipe!  Mom’s cat Blondie 4 years ago.

Pie pumpkins are stringless, which means you don’t need to puree the squash before making your pie. They also have a sweeter flavour than large pumpkins.
To prepare the pumpkin: Halve pumpkin without peeling, and scoop out the stringy flesh and seeds (clean and save the seeds for roasting!). Poke a few holes in the skin of each half and place halves cut side down in a roasting pan. Bake in a 400*F oven about 40 minutes, until flesh is very soft and has turned a darker orange. Remove from oven, cool, and scoop out the flesh.

Blend together:
2 cups cooked mashed pumpkin
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup flour
Stir in:
2 or 3 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup whipping cream

Blend mixture together well. Bake in an unbaked pie crust at 425*F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 275*F for 30 minutes.  Top with whipped cream!

Teri’s Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe
Not into pies? Make this.  You can make it however you want, it’s basically pumpkin and coffee blended with spices, but this is the way I like to make it.

750 ml hot brewed coffee
1/4 C cooked Pumpkin (follow method in pie recipe above, and any mushy squash would do for this)
2 T Bulletproof MCT oil
4 T salted Butter
1/2 t Pumpkin Spice
2 T raw Honey

Blend in a blender until frothy.  Makes 2 large lattes.  If you’re not into healthy fats in your coffee you can sub cream or milk for the butter and MCT oil.  Janelle says the salted butter is what makes this the best ever!

Potatoes from Jody Weger!  We made a friend through another friend this year.  Found out we’re connected to him in many ways, and he grows nice veggies!  We don’t grow storage potatoes but wanted to make sure you got some this week for Thanksgiving and so we are sending you some of Jody’s Red Potato crop.  Next year we plan to work together a bit more!

The first year of the Veggie Lover’s Club I published a little Thanksgiving Recipe booklet that we sent out in the CSA.  Here it is if you’re interested!  Contains recipes for Pumpkin Pie, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Glazed Parsnips and Carrots, Whipped Turnip, and Gran’s Frozen Lemon Pie!


0q2a1315This Thanksgiving time has felt a bit busier than usual, I think because we have a 2-1/2 year old and the veggies are so wonderfully beautiful this year that they are taking up more space & time!  I’ve opted out on our family event this weekend because I am feeling tired and like a family dinner is the last thing I want to take part in.  No excuses, it just doesn’t work for me, even if there appears to be space in the schedule to cram it all in.  We have been increasingly “de-cramming” our life and have had so many positive changes already that show us this is the right path for us!

So, in this space in the newsletter where I was planning to talk about what I’m thankful for.  This year, I am thankful for the AWAKENING and the shift in frequency that is happening in those of us brave enough to let go and let it happen.  You know if you know, and if you don’t you probably think I’m crazy.  That’s ok, there’s room for all types! Daily Gratitude practice has changed my life this year, and so I’m thankful for gratitude too!  (A bit redundant?!)

The current zeitgeist means we can break paradigms of what thanksgiving is supposed to look  like, and be our true authentic selves, which is the only way to fulfillment and true happiness.  I used to cheerily wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving “if you celebrate” (cuz you gotta stay PC!).  Now, I would urge you to do and say what you need to do this holiday weekend to feel that you are staying true to YOUR path, not anyone else’s.  Not everyone, in fact, probably most of us have family situations that are tense, and not what the media tells us a happy Thanksgiving family is supposed to look like.  Give yourself permission to opt out if you need to.  I’m grateful for the support of my family and I love them a lot, but Thanksgiving is poorly timed for us and it feels better to not participate than to unwillingly drag my tired, slightly grumpy, and not-up-to-family-tensions-or-negative-nelly-comments self there again!

And, as always, I am thankful for YOU, Veggie Lovers!  You make it possible for us to live our most exciting path.  Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!!


As mentioned last week, I’m working on a blog series for the rest of the CSA to keep me motivated to write and to keep you engaged.  The first topic was How We Do CSA last week and this week’s is below.  Let me know at the pickup or send me an email or Instagram message if you have a topic to submit!  It doesn’t have to be about farming, it can be about anything, if I have something to say I’ll write it!

This week’s topic was submitted by Veggie Lover Ally, thanks!!  That anyone actually cares to hear about this topic is completely flattering to me, and it’s the reason I asked YOU to come up with the topics instead of me!!

Teri’s Ten Topics #2: Pest Control and Disease Management on the Farm

On the farm we use Organic methods but we are not certified. My pet peeve is people who use the (regulated) term “Organic” when they are not certified. If you want to be a part of something, then support it and be a part of it! We cannot yet certify because it’s not allowable to have 2 farm locations with one location not certified, and Mom doesn’t want to certify her location (and some battles are not worth the hassle, we are fine with waiting). However, I used to do the paperwork for Organic Certification for a large organic farm in Nova Scotia and so Jon and I know the regulations inside and out and we (mostly) follow them. (We shortcut some of the record keeping right now). If someone tells you they are “Organic but not certified”, then you should be asking them next if they have actually read the Organic Standards (which is NOT a long document and easily accessible to anyone). I always find the people most likely to identify as “non-certified Organic” are the least informed, because the first thing they should know is that the term Organic is regulated and you are not allowed to use it if you’re not certified! Anyhow, rant over: Know your farmer!

So, as far as pest control and disease management applies to us: When creating an Organic system, we focus on overall plant health, and managing our crops to give them what they need. Healthy plants are the most resilient against disease and pests. We noticed in 2018 not only did the crops suffer from drought, but because they (and neighboring crops and wildlife) were suffering, we experienced more pest pressure and affect. Our Kale got so battered by flea beetle that it just died. We don’t consider ourselves “working with nature” because nature doesn’t plant wimpy vegetables in rows and weed everything else out around them! Most vegetable crops require human intervention to thrive: It usually feels to me like we’re trying to fit our production into the natural system in a non-intrusive way, rather than “working with nature” we are “working within a natural system”. By preserving bio-diversity, growing a huge diversity of crops, and not being too aggressive with our methods, we naturally avoid a lot of disease and pest pressure. It’s taking the path of least resistance, rather than trying to impose our human needs on the natural system even when they don’t fit.

20180723-IMG_7076Our main pests here in MB for vegetable crops are flea beetle and cabbage looper. Both of these pests prefer the brassica family of vegetables, so anything in the same family as Canola: Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Arugula, Kale, Kohlrabi, Turnips, Collards, Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Radishes. They have different cycles, so the flea beetle pressure is highest in the spring before the Canola is up and in the late summer after the Canola is cut. Cabbage Loopers come out in August and can infest a planting within hours. Our main defense against these two pests is to exclude them from our crops using row cover (Agribon). It is a thin fabric-like white material that we literally cover the crop with and tuck in like a blanket so the bugs can’t get in. It works pretty well but it’s terrible to work with and never achieves 100% exclusion. (There is another material called Protec-Net that some growers also use, it is more expensive but holds up better over the long term, we haven’t tried it here yet, but it is also not 100% exclusion. Flea beetle are barely visible so it’s pretty hard to completely keep them out!).

IMG_1235If exclusion fails, we can spray BtK (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki) on the plants affected with loopers, making their next meal from our plants deadly. This pesticide is species specific so only caterpillars are affected, and it washes off if it rains and needs reapplication. We usually have to do this once or twice a season on our long season cole crops like Cabbage and Kale. We have nothing to spray for flea beetle, but they tend to be either completely voracious and eat the entire crop, or they are manageable and don’t defoliate the veggies enough to kill them. We manage flea beetle more by timing. They are most voracious in the early spring and late summer, so we try not to have their favourites (arugula, radish, turnips) at a critical stage at that time. Actually, the truth is that we lose at least one planting a year to these assholes… But we treat it as a scout crop, and say, ok, they got those radishes so it’s too early, we’ll try again once we notice the neighbour’s have some canola up! They prefer our tender veggies to canola seedlings, but with the deterrent of row cover they will mostly move on.

IMG_1593Other pests we encounter are rodents. We have moles that like to tunnel through the disturbed earth in our gardens at both locations, and Janelle is an expert trapper and gets most of them. Harper helps at our place, too. She will proudly bring them to us, I totally feel like she understands that we don’t want them around and so she does her part! There are mice in the gardens that often chew melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, and the tops of carrots and beets, and squash when they are tender and still forming. The mouse damaged veggies don’t get harvested and so they just go back into the soil as compost, no big deal: We’re fortunate to grow enough that this doesn’t make enough of an impact to matter. This year there were some rabbits living in Mom’s beets and so we had larger bite marks on some of the discarded beets!

The biggest pest problem we used to have was Deer, and so my Dad Paul built an 8′ wildlife fence at Mom’s location and we no longer have a problem! However, working conditions for the farmers are a consideration as well, and Jon and I found we really didn’t enjoy working inside a fence. We hoped it wouldn’t be necessary for us to build one and so far, with the addition of Harper this year, we haven’t needed to! We grow our lettuce under cages that we built which has worked fabulously for us. It’s a low-tech, simple solution and that’s the kind we like the most! The deer chewed the tops off some of our late beans, and they will dig out any beets or carrots we don’t harvest after the snow comes, like they do every year: They aren’t a problem for us. There is a resident Moose cow in our neighborhood, so I half expect some day to find her and a calf standing in the middle of the field, but it hasn’t happened yet!

IMG_1387

Me laying on the cover crop Jon planted for fall this year.  It did really well with all the rain!

Our disease control methods are gentle, just like our pest control methods. It’s easier to try to work within the natural system than it is to completely try to take it over like a typical egoic human! Disease is most problematic as you move further away from the natural system (if it were a spectrum, large scale grain farming would be at one end and a natural system at the other, and we’d be somewhere in the middle). We grow a diversity of crops and we rotate them as needed. (eg Alliums, the onion/garlic family, shouldn’t be grown in the same spot for at least 4 years, 7+ if you’ve had disease in that spot). We grow cover crops which help to suppress weeds and to build the soil. There’s really little that we do to treat or deal with disease, but lots that we do to increase the health of our soil, which is the pro-active disease control method. We use composted cow manure for fertility and we seed green manure/cover crops on land that is cultivated but not occupied by vegetables. We’re not experts by any means and we’re learning and getting better all the time!

The crop we have most issue with disease is garlic. Garlic growers are usually well acquainted with it! A good rule of thumb as a garlic grower is to plan for a complete loss every 5 years or so, I have seen it time and time again. We try to source quality disease-free seed and because of the issues with garlic we limit how much we grow so it is more manageable. We have had trouble with neck rot in our onions in the past (not at our location, so at least it’s not in the soil here: One year it was worst when we cut the onion tops right after harvest so we don’t do that anymore). This year we had some celery and celeriac die and Laryssa took a sample to the U of M and it was determined to be an insect problem exacerbated by fusarium. Fusiarium is very prevalent in this region and it affects other crops as well and it’s why we don’t use wheat straw mulch. We have the rhizoctonia fungus in our soils, which cause the black residue on some of our potatoes, but it’s not a huge issue and we refresh our seed every few years to mitigate it.

Oh, and SOIL? It’s that stuff on the ground, and it ain’t dirt. Soil is a living system, full of microbiology and life. The overarching point of it all is this: if you nurture healthy soils, you will have less disease and pest pressure. In my spare time I am a bit of a nutrition geek and read anything and everything I can about optimal human nutrition. I believe we need to make a shift in our medical system to functional medicine, which works on finding the root causes of illness and treating those, rather than just treating the symptoms of disease. We practice this in our farming: We put more energy into building healthy soils than we do into treating diseases. Healthy soils are a proactive approach and sprays and chemicals are a reactive approach.

Healthy soils = Healthy food


Thanks for reading, Veggie Lovers, and I look forward to seeing you at tonight’s pickup!

Take care!

Teri & team

October 1 Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is Week 14 of our CSA, 16-week members & 8 week members with extensions finish on Tuesday October 15th.
24-week program ends on Tuesday December 10th!

This week is a Chicken Delivery Date for Luna Field Farm so expect the pickup spot to be a bit busier than usual!

Your newsletter is complete below!  (Scroll to the last section if you’re looking for the first post in my blog series Teri’s Ten Topics, “How we do CSA: behind the scenes of the Veggie Lovers’ Club”)

Today we’ll have a decent sized mini market with some freshly harvested Shoots and Microgreens!  Next week we have a special Thanksgiving bag planned for you, just in time for the upcoming holiday!


Pre-Order Form
There is a minimally stocked mini-market at the pickup, but you can also PLACE A PRE-ORDER to ensure that you get the items you want with your weekly bag.

Placing an order does NOT affect your weekly bag contents, anything you order is IN ADDITION, not “instead” of what is coming in your weekly bag.

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the October 8th pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon!


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should 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 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, 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!

Week13

Your October 1st Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Acorn Squash, 1
Cantaloupe or Charentais Melon, 1
Carrots, 2 lbs
Dragon Tongue Beans, 1/2 lb
Tomatoes, Quart*
Cucumber, the last 1!

*Apologies if you are feeling overwhelmed with tomatoes the past couple of weeks: We are too!  & we really appreciate sending out regular portions to you as it really helps us move through the large inventory of ripening fruit we currently have.

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!


About the Veggies this Week & Recipes:

71032679_2686435518054060_925359749124325376_nThe last Beans and Cucumbers!!  I literally went out while it was trying to snow to do the last pick of cucumbers on Saturday.  This has been the weirdest year!!  I’m thinking last night finally got cold enough to stop the summer that can’t-stop-won’t-stop around here.  It’s hard enough to let things go, never mind when they’re still going!  We made a point of scheduling in the last pick of beans so that you would get some in your OCT 1 bag!  Unprecendented!!

How to tell if your cantaloupe is ripe: We grow two different kinds, both a type of muskmelon/cantaloupe.  One is called Charentais and is bluish-grey and smooth skinned, the other looks like a typical cantaloupe.  Both will lighten in color and yield slightly to pressure when ripe.  Plus, you can smell them when they’re ripe!  Smell the end where the flower was attached and if it smells like yummy ripe melon then you’re probably safe.
*It won’t ripen in the fridge, so make sure you leave it out on the counter to ripen!  Should only take a couple of days depending on how unripe it is when you get it.

There are hundreds of wacky ways to figure out if a melon is ripe or not.  We used to watch people shopping the melon table as sport when I worked at Safeway.  It’s hilarious watching everyone shake, heft, tap and smell the melons!!  Cantaloupe are much easier than watermelon because the flesh gets soft when they’re ripe and they don’t have that thick rind… But I’m no expert by any means!  If you end up disappointed we can provide a second melon next week, just let me know!

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Family tomato sort

Tomatoes: Help!!  We are drowning in ripening tomatoes right now!!

It’s not quite yet an emergency, by sending them out in the bags this week we’ve moved through enough ripe tomatoes to keep things rolling (and I processed over 100 lbs on the weekend, and Mom made Salsa!).  But I can see that next week is rapidly becoming out of hand.  Help us out and order some canning tomatoes next week – I put a special deal on the Pre-Order form, 15 lbs for $20 for next week (Oct 8th) only! (Under “Bulk Buys”, very last item)

They’re ripe but still firm, anything that becomes overripe gets frozen here or processed by me.  The easiest way to preserve tomatoes is to wash them and stick them in the freezer.  The skins slip right off when you take them out and run them under cold water!  I don’t can actual tomatoes because I find I don’t like to work with the result in the kitchen, and canning tomatoes can be a bit scary (botulism?).  So instead I take my food mill and create “Tomato Goo” and freeze it.  The food mill is a simple piece of kitchen tech that removes the seeds and skins from the pulp.  My SIL was amazed at the flavour of my summer chili when they visited September long and I totally credit the food mill and my frozen Tomato Goo base.  I used to struggle to balance the flavours of tomato-based things, and then I learned why: The seeds and skins give things a sourness that is hard to counteract.  So, I’m glad for my food mill.   It’s super basic and cost about $25 from Stokes.  (I cook or freeze the tomatoes before putting them through – FYI a large poultry roasting pan holds about 15 lbs!) It also works great for applesauce!

Whether you buy canning tomatoes this week or next, you are helping us even by taking a quart this week and last week!  So, thanks!  Enjoy the tomatoes!!

Carrots: were washed by my wonderful and amazing husband Jon in the cold yesterday.  Due to scheduling, we harvested them last Wednesday and brought them home unwashed, so they were extra dirty and he had to run his hand over each one to get the dirt off.  By the end his hand was a frozen club!  Veggie handling gets a bit tricky as it gets colder, and our dreams of an indoor all season wash station are not yet reality!

Acorn Squash: My favourite way to eat this is also the simplest way: Cut it in half (perpendicular to the stem), scoop out the insides, brush with butter, and roast in the oven facedown until soft.  Then I like to serve it with something stuffed in the cavity, or use it as a soup bowl!
Generally, you can use acorn squash for any recipe but I wouldn’t recommend it for something where you need to peel it, as it’s an awkward shape for that.  For a soup recipe I would roast it first as it’s much easier to remove the flesh from the skin when peeled.  The skin is edible but will get harder as it sits and be less palatable.


As we down shift into fall, I wanted to do a little blog series to help inspire me to write more.  So I’m calling it Teri’s Ten Topics and the first one is “How we do CSA: A behind the scenes look at the Veggie Lovers’ Club”.  The next topic is (hopefully) chosen by you!  Topics can be anything you want, if it inspires me I’ll write about it!  Let me know what you want to read about at the pickup, or send me an email!

 

  1. How we do CSA: Behind the scenes of the Veggie Lovers’ Club

I thought I’d share with you how the CSA looks for us on a weekly basis. It starts with a plan, and a planting schedule which helps us ensure that we are planning to grow enough crop for the number of members we have. The reason CSA is such a benefit to us farmers is because it allows us to build strong relationships with our members. The second reason is that it is vastly more efficient in terms of managing the harvests!

IMG_4183Each week’s CSA starts with a plan of what is going to be in the bag. That plan starts in the winter when we do our crop planning and seed ordering, but the actual contents of the next week’s bag are constantly discussed throughout the week. By Wednesday, 6 days before ship out, we usually have a pretty solid plan of what we may put into the next week’s shares. I keep a big whiteboard in the shed where I write down items we are thinking about: I like being able to see what we’ve given already to be able to plan what to give next. When there’s an upcoming holiday like Thanksgiving, I have a solid idea of what I want that bag to look like and so we can make sure not to give potatoes two weeks in a row, or to send a pie pumpkin when it’s not needed!

Week13What’s going in the bag each week settles into a bit of a routine this time of year. Carrots and Potatoes tend to alternate weeks, and beets about every third week or so. Items like cucumbers we try to send one every week that we are able to – a cucumber a week is more useful than a big bag all at once, and easier for us to execute, too. We start giving a squash a week in late September, and alternate through the different varieties as we go. I like to give 1 item in the allium (onion) family a week if possible, and something leafy and green every week: Shoots production resumes in the fall to keep the fresh greens coming! We save some of the later crops that store well to be put in the later fall bags (eg Shallots, Leeks, Celeriac, Onions, Squash). In the spring when there is extra time we freeze spinach and baby dill and anything else we can manage to, to add variety to the late fall bags.

On Saturdays after the market I post the list of what we are planning to put in the shares on our website, update the list for pre-orders, and email our members. Often, the items for the shares are already in progress by then. Janelle works only part-time at Mom’s and so if there is something that needs to come from Mom’s place, I make sure to let her know while there’s still time for her to harvest it on Wednesday or Thursday or on the weekend. The CSA harvest from Mom’s gets picked up Thursday afternoon when I pick up Mom’s market harvest, or on the weekend if Myrah is visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Knowing what we need for Tuesday a week ahead allows us to be organized in the way that we need to be. We see this more than ever with Mom’s osteoarthritis in her back this year that prevents her from lifting: Organization is key to making our team work flow well.

20180723-IMG_7063On Mondays, Myrah goes to daycare and Jon and I harvest and prepare veggies for the CSA. This includes printing off the list of pre-orders and adding anything we need to our harvest list. In the summer when there is lettuce we start harvest at first light. This time of year it’s more likely that most of the harvest is already in progress, and so we do some harvesting on Monday but more likely washing, bunching, or bagging. This Monday we will wash & bag the carrots we got at Mom’s on Wednesday, sort the cantaloupes and wipe the dirt off if necessary, count and wipe the cucumbers we picked before the frost, bag the beans we picked Wednesday which was the only day it was dry last week, sort tomatoes and portion them into quart fibres (they travel separately packed in crates and are then poured into each bag at the pickup spot, so they don’t get squished!)

As well, we will assemble the list of items for pre-orders. Our members can place an order whenever they like for additional produce to come along with their weekly bags, from an order list that we provide. It helps make it so that members can get what they need from the farm in a convenient way, which I hope adds to their overall experience and makes CSA — which is generally weighted a bit in the favor of making things easier for us farmers – work for everyone. I create a harvest list which is a summary of all of the additional produce required to fill the pre-orders. I assemble all the items on Monday and on Tuesday I pack them. Each order is printed on it’s own sheet, totaled and stapled to the bag it comes in. This makes it simple for folks to find their order, and make an e-transfer or other payment.

Tuesday mornings I write and send the newsletter. I used to try to do it ahead but would invariably miss something that came up during harvest, so I find it easier to just schedule it for Tuesday mornings now. Sending it Tuesday morning makes it an automatic pickup reminder, too.

Tuesdays after we assemble the pre-orders, I also put together items for the mini-market. We set up a small amount of items for sale along with our bag pickup, which is alongside a bi-weekly pastured meats farm pickup. So both our members and their customers shop from it, and it’s really nice to have something to offer those who aren’t in the program but may be passing by. I generally try to direct folks to our regular Friday market at Lady of the Lake because I don’t want the mini-market to turn into a second weekly market, but so far it hasn’t become a problem.

IMG_3154Then we pack the bags. This is a quick process because we’ve already gotten all of the items ready ahead of time and portioned into bags as needed. For our weekly shares we use reuseable bags with our farm name on them and members return the bags, it works really well. We line up all the items in the order we want them packed (heaviest stuff on the bottom), and then Jon and I and whomever else is around, walk down the line filling the bags. They are then loaded directly in the van or just stacked in the cooler until I depart.

It used to feel a bit stressful on CSA day, but now 4 years in we are a well-oiled machine, and it feels efficient and like a good use of our time. CSA allows us to ship out a large amount of produce each week, and to maximize efficiency and minimize waste. It also allows us an easier framework in which to interact with our customers, and it helps to focus my marketing efforts. If everyone is getting Celeriac, then it is a good use of my time to post some Celeriac recipes that week!

I love the difference that CSA has made to our farm, and I love how it allows us to organize our work efficiently. Our members are our best customers and friends, and I look forward to seeing them each week!

VeggieLovers


Looking forward to seeing you tonight at the pickup as always, folks!

-Teri

September 24th Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is Week 13 of our CSA, or your final pickup, week 8, if you are an 8-week member. 16-week members finish on Tuesday October 15th.
24-week program ends on Tuesday December 10th!

Your newsletter is complete below!  See you tonight & thank you!


Pre-Order Form
There is a minimally stocked mini-market at the pickup, but you can also PLACE A PRE-ORDER to ensure that you get the items you want with your weekly bag.

Placing an order does NOT affect your weekly bag contents, anything you order is IN ADDITION, not “instead” of what is coming in your weekly bag.

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the October 1st pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon!  **Please note the form has been giving some issues and so if you get an error message, you can just email us (sales@brownsugarproduce.com) what you would like!


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should 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 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, 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!

Week12

Last Week’s Bag!

Your September 24th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Delicata Squash, 1
Tomatoes, Quart
Red & Yellow Potatoes Mix, 1.5 lb
Celeriac, 1 large
Beets, Red bunch
Cabbage, 1

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!


About the Veggies this Week & Recipes:

IMG_3358Delicata Squash! This is quickly becoming everyone’s new favourite.  It’s small and easy to manage and has a great flavour — AND you don’t have to peel it, which makes life so much easier!

Most often, I cut this squash up into “smiles” (Cut lengthwise, remove seeds, and then slice into 1/4″ slices) and then arrange on a greased sheet pan with salt & pepper and roast in the oven at 350F (flipping carefully once) until golden brown. They almost taste like French fries prepared this way! Remember, you don’t have to peel Delicata!

Sharing this recipe from Veggie Lover Melissa because it’s perfect for the veggies included in this week’s bag!  She says it’s her favourite Delicata Squash recipe!

SPICED LENTIL SOUP WITH ROASTED BEETS & DELICATA SQUASHSpiced Lentil Soup with Roasted Beets & Delicata Squash
By Katie Henry – Produce On Parade

This is one of my favorite soups. Based with creamy coconut milk, red lentils mingle with roasted beets and caramelized delicata squash. Spiced with tantalizing aromatics like cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Notes: Feel free to leave out the beets if you’re anti-beets. Any lentil can be used to the cooking time may need to be increased if not using red lentils.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium whole beets, scrubbed and ends trimmed
  • 1 delicata squash, washed and diced
  • ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (I like unrefined)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Sprinkle of crushed red pepper
  • Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 15 oz. can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. vegan sugar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Wrap the whole, scrubbed beets loosely in tinfoil. Place on a baking sheet. Toss the diced squash in olive oil and scatter on the same baking sheet. Roast at 400 F for about 30 minutes. Stir the squash at 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, transfer the squash to bowl for later and turn over the beets. Allow the beets to cook for an additional 15-30 minutes, until fork tender. Remove when done and allow to cool.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, bring the lentils and vegetable broth to a boil, stirring occasionally. Make sure to watch it or it could boil over. Reduce to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Then, remove from heat.
    3. In a medium frying pan, heat the coconut oil over low. Add the onion and garlic and sauté a few minutes. Next, add in the turmeric through and including the nutmeg, stirring well and scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Sauté for about 8 minutes, until the onion begins to brown.
    4. Once lentils are done, add the coconut milk through and including the salt to the lentils and broth. Also, add the squash and the onion mixture. When the beets are cooled, dice and add to the soup. Stir well to combine.
    5. Serve hot, garnished with broccoli sprouts like me (if you wish!)

Potatoes are a mix of German Butter and Amarosa All Red Fingerling (pink inside).  We don’t have a ton of potatoes left as we mostly grow them for early season, not for storage.  You’ll definitely be getting some again in the Thanksgiving week bag (Oct. 8th!).  These varieties are two of our favourites!

Celeriac!
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Last year, we harvested the Celeriac IN THE SNOW and it was smaller than we had hoped.  This year it’s gigantic and we’re hoping to have it out before frost hits!  What a different fall we are having than last year.  I’m so glad, but we have a lot of work ahead of us in the next 2 weeks!

(from the Veggie Guide) Celeriac tastes like a potato and a celery had a baby. It’s relatively the same texture as a potato, and the flavour of celery verging on parsnip.

They are sold with the tops on at this time of year! The top is similar to celery in flavour but is very fibrous and so best utilized in a soup or stock.

Preparation Tips: Cut the end of the root so it is has a flat side and then using a sharp knife, cut the peel away from the inner flesh. The peel is light brown and the flesh below is mottled golden white. Once peeled, you can use the entire thing.

This relatively ugly, gnarly vegetable is absolutely delicious and fully worth tackling. Cut into sticks for stir-fries or fresh eating, chunks for stews, diced for soups, and a little bit bigger than your potato chunks if you are boiling for mashing. I usually just add it anywhere I would use celery – chopped as a flavour base for soups and stews, in stir-fries — it can even be eaten raw like carrot sticks! It’s also fantastic boiled with potatoes and then mashed up with them. It will add a flavour that no one will be able to pinpoint, and everyone at the table will consider you a gourmet cook.

Beets: in a bunch, because the tops are GORGEOUS right now and haven’t even had a touch of frost! Last year this same week we had snow and we also had bunched beets in the bags.  It was MUCH nicer getting them yesterday, I remember prying beets from the soil with frozen fingers and being an icicle by lunchtime last year with Janelle!

Cabbage!  Yes, that too!  I wanted to send out another cabbage so that we would still catch the 8-week members – this is the final week for that program!  We have a planting of storage cabbage still that will be distributed later this fall, too.
Bring your muscles, this week’s bag is going to be heavy!

Tomatoes: Last week Laryssa and Jon harvested all of the tomatoes, including all the green ones.  Now the sorting begins!  There are about 30 crates (we had to purchase more last week!) with ripening and green tomatoes that need to be sorted (the ripe ones taken out and sold, used or frozen) at least once a week.  Not my favourite job, but it’s indoors and close to power so I can listen to music or podcasts while doing it, so it’s not so bad!

I think we’ll send you more than we expected to based on my observations while sorting yesterday (there are lots!!).


 

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Myrah and the bubble gun at Nana’s!

Farm Update: As mentioned, we are working on our fall checklist and looking forward to the end of market season (last one this Friday!) which will give us the additional time required to get this done! I always feel rushed at the end of the season, because we never know when the frost will come and how hard it will be.  For now we’re in a good place, all of the tomatoes are in and about half of the squash, we’ll get melons and peppers in this week and we’re working to fill our winter storage bins with carrots and beets (not so frost sensitive, but nice to get them in while it’s still pleasant to work outdoors!).

We got 3.5″ of rain at my place and over 5″ at Mom’s place.  Our field was dry enough to drive the cart on it yesterday afternoon.  Mom’s will take a while to dry up, but thankfully the carrots are in raised beds which helps them stay out of the muck/prevents rotting.  We certainly don’t need any more rain, but as far as farmers go, we’re not so badly off.  I’m very glad we’re not grain farmers right now!

This year’s veggies have been epic, and like this week, we’ve often sent along way over the weekly value of the bag, just because there is such an abundance.  We hope you’ve enjoyed it!  If you’re an 8-week member and your program ends this week, thank you so much for being a part of our Veggie Lovers’ Club this year!  If you’re a 16-week member, you still have 3 pickups in October to look forward to, including the Thanksgiving week bag!  And 24-weekers, you’re in it for the long haul– We got lots of additional items frozen this year and we’re excited for some upcoming Shoots and Microgreens in your future bags, to keep things fresh and green!

(8 week members, if you’d like to take me up on the 3 week extension I mentioned last week, just shoot me an email or talk to me at the pickup tonight!)

Take care and have a great week!  See you tonight!

Teri 🙂

September 17th Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi folks!!

This is Week 12 (the half way point) of our CSA, or week 7 if you are an 8-week member.
16-week members finish on Tuesday October 15th.
24-week program ends on Tuesday December 10th!

Your newsletter is complete below!  See you at the pickup tonight from 4:30 – 6!

Pre-Order Form
There is a minimally stocked mini-market at the pickup, but you can also PLACE A PRE-ORDER to ensure that you get the items you want with your weekly bag.

Placing an order does NOT affect your weekly bag contents, anything you order is IN ADDITION, not “instead” of what is coming in your weekly bag.

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the September 24th pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon!  **Please note the form has been giving some issues and so if you get an error message, you can just email us (sales@brownsugarproduce.com) what you would like!


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should 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 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, 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!

Week11

Last week’s bag

Your September 17th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Spaghetti Squash, 1 large
Rainbow Carrots, 3 lbs
Celery, 1 large
Sweet Onions, 3 lb bag
Cucumber, 1
a small Herb of your choice (We will have dill, cilantro, parsley, sage, thyme & small amounts of a couple others available!)

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!


About the Veggies this Week & Recipes:

Welcome to Squash Week!

This week is the start of Squash Season in your Veggie Lovers’ Club bags!

We’re starting you off with a Spaghetti Squash, because I wanted to make sure the 8 week members got one before your program ends, and because Spaghetti is everyone’s FAVOURITE it seems.  Not mine, but that just means more for you, right?!

How to cook Spaghetti Squash (the best way!)

Aunty Jayne’s Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash for a long time, this was the only way I had ever enjoyed Spaghetti Squash!  (There’s lots of yummy flavours to hide the fact that this squash is relatively flavourless 😛 )

Lots more squash coming soon in your bags if you’re in the 16- or 24-week programs!

img_3143Celery: I haven’t seen it yet because it is grown at Mom’s where there is more consistent irrigation.  But I expect it’s HUGE!  Please, make sure you follow the storage tips and store it in the fridge completely covered in a bag, or more likely a couple of bags!  We save ourselves oodles of not-fun time bagging celery and leave it up to you to do at home.  I often hear about people sticking veggies straight in the fridge without any cover and then telling me they wilted.  Ummm….  Yeah, don’t do that!!  Your fridge is designed to keep things cold and maintain low humidity.  It’s basically a big cold dehydrator.  Celery in the fridge without a plastic bag doesn’t stand a chance!

It needs to be completely covered, even the top.  I usually put it in a grocery bag, or use two produce bags to make sure it’s completely covered.

Also, if you find any internal damage to your celery when you start taking it apart, please let us know and we can get you a replacement or something else.  It happens, we try to watch for it, but it can be hard to detect.  There is one pest, tarnish plant bug, that sucks the juice from the interior leaves which kills them, then they turn brown and slimy.  There’s also a caterpillar that prefers it and will eat out the insides of the stems and turn them brown.  And there’s always the possibility of getting an underwatered plant with hollow stems.  We try to prevent this, but let us know if it’s not up to par, it helps us so much!

If you’re ever in your life going to try making Celery Soup, I recommend you use a big farm celery with lots of leaves like this one!

The last of the Sweet Onions!
We wanted to make sure you had some onions in your larder as we move into fall, so they will be coming regularly in larger amounts than in the summer.  This is the last of the Sweet Onions.  They store only until about Christmas at best, so we always make sure to sell them first and then move onto selling storage onions.  At market this week I plan to have mixed bags of all 3 types of onions, and that will be the last of the Sweet Onions, which are not all that sweet at this time of year anyway!

Rainbow Carrots: These often/always have green shoulder to some extent.  It won’t hurt you but it’s a bit of a culinary faux pas to eat them.  Every time I see green shoulder (the tops of the carrot sticks out of the ground and turns green from the sun), it reminds me of the time I went to a fancy horticultural society dinner in Nova Scotia where the chefs were provided with ingredients from the growers.  My board-mate was HORRIFIED to see the green shoulders of her rainbow carrots served on the plates!  She talked about it angrily in future board meetings, in fact I’ll bet she still is!

Because of that, our Rainbow Carrots come in a 3 lb bag instead of a 2 lb bag for the same price.  So cut ’em off and carry on, you’re not “wasting” anything!  (They also will NOT hurt you at all if you do eat them, the solanin that is produced in potatoes when they turn green makes them toxic, but this is a completely different process).

Cucumbers: Will be coming to an end VERY SOON, so enjoy this possibly last one in your bag!

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The cilantro is beautiful right now!

Herb of your choice: How fun!!  I was laughing yesterday to Jon that there will be a few poor confused husbands today at the pickup when I tell them they have to choose a herb for the bag.  Then I asked Jon, “Would YOU know which one to choose from these choices?”.  Honestly, I like all herbs and could find a use for any of them, but he answered correctly with “Cilantro” (We use at least a bag a week of that).  So, if there’s still time, text your hubby or pickup partner and let them know your first and second choices for herbs and then they won’t have to blink confusedly at me!

Choices are: Cilantro, Baby Dill, Parsley, and in small amounts Thyme, Catnip, Sage, Basil, Mint.  I think by the time we got a few of everything there’s actually enough for most of you to take 2, so if you’re reading this, tell me “The Verb is Herb” at the pickup and you can take home 2 herbs of your choice! (Lol, side note that is the actual name of a cannabis shop in Massachusetts.)


WELCOME TO SQUASH SEASON!!  I decided to go big and make it Squash Week here at the farm.  Giving myself a theme really helps inspire me to post on social media more, and posting as much as I can in September pays off because we really notice a dip in market attendance.  People are out of their summer routines, kids are back in school, and we’re freezing and lugging heavy stuff around and still going strong!  In fact, the veggie trailer is most well-stocked at this time of year, and there are few line ups.  It’s the best time of year to visit us!

 

Well, as to the “freezing” part, we’re definitely not doing that!  What a beautiful past few days it’s been.  Feels like summer but all the fall colors are out and we’re finally on the final downhill of a long season.  Folks, we’re getting tired!  Jon and I were talking about it yesterday, how we’re on the last mile of a marathon which is why by the end of the day I feel tired deep in my bones and definitely less enthusiastic overall.  For instance, last week at market a man was looking at Beet Leaf Buns while his wife shopped for veggies.  He asked “Beet Leaf Buns?” and I replied, “Yep.”  I simply couldn’t bring myself to say “It’s-a-beet-leaf-wrapped-around-bun-dough-and-you-make-a-sauce-with-dill-and-green-onions-and-cream-to-pour-over-them” like I have repeated literally thousands of times before! Tired, but still laughing, and not focusing on how tired I am because that just makes it worse!

MusqueWe’re making good progress towards harvest and picking away at it each day.  It’s actually beneficial to wait until the squash leaves are zapped by frost to start harvesting (so you can find them!) and to leave them on the vines as long as possible, too.  Some of the larger varieties (Hubbard, Musque de Provence, Pink Banana) really benefit from as many days on the vine as possible as we barely have a long enough season to grow them.  The Musque didn’t make it last year, but they are looking good so far.  Yesterday I found one so big I had to pick it and bring it to the house so I could gaze at it this fall (they are BEAUTIFUL!).  It was half a pound shy of 30 lbs!!  We grow these for Chez Angela to use in all of their pumpkin things.  When ripe they are flourescent orange inside like the brightest cantaloupe!  These ones are Angie’s favourite to use and I’m glad they seem to be coming along well this year.


Spring Shoots Program Registration now open!Screenshot 2019-02-26 10.15.15Continue your Veggie Love by signing up for our Spring Shoots Program, beginning in March 2020.  For all the details, Click Here.

*Please note that we are unable to stock individual bags of shoots in Chez Angela (or anywhere) this winter due to new MB health regulations around microgreens.  So, this CSA-style program is the only way to access our shoots.  Believe me, you’ll be so happy to see something fresh and green come March!


That’s all for this week folks!  Oh, and 8 week members, I’ll be sending you some info about optional $75 3-week extensions tomorrow (Wednesday).  Your program ends next Tuesday September 24th otherwise!

Take care and see ya soon!

Teri 🙂

 

Teri’s Coldface Killa’ Recipe

coldfacekillaJon has a cold.  They are more frequent in our household now that we have children in our lives (shudder).
I posted a couple of photos to stories while I made my latest batch of Teri’s Coldface Killa’ yesterday and got so many messages asking for the recipe that I thought I’d post it.

Ingredients:
1 L bone broth
6 T finely grated organic ginger
2 T finely grated organic turmeric
Zest & juice of 2 organic lemons
Sea Salt and Pepper
500 ml strongly brewed Peppermint Tea
Optional additions: 2 cloves minced garlic, spicy pepper (eg jalapeno) to taste
Use about 1 L of the best broth you can get your hands on (use quality bones from healthy animals!). Put it in a pot. Add 4 – 6 tablespoons of finely grated fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons of finely grated fresh turmeric, the zest and juice of two lemons (and throw in the used up lemon carcasses too, why not). Dash of sea salt and black pepper. Simmer at a low temperature for at least 30 minutes. While that’s going, make about 500 ml of strong peppermint tea (or a tea of your choice, mint is nice because it helps clear the sinuses right away). Add the tea to the rest and once it’s cooled a bit, Strain the mixture and stir in as much raw honey as you like – I use about 1/4 cup in this size batch. (Sometimes I add raw garlic, too, but then it gets a bit weird… might be better to swallow that on the side to keep this drinkable. Jalapeno, or any spicy pepper is another optional addition!)
Pour into bottles or jars or a big steamy mug for your favourite sick person. Jon says it makes him instantly feel better, and now that this recipe is written down he can make it for me next time I’ve got a Coldface that needs Killin’.

If you’re sick, I hope you feel better soon; and if you’re making this for a sick person, you are a kind friend!

September 10 Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi folks!!

Your newsletter is complete below!  See you at the pickup from 4:30 – 6, rain or shine!


Pre-Order Form
There is a minimally stocked mini-market at the pickup, but you can also PLACE A PRE-ORDER to ensure that you get the items you want with your weekly bag.

Placing an order does NOT affect your weekly bag contents, anything you order is IN ADDITION, not “instead” of what is coming in your weekly bag.

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the September 17th pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon!  **Please note the form has been giving some issues and so if you get an error message, you can just email us (sales@brownsugarproduce.com) what you would like!


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should 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 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, 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!

Week10

Last week’s bag!

Your September 10th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains (I see Potato Leek Soup and Greek Salad or Fresh Salsa in your future!):

German Butter Potatoes, 1.5 lb
Leek – large, 1
Tomatoes, Quart
Red Onion, large, 1
Peppers, 2
Garlic, large, 1
Jalapeno Peppers, 2
Cucumber, 1

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!


About the Veggies this Week & Recipes:

In the summer, I almost always have a bowl of fresh salsa on the go.  It’s super easy to make and you have most of what you need in this week’s bag!  Simply dice up some tomatoes and then add finely diced onions, peppers, minced garlic, minced jalapeno pepper, some cumin, the juice of 1/2 a lime and chopped cilantro if you like it.  Roasted corn is a great addition, too.
If it’s going to sit for a while, sometimes I strain out some of the tomato juice (let it sit in a colander over a bowl for a while).  It keeps forever in the fridge, and goes well on everything!

Here’s Mom’s Leek & Potato Soup Recipe!

IMG_1593Note from the mice: There has been a big incursion of mice into the veggie fields lately.  We always have damage on our carrots and beets and usually squash too, but this year they are also getting into the cucumbers and melons.  We have tried to grade out all of the mouse chewed cukes but do watch for it!  (I eat the chewed ones all the time and haven’t died, but I imagine regular folks might not be into sharing food with a mouse!).  Worst case you can cut around it and carry on!
The farm cats have been very busy keeping up with the mice coming into the shed and house.  The worst part is when they get into vehicles.  There is a nest in the glove box of the car that we found when we parked in Winnipeg on Saturday!  So embarrassing.

Our German Butter Potatoes are showing more rhizoctonia on them as the season goes on.  Rhizoc is a fungal soil disease that is present in most of the soils here, especially if potatoes have ever been grown.  It shows up on your spuds as dirt that won’t come off without scrubbing it.  I would LOVE to send you potatoes without any rhizoc on them, but it would take forever as we wash them with the hose and the pressure isn’t enough to blast it off.  It won’t hurt you, and honestly, sometimes people who have been buying our potatoes for years say they’ve never even noticed it!  But I do recommend you scrub it off, as it can make your spuds taste gritty and nobody wants that!

We will be purchasing new seed for next year as I have seen this get worse each year on the German Butter, which at first seemed somewhat resistant to it.  We rarely save our own seed for anything, but we do often plant our own potatoes again because the specialty varieties can be hard to find and ship.

I don’t mean to only talk about issues we are having… Those are just a couple of things I wanted you to know about!  Overall, it’s been a fantastic growing season and we’ve been really happy with most of our crops.  We narrowly escaped frost on Saturday night and Mom got a bit at her place.  It zapped the top of the squash which will remind it to hurry up, and some tomatoes and cukes.  Frost is a comma near the end of the season before winter ends the sentence with a period of snow!

Extensions: Just an update, we plan to discuss the possibility of offering extensions to our 8- and 16- week members at today’s meeting – it depends on how much fall harvest we think we will have and how tired we are feeling.  Most likely we will definitely offer the option to keep placing orders from the pre-order form once your program ends.  If you are highly interested in an extension and you’re reading this, talk to me at the pickup or send me an email!


Farm Update: We found a farm sitter a couple weeks ago and so we are actually going away this winter, after the 24 week program ends, for 6 weeks of road tripping to the southwestern US!  I realized this weekend that I only left the farm three times since a year ago… Once for a Winnipeg trip in February, once for a conference in February, and once in March to visit friends in Cartwright.  So, it was SO NICE to have 2 nights in Winnipeg at an awesome airbnb this weekend, and I don’t even know what I’ll do with myself for 6 whole weeks away!

This trip was planned a few months back as a conscious way to help improve our lives: More road trips and less winter! It’s not really by choice that I don’t leave the farm, there’s just not a lot of opportunity to do so, nor are there funds for plane tickets or hotels.  We love the logistics of doing everything on a shoestring and living simply.  I feel like we work really hard to make our day to day life amazing, so most of the time I’m just happy to be home enjoying the life we’ve crafted here.  But I know that getting away will help me appreciate home in a different way, too.  We look forward to the break and the family bonding time!

This is Joan’s last week with us for her practicum.  We will continue to have Laryssa help us during market season and maybe past that for the fall harvest as well.  Janelle has found a full time job for winter and will be still helping evenings and weekends for a while.  The heaviest part of the season has yet to come, with all of our crops needing to be brought in.  Thousands of pounds of squash, carrots, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, melons, onions, leeks, tomatoes.  It’s actually nice for us once markets wrap up (final one is September 27th, so 3 more to go!), because then we have some time to get that work done.  Unfortunately the frost comes before then and half of the things on that list are frost-sensitive so the next 2 weeks are a bit bananas.  We are well rested and ready!

This Sunday is Open Farm Day in Manitoba.  I sent brochures out a couple of weeks ago in your bags and I’ll make sure to have some extra at today’s pickup with me!  We don’t participate as a farm but we will be attending: We plan to visit Ryan and Ali at Tamarack Farms near Erickson.

F4BC038F-5E70-419B-8F18-2A75DE63C8D8

Jon and I with Skratch Bastid at his BBQ

Myrah had a great weekend at Grandma’s and she was very happy to see us both at daycare pickup yesterday!  I think Harper, the dog, thought we had left forever, she hasn’t left our sight since we returned!

Thanks Veggie Lovers, I look forward to seeing you today, and don’t forget to VOTE!!

Teri 🙂