Week 17: September 21-27

What's In Your Basket?

Seascape Strawberries
Cherry Tomatoes
Head Lettuce
Red Slicing Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Green Beans
Hot Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Copra Onions
Zucchini & Summer Squash

On Rotation


Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!

The produce in the baskets this week should be familiar and comfortable to most everyone - now that we’ve been in summer’s grip for quite a while. Even with all the colorful bounty coming out of the fields, though, it’s easy to get in a dinner rut from time to time. Which is why I was so excited when our neighbors opened our eyes to this wonderful Roasted Cherry Tomato Pesto recipe this week. A whole new spin on an all-too familiar crop these days!

We’ve also posted a recipe that will use most of your veggies together in one simple, easy, summery recipe: Sourdough Panzanella with Summer Vegetables. This one comes from the Mother Nature Network, an online environmental news source that profiled us this summer in an article entitled “40 farmers under 40”: http://www.mnn.com/food/farms-gardens/stories/40-farmers-under-40

If you need reminders on any of the other produce in the basket this week, scan back through the previous newsletters for storage tips and recipes.

On the Farm....

Contrary to what the hot weather would have us believe, this week marks the official beginning of Fall. On the farm, the equinox is not just a day on the calendar. It is a real threshold.

It means that more than once this week we have found ourselves harvesting by tractor headlights because the daylight was suddenly gone at 7:30 (instead of 10 pm!). It means waking up in the pitch black to head out to the fields on early harvest mornings. It means that the wash water in the barn is getting cold enough to numb our hands when we’re dunking lettuce heads. It means that the winter squash plants are dying back to reveal a winter’s worth of meaty butternuts, acorns, delicates, and pumpkins. It means that we are beginning to haul in storage crops hand over fist: onions, shallots, potatoes. It means that the autumn plantings of kale and chard are coming into their prime; that the Brussels sprouts are chest high; that the cabbages are fat and heavy; that the celeriac and parsnips are putting on girth.

I forget how much I love this time of year, in part because it is a magnificent collision of the two most abundant seasons – summer and fall – when you can eat fresh caprese salad one day and butternut squash soup the next. There are no culinary limits, other than the size of our stomachs.

But also because this is the time of year that we are quite literally reaping what we sow. All of the set-up is done – the planting and trellising and seeding and tending. Even some of the irrigation and weeding is behind us. What remains on the to-do list is mainly harvest, and it’s harvest with a capital “H.” I love walking into the barn on a big harvest day and seeing all of the food spread out and stacked up: crimson red strawberries next to sunset orange heirlooms beside heaps of rainbow carrots, atop blanched leeks and sweet fennel bulbs and hefty cabbages. The challenge is not what to put into the harvest baskets each week, but what NOT to put in them – so that we don’t overwhelm you with a tidal wave of too much produce.

The great thing is, there is still so much to look forward to: all of the fall flavors that are still to come. I’m guessing most of you have never eaten celeriac (you’re in for a treat), or romanesco cauliflower (at first glance, you’ll think you’re hallucinating), or frost-sweetened lacinato kale (my dear friend in Hawaii has almost forsaken her native island to live in a place where she can get frost-nipped lacinato kale in the winter). Hakurei turnips – those little white orbs that won so many of your hearts this spring – will be back, as will purple kohlrabi, French breakfast radishes, broccoli, escarole, and more.

There’s a good chance, too, that there will be storage crops to see us deep into winter. So for those of you who are worrying about going through Valley Flora Vegetable Withdrawals (VFVW) come December, we will probably be setting up a special order system after the Harvest Basket is over.

It might look something like this: We would send out an email each week - or every other week - listing available produce (for instance, 5 pound bags of bulk carrots, 5 pound bags of potatoes, kale by the bunch, winter squash by the pound, etc.). If you wanted to order, you would reply to the email with your order for the week. We would pack your order into a tote, label it with your name, and make up an invoice for your you. Totes would be available for pick-up at the farm on a specified day each week.

We most likely wouldn't be delivering to the usual pick-up sites in the winter, so if you live far from the farm but would like to get winter produce from us, there may be a way we could help you all get organized so that, for instance, Coos Bay people could coordinate and have one person pick up all of the Coos Bay orders. That said, if there is lots of interest it might merit us firing up Frank, the delivery van, and making the trip.

We’ll be figuring out the details as we get closer to the end of the season, but if you have any input in the meantime don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Happy eating!