20th Harvest Week: Wed/Thurs delivery October 26th & 27th, 2011

 In Farm News

Farmer John Writes…

Greetings from Angelic Organics!

Week 20, Alas!
This is your final week unless you are receiving an Extended Season Share. We hope you’ve enjoyed the season!

Vegetable of the Week: Popcorn!
We had a good crop of popcorn this year. We left it in the field until now to dry it down as much as possible. We harvested it last Saturday morning. Here’s a short video of the harvest:


Before you strip the cob and pop the kernels (family fun!), make sure that they’re really dry enough by test-popping a few. Upon close inspection, you may be able to notice, if the kernel portion which was touching the cob looks dry or not, though test popping is still a good indicator. If the corncob needs to dry more, remove the husks and let the cob dry further in your kitchen window. This could take up to a month or two.

About Popcorn, from http://www.factmonster.com/spot/popcorn1.html

Tasty Fossils Popcorn was probably an important part of life in the ancient Americas. On a 1,700-year-old painted funeral urn found in Mexico, a corn god is shown wearing a headdress of popcorn. Decorated popcorn poppers from around the same time have been found in Peru.

Stone Age Snack?
Archaeologists have found 80,000-year-old corn pollen below Mexico City. Because this pollen is almost exactly the same as modern popcorn pollen, researchers believe that “cave people” most likely had popcorn.

Popcorn probably grew first in Mexico, though it was also used in China and India hundreds of years before Columbus reached the Americas.

For more on popcorn: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn

Or Google how to pop cornlots of videos on popcorn popping, though most involve a microwave. We’re not big microwave advocates; still, seeing corn pop right on the cob in that little electronic cabinet is quite a sight.

Modified Delivery Schedule for those with Extended Season Shares

Extended season share deliveries will be different from previous seasons.

For Full Extended Season shares, your 4 boxes will be delivered over 3 weeks: 1 box on the week of Oct 31, 1 box on the week of Nov 7 & 2 boxes on the week of Nov 14.

For Half Season Extended Season shares:

* if you currently receive your box on the ODD week ( i.e. week 19), your pick up dates will be first box the week of Oct 31 & one box the week of Nov 14.

* if you currently receive your box on the EVEN week ( i.e. week 20) your pick up dates will be 1 box the week of Nov 7 & 1 box the week of Nov 14. (Your boxes will be delivered in two consecutive weeks due to no deliveries the week of Thanksgiving.)

For Shareholders who receive Home Delivery, the same delivery schedules as above apply

Deliveries will be at your same delivery site that you currently have, and on the same delivery day of the week.

You Go, Chicago!
Two weekends ago, my wife Haidy and I explored Chicago, a mecca my Uncle Harold usually referred to as the Big City. On the weekend we had set aside for our getaway, it turned out that Chicago was hosting the first ever Open House Chicago, a celebration of Chicago’s neighborhoods and communities. Over 100 special places in Downtown, Garfield Park/North Lawndale, Little Village, Bronzeville/Hyde Park, Rogers Park/West Ridge were hosting this hospitable event. Good timing for our adventure!

Though bedazzled by the prospect of the diverse treasures on the self-guided Open House Chicago weekend, we first ogled our way through a guided tour of Downtown by the Chicago Architectural Foundation (the same group that organized Open House Chicago.) The 2 hour Treasures of Culture and Commerce Tour included the Reliance BuildingCarson Pirie Scott & Co. (Sullivan Center), the Chicago Cultural Center, the Palmer House and the famous Michigan Avenue Streetwall.

On the tour, Haidy and I thrilled to the ebullient origins of Chicago. I reflected on its agricultural roots, on its great Chicago River that once carried barges of grain for purchase by hagglers and traders. I pondered that my own family in earlier times had shipped cattle to the sprawling Chicago Stock Yards and sent grain down the Chicago River, helping to make the Big City bigger with the treasures of agriculture. Even today, we continue that stream of bringing agricultural bounty to Chicago from Angelic Organics.

Tiffany Dome in the Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center A reception for the film The Real Dirt on Farmer John was held in this room in 2006.

That night we attended a play about love, Bus Stop, at the Raven Theater on Clark. Though the play is set in Kansas City, I was reminded that crops and commerce are not the only ingredients that made Chicago boom: love has also played myriad roles.

On Saturday, we visited Garfield Park. We exalted in the balmy Garfield Park Conservatory, while grieving its extensive hail damage from a great summer storm. We marveled at the vibrant and regal Field House (Gold Dome Building) and then lunched at the Inspiration Kitchens: great food, service and atmosphere, and an inspiring mission:  Inspiration Kitchens has helped hundreds of individuals gain the skills they need to find employment and exit homelessness and poverty. Then off to a neck-craning, breathtaking tour of Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica . Then to Little Village where we paraded down the street, piñatas in hand, the only gringos in sight.

On Sunday morning, we headed for Pilsen, where we ambled to Ranchero music pouring into the street, did thrift shops, and had lunch. We ended our Chicago spree at The National Museum of Mexican Art. This fabulous museum showcases the history of Mexico from back before it was Mexico, leading you through war, betrayal, uprising, and the enduring culture of corn. We concluded our museum tour in the extensive Day of the Dead exhibit, which included many altars lovingly constructed by friends and relatives, dedicated to the recently dead. These tributes in the museum to those who had passed, yet who seemed so present, reminded me of how Rudolf Steiner often referred to the deceased as the so-called dead. You go, Mexico!

Pumpkin Festival out West

A Community comes together around their Beloved Pumpkin


Joe Jutras with his 1689 lb world record pumpkin

Monsanto Takes up Gardening
Do we want more Monsanto? The countryside in spring already smells of Roundup instead of curing hay.


Plastic in our Boxes
A shareholder recently wrote us her concern about our use of plastic bags:

I’ve been returning my plastic bags to you, hoping you reuse them for future boxes.  Truthfully, the plastic bags are the one experience I have had with your farm that is unpleasant for me.  I appreciate the local sourcing of my food, the ecologically sound way in which it’s grown and the lower fuel content for transport of my food..the plastic bags are becoming cumbersome to my conscience.  I’m wondering if you can accomplish the same goal by using paper bags and simply advising members that the bags may become a little damp.  Please consider this carefully.  I know, from your farm philosophy, that you value the environment as much as I and I thank you for your consideration. 

My (Farmer John’s) response: This is a most important topic. I also am not keen on our use of plastic in our vegetable packing. We have considered using biodegradable plastic bags, which go into the landfills, where anaerobic conditions are not conducive to bio-degradation, and the bags typically take a very long time to decompose. In addition, the biodegradable bags would cost the farm several thousand additional dollars per year. The plastic bags we use are recyclable, so they do not need to end up in landfills. However, we can’t re-use these bags for vegetable packing, as they would need to be thoroughly washed and disinfected in between uses after sitting for days with food particles in them: this is a job way beyond our resources. Still, these bags can be commercially recycled into something useful. As far as paper bags are concerned, our greens are typically somewhat damp when we bag them, and the paper bags would often disintegrate before arrival at shareholders’ homes. In addition, paper would not hold in the moisture, and our nemesis wilting would occur.

Until we come up with a better solution, please re-cycle your plastic bags. And thank you for drawing our attention to this important issue.

More or Less Mixed Messages

From a Shareholder: Not so Keen on Potatoes
Shelly, Why are we getting so many potatoes this year???  We almost never eat potatoes, and certainly not 5# per week!    Thanks,  A shareholder for most of the past 10 years

From a Shareholder, My Daughter Loves those Potatoes!
I just wanted to share that my 5-year old daughter is obsessed with your potatoes.
Skin-on boiled then fried in a little olive oil and topped with lots of parsley!
She declared at last night’s dinner (in a rare moment when her mouth was not stuffed), that
“i love potatoes even more than eggs and cauliflower”.  If only you knew how incredible this declaration is (she has been know to request leftover cauliflower for breakfast and we often have to cut her off at 2 farm eggs)!

It was fun to have her help me scrub the potatoes (dirt-covered treasures) and marvel at the varied colors…purple being the easy favorite — found a “twin” potato as well.

She has requested potatoes for breakfast.  So much earthy flavor in your potatoes.

Thanks for the work you do!

live eat well

From Farmer John, Fewer Potatoes, More Sweet Corn; Less Winter Squash, more Broccoli and Cauliflower
Farming can be capricious: this season our potatoes yielded more than twice their average yield, which has resulted in a lot of potatoes in your boxes. Next year, we’ll plant 25% fewer potatoes and will probably devote that acreage to more sweet corn. There are constraints as to what we can plant in place of potatoes, due to irrigation requirements in that field location, soil type, and labor availability. We also plan to plant 20% less winter squash, and will probably instead plant more broccoli and cauliflower. Adjusting crop composition is an ongoing process.

Free Range Turkey Delivered for Thanksgiving?

from Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks: http://www.freshpicks.com/cms/?pid=1000079

Broad-breasted Bronze and White Turkeys have been raised free-range with no hormones, antibiotics or GMO feed at Triple “S” Farms in Stewardson, Illinois and TJ’s Poultry in Piper City, IL.  The Turkeys will be about 14-18 pounds at $3.99 per pound and are frozen when processed.  T

Angelic Organics is offering this service in support of Irv’s and Shelly’s Fresh Picks and to support the growers of these sustainable turkeys. We are not receiving a commission on the turkey sales. Fresh Picks will answer all your question via email at email hidden; JavaScript is required or call  847-410-0595.

Upcoming Programs with the Angelic Organics Learning Center

Preschool Fun with Farm Animals, 10 am to noon, Nov 4 Preschoolers and their caregivers will help our farm crew care for the goats, chickens and horse, while learning about the important jobs of animals on the farm.

Soap Making–just a few spots left, 9 to noon, Nov 5
Learn to make a wonderful and gentle soap using goat’s milk.

Basic Backyard Chicken Care, 10 a.m. to 1 pm, Nov 5
Farm fresh eggs from your own back yard? YES! Please join us for a workshop on best practices for Basic Backyard Chicken Care in Chicago and surrounding communities. Location: likely at Christy Webber Landscaping’s Rancho Verde, East of Chicago’s Center for Green Technology at 445 N Sacramento, Chicago, IL

Thanksgiving Food from the Farm: A Program for Kids! 9 am to 4 pm, Wed, Nov 23 Prepare food from the farm to bring home for your family’s Thanksgiving meal. We’ll use squash and eggs to make a delicious pie, cook bread in our earth oven, and learn how to roast vegetables, plus spend time with the animals. For children in 1st to 5th grade, together with an adult.

Please register on line at least 1 week in advance or call  (815) 389-8455 .

The following takes you to the Learning Center calendar, which has links to all of their programs:

Nice to have You with us this Season

Farmer John


Box Contents

Please Note: this summary is written before you receive your box—please be aware that some guesswork is involved. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Fruiting Crops – Popcorn, 2 Butternut squash
Brassicas – a stalk of Brussels sprouts cut in half, Kohlrabi, Broccoli side shoots
Alliums – Garlic
Cooking Greens – bagged Tatsoi
Salad Greens –Lettuce, bagged Spinach
Root Crops – 2 varieties of Potatoes


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Showing 3 comments
  • Katie

    For what it’s worth, I thought all the potatoes were fantastic. I will easily use them up, and there are only 2 people in my household. Potatoes (and squash!) are great storage vegetables, and I will be happy to have these little reminders of summer for the next several weeks.

  • Constance

    I realize that everyone’s tastes are different, but I have been very happy about all the potatoes and winter squash in my boxes this year. While we might not be able to consume them all in one week, the beauty of many fall veggies is that they store remarkably well. Even though the extended-season share will be done before Thanksgiving, I am happy to think that I’ll still have veggies stored away to eat well into December. I also appreciate that you are leaving a good amount of dirt on the potatoes when you bag them up; a farmer friend told me that this practice allows the potatoes to be stored for even longer than normal. Thanks to you and the entire farm crew for so many tasty treats this year!

  • Amy

    Week 20 already? This season has flown and over the years we’ve gotten really great at using everything in our boxes. We see it as a challenge — this year, we ate more potatoes (mashed with celeriac, amazing). We’ll be enjoying what we’ve frozen and the squash and potatoes for a few more weeks, then anxiously awaiting next June to see what’s in the weekly treasure chest again.

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