Welcome To Harvest Week 12: Tue/Wed/Thurs Delivery, Aug 27, 28 & 29, 2013
Welcome to Harvest Week 12
Let Your Friends Know about our Back-to-School Shares
We are now offering back-to-school shares. We realize some families are gone from home too much during the summer, but they do want their kids to eat healthy. With school going back in session, it is the perfect time to be putting a healthy meal on the table and a great time to see what a CSA share is all about. Send them to www.angelicorganics.com soon, as the window for signing up closes within a few days. They will receive a $20 discount when they use coupon code Friend2013.
Save the date Sat, Sept 21, for our Farm Open House
More details to follow
Are you a Gmail user?
Here’s a heads-up about Gmail’s new feature of automatically filtering your email messages for you.
Messages we send to you through Gmail are probably being marked as “Promotions” and will automatically skip your inbox — even when we send you original, content filled articles or information about our farm and your shares. That means that you won’t see any email from us in your main inbox UNLESS you adjust your gmail settings! We don’t want you missing out on important information from us, so would you take a few seconds to ensure we can continue to communicate directly with you?
It is super easy to make sure that emails we send don’t get missed. Drag one of our emails that you find in the “Promotions” tab to the “Primary” tab. Or right click on one of the messages and request that it be moved to the Primary tab. Then make sure you click “Yes” when the alert pops up. Done!
The Weather This Past Week
Warm with 8/10 of an inch of rain, a lovely shower. It was even hot for an afternoon or two! This month, we subsoil the fields that will be in crops next year. It was quite challenging to get through some of the fields, because of the dryness. We finally decided to stop and wait for a rain. If the rain didn’t come, we would irrigate the fields that were so resistant to being deeply tilled. The rain came, the subsoiling is done, and all is well. Farming is a continual dance with the weather.
Do You Wonder How Things Get into Your Box?
Running a Community Supported Agriculture farm will inevitably lead the crew and the field managers and me (Farmer John) to ponder the grading of vegetables, where to draw the line between an acceptable cucumber and an unacceptable cucumber for our shareholders, where to make the cut between a suitable tomato and an unsuitable tomato. We don’t apply commercial wholesale standards to our box selection, as that would require that we compost maybe 1/3 of what we grow. Besides, it would offend many or our shareholders who feel that vegetables do not have to be cosmetically superb in order to be edible or nutritious. And then, of course, on occasion, a cucumber or melon or tomato will find its way past our quality control barriers and into your box. We grieve and grimace at the farm when we find out from a shareholder that such an oversight has occured.
We have standards for what gets into your box and we have systems in place that uphold these standards. Sometimes, the standard isn’t properly communicated; sometimes it’s not properly interpreted; sometimes, the grader is dreaming about his sweetheart or the upcoming party, and isn’t quite present enough that day or that hour or minute to spot the unacceptable blemish or notice the foreboding softness.
It gets more complicated: our standards are moving targets. A slightly scarred cucumber at the beginning of the cucumber season is likely to be discarded, because almost all of the cucumbers are luscious and sparkly in the beginning. Over time, their quality goes down; the cucumber that was composted in Week 3–if we encounter a similar cucumber in Week 9, it might go into your box, because that cucumber becomes more the norm and the cucumber harvest is dwindling. The decision might be something like this: “we can give just 1 great cucumber in this week 9, or 3 cucumbers with 2 of them somewhat compromised, though these 2 wouldn’t have made the grade a month ago, but we think most of our shareholders will be happy to receive them.” Yes, we impart a variable standard to our crew over time.
Remember our crew, working in heat, damp, and wind, and then they have a somewhat different standard for cucumbers this week than for last week. Maybe the standard has also varied for tomatoes and peppers. Maybe basil. And don’t forget, each crew member has a unique relationship to the vegetables he or she is harvesting. A perfectly edible zucchini for one crew member might seem intolerable for another. We had a wonderful worker here for 5 years, but on certain days, she simply inflicted an impossibly high grading standard on some vegetables. Fortunately, other team members would often spot this excessive behavior. I remember one day when an observant team sorted through her mountain of discarded onions to discover that over half of them, maybe 500 pounds of onions, were perfectly fine.
She indignantly looked on as the team salvaged the perfect onions. She scowled at me and said, “I would never eat those onions.”
I replied, “It’s not about you and your impossibly high standards. It’s about our shareholders and what they will find acceptable. Besides, you don’t eat vegetables, anyway. You wouldn’t even eat the onions that you selected to go into the boxes.”
Tomatoes exacerbate the grading curve. They tend to be quite lovely at the beginning of the season and demonstrate a long shelf life. By the middle of the season, they might still be lovely, but have a spot or crack and a shorter shelf life. Towards the end of tomato season, they tend to be soft in places and un-uniform in their ripening. As the tomato supply diminishes, we become more permissive with the tomatoes that go into your box, knowing the season is coming to an end and suspecting that many of you will prefer imperfect tomatoes to no tomatoes in the final stretch of tomato season.
It gets more complicated. This year, our tomatoes are ripening much faster than usual, due to the really damp and cool spring and early summer. The tomatoes are smaller than usual, and are ripening very fast on their defoliating vines. Normally, we put a range of ripening tomatoes in the bag that goes into your box, so the less red ones will become ripe by the end of the week. This season, you are getting a larger proportion of ripe red tomatoes in your box than is normal. And you are getting more tomatoes than you would typically get these two weeks or so, because the tomatoes will not hold up much longer on the vines. The tomato season will come and go in a blur. (You are definitely eating with the season this summer!)
About your heirloom tomatoes, yes, they often have cracks, scars and scabs. Some people find this objectionable; some find it charming, entertaining, even re-assuring. These tomatoes can be seen as images of life itself: uneven, lovely, diverse, scarred and luscious.
At the Angelic Organics Learning Center, New Classes to Learn, Grow & Connect
The Learning Center just added seven new classes to their fall schedule! If you missed Winemaking or Animal Day with Families earlier in the year, now is your chance to partake in these favorite, sell-out workshops. You can also find your moment of peace on the farm with Equinox Yoga and Meditation directly after the Shareholder Open House or bring your family to our brand-new cheesemaking class for families! Discover all of the fall program offerings and register online at the Learning Center’s website www.learngrowconnect.org/event or call 815-389-8455.
Animal Day for Families; Saturday, September 14, 10 AM – 3 PM, $20
Winemaking; Wednesday, September 18, 4 PM – 7 PM, $65
Fall Yoga Class; Wednesdays (September 18 and 25, October 2 and 9) 5 PM – 6 PM, $25 for four classes or $8 per session
Afterschool Fun on the Farm: Animal Chores; Wednesdays (September 18 and 25, October 2 and 9) 5 PM – 6 PM, $40 for four classes or $10 per session
Equinox Yoga and Meditation; Saturday, September 21, 4 PM – 7 PM, $20
Say Cheese! A Cheesemaking Class for Families; Sunday, October 20, 9 AM – 12 PM, $30
DIY Holiday Gifts; Friday, November 29, 1 PM – 4 PM, $80
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.
Brassicas – maybe Cauliflower
Cooking Greens – Kale
Fruiting Crops – Muskmelon, probably a Honeydew Melon, Maybe an Asian Melon or Watermelon, Tomatoes, Heirloom Tomato, Sweet Peppers, Eggplant
Root Crops – Carrots
Herbs – Sage
Alliums – Garlic
Great newsy information, you are all doing a wonderful job, vegetables are cleaner than ever before and it makes my life much easier when I get home. You must have backs of steel because I could never do such hard work! Thank you for all your efforts in our behalf! Marge Howard
I think your standards probably vary with the weather, too. This year everything has been superb. Vegetables like the weather we’ve been having. Thanks for all your efforts.