Farmer John Writes: Our Gift-a-Box Program

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 10, August 10th – August 13th

Your Box This Week – Saturday, August 13th

Please note: this summary is written before we pack your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. At times, a bit of improvisation is required for selecting the contents of your share. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

  • Sweet Corn
  • Muskmelon or Honeydew Melon
  • Bell Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Zucchini / Summer Squash (maybe)
  • Beets (maybe)
  • Onions
  • Basil
  • Cilantro

Sign up for the Free Recipe Service
Make sure you sign up for the Local Thyme recipe service we offer with your share. It received many great reviews from our shareholders last season. Local Thyme has storage and handling tips, a vegetable identification guide, and recipes featuring 5 ingredients that are available in your box each week. Find the instructions for signing up for Local Thyme at

In case you’re undecided, here’s a sample recipe: Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salad

Your Crops

Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, and Sweet Corn
Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are all coming on now. Some of the tomatoes are smaller than what I like to see. The sweet corn is lovely and should provide several ears this week. There might be a little corn left for next week, might not. Sad to see the corn go.

Tomato Ripeness
We harvest tomatoes ranging from light pink to bright red. The light pink tomatoes will turn red in a very few days, especially if you put them in a closed paper bag. On the pack line, we try to select a range of ripeness in your tomatoes, so that you will have perfectly ripe tomatoes throughout the week. Many people think that tomatoes that are not fully red have been harvested prematurely, but that’s not really the case. As soon as the tomato gets a pink blush, it is on the path towards ripening, whether it’s on the vine or not.

The garlic has cured well enough to put a bulb in each box! (I seldom use exclamation marks, but it’s garlic, German White Porcelain Garlic, one of our signature crops.)


Garlic to the curing shed, mid July

Melon Complaint
A shareholder recently gave us an angry 2 star review for including unripe melons in his box. (I elaborate on this complaint in the Week 9 Issue of Farm News.)

Watermelon Dilemma
Every melon season, I wonder if we should discontinue the fragile watermelons (with ripeness that is sometimes extra-challenging to discern) and just grow the more durable muskmelons, honeydews and tropical melons. I always decide to grow watermelons again—so far.


Watermelons are finished for this season

Watermelon Encouragement
My melon ambivalence elicited this message from a very important group of shareholders—kids.

Good morning!

We always look forward to our weekly CSA box and the letter from Farmer John. This week, I was reading the letter over lunch with my kids (as they munched on cucumbers and melons from the box!).  I shared what Farmer John wrote about the watermelons and some of the challenges with them.  When my kids heard that Farmer John considers not growing watermelons, they were immediately alarmed and decided they should write directly to Farmer John.  I have attached their letters to this email. 🙂

(In case it is difficult to decipher a 5-year-old’s writing, Luca’s letter says, “To: Farmer John More Watermelon!! Please!”)

We all LOVE the watermelons and we have yet to receive one that isn’t delicious during our 5 years as CSA members.

Rebekah, Alex, Chiara and Luca


“Dear Farmer John, I love your Watermelons. I think they are good and ripe. I always hope there are watermelons and you should keep planting them. Chiara”

To Farmer John, More Watermelons!! Please! from Luca

“To Farmer John, More Watermelons!! Please! from Luca”

Perhaps a debate is in order between our watermelon detractors and our watermelon enthusiasts. Farmer John could moderate. Who do you think would win this debate?

Last week, in the Week 9 Issue of Farm News, in the section titled Loyal?, I wrote “The front-running, trendsetting CSA movement has lost some of its bloom.” I provided three links where you can read articles written by knowledgeable people about the status of Community Supported Agriculture and local food in general. I suggest you check these important articles out.

The Future
Remember, in your earlier boxes, the radishes, plump bags of baby greens—arugula, pea shoots, spinach, mizuna—, spring broccoli, cabbage, choi, scallions, sweet onions, celery, fennel, beets, early carrots? Those crops are done. The fields in which they were growing are eager for another round of crops in another year.

As of this week, we’re half way through the main season. We are still transplanting and seeding for this year: lettuce, Chinese cabbage, choi, pea shoots, spinach, arugula, baby bok choi, baby kale, radishes, turnips. At the same time, we are preparing our empty fields soon for 2017.

Angelic Organics Gift-a-Box Program

In Illinois, one in 7 people struggles with hunger.

A Recent Request to Angelic Organics: “Hello, …I am a low-income senior and rely on food pantries for my food…I live in the DuPage County area and the special Senior Nutritional Program during the summer isn’t offered to low-income seniors in the county…do you ever offer free subscriptions to low-income seniors…please advise…many thanks…”

With Your Help, From Angelic Organics to a Local Food Bank
Angelic Organics is now offering a program where you can gift one or more of our CSA boxes to those in need. We will provide both the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the Niles Township Food Pantry, an agency of Chicago Food Depository, with CSA boxes. As a contributor, you choose to which location your gift will be delivered. As always, newsletters will be included with the boxes. Recipients will be encouraged to access the Local Thyme recipe service, since there will likely be some vegetables and herbs in the boxes that they are not familiar with.

Alina Yaccino, former Angelic Organics employee and current site host at Pure Organic Juicery in Barrington, packs a box with characteristic joy

Alina Yaccino, former Angelic Organics employee and current site host at Pure Organic Juicery in Barrington, packs a box with characteristic joy

Lots of Crops
I planted more crops than we have been able to sell through our CSA program—the first time this has ever happened. In other words, we are undersold. As I shared in the Week 4 issue of Farm News, we project our sales almost a year in advance, because we prepare our fields for the upcoming year in the previous summer. We order our seed and start up our greenhouse long before the last surge of shares is sold for that year. CSA sales have plummeted at farms throughout the country, including Angelic Organics. As I noted in Week 9 of Farm News, you can read about this decline in The New York Times, When Community Supported Agriculture is Not What it Seems.

No Worries
In case you are wondering, the boxes for the hungry will not reduce the amount that goes into shareholders’ boxes. Your box will still be packed to the brim. The food bank boxes will come from the surplus crops that we have in our fields–the crops that were planted for prospective shareholders that didn’t become shareholders. These boxes will contain the same vegetables that you receive. You might think that the farm should just harvest this surplus and give it away, but the farm cannot afford to do this.

To Learn More and to Gift a Box
The farm has extra crops. Illinois has hungry people. Perhaps you will help us to bridge that gap. Learn more and gift a box at

Farmer John

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  • Janis Douglas

    My melon from week 8 were juicy and delicious.

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