Farmer John Writes: The Farm is a Tender Being

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 12, August 24th – August 27th

Your Box This Week – Saturday, August 27th

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.

  • Arugula
  • Spaghetti Squash (maybe)
  • Red Kuri Squash (maybe)
  • Tomatoes
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Beets with Greens
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Eggplant (maybe)
  • Broccoli (maybe)
  • Pea Shoots
  • Dill
  • 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: Heirloom Tomato Tart with Fried Sage

Artist’s Tour of Angelic Organics Farmstead this Saturday, August 27
Professionals and amateurs alike are welcome! Farmer John will discuss the inspiration behind the colors, unique architecture, and lazure painting, as well as the farm as a creative and social organism. Bring your sketchbook or camera to capture the unique beauty. For tickets and more information:


Tender Baby Kale, protected from insects by a floating row cover—looks like a cloud overhead

Tomato Windfall
Tomato yields are less predictable than the yields of most other crops. (This is also true of potato yields.) This year, our tomatoes, especially the heirlooms, are producing about twice the average yield. We plant enough heirloom tomatoes to provide one or two per box. The last two weeks, we have been putting in 3 to 5 heirloom tomatoes per box. If you got three in your box, it’s likely because there wasn’t room for more. Tomatoes in particular cannot be held in storage for long, as they quickly become overripe. We try to give them as soon as we harvest them.

This week, the surge of heirloom tomatoes will subside. The surge of regular tomatoes will also likely subside this week.

These are the heirloom tomatoes we grew this year. You can learn about most of them in the Johnny’s Seed Catalog.
Cherokee Purple
German Johnson
Great White
Pruden’s Purple
Yellow Brandywine

Thank you!
We got our box today,  and I wanted to share this photo.  My 15 month old daughter Molly helped herself to a tomato out of the box and happily ate it up!
-Anne Mathias

Molly Mathias with Heirloom Tomato

Molly Mathias with Heirloom Tomato

Extend Your Share up until Thanksgiving
When Thanksgiving rolls around, we want to make sure you can be celebrating with the organic bounty from your very own farm. Until we sell out, Extended Season Vegetable Shares are available at

Homage to Time
Inches of rain fell towards the end of last week. We had some of our transplanting of fall lettuce and choi done by Thursday. We would have had most of the rest of the transplants in the ground on Friday, as the rains were forecast for Saturday morning. However, the rain came down hard on Thursday night. It kept raining through Saturday morning, delaying some of our transplanting and cover crop seeding by several days. Fortunately, plenty of our fall lettuce got into the ground before the rains. You’ll receive lettuce on schedule.

We continually strive to get our planting done early, so that if rains delay us, we’ll end up getting the crops in on time—not late.  Early is not easy to achieve on a diversified vegetable farm, but achieving earliness on a regular basis is essential. The farm is a time taskmaster. Time is of the essence; delays are unacceptable. More than fertility, more than variety selection, more than any other factor on a farm like ours, time management is the most important. Because of this homage to time, we strive to always have our equipment ready to go, our plans in place, and crew available for the necessary timely field work.


Spaghetti Squash Harvest

Community Supported Agriculture—a Recurring Topic in Farm News
Regular readers of Farm News realize that the Community Supported Agriculture model has lost some of its bloom throughout the country. We know this vividly at Angelic Organics in the form of reduced sales, and in the types of feedback we get from certain of our shareholders. Week after week, we at the farm have been thrilled with the boxes we have been packing. Yet, there’s more negativity, suspicion, accusations, and refund requests that have come from shareholders this year than ever before–this during the very best year we’ve ever had for crop yields and quality.

My joy in the CSA model is in providing our shareholders with a relationship to our farm, not just the food that comes from the farm. We humans don’t delight in a child primarily through the grades the child receives at school, or the music awards she garners, or the athletic prowess she exhibits; we delight first and foremost in the child herself. We love the child, nurture the child. The achievements of the child are the overflow, the grace.

A farm is like a child, a tender being which cannot flourish without our guidance and love. My goal is for shareholders to love the Angelic Organics farm, to engage it, to ponder it, to relate to it, and then to benefit and exult in its achievements, such as its abundant, fresh, nutritious food. If the source of the food–the farm–is not witnessed, acknowledged, and celebrated, the food it produces devolves into a commodity, rather than achieving its appropriate status as blessing, as gift, as grace.

A Shareholder Writes In Support of the Farm

John & Amazing Farm Team,

I, too, read your letters and wonder, ‘What are people complaining about?’ Really? I get fresh (sometimes literally just hours off the vine), local, organic produce grown and harvested by incredibly hard working, conscientious and devoted human beings. Does it get better than that?

As one who has labored on a small organic farm, I remember my calloused knees, body drenched with sweat by 10AM July through August, and my never ending itchy arms from harvesting tomatoes. I wouldn’t ever do it again!! I’m sooo grateful for all you do. My box is worth every penny if not more. The smell of the box amazes and refreshes me every week. We’re so privileged. It’s ridiculous.

Yes, my watermelon was also cracked…but, really, it just prompted me to pop it open and drool with wonderfulness immediately. What’s ANYBODY complaining about? And, really, John, don’t feel any pressure in the future to let us know that it was flat leaf parsley that was in the box rather than curly. That’s just not a detail you need to concern yourself with!!

Dear, Lord, thank you for Angelic Organics.


-Kati Ray

My goal is to provide relationship to our shareholders–connectedness, belonging, intimacy. I cannot force this, but I can encourage it. (I can also request that people source their food elsewhere, if they are not interested in this type of relationship.) When relationship, connectedness and respect are not in place, the traditional consumer/producer model prevails, which is inherently adversarial; the consumer wants to receive more value for less money; the producer wants to provide less value for more money.

Consider that at least 40% of our shareholders do not read Farm News. If they don’t recognize an item in their box, they write the busy farm office to find out what the item is, rather than consult the newsletter. Rather than sign up for the Local Thyme recipe service, they inquire what to do with an unfamiliar vegetable. If they feel they are getting too many tomatoes at the peak of the season, they write the farm to complain, (because they didn’t read a section such as Tomato Windfall above). If they get one cucumber in their box at the end of cucumber season, they write the farm to object to only one cucumber. If tomatoes or sweet corn aren’t in the early boxes, they sometimes inquire as to why. (Some of the comments are actually much more disheartening and outrageous than these; I am reining in my list, so as to avoid emotional overload.) It is really difficult to provide shareholders with an appropriate relationship to their farm or their vegetables if their only experience of the farm is the box itself.

For a CSA to uphold its uniqueness in today’s sprawling marketplace of organic food, it must create relationship to the farm—this relationship is the primary distinguishing component of the CSA model. This cannot be done without communication. Perhaps I’ll fashion our CSA model into more of a club in the future, in which people only join if they agree to certain rules and guidelines. One of these prerequisites, for example, would be for the shareholder to agree to read at least four out of every five issues of Farm News. Another might be to watch the film The Real Dirt on Farmer John. Maybe we’ll only let renewing shareholders be part of our CSA, and only allow in new shareholders who these renewing shareholders personally recommend to us. Some sort of screening seems necessary. The CSA model is simply a retail program, just another way for a farm to sell vegetables and for consumers to buy them, unless the model creates a meaningful relationship between the farm and its shareholders.

Farm News Is Not a Packing Slip
Half to two-thirds of my every Sunday goes into writing Farm News; it’s part of my commitment to connecting you to our farm. Just for the record, I’d rather that the printed copy of Farm News, which we diligently format, print, fold, and provide with every box, not be referred to as that packing slip you include with the box, which I never bother to open. Hearing that hurt my feelings. Not only is the farm a tender being, but so is your farmer.

Tender Broccoli, coming your way soon

Angelic Organics Gift-a-Box Program
Thank you to those of you who have generously donated a box or more through our Gift-a-Box program for those in need. I’ll soon provide a summary of how this program is going. Gift a box at

Let us Know  
Let Shelly know anything you’d like to share about this week’s box at email hidden; JavaScript is required. Please note the week and day of delivery, your site, when you picked up your box, and any comments about your box.

Please Fold Your Boxes Properly and Return Them
The farm re-uses the vegetable boxes. Flaps are easily torn when the boxes are dismantled improperly, and then the box bottom might later burst open with fresh, organic local produce heading towards the floor. Please carefully flatten your box and return it to your delivery site. Click here to view a video demonstrating how to unfold the vegetable box. If you receive home delivery, place them in the location where your box is delivered.

More from Shareholders
Visit us often at where we post exciting farm developments regularly, and shareholders post recipes, reviews tips, and photos. If you’re inspired to write a review, please do. We like knowing how our shareholders are experiencing the season.

Farmer John

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Showing 4 comments
  • Sue Datema

    This is my first year, and I look forward to getting my vegetable box and downloading the recipes and making the recipes. I do read every newsletter. I was so happy to find fresh organic vegetables. Yours are beyond my expectations. I have signed up for the November box and sharing it with my sister since it is every week and too much for one person. Also, I have signed up for next year through November because I believe you do a great job. I would hate for someone like me who is new to the area not have a chance at a share since there would be no one to recommend me. Keep up the good work.


  • Elizabeth

    This has been our first year as shareholders, and we have been thrilled with our box every week. I don’t understand why anyone would be complaining at all. The vegetables have been wonderful and the connection to the farm is inspiring. We are so happy we can be members of a biodynamic farm and receive such fantastic, healthy food every week. Thank you for all that you do.

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