Farmer John Writes: Wondering vs Knowing

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 20, October 19th – 22nd, Last Week of our 20-Week Main Season

Thank You
This is the last week of our 20-week main season. If you don’t have an extended season share, this week’s delivery is your last delivery of the season. We have enjoyed growing food for you. Thank you for being with us. If you are unsure what share types you have, log in to your record at

Please Return Your Boxes
If you don’t have an extended season share, please return your empty, flattened boxes to your pickup site or to your home delivery courier this week.

Your Box This Week – Saturday, October 22nd

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.

  • Butternut Squash
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Brussels Sprouts Tops
  • Broccoli Side Shoots
  • Potatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Baby Choi (in bag)
  • Garlic
  • Parsley

Winding Down
I wrote about the Brussels sprout tardiness in the Week 19 issue of Farm News. The sprouts have still not fully developed. Normally, we put Brussels sprouts in boxes the last two weeks of the main season. They are very popular with many of our shareholders. (I’ll add here that by this point in the fall, the sprouts have usually been sweetened up by a frost or two, which really distinguishes our sprouts from what is typically available in the stores, as most Brussels sprouts are grown in regions where they won’t experience a frost.) Sadly, our shareholders this week will only receive a short stalk of Brussels sprouts—a teaser. Some of these sprouts may be a bit small. We can’t just toss Brussels sprouts that are a bit undersized; we feel compelled to give them. The weather is still warm, so the sprouts might still size up for the extended season shares.

Culinary Compensation
This year, we are putting the Brussels sprouts tops into your box, an edible bunch of leaves sometimes accompanied by loosely formed Brussels sprouts . Brussels sprouts tops are gaining a reputation in culinary circles. Check out Why Brussels Sprouts Tops are Good for You, which states, “You’ll increasingly see sprout tops on growers’ stalls at farmers’ markets. They’re creeping into supermarkets too, albeit confined to the specialty veg shelves.”

Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower were also quite disappointing this fall, which is most unusual. These have been steadfast producers year after year. After 26 seasons of mostly stellar fall brassicas, I am humbled by these disappointing yields. Fortunately, we have leafy crops to add to the boxes this week, but they are not the yummy members of the cabbage family—yes, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all members of the cabbage family.

Your box composition for this twentieth week of the season will be predominantly greens, due to the unusually warm fall weather, and due to the unusual shortfall of some of our usually steadfast fall brassicas.

Digression…a Deluge of Diagnoses
One of the features of vegetable farming is that many people will contribute their opinion of a diagnosis for the problem, such as our shortfall of fall brassicas—too much rain; too much humidity; too hot; transplanted too early, too late, too small; calcium deficiency… Have you ever been sick and had people tell you what was wrong with you? Oh my, the assortment of armchair diagnoses one will receive for an illness, with little concern for accuracy. The important thing for many people is to have an answer, a reason.

Let Me Tell You
I am disconcerted that so many people like to come up with answers. Having an answer is an important cultural currency today. I suppose it makes people feel good, smart. However, unexamined answers often get in the way of the right answers. Not knowing, wondering and pondering won’t get in the way of right answers. I prefer a mystery to many of the uninformed explanations that people offer for our Brussels sprout and other brassica problems this fall. I predict that we will not have this problem next year. Something caused it, for sure, but it is likely something that won’t happen again soon, maybe not for another 25 years.

Mind you, I’m not above investigating a problem; I like to research and ponder reasons and search for solutions. However, I am also very willing to be in a state of not knowing, or at least not knowing for sure. I often say, “here’s what I think, but it’s really just a guess.”

It’s dangerous to go through life, thinking things that aren’t true. We can think they’re true, and we can get support from our peers in thinking they are true, but that does not make them true.

In our times the main damage is done by people who tend towards untruth. This widespread tendency of people to falsehood is at the base of almost all the problems of our times.
-Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, December 3, 1919

On Another Note
This year, we have had a stellar winter squash crop. (This is true.) The three seasons prior, our squash has ripened prematurely, due to (I’m guessing) hot, humid weather and excessive rain. This was an odd development, since winter squash, prior to that three year stretch, had been a reliable yielder. But, wow, did we ever take a lot of great squash off of our fields this year! (And the illustrious squash grew right next to the reluctant Brussels sprouts.) And as I have mentioned in previous newsletters, many of our other crops have been fabulous this year, such as sweet corn, tomatoes, melons, peppers, and a lot of our greens.

Pea Shoots?
~ Site Host: “I checked soon after delivery and there was one bag of pea shoots in the swap box.  At the end of tonight there were 7 bags.  Lots of people pulled them out and put them in the swap box.  I’m finding them a little bit difficult to deal with because they are not as tender as some other veggies and my kids turn up their noses.”

~ Farmer John: “Got it!”

We have a remaining couple of beds of pea shoots this season. I might sneak them into your box, as I don’t want them to go to waste. I don’t believe I will grow any pea shoots next year. I find them delightful, but many of our shareholders don’t appreciate them. (FYI, I appreciate this observation above…I consider it a constructive complaint, a concerned contribution.)

Instead of peas, I plan instead to grow several beds of baby salad mix, maybe mixtures of mustard greens and lettuce greens. This should be a delicious, nutritious substitute for pea shoots. I’ll add that, as I write this, just picturing the vibrant colors of mixed baby salad greens in our fields makes me happy.

Tilling in Mowed Forage Peas last Week to Prepare for Fall Garlic Planting

Organic Inspection Inspection Wrap-Up
In the Week 19 issue of Farm News, I wrote about my history with organic inspections, because my annual organic inspection was due last week. The inspection was quite gratifying. The organic inspector was thorough and engaged. His inspector was animated and entertaining; we laughed a lot. I loved showing these two around the farm. Angelic Organics received a high rating in the exit interview, though the confirmation that we satisfy the organic requirements is finalized later by an evaluator. I am confident that we’ll receive our organic certification once again, when the final evaluation is done. Plus, we had fun.

Next Year
If you are with our CSA again in 2017, you won’t be vetted, because you already know how our CSA works. However, I plan to vet new shareholders. I cannot bear comments from disgruntled shareholders wondering why sweet corn and cucumbers are not in their fall boxes; accusations that I don’t care in the least about our shareholders; and complaints about box fullness and variety, such as “where are my green beans and snap peas?” (We don’t offer green beans or snap peas, other than in the U-Pick garden.)  I only want people to belong to our CSA who know what it means to eat seasonally, who understand the workings of a CSA farm and who want to have a relationship to our farm, not just the food from our farm, but to the history of the farm, and to its weather, its soil, and the workers. I want our shareholders to know that we are doing our utmost always to provide great food and great service. Within that framework of respect and trust, I want shareholders to let us know when we are doing well and how we can do better, because we always want to do better.

This is my first time doing a CSA of any kind and I look forward to pick up day every week. There are only two of us so I take extra food to work to share (and I work in a restaurant!!).  I am so thrilled to get new and exciting veggies, especially ones I have never cooked with before.  This week I have daikon and daikon greens.  How fun!  It is like my own version of Chopped every week, only I can actually feel successful this way.  So thank you very much for packing such lovely boxes every week and please know not everyone is a terrible grump.  I appreciate my box of produce and all you do to get it to me.

Help the Rusty Patched Bumblebee
A site host notified us of this worthy cause. “Please sign the petition to urge Fish and Wildlife to add the rusty patched bumblebee to the endangered species list! [Your support] will also set an important precedent for considering other types of bees for endangered status.” Save the Endangered Rusty Patch Bumblebee.

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. If you receive home delivery, place it 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.

Adventures at the Angelic Organics Learning Center
Angelic Organics Learning Center is an exciting and engaging place to learn about food, farming, and caring for the earth. Sign up for a hands-on farm workshop now at

Farmer John

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Showing 3 comments
  • Coni Johnson

    I realize I’m in the minority, but I loved the pea shoots and will miss them. Thank you for turning me on to them. But I look forward to a salad mix next year!

  • Lindsay Winn

    I myself was torn by the pea shoots. I am a veteran CSA shareholder but new to Angelic and had never seen them before. I saw them as a challenge. I’m glad to have tried them – and pea shoot pesto was my tool in the end. Still have some frozen. But, I think I’ll like the salad greens better.

  • Kara

    Pea shoots were a new challenge for me also. We tried them a few different ways but the only way we could use them was picking off each tiny leaf to add to salad (very time consuming). I confess by the end they were going to the swap box. We will definitely look forward to salad greens, great idea!

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