Farmer John Writes: Darkness Giving Way to Light(ning)

Week 7, July 25th – 29th

Your Box This Week — Saturday Deliveries:

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

Fruiting Crops — Sweet Corn, Sweet Peppers, Cucumbers, Zucchini / Summer Squash

Cooking Greens — Bunched Kale

Salad Greens — Lettuce

Alliums —  Sweet Onions

Herbs — Summer Savory

Sign up for the Free Recipe Service
Make sure you sign up for the Local Thyme recipe service we offer with your share. Local Thyme offers storage and handling tips and recipes customized to each week’s share. It has received many great reviews from our shareholders. Check out this sample recipe: Zucchini and Corn Fritters.

Peak Season
I have written about the weather in previous issues of this season’s Farm News. The drama continues. We had tremendous rains this past week. Winds uprooted trees, snapped large branches, and caused a lengthy power outage. Thunder rumbled throughout many of the nights. Lightning strobed the darkness. As I write this issue of Farm News on Sunday afternoon, rain pounds my roof.

Crops have to be seeded, transplanted, weeded, harvested, cleaned and packed, regardless of weather. Based on the contents of the share you receive this season, you probably would not surmise that this season is one of the most challenging we have experienced weather-wise since starting the CSA in 1991. (We had a similar rainy season in 1993.) I recently learned of a CSA in this area that, primarily due to weather, is just starting its deliveries—6 weeks later than anticipated.

This is one of those very rare years when water oozes out of the hillsides, like springs. You can see this as you drive through the countryside—vast areas of yellowing corn on the sides of hills, where the soil has lost much of its nitrogen due to rain. I suppose this strange phenomenon of water sitting on the hillsides occurs somehow through capillary action, or maybe it’s like how a spring or artesian well works. We are used to thinking that water collects in the low areas, not on hillsides. Of course, it also congregates in the low areas, squishing to a standstill, unable to begin its journey to the Kinnikinnick Creek, then the Rock River, then the Mississippi, and then the Gulf of Mexico.

Sorry, No Carrots for Saturday Shareholders
The rains essentially dissolved the carrots that we were planning to harvest for our Saturday shareholders this week. These carrots were in great condition a few days earlier, but they turned to mush in the field. There should be more carrots in the fall.

Pack Volunteer David stacks CSA boxes as rain pounds

Let’s be Thankful
In spite of the weather, we keep having good fortune with the crops—some luck, some skill, years of experience, a super fast crew, good equipment. Put all of these together and I still can’t thoroughly explain why our crops are so abundant this year. I suppose the sudden bursts of intuition that nudge me to harvest or plant now, right now, in spite of the compelling though incorrect weather forecasts for dry and mild, have been the providential means of providing you with full, glorious boxes, instead of excuses and apologies. 

Sweet Corn Surge
The early planted sweet corn is maturing late; the late planted sweet corn is maturing on time. This means that our normal pattern of providing shareholders with sweet corn over 5 weeks will be condensed to 4 weeks. This means you will receive a surge of sweet corn, starting this week. We do not hold back sweet corn; we add it to shares as it is ready because it is best eaten fresh. 

Watermelons
We cannot ultimately inspect watermelons for their ripeness—this would require opening each one to see if it is ripe. Of course, we open several melons early on to determine if they are ripe or approaching ripeness. Once we feel the melons are ready, to determine ripeness we look for yellow on the bottom of the melon and a wilted tendril where the vine meets the melon; we also often thump the melon for a muffled, hollow sound. Sometimes, a melon will pass all these tests and still not be ripe. We do our best with harvesting your melon; that’s usually good enough to provide you with a ripe melon—usually.

Peppers, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Muskmelons, and Honeydews
The peppers, tomatoes and eggplant look great and will be gracing your boxes soon—also, the muskmelon and honeydew. The garlic crop is again stellar. 

Visit Our U-Pick Garden
Our U-Pick Garden is now lush with flowers, beans, and peas. Learn more at Angelic Organics U-Pick Garden.

Our Pack Volunteer Program
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon, about 12 to 14 volunteers join in a festival of fellowship and camaraderie to help pack your CSA share. Most of these volunteers come once per week, some come twice, and some come three times per week. Some come from nearby; some travel from as far away as the Chicago suburbs. Some are retired; some work in health care; some work at Chrysler; a few work with special needs clients; some are cancer survivors. There’s a jewelry maker, a yoga teacher, a woodworker. There are full time moms, students, and teachers.

The volunteers are attentive and conscientious. They come together to help make sure that the CSA shares are delivered to you on time, in full measure and of high quality. 

While the volunteers pack, the regular field crew works in the fields and in the wash area to keep the crops rolling in.

I often give the volunteers a tour of the buildings and/or fields after the pack. All of the volunteers pack a box of vegetables for themselves to take home.

Sometimes a volunteer brings a cake to share, or muffins. Last year some of the pack volunteers made a lunch for us to enjoy ahead of the pack.

The pack volunteer program is one of the most glorious developments at Angelic Organics farm in many years—a gathering of diverse individuals enthusiastically coming together around a common cause. They fill the pack barn with warmth and laughter—your boxes, too.

Pack Volunteer Risba’s fennel nose

Learn more about our Pack Volunteer Program at www.angelicorganics.com/pack-volunteer/. I am sharing the program with you, because it is so fabulous and heartening. It is at capacity–almost beyond capacity. We are not currently seeking applicants. However, if you want to apply so we have your application on file—great. There may be some openings when fall arrives and some of our volunteers return to school, and of course, there’s always next season.

Please Fold Your Boxes Properly and Return Them, Especially if You have been Stockpiling 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.

Let us Know
Let our office know anything you’d like to share about this week’s box 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.

More from Shareholders
Visit us often at www.facebook.com/angelicorganics , where we post exciting farm developments regularly, and shareholders post recipes, tips, and photos.

Warmly,
Farmer John

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