Farmer John Writes: The Transition to Peak Summer

Harvest Week 5, July 17th – July 21st, 2018

Your Box This Week – Saturday Deliveries:
Please note: this summary is written before we pack your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. Share contents often vary over the course of the week. And, as always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Fruiting Crops — Sweet Corn, Cucumbers, Sweet Pepper, Summer Squash (maybe)

Cooking Greens — Baby Chard (in bag)

Stem Crops — Fennel, Celery

Root Crops — Carrots

Alliums — Sweet Onions

Herbs Sage

Sign up for the Free Recipe Service
Make sure you sign up for the Local Thyme CSA meal planning 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: Hummus Cucumber Carrot Wraps.

Crop Update
Notice the aromas wafting from your box: sage, fennel, carrots, celery, sweet onions, sweet peppers. I think it’s the most aromatic box we have ever packed.

The sweet corn ears are inching their way to fullness. With the rain, heat, and extra water from overhead irrigation, I felt confident that we would be harvesting a lot of sweet corn on Monday morning for our Tuesday and Wednesday deliveries; a lot is not to be harvested early this week, though we might find a few ripe ears for the Tuesday & Wednesday deliveries. Melons are not quite ready. Same with most of the peppers, but not all. Therefore, you are receiving a variety of fragrant vegetables/herbs this week. lt’s good that we are harvesting them, notably the celery and fennel, because many years we try to coax them to maturity, only to find that they have started to rot. This season we are getting to them a bit early.

Washing Carrots

This year, many crops are inclined to rot, due to the humidity, the rain, and the heat. On Saturday, I walked the fields for a short while, and the air felt almost like very warm water. I was drenched with humidity in just a few minutes. 

We have been able to fill your box to the brim each week, but that’s a miracle, given the adverse growing conditions. This past June was the wettest June on record; the fields have been deluged. I have plowed under lettuce, mizuna, pea shoots, choi, spinach, cilantro, dill and more, either because they rotted or because the flooding and the heat caused the weeds to overtake them like I have never seen weeds grow before—never. 

You probably know that these problems are not because I’m new at farming. A person drove into the farmstead recently, got out of her car and said to me, “do you work here?”

“Yes,” I said, “I’ve been working here since I was seven. That’s 61 years I’ve been working on this farm.”

She smiled uncertainly, and got back into her car. Maybe she was wondering if my family broke any child labor laws back then. Maybe she didn’t like my smile.

Recipes
I know that most of our shareholders are signed up for the free and popular Local Thyme CSA meal planning service that comes with your share, but I’m going to also include links to storage tips and recipes for fennel and celery excerpted from the out-of-print Farmer John’s Cookbook.

Fennel: https://www.angelicorganics.com/ao/images/recipes/fennel.pdf
Celery: https://www.angelicorganics.com/ao/images/recipes/celery.pdf

Fennel Harvest

Taking Care of Shareholders
Since my wife Haidy has been afflicted with poor health, I have been helping out a lot in the office. I have found it quite interesting to sort through and process shareholder communications first hand. (My work schedule is something like 6 am to 9 am–office work; 9 am to 5 pm–farming; 6 pm to 8 pm–office work. Weekends are mostly office work. One of the virtues and vices of most farmers is that they do whatever it takes to get things done.)

The toughest shareholder messages for me emotionally are about when a shareholder does not receive his or her box that was scheduled for delivery. On occasion, this is due to an oversight on the farm’s part in coming up with the correct numbers for each site, but usually it is because someone picked up a box at a site that they were not supposed to pick up. Did the person know that he or she wasn’t supposed to pick up the box? I think the error is usually innocent, but sometimes I wonder. Regardless, I shudder with disappointment when I read that a shareholder did not get their box; it’s almost as though I feel the shareholder’s disappointment myself.  

On that note, it is very helpful when shareholders check off their name at the pickup site, so that the site hosts can reconcile the number of boxes left with the number of names that have not been checked off. Then the host can contact those who did not pick up their box, but seldom is there a way to track down the person who is not on the list who took a box.

Back to my office revelations, vacation hold requests are very frequent, even though we ask shareholders to make their vacation holds themselves. Of course, sometimes an emergency comes up at the last minute, and only we as administrators can make the hold late. And sometimes, we can’t even make a last-minute hold—it’s just too last minute and we can’t get it into the system. 

I have been involved in shareholder communications for many years, though often indirectly. For instance, I would often be asked by office staff how to handle a problem, request, etc. I must note that many of the shareholder emails that I have encountered these past few weeks require me to check in with Haidy, to figure out how to proceed. Member Assembler, our CSA membership management program, has its limitations, such as in the area of vacation holds and managing fruit shares. I have a category of emails titled “Discuss with Haidy,” and it contains a lot of shareholder emails right now. I’m learning to handle more and more of them on my own, but I have further to go to really take the pressure off of my wife. Years ago, before emails, it was much easier to administer the CSA—ironic.

For sure, I cannot be the person who consistently provides this service to shareholders, because I have so many other things on the farm for which I’m responsible, but I have overall been enjoying the role of serving shareholders through these direct and personal communications. It has made me feel closer to all of our shareholders. 

Short in the Tooth
Twelve years ago, when I was about to embark on a world tour with the feature documentary film about my farm and my life, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, my dentist told me that somewhere along the tour, my front teeth would further disintegrate and I would be trying to speak to the audiences with no front teeth. He said I should have them crowned. I thought he was probably right, based on how these teeth were looking and behaving. So, I had crowns put on my four upper front teeth.

What the dentist didn’t tell me was that in 10 or 12 years the crowned teeth would break off. Now is twelve years from then. Two of the four teeth—the lateral incisors (not the really frontal central incisors) recently broke off. The timing of how the two teeth broke was a bit like how shoestrings break, first one–then soon after, the other. 

I wouldn’t even mention this loss in this newsletter, except some of you will be attending the Field Day coming up and you might keep staring at me, thinking I’ve been brawling at the local bar and deciding that, based on my new look, I lost the brawl. I just thought I should get this announcement out of the way about the reason for my new smile. I haven’t figured out what to do about the missing teeth yet, given that the two remaining front teeth are scheduled for breakage soon, too. 

For Your Calendar: Farm Field Days, Saturday, July 21 and Saturday, September 15 
Maybe I’ll see you this coming Saturday at our Field Day. The Field Day will take place rain or shine. We have beautiful indoor spaces. Learn more about the Field Day at www.angelicorganics.com/field-days-for-shareholders/

Bounty
Please tell your friends that we are continuing to sell shares. Send them to www.angelicorganics.com/receive-our-vegetables/

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.

Have the Best Shareholder Experience
For the best shareholder experience, visit www.angelicorganics.com/best-shareholder-experience/

Let us Know
Let the office 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.

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


Angelic Organics Learning Center
The last Day Camps of the season are almost here! Sign up now for Good Bugs and Slugs or Farm Wigglers and Hoppers Day Camps at Angelic Organics Learning Center, where kids ages 5-7 or 8-12 can spend a week immersed in farm life. Learn more and register on our event page at LearnGrowConnect.org/Events.

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