Farmer John Writes: The Farm at Dawn

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 7, July 31st – August 4th, 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, Red or Orange Watermelon, Summer Squash or Eggplant, Sweet Peppers, Sun Jewel Melon (likely), Heirloom Tomato (maybe)

Cooking Greens — Kale

Stem Crops — Celery or Fennel (maybe)

Alliums — Onions

Herbs Dill

Sign up for the Free CSA Meal Planning 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: Grilled Corn with Cilantro Lime Butter.

Here is a link to storage tips and recipes for peppers from the out-of-print Farmer John’s Cookbook:

Sweet corn is in full swing. Peppers are getting traction. Eggplant and tomatoes are teasing us. Melons are ripening. Summer squash is tiring. Cucumbers have given up—a bit early, I feel, but give up, they did. Storage onions are mostly harvested and curing. All the garlic is harvested and curing.

The crew worked wildly to bring the garlic in before the forecast weekend rains. The rains never arrived.

Melon Note
The rinds of some of the melons are scruffy or pockmarked from insects. While harvesting, our crew does their best to make sure that these blemishes do not penetrate into the flesh of the melons that we will pack. The insects have been quite the challenge this year, mostly due, I suspect, to the hot steamy weather.

Here’s some information on the exotic, fragrant Sun Jewel melon:

Mild and pleasant last week. (I was going to write Deceptively mild and pleasant last week. I suppose I have trust issues with the weather.)

The U-Pick Garden
Shareholders have been enjoying the new flower U-Pick area located throughout the farmstead. The regular U-Pick garden west of the barns is planted to gladiolas, which won’t bloom until sometime in September. The green beans that were growing there yielded only a little before they gave out to leaf blight, caused by flooding and high humidity combined with heat. We have plowed the beans under.

Please Return Your Empty, Flattened Vegetable Boxes 
I have to put in a rush order for new vegetable boxes this morning. I am disappointed by how often I have to order new vegetable boxes–at over $1.50 per box. The vegetable boxes cost the farm about $1000 a week and only about half of them that we send out are returned. Of course, the boxes wear out eventually, but I think the biggest cause of needing to replace the boxes is that so many of them don’t get returned to the delivery sites to be re-used. Please return your flattened vegetable boxes to your site, or, if you get home delivery, set them outside so the courier can pick them up. 

While on the subject of flattening boxes, another reason why I have to replace the boxes so often is that the tabs that hold the bottom in place are ripped during the flattening process. The ripped tabs can cause a box fully laden with peak season vegetables to give out, and then the contents tumble to the ground. Please watch this video demonstration on how to easily flatten your vegetable box without tearing the tabs.

Recycle Your Empty Fruit Boxes
We do not re-use fruit boxes. Please re-cycle them yourself.

Vacation Holds
Many shareholders write requesting last minute vacation holds. It’s quite the demand on the office, but I like to help out our shareholders so I always make the holds, if there is still time. (We run the packing and delivery lists for the whole week on Monday mornings, so it’s hard to accommodate late requests.) If you write the farm to make a vacation hold, be very specific about the date for which you want the hold. Next week is a bit too vague, though I can usually figure out what date the request means.

When you request that the farm make a vacation hold, if you want a replacement box, please also request the date for when you want to receive your replacement box. Otherwise, I have to write back and ask when you want your replacement box or if you’d like it to be donated to a local food bank. I would appreciate not having to track down when a shareholder wants the replacement box or if the shareholder wants it donated. If I don’t hear back regarding when the shareholder wants their replacement box, know that it will be donated, which makes for a great gift to the local food pantry.

It’s best if you schedule your own vacation holds and replacement boxes two weeks or more in advance. However, I know that things sometimes come up at the last minute, in which case the farm needs to do the scheduling. To schedule your own vacation holds and replacement boxes, log in to your membership with your email address at

You and I
I have noted this in a prior newsletter: I enjoy much of my correspondence with shareholders. My initial impulse to start a Community Supported Agriculture farm in 1990 had to do with building community. It turned out that the production side of the CSA took almost all my time and energy, so I haven’t been available to most shareholders in the personal way I envisioned. Helping out with the shareholder correspondence this year has gotten me more in touch with our shareholders, and I have found it to be overall quite illuminating and gratifying. I notice that I want to get to personally know almost everyone who writes us.


This is how the farm often looks, early morning.

The farm is a peaceful place on weekday mornings—until 6 AM. Then the work starts. In the main barn, the field crew sharpens their hoes or their knives in a rhythmic cadence for a few minutes, then they scurry out the door into pickups or onto tractors and out to the fields. They are usually on their way to the fields by 6:05 AM.  Some stay behind, tending whirring and gurgling equipment that washes and soaks. Others linger to receive detailed instructions on the day’s work, or  to report to me what needs to be done where and how. Their work is a glorious surge of life and purpose, from 6 AM to 4 PM, sometimes later—Saturdays from 6 AM to 3 PM.

Please tell your friends that we are continuing to sell shares. Send them to

Have the Best Shareholder Experience
For the best shareholder experience, visit

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, where we post exciting farm developments regularly, and shareholders post recipes, tips, and photos.

Farmer John

Angelic Organics Learning Center
Squeeze more summer into your year! Summer doesn’t end in July, so why let back to school season bring your fun to a close? Come to the farm this August and September and get the last of the warm weather while you can! Farm shareholders can take 10% off the last of our summer events when you register by August 5th! Use code TAKEBACKSUMMER at checkout to redeem your discount off these end-of-summer programs:

Adult Farm Camp | August 17-19
Farm Homesteading Retreat | September 7-9
Prairie on the Farm: Pizza and Beer | September 22

Campout for Wilderness Explorers | September 29-30

Register today at and make more summer memories before summer is truly over!


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