Farmer John Writes: Crop Update and Harvest Moon Dinner

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 9, August 14th – August 18th, 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 — Muskmelon or Eggplant, Sweet Peppers, Heirloom Tomatoes, Regular Tomatoes

Salad Greens — Pea Shoots (in bag)

Cooking Greens — Kale

Root Crops — Purple & Red New Potatoes

Alliums — Onion

Herbs Basil (in bag), Parsley

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: Corn O’Brien.

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

The heirloom tomatoes are ripening. The regular tomatoes are beginning to ripen. We harvested purple and red potatoes for your box this week. I think it’s the first year when the potatoes beat the regular tomatoes to the box. (Some of last week’s shareholders received potatoes.) Our other varieties of potatoes are not yet ready—their skins are too fragile and some of these later potatoes are still sizing up. Still, we have harvested this summer far more potatoes than tomatoes.

Potato Asteroid

Click here to watch a short video of our potato harvest.

The sweet corn is done. It was a fabulous crop.

The melons are close to done; just a few stragglers remain. The melons we harvested were quite sweet overall, but a lot of melons were lost, due primarily to diseases brought on by excessive rains—the most rain on record for June. Honeydew melons are usually star performers on our farm. Every honeydew melon was lost. A fungal condition set in, due to the rains, heat and humidity, and then insects followed, ravaging the melons. Thousands of melons were lost. About half the muskmelons were similarly lost, and a smaller portion of watermelons. 

Farming is not for the faint of heart. 

What to Share?
I am encouraged to be transparent in Farm News–We’ve lost a lot of crops–and I am encouraged to write upbeat issues of Farm News–Your box has been pretty full each week.

At Least, We Don’t Have this Problem 
Brazilian lawmakers seek to deregulate pesticide use and ban sale of organic produce in major supermarkets

But We do Have our Own Labeling Issues 
Should Water be Labeled Gluten Free?

What’s Next?
Usually, when the sweet corn is finished, we have more melons to come, and lots of tomatoes, and about the time these thin out, either broccoli or spaghetti squash are ready—not this year. The winter squash is late, but it looks very good, which is surprising, since it is in the cucurbit family, along with the afflicted melons. And weirdly, the good looking winter squash is in the fields where the tomatoes and melons were flooded out last year by massive rains. And the broccoli is late, too, and also looking very good. Of course, you can’t eat a good looking crop that’s not ready to go in to your box.

We have been transplanting huge amounts of fall crops to alleviate potential volume shortfalls—a whole extra field of broccoli, more head lettuce, choi, beets, leeks, cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. We have also seeded many beds of baby greens—arugula, baby choi, pea shoots, baby lettuce, and also Daikon radishes, turnips, cilantro and dill. Last Thursday, we did nothing but transplant and seed beds. The rains came that evening, in just the right amount to get the transplants and the seeding off to a good start. (Rain is more often friend than foe.) We have thousands more transplants to get in the ground as soon as possible. Tomorrow, Tuesday, will be another enormous transplanting day, since rain is forecast for Wednesday.

Box Quality
There is a great variation amongst shareholders in standards for vegetables, and I think sometimes it’s best to include a slightly questionable quality of crop and let the shareholders decide for themselves. Of course, I always want to put the most pristine crops possible in your box, but I can’t always provide such.

We Take Care Packing Your Melons and Tomatoes
We go to great lengths to baby your melons and tomatoes when placing them in the box. Melons are placed on a bed of corn for a cushion and large melons that peek above the top of the box are not allowed, as they might crack when other boxes are stacked on top. We cradle your tomatoes by placing them in a nest of vegetables towards the top of the box, and making sure not to have any peeking over the top. A few of our shareholders have reported cracked melons, and we are so disappointed when our packing efforts are in vain. Of course, a slightly cracked melon is edible, but a smashed melon is an out-and-out failure.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Harvest Moon Dinner (by Deb Crockett, Executive Director of the Angelic Organics Learning Center)
Join Angelic Organics Learning Center for the Harvest Moon Dinner on Thursday, September 13th, as Chicago’s Theater on the Lake transforms into a magical urban farm oasis filled with freshly harvested food & cocktails, live music, and farm-fresh delights! The dinner features vegetables from Angelic Organics, together with plenty of entertainment, including dignitaries from our barnyard! All proceeds go to support the Learning Center’s education programs.  

Angelic Organics Learning Center is the non-profit educational partner of Angelic Organics Farm. Although separate organizations, we share a common commitment to building Angelic Organics as a thriving farm and resource for regenerating agriculture in the region. 

Here’s what’s special about the Learning Center:

  • On-farm programs transform Angelic Organics farm into a hands-on classroom for over 2500 individuals per year, teaching skills and fostering relationships with the farm.
  • This year alone, the Learning Center will grant up to $50,000 of scholarships, making farm education experiences accessible for youth and adults regardless of people’s ability to pay.
  • Angelic Organics Lodge creates a welcoming and accessible space for shareholders and others to immerse in farm life for up to a week.  Consider a family reunion, book club retreat, or scout outing!
  • Through the Farms Forever Initiative, the majority of the farm’s land base is now protected for farming and education.  Rotational grazing of cattle complements the vegetable operation and restores the land.
  • Farmer Training programs support nearly 100 other local, sustainable farms in growing their farm businesses.
  • The Learning Center’s urban farms in both Chicago and Rockford increase access to fresh food and teach skills to neighbors, all while providing employment and business opportunities for beginning urban farmers.
  • Learning Center staff and volunteers advocate and educate for good food policies on a local, state and national level. 

Feel inspired?  Please consider attending the event, purchasing a sponsorship or ad, or sending a donation.  Buy your tickets today:

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

Let Us Know
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More from Shareholders
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Farmer John

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