Farmer John Writes: A Natural Sweetener

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 19, November 1st – 6th, 2021

This Could be Your Last Week of Deliveries

If you get a bi-weekly share and you are receiving a delivery this week and you did not sign up for an extended season share, this is your last delivery of the season. Thank you for being part of our farm. To see your delivery calendar, log in to your membership account.

Eat from Your Farm During the Holidays

There is still time to secure an extended season share. We have a splendid array of crops available for the extended season. The crops that will likely be available are: cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, garlic, carrots, potatoes, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, chard, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, daikon radishes, kohlrabi, and popcorn. Maybe beets. (I am probably overlooking some crops.) 

Price is $80 for a bi-weekly extended season share (2 boxes); $160 for a weekly extended season share (4 boxes).

Sign up for your extended season share by logging in to your membership account and clicking on “Purchase or renew subscription”. Make sure you select the 2021 extended season vegetable share; we have had many shareholders sign up for a 2022 extended season share by mistake.

While on this Subject of Eating from Your Farm

Shareholders keep signing up for next year, so we are going to keep the 15% early renewal discount active for a while longer. We’ll let you know before we end the 15% early renewal discount. Current shareholders can opt for a 15% discount or opt to help the farm even more by foregoing the discount. Either is appreciated.

Sign up for your 2022 CSA share by logging in to your membership account and clicking on “Purchase or renew subscription”. If you choose the discount, enter coupon code RENEW15 at checkout.

How We Eat from the Farm Every Thursday

After last week’s fabulous fiesta on the farm funded mostly by a generous gift from a shareholder family (see Week 18 Farm News, What Do You Say?), I decided that all of us here could benefit from the warming, nurturing aromas and flavors of Mexican cuisine. I enlisted three of our H-2A workers who are also fabulous chefs, Jemima, Concepcion, and Maythe, to prepare lunches for the crew each Thursday until the season ends.

feast for all of us who work on the farm

the mood of Mexico extends from the farm kitchen into the colors of our farmstead

Farm Fashion: We also (sometimes) Dress for the Farm

my beloved wife Haidy and spaghetti squash celebrate the glorious colors of fall

Weather Whimsy

The fall weather is now being more like fall weather. This means that we will offer you a crop for customizing your box, but it might not be available. In the middle of the prior week, we determine what to offer you for your boxes in the upcoming week, and the weather can make a mockery of our projection.

Mixed lettuce might look promising when we offer it, but might succumb to frost; or it might keep getting rained on, hence it stays too wet to harvest; or the morning dew might be so heavy and simply might not dry off enough to harvest the lettuce on a cool, cloudy afternoon. We keep our lettuce covered to protect it from frost, but the cover will not protect it from a heavy frost. Also, the cover keeps the lettuce from drying out, so if we uncover the lettuce to encourage it to dry in order to harvest it, the lettuce might later freeze, because it’s uncovered. (Does this make you want to farm?)

Cilantro, which is very frost hardy, cannot be harvested wet or far in advance of when we give it, so it also suffers from harvest uncertainty.

Fortunately, this year we can easily substitute a foregone item with another crop of our choice (and hopefully to your liking).

You Are Reading this Newsletter

Because you are reading this newsletter, you have an idea of these challenges and you become more deeply a citizen of eating seasonally. If you are not reading this newsletter, you are apt to write the farm and ask where your promised lettuce and cilantro are. 

If You Receive Brussels Sprouts

We have finally harvested some Brussels sprouts. Some of them have blackened outer leaves. Please remove these; there will still be a lot of sprout left after you clean them. Our crew started to undertake this cleaning, but it took way too much time.

The main reason we waited this long to give the sprouts is that I wanted them to go through a frost first. The frost, which finally arrived, is a natural sweetener. Harder frosts are predicted for later this week, which will sweeten the sprouts even more. I suspect that most Brussels sprouts that you can buy in a store never encounter a frost, hence the difference shareholders often note between our sprouts and other sprouts.

Other Frost Hardy Crops

Other crops that benefit in flavor from frost include cabbage, broccoli, kale, spinach, chard, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and leafy greens such as arugula and mizuna. They all have their frost limits though, and few of these can survive below the low twenties. (There is also a harvest consideration when temperatures reach to the low twenties—the crops might be buried in snow by then.)

The Power of Place

People often talk about shopping local, eating local, etc. I seldom hear people talk about staying local. That’s what I did. I’ve lived on this farm my whole life. Do I recommend staying local? It depends…it has its good points. Long-term shareholder and active farm supporter Claudia Haas shared this story with us recently about a young man who went back to local: Farming in a Tuxedo: Finding the Power of Place.

Thank you, Claudia.

I Could

I realize I could do a little more crop updating and basic housekeeping in these newsletters, but you have probably noticed that I like to get more—what’s the word?—comprehensive than that in my communications.

I woke up this morning planning to write a very different newsletter than this one, but the change of weather warranted some explanations about what is going on with your crops and your share customizing. 

You might wonder what I was planning to write. I don’t even want to summarize it, as I don’t want to compromise the meaning with a condensation of the topic. I’ll just provide a few visual hints. Next week, the final week of the main season, I might elaborate. 

The Temple of the Heart

The Art of Neighboring

some of you will remember this directory

organ in the temple of the barn loft


“It’s not right to just cancel people. We all have darkness and light inside. We are all bad and good. Those people who get cancelled, they have good in them, too.”

Farmer John

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Showing 5 comments
  • Rob

    Hey members – I’m looking for ideas to use all the fresh sage I got this week. I know it has a relatively short shelf life.


    • Laura

      Sage goes really well with butternut or other winter squash, I’ve seen tons of recipes online for butternut pasta, risotto, or soup with sage. I like it in a white lasagna or with eggs and have also sautéd it and added to homemade balsamic dressing

    • Megan Littlejohn

      I wash and hang it upside-down to dry. After a couple months I crunch it up and save for rubbed sage.

  • Laura

    Just wanted to write a note to say how much I LOVE being a shareholder! Every other Tuesday afternoon feels like Christmas morning as a kid and I am giddy with delight. I actually talk to the vegetables and tell them how beautiful they are as I unpack my bag, haha. I absolutely love that I am eating locally and seasonally, and enjoy feeling that I am in a small way a part of something. I have also stretched my cooking comfort and eaten many wonderful things I may not have bought at the store. A few weeks back I was lamenting the fact that I only had three deliveries left when I got an email saying it wasn’t too late to get an extended share, so I promptly signed up. And more recently signed up for next year. Having some of your beautiful harvet has also helped me adjust to being newly single, so much lovely food to focus on! You have brought much joy to my life 🙂 Thank you for all you do, you are so very appreciated.

    • Farmer John

      Such a lovely note from you, Laura. our vegetables that land in your kitchen are especially lucky. Do they blush when you talk to them so sweetly? Your message warmed me through on a cold November day.

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