A Portrait of a Young Farm in June 2018…plus CSA & markets 6.9.2018

We aim for our farm to mimic nature as much as possible. By definition, cultivated land is in many ways the opposite of wild land. We want certain plants to grow, and not others! But we mimic nature in all the ways that we can: We aim for high plant diversity, we keep the soil covered (ie: mulch similar to how an undisturbed forest floor has loads of plant material on top of the soil), we encourage diverse and active microbiology in the soil, we cover crop fields when we aren’t growing vegetables in them, and we use only plant, animal, and mineral based soil amendments/fertilizers (aka: those approved for organic farming).

So, we have this cultivated wonderland in which we are trying to convince the earth to grow plants as healthy as in natural/wild areas, but in which we are also trying to make it grow just the plants we want (ie: no weeds). And most of these plants are not native to this area, which means they aren’t as adapted to growing here as are, say, the native weeds.

All the while, we are trying to keep the plants so healthy that they don’t fall prey to the bugs that want to eat them. And beyond all of that, we are trying to keep the deer away from these plants that look way more delicious to the deer than the woodland plants. As you may imagine, this matrix of variables constantly has different results. We are mimicking nature while trying to maintain “control” — but anything resembling control is an illusion. Nature always has the final word. Get ready for some sad news.

We had a few thousand carrots growing. Then last week the deer busted through our deer fence and demolished most of the carrots. (We use a tall and usually strong fence to keep them out of our farm. As long as all the gates are closed – which they were – this fence usually works. But apparently the deer were extra motivated.) See all that empty space after the carrot in the photo above? It used to be beside lots of other carrots. The carrot beds are now full of mostly empty space, with just a fraction of the carrots still growing. This. Is. Sad. It falls in the first-world-worries category of sadness, because of course our community will not starve due to this shortage of carrots. But it’s a loss of a lot of deliciousness, crunch, nourishment, and flavor. Our Farm Share CSA members will still get carrots, but many fewer than we had planned. Our farmers’ market tables will boast no carrots this month. A farm is actually a roller coaster in disguise.

We’ve started harvesting our tomatoes in nice amounts. All of our Farm Share CSA members are getting some this week, and we’ll have a few for our market tables Saturday. But a lot of the plants are not looking as healthy as we’d like. Wilt seems to be setting in early this year. Same goes for our cucumbers. We picked a few hundred pounds of cucumbers last week, and this week we have had just a fraction of that to harvest. Wilt is our first guess for the problem with the cucumbers as well. It is so destructive and very fast acting. So it goes!

All that said, we are still harvesting lots of delicious food. This newsletter is just a peak into the sad valleys of late. Salad, Chard, Bok Choy, and Kale are growing and tasting great. Broccoli is starting to be ready. Cabbage harvest begins next week. The next round of Beets are beautiful. Peppers are growing nicely, as is Basil. Okra plants are looking vibrant, and Watermelon plants are chugging along their long, slow road to maturity. But we will be mourning these carrots for a while!

Saturday’s Farm Share will most likely include: Salad Mix, a head of Lettuce, Beets, Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Bulb Onions, Tomatoes, and Kale (at St. Stephens) OR Rainbow Chard (at Brandermill)

**We have a Facebook group for our CSA members. If you are new or simply haven’t joined yet, please join here. It’s a great place for menu inspiration, recipe sharing, and general question asking and answering.

On the horizon: Cabbage and Broccoli should be in the shares next week.

Vegetable Notes & Recipe Suggestions…also cataloged on our Recipe Page and see our Pinterest Page  
Salad Mix – We served salad to friends this weekend and got a follow up request for us to share our salad dressing recipe. It was actually no recipe, but what we did was this: Fill a quart sized jar approx 2/3 full of olive oil, 1/3 full of balsamic vinegar, and then added 2 teaspoons of Sunny Paris herb blend from Penzey’s, followed by a quarter teaspoon or so of sea salt. Adjust those to your liking!
Lettuce – These leaves are bigger and crunchier than our Salad Mix leaves, and our family prefers them for sandwiches, lettuce boats/wraps, and Taco Salad.
Beets – Our kids are now wild about Beet Hummus. But simply roasting these beauties with a tad of oil and salt is very delicious. Serve with protein and carbohydrate of your choice!
Summer Squash – Our favorite way to prepare these is marinated and grilled! If you don’t have a grill, roasting them on a baking sheet in the oven is the next most delicious way for us. See this Marinated and Grilled Summer Squash. *Note: Some are yellow and green, some are all green. Treat them the same!

Cucumbers – Use cucumbers to make a sauce, in addition to enjoying them simply with salt and pepper. Make Tzatziki Sauce and serve on sandwiches, serve with crudites, as a sauce for meat or Falafel, or even as a white salad dressing for any green salad.
Bulb Onions – Slice and enjoy with Cucumber Salad or saute with the fat of your choice and use as a base for one of many dishes: Eggs, Tofu, Beef, Pork, cooked greens like Kale or Chard.
Kale – This weekend we steamed Kale lightly and made Kale and White Sauce pizza. It was delicious! (The white sauce also featured our onions.)
Rainbow Chard – Our family is really digging grain bowls of various kinds right now. The fun is that you can riff on them as much as you’d like. Swap out the grains, greens, and protein as well as sauce/seasonings. Versatile, nutritious, and delicious! Try this Chard Orzo Bowl with Feta for starters.
Tomatoes – We don’t feel the need to offer suggestions with these first precious ones! Eat them up. We’ll offer ideas when quantities increase.

Bunched Greens (Kale, Chard, etc.) – Keep refrigerated in a air tight bag or container. If they wilt, cut a fresh cut on the stems and put in a glass of water like a vase of flowers. They will rehydrate.
Cucumbers & Summer Squash – Keep refrigerated and dry in a container, perhaps with a towel to absorb any liquid as they “sweat.”
All Root Vegetables (Beets this week) – Keep refrigerated in a sealed bag or container, ideally with roots and tops separated in different containers, to prevent tops and roots from getting wilty. Most tops can be prepared/cooked in some way. If you are at a loss for how to prepare the tops, include them in a batch of Vegetable Stock.
Bagged Greens – Keep refrigerated in the bag in which we pack them.
Bulb Onions – When fresh like the ones this week, refrigerate in a sealed bag/container.
Tomatoes – We recommend keeping them at room temperature, not in the fridge. We keep them on a plate on our kitchen counter.

Our harvest for Saturday’s farmers’ markets will include: 
Arugula, Bok Choy, Broccolini, Rainbow Chard, Cucumbers, Green Garlic, Hearty Greens Mix, Curly Kale, Kohlrabi,  Microgreens, Parsley, Radishes, Salad Mix, Scallions, Summer Squash & Zucchini, Sunflowers…plus our Organic Hearth Baked Bread (Sunny Greens, Whole Rye, Raisin, & Seed loaves for this weekend) and Tomato Chutney.
{Our farmstand is open Thurs & Friday with most of the above items…see here for updated inventory.}

Anything remaining after CSA shares are distributed and our farm stand is shopped (plus the bread we bake Saturday morning)… we’ll bring on Saturday to the Brandermill Green Market or the Farmer’s Market @ St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the West End of Richmond. Keep an eye on what we have available via the online farmers’ markets: FallLineFarms.com and Local Roots Food Coop.

Enjoy ~
Janet, Dan, & the whole Broadfork crew
Want to follow along during the week, including Farm Stand updates? Visit us on Facebook or Instagram

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