2021 Main Season Week 15D

Happy Labor Day! We hope you're all enjoying some relaxation and fun this weekend. It's back to school time, too, which means pickup and mealtime habits may have shifted in your family's routine.


If you miss your pickup, you can always come the next day (Monday for Saturday members) because we hold your share for 24 hours. If you need us to hold it for longer than 24 hours, just send us an email. We hope the transition goes smoothly for all of the educators and families in our community!

We couldn't believe that the farm made out so well during last week's storm. We feel really grateful, and we hope everything was okay for you, too. It kind of snuck up on us and left almost 5 inches of rain.


Somehow, the crops were almost completely fine. Here you can see that the raised beds were a little bit leveled out, and are not as raised as they normally would be. The reason we plant on raised beds is actually for drainage, but this shouldn't be a big deal at all.


The new area that we planted on this year is usually very wet, which is the reason we've avoided planting on it in the past. This year it has hot peppers, shishitos, tomatillos, parsley, and a previous planting of basil. Here you can see that the rows were slightly flooded with the rain, but again, the plants look fine, albeit flopped over. This is a very minor deal.


If anything, a lot of our crops are slower growing this year. Believe it or not, it was hard to cover all of the shares with zucchini last week. With zucchini being one of the most prolific crops out there, it's pretty surprising. We knew it was winding down, which is why we wanted to include it in shares for sure one more time, but even with all of the plantings we do, we'd think we would be getting a little more in. The extreme fluctuations in the weather this summer haven't helped.


If you ordered cherry peppers, they're in the section above and just are not coming in quickly at all. It took us two weeks to fill HALF of an order - not good! We're crossing our fingers for more soon. There are still flowers on the plants.


Regardless, we can't complain one bit about the recent storms. We just wanted to give you a little tour of the farm and show you how we fared. Some farms in Connecticut were ransacked with some stretches completely underwater and major crop loss. We are very lucky!

We're celebrating a year of having Tyler on the crew! He jumped in and joined us right after Labor Day last year. This crew never, ever, ever complains about the weather - even harvesting in the rain.

We started picking up watermelons this past week and are excited to share them with you this week. This will make 3 weeks with fruit this season!


FYI, if you are a delivery recipient, you'll be receiving one additional item in your share. Your watermelon will be slightly smaller so that we can fit them all onto the truck, so we'll make up the difference with another item or more quantity of an item based on availability that day.


And we also have a fun little treat this week...

Here's crew member Eric with a 36 lb. watermelon! You can't tell that it's so massive because of how tall he is, but this is an enormous melon. Just for fun, everyone will receive a raffle ticket in your share. We'll do a Facebook live drawing on Saturday 9/11 to see who wins the melon! (And send out an email, too.) Something tells me the winner is going to need the Library of Resources for a ton of ideas about what to do with the melon!

Speaking of fruit, here's a check on the grapes and raspberries at Booth Hill.


Fun fact: the company we bought the vines from replaces a certain percentage of plants because they know that they'll fail to successfully transplant. We'll need to supplement a bunch ourselves next spring, but overall they look great.


Eric spent Saturday morning weeding the cabbage family crops. Most of the weeds are at the point in their life cycle where they're going to seed, which is problematic. We don't want these weed seeds to blow around and seed themselves around the farm, so we try to stop them at the source. In a perfect world, we'd catch them at an earlier stage, but it's one of those farm tasks where you just have to try to do the best you can. Eric cleaned it up nicely, and this should benefit us next year.

In Your Share (In approximate order from shortest to longest shelf life)

Small:

  • 1 watermelon

  • 1/2 lb. of tomatoes

  • 1 lb. of cucumbers

  • 1/2 lb. of colored peppers

  • 1/2 pint of husk cherries

  • 1 bunch of mint

  • 1 red onion

Our thought process with this share this week was that because the watermelon is the highest-value item you've received so far, we wanted you to still get a good array of items. They're in small quantities, but should all complement each other nicely.


Large:

  • 1 watermelon

  • 1 lb. of tomatoes

  • 1 lb. of cucumbers

  • 1 pint of lunchbox peppers (not in the library of resources - they're cute and sweet little snacking peppers)

  • 1 lb. of colored peppers

  • 1 pint of husk cherries

  • 1 bunch of mint

  • 1 red onion

Caring For Your Share:

  • Store your cucumbers in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator. Wash when ready to use.

  • Store lunchbox peppers and bell peppers in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Set the crisper drawer to low humidity to allow some of the ethylene gas that results from decomposition to escape. Ethylene gas will cause the peppers to rot sooner.

  • Wrap mint in a paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

  • Store dry onions in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a pantry, cabinet, or cellar. Ensure that they have plenty of airflow; you can store them in a mesh bag. Keep them away from potatoes.

  • Keep tomatoes out on the counter and out of direct sunlight, where they will get plenty of air flow. Do not put them in the fridge; it will dry out the tomatoes and change their consistency. Tomatoes continue to ripen after harvested, so use within a few days. To ripen a tomato quickly, put it in a paper bag in a dark place, like a cabinet.

  • Store melon on your counter, out of direct sunlight, where it will get airflow. We harvest them when they are ripe and ready to eat, but the melon will keep for a week.

  • Keep husk cherries in a bowl on your counter, where they will get plenty of air flow. Husk cherries will last for weeks and will continue to ripen; the husk will turn brown and dry out while the cherry will turn a deeper golden yellow. Peel the husk and wash when ready to eat.


LGF Cooking Club (The Library of Resources is filled with TONS of ideas about all of these veggies)

Biweekly Catch-Up:

We were so relieved about how things turned out with Henri last weekend. Thank you to everyone for being flexible with our store closure on Monday. We used the day to pack shares and put the store back together in time to open on Tuesday, and the rest of the crew deserved a day off for all they did to help prep on Saturday. A special thank you to crew member Eric L. for coming in and harvesting during Monday's downpour.


Some of the crops plateaued a bit after the heavy rainfall, but other than that, we were relatively unscathed. Here's a photo of how some of the fall greens are progressing. Arugula, radishes, Tokyo bekana, and beets are in these beds. Peas, beans, and garlic were here earlier in the season.

This week, we're clearing out the bed of beets in order to use it for broccoli and (maybe) cauliflower this fall. Turning over fields and using them for multiple crops in a season has so many benefits: first of all, we can increase our yield from planting something else in one crop's place. Second of all, this increases soil health. When Randy plants a crop from a different family, more nutrients are restored to the soil.


When you plant the same thing in one particular spot over and over and over, over time, the soil health is going to be depleted and then the plants become much more susceptible to disease and pest damage. It's kind of like your immune system: when you're run down, you're more susceptible to illness, too.


When we talk about mapping our fields in the winter time, Randy plays a big game that's kind of like a cross between Tetris and sudoku. He tries to plant as much as he possibly can where it will fit and where it can be replanted mid-season depending on the length of time it takes to grow to maturity, and he also rotates which crop families have been in a particular field. That means that a particular crop can't be back in that same spot for 3 years!


To be honest, I can barely even grasp all of the planning and mathematics that goes in to making this happen. I have a lot of appreciation for how this attention to detail increases our sustainability.


Here's a picture of Laina washing and crating up beets. We grow traditional red, Chioggia, and golden varieties. We'll be curious to hear which you like best and we're aiming to give you at least 2 of those types this week. Greens quality at this point in the season with this older planting isn't great, so we're taking them off to account for more beets in your share this week.

Ciocci Lorraine stopped by to fill some bulk orders last week. Ciocci Lorraine is my aunt, and last year she worked at the farm on Mondays and Fridays. She's since moved on, but helps out a ton whenever she can, mostly now in her role as Great Ciocci to our son Peter on Saturdays. Behind the scenes of the farm are amazing family members who help with child care so that we can work, and we literally don't know what we'd do without them. P.S. Keep your eyes open for emails about bulk orders if you haven't heard from us yet! We're filling more this week.

It's so hard to believe, but we're already planning for our 2022 Subscription program! Without getting into too much detail yet, we are planning to have a Main Season and Extended Season program again.


But we need your input: should we shift the Main Season program 2 weeks later? Watch the video below to see what this would entail.

  • It would remain a 20-week program

  • It would begin 2 weeks later (mid-June)

  • It would end 2 weeks later (late October)

  • The types of crops in your share would shift as a result of this shift

Here is how the first two weeks of the 2021 Main Season program compare to the first two weeks of the fall portion last season to see how that would potentially change your box contents (remember that the value of your box never changes from week to week, just the contents):

If you looooove the Extended Season crops (the super early spring crops and the December crops), this wouldn't affect you at all! We are planning for the same Extended Season program next year.


To cast your vote, visit the 2021 Subscription Members Facebook group and vote by the end of the week. Enrollment for next year opens on Sunday, October 3rd, but we'll be starting the marketing process after Labor Day, so we'd love your input now!

We're taking a little break from slicing tomatoes this week. One of the crops that did plateau slightly with the weather last week was tomatoes, so we're unsure if we'd be able to cover all of the boxes with tomatoes. The good news is that we're doing another pick a pint option, and grape/cherry tomatoes will be a choice. We're aiming to get slicing tomatoes back to you next week.

I'm very much obsessed with this eggplant panzanella salad. For me, it's that recipe that you've been saving for the right time in the season, just dying to try it. It exceeded my expectations and I made sure that we had eggplant and a colored pepper in your share this week so that you could try it too. If you need basil or mint for it, ask when you pick up and we can cut it for you. Trust me, don't omit those!


Randy is kind of bummed about the eggplant yield this year because he really wanted you all to be able to receive two at a time to do something substantial with it. But, I reminded him that there is SO much you can do with a single eggplant: burgers, eggplant "meatballs", this panzanella salad, the eggplant stacks you've been talking about in our Facebook group, eggplant tacos that Dawn has been raving about at Saturday pickups... I'm kind of appreciating that one eggplant has made us all think outside the box.


Another recipe you must try is the eggplant spread in the recipe section. Randy's cousin's grandmother made this for us years ago and we've been sharing it ever since. That's a good one to keep in mind for Labor Day.

Our Little Free Library could use some donations: If you have any books to spare, we'd greatly appreciate being able to stock some more choices. We love how well-loved this library is.


We can also use some more boxes of all sizes to pack some of our bulk and wholesale orders. The bigger the better, but no box is too small. We are currently sourcing red and yellow tomatoes to Roseland Apizza in Derby. Check out this photo they shared of the pizzas they're making with our tomatoes: unreal. We are really grateful to have a partnership with such a renowned place. What an honor!