Hello everyone! Welcome to our biweekly pickup members, who start this week.
This week we're going to show you how we go through the process of building the subscription boxes for the week.
Step one is to stay on top of what's growing in the fields early on. Randy and I jot down a list of items we're growing. A lot of our lives consist of chicken scratch notes and scrap pieces of paper that get buried on the kitchen table.
Here's a quick check on the brassicas block (broccoli family crops). Further down the row is the Napa cabbage, which was looking good last week. We kept our eye on it and determined it would be ready for this week. It's a dice roll sometimes. A few cloudy days or too many hot days and we can lose items before the coming week (more on that another time!)
Over the weekend, we budget the boxes and do a final check to ensure the crops will make it. We publish these newsletters by Sunday nights now, which means we have to be pretty confident that our members who pick up on Saturday will be guaranteed those items a week later, too. (This is why there's always the chance we may have to swap out items before any given day!)
As you can see, each box is budgeted $1 over the cost you paid into it. When we weigh out items, we always go over the budgeted amount since it would be impossible to get certain items weighed out on the dot. The herb bunch was the bonus item last week!
Step two is to plant out the harvest the day before you receive your share. The morning before, I do a spreadsheet check and get a count of how many of each item we need. The spreadsheet is a life-saver in terms of organization. Here's a quick peek at what it looks like (this is where we check you off when you come, too!) All 210 of you are on the spreadsheet and we sort it based on pickup day, size, and weekly/biweekly to get an accurate count (though I always somehow make a mistake! Never fails!)
Then we make a pick list. This is to communicate with the crew how much of everything we need that day. Sometimes it also includes counts for the store or farmers' markets. Take a peek.
When we take counts for the subscriptions (under the CSA - Community Supported Agriculture - column) it's an exact number. This is why our policy is that you must notify us 48 hours in advance if you need to switch your pickup day.
I take counts and we harvest on Monday mornings for Tuesday pickups. This is why we must know by Sunday if you're not picking up your Tuesday share.
Harvest on Tuesdays for Wednesdays. Deadline to notify is Monday.
Harvest on Fridays for Saturdays. Deadline to notify is Thursday.
Once this deadline has passed, you can send a friend in your place or come the next day. We'll hold your share for 24 hours (Monday if you're a Saturday member) and then we'll donate to a great organization called Real Food Share.
Step three is to harvest! Right now it's early in the season, so this pick list isn't super overwhelming. Once we hit September, believe it or not, that is our peak! We'll be harvesting tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and peppers every other day in addition to share contents and store and market offerings. September 15th is when we officially stop planting, too.
Ethan, Tyler, Nick, Laina, and new crew member Eric come on subscription harvest mornings, and along with Randy, it takes a good 5 hours to get it done (The spinach was all cut by hand last week! We have a greens cutter, which we used on the Asian mix, but admittedly there were too many weeds in tight the spinach to use the cutter.) Here's Laina in the broccoli rabe patch.
We also have two locations: one on Waverly Rd. and one on Booth Hill Rd. Our crew runs back and forth all day to bring loads of veggies to the home farm (247 Waverly Rd.) Since I messed up our count this week, the crew had to come back from Booth Hill for just 2 bags of spinach late in the day. Oops, sorry! Randy was right in the middle of planting Swiss chard, too. This is another reason why we can't accommodate last-minute changes and switches.
Step four is to wash and pack. Returning crew member Rory has been helping me wash the items, and then I pack the items into the shares. Washing is done simultaneously along with harvesting so we can keep a steady flow of produce coming in. Packing sometimes takes until 6:00 during the height of the season! This is why we aren't able to have your share ready for you the night before. Randy sprays off the radishes here.
Ta da! A finished large share from Week 1.
There are 3 opportunities for quality control with this process: during harvest, while washing, or when packing. Since we hand-select every item in your share, we try to look it over really well. Sometimes things definitely slip by and a crate is missed or an item makes it into shares that wasn't the quality we (or you!) would have wanted. If this ever happens, simply send us an email and let us know and we're happy to make it up to you.
Step five is to send shares out for delivery or pass them out to you upon pickup. We love seeing you every week, chatting it up about what you're cooking, or catching up on life. Deliveries happen on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and can take all day! (We go as far as Stamford!) We're always working on ways to find better routes, and now that traffic patterns have picked up again this year, there can be some delays. If you're a delivery member and you receive the wrong size share in error, definitely let us know!
A LOT of our time is spent outside, but I also spend a fraction of my time holding my breath and hoping that all goes off without a hitch. The highlight of my week last week was seeing the Baked Kale-Spinach Ball trend that you all created in our Facebook group! To see you show off what you've been making brought me such joy and makes this experience unbelievably gratifying for all of us on the farm. Thank you all for being champions in the kitchen: trying new recipes and absolutely crushing meal time! And if you read this newsletter faithfully every week, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your engagement. It means more than you know.
Amber, Erin, and Kris all shared photos of their kale-spinach balls!
Don't forget that our photo contest is still running until Sunday, June 13th! Submit a photo of you cooking with your produce in order to be entered! We'll pick one member at random to receive a prize. Email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, share it in the Facebook group, or tag us @laurelglenfarmllc to submit a photo.
Just a few more farming updates: greenhouse tomatoes have green tomatoes on them! Next week's weather might be helpful in ripening them up. If you notice that we have tomatoes (or any popular item!) in the store well before they appear in your share, we promise we aren't keeping them from you on purpose. The reason will always be that there weren't enough of them to put into all of that week's shares. Tomatoes always appear around week 10 or 11, and we promise you'll get them a ton of weeks in a row once there's enough. We aren't sure how successful our greenhouse tomato experiment will be.
Here's a new area that we've never had success planting in. This year we added tomatillos and more herbs to the crop plan, so fingers crossed they do well in this piece of land that doesn't have good drainage.
Here's what might be on deck soon! Peas, garlic scapes, and zucchini. You may see peas in the store a little sooner as we get a couple of dozen of them every few days. We're aiming for them to be in shares next week.
In Your Share
1 head of lettuce
1 head of escarole
1 head of Napa cabbage
1 bunch of radishes
1/4 lb. bag of arugula
1 head of lettuce
2 heads of escarole
1 head of romaine
1 head of Napa cabbage
1 bunch of radishes
1/2 lb. bag of arugula
Caring For Your Share:
Store arugula in a plastic bag in the fridge. When ready to use, wash in cold water and spin out in a salad spinner. Use within the week.
Store lettuce, romaine, escarole, and Napa cabbage each in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge (you can use two bags, one on each end, if needed due to size). Wash and spin out; use within the week.
Remove the greens from the radishes and store them in separate plastic bags. Wash and eat the greens within a few days; the roots will keep for a couple of weeks if stored properly.
LGF Cooking Club (The Library of Resources is filled with TONS of ideas for grilling these greens, sandwiches, salads, wraps, and so much more!)
50 Salad Dressing Recipes! (Plus don't forget about the Formula for a Perfect Salad Dressing from your welcome postcard!) https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/50-salad-dressing-recipes
Butter Lettuce, Radish, and Avocado Salad with Mustard Dressing https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/lettuce-radish-avocado-salad
Shrimp and Escarole Salad with Radishes and Parmesan https://marleyspoon.com/menu/6592-shrimp-and-escarole-salad-with-radishes-and-parmesan
Chicken Arugula Provolone Panini with Chipotle https://www.skinnytaste.com/chicken-panini-with-arugula-provolone/
Strawberry Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (strawberries are now in season at Jones Family Farms!) https://cookieandkate.com/strawberry-arugula-salad-recipe/
Randy's mom Dawn found this recipe for Asian Napa Cabbage Slaw years ago and it's been a favorite during Napa cabbage and radish season! Don't forget to check out the Library of Resources for a ton more info and recipes for this veggie. https://dinnersdishesanddesserts.com/asian-napa-cabbage-slaw/
This is the first week of the Main Season program! If you have a weekly pickup or delivery or a biweekly delivery, this is your week to begin! If you have a biweekly pickup, you begin next week. The coding on the newsletter where it says "Week 1D" indicates that it is the first week in the 20 week program and the D indicates that it is a biweekly delivery week. Next week will say "2P" and so on.
This lovely lady is Jill, and she'll be greeting you in the store on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
If I'm covering for Jill or if it's later in the day on Wednesday, you'll see me, Victoria. Sometimes I tag-team with Dawn on Saturdays if I'm not on Peter-duty (our 2-year-old son).
This is Randy's mom Dawn, who'll be there on Saturdays. (Though not with tomatoes yet!)
Here are some of our other amazing crew members. You'll get to know them more in-depth on Tuesday, when I send out their bios to our marketing list (click the arrows to scroll through).
Quite a few more will join us in the weeks to come, and we'll make sure we introduce them, too. If you've been a member of the Extended Season program, these wonderful people have been responsible for helping with the planting and harvesting of the veggies in your share.
If you're not in our private Facebook group, join us; we've got prizes! This week we entered in the names of all of the members who posted photos of their meals during the Extended Season period. Randy pulled one name from a hat and Terry P. won a prize! It was a small bottle of infused olive oil or vinegar of her choice from Dash 'N Drizzle. We want to boost up engagement in the group, so there will be more like this to come. Ask a question, share a success, answer our polls. We LOVE learning from you all. To join:
Find us @laurelglenfarmllc
Click the community tab
Find the 2021 Subscription Members group
Request access, and I'll approve you
And speaking of prizes, we have a contest this week to celebrate week 1:
Submit a photo of you cooking your produce. We want to share photos of real members! Email it to email@example.com or tag us on Facebook or Instagram @laurelglenfarmllc. The deadline is 6/13. One person will be chosen at random to win a prize.
If you enrolled for your share during our Early Registration period (before Thanksgiving), remember that you qualified to receive a free Laurel Glen Farm mug! Most of you received it back in the fall, but if you didn't, you will this week. You may also remember the trouble that we had with the logo washing off. Unfortunately these are still the same mugs that the company sent us, so just be sure to hand wash it lightly to preserve the logo and to keep it out of the dishwasher.
And now on to our farming updates!
This week, you're all receiving an herb as the bonus item in your share. For pickup recipients, you'll be able to choose from 4 options: cilantro, oregano, sage, or dill. For delivery recipients, it will be oregano. Don't forget that you can always check out www.laurelglenfarm.com/resources for tips on how to use everything in your share, including these herbs, and how to store them in the short- and long-term. We're really excited that we now have an extensive herb garden alongside our greenhouse and hope it'll give us all the opportunity to try to challenge ourselves to cook with more of them.
Check out this video of Randy using his cultivator to weed the beets. There are a lot of things that we do to limit our chemical applications, and this is one of those ways. The cultivator pulls up the weeds that grow in the rows.
Here are 2 more videos. One is a ride-along in Randy's Massey Ferguson tractor (the big one with the cab!), where you'll see lettuce thriving up at our Booth Hill location. The other is of our team transplanting peppers.
This weather has been all over the place. We had planned to include arugula in your shares this week, but we lost the entire crop! Randy said he has never seen it flower so fast. We are so upset! We had record-breaking temperatures last Sunday, and then the continued heat and lack of rain caused it all to "bolt" (which means it flowered and went to seed). Randy even tried to irrigate it to keep it cool, and it didn't help.
We are very nervous about the forecast going forward because now we have the opposite: rainy and cold. No sun means a halt on some of the items we hoped we would have going forward. Randy hoped the squash would be ready for week 2, but with this forecast it looks questionable. Because of the nerve-wracking weather, everything in your share is subject to change. This rarely happens, but we wanted to let you know anyway. The value of the share is never compromised either way. We always include an extra dollar or two in your share over the cost you paid into it.
Peas look good, though!
One more thing about your share before we get into contents and recipes. Although they are not customizable, we do have our "Veggie Swap" table available in the store. Feel free to leave something you don't want and take another item in its place. Sorry, but we can't take requests to swap things out of your share ahead of time. Anything left over at the end of the day will be donated to an organization called Real Food Share, which distributes to non-profits in need.
Cooking Tip of the Week:
Don't toss those leek tops! Most recipes we come across say to use the "white and light green parts only" but leek tops are usable. Personally, we use the entire thing in a recipe, but you can also save them in a freezer bag to make soup stock or flavor your soup later this year. Fun fact: the leeks in your share were planted this time last year and "overwintered" for our use this spring.
If you find a long seed pod growing up off the top of your leek, that's called a "leek scape" - if you're familiar with garlic scapes, it's the same concept. As the leek nears the end of its life, its goal is to reproduce and make seeds. You can eat the whole scape, as you can with other onion family plants' scapes. Here's one quick recipe to make with leek scapes just in case:
Potato Salad with Leek Scapes and Herbs
In Your Share
1 bunch of broccoli rabe
1 bunch of Tokyo bekana
1/2 lb. of leeks
1 bunch of kale
1/4 lb. of spinach
1/4 lb. of Asian mix
1 herb bunch
1 bunch of broccoli rabe
1 bunch of Tokyo bekana
1 lb. of leeks
1 bunch of kale
1/2 lb. of spinach
1/2 lb. of Asian mix
1 bunch of pea tendrils
1 herb bunch
Caring For Your Share:
More storage tips can be found in our Library of Resources
Store Tokyo bekana, kale, leeks, and broccoli rabe in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge. Wash when ready to use.
Keep Asian mix and spinach in the plastic bag in the fridge. When ready to use, wash in cold water and spin out in a salad spinner. Use within the week.
Reference the Library of Resources for tips about how to store the herb bunch you received; it will be dependent upon the type.
LGF Cooking Club:
Here's how this section will always be structured:
It will contain a few recipes for the items in the small share. For additional tips, reference the Library of Resources. There is SO much more you can do. The library contains numerous general recipes for every item you'll find in your share.
This section will be more seasonal, and will likely include recipes that are a combination of more than one of the items in your share.
Reference the Library of Resources for tips about how to cook with the herb bunch you received; it will be dependent upon the type.
Baked Kale-Spinach Balls https://www.buonapappa.net/baked-kale-spinach-balls/
Spinach and Kale Turnovers https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/spinach-kale-turnovers
Colcannon with Kale and Leeks (Irish mashed potatoes!) https://swirlsofflavor.com/colcannon-with-kale-and-leeks/
Andouille, Broccoli Rabe, and Spinach Fried Rice https://sarahscucinabella.com/2015/07/09/andouille-broccoli-rabe-and-spinach-fried-rice/
A Stir Fry Formula (use your Tokyo bekana and Asian greens mix) https://omnivorescookbook.com/how-to-make-stir-fry/
Green Frittata with Leeks, Kale, and Parsley https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/green-frittata-leeks-kale-and-parsley/17802/