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 email@example.com, 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/