Hello everyone! It's been a great two weeks so far, and we hope you've been enjoying everything in your share and enjoying reading all of the information that comes along in these newsletters.
This week, I wanted to touch a little bit on the weather and how it can affect crops so quickly. One of the challenges I faced last week when packing shares was trying to get greens into the crates quickly enough so that they didn't wilt in the heat. It was so tricky because once greens are harvested, they instantly start wilting.
Luckily, there's a way to perk them up (find it along with other tips in the Library of Resources!) Trim off the ends (use kitchen scissors for bunched greens or slice off the end of the stump with a knife for heads) and soak them in cold water. After an hour or so, they'll perk up. Here's a more in depth article from the Library of Resources if you're interested. If you receive a delivery and know that you won't be home, please make sure to leave a cooler with ice in a location where we can leave it for you.
Here's an example of how the heat negatively affect crops:
See how the center portion of the head of lettuce is beginning to grow tall? This is called "bolting" and it's a word that farmers use to explain that the plant is nearing the end of its life and beginning to produce seeds. Lettuce plants only create one head of lettuce in their lifetime. Once the heat picks up, cool weather crops feel an urgent sense to reproduce, which is every plant's goal. If we left this head of lettuce to grow, eventually it would continue to shoot up and would make flowers with seed pods on top. While still edible, the problem with bolted greens is that they can become bitter or woody depending on the type. And this process can happen fast. As with the arugula we mentioned a couple weeks back, it flowered within a day of incredibly hot temperatures. We lost the entire crop and waited for the next planting to come in for week 2. So, although bolted plants can look pretty cool, our goal is to try to prevent this process from happening.
This week you're receiving sugar snap peas in your shares. Prior to this week, we were only getting a couple dozen pints per week. Now they're coming in quickly, which means we have enough for everyone! Our crew harvests each and every pod by hand, which is very labor-intensive. We are so appreciative of the hard work they do in the fields, even when the weather was in the 90s last week. You can eat snap peas raw or cooked, and you don't need to shell or de-string them; just remove the stem.
While we predict that squash and zucchini will trickle in this week, and we will sell what we have available rather than compost it, the reason for their omission from this week's shares is that we won't have enough to cover all members. Garlic scapes will most likely be ready for next week, too.
Last week, Randy hilled all of the potatoes. We grow a red and gold variety. Hilling the potatoes mounds the soil up higher around the plant. When the potatoes are growing underground, this gives them more room to grow more tubers. The middle rows of potatoes in the photo weren't hilled at the time Randy snapped the photo, but those to the left and right of them are, to show you a comparison. Potatoes can be ready mid-summer if we harvest them, but we typically wait until later toward the fall since they store nicely.
Here's a video that shows potato hilling in action.
Check out this 6 lb. Napa cabbage harvested last week! This is Rory's second season at the farm, though this year she's in charge of the wash station, cleaning up your veggies and prepping them to be packed into shares. She'll also join the field crew at times and will be at the Monroe Farmer's Markets on Fridays through the summer. Say hi if you see her!
P.S. The Napa cabbage slaw trend from our Facebook group and emails you sent over was the highlight of our week. We are absolutely thrilled that our community here is creating trends that we can all try and get excited about! What will it be this week?! We can't wait to see!
Katelyn's flowers are starting to come in! Katelyn grows flowers here on the farm under her business name Rustle Floral Company. She typically has bouquets of flowers available for Saturdays and makes bouquets for mid-week as well. If you are looking for something specific when it comes to flowers, flower arrangements, or when flowers will be available, Katelyn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bouquets of her seasonal flowers are $20.
What in the world is the "kohlrabi" in your shares this week?! Learn all about it in the Library of Resources!
Jesenia shared this photo in our Facebook group to show us her dinner plans. I couldn't help but admire the way she stored her broccoli rabe. Always store your greens in Ziploc bags! If the heads are large, you can put one on each end.
Here's another photo, shared by Lynne, of her Napa cabbage all meal prepped for the week. We're big proponents of meal prepping to make your life easier and ensure that your veggies don't go untouched in the fridge.
Member RoseAnn once gave us a tip about doing a sweep of your fridge mid-way through the week and freezing what you don't plan to cook. Genius! You can use the Library of Resources to help with freezing and storing items long-term.
Here's a link to a blog post I wrote over the winter: 12 Tips for Meal Planning Success. One tip that I believe is absolutely essential to success in a vegetable subscription program is having "Exit Strategies" you can draw from to use up the produce in your fridge and make room for your next share. Steff S. shared her go-to strategy last year: Leftover Bowls.
“I'll change the base from week to week, so sometimes it's pasta-based (penne or shells), grains (quinoa, rice, farrow), or other veggies (this week, I used spaghetti squash). Usually everything is just sauteed or baked together. I'll change the dressing based on what we haven't had most recently (red sauce, cheese sauce, soy sauce, vinaigrettes...)”
We can't tell you how much we enjoy hearing all of your upcoming meal plans, success stories, and ways that you've challenged yourselves to cook with new items. So many of you have made a point of telling us how much you're enjoying the program so far, and it means the world to us. Thank you for being here, for supporting us, and being engaged in the process.
In Your Share (June is still greens season here in CT!)
1 head of romaine
1 bunch of mustard greens
1 pint of peas
1/4 lb. bag of arugula
1 head of romaine
2 pint of peas
1 bunch of mustard greens
1 head of lettuce
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, and mustard greens 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.
Store snap peas in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge. Remove stems and wash when ready to eat, within the week.
Remove the greens from the kohlrabi bulbs 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 about some of the unusual items like mustard greens and kohlrabi!)
Steak Salad with Gorgonzola and Arugula https://giadzy.com/recipes/steak-salad-gorgonzola-arugula-giada-de-laurentiis/
Shaved Kohlrabi Salad with Arugula https://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/shaved-kohlrabi-salad-recipe
Pan-Fried Chicken with Mustard Greens Pesto & Cheddar Grits https://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/pan-fried-chicken-with-mustard-greens-pesto-cheddar-grits
Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Herbs, and Feta (uses mustard greens!) https://www.self.com/recipe/quinoa-parsley-salad-feta
Pork Shoulder Steaks with Grilled Mustard Greens https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/pork-shoulder-steaks-with-grilled-mustard-greens
Fresh Fettuccine Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas and Arugula Pesto https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/fresh-fettucine-pasta-with-sugar-snap-peas-arugula-pesto
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.