August 5, 2018; started – and now it is August 16
CSA Week 11–August 13, 15, 17
No, I have not died, just got super waylaid by the NOFA Summer Conference. It was a great event and I do hope you consider coming to it in 2019. Be you an eater or a grower, it is a very hopeful place where many people who are attempting to make change in the food system both environmentally and in terms of food access, gather to reconnoiter and recharge. But the conference wreaks a bit of havoc with my time, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day in the first two weeks of August. But back to work we are.
The big news this week is that the ground just gave up on Tuesday and said, “no more water!” Probably 2/3 of the farm was either in standing water or at least in a situation of ‘wet feet’. Today, on our second day of no rain, the water has subsided in the veg fields, but this is a hard condition for the plants, because the microbes who live beneath their feet drown and the system shuts down at some level. Luckily, we have some tricks up our sleeves. We have been foliar feeding double time this week. The green beans had gone seriously down hill, for example, with the plants being attacked by Mexican bean beetles. After two foliar feedings this week they were taking a new lease on life and seemed to come around. Our foliar feeding includes 3-4 different microbial mixes and some bio-stimulants that go directly to the roots of the plants where they pass out the goodness to the poor folks underground and help them get moving again. It is pretty miraculous actually – the power of nature and biology.
I am not complaining really – climate change is taking a much more serious toll in many other places in the world. We are relatively lucky, actually. What can you do – besides personal reduction of emissions, recycling, conserving, etc.? You can buy your food (and also if you raise some) from farmers who sequester carbon and support biodiversity with their farming practices. And discontinue supporting the industrial food system that has a huge part in at least 1/3 of the CO2 in the atmosphere. And clothing – consider organic clothing that isn’t a synthetic and also supports the earth in its raising (conventionally raised cotton leaves a huge negative foot print). And take care of your lawn in an organic way. Well, I could go on for hours, but check out nofamass.org for resources, or give me a call or email. I can share all sorts of ideas. It really is up to each of us to slow climate change, and possibly turn it around before it is too late.
So in case you are feeling overwhelmed by all the food, now is a good time to start preserving some of it for the winter. Nothing is more satisfying than putting food by, and if you have young people around to help you with it, or an elder who needs something useful to do, it can be a great family or community endeavor. I put in three pictures of the process for cabbage – chop it to bite size, put on a pot of water to boil. Immerse the cabbage (or whatever) in the water and bring it back to a boil. After it has boiled around 3 minutes, remove it from the heat, pour into a colander, immerse in cold water, drain and pack in your favorite freezer container. This method is good for cabbage, broccoli, beans, greens (they might need a tad less time to change to a bright green and just start to smell – maybe two minutes).
Tomatoes can be cut up and frozen as is. Or you can boil them down (we add seas salt) and then put into canning jars and processed in a hot water bath.
What to do with all of those cucumbers!??
Dan Rosenberg’s secret recipe for lacto fermented pickles
1 quart of cucumbers – use smaller, thinner pickles, cut them in half
1 1/3 T salt – use unrefined sea salt (Lifestream has an un-iodized one and Frontier sea salt can be used and ordered by the pound)
Things to add:
Wild grape leaf
- Fill with water
- If water is chlorinated, it is good to boil and return to room temperature
- Medium tight screw on canning lids – I use the plastic ones so they don’t rust
- Leave pickles at room temperature for 5 days and then move to refrigerator or root cellar
For your herbs, I encourage you to acquire a food dryer. We have an Excalibur with 8 shelves. You can pull the leaves off the stalks and put them on the shelves and dry them at a low temperature until they are dry and not yet crispy – you want them to have good color. Store in the dark in jars. Or I like to freeze parsley (and leeks) straight up, on cookie sheets, and then remove them to a bag for storage (in the freezer).
Here is another subject that I can go on for hours about, so call or email with questions, or come on over – these days we are knocking off a lot of food preservation right after lunch on M, W, F.
Suggestions for your Fennel from Nina
Celery and fennel salad is good, fennel and lamb shanks and the fennel fronds cooked with old layers for your chicken stock are good ways to use fennel.
Farm staff leaving at a frightening rate
Yes, that time of year is approaching. Today is Josh’s last day and Ben’s last is tomorrow. Mario goes back to school on the 28th. We are hustling to get our more long term jobs under control right now. That means perennial management like blueberries, cane fruits, perennial flowers and herbs, asparagus, strawberries, fruit trees, so that Clare and Brent and I and a handful of volunteers like Raina and Ann, can take care of the picking and the remainder of the planting – some more lettuce, Asians and spinach. Many thanks to these young guys who have labored hard all summer – we will miss them!
Shares may not be ready until a little later.
In Barre, don’t pick up until 1 in this heavy harvest period. In Worcester we may not show up at Living Earth much before 3. Raina goes back to school soon, so pick up at St. Francis in Holden on Wednesday will be available by 4 pm at the earliest. Friday folks in Holden should also go on the later side, depending on who will be delivering.
Food this week –
From the members
Please do not pick for me this week…or if you have a place please donate my food. I will be away for the week. Thank you so much for all you and your staff do to provide amazing healthy food for us each week. Seems this summer has been particularly bountiful. I know it has been hot and I think of you all often working for us in that heat.
Thanks for your kind words, Beth. It is sometimes hard to be in the field when it is hot, though the rain has cooled things down a lot this year, in between times, and it is a lot cooler here in Barre than in most parts of the state – which makes for late tomatoes, but happier farmers.
I am glad to hear that you think things are more bounteous this year. Each year we get more competent at the no till thing, and the lessened disturbance of the soil clearly makes for better, more nutritious food. We are still steep on the learning curve, and the staff gets frustrated with me when they would rather pull out the tiller (luckily I sold it!) rather than use the hoes, but I am convinced we are moving in the proper direction.
Have a good trip away. Julie
We can use your recycled plastic grocer y size bags
Yes, just leave them in your share bag – don’t forget to return it this week, and we will use them for packing vegetables. We can reuse the rubber bands too!
Still taking members
Every week the price will go down each week (by $30 for larges and $20 for mediums), and it will be updated on the website – https://mhof.net/2018-csa-share-options/.
Check out our Facebook at this address https://www.facebook.com/manyhandsorganicfarm… You can like us, refer us and also write a review if you enjoy what you are receiving. That all helps get the word out for our farm. Thanks for what many of you have already done to help us get the word out.
We are also on Instagram @Many Hands Organic. Clare and Lisa post pictures there all of the time.