Here’s the deal. In all my years farming nothing brings more excitement to our shareholders than the arrival of the tomatoes. It’s true! I have folks start asking about the tomatoes in early May. Something about those fruits that stir people like nothing else when it comes to locally grown goodness. The tomato season begins in July..for all field grown..not greenhouse but ripe on the vine in the bright sunshine here in Middle Tennessee. We start seeing the cherries and small tomatoes first then come the big girls the heirloom slicers that taste like summer..looks like summer and yes..once the tomatoes arrive it is summer! This next pickup is one of those tomato pickups. The first of the season besides the little guys we sent home last pickup. The sun is high in sky and it is heating up which brings on the bountiful harvest of those queens of the farm. Right now I have 3 different varieties of heirloom slicing tomatoes. Black Krim , Purple Cherokee and Mortgage Lifter these are my favorite large heirlooms. I also have some medium size tomatoes growing along with our sweet corn down at my families farm where there is lots of farm land and Mark and I have 2 acres partitioned off for our organic crops that need lot’s of space like the sweet corn and over flow like winter squash or crop rotation when we need to rotate crop beds here every 3 years. We have some lemon boys and canner tomatoes and paste planted there.The sweet corn is still a little bit from being ready to harvest..but that is okay…because there is plenty to love in your FarmBox this next pickup..
It’s been a few weeks now of these spring FarmBox pickups with all the beautiful lettuces and greens that are in season this time of year. There is a reason behind how nature designs what our diets should consist of during the seasons. We are coming out of the carb and protein laden winter months and our bodies need to detoxify and lighten the food stores from the winter. These greens which are the earliest of crops are designed to do just that. If you eat more in season you will find your health improves and connects more with your local environment.
We are in the swing stage as i like to refer to this time of year where we are in-between the two seasons. The closing of spring and the beginning of summer. This is a real confusing time in the field. The spring crops are pumping and they feel the season change long before we humans do which makes them want to produce and set seed. The earlier summer crops wants to wait to grow to make sure the weather is stable..So things speed up and things slow down. It makes planning CSA pickups really difficult for a couple of weeks for sure. But, I want you to know..that is all part of a CSA and what makes these programs so great. You will never be more in touch with what nature is providing in your area than in a CSA. You will also find that your diet ebbs and flows more within those parameters of your FarmBox.
So we are swing into the summer season in the next couple of weeks..what does that mean for your FarmBox? It means you will start seeing some beta carotene (Color)! Again as our diets are meant to be the introduction of texture and colors and sugars..yes sugar crops. Our bodies need these for energy to battle the warmer..much warmer weather. Carrots, beets, squash, peppers will be sharing space in those FarmBoxes. I know you are as ready as I am for those. While these crops are a couple or more weeks away we still have to deal with those spring crops some of which are just now coming into their full glory. Cauliflower’s, broccoli, Kohlrabi, Swiss Chard, mustard greens and asian greens and salad greens are all still on the menu for the next pickup. After this next pickup..we will take a break from the pickups for a couple of weeks and come back when the beta carotene crops are ready to go. The good news includes a more stable bi-weekly pickup schedule. And of yes..flowers will be making showing off a little..so flower bouquets:)
I will leave you with this..You have made it through for the most part of the spring season..You have had tons of salads I know..me too. Just hang in there with me another wild pickup schedule and things will settle down and we will celebrate Heirloom tomato season!!
One of my favorite crops is going to be in this first pickup..and that is sorrel. It is this beautiful red vein leaf that has this tangy lemony taste and I love to add it to salads, shrimp tacos. It just livens up whatever you use for. We are still really early in the season so this is a lite pickup for sure, but more important this is wholesome, fresh and safe food..and I just have to say..we are thankful to be your farmers and we want to make sure y’all know we are thinking of y’all and we are planting up a great season..so let get started FarmBox #1Here is a great website I found all about using fresh Sorrel
So much has changed in our lives in the last 30 days. These are surly uncertain times and for so many of us with elderly loved ones to try and protect it is very scary. We here on the farm have had to make some changes as well to how we operate in this new world. Mark and I have decided to not to have our part time farm help for now. We are handling all the spring prep ourselves for now. Its a big job to ready the season here on the farm but thank goodness we keep our CSA program small enough to manage and we have canceled all of our events and wedding for the next 6 to 8 weeks. I am praying by than we will have a better understanding on what the future holds with this pandemic. We also made some changes in how we are handling our produce. We strictly follow the USDA standards for food safety from harvest to packing our FarmBoxes. Now I feel we need to take even further measure to ensure safety. 1. Mark and I will be the only ones handling harvest, wash and pack. 2. Both of us will be wearing gloves and face masks while handling the produce. 3. All greens will have a triple wash before packing in your shares. 4. All greens will be placed in the cooler until pickup times. 5. All pickups will be in the pavilion this season or on the farmhouse porch. 6. All Farmboxes will be disinfected before pickup. All flower cans will be disinfected. All flower cutters will be disinfected..and there will be wipes for you to use as well for the cutters. Mark and I are discussing possible deliveries for those that shareholders that are close to the farm..I will keep you up to date on that. The main thing I want you to know is..We intend on doing everything possible to provide you with a safe, fresh and healthy farmbox this season.
So, Let’s chat about what’s been happening here on the farm because we are inching closer to our spring season and the start of our CSA pickups. The hoop house we built last fall is filled with baby lettuces, spinach, arugula and sprouting purple broccoli. I have never grown this sprouting broccoli before so that is a trial..but I have my fingers crossed. The field is now about a third planted with lettuces, spring onions. cauliflowers, broccoli, sugar snap peas, kales..lot’s of greens and so on..It has been a really wet March raining..down pours almost everyday. But the sun was shinning to day so my face was to the sun and my hands were in the dirt..so it was a beautiful and productive day. I am looking forward to what we will accomplish in the next couple of weeks. We should have most of the field beds planted and Hoop house #2 filled with tomato plants, cucumbers and eggplant.
I just want to end with this. I know we are all scared..I know we have all been saying prayers and staying home. I want you to know I realize you have put a lot of faith in us as your farmers..I can’t tell you how many emails I have gotten the last couple of weeks of people looking for a local farms..CSA program or just to be able to buy fresh produce.. I am grateful and honored to be your farmer..and we will work hard to bring you and your family all that this farm as to offer. There has never been a better time to know your local farmer..and I am so thankful to be yours. Peggy
Prep for your CSA FarmBox
Tips to get ready for your FarmBox before you pickup.
As with anything prep is important. I wanted to give you all a few tips I have learned over the years to prepare for all these vegetables that will be coming during the farmbox season.
If you haven’t already check out “The Top 6 Tool Guide” please do so.. This will help with making sure you have some of the tools you need in navigating through your CSA. Spring time is greens season and there is lots of salad and cooking greens in your Farmbox. I am working on the Greens Guide for y’all in hopes that it will help you learn more about each of them. You always get a list of contents in your FarmBox when you pickup but sometimes identifying them from each other can be the trick.
Spring: Salads are in season with lots of different types and varieties of lettuce greens. Butter lettuces are my favorite and are some of the first lettuces you will see in your share. These lettuces are super sweet and tender. You will find them in both full head forms and loose leaf. The main tip with butter lettuce is to be gentle with them during the wash stage. Just give them a good rinse and spin in the salad spinner and allow them to dry a bit before you put them in whatever storage container you want to store your lettuce in. They should be good for 5-7 days in your refrigerator. The same can be said with Spinach and loose baby salad mix lettuce.
The beginning of the CSA FarmBox season will be the most labor intensive because of all the salad & cooking greens. Here are my 4 best tips to prep for those.
1. Decide how best you want to store these greens when they come in. Green Bags, Containers, or ziplock bags. Have plenty of these on-hand and ready to go.
2. These greens need to washed and stored imminently. They will wilt on you. A good soak in cold water will help but, getting them washed and stored is your best bet with keeping these greens at their peak. Also the salad spinner is a most tool to have. This will save you tons of time getting your greens nice and dry before you store them.
3. Knowing that spring is salad season plan around that and how to mix it up and make them interesting while you have so many of them. 3-4 times a week..try a different take on salads. Pintest is great to look for seasonal salad ideas.
4. Prep your fridge for your coming farmbox. Make room for it’s contents before your pickup. And besure to label the greens while you’re storing them. I use freezer tapeand a sharpy because it is easy to peel off.