CSA Week 6 (Session 2, Week 2)

People are creatures of habit.  At the farmers markets every week, our customers love to ask questions about romanesco and kohlrabi (what is that and how do you cook it?), and comment on the colors of our produce.  Most people have never seen a purple cauliflower or many of the other varieties that we bring to the market.  It’s fun to hear “I didn’t know that beans came in so many different colors,” because it opens the door to educating  people about the wonderful varieties that can’t be found at the grocery store.  Getting them to try something new isn’t always easy, though.

The way that we have that conversation with you, dear CSA member, is by putting these wonderful, delicious, and unique vegetables in your boxes week after week.  We imagine the look of surprise and delight (hopefully!) when you open the box and find items that you wouldn’t necessarily pick for yourself.  We try to be thoughtful about choosing things that are a little off the beaten path but still familiar.  Sometimes we miss the mark, but for the most part we hope that it makes your dinners a little more interesting and fun.

Purple_white_cauli_brocc
Check out that purple cauliflower!

Week 6 Box
Beans
Green Cabbage
Cucumber
Eggplant
Kale
Potatoes
Tomatoes
Herbs: Chives or thyme

Large boxes add:
Cauliflower
Lettuce
Extra: Cucumber, potatoes, tomatoes

In other news, with the spike in temperature last week our chickens decided to go on strike.  Their egg laying decreased by about 40% pretty much overnight!  We’re hoping this isn’t a repeat of last season when the egg production ran much, much lower than we anticipated.  On the bright side, we learned a lot about caring for birds during hot weather so we’ve been able to pick up the distress signs early and act quickly to keep them cool, modify their diet, and provide them with supplements to ease the heat stress.

Check out this week’s recipes for eggplant, kohlrabi, and cabbage.  Click here for all posted recipes.

CSA Week 5 (Session 2, Week 1)

As we roll into the first week of our second session (fifth week of our CSA program), the summer produce has arrived. Our new artichoke planting has just started to produce buds and the beans are in full swing.  We have a “mere” five varieties at the moment and they are all tasty, in their own way.

This week we’re including a bonus item in every box, which we like to do from time to time.  Sometimes new items are slow to start so when there’s not enough for every box. we share the small amounts with our CSA members as a preview for what’s coming down the road.

Beans_assorted
Clockwise from top left: burgundy, romano, red swan, gold, purple dragon tongue beans

Week 5 CSA box:
Wild Blackberries
Beans
Cauliflower
Summer squash
Tomatoes
Zucchini
Bonus item

Large boxes add:
Artichoke
Basil
Extra: beans, and tomatoes

I think that Mother Nature finally got the memo that it’s summer in Washington.  The cooler temps and precipitation were great to get stuff going but it’s been a waiting game for the tomatoes and cucumbers – quite the change from last year’s record-setting drought!  At least the chickens are happy in this weather.  Now, if they would stop getting eaten by coyotes and eagles…

Check out this week’s recipes for artichoke, beans, and zucchini.  Click here for all posted recipes.

 

CSA Week 4

This is the part of the season that I like best.  The tomato vines are starting to tower over our heads and new vegetables are popping up weekly.  We just sampled our first beans and found our first zucchini.  Costata romanesco (pictured below) is one of our favorites and when it shows up in the boxes, I hope you’ll enjoy this Italian heirloom variety as much as we do.

romanesco (3)Week 4 CSA box:
Wild Blackberries
Beets or Carrots
Romanesco Cauliflower
Beans
Summer squash or zucchini
Tomatoes

Large boxes add:
Chard
Chives
Snow or Snap peas

Romanesco cauliflower is a work of art unto itself.  It’s one of the vegetables that always draws comments at the farmers market such as “what IS that?” and “it’s too pretty to eat.”  We love edible art and it’s become a favorite at the farm.

Click here for more recipes.

What’s coming up in the second session? Beans, tomatoes, zucchini and new varieties of summer squash, and (hopefully) cucumber will take center stage.  Stay tuned…

After a small setback with the beans, the plants are looking great.

 

The vines are laden with fruit. Come on tomatoes!

 

Costata_romanesco
Costata romanesco zucchini

CSA Week 3

Last year we had a terrible time with our flock of laying hens.  The hot conditions in addition to predator attacks and other stresses kept our egg production at an all time low.  Our new flock is thriving and we couldn’t be more pleased with the colorful mix of brown, blue, green, pink, and white eggs that they produce.  This time around we kept a few roosters on hand and they have done Eggs_in_basketan excellent job at protecting our ladies, that is, when the chickens stay within the portable fencing.

Every day we find a number of chickens who have casually hopped over the fence to forage and hunt for goodies in the pasture.  I suppose they think that the grass is greener on the other side!  Out on their own, they become prime targets for predators and in the last couple of months we have lost about two dozen birds to eagles and coyotes – that’s about 10% of our flock.  Seeing the pile of feathers left after a predator attack is always heartbreaking but such are the risks of raising chickens on pasture.  We just hope that the remaining chickens have the sense to stay inside the fence after witnessing the others get taken.

On a happier note, we’re excited to have our first carrots of the season. We almost lost them to the weeds but managed to salvage enough to fill boxes this week.  Ugh, weeds.  Sometimes it’s so hard to keep up with them.

20160706_112441Week 3 CSA box:Snow peas
Wild Blackberries
Broccoli
Carrots
Fennel
Red Russian Kale
Purple Kohlrabi
Tomatoes

Large boxes add:
Snow Peas
Summer squash

What to do with fennel and the giant mass of fronds?  Here are some tips:

  • Slice it thinly and add it to a salad or coleslaw
  • Halve it, cut it into quarters and roast it with chicken or fish
  • Add it as a topping for pizza
  • Braise it
  • Coat it with seasoned flour and then pan fry
  • Make pickles
  • Make “pesto” with the fronds and then freeze in an ice cube tray for later use to flavor soups, stews and other dishes

20160617_151721Click here for more recipes.

CSA Week 2

I hope you had a fun 4th!  As I write this, the fireworks are still going off around us.  Perhaps some of our produce made it onto your 4th of July menu?

Before we started farming, I gave little thought to how the food I ate made it from the fields to the store or farmers market.  As inconvenient as it is, vegetables don’t grow on a schedule and animals need to be fed and cared for 7 days a week, holidays included.  We eat 365 days per year so it only makes sense that our food is grown, cultivated, harvested and delivered 365 days per year.  I don’t know why it took becoming a farmer to figure that one out!  When you join a CSA, I think you become more aware of the work that your farmer does to fill those boxes each week.  We like to think that one of the reasons you join a CSA is because you understand the bigger picture of farming in addition to appreciating the seasonality of your food.

That being said, here’s what’s coming up this week.

Cabbage_purple_smallWeek 2 CSA box:First tomato 2016
Beets
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Chard
Purple Cabbage
Snap Peas

Large boxes add:
Tomatoes or Peppers
Summer squash

You know the saying “knee-high by the fourth of July” referring to the height of corn plants?  Well, for the second year in a row pests have had other ideas.  Whether it’s birds or some unseen pest eating the seeds before they germinate, we can only speculate.  What we do know is that our corn planting is floundering.

The good news is that our tomatoes are just starting to ripen and we’re putting the first few in large CSA boxes this week.  We sampled the first pint of gold cherry tomatoes this past week and they didn’t disappoint!

If you still have cabbage left over from last week, perhaps this recipe will help you use it up:

Warm Cabbage Salad

3 bacon slices
1 tablespoon peeled chopped shallot (about 1 small)
2 cups apple cider
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 ounces Roquefort or other blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)
8 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

  1. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in pan. Crumble bacon; set aside.
  2. Heat bacon drippings over medium-high heat. Add shallot, and sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Bring apple cider to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat. Add shallot mixture, salt, and pepper. Place cider mixture and cheese in a blender or small food processor; process until smooth.
  4. Combine cabbage and bell pepper in a large bowl; drizzle cider mixture over cabbage mixture, tossing well to coat. Top with crumbled bacon. Serve immediately.

Click here for more recipes.

CSA week one: the fun has just begun

It’s been a good long time since this blog has been updated.  For the next 16 weeks it will serve as our CSA newsletter.  The fun part is that you don’t have to be part of our CSA to enjoy it!

Week 1 CSA box:
Broccoli
Cabbage
Red Russian kale
Purple kohlrabi
Snap Peas

Large boxes add:
Beets
Chard
Lettuce

20160607_123117

The mix of rain and sunshine this spring has been a blessing this season.  In contrast with last year, when we barely saw a drop of rain from April until September, the cooler temps and moisture have given us a great foundation for our crops.  The potatoes are happy.  The tomato plants are starting to bear fruit and will start to ripen very soon.  The fields are green, green, and green in every direction.

On the downside, our cucurbits (cucumber, melon, summer squash) and corn have been hit hard by pests.  Pest damage to crops is always heartbreaking, especially when those critters live in the ground – unseen by the naked eye.  They feast on the seeds and roots which stunts and damages the plants.  As the weeks pass and nothing pops out of the ground, we rush to implement plan B; we are re-seeding those crops and keeping fingers crossed that there’s enough time left in the season to grow these much-loved items.

So what’s going strong right now?  Everything in the brassica family: broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Romanesco, and kohlrabi.  Which brings us to this week’s veggie spotlight: KOHLRABI.

Kohlrabi_purple

More people should know about this vegetable.  This “cabbage-turnip” is often mistaken for a root vegetable.  It’s been cultivated for hundreds of years and can be eaten either raw or cooked.  Its mild flavor and versatility are completely underrated.  While most would only use the bulb, the leaves can also be used much in the way of kale of collard greens.  Try out some of our favorite kohlrabi recipes here.

Phinney Farmers Market, here we come!

We’re super excited to have a farm stand at the Phinney Farmers Market on Fridays from June 3rd to September 30th this year.  As such, we’ve created a special CSA option for pick up at the market.  For the first time ever, we’re offering the Pick 5 and Pick 7 shares.

How it works: Prepay for 5 weeks of produce then visit our stand at the farmers market and pick your items during any five weeks of our season.  (You can also double up for 10 or 15 weeks.)  If you want two pints of strawberries one week, no problem! If you love broccoli but loathe eggplant, then this is a great way to support your local farm and still choose what you like best.

Why prepay? Your investment in our farm helps provide working capital for the months leading up to the farmers market when we start, cultivate, and grow our beautiful produce.  You also get more for your money.  With an average cost of $3.50 per item, you benefit because many of our items sell for $4 or more.  Shares can be purchased at Barn2Door.

Eggs are currently available for sale in our webstore for pick up at a couple of locations. We’re also offering four 4-week mini-CSA subscriptions from June through October.  Depending on how things go, we may add early and/or late season sessions.

CSA share options

  • New! Pick 5 or Pick 7 share for pick up at the Phinney Farmers Market
  • Regular share: Great for 1 – 2 veggie lovers, includes 5 – 7 items.
  • Large share: All of the goodness of the regular share plus 3 or so extra items and larger quantities of a couple of popular items like strawberries, broccoli, and staples like onions.
  • Egg shares are also available

Four-week mini-subscription dates
Session 1: Starting June 28 or June 29
Session 2: Starting July 26 or July 27
Session 3: Starting Aug 23 or Aug 24
Session 4: Starting Sept 20 or Sept 21

Pick up locations
Skylight Farms 17319 Elliott Rd, Snohomish
Valve Corporation (for Valve employees and contractors only) 10900 NE 4th St, Bellevue
Vertical World Seattle 2330 W. Commodore Way, Seattle
Seattle Bouldering Project 900 Poplar Place S, Seattle
Essential Baking 1604 N 34th St, Seattle
Phinney Farmers Market Phinney Neighborhood Association – for Pick 5 and Pick 7 shares only

Sunny with a chance of sun

As we put together the CSA boxes each week it feels like a small victory, moreso this season than any other. It was yet another week of no precip and high temps.  We are starting to better understand the plight of farmers in California.

It was 95 degrees in the shade on Wednesday.
It was 95 degrees in the shade on Wednesday.

The promise of rain this week was just a tease so we continued to diligently rotate our watering in hopes that our efforts are enough to keep things alive.  That said, we knocked out a pretty good box this week.

Week 3 20150701
A little heavy on legumes but overall, it looks pretty good.

There was a brief discussion on whether putting snow, snap, and shelling peas along with beans would be too much for our large boxes but in the end we decided that it was all going in.  That’s what the CSA is for: to showcase the best of what we have for the week.

So there you have it, Week 3’s box:
Leafy green butter lettuce
Pretty purplette onions
Sweet savoy cabbage
Crunchy carrots
A preponderance of peas: snow, snap and shelling
Tender yellow wax beans
Beautiful broccoli (seriously, it’s the best tasting variety that we grow)

This year we are also trying to strike a better balance between farm and fun so amidst all the heat and weekend fire drills, we managed to sneak in a little time at the local fair for Father’s Day. Hope you’re finding some fun ways to beat the heat too!

Ferris_wheel_hot_air_balloons

Here we go – it’s our third season

We have survived two seasons of farming and here we are, ready for round three. Our CSA kicked off last week and I think it was our best first box yet. There’s always a lot of anticipation for that first box since you never really know what things will look like until they are harvested and cleaned up. Will we have enough stuff to fill it? Will the CSA members like it? Did we include enough variety?

Given the drought-like conditions that we are experiencing, I think we feel pretty good about what we delivered: red beets, carrots, flashy troutback lettuce (a farm fave), strawberries, broccoli or romanesco, and lacinato kale or chard.  The large boxes also had cardoon (see below for a pic), asparagus, green butter lettuce, frisee, and snap peas. The first day of the season is never perfect but our team really pulled together and we were on the road pretty much on schedule.

Cardoon (2)
Cardoon

So, now let’s talk about this weather we’ve been having.  Gorgeous, sunny, hot days. 80-90 degree days in May and June in the Pacific Northwest, say what? Great for going to the beach, not super great for early season farming. We count on the spring rain to help get our plantings established and without it, let’s just say that it’s been a little rough on those tender seedlings. It is what it is, so we’re making the best of it. On the other hand, the stuff in the greenhouses looks terrific. We may have tomatoes earlier than ever before – yay!

Tomatoes on June 6th!
Tomatoes on June 6th!

CSA season is here. (Almost!)

Believe it or not, it’s already time to sign up for this year’s CSA.

Winter isn’t even over (did it even start?) and we are already planning for summer’s bounty.  It’s true that the life of a farmer slows down in the off-season but we can’t help scrutinizing past seasons and dreaming of what will fill our plates and stomachs months from now.

As we head into our third season, we take all of the praise and criticism from our CSA members and customers to heart.  We are starting to better understand what you like (tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, carrots) and what you tire of (potatoes, cabbage, watermelon, bitter greens).  And that funny thing about beets – most love them, but some don’t.  This is true of so many things that we grow; it’s a quandary we face with each season.  Our challenge is to please the taste buds of over 100 households.  I know that we converted at least one beet-hater and tomato-hater last season so I have hope that we can do the same this year.

With our CSA starting in just a few short months, we are pleased to announce that you can sign up starting today.  We are going back to a 20-week season starting in mid-June through October, and continuing our egg delivery.  Last year’s late season proved to be too stressful given that the ground was frozen for much of the four weeks.  Chalk that one up to the learning curve.

Other changes for this year:

  • Because we know that paying for the whole season all at once is a big investment, we’ve added an option for paying in installments.
  • We’ve added Essential Baking in Wallingford as a pick up location and said good-bye to our Greenwood and former Wallingford locations. More pick up locations will be added as they are confirmed.
  • You can purchase items from our web store before, during, and after our main CSA season. Access to the web store will be available for non-CSA members too. This means that if you fear the commitment of the CSA, you can order à la carte and create a custom order.  However, due to logistical reasons, we are not able to deliver the full range of products to every pick up location.

So why join the CSA now when the first delivery won’t arrive for many weeks?  By joining today, you provide us with working capital to purchase the seed, prepare the fields, fill the seed trays, ready the greenhouses, plant, plant, plant, and plant some more.  It’s an investment in land stewardship and the promise of delicious things to come.  But moreover, you want this, this, and this:

Orange and cherry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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