Sunday, October 20, 2013

Farm Update: Fall

Farm Update: Fall

Fall is here, the garden is waning and the leaves are turning. All good things must come to an end. We had a great first season for our CSA, 17 weeks! Since then we've been gleaning what was left in the garden for ourselves, enjoying the last of the harvest and freezing extras for the winter. 

Last Wednesday we took 3 of our largest hogs to Jones Farm Market to be processed. We're looking forward to picking up our own whole hog soon and enjoying some great, farm-raised meat! We were delightfully surprised by how affordable our prices are for a half hog. Only $275.00 for a year's worth of pork for a family of two! We still have a few hogs available for pre-order, check out our Pasture-Raised Pork page if you're interested and get your deposit in soon! We'll be taking the next batch to the processor on October 28!

On Thursday we moved the remaining 7 pigs onto half of the garden. Though we've had days of rain, they're loving rooting in the mud for the last melons, green pumpkins, small watermelons, and ugly tomatoes that remained in the garden. A nice change from all the apples they've been eating!

On Monday we brought back Rosie from her vacation at Shamrock Acres Dexter Farm in Hudsonville. She stayed there for 2 months, and we're hoping for a calf and lots of milk in May/June! The resulting cross between a Jersey and Dexter cow is called a Belfair. They are beefy enough to raise a bull calf for meat and are faster than full Jersey. 

In the greenhouse our fall planting has been flourishing in the autumn weather!

Lettuce heads are nearing harvest size

We can't even keep up with the radishes! 

The swiss chard is looking great! Too bad mice keep eating our kale!

We also harvested the sunflowers that we had planted around our pumpkin patch, they're hanging and drying out in the barn with a tarp below to catch any fallen seeds. Soon we'll take the seeds off the flower heads, salt them and store them. We gave all the small heads to the turkeys and chickens, who loved the snack! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

2013 CSA Share #17

CSA Share #17 - The Final Share 

All good things come to an end and the garden has reached it's limit this year.  This will be our final share of 2013, bringing a close to 17 weeks of fresh vegetables grown entirely safe from chemical residues, and hopefully you all found it as delicious and educational as we have.   Not wanting to go out without a bang, we have the largest share of the season!  This week's share also really demonstrates the variety we can have in our vegetables--the last of the summer crops like tomatoes and peppers, those long season fall crops like pumpkins and winter squash, and fall planting of root crops coming with the impending cold. 

We had a fruitful season for our first year, we loved meeting all of our shareholders and delivering fresh, local produce to you all. We've had our challenges and learning opportunities aplenty--poor sandy soil, bugs and disease problems. But with these experiences and our new greenhouse we hope to have a earlier, bigger and better start on the season next year, and a longer season as well! Until next year! 

Pictured is a Full Share for Week 17.  6 Pumpkins (2 Jack-0-lantern, 4 pumpkin pie), 4 Melons, 4 Butternut Squash, 2 Watermelon, 4 Acorn Squash, 4 Spaghetti Squash, 2 lbs Bell Peppers, Carrots, 4 Leeks, 6 heirloom slicing tomatoes, 8 lbs of assorted Tomatoes,  8 Apples, 2 Jalapenos, 6 Thai Peppers, 6 Kohlrabi and 6 Turnips.Full Share Only: Radishes, Beets, 2 Eggplant

Winter Squash

Winter squash are the last summer vegetables harvested from a garden, and can keep for several months after harvest. For best storage, winter squash need to be cured, which can be done in the home or a heated outbuilding. To cure, place the fruit in an area where temperatures approach 80 degrees for about 10 to 14 days, out of direct sunlight. After cured you can use them for display or put them in a winter storage site, usually a cool, well-ventilated place such as an open basement area, with a consistent temperature of about 50 degrees. The exception to this is acorn squash, these will keep only 6-8 weeks. 

The best thing about winter squash is that they can be stored and saved for later, after all the fresh produce that has a freshness deadline have been cooked. So when all the goodies of this share are gone, try some of these great recipes! 


More apples for everyone this week! We recently met the farm's previous owners and learned which varieties we have. This week we have 4 MacIntosh and 4 Golden Delicious for all of our shares, enough for apple pie!


Fall is here, the leaves are turning and its time for some pumpkin pie! Full Shares get 2 Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins for carving, 2 Pumpkin Pie pumpkins (the small round ones) and 2 Musque de Provence (the lobed, cinderella-like pumpkin). Both the pumpkin pie and musque de provence pumpkins can be used for making pumpkin puree for pumpkin pie made from scratch! Now say pumpkin 10 times in a row.

Purple-Top Turnips

Store your turnip roots in a bag in the fridge for up to one week. You can substitute turnips for potatoes in most recipes, including our Creamy Fall Vegetable soup, or you can try them mashed like potatoes with chives and bacon! 

Sauteed Turnip Greens


Leeks are in the onion family, but rather than forming a tight bulb like an onion, leeks produce a long cylinder of bundled leaf sheaths. They have a mild onion-like taste, the edible portions are the white base of the leaves, the light green parts, and to a lesser extent the dark green parts of the leaves. Leeks are popular for adding flavor to stock, for which you can use all of the leaves. Try them boiled, fried, or raw on salads. Our favorite way to use them is in potato leek soup!

Potato Leek Soup

Our Stock Recipe


This week every full share will get 4 of our heirloom melons.  The small cantaloupe make great snacks and are some of the sweetest melons you will ever eat.  Eat these fast because they don't have a long shelf life! 


Enjoy the last of summer's favorite fruit, watermelons. We've got Moon and Stars watermelon, our white fleshed Cream Saskatchewan, or the Crimson Sweet this week. 


The tomato plants are on their last legs, but they gave us a great final crop!
Full Shares:
-3 lbs of mixed snacking tomatoes (cherry, pear, and peach tomatoes)
-3 lbs of roma and sheboygan tomatoes (great for salsa, pasta sauce or bruschetta)
-2 lbs of Rutgers slicer tomatoes (for hamburgers, sauce, salsa or sandwiches)
-6 Heirloom Slicers (either Kellogg's Breakfast or Aunt Ruby's German Green both great for BLT sandwiches, and also make some very colorful bruschetta!)

Half shares:
-1.5 lb of mixed snacking tomatoes (cherry, pear, and peach tomatoes)
-1.5 lbs of roma and sheboygan tomatoes (great for salsa, marinara sauce or bruschetta)
-1 lb Rutgers slicer tomatoes (for hamburgers, sauce, or sandwiches)
-3 Heirloom Slicer (either Kellogg's Breakfast or Aunt Ruby's German Green)

Check our 2013 Tomato Varieties blogpost to see which ones you get and match the tomato to it's name! For using all these tomatoes, we recommend making lots of salsa, tomato salad and bruschetta. Freeze some bruschetta, can some salsa or marinara sauce! To use up those bell peppers and jalapenos, try canning some delicious zesty salsa!

Zesty Salsa Canning Recipe


We've got more peppers for everyone this week.  We have several bell peppers, the last of the Jalapenos, and some Thai peppers.  

Full Shares:
-2 lbs of bell peppers
-6 Thai peppers
-2 Jalapenos

Half Shares:
-1 lb of bell peppers
-3 Thai Peppers
-1 Jalapeno

You can use the bell peppers and jalapenos in the zesty salsa recipe.  You can also try stuffed bell peppers!  You can add the small Thai Peppers to a stir fry and give it a little heat.  This is a hotter pepper so be careful with how much you use, one or two will usually do the trick.  


More carrots this week--eat them on salad, in soup, or just raw, you can't go wrong! 


More Kohlrabi this week!  Just peel the skin and bite into it like an apple, or slice it and enjoy with your favorite salad dressing. 

Radish (full shares only)

This week we have 2 varieties for you, the white Ping Pong radish and the longer red French Breakfast variety. We really like the French Breakfast, its a little sweeter and milder in taste, great for getting your kids to try out radishes. Our favorite snack is lightly toasted bread with butter and sliced radishes, give it a try! 

Don't forget, you can use those greens! Sautee them for 2-3 minutes in garlic and butter, or make one of our favorite soups Radish Leaf Soup, we like to substitute homemade stock for the water to give it extra flavor!

Radish Leaf Soup

Eggplant (full shares only)

This week we have 2 Eggplant for full shares only, they've been slowing down with the cold. Next year we'll have more eggplant for longer, we'll be starting them inside our new greenhouse and growing some inside as well for an extended harvest!  Eggplant is in the same family as tomatoes and potatoes and was first domesticated in India. We have the large black Italian variety, perfect for ratatouille or eggplant parmesan. Raw eggplant can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. The flesh is smooth and meaty, capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes and making it a great meat substitute for vegan and vegetarian dishes!

Beets (full shares only)

This root crop is one we are still learning to love ourselves.  The most common use we know of is Borscht a eastern european soup.  Many people like to shred them to add to a salad.  We've also heard of people pickling them for a snack.