Tuesday, August 28, 2012

CSA Week 12

WEATHER NEWS: The farm received a total of 1 1/2 inches of rain late Monday night and early Tuesday morning!!!

Farm Letter

This past week we had our annual organic inspection. A USDA-accredited inspector spent the afternoon at our farm inspecting our fields and reviewing piles of paperwork.
People often think that the difference between organic and non-organic farming comes down to pesticide use. Its much more complex than that. As a consumer, it’s a good thing to be apprised of the differences since there are many labels non-organic growers or food packagers might place on their products to make them appear as if they are the same as organic but quite essentially are not.
It’s hard to explain it in a nutshell. The Organic Farming Research Foundation does a good job of explaining the many facets of organic growing. 
For us, one perennial challenge as organic farmers is keeping up with the weeds. Organic farmers are not allowed to spray herbicides—synthetic sprays that kill weeds. On our farm, we remove weeds by hand, with handheld or hand-pushed equipment, such as hoes, or with a cultivating tractor. Depending on the crop and its stage of growth (or our time limitations), sometimes we just have to tolerate the weeds.
The cultivating tractor we have (see pic, taken in spring) is a new (used) purchase from this past winter and something Ken has had on his wish list for years. It has been a great help, and the first time Ken used it, he said he could see out of the corner of his eye our field crew watching quite carefully. The tractor's efficiency at uprooting the weeds was spectacular. So amazing that the crew was probably wondering how this wonder-weeder-on-wheels might cut into their work hours!
Just drive by our farm and you’ll see this tractor hasn’t obliterated the weeds. The crew is by no means short on hours, and the hand-held tools and push cultivators are not collecting dust. But the tractor has helped us significantly, and the option of spraying chemicals into our fields to keep weeds at bay doesn’t even cross our minds.
Now that we’ve had our organic inspection, we wait for a board of reviewers to evaluate our application, paperwork and the inspector’s report before hearing back (usually some time later this fall). It’s a process, and a lot of record keeping, but we appreciate that there is some layer (or many layers) of accountability that we and other organic farms are held to. It’s worth it to us, and, we hope, to you too.

In this week’s share:2-3 red bell peppers*1 bunch leeks6 1/3 ounces (.40 lbs) salad mix1 bunch cilantro2 small heads of garlic1 Italian eggplant1 pound red onions2-3 slicing tomatoes*1 ¼ pound salad tomatoes Fruit share:End-of-season yellow nectarines

*Amounts vary among distribution sites depending upon size of peppers and tomatoes.

FRUIT TIP: At this stage in the season, Maynard Farm’s nectarines are BIG and great for baking crisps, crumbles, rustic tarts or turnovers. They are also great for smoothies or maybe a nectarine lassi? Substitute nectarines for peaches in this lassi recipe.


If you are still working through the last weeks’ tomatoes, there are a number of ways to hold them up:

  • Make some salsa to can or simply freeze in baggies or jars for later use.
  • Halve and roast the salad tomatoes and then freeze. Great for an intensely flavored pasta dish in fall or winter. 
  • Or take the lazy route—just freeze fresh tomatoes whole in a freezer-grade plastic bag (i.e. Ziploc®) until you can get around to cooking them. The tomatoes will exude a lot of water upon thawing, but once the liquid is drained off or cooked off, the tomatoes are perfectly prime for an intensely flavored sauce.

At the farm this week, Maryellen made a large batch of tomato sauce with diced eggplant and then froze leftovers to enjoy during winter months. She didn’t follow a recipe, but this is what she did: sautéed diced eggplant in a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet until golden brown and softened; then added chopped onion and garlic, cooking briefly to lightly brown. Fresh, diced tomatoes were stirred in and simmered briefly to break down some. To finish, rinsed capers, minced basil and Kosher salt to taste were added. The sauce was served over cheese tortellini.

Cilantro storage tip: Place your bunched cilantro in a glass with an inch or so of water. Tent with a plastic bag and refrigerate.

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