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Week 1, 2010

June 18, 2010

  • Swiss Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Mizuna
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Mustard Greens
  • Dill
  • Tomato plants, VERY ready for transplanting.

Welcome to our first week of produce delivery! We are so excited to be harvesting the first veggies from our garden. We are truly grateful to have you as a member this year, and we appreciate your support as we do what we love.

It is the sovereign duty of every farmer to communicate about the weather. The weather is always bad. But still, the farmer must relate just how bad it actually is to anyone who will listen. The weather at Fox and Fawn Farm has been bad. Last week it was very bad. This week: just bad. We were spited with three inches of rain over three hours on the night of June 10th. To put this in perspective, to my recollection that is more rainfall than we received TOTAL for all of April, May, June, July, and August of last year, all in one night. Since that fatal night, we have been blessed with cold days, humidity, cloudiness, and more rain. As I write this, pounding rains have once again driven us indoors. Just before dinner, we watched a tornado from our porch window as it touched down in Winsted, just four miles away. We will be harvesting your veggies this week on canoes and a pontoon boat.

Heavy rains like this do prevent us from working much in the field, as trampled mud compacts the soil and causes our weeding to do more harm than good. Picture the soil structure as Swiss cheese, with air passages from worms and other organisms allowing for the passage of oxygen, water, and nutrients. If you step on Swiss cheese, it would flatten into something as undesirable as Kraft American cheese singles. That’s basically what happens to the soil.

So, while we haven’t been weeding as we had hoped, we have been busy building a new walk-in cooler for short-term storage of produce. It is powered by an adapted window air conditioning unit. We will use it for storing beans, peas, squash, and other crops that store well. We pick these the day before delivery so that we can focus on short-lived crops on the delivery day itself.

And some good weather news: the rain held off just long enough to harvest strawberries! We planted these last spring and saw them through until last Saturday, when we picked our first goodness. Nina has been making pies and jam around the clock with bruised berries and those nibbled on by bunnies. Henry, our trustworthy farm dog, assures us that the bunny issue has been resolved and will not cause any further distress this season. We expect at least a couple more weeks of strawberries. 

What is this stuff?  Our first few boxes are a little heavy on obscure greens, as we wait for the colors of carrots and beets to fully bless our harvest. It is not acceptable to eat only the strawberries and compost the rest! We hope you enjoy these less common, ultra-healthy greens and try some great experiments.

Swiss Chard is the one with all the colors. The stems are a crunchy stand-in for celery, and the whole leaf can be lightly steamed and added to many dishes.

Arugula (coming next week, but we’ll forewarn you) is all green, has rounded edges, and tastes like a kick in the teeth. Whenever my morning coffee is defective or slow to kick in, I’ll snack on some of these in the field and find the strength to do what needs to be done. Try these raw, mixed in a salad, or processed into pesto.

Mustard greens are massive purple monstrosities. The seeds of this plant are crushed to make Dijon mustard. I can’t really handle these raw, but they lose their edginess with a quick steaming. We prefer them in pasta: chop and steam them for a couple minutes separate from the pasta, and then mix them in. They give a nice kick to macaroni & cheese and pasta alfredo, in particular.

Mizuna is new to us. These are all green with jagged edges, larger than the arugula and not as bitter. These are great raw, cooked with butter, or thrown into a soup or lasagna dish. My favorite mizuna experience, of which my life will one day abound, was to steam it over a rice cooker and mix it in with the rice. The rice caught the boiled mizuna juice for some flavor, and I added some soy sauce.

The tomato plants are all leftovers from what we have planted in our garden this year. We will gladly accept the plastic cells back once you’ve planted them. Return them with your box to your delivery site at your leisure.

 

Thanks so much to Nina’s aunt Liz, who has been a great help to us around the farm this week. Come back soon!

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