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Week 7 Newsletter

July 31, 2014

In your box:
–Basil (green and purple)
–Beans or broccoli
–Cucumber
–Kale, “Red Russian”
–Lettuce, “Ocate”
–Red onion
–Scallions
–Summer squash or eggplant
–Tomato

The farmers in our neighborhood aren’t exactly a close-knit community with the traditional images of potlucks and barn-raisings. Everyone is very friendly, but everyone works so much all summer and tries so desperately to survive all winter that we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like. The one common interaction throughout the growing season is via passing tractors as neighbor farms haul manure and equipment out to their fields, plant and cultivate, spray and harvest. Everyone waves and checks on everyone else, and sometimes folks will even stop if dinner isn’t waiting at home.

This year has been eerily quiet, however. Because over half of the fields near us were never planted due to soggy field conditions, there isn’t a lot going on in our humble environs this summer. Many farmers have opted for insurance payouts, and as a result they don’t have as much work to do. On one hand, it’s nice to have things extra quiet this year and to not have as many tractors on the country roads. And I certainly appreciate not having all of the toxic weedkiller and pesticide sprayed all around my farm. But I certainly miss racing the neighbors out to see who gets to work first, the camaraderie of a community at work, and watching the progress of the season as everyone’s corn reaches for the sun.

With some consistently average warmth lately, many of our fruiting crops are really coming through. Beans are a little slow, but are flowering in anticipation of a second burst. Our tomato plants look great, and our harvest is already three weeks ahead of last year’s pace. Cucumbers have been consistent, and summer squash are picking up nicely.

We plant six different varieties of summer squash, including the familiar green and yellow zucchini types. We also have Zephyr, a telephone shaped squash with one end yellow and one green, Bush Baby (melon-shaped, dark green), Summer Crookneck (yellow, warty), and Patty Pan (white or yellow, shaped like a Pac-Man villain). All varieties can be used interchangeably in recipes. Very large squash are best used in zucchini cake or bread.

To use a summer squash, first rinse off the outside (unlike with most winter squash, there is no need to peel). It can be eaten raw, broiled, steamed, fried, grilled, sauteed, or stir-fried. We enjoy summer squash as a pizza or pasta topping or in a stir-fry with a peanut sauce. We don’t grill very much, but I’ve heard good things about grilling as a shish-kabob. If you end up with more squash than you know what to do with, it’s easy to freeze. It can be pureed in a blender and frozen directly for use as a soup base, or grated and frozen for use in bread or muffins.

Have you marked your calendar? Our farm open house is Saturday, August 16th. Please join us for an informal gathering at the farm at the height of the summer’s bounty. We’ll have farm tours, yard games, and U-pick raspberries (if available). Friendly dogs and non-members are welcome (I’ll let you decide if that means the non-members have to be friendly, too). Stop by any time between 10am-3pm. Bring a picnic lunch or snack, shoes or boots for exploring, sun screen and mosquito repellent. Please note: we do have honey bees on our farm. I have not yet been stung in the three years they’ve been here, but please be aware if you have an allergy. Our address is: 17250 County Road 122 / New Germany, MN 55367. Hope to see you here!

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