In your box:
Welcome to our last delivery of the CSA season. We hope you’ve enjoyed the experience this summer and tried some new crops and recipes. We did have a hard frost on both nights over the past weekend and even ice in some areas on Saturday morning, so even though we have a few more nice days left it’s clear that winter isn’t far away.
I hope to have a year-end survey ready to send out by the end of next week, and I hope you’ll spend just a few minutes to let us know how we can improve for the next growing season. I’m also looking for guidance as to long-term changes, including season extension (at least a 19-week season, and perhaps 20 weeks or more?) and what to do once all the fruit trees and bushes we’ve planted start to fruit (a fruit-only CSA, or U-pick, or boxes with more fruits and less veggies). Also, we’d love to have you back with us for 2017! I will send out information about next year in mid-January.
This week brings our only celeriac of the year. Celeriac is, obviously, a close relative of celery, but it has been bred to emphasize its root mass. The green tops of celeriac can be used just like celery, but the root itself is what really distinguishes this crop. To use it, first remove the top growth and store that in a bag in the fridge. The root should be peeled to remove all root hairs and any dirt residue. Once it’s cleaned up, we run it through a medium cheese grater and add to soups, stews, or pretty much anything in the crock pot. It adds a great dose of celery flavor but with a consistency and texture closer to potatoes. The root itself will store for months in a root cellar, and it should last at least a month in the fridge. If you don’t end up using a whole celeriac in one meal, keep the unused portion in a tupperware and it should remain crispy and fresh.
Our winter squash this week are all acorns, though some might look unfamiliar. Some of you will receive a squash that looks like an actual acorn, but most of our acorns are a variety called “Fordhook Acorn” that looks more like a tan Nerf football than an oak seed. Acorns can be used like pie pumpkins or any other squash, but our preferred use of them is as a pizza topping. To add them to a pizza, first peel off the skins with a potato peeler. Then cut them down the middle and scoop out the seeds. The remaining squash can be cut into small pieces and tossed in olive oil in an oven-proof baking dish. Cook at 350 degrees for about half an hour, stirring a couple of times if you happen to think of it. After that initial cooking, they can go on a pizza and cook for as long as the pizza takes, usually another 20 minutes or so. We always like to season a squash pizza with dried sage.
Please return any produce boxes you might have around the house to your delivery site even up to next week. Some of the boxes are in good enough shape for one more season, and I can recycle those that are spent. I will make one more pass to all of our delivery sites to collect empty boxes by the middle of next week. Thanks!
Expected next week: Regrets over the brevity of Minnesota’s growing season, a lack of guidance without my newsletters to read, and whatever veggies have been hiding in the back of your fridge since July.
In closing for the season, I just want to thank you all for supporting our family’s small farm. This has been our eighth season of growing veggies at Fox and Fawn Farm, and it’s certainly had its moments. 2016 brought us never-ending beets, the rainiest summer on record, clouds of mosquitoes, the aroma of rotting onions, the successful return of potatoes, the most pathetic sweet corn I’ve ever grown, our biggest yield of green beans yet, and the Nobel Prize for excellence in agriculture. Well, most of those.
We also want to thank our parents, Steve and Arlene Kirkman of Chaska and Julie & Will Healy of Bloomington for all their help washing veggies, packing boxes, and picking weeds this summer. My biggest regret is not having tried more on-farm activity days for our members and for hosting our fall festival on such a cold, nasty day. Next year we’ll try for more field days to truly emphasize the “Community” in Community Supported Agriculture.
The next few weeks will bring a flurry of activity as I apply compost to the fields, move our tomato high tunnel to drier ground, plant garlic, and apply straw mulch to our strawberries for overwintering. After that, I’ll take a few weeks to relax before planning out the growing season all over again. Have a great winter—thanks again!