Welcome to the 27th and final week of the Pitchfork & Crow 2015 Summer CSA! Here’s what’s in the share:
- Lacinato Kale
- Sugarloaf Chicory – we think this would be awfully tasty with creamy dressing in a salad
- Sweet Potatoes!
- Butternut or Autumn Crown Winter Squash
- Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins
- Corn Flour or Polenta – We grew Cascade Ruby Gold Flint Corn this year, a locally bred and adapted corn variety that when milled results in both polenta (aka grits) and flour! It doesn’t get much better than that in my opinion. Quick video from last year of the process here. Also, stick it in the freezer if you don’t plan on using it right away.
It’s hard to believe we’ve arrived at the 27th week so soon, but here we are. Many thanks for your continued support. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, we couldn’t do this without you! We appreciate you signing on with us for a whole season of vegetables and hope you’ll consider joining us again.
As promised last week, I wanted to give a brief synopsis of the 2015 CSA member survey results. We appreciate the feedback and we’ll be keeping it mind as we head into the planning season.
I’ll only highlight the major questions and results below to keep it brief. We’ve received 24 responses to the survey (out of 88 shares), though a single respondent may have included multiple answers to a single question in some cases. The number in parenthesis equals the number of mentions from separate respondents.
= Why did you join the CSA?
- To support a local farm (24)
- To eat more seasonally (21)
- To access more diverse vegetables (19)
More than half of the respondents also chose “To eat more vegetables” and “Because P&C is certified organic”.
We asked this question to gauge member expectations. Knowing why you’re joining helps us to meet member goals as well as our own farm goals. We’re especially excited to hear folks are joining the CSA to eat more seasonally and to access more diverse vegetables. These are important factors to us as CSA farmers and always hope they’re also important to members.
= What would you like to see more of in the CSA?
- Onions (7)
- Tomatoes (6)
- Potatoes (4)
Further suggestions include: Carrots (3), Garlic (3), and Lettuce (3) in addition to a number of other suggestions with fewer mentions.
We appreciate knowing what folks would like to see more of. We know what we’d like to improve on, but of course we want you to be happy with the selection available. Some things we just need to get better at growing like onions and tomatoes and garlic for varying reasons. Other things we get mixed responses about from members. We never want to truly overwhelm anyone with an item and when we hear folks saying they’ve got something piling up at home or they feel like they’re “drowning” in something, we tend to cut back if it seems reasonable. We’re still working on finding the balance where we’re offering a diverse share each week but including just the right balance of the familiar and unfamiliar.
= What would you like to see less of in the CSA?
- Nothing (5)
- Sunchokes (4)
- Peppers (3)
As with wanting to know what you’d like to see more of, knowing what you’d like to see less of also helps us with our planning. The CSA model means that members will share in the bounties and the failures of the season and we should be attempting to grow what members would be happy to see bounties of. It’s interesting to see these answers change over time. Two years ago many people mentioned they’d like to see fewer potatoes in the share. This year several people said they want more potatoes. Evidently we reduced them too much. Of course we’re dealing with such small numbers that it’s difficult to know if these answers are truly representative of the CSA at large.
Items like Sunchokes appeal to some members and help us add diversity to shares a few times throughout the season so we’ll continue to grow them. We think the addition of the swap box at the market-style pick-up locations in Salem and at the farm in Lebanon probably helped folks to discard items they really didn’t want to take home. Happily, those items most often quickly found a home with a member who wanted more and we didn’t end up with nearly as many extras as in past seasons.
= The share size was:
- More than enough: 7
- Good Amount: 18
- Not Enough: 0
What’s enough? Of course it’s different for every family. The results for this question suggest we’re hitting the mark for most folks. Those who find the share size overwhelming may want to consider splitting a share in the future. Also, we know that several members have CSA shares with multiple farms.
= What has been especially positive for you about this year’s CSA season?
- Supporting local farmers/Nice farmers (7)
- Quality of vegetables (5)
- Variety of vegetables (3)
- New Salem pick-up location (3)
It’s nice to see the answers here compared to the reasons given for joining the CSA. In general the positive aspects of the CSA appear to align with the initial expectations.
= What could have been better for you about this year’s CSA season?
- “Not a thing” (9)
- “Wished I could have made it to the farm events (2)
The above answers were the only two with multiple responses. There were just two other suggestions provided by single respondents that included knowing in advance what will be in the week’s share and wanting more lettuce.
Although many folks suggested that no changes were needed, it’s easy for us to focus on the other answers provided. Some of these things we can address. For instance we can work to figure out how to make on-farm events more accessible to folks and we can try to grow more lettuce. Easy fixes.
Unfortunately we’re not great at predicting the exact contents of future shares, so letting members know ahead of time is trickier than these other suggestions. Sometimes we’re counting on something to go into a certain week’s share but when it comes time to harvest it’s not ready yet or it’s been hit by bugs. Each week we make a list of what we know is available to harvest in a large enough quantity and consider what will make up a diverse share. We look at the previous week or two and try not too duplicate too much. We head out to the field and scratch items off the list that won’t make it and add other items that will fill in the gaps. Jeff calls it alchemy and it sure feels that way. It might be easier if we knew in advance just what we’d be harvesting. But I’m not sure it would be as much fun.
= Do you think you got a fair amount of produce for the price you paid for the share?
1 being “Not enough produce for price paid” and 5 being “Produce exceeded price
- 1 (0)
- 2 (0)
- 3 (8)
- 4 (12)
- 5 (4 )
Thanks, we’d hope you say that!
= Would you be interested in any of these potential opportunities next season?
- Participating in CSA member preserving or canning events. (18)
- Volunteering on the farm. (14)
- Donating to a CSA scholarship fund. (7)
- Participating in a CSA discussion or book group focusing on food and agriculture. (5)
- Other: Participating in a CSA Member Food Swap (suggested by 1 member)
We’ve been kicking around some ideas for how to enhance the “Community” portion of the CSA model. We thought we’d throw out some ideas to test the waters and it would seem that you guys are game! One member even gave the extra suggestion of having a CSA member food swap event. Our time is already stretched thin, what with all the farming, so we may ask for volunteers to help organize some fun additions in the coming seasons. Let us know if you’re especially interested in helping out.
Once again, thanks for joining us this season. We hope you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving full of local delicious food. We’ll see the Winter CSA members next week. For everyone else, have a fantastic winter! We’ll be in touch when we’re ready to begin accepting members for the 2016 Summer CSA season.
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler
Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:
Smoked Salmon Chowder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and sliced (about 3 cups)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 large stalk celery, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups milk (any fat content)
- 8 ounces smoked salmon, flaked
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat. Add the leeks and garlic and sautéthem for 2 minutes.
2. Add the potato, celery, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
3. Add the broth and simmer until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.
4. Add the tomato paste and milk, then the salmon, and bring the mixture back to a simmer for a few minutes (but don’t let it boil, or the milk will separate).
5. As it simmers, stir in the cream.
6. Remove from heat, garnish with the chives, and serve.
From Epicurious via Cookie, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/smoked-salmon-chowder-240816
Sweet Potato, Apple, Sage Spoon Bread
- 1 1-pound red-skinned sweet potato (yam), peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 6-ounce Granny Smith apple, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (or what about trying pears?)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon (packed) golden brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 cup white cornmeal
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Cook sweet potato in pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain; transfer to large bowl.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add apple; sauté until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add apple to sweet potato; mash together. Cool. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring milk, sugar, sage, and salt to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; gradually whisk in cornmeal. Cook until cornmeal absorbs milk and pulls clean from bottom of pan, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 3 tablespoons butter. Whisk yolks in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in warm cornmeal mixture. Whisk in baking powder. Mix sweet potato mixture into cornmeal mixture. Beat egg whites in medium bowl to medium-stiff peaks. Fold whites into warm cornmeal mixture.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Pour batter into skillet. Transfer skillet to oven; bake spoon bread until top is golden and puffed, about 1 hour. Serve warm.
From Epicurious via Bon Appétit, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sweet-potato-apple-and-sage-spoon-bread-107317
Roasted Squash, Chestnut, and Chicory Salad and Cranberry Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for greasing
- 1 2-pound acorn squash
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup peeled cooked whole chestnuts (from a 7- to 8-oince jar), cut into thirds
- 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices pancetta (6 ounce total), cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
- 3/4 pound chicory (curly endive), trimmed and torn into 2-inch pieces (10 cups)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large shallow baking pan with foil and oil generously with olive oil.
Cut off stem end of squash, then put cut side down and halve lengthwise. Discard seeds, then cut squash into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Peel if desired with a paring knife and transfer slices to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and gently toss to coat. Arrange in 1 layer in lined baking pan and roast until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn squash over with a spatula. Add chestnuts to pan in an even layer, then continue to roast until squash is golden and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Keep warm, covered with foil.
While squash is roasting, cook pancetta in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet over high heat until browned, about 4 minutes total. Transfer pancetta with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving fat in skillet.
Reheat pancetta fat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add cranberries and brown sugar and stir once to combine. Remove from heat and add water, stirring and scraping up brown bits from bottom of skillet.
Transfer cranberry mixture to a medium bowl and whisk in mustard, remaining tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Toss together chicory, roasted acorn squash, and chestnuts. Just before serving, toss with dressing and sprinkle with pancetta.
From Epicurious via Gourmet, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/roasted-squash-chestnut-and-chicory-salad-with-cranberry-vinaigrette-230967