csa share – week 17 {september 13}

Welcome to the 17th week of the Pitchfork & Crow CSA!

Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Summer Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Fingerling Potatoes
  • Spicy Black Radishes – most of the heat is in the peel, fyi!
  • Beans – French filet snap beans
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Cooking Greens or Cabbage – a mix of kales, chard, and young cabbage leaves in the cooking greens
  • Cauliflower or Broccoli
  • Asian Pears
  • Onions – from Persephone Farm!

Welcome to the first week of the 2011 CSA season that we can officially offer you 100% Certified Organic vegetables!  Of course our growing practices have been the same all year, and the broccoli and tomatoes and summer squash that we’ve been including in the share are from the same plantings again this week.  The only thing that has changed is that our re-certification became official last Friday afternoon.

Prior to leasing the Lebanon farm last September, we tested the fields for persistent pesticides.  We took soil samples from various locations throughout the farm and sent them to a lab to check for traces of DDT and dieldrin or any other insecticides or pesticides that may be lingering in the soil from past uses.  We were happy to move forward with the lease once the tests came back free of the toxic chemicals once widely used in farming.  Fortunately the landowner has been conservative in applying further chemicals to the farm and the three year waiting period between the application of chemicals, such as round-up, and the ability to complete an organic certification has passed for the majority of the land.  There are a couple of transition areas that can be certified in coming years, but the fields we’re currently growing in and the apples and pears are now all officially certified organic.

As you probably know, the organic certification process is more than confirming that the farmland hasn’t been contaminated recently.  The process also involves a lot of record keeping on our parts and a lot of planning too.  Our organic plan includes information about what varieties of vegetables we grow, where we obtained the seed from, when we planted them, where they are planted in the field and how much we plant to harvest from each crop.  It also includes information about crop rotations, future cover crops, and how we plan to build soil fertility and health over time.  Many of these items are records we should be keeping anyhow, and plans we should already have in place.  We certainly find it beneficial to have it all in one document though.  And the review process helps us to be confident that our growing practices truly do match what’s expected of organic producers by law.

As we think about next year and another potential move of the farm, we know we face another year of starting over on many levels.  It takes time to get to know soil types and pest pressures at each new location, but also our knowledge of farming systems grows with each season.  We’re committed to using organic growing practices no matter where we end up though.  The yearly routine of updating our organic plan will continue whether we continue to be itinerant farmers or find a place to settle down.  Thankfully, some things don’t change.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers,
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler


Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Ratatouille with Penne

• 2 eggplants (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 4 onions, chopped
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• coarse salt to taste
• 4 yellow squash (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 8 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
• 7 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
• 1 1/2 pounds penne rigate (with ridges)
• 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
• Accompaniment: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Stir together eggplants, onions, 1/4 cup oil, and kosher salt in a large roasting pan, then roast mixture in middle of oven, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in squash, bell peppers, 2 tablespoons oil, and more kosher salt and roast mixture, stirring occasionally, until bell peppers are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

While vegetables are roasting, simmer tomatoes, garlic, thyme, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and kosher salt in a heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir tomatoes into roasted vegetables and season ratatouille.
Cook penne rigate in a 6-qt. pot of boiling salted water until al dente and drain. While pasta is cooking, stir parsley and basil into ratatouille and season. Toss penne rigate with 1/3 of ratatouille and serve topped with remainder.

Cooks’ note: Ratatouille may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat before using in recipe.

From Epicurious via Gourmet magazine, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Ratatouille-with-Penne-102256


Grilled Eggplant, Caramelized Onion and Tomato Sandwiches

2 T melted coconut oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, peeled and sliced into ½ inch slices
1 oz cheese, goat cheese or herbed gouda (optional)
Eggplant slices (add or substitute zucchini slices too!)
Tomato slices
Salsa, garlic aioli spread or mayonnaise
Arugula leaves
4 French whole-grain rolls

Prepare grill.  Combine oil, vinegar, and garlic in small bowl.  Brush oil mixture over vegetables, and then grill until vegetables are fairly soft.  Lay the vegetables on bottom half of roll.  Spread or lay slices of cheese on top.  Lay tomato slices and arugula leaves over the vegetables.  Spread with salsa, garlic aioli spread or mayonnaise on top roll.

From Local Vegetarian Cooking, Inspired Recipes Celebrating Northwest Farm, Debra Daniels-Zeller