Summer CSA Share – #4

Welcome to the 4th share of the Pitchfork & Crow CSA!  Here’s what’s in the share this week:

  • Carrots
  • Head Lettuce – two types of butterhead lettuce this week!
  • French Breakfast Radishes
  • Kohlrabi – a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. Check out the saute recipe at the bottom of the newsletter.
  • German Butterball Potatoes – Yellow potato, excellent boiled, roasted, or fried.  These are more potatoes from storage so use them up sooner than later.
  • Cooking Greens Bunches – Mixed bunches of collards, red kale, lacinato kale, and sometimes chard.
  • Garlic Scapes – We grow both hardneck and softneck garlic varieties.  The hardneck varieties send up these scapes that will eventually open and flower if left on the plant.  We harvest them because they’re tasty and also so the garlic will focus its energy on the bulb rather than flowering.  We ate some delicious garlic scape butter on bread at a friend’s house this past weekend!
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Overwintered Siskiyou Sweet Onions – A re-selection of Walla Walla sweet onions from Siskiyou Seeds in Southern Oregon.

Last Thursday we had our annual organic inspection.  Organic certification is a third-party audit process where a certifying agency, in our case Oregon Tilth, looks through our records and sends an inspector to tour the farm to make sure we’re in compliance with the USDA organic standards.

Growing organically means we follow the National Organic Program (NOP) standards in our growing practices.  The NOP standards lay out rules for what inputs are allowed in an organic system, such as no use of GMOs and no synthetic chemicals, and they set guidelines on things like how compost is made and what seeds and transplants are used.  They also require growers to maintain or improve the soil and water resources on farms.

The rules are generally straightforward but do require us to keep records on fertility inputs including when amendments were purchased and spread in the field, seed and plant purchase dates and suppliers, and harvest dates and quantities.  Each spring we update our farm’s organic systems plan with any changes, such as this year we’ve changed potting mixes and Oregon Tilth confirmed the new mix is allowed for use under the organic standards.  During the inspection we’re asked to answer and provide evidence for a series of questions that cover all the NOP standards.  We take a single crop from seed purchase, through its growing cycle, all the way to harvest to show that the quantity of seed purchased and amount planted matches the harvest records.  We did a similar exercise for the organic fertilizer we use, showing how much had been purchased, where and when it had been spread, and comparing those records to the amount remaining.

Some growers think this is too much extra work, the time and energy involved with record keeping and the inspection, but now that we have a few systems in place it doesn’t feel burdensome.  In fact having the records certainly makes us better farmers because our memories aren’t what they used to be.  And having an independent organization look over our records and tour the farm definitely helps us to know we’re doing things the right way.  We also hear folks say the process is too expensive.  Last year we paid $1521 for our certification but currently there is a reimbursement of up to $750 from the federal government that helps to alleviate some of that financial cost.  The cost is a small fraction of our income and the benefits definitely outweigh the cost at this point.

mixed carving pumpkin seeds (left) and inside the clean propagation house (right)

In addition to the organic inspection we spent the week weeding, seeding, and appreciating the slightly slower pace due to the rain.  Fall broccoli and cauliflower and the next successions of parsley, sweet corn, and lettuce all got started in the freshly cleaned-out propagation house.  Carving pumpkins got seeded into the ground.  We also managed to beg enough extra cabbage and broccoli transplants from our friends to fill in for some past germination issues we’d had last month in this manic spring weather.  That one certainly helped me sleep better at night.  Hopefully the rain will grant us a window for some more planting and serious cultivation this week.  The plants are all growing out there!

Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you next week!

Your farmers,
Carri Heisler and Jeff Bramlett

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Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:

Honey-Glazed Carrots with Carrot Top Gremolata

  • 4 3/4–5 pounds small carrots with tops (about 4–5 bunches), trimmed, peeled, tops reserved
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon dark honey, such as buckwheat
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped (or use garlic scapes)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine carrots, butter, orange juice, honey, and 1 tsp. salt in a large wide heavy pot. Cover and cook over medium heat until carrots are crisp-tender, 10–12 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse about 1 bunch worth of carrot tops and pat dry. Coarsely chop to yield about 2/3 cup. Combine tops with garlic, lemon zest, oil, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small bowl.

Uncover carrots and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces enough to coat carrots, 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and cayenne; adjust seasonings.

Transfer carrots to a platter and top with carrot top gremolata.

From Epicurious by Mindy Fox, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/honey-glazed-carrots-with-carrot-top-gremolata

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Sauteed Kale with Kohlrabi

  • 1 1/4 pound kohlrabi, bulbs peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds kale (2 bunches), stems and center ribs discarded
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or use garlic scapes)
  • 1/3 cup salted roasted pistachios, chopped
  • Equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer

Very thinly slice kohlrabi with slicer.

Whisk together lime zest and juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss kohlrabi with dressing.

Finely chop kale. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Sauté garlic until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add kale by the handful, turning and stirring with tongs and adding more kale as volume in skillet reduces. When all of kale is wilted, sauté with 1/2 teaspoon salt until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. 3Toss kale with kohlrabi and pistachios.

From Epicurious via Gourmet by Ian Knauer, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sauteed-kale-with-kohlrabi-354974

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Butter Lettuce and Radish Salad

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled (or use garlic scapes here)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • Table salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 heads butter lettuce, outer leaves discarded, leaves torn
  • 12 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, chervil, basil, and chives, minced
  • 1 (3-ounce) piece Parmesan cheese

In 1-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, and 2 tablespoons water. Using mortar and pestle or food processor, grind or crush garlic, lemon zest, and kosher salt into fine paste. Whisk paste into lemon juice mixture. Gradually whisk in oil. Whisk in table salt and pepper to taste.

In large bowl, toss together lettuce, radishes, minced herbs, and dressing. Divide mixture among 6 salad plates. Using vegetable peeler, shave curls of Parmesan atop each salad and serve.

From Epicurious by Suzanne Tracht and Adeena Sussman, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/butter-lettuce-and-radish-salad-with-lemon-garlic-vinaigrette-236743

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