This Week’s Share
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage, Savoy
- Garlic, Silver Rose
- Onions, Copra
Prepare for your Last Share
Bring an extra bag or box for this week’s pick-up because there will be some larger quantities of more heavy things and we want to make sure all of it makes it home safely. Also take notice of some tips about storage for produce in this week’s share and from some vegetables that you may still have around.
End of the Season Reflections
(by SIO Farm Manager Tanya Murray)
As farmers, we live each season three times. First there’s the planning life of the season. We look ahead, our hands intimate with the keyboard of the computer. Winter squash and broccoli smile back at us from the glossy pages of seed catalogues, perfect specimens of the vegetables they promise to be. The tillage, seeding, and planting schedule all orchestrated perfectly between the straight gridlines of spreadsheets.
Then there’s the delicious, calloused handed, life of the season. We make plans each day and change them with the weather. Vegetables that had once been innocent lists on seeding charts come to life. There are 32,460 onions to plant; the Arkansas Traveler tomatoes need to be trellised, and eventually the Maverick melons are ready to harvest. We weed and water and eat what we envisioned and planned for months earlier.
Finally there’s looking back, the time that’s upon us now, a vegetable day of reckoning of sorts. We reflect on the season with gratitude, pride, and awe. The seeds that were delivered by the UPS truck in early spring have amounted to meals on our table and yours. We look at records of yields and dates, taking notes on what worked well and what we could have done better at. And then, without much of a pause, we open up the next seasons planning charts and begin again.
The 2008 season came with the usual mix of challenges and successes in the field. The most notable challenge this year was the cool spring that extended into a cool summer. For some crops, there were few repercussions, but peppers and eggplants like it hot. To compound this, the crop rotation put these crops in a field that already has its own cooler micro-climate. And so despite our best efforts, we did not have the bountiful harvest of these crops we had planned on. We are considering our options to insure a better harvest in 2009. Plastic ground cover is used on many northern farms to warm up the soil for heat loving crops. While we are not a plastic-free farm, we put careful consideration into its use. Plastic row cover is not easily re-used after one season, making its life span short. We will experiment in 2009 with planting some peppers in unheated hoop houses. The hoop houses are made of plastic but are multi purpose structures that get many seasons of use. This year we did make the choice to grow heirloom and sauce tomatoes exclusively in unheated plastic hoop houses. After too many seasons of finding ourselves harvesting perfectly ripe tomatoes, split from late summer rains, we enjoyed harvesting over two tons this year.
Alliums were also a big success this year. We saved enough garlic seed to plant our 2009 crop and to distribute a few extra bulbs in our last share. The leek planting method that we experimented with in 2007 was fully implemented in 2008. The leeks were easier to weed and had over ten inches of blanched shaft. We were pleased with the Cipollini onion varieties that we trialed, and plan to grow them again next year.
Spinach is an ever elusive crop for us. We should be able to grow it easily in our cool, damp springs. Struggles with germination led us to starting seedlings in the greenhouse and transplanting 3600 plants per planting. If this was working it might be worth the time it takes, but so far we have still not had the yields we’d like on spinach. Experiments with soaking the seed before planting did seem to increase germination rates. We will continue experimenting with this along with more successive seedings.
A new walk behind seeder that drops seeds with greater precision made our fall Hakurei turnip crop a great success. Last winter’s investment in a root crop washer made our potato and carrot washing system more efficient and it also uses less water.
Our broccoli yields this season were not as high as we had hoped. Our earliest plantings were likely set back by the freezing temperatures we had in early April this year. We have also continued to have challenges with symphylans, an arthropod that is infamous for feeding on the root hairs of young plants. We will be participating in a research project with Oregon State University beginning this December that will likely help us hone our broccoli growing skills and increase our yields in future seasons.
In 2007 we had a big problem with carrot rust fly and the damage this pest did to our carrot crop. This season, we covered each of our carrot seedings with floating row cover to act as a physical barrier between the crop and the carrot rust fly. Although using this strategy has meant more time both covering beds and hand weeding, we have seen little to no damage on the carrots this year.
In summary, when you’re growing over fifty different vegetables any given year is bound to be good for some crops and not for others. There is always more to learn, skills to hone, and improvements to be made based on the previous season. For over 15 years Sauvie Island Organics has been doing just this and we will continue fine tuning our systems to bring you the most bounty nature will allow.
We hope your reflections on the 2008 season conjure up delighted taste buds and a full belly. Maybe you are a new member who was introduced to celeriac for the first time. Or maybe you’ve been with the farm for years and are raising SIO fed kids. While we may not be able to grow the perfect quantity of beets to suit everyone’s tastes, we are always happy to hear your feedback and take it into account as we plan for seasons ahead.
We also hope your reflections on the season will connect you back to the reasons you chose to support a local, organic farm. Because Michael Pollan has provided inspiration for many people to think about how they eat, we’re including a link to a recent letter he wrote to the future president elect.
As you may already know, we are growing an additional five acres of vegetables in 2009. Our increasingly long waiting list suggested that more people want to have the direct relationship with their food that CSA provides. Getting bigger is also an economic decision. There are efficiencies to be gained with increasing acreage. Take seeding carrots for example. The time it takes to get the seeder set up and walk out to the carrot field is about equal to the time to seed a carrot bed. Seeding a couple more beds once you’re set up and out there makes the time spent setting up more worthwhile. These small savings in efficiencies add up. These savings increases the bottom line and allow us to employee more permanent, year round staff on the farm. The longer people stay with us at SIO the smarter and more efficient we get at farming. The more efficient we become, the closer we can come to providing jobs that pay truly livable wages. Now that is sustainable agriculture.
We’ve been asked about our choice to expand in tough economic times. Our hope is that people will continue to invest in our local food economy. A reporter recently interviewed us about this subject and asked if we promote what a savings CSA is when we are selling CSA shares. The answer was a resounding no. Choosing to support a CSA should not be seen as the “cheap” option. We do recognize the cost of a CSA share is not accessible to everyone. We have made efforts to increase it’s accessibility through our CSA Scholarship Fund. Thanks to many of you who have made generous donations to this fund that covers up to half the cost of a share for low-income families. Over the years we have continued to donate foods to local food banks and soup kitchens. These are small solutions to our national problem of food security that cannot be solved by the farmer alone. Cheap food is not the solution. When the fossil fuel dependence, environmental degradation, and health costs that make cheap food possible are taken into account, we have to ask whether cheap food is really worth its ultimately high cost. We recently received a CSA membership renewal check in the mail with a note that said “Even though we are young-ish and poor-ish artists, we feel like it was the best use of our money.” We appreciate that you as CSA members recognize the true value of the food we grow.
We hold on to our values as we take the step of getting bigger and we proceed with caution and limits. We will not become the industrial scale of agriculture that has made food cheap at a high cost. We are committed to growing a wide diversity of high quality vegetables for our local market. The diversity of what we grow means we do not face the challenges of mono cropping that are often met with increased pesticide usage. This diversity of crops also puts a healthy limit on our use of fossil fueled mechanization. While we do use tractors for tillage and cultivation, we still hand harvest everything we grow, with the exception digging potatoes, and those still need to be picked up. We plant cover crops to feed the soil, increase organic matter, and prevent erosion. The food we harvest travels 15 miles or less from the farm to your CSA pick up site – using less fuel and arriving with less packaging, higher nutritional value, and better overall quality. We are committed to having a direct relationship with you, as eaters and community members, and as always welcome you to visit the farm. And as Community Supported Agriculture really is about this relationship, our commitments are only possible with your reciprocal commitment to us. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to growing for you in 2009.
Celery Root and Wild Rice Chowder
Adapted from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
½ cup wild rice
2 celery root
2 large leeks, white parts only (or if you don’t have any leeks left you can substitute with 1½ large onions or 2-3 shallots)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or butter substitute)
1 cup thinly sliced potatoes (russet variety from this weeks share work great)
¼ cup chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 bay leaf
1 large thyme sprig
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
2 cups half-and-half or milk
Cover the wild rice with 5 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until tender.
Thickly cut away the celery root skins, then quarter and chop the root into bite-sized pieces. Chop and wash leeks (or onions or shallots).
Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the vegetables, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, and 1½ teaspoons salt. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the head to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the half-and-half and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Taste for salt and season with pepper. To give the soup a creamy background, puree a cup of the vegetables and return then to the pot. If the soup is too thick, thin it with some of the rice water or additional stock.
Divide the soup among 4 or 6 bowls and then add a mound of the wild rice to each. Garnish each bowl with parsley and serve.
Celeriac and Carrot Gratin
Adapted from Taunton’s Kitchen Gardener: The Vegetable and Herb Gardening Journal
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions
3 to 4 medium carrots
1 large celeriac root, sliced
Acidulated water (2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice to 4 cups water)
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 1 ½ cups half-and-half
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over low heat. Peel and slice the onions and sauté them in the olive oil until golden yellow. Set aside.
Peel and cut the carrots into 1/8-inch thick slices, and set aside. Peel and quarter the celeriac and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices, immersing it into acidulated water as you go.
To assemble the gratin, drain the celeriac and rinse it under cold water. Arrange half of it evenly in a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the tarragon and some salt and pepper. Arrange the remaining celeriac evenly over the carrot layer. Sprinkle the remaining tarragon and salt and pepper to taste. Top with onions and add enough half-and-half to come just below the top of the final celeriac layer. Cover the gratin with aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and press down the layers to base the top layer. Continue baking for 30 minutes more, or until cooked through. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings
Brussels Sprouts Recipe
Brussels Sprouts with Mustard-Caper Butter
Adapted from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
Note: This recipe originally calls for 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, 1 small head cauliflower (chopped) and 1 small head of Romanesco (chopped). If you have either cauliflower or Romanesco available please feel free to substitute them in appropriate quantities for an equally delicious dish. The main difference in the cooking process is adding the cauliflower and Romanesco to the boiling water 3 minutes after the Brussels sprouts, then continue to boil for another five minutes. Aside from that all directions are the same.
For the Mustard-Caper Butter:
2 garlic cloves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (or butter substitute), at room temperature
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard, can use more or less depending on personal taste
¼ cup drained small capers, rinsed
zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram (3 teaspoons dried marjoram)
Pound the garlic with ½ teaspoon salt in a mortar until smooth, then stir it into the butter with the mustard, capers, lemon zest, and marjoram. Season with pepper. The butter can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
For the Brussels Sprouts:
2½ pounds Brussels sprouts (all three stalks from this weeks share, sprouts stripped off the stalk)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Trim the base off the sprouts, then slice in half or, if large, into quarters. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender. Drain, shake off any excess water, then toss with the Mustard-Caper Butter. Taste for salt, season with pepper and toss again.
White Beans with Kale and Savoy Cabbage
Adapted from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
1 cup dried cannelloni, navy or gigantes, soaked for 4 hours or overnight
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, finely diced
2 leeks, white parts only, diced (can omit and use another onion or shallot if you don’t have any leeks)
7-10 leaves kale
1 small Savoy cabbage (or half of a large one), quartered, cored, and chopped
2 plump garlic cloves, minced or pounded with a pinch of salt
½ cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to finish
Drain the soaked beans, then put them in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, add ½ teaspoon salt, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 1½ hours.
While the beans are cooking, chop all the vegetables. Rinse the leeks (if using), kale, and cabbage, but don’t dry them. Warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy wide skillet. Add the onion and leeks and cook over medium-low heat until the onion is soft but not browned, about 12 minutes. Add the kale, cabbage, garlic, parsley and 2 tablespoons salt. Cook with the heat on low and the pan covered until vegetables are soft and the volume greatly reduced, about 30 minutes.
When the beans are done, add them, along with a cup or two of their cooking liquid, to the pot. Simmer until the greens are completely tender. Taste for salt and season with pepper. This is very tasty served with, or over, garlic-rubbed toast drizzled with olive oil.
Winter Squash Recipes
Quinoa Stuffed Squash
Adapted from UCSC Farm and Garden Field Notes
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a fluffy, high-protein grain from South America. Look for it in natural foods stores in the grains section or in the bulk bins. You may also substitute a nutty blend of brown and wild rice.
2 Delicata (or Acorn) squash, split lengthwise and seeds scooped out
1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 to 10 fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
¼ cup chopped parsley (may omit or used dried if you don’t have fresh available)
½ cup chopped walnuts
3-4 pinches of nutmeg
1-2 pinches of thyme
salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place squash cut sides down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake until just tender, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. While squash is baking, bring 1½ cups water to a boil. Add dry quinoa. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 15-18 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat add oil or butter and sauté onions, garlic, and mushrooms until soft and starting to brown. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, walnuts, quinoa, and seasonings (nutmeg, thyme, salt and pepper). Add ½ cup cheese. Divide mixture between squash, topping each half with a sprinkle of the remaining cheese. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the stuffing is heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serves 4 as an entrée.
Baked Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup and Balsamic Vinegar
Adapted from The Oregonian FOODay
Note: Do not try and substitute red wine vinegar for the balsamic in this recipe, it doesn’t work. Although, both younger less expensive and finer aged balsamic vinegars will work. Also, this recipe works well with all winter squash and is easily doubled, so if you are wanting to use up more squash just increase the ingredients to whatever ratio you are using and continue as usual.
2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out
¼ cup maple syrup
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons unsalted butter (or butter substitute)
freshly grated nutmeg (or already ground)
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Place the squash halves, cut side up, in a large baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the mixture over the cut surfaces of the squash. Bake for about 20 minutes, then brush the squash again with the maple syrup mixture. Divide any remaining mixture among the squash cavities and add 1 teaspoon butter to each. Sprinkle nutmeg lightly over squash. Return to the oven and bake until the squash are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour longer, basting two or three times. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.
Here are some suggestions about storing the produce you will be receiving in this week’s share. This information, and more, can also be found by accessing the pop-up links provided in the share list.
Brussels Sprouts: Do not wash sprouts prior to storing. Snap sprouts off the stem and discard the stems. Keep the sprouts in a plastic or paper bag in the refrigerator for 4-6 days.
Cabbage: Savoy cabbage is the most tender of cabbages and as such is them most fragile in terms of storage. Tightly wrap the cabbage in plastic and refrigerate, it will keep for under a month. For other less delicate red and green cabbages they keep very well in the refrigerator, or other cool places (like the garage, back porch or the basement). With the outside leaves left on and prevented from drying out, it should do well for many weeks.
Carrots: Run the roots under cold water to clean and store in a bag in your refrigerator. They should store for a couple of weeks in ideal conditions.
Celeriac (Celery Root): Trim off the top leaves if any are still remaining, and store celeriac in the refrigerator (in a plastic bag is good because it creates an environment with higher humidity). Protected by its tough rind, it will keep for several weeks.
Garlic: Don’t refrigerate your garlic heads. The Silver Rose variety is the longest storing of those we grow, so store them in a cool and dry spot in your kitchen away from direct sunlight. If stored well, garlic should keep for many weeks.
Kale: Store kale in a plastic bag in your refrigerator where it will remain moist. If it is not allowed to dry out, kale should keep for about a week. If you are looking to preserve it for a longer period of time you can try blanching and freezing it.
Onions (storage varieties): Whole onions are best kept in a cool, dark part of the kitchen, where they will last for many weeks. Leftover pieces of onion can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, in an airtight container so as not to contaminate other foods with the smell they release.
Potatoes: Potatoes should be stored in a cool dark part of the kitchen away from any light, or in the refrigerator. Potatoes should be wiped clean but not washed before storing. Any moisture will tend to rot them. In ideal conditions, they will keep for many weeks.
Winter Squash: Winter squashes were bred for storage. Most can be stored in a cool place for up to 6 months. Among the exceptions are Delicata, which should keep for several weeks in a cool and dry part of the kitchen away from direct sunlight. Store squashes that have been cut open in the refrigerator for several days. Also the Butternut from this years harvest needs to be used fairly soon due to some freezing damage experienced while out in the fields.
CSA Season Comes to a Close
As the saying goes, time sure flies when you are having fun (and eating well)! That said, this week 29 is the last week of CSA. This season was planned for 29 weeks with the idea of a big finish on Thanksgiving. Because of the long, cool, wet spring we started a week late making our finish the first week of December. In 2009 we have planned for a 30 week season and this is reflected in the price increase for 2009. We look forward to starting the cycle over again with you in May. We have a last few reminders and thoughts for you before saying goodbye for the 2008 season:
- Please return any and all box bins you may have in your possession so we can put them back to use again for the next CSA season. We will be returing to Metro, PSOB, Ecotrust, and St Johns next Wednesday to pick up bins.
- We will be opening up the 2009 season with our annual onion planting party in the April, so keep you calendars open because you won’t want to miss it!