Markus’ Political Note #3

I often get overwhelmed thinking about how many different roads there are to take in putting ideals and beliefs into action, and all the complexities of any one course of action. Is there really a way to go about living my life in a way of integrity, in which I can look clearly at the society around me and the institutions in place and make a positive, if small, contribution? I get myself going around in circles, and often come back to seeing something in farming, in working in the dirt and being a steward of the earth and growing food that I know is healthy, which sustains other people, and so that’s the place I start. Other people spin in similar circles and return time and again to a different spot: public libraries, maybe, or labor unions or support groups. And a lot of folks have put a lot of energy into arguing over which one is the one everyone should start from, showing how if everyone just saw that this one particular issue were the most important in the world, then it would be no trouble at all to achieve everything they dream. Of course, it’s pretty unlikely that everyone will think that CSAs, or sustainable agriculture, or even environmental restoration as a whole is the single most important cause. Probably many of you members don’t, and I don’t think it would solve the all world’s problems if everyone did. But it’s the place I’m starting from right now.

This doesn’t mean we can afford to just ignore each other’s beliefs and causes and work on the one or two that most affect us personally. But by walking along starting with sustainable agriculture, I come across many other issues. The rise of agribusiness came at the cost of the lack of a strong local and sustainable agriculture system, and that gave us the hazardous waste that passes for food in grocery stores and school lunchrooms. Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds contaminates saved seed and creates super-pests, and it must also be bought yearly, leading to a loss of local control over seedstock. Part of what drives small farms out of business is speculation on real estate, which also forces people out of their homes when banks foreclose, and allows extortionary rent prices. The individual harmful policies and institutions we encounter cannot be separated into neat boxes to be addressed separately, but form an interdependent network. By starting just with the values at the core of CSA, it becomes simple to see how CSA and the fight against home foreclosures, for example, are bound up together.

The problem with this pretty picture is that although nearly all struggles intersect at some point, it is not always in the way we wish it would. Sometimes two worthy causes conflict, and we end up battling over “good working class jobs vs. the environment” or something like that. Instead of trying to perfectly parse out these difficult no-win scenarios, it’s important to recognize that often the supposed conflict is exaggerated precisely in order to get advocates fighting each other rather than a common opponent. Sometimes business owners who would rather pay lower wages and weaker environmental guidelines bait the two sides against each other. We can respond, however, that green jobs can have living wages, and that coal mining doesn’t pay enough and destroys the earth.

I am not saying that anytime you participate in a CSA you are participating in prison abolition. Rather, community supported agriculture presents the opportunity to take part in a much larger narrative. If we write the story of CSA as a struggle bound up with all these others, then we have the opportunity to create that reality. Not all the time and not without mistakes and misdirection, but as we hold this struggle to be inseparable for so many others, we find and create ways to make it so. Conversely, if we write the story of CSA as a singular and isolated mission, as the most important thing happening, as the only important thing happening, or just as a depoliticized consumer niche market for fresh local organic veggies, then we are choosing to not participate in this fabric of struggles. I say, let’s weave it together.

Advertisements

Markus’ Political Note #2

In my first “political note” I tried to introduce the idea that there are political dynamics at work in community supported agriculture. This time, I’ll take up a couple of issues (wealth, access to food, and class) to discuss further. The data, and thoughts about them, come mostly from research I did as part of a class on “Solidarity Economy Movements” at Haverford College last Fall. There isn’t a large trove of academic research about CSA, but there’s enough to draw some preliminary conclusions about how it functions. If you’d like to read some of my sources, I’d be delighted to share.

Community supported agriculture isn’t a static idea to me, but something moving and changing and striving toward a vision of just and sustainable agriculture. One of the values at the core of community supported agriculture is food justice, or access of all people to fresh, safe and healthy food. Healthy food to me is nourishing and doesn’t contain harmful toxins or chemicals and is grown with care toward the earth and workers. CSA, because of its strong ties to communities and food justice, is in many ways well positioned to provide access to healthy food for those who otherwise wouldn’t have it.

Though many people do have access to safe and healthy food through community supported agriculture, they aren’t a random sampling of the population, and most are not people who could otherwise be without. According to national and regional surveys of CSAs, nearly all members have college degrees, and a majority have at least a master’s degree. In terms of income, 68 percent of members earn salaries greater than $55,000. In terms of race, 90 percent of members are white. The fact that community supported agriculture generally serves a more privileged group of people might not come as a surprise, but it does mean that CSA doesn’t currently go very far toward providing access to safe and healthy food to people who lack that access.

The next question to me is whether this situation is intrinsic to the CSA model, or whether it can be remedied if current farmers and members make a few changes. The answer I’ve come up with is that there are small changes which would probably make community supported agriculture easier for lower-income and working-class people to join, and there are some structural aspects that would be more resistant to change.

One issue is that most CSAs require members to pay the membership fee in a lump sum, and commit to paying for the whole season’s deliveries. This provides money up-front for operating costs, and also allows the members to bear some of the risk of crop failure which the farmer would otherwise carry on their own. Unfortunately it also means that people who don’t have the whole amount available, or who are in an unstable financial situation, have great difficulty participating. To alleviate some of that, CSAs could (and do) instead advertise payment plans. They could also offer a certain proportion of shares without the obligation to be a season-long member. For people with low incomes but available time (such as unemployed people), many farms offer working shares, in which members work on the farm in exchange for a much cheaper share.

Beyond the mechanics of how members pay, there is the fact that vegetables from a CSA cost more than conventionally grown produce, and certainly more than many non-produce grocery items. Although I think that food prices will have to rise eventually, and that a 99¢ hamburger is the result of externalizing the real costs to underpaid workers and degraded land, I also don’t think that people with severely limited money resources should be expected to make great sacrifices to acquire safe and healthy food. A sliding-scale pricing system could allow members to contribute according to their access to wealth, though the wealthier members would have to agree to pay still more.

The problem still remains that many people perceive CSA (largely correctly) as something by and for privileged people. And because the “community” in community supported agriculture often means that it becomes a social scene, it can be inhospitable to people who don’t come from similar backgrounds. The CSA members are not the only participants who come from privileged backgrounds: about 75% of farmers have college degrees, and 23% even have graduate degrees, which is far higher than for conventional farmers. CSA farmers don’t, however, make incomes on par with the members. For CSA to work for lower-income communities, probably there will also have to be farmers from those communities. Community supported agriculture as it exists can do work toward creating a functioning model, but ultimately others must adopt it and make it their own for it to grow further.

In my next note I’ll try to take these ideas further and talk about how community supported agriculture can be placed in support of other efforts to create a just society, including those efforts which remove roadblocks to achieving the goals of community supported agriculture, like food justice for all.

Love,

Markus

Markus’ Political Note #1

***NEW THIS WEEK! Markus’ Political Note***

(Markus will be writing a political note about farming in each newsletter from now on. He is smart, passionate about farming, articulate, and I love living with him and having him around to act as a catalyst to my political thinking. Here is the first one. Enjoy! -Seth)

It’s exciting for me (Markus) to be so active in creating this CSA, particularly because I’ve spent some time thinking and writing about Community Supported Agriculture and how it functions (or doesn’t) as a catalyst of social and political change. So, I’ve hoped to write a little column for our newsletters exploring a few ideas about CSA and its social and political implications.

I’ll write this first note just introducing the idea that our CSA, and your involvement in it, has some social and political implications. It might be that you think of us as just a convenient place to get some really delicious veggies, which is true (we hope), but the Community Supported Agriculture model was also created with bigger goals in mind. The structure of U.S. agriculture and food distribution and sales leaves the people eating the vegetables with no connection to the people growing them other than the market. This structure means that even if people did want to have a say in specific farm practices, such as the environmental impact or the treatment of farmworkers, they have no way to do so. And farmers are similarly forced to adopt practices that harm the earth and to pay farmworkers (and often themselves) very low wages, because they answer only to the low wholesale prices on the market, not to specific consumers. In Community Supported Agriculture, however, the members and the farmers have a face-to-face relationship, and so there can be real communication about prices, environmental practices, and farmer wages. Often, there is an implicit or explicit agreement for members to pay enough for the farmers to make more than they could on the wholesale market, and farmers agree to treat the land with respect. Rather than allow the broader market to dictate all aspects of the exchange of money for produce, the exchange becomes embedded in the social interactions and expectations of the farmers and members.

I was thinking about this idea of the possibilities and limits of consumer choice this past week in the grocery store when I was confronted with the choice of what eggs to buy. There were organic eggs, conventional eggs, vegetarian-fed non-organic eggs, cage-free eggs, etc. There weren’t, however, any eggs that seemed to come from anywhere except a factory farm, where the animals are treated with no dignity and workers aren’t treated much better. These were my choices, however. Take it or leave it. If I was buying the eggs from a farm I know, however, I could learn things like how the chickens and the people were treated, and I could talk with the farmer about my values and she could talk about hers.

A membership in a CSA offers the possibility of this kind of dialogue, and, because it is a season-long commitment (and often people are members for many years), there’s time for real exchange. In fact, the first CSAs in the U.S. were started by members who agreed upon a set of expectations and then recruited a farmer, and it was only later that farmer-initiated CSAs took off. Of course, with the busy-ness of the farming season and of everyone’s lives, the full possibility of meaningful dialogue between farmer and member is not always realized. Another week I’ll talk about a further question about the possibilities of CSA: whether and how this interaction between members and farmers contributes to wider change in the structures that enforce destruction of the environment, disconnection between producer and consumer, and low wages for farmwork. For now, though, I’d like to take the opportunity to say: if you’ve got feedback, let us hear it! If you want to talk about vegetables or farmwork, or have questions, or want us to change how we’re doing something, let’s talk about it. This is a process of learning for the two of us, and we’d love it if you’d join in it with us.

Love,

Markus

Newsletter #3 Oct. 27

CHILLY BEAN NEWSLETTER – BLUSTERY DAYS ARE UPON US!

October 27, 2010

Vol.1 Issue 3

Harvesting on a wet, windy and cold day.

Dear Sharemembers,

Winter is here! Markus and I have been working in what feel like epic conditions these past two days. Yesterday we harvested in rain and high winds, and today, cold temps, wind, and sleety rain and a bit of snow. Tonight is the night when so many of the crops that have hung on unusually long will almost assuredly will finally die and return to the soil. So, we have been rushing around in the dark with little flashlights, trying to harvest and cover a few more things. The past month has been so mild, I was lulled into a false sense of security, and the prospect of this “Chilly” CSA didn’t seem daunting. What a difference a day makes! Sunday was warm and pleasant, and then Bam! Here comes old mother/father winter. Anyhow, some of the last tastes of summer (peppers, green tomatoes) are in your boxes, and the cold makes me feel glad that I’ve been working in the greenhouse, that for a while there just seemed gratiuitous to all the abundance still in the fields. Thank you all for your support! A few of the veggies are dirtier than usual this week. It is slow going in the inclement weather, and we are improvising new washing locations and ways to keep our fingers warm enough to keep moving, and washing. Stay warm, and take care!

Sincerely, Seth and Markus

Here is a list of the vegetables in your shares:

Ripbor Green Curly Kale – Make a Green smoothie with some of the kale, or all of it if you feel so inclined! See recipe in newsletter.

Asto Arugula – Spicy, bitter arugula. Some people love it, some people run away from it. Try it in a salad with raspberry vineagar and olive oil dressing, raisins or craisins, and candied walnuts. Gourmet salad. The sweetness of the raisins and the raspberry vineagar balances the sharp flavor of the arugula. Or try arugula on top of homemade pizza!

Nevada Summer Crisp Head Lettuce – It sure isn’t summer out there, but these lettuces are still alive. Many have tip damage from where there tips frosted over, but the rest of them is mild and delicious. Enjoy!

Pac Choi – My favorite way to enjoy pac choi is in a brothy soup with rice noodles. I’ll try to look for a good recipe and post it on our site.

Broccoli Rabe- A delicious vegetable featuring both somewhat bitter flower buds (broccoli) and good greens. Look for the recipe in this newsletter for a simple, delicious way of preparing it!

Scarlet Nantes Carrots- From the same bed as last week’s carrots (actually, we’re hoping to put carrots from that bed in every box), so they’re still sweet like candy, and just a bit bigger.

Mixed Bell Peppers- Looking out from the barn and seeing snow fall right now, I’m thinking these are the last peppers of the season. If you’re not going to use them soon, try roasting and then freezing them. A few years ago, Seminis, one of the largest conventional and organic vegetable seed suppliers in the country, was purchased by Monsanto (winner of the 2005 ‘Angry Mermaid Award’ for companies with the worst impact on climate change, in addition to their many other dubious distinctions). Seminis supplied many of the top-quality commercial organic seed varieties, and up until their purchase of Seminis, Monsanto had not previously had any significant presence in the organic agriculture scene. Now the scourge of sustainable agriculture and mother nature profits every time an organic farmer purchases and sells any of the highly productive varieties in Seminis’ organic seed line. One of the only seed companies in the country to list their sources of seed, Fedco Seeds, a seed packing cooperative in Maine, has dropped all Seminis varieties from their catalogs, and has been seeking alternatives to the many varieties that dropped. Revolution (the green/red bell pepper in your boxes) is one such variety. For more information about Seminis, Monsanto, and Fedco Seeds, visit Fedco’s press release about Monsanto at http://www.fedcoseeds.com/seeds/monsanto.htm

. Nearly all of the winter squash we purchased this season was from Fedco Seeds.

Carmen Peppers- So sweet, so very sweet. The swan song of the Carmens.

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers (red, orange and yellow)- The little banana pepper-shaped peppers. Somewhat hot, but not nearly as spicy as the jalapenos we grew.

Purple Majesty (Blue) Potatoes- bred to be high in anthocyanins, the purplish-bluish antioxidants found in blueberries and other purple/blue foods. They are dirty this week, as we did not have time to wash them with all of the inclement weather. Enjoy uncovering the little purple jewels as you wash them!

King Richard Leeks- More delicious leeks. We have included two new recipes for leeks this newsletter.

Sunshine Kabocha Winter Squash- Bright scarlet orange squash, similar to the green buttercup, a hybrid bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and very swet. Enjoy! Try making a pie, or baking the squash, putting the baked squash in a tupperware or yougurt container in the fridge, and add to all your pancakes! Mmm!

Honey Bear Mini-Acorn Squash- Also a variety bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds, these mini acorn squash are so sweet that field mice even started going after them as they were growing on the vine. A few of them have a few small nibble spots that have healed over, but they are still delicious!

Common Culinary Sage- sage sage sage. Soup, pasta, biscuits. All good.

Lemon Balm- Make a delicious tea with the lemon balm and honey, by bruising the leaves between your fingers and pouring hot water over them. Also good in tea with the mint.

Mixed Spearmint and Peppermint- Equally good as a salad garnish or as a tea (see above).

Purly Chives- baked potato, sour cream, and chives. Heaven.

Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley- Good for a hearty winter soup.

Scallions- These popped up in our onion bed, probably left behind in planting of scallions or Ailsa Craig onions. The ‘bulbing’ of an onion is dependent on day-length, so even if these were onions and got big, they would stay scallion-y with the short days this time of year. We’re trying to make for our onion crop failure by putting in lots of other onion-family produce.

Green Tomatoes (mixed variety)- The ripe tomatoes are long gone, and the plants are crispy, but a few green tomatoes hung on long enough for us to pick them this week. See the recipe for fried green tomatoes with a creamy celeriac dressing.

Celeriac- celery root is amazing! Great storers, delicious celery-flavored root, and leaves that add a celery flavor to soups. Try celeriac in the potato-leek soup we included in the newsletter, or in the fried green tomato and creamy celeriac sauce recipe also in the newsletter.

RECIPES

Green Smoothie

(I have had this smoothie for breakfast a few times this past week. Although it is green (beautifully green) and thus looks a little different, it is sweet and refreshing, and really healthy. Give it a try, I bet you’ll make it again! -Seth)

Ingredients

Blender

3-4 medium-sized leaves of kale, stems removed

2 medium apples, seeds removed

1 banana

1 Tablespoon ground flax (optional)

½ to 1 cup of water

How to Make It

1. Pour a bit of water in the blender, add the banana and apple, blend up.

2. Add the kale piece by piece until well blended

3. Add the flax (optional)

4. Pour into a clear glass so you can see the sparkling green beauty of the smoothie.

5. Drink and enjoy!

Andy’s Potato-Leek Soup (modified from the Potato-Leek soup in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen)

*uses Potatoes, Leeks, Carrots, Dill, and Celeriac

(My good friend Andy visited me last week, and while he was here we cooked a bunch together. One evening, he made this soup, and it was delicious!)

1 hour to prepare – 4-6 servings

3 fist-sized potatoes

3 cups cleaned, chopped leeks

1 celeriac, root and leaves chopped

4-6 small carrots, chopped

4 Tbs. butter

¾ tsp. salt

3½ cups stock or water

snippets of fresh dill

freshly-ground black pepper

  1. Scrub potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks. Place in saucepan w/ leeks, celeriac root and leaves, carrot, and butter. Add salt. Cook the vegetables, stirring over medium heat, until the butter is melted and all the particles are coated (5minutes).
  1. Add the stock or water, bring to a boil, then cover, add half of the chopped dill, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft (20-30 minutes). Check the moisture level occasionally. You may need to add a little extra stock or water, if it gets too low.
  1. When the potatoes are soft, grind in some black pepper. Taste it to see if it wants more salt. Serve right away.
  1. Serve in bowls, sprinkle remaining chopped on top of each bowl.

(the original Enchanted Broccoli Forest recipe called for pureeing the soup after the potatoes were soft with 3 cups of milk, and only using ½ cup of water until then. Feel free to try both ways! Andy and I like the chunkiness and variation of texture of this soup without pureeing, and it was nice to have a soup that wasn’t so heavy.)

Andy’s Easy Braised Leeks (Adapted from a recipe at www.suite101.com/

(My friend Andy loves leeks, and especially loves them braised. I went looking for a simple recipe online, and found one that sounds sort of similar to the recipe he described to me)

  • 3 large leeks
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. To prepare the leeks, trim off the dark green stalks and the roots. Next, slice the leeks in half lengthwise. Place the leeks in a large bowl of cold water, cut side down, and allow them to sit there about 10 minutes. Most of the grit will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Rinse the leeks again, and dry with a paper towel.

Set the leeks in a cast-iron pan, brush both sides with olive oil, and place cut-side up. Roast 20 minutes, tossing halfway through to make sure they don’t get too brown. Remove pan from oven and put on medium-high stove. Pour vegetable broth over the leeks. Roast another 10 minutes or until leeks are tender. Remove leeks, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm and covered, while continuing to cook stock until it is reduced to at least 1/3 its original volume. Pour stock reduction over leeks and serve. Mmm!

Maria’s Broccoli Rabe (A recipe I found online at  http://allrecipes.com//

when looking for a broccoli rabe recipe. Is very good, and simple. –Seth)

INGREDIENTS

1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut an X in the bottom of the stems of the broccoli rabe and place in the boiling water. Cook until tender but still firm, about 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the broccoli rabe and saute 10 to 15 minutes, or until desired doneness. Dust with parmesan cheese, if desired.
  3. Serve and enjoy! Simple and Deelicious!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Creamy Celeriac Sauce (from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry, one of my very favorite cookbooks for delicious vegetable delights)

*uses green tomatoes, celeriac, parsley, and scallions

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 large firm green tomatoes

Coarse sea salt

½ cup apple cider vineagar

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more as needed

1 cup Multipurpose Coating for Dredging Foods (see below for recipe)

Creamy Celeriac Sauce (see below for recipe)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. With a serrated knife, remove the stem and blossom ends from the tomatoes. Slice each tomato lengthwise from stem to blossom end into 1/4 –inch slices and place on a large serving platter or plate in one layer.

3. Lightly sprinkle with slat and set aside for 10 minutes.

4. Pour the vinegar into a small bowland spread the Multipurpose Coating for Dredging Foods on a large plate.

5. One at a time, dip the tomatoes lsices in to the vinegar, then coiat with the Multipurpose Coating, then dip back into the vinegar, and then coat with the Coating again. Shake off the excess and transfer back to the serving plater. Repeat until all tomatoes are coated.

6. In a wide, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until it is hot enough to fry a piece of Multipurpose Coating dropped into it.

7. With a metal spatula, transfer as many tomatoe slices as will fit comfortably in the pan and fry until crisp and golden brown, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer the fried tomatoes to a paper towel-lined plate and allow them to drain about 30 seconds on each side. Transfer the drained tomato slices to the baking sheet and hold in the oven to keep warm.

8. Repeat with the remaining tomato slices, adding oil as necessary.

9. Serve hot with the Creamy Celeriac Sauce.

*Multipurpose Coating for Dredging Foods*

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients:

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne

1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients. Shake well to blend. Store any extra in freezer for later.

Creamy Celeriac Sauce

Yield: about 2 cups

Ingredients:

½ pound silken tofu

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon agave nectar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Coarse sea salt

Freshly ground white pepper

¼ cup minced scallions

½ cup peeled and coarsely grated celery root (celeriac)

Directions:

  1. In an upright blender, combine the tofu, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, agave nectar, mustard, olive oil, paprika, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon white pepper and blend until smooth. If necessary, season with addition salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and stir in the scallions and celery root.

A graphic I put together from various sources to show the rapid and steady growth of the CSA model in the past 2 decades. -Markus

Newsletter #2 Oct. 12


A LAST TASTE OF SUMMER!

Encyclopedia of Vegetables – What’s In the Box?

Scarlet Nantes Baby Carrots – Eat these raw! They taste like candy! Every baby carrot ever sold in a supermarket wishes it was even one-tenth as delicious as these Nantes baby carrots! The frosts have made these carrots out of this world. Seriously, friends, these are amazing! This succession will hopefully get bigger as the weeks go on, but for now, enjoy these little sunbursts of sweetness and crunch.

Gypsy and Imperial Broccoli – Fall broccoli is the best broccoli. This is the last of the heads of the main successions of the broccoli from the Easy Bean season. Florets and more heads to follow. Get thee to a steamery!

Purple Viking Potatoes – We will feature a different potato variety for each share, and this one is a new one for us. These Purple Vikings looked fun when I was looking at seed potatoes this spring. They are funky and kinda gnarly, and some of them really have that bright fuschia and purple swirling action. Enjoy the crisp white flesh, and the bright skins. Try baking them whole to keep the bright skins intact.

Italian or Japanese Eggplant – The last of the eggplant! Stir-fry ‘em up; grill them; put them in a bowl and paint them; put a nose, eyes, hands and hat on them and make a homemade Mr. Eggplant Woman/Man/Being.

Tomatoes: Jaune Flame, Wapsipinicon Peach, Costuluto Genovese, Empire, Federle – On this past sunny Monday, Seth and I walked up and down the long rows of dead and dying tomato plants gleaning these last few gems.  Solanaceae family plants like peppers, eggplants, potatoes and tomatoes are all summer crops that are hard-hit by frost. The Easy Bean pepper, tomatoes and eggplants were planted in our field across the river, which is higher up and so more protected from the frost. Even so, we’ve had three frosts so far, and all of the Solanaceaes are on their way out, so these tomatoes are a last taste of Summer. Our younger sister Esther got a great recipe for salsa from our dad’s friends—which is in the recipes section. All the veggies you need for it (except a few onions) are the box this week: tomatoes, leeks, cilantro and jalapenos. Esther made a batch at Easy Bean earlier this season and it was pretty amazing!

Bell Peppers – Taste the rainbow! Our peppers are high on the rise across the river, and in addition some are under protection of floating row cover, so we should hopefully have peppers for a little while longer. A ripe red pepper contains more Vitamin C than any other vegetable or fruit! Whopee!

Carmen Sweet Peppers – These Carmens are my (Seth’s) favorite snack on the farm. I love finding a reason to bike or drive across the river so I can munch one or two or three. Mmm…

Jalapeño Peppers – Okay, so you might be wondering, “Why are these Schlotterbeck boys attacking us with mountains of jalapeños?” Well, one of my favorite fall crafts (Seth speaking here) is to string up garlands of chili peppers and hang them in the kitchen to dry. Just take a needle and thread, alternate red and green jalapeños if you feel so inclined, and pass the needle through the stem of each pepper. After you have them all strung up, tie a loop on each end of the thread and find a corner to hang them up. Watch as the green ones turn red as they dry! If edible beautification is not your thing, make a simple, delicious hot sauce with your peppers. Just blend them up in a food processor and add vinegar.

Summer Squash – Making one last cameo appearance in this week’s box, after their starring role in the bottom of nearly every week’s Easy Bean box, we bring you summer squash! Seth picked them just before the frost. It has been amazing to watch these plants continue to flower and fruit all summer long. Sometimes while picking them I would imagine the vegetable mass that had come out of each foot along the bed, and I had trouble wrapping my mind around how they could do it. If you’re looking for something new to use them in, we’ve posted Carol Ford’s Green Goddess Greens Pie, which is reportedly delicious, and also uses only vegetables from this week’s share!

Jet Acorn Squash – The smooth green skin is beautiful, and its sweet amber flesh is, well, sweet. Acorn squash are among the shortest-storing winter squash, which is why we chose to include it in this first share. Store this at room temperature before eating, as winter squash are damaged at temperatures below 50 degree Fahrenheit.

King Richard Leeks – This was not a good year for onions here on the farm. We lost an entire Easy Bean bed of onions, and my own plantings of onions: red, yellow, and cippolini also failed almost utterly. I also heard similar tales from other local growers. But leeks, on the other hand, we’ve got leeks coming out of our ears! So get to know them!These King Richard leeks are an old variety, and we have a long row left from the Easy Bean plantings. I (Seth) love, love, love leeks, and their affinity for butter is truly diivine. I remember a memorable Valentine’s dinner cooked with my sweetheart that involved buttery leeks, garlic, and asparagus over pasta. Mmm, yes. That was a good meal :c) It’s time to make your own leek memories!

Rainbow Lacinato Kale – I was enchanted by the effusive description in the seed catalog this spring and told Mike we just had to have it. A cross between curly red kale and lacinato kale, this variety combines the cold hardiness of red curly kale with the tenderness of lacinato.  It took me three seasons of living within a hundred yards of 500 kale plants all before I figure out what it was all about. That happened when I was over at Moonstone Farm in the fall and Audrey Arner prepared lacinato kale sauteed with sausage. Oh. My. Land/Stars/Word/God. Heaven! Ever since then, I have loved it! My little 5 dollar metal steamer is my favorite friend when it comes to kale. Visit www.eatmorekale.com for some kale love inspiration!

Bright Lights Rainbow Swiss Chard – These tender, glowing leaves are so delicious. Try adding them to a salad, or steaming them lightly and making a bed of chard on a plate, adding some black beans, a fried egg over that, and some of the salsa from the recipe this week. One of my favorite simple meals!

Green Wave Mustard Greens – Some people love ‘em. Some people do not. But when they look and taste like these fall Green Waves, it’s hard to resist. These mustards are in prime condition, so bright and tender! Try making a fritatta with them and some extra-sharp cheddar cheese, or better yet, use them in the Garaden Goddess Greens Pie! For those of you who love ‘em or have a recipe, let us know and we’ll share it with everyone on our website and newsletter!

Lettuce Mix– The “brazing mix” of greens which appeared in multiple Easy Bean shares had a fair bit of lettuce in it, and so we thought we’d make a nice salad mix of smaller lettuce leaves picked from amongst the other greens.

Purple-top White Globe Turnips – A standard winter root crop for ages. Roast ‘em with some potatoes, put ‘em in a hearty soup with potatoes and parsley, or mash ‘em up with potatoes. Did I mention potatoes?

Italian Flat-leaf Parsley – One of my (Markus’) favorites! I used to nibble so much of our mom’s potted parsley plants that they didn’t grow so well. These plants have kept putting on new growth all year, and we’re hoping that they keep going for all of the Fall deliveries. Along with the mint and tomatoes (and cucumbers if you have any left) it makes a great Tabouli salad. If you’re not planning on using the parsley or any of the herbs for a while, you can hang them upside down and let them dry to use later.

Chives – They are sweet and mild, and would make a wonderful chives/dill sour cream sauce over baked potatoes. With our dearth of onions, we will do our best to include as many onion family crops every share as possible. Common Roots Cafe on Lyndale Ave in South Minneapolis stirs fresh dill and chives into their Organic Valley cream cheese. Why not make your own homemade herbed cream cheese? Mmm, that makes me hungry.

Dill – Dill goes great in creamy sauces, and is often paired with fish. If you have any cucumbers left, making some quick dill pickles is always a good idea.

Serrata Basil– The frost knocked out all of the Basil we didn’t cover and some of what we did (it’s a very sensitive plant) but we found plenty on these prolific basil bushes for this week. Our send off to this taste of summer!

Cilantro – This Cilantro popped up where we weren’t expecting it—either a bed that had failed to germinate properly, or a set of volunteers from an earlier planting. Although Cilantro is not my (Markus’) favorite herb (I’m one of those people who experiences a soapy flavor), I have to respect this plant which also produces one of my favorite spices: Coriander seeds. I’ve saved some of the seeds from an earlier succession of Cilantro and have been using this Coriander in soups and stir-fries and everything else I can think of. But as for the Cilantro, even I like it in the salsa recipe we included, or in a big pot of black beans.

Peppermint/Spearmint – I’ve been making lots of tea with this mint, and I can wholeheartedly recommend using it for that. It also makes a good different salad green. We’ve got these plants covered so you should be seeing them again! We had Spearmint and Peppermint interplanted (Spearmint has slightly more rounded leaves, Peppermint has slightly more pointy leaves) but you can use them interchangeably and we’ve tried to put some of both in every bunch.

Some words from Seth:

Dear Sharemembers,

It was an exciting day here on the farm. I woke up at 4 in the morning and started harvesting in my mind’s eye. Instead of feeling anxious, though, I felt excited. I finally decided I should go back to sleep, and then had vivid dreams, including one about overcoming many obstacles and then flying. Today certainly felt like flying, and it has felt like a long road to get here.

Markus and I had a wonderful morning meditating together, then drinking tea and making some breakfast, finalizing our harvest list, and tweaking our new website. By the time we finally got out in the fields to harvest, it was 10 AM already. After some more steady but relaxed harvesting of herbs and carrots, it became more and more apparent that there was actually a lot of work to do for two people, and we had better get to it if we wanted to deliver on time. Our plans of doing more seeding in the greenhouse and writing our newsletter took a backseat to harvesting, washing, and packing the veggies. We ended up working on the shares up to the minute we needed to be on the road to Morris (and then a little bit more), and with Malena’s fortuitous help in packing the boxes and taking vegetable action photos, we made it to our drop site not too long after 5.

Although Markus and I both have experience putting together CSA boxes, it was an adventure seeing what would go into these boxes. Please let us know what crops you’d like to see more of, which you’d wish to see less of or more infrequently, and what dishes you are preparing with all this produce. If you find a recipe you want to share with the rest of us, please e-mail us, and we will put it up on our website and include it in the next newsletter.

Thank you to everyone for supporting us two young farmers. We couldn’t do any of this without you. So thank you, and enjoy. Thank you again and again to Mike and Malena for taking me in, for giving me the opportunity to try this farming thing out, and for their truly abundant generosity. And thank you very much to my dear brother, Markus, who has made the load so much lighter, both in the fields, and in my heart. I am so grateful to be working together with you, dear brother! It feels pretty amazing that after all these years of talking and dreaming, we are finally here.

Well, friends, until next time, happy eating!

Sincerely,

Seth and Markus

RECIPES

(The following recipe comes from Carol Ford of Garden Goddess Produce in Milan, MN. It is a central recipe to her amazing 6-month winter CSA share, and I am so delighted to be able to share it with all of you. Thank you, Carol!)

GARDEN GODDESS GREENS PIE

3 lbs fresh greens (any combination of chard, collards, raab, spinach, arugula, kale, mustard, turnip greens, beet greens, choi)

2 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

1 med. onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lb. (1 med.) grated zucchini or summer squash *

1/2 cup of finely chopped green or red sweet pepper *

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil *

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley *

1/2 tsp. black pepper

3 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup sharp cheese (Swiss, Jarlsberg, Feta all work well. I love blue cheese, myself)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Trim greens, discard stems and coarsely chop the leaves.  Heat butter and oil in a large pot (My cast iron dutch oven works best for me) on medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, cook 2 minutes.  Stir in zucchini, peppers, salt and pepper, then cook for another minute.  Add in the basil, parsley and chopped greens, mixing thoroughly.  Cook, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes (or until very tender).  Remove cover and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until all liquid is evaporated (approximately 25 minutes).  Transfer greens mixture into a large mixing bowl, mix in beaten eggs and half of each of the cheeses.  Pour mixture into buttered pie pan, sprinkle remaining cheeses on top.  Bake for 25 minutes, let set 10 minutes before serving.

  • Note: this is a very forgiving recipe for substitutions.  Use whatever’s available.  I’ve shredded radishes, pac choi stems and kohlrabi into this dish when I’ve been shy of peppers or summer squash. Same goes with the spices.  I have used rosemary, oregano and thyme to flavor this pie and like it.  This dish provides a great excuse to splurge on top quality sharp cheeses, which compliment the greens splendidly.  Also, if you are like Chuck, you prefer this dish baked in a pie crust.  Works that way, too. Experiment and enjoy!

DANIEL’S SALSA RECIPE (we got this from our sister, Esther, who got it from a friend)

5 cups tomatoes (around 2.5 pounds)

1 1/2 cups leeks

1 1/4 cups onions

1/4 cup cilantro

1 Tablespoon Jalapeño peppers

2 Tablespoons cup garlic

3 Tablespoons honey

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 1/2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 Tablespoon cumin

1/2 Tablespoon black pepper

1/2 Tablespoon salt

1/2 Tablespoon tamari

Directions: Chop all ingredients, blend. Let sit before serving. The honey makes this a somewhat sweeter recipe than most, so use less honey if you’d rather it taste more like other salsas.

Newsletter #1 Oct. 4

Dear Sharemembers,
Hello on a glorious October Monday! Thank you to all of you for joining me on this adventure into the cold!
This is my first farm newsletter, and it feels like a momentous occasion. Since arriving at Easy Bean in May of 2006, fresh from graduating college, I have seen Mike spend hours crafting his newsletters, and seen them evolve from black-and-white paper documents to the current colorful, photo-filled e-mail newsletters. And except for once that first year, when Mike and Malena were gone for a wedding and I put the newsletter together with Joan Olsen (I think instead of writing a note, we included some farm-related poetry), I have never written one myself.
This is my fifth season farming, and the first trying to negotiate planning and running a farming business venture. It has been quite a process this season learning and re-learning how to balance my life among many priorities, and I find it almost hard to believe that we are finally here, so close to veggies going into boxes, delivered into your hands: you, who were all only a figment of my imagination only a few short months ago, as were the vegetables and this idea. So thank you for coming along for this journey.
I wish to express my deepest gratitude to my Mike and Malena, who have made it all possible for me to be doing this thing, supporting me at every step of the way. So, thank you, dear friends, thank you.
Okay, so, perhaps you are actually interested in hearing how things are looking on the farm out here, and what might be in your first share? Well, if that is the case, you are in luck.
Things look really good out here. We had a light frost on Friday night, and a harder one on Saturday night. I spent Friday and Saturday evenings harvesting winter squash and covering sensitive crops with the help of my brother Markus (who will be working with me on the Chilly Bean Share) and our friend and fellow Easy Bean worker, Ashley “Ashtabula Buckets” Callaghan. The Winter squash harvest was bountiful, and I am looking forward to showing you some different beautiful varieties. It doesn’t look like it is going to frost again until next Wednesday, and I’m looking forward to another great week of farming!
My guess for the first share is: Winter squash, Purple Viking Potatoes, Rainbow chard, Chinese Thickstem mustard greens, Rainbow Lacinato kale, dill, chives, sage, peppermint and spearmint, bell peppers, French breakfast radishes, turnips, onions, leeks, tatsoi, and hopefully some spinach.
To look for: We should have some nice broccoli in the coming weeks, and beets and carrots are still growing and there should be an abundance in a few weeks to a month from now.
Enjoy your week and your last amazing Easy Bean share. I know it’s going to be a good one. Enjoy the following photos of what things look like out here today. Take care, and I look forward to seeing you all soon!
Sincerely,
Seth
French Breakfast radish in field this morning, mild,
crispy, shockingly pink. Look for these next week…

Chilly Bean Fall CSA Storage Share Sign-ups Now Available!

This opportunity is available to those folks who are able to pick up either in Montevideo or Morris. Ever wish the good times with your Easy Bean share could last into the blustery, snowy, chilly times? Well now they can! Now you can sign up for the “Chilly Bean Fall CSA Storage Share” and extend the season for another 10 weeks. The Chilly Bean Share will commence soon after the Easy Bean season is completed, and will continue with bi-weekly deliveries in to December. Morris deliveries will begin on Tuesday, October 12, and continue every other Tuesday until December 7th. Montevideo deliveries will begin Wednesday, October 13, and continue every other Wednesday until December 8th. Each share will be full of delicious storage crops, fresh and dried herbs, and fall greens. I will be experimenting with growing cold-hardy greens in our unheated greenhouses, and keeping things snug under row cover and low-tunnels.

The shares will be roughly the same size as the Easy Bean Half Share, and the cost will be $225 for the 10+ weeks. The final share will consist of a large amount of storage crops which will be designed to take you well into the new year.

If you are interested in signing up, or for more information, please e-mail me at woolybearfarm@gmail.com (Space is limited, and I will take reservations on a first-come, first-served basis).

Thanks so much for your interest, and enjoy the rest of this bounteous season!