Saturday, July 2, 2011

Josh & Bri's Veggies CSA Newsletter; Volume 1 Issue 5

June 26, 2011

Naturally grown food for those dear

Happy belated Summer Solstice everyone!

We celebrated the solstice by bringing my dear grandparents down and up windy, narrow roads and into the far hills of Berea to one of the most important farms, as far as I’m concerned, in the country. Susana Lein and her home atop a beautiful mountain, Salamander Springs Farm, is where you can see much of what Josh and I aspire to. She had a wonderful summer solstice party, a gathering of hippies from my grandparents view, a gathering of really great people whose primary concern is for the health of the land. It was grand fun to show my grandparents around to what our weedy mess of mulch and vegetables can become after ten years.

After delicious food, grand music and dear company we turned the grandparents home and headed to Lexington for continued socializing (quite the rarity for us). Some fellow farmers and CFA (Community Farm Alliance) have organized an “Ag Legacy Group” of sorts and had a little concert benefit. I love my life out in the country more than a calf loves milk, but it’s easy to neglect your social life. Through this group we have met awesome fellow farmers, our age, who are doing it! Living this “back t the land” dream by actually trying it out. It’s always a breath of fresh air to be around them, and gives us new ideas to try out when we return home.

After some relaxing, however, we spent much of the longest day of the year thinking about the shortest. Why were we bothering ourselves with the dark and gloomy prospect of winter? Well because you have to plan your meals months in advance if you want to grow them yourself! In January I dreamed of pesto and so drew basil in the garden plan; I now enjoy it at least twice per week. Now we dream of good eats through fall, winter, and the coming spring and so plan and plant accordingly. Our fall seed order with Fedco arrived yesterday, today half of it was put in plug trays. Mmm endive. And hmm, scorzonera?

While the garden is growing wonderfully, and our many trials and experiments are proving fruitful, what is even more exciting is how exponentially better we can do it next year. Being the plan and diagram master, I am stoked to be able to plan and diagram for this land after having gotten to know it for a season. We will be able to winter over many vegetables, giving us an early start next year (meaning, food to you sooner!) and we will know how to place, grow and care for each and every vegetable next year as a result of this year’s garden. Oh experiential learning! There is no greater teacher.

But back to the present, where we all are no matter how often we try to live in the future. The garden is glistening. A sea of green my camera cannot do justice. High currents of sunflower, wide waves of zucchini, a consistent undercurrent of lettuce, splashes of color from the many many blossoms of various upcoming vegetables. Cucumbers have quickly overcome their trellis and we’ve been picking and enjoying the new fruit, you should expect them in your basket week after next. Zuchinni and tomatoes are not too far behind, potatoes have flowered, beans are podding, cabbage is heading, yada yada. Lettuce continues to amaze us and we think we’ll be able to keep arugula and spinach going longer next year in the same way. The only pest issues as of yet have been cabbage worms, pod borers on my beloved chickpeas and some slimy nasty buggers on the tomatillos. But all have been manageable and far preferable to the alternative. As my grandmother says, it’s delightful to find a squirming worm as you pull back the husk from a fresh ear of corn because you know it must not have been poisoned. Though Josh’s broccoli and cabbage worm sauté was a tad unnerving the other day, I’m still happy it’s organic (please note; it was only one worm and we tend to was your vegetables far more thoroughly than our own!)

Boy if I don’t wrap this up soon Josh is likely to dehydrate himself weeding so I best get back out and join him. I hope your gardens, meals, health and happiness are all whole and well. Enjoy our continued beautifully mild weather!

Bri & Josh

Josh & Bri's Veggies CSA Newsletter; Volume 1 Issue 4

June 9, 2011

Naturally grown food for those dear

Hello again everyone!

Goodness, all that rain and now it feels like August. The days of mild or predictable seasons are well over. Thankfully the thick layer of mulch all over the garden keeps the plants cool, moist and well drained, ie., all around adaptable to whatever weather hits them. Well maybe not the most severe, but you get my point.

In this heat tomato, tomatillo and cucumber blossoms are forming, chickpeas are blooming and podding, beans, squash and potatoes are just shooting up to the sky and spinach has bid us farewell until fall. Due to a lack of security a pony got his happy belly in one of our gardens and ate every last sweet corn stalk : ( Heartbreaking, yes, but thankful he did not make it to the far more nutritionally valuable sweet potatoes, cowpeas and winter squash also flourishing in that garden. We do have a small stand of baby corn (which doubles as popcorn if left to dry) in another garden, so you may get to eat some grass this season after all! Speaking of a lack of sweets, I made a huge mistake in my excited, though apparently partially blind, plan to have tons of sugar snap peas this season. We got one small packet of some really exciting sounding sugar snaps, way back in the winter, which I promptly planted, but thinking it wasn’t near enough I planted a good five times that in leftover Dwarf Grey Sugar seed. This is a variety we grew last year for shoots, but for some reason I disregarded that thought and assumed they were sugar snaps due to “sugar” being in their title. Silly me, they are a snow pea. While a letdown, they are decidedly delicious steamed, stir-fried, or fresh (depending on your tastes) and are abundant as can be. Our few actual Sugar Snap Pea plants are not the best producers, and in this heat have already gotten too starchy, so we may be without that crop until next season. While spinach has dropped out lettuce is still going strong thanks to our cucumber trellis which shades them from the intense “spring” heat. New in your baskets this week are dill and basil, expect lots more!

By my grandma’s request I’ve begun organizing photos by month, rather than one huge folder, so please enjoy May here: and June here:

That’s all I’ve got for this week, both my ma and my grandparents will be out here from California later this week so I’ve got some tidying up to do (I think they might appreciate a path to the tipi and a cleaner Bri and Josh to hug). As always, enjoy your veggies and let us know what you’re doing with them!

I leave you with a passage I love from Ruth Stout about the “completely reliable mystery involved” in the garden

And if “enchantment” sounds a little farfetched you have not yet opened your eyes and heart to the unassuming miracle of the performance of a tiny seed as insignificant-looking as a fleck of dust. If you put a tomato seed, for instance, into the earth, and barely cover it, it will send a tender green shoot up through the soil. . . Then this little, live thing keeps getting bigger and greener and more and more surprising. It covers itself with green leaves and later with yellow blossoms. Did you ever stop to wonder how it decided always to have them yellow?

Soon the blossoms fall off and, amazingly enough, tiny green balls appear. These keep getting bigger and fatter.

Now, the next step wuld be hard to believe if you hadn’t been taking it for granted all your life. These balls, having reached their full size, look abut them, see that green is the predominant color in their environment and decide to break the monotony. They begin to experiment, try a touch of white, then greenish-yellow, then pink, and finally a bright, gay red.

At last these pretty balls have reached maturity; they are satisfied with what they have achieved and relax. They wait for the kind person who gave that tiny seed an opportunity to fulfill its greatest possibilities to come and eat them. . .

To me it is almost awesome to look at a tiny tomato seed and then at a large, healthy plant, heavy with green, pink and red tomatoes, and think of the completely reliable mystery involved.

Have a wonderful week,

Bri & Josh

Josh & Bri's Veggies CSA Newsletter; Volume 1 Issue 3

May 29, 2011

Naturally grown food for those dear

Hello again everyone!

First off, dear CSA customers, I have to give a spiel from us mega anti-plastic freaks. Pretty please DO NOT throw your ziplocks away! Basically, anything that isn’t edible in your basket is meant to be washed and returned to us in order to be reused. We are very passionate about not investing in more non-biodegradables, and the decision to purchase ziplocks to hold onto your delectable greens between the garden and your plates was a difficult one. The precious money you are spending on our CSA is meant to go into the garden and we don’t want to waste money on waste. So, before anyone even has a chance to pitch a ziplock, I ask you to please pitch it in the sink instead, give it a quick rinse and return it to us when we bring your next basket. And of course, if you have a different preferred receptacle for greens and other delicate perishables, hand it over and we’ll be happy to use it. In addition to individual vegetable packaging, we are still on the lookout for good CSA baskets. The ones we bought, so cute, turned out to be WAY too small for the share. I’d love to weave our own, but where to find the time?!

And onward. What a wonderful response we’ve been getting! To the food, the newsletters and the pictures, your welcome and thank you. I’m glad the food is being enjoyed and while I’m sorry we can’t take on more customers right now, I’m glad there is such demand! Since we only began at Kokovoko this winter, we do not have the spring bounty we hope to have in coming years (many spring crops are sown the previous fall, long before we were here!), but summer and fall will just be a mess of produce. We are very excited to be taking on at least three new shareholders in July to make a total of seven our first season!

Moving onto what is of greatest interest, the garden! It’s looking wonderful and we’re enjoying every new blossom, pod, leaf, globe, etc. with mouse-like squeaks of excitement. Our sustenance, just popping up out of the ground. While lettuce and spinach are still tender, the arugula has come and gone. It was so short lived; delicious for a week or so, and then just in time for our first week of distributions, bam! Bolted (this means it has gone to seed, which, for arugula, means no longer tasty). For arugula and other early bolters like bok choy we will simply save the seeds and try out sprouts for the baskets. They are mega delicious and vitaminaceious so I’m hoping we can all forget about how much we miss arugula salads until they arrive again in the fall. In other garden news, we have planted sweet corn, and I think everyone will be happy about that.

As for this week’s basket, expect much of the same, minus arugula. We will also hold off on the rhubarb for a week to let it come back. The sugar snaps are covered in pods, but haven’t fattened up yet into their sweet and juicy true natures. We’ll pick some to get them producing more and just throw them in your stir fry mix. You’ll also be receiving pea shoots, which are wonderful stir fried or fresh in salads (we’ll keep them separate so you can make the decision) Speaking of stir frying, I ought to include some cooking tips eh? All those garlic and onion tops can seem a little intimidating so here is my advice-chop them off and boil them. Boil them for awhile and then leave them under cover in the pot for an hour or two, or whatever length of time you need to go do something else before making a proper lunch. Come back, pull them out, squeeze them like a wet towel for any remaining flavor, throw them in the compost heap, and dump a bunch of rice in the pot. Cook the rice and enjoy. You can cook any absorbent grain in this onion and garlic top stock, I just find rice easy and holds onto the most flavor. I also toast the rice and some garlic and onions in lard or bacon grease before throwing it in the stock-makes it even better. You can also throw the Asian and turnip greens in when the rice is almost done for a full meal. Well I’m making my own self hungry so I’m going to go eat, sleep, and wake up ready to harvest!

Have a wonderful week,

Bri & Josh

Josh & Bri's Veggies CSA Newsletter; Volume 1 Issue 2

May 19, 2011

Naturally grown food for those dear

Volume 1 Issue 2

I know I know, another newsletter and no food yet? So soon now! Spring crops are coming on and we are ready to begin distribution! What we need now is your desired pick-up day and location. As we are so small every day of growing counts and would prefer staggering you all on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Please email us back letting us know which day and location you prefer.

It’s been a maddening cold spell since I last wrote; wonderful for the sugar snaps, spinach, lettuce and arugula, but Josh, myself, the tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants and peppers are all shivering a big no! Sugar Snap Peas began flowering about five days ago so we might throw in a few for a treat, like after dinner mints, but should have a real harvest by your second week. Do note that basket size will range depending on the time of year; spring begins slowly, but soon enough you’ll be looking to cookie recipes and neighbors for squash outlets. We pre-wash your salad greens as they are jolly grit carriers but do recommend you wash them again before eating.

Your first basket will include:

Bloomsdale and Space Spinach (F1)* which are so young and tender they hardly need a minute of cooking, or better yet, none!

Lettuces and Arugula, which are packaged together as a colorful and delicious salad mix.

Asian Greens, including turnip and mustard, spicy and wonderful stir-fried with onions over rice.

Fresh Onions, remember these are spring onions, just chop off the roots and eat the whole thing! The tops are even good raw in salads.

Fresh Garlic, treat them just like fresh onions-eat the whole thing!

French Breakfast, Easter Egg and Cherry Belle Radishes, all pretty and tasty in salads.

I would also like to share a video about a woman with Fukuoka inspired gardens in France. Quality isn’t excellent but the commentary and information are adorable and I’ve never seen or heard of a garden so similar to ours! Makes me feel just a tad less crazy, and good to be reminded that trusting my gut (which tells me tillage is not only unnecessary, but harmful) can lead to a food paradise.

Josh and I are off to the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in Lexington for the weekend to sell a ton of wool and spindles, come by if you can! Hopefully the weeds won’t get too far ahead of us and we’ll be harvesting a beautiful first basket for you all this coming week.

Thanks again,

Bri, Josh & Bu

*F1 is the acronym for hybrid plants. With buzzwords right now like “heirloom” I think it helpful to let you all know, in case you don’t, the difference between an heirloom and a hybrid variety. An heirloom is a variety developed by years of selection, creating local varieties fit to a places particular climate, soil, etc. F1 hybrid does not mean it’s been genetically modified, it’s simply a one generation cross, which means we cannot save seed from it-its babies will not come true. As of right now we grow only two F-1 hybrids (Space Spinach and Daikon Radish), all others are open pollinated heirlooms. Anytime an F-1 hybrid is included in your basket I will note it. There is nothing wrong with these vegetables except that we cannot save seed, which is why we plan to not grow them unless it’s the only choice we have at the moment, which was the case for Daikon Radishes.