In This Week’s Beet Box:
- Recipe of the Week: Zucchini Pancakes
- The Challenge of CSA Farming (Or, How to Feed a Few Hundred People Every Week for Seven Months of the Year…)
In your share this week:
- Head Lettuce
- Purplette Onions
- Fresh Dill
- Carrots (with some Rainbows in the mix)
- Russian Frills Kale
This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
Recipe of the Week: Zucchini Pancakes
My mom has been making these lately and they are GOOD! She makes up a batch of batter and if she doesn’t use it all, she just stores it in her fridge for the next day. Makes a tasty, quick lunch or dinner.
The Challenge of CSA Farming
This past weekend I fretted that there wasn’t going to be enough food (both quantity and diversity) to fill this week’s Harvest Baskets. Then came Tuesday. Everything was harvested and washed for our Wednesday CSA members and we began packing totes in the barn. Strawberries (what a total, utter surprise!). Onions (2 full pounds of Purplettes, because we're having such an unprecedented bumper onion crop so far). Carrots (with some rainbow carrots in the mix this week). Broccoli. Beets (harvested in lieu of potatoes this week because I decided that the spuds weren’t quite sized up enough to merit our first dig). A nice pile of zucchini (because it’s their prime time). Russian Frills kale (probably the last kale you’ll see from us until September). Some super jumbo lettuce (I was laughing all morning as I harvested those lunkers). And a bunch of dill (intended to be paired with potatoes, but alas their stars didn’t align).
Whew. We got to the end of the packout line with the first tote and discovered that we could barely get the lid on it.
So much for worrying.
The challenge of CSA is this: how to plan to have a diversity of enough (but not too much) food every single week from June through December, for a few hundred people. Accounting for, of course, the fact that some people love beets and some people don’t, and some people want kale every week and some people don’t, and some people are splitting a basket and some people are feeding a family of five (or more). It’s a dinner party host’s worst nightmare.
And then of course there’s the environment. Sometimes it rains all spring and stays cold until July, except for when it doesn’t. And who knows if the cucumber beetles are going to fly in (not too bad this year), or the cabbage maggots are going to eat our cauliflower seedlings (they did), or the moles are going to undermine the marionberries (they did), or the phytophthora is going to nuke our berry patch (it mostly did, except for this week’s unexpected mini-comeback).
A lot of it is out of our control, but I do my best to try to impose some predicted order on what always turns out to be the wild chaos of a real live farm season. It all starts in January, when I create a CSA projection: essentially, my best guess at all of the produce that will be in your share each week for 28 weeks (best case scenario). It’s an Excel spreadsheet with a column for every week of the season and a line for every single fruit and vegetable we grow. I fill it in based on past year’s experience, but of course no two years are the same…
Then we seed and plant and sow accordingly. Lettuce gets seeded ever two weeks, carrots every three. Broccoli gets planted every week or two throughout the spring, and corn goes in the ground in succession in hopes of a nice staggered harvest come September. Every planting date is dictated by a hoped-for harvest date, all with the goal of keeping your harvest baskets replete, and keeping you happy.
Enter Mother Nature, who laughs somewhat sardonically at Excel spreadsheets. This year, carrots came a full five weeks sooner than planned but green cabbage and potatoes are weeks later than expected. The artichokes shut down a month sooner than I’d hoped, but corn is probably going to be a month earlier than anticipated.
It becomes a task of constant observation and on the fly decision-making. For instance, yesterday I discovered a small cache of ripe cauliflower, from the few plants that survived the cabbage maggot this spring. It was enough to give to our members who pick up at the farm. But I had to do some quick calculating: will there be enough heads from the next bed of cauliflower to fill everyone else’s totes (fairness is a top priority – we do all we can to keep it even-steven among our four pickup sites throughout the season)?
I decided that there would be, so the farm pickup members got some neon caulifower to boot. If I was wrong and we don’t end up having enough to give to everyone in Port Orford, Bandon, and Coos Bay, then we’ll have to make it up with something else. What? I’m not sure yet. It’s an improv show.
Thanks for buying a ticket to the show (in doing so, you’ve shown a degree of trust in us, and a willingness to roll with the unexpected). If nothing else, I hope the enormity of your lettuce makes you laugh this week.
The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share next week…
No promises, but your tote might include some of the following NEXT week:
- Head lettuce
- Purplette Onions
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
For recipes and ideas, check out these links:
Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites
Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient
A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients
A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient
A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes