Week 5 from Valley Flora!

  • Romaine - go big with a Summer Solstice Caesar Salad. Make this Caesar Dressing, my all-time favorite!
  • Sugar Snap Peas - whoopea!!!
  • Red Beets
  • Dill
  • Strawberries
  • Fennel

On Rotation:

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Collards
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini

Oh yeah, here it comes! The Week 5 CSA share is often the gateway into summer food, and the moment when I let out a big sigh of relief as a farmer. Believe it or not, June is the leanest month on the farm, in spite of all the daylight and sunshine. That's because all of our overwintering and storage crops from last season are exhausted (potatoes, onions, squash, shallots, beets), and everything we have to harvest is newly-planted and at the mercy of capricious springtime (for instance, our first four carrot seedings were demolished by slugs, delaying our first outdoor carrot harvest by a month+ this year). That means that most of June is usually about leafy greens, lettuce, fast-growing root crops like turnips and radishes, and if we're lucky, strawberries. We're also suddenly trying to fill twice as many CSA boxes every week (instead of half as many every other week, like we do for our Winter CSA from January to May), stock our farmstand, and keep all of our wholesale accounts happy (the co-ops, grocery stores and restaurants that loyally purchase VF produce). The CSA shares are typically smallest in June, and as someone who is perhaps overly-obsessed with stuffing those CSA totes to the gills, I love it when we drop into the abundance of summertime, replete with heavy, sturdy things like beets, fennel, broccoli, and carrots (coming soonish!).

The cherry on top is sugar snap peas, which are one of my all-time favorite early summer delights. They are the very first thing we seed outdoors (March 10th this year, in a tiny little window of sunshine in between incessant rainstorms), and then we spend 3+ months tending and training them up a towering trellis until this moment, when finally those little snackers are hanging heavy on the vine. It's a labor-of-love kinda harvest - many, many crew hours will be spent combing through those long rows in the next few weeks - but the reward is more than worth it. Enjoy them while they're here because it's a short 3 week window of harvest.

Also new this week: fennel, red beets, dill, and collards and chard (on rotation). I laughed when I realized both fennel and beets would be in the share this week - our two most controversial vegetables. In fifteen years of running our CSA, I have learned that people tend to fall into two hardline camps: fennel haters v. fennel lovers and beet haters v. beet lovers. Sorry to throw two polarizing vegetables at you at once, but honestly, they make for a stellar pairing in something like this: Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad with Citrus Dressing (I'd toss some crumbled goat cheese on top if I were you...). 

I've given this sermon to CSA members in the past, but studies show that it can take up to 20 tries for the human palate to learn to like a food. So if you think you're in one of those hater camps, give fennel/beets a try this week - 20 little bites is all it might take to join the lovers (here's a little more info on fennel - eating it raw, eating it roasted, learning to love it...). Good luck, and let me know if you're among the converted - it's a beautiful world on this side.