Last week I had the amazing good fortune to join 250 fellow farmers and delegates from the National Farmers Union in Washington, DC, for a fly-in lobbying event. We met with our elected representatives and senators, along with their very talented aides, and I was personally amazed at how genuinely attentive these very busy folks were at all of the meetings in their offices. After our morning appointments, these officials headed off to a briefing all afternoon on the ISIS situation. My mind was thoroughly boggled at the sheer volume of information the people who serve in our government have to process. I am all admiration and hope for our democratic process, and you can expect to see more of me in clean clothes, with a clipboard of notes and a datebook full of appointments both in Madison and Washington.
As part of the National Farmers Union, I also attended private meetings with the heads of the USDA and EPA, as well as with the chairs of many USDA departments. The good news is, sustainable agriculture and local food access is HOT right now at the federal level. In fact, the USDA is particularly proud of it's own weekly farmer's market and the cafeteria there serves terrific fresh, local food. There are a lot of resources allocated in the Farm Bill toward organic agriculture and toward new, minority and beginning farmers. As a first generation woman farmer with less than 10 years under my belt, I am all of those things and I hope to take time this winter to avail myself of more training at very little cost. My weak point as a farmer is definitely business, though I am constantly learning about the practicalities of my land, soil and animals. So I will be looking into those sort of opportunities.
So I left the farm for 5 days and when I came home it was 35 degrees! FALL already? Mornings seem like fall here on the farm, and afternoons are back to summer. I personally just LOVE this time of year. We get the best of everything, and that is pretty much true in the boxes, too. We’ve got high summer bounty and fall cool crops starting to kick in, too. Most things get sweeter and better the longer they sit through these cool nights. Great examples are the broccoli and greens – this will be their yummiest week yet. Other things start to get a bit weak as their cell walls burst in the nearly-freezing temps we have at night. You’ll notice the tomatoes aren’t as, well, summery tasting. This is probably the last week for them and for summer squash. But we have certainly enjoyed them! Now it’s time to move toward the rich, warm tastes of sweet potatoes and radishes – with these pretty yellow radishes, you’ve even got the palette of autumn colors.
Speaking of autumn, it is time to think about celebrating the culminated harvest of the 2014 growing season, and we’d like to invite you out to the farm to join us for our annual Warm and Wooly Fall Festival on Sunday, October 5, from 3 til dusk. We’ll have woolcraft activities, farm tours, spinning demonstrations and a ginormous, fabulous Potluck Dinner at 6pm accompanied by live bluegrass music with MooGrass String Band! Please do come out and visit, bring friends and family, and bring a side dish or drink to share. Wear comfy shoes, and layers of clothing, and bring a chair or blanket to sit by the fire.
Here's what's in the box:
Head Lettuce – Crisp and delicious. These will be our last head lettuces for some time. We’ll be back to salad mix next box.
Cilantro – What a year for cilantro! We hope you have had the opportunity to make a lot of nice Thai dishes and salsas. We often have a difficult time maintaining the cilantro through the summer, but since we had such a cool one, it made it through wonderfully! Of course, the cool summer means we still don’t have ripe peppers to put in your salsa! Oh, well. Win some, lose some!
Tomatoes – This could be it, folks, but we sure did have a nice year for heirlooms. Very little cracking and damage. Nice flavors, little disease. Truly a blessing. The cool weather is shutting down the plants now, but we are grateful for all the fruit they gave. You should have a nice selection of all the cool varieties we grew – all will be ripe and taste quite different from each other. Ask us if you want to know about a particular variety. We LOVE the matte, sweet Yellow Peaches this week.
Eggplant – Our eggplant plants are gorgeous and lush and full of flowers, but we DO need a bit more heat to convert all the pretty purple flowers to fruit. A small but nice harvest this week.
Summer Squash – That’s all folks! The plants are done – leveled by squash bugs and two nights in the 30s. Enjoy!
Arugula – Back and at it’s best, this is the week to enjoy arugula on pizza, pasta and in pesto, since the basil was turned to goo by the near-frost.
String Beans – Yummy! These are just terrific tasting this year – and NO STRINGS! Enjoy very lightly cooked, is our recommendation. Our favorite way to enjoy these is lightly sautéed in a lidded skillet, then dressed with bacon and balsamic vinegar.
Broccoli – Oh, these lovely heads are getting sweeter by the day! DO enjoy the stems as well as the florets – a lot of the mildest, sweetest flavor is in the stems. If you slice the stems relatively
thin, they’ll cook up at the same rate at the florets. We love this steamed with tamari and sprinkled with sesame and seaweed.
Yellow Radishes – Absolutely delicious, mild and SO crunchy. LOVE these spread with butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper. A decadent, delicious appetizer, even more decadent if you spread the butter on a baguette slice and then put slices of radish on that. Garnish with a tiny piece of arugula or cilantro. EAT the greens, too! Ribbon up into your salad, or eat slightly wilted with warm bacon grease and crisp bacon crumbles on top. Even better, add a tiny bit of warm goat cheese on top of that!
Sweet Potatoes - We had a gorgeous crop of these, and we’ve only just started digging, so you can expect to see more of these in your boxes in the next few weeks. These, though, will be best if you let them sweeten up for just a few days. As they cure in your warm kitchen, lots of there starchiness with convert to sugar. Our absolute favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes is roasted and tossed with chili powder or a curry/cumin mix.
Brussels Sprout Leaves – These were a super hot item with chefs last fall, and with good reason – they are delicious! Treat just like a collard or kale leaf, only you’ll find these a lot more tender since they are the newest leaves from the top of the plant. To encourage the plants to put their energy into the sprouts instead of more height, we topped the plants this week and this is the harvest. Next week, we’ll get back into the kale and bring you some collards, but enjoy these as your cooking green this week. Try them roasted!
Oregano – You’ll want this for your fresh tomato sauces this week.
Onion and Garlic
Lots of pins this week over at the Farmer Kriss pinterest pages. Check them out!