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Week number 12 is already upon us… today I want to explain some of what goes on on the farm so members have a better understanding of how things work day-to day.

THE EMPLOYEES: Almost weekly we have to hire new people as some people don’t show up, quit, get fired. The staff that packs is constantly changing and even some of our more senior staff that have been with us for years are leaving. It is very difficult to find quality workers that want to do this kind of work. Even if you pay well, people are not used to the long hours and physical nature of farm work. In addition, the seasonal nature of produce farming does not offer employees stability so they are always looking for another job. Winter CSAs have helped a little bit but only enough to keep 2-4 out of 25 or so employees.

THE WEATHER: Never predictable. Always changing. This stresses the plants, animals, and humans on the farm. This year we have had many extremes. Very hot weather which caused otherwise staggered plantings—such as melons, greens, peppers, eggplants—to mature at once. Now we are in a cool wet spell which has caused late blight again and has spread to our tomatoes and potatoes. Even though the hot dry weather was intialy good to mature crops early, it also destroyed some of most sensitive and stressed the surrounding vegetation which caused all the wildlife to eat at the local smorgasbord (Norwich Meadows Oasis of course). So we are battling the deer, raccoons, woodchucks, rabbits, and bugs.

THE FARMERS: we are under constant pressure to keep an even keel on ship that has direction but cannot predict the seas and is at the mercy of all the unexpected circumstances. Agriculture is subject to biological functions that cannot be controlled easily. Unlike widget making that is under a roof and can be produced in an industrial fashion, we are constantly guessing, praying, hoping, that things turn out OK. There are not a lot of aspiring farmers and there is a shortage of trained people in agriculture. The price structure and perishable nature of our product do not allow us to wait for a better price or store for later.

An example of what we deal with on a daily basis:
The ugly: Yesterday we came back with half a truck load of produce because it rained both Sunday and Monday (less cash flow and more compost) This same truck needed to be unloaded, washed, and loaded for Wed CSAs. It took 3 people until 11PM to load it and deal with the returned vegetables. This morning, a water line ruptured and delayed chicken and vegetable processing.

The good: The bright side is that we love what we do and have a great loyal following amongst our CSA members and farmers market customers. We have had a not so bad crop this year, despite the losses and we are hoping for a good fall crop. One of our tomatoes placed second in a taste testing.

Other points that need to be conveyed to members: Good tasting heirloom tomatoes must be picked ripe which means they will have splits and can be soft. People must refrain from squeezing and over handling the produce especially these tomatoes as they will be damaged. For example, at the farmers market despite all our efforts we compost and or sample of each market day anywhere from 200-400 lbs of mostly heirloom tomatoes that are soft or bruised from handling!

The value of a share containing 3-4 lbs of heirloom tomatoes only is way more than what people pay and if we have a shortfall in produce due to a compressed season we will take the increased value into consideration.

– Zaid

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What’s better than fresh roasted corn on the cob? Well, a bunch of them! Get ready to enjoy a whole bag of fresh corn this week (¡Por fin!). And to pepper your grilling experience add mini bells, squashes, tomatoes, and more. All fresh from the farm.

This week share:
– Squash
– Tomatoes
– Garlic
– Melons
– Greens
– cabbage
– Peppers
– Mini Bell
– And… 1 bag of Corn

Fruit shares include:
– Italian plums
– Peaches

See you all tonite!

Is mid August already and we are still planting a few items for fall and winter. Everybody is working hard to harvest and prep (drying and cleaning onions and garlic) and starting to make pickles and other value added products.

We are at peak harvest now and things like watermelons and melons will be done soon. The heat compressed the melon season from our normal 6 weeks to about 3-4 weeks. Other affected crops are eggplants, peppers, and greens.

Enjoy the variety while it lasts!

Farm visit
We are getting requests for farm visits, please talk among yourselves and see if we can agree on a date. Mid October is a suggested date.

– Zaid

by Becky Striepe

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are getting more and more common. Rather than head to the grocery store for your weekly produce fix, you sign on to support a local farmer for the season and in return you get a fresh box of local, often organic produce each week! CSAs are a great way to reduce your food miles and support the local economy while filling your veggie drawer with healthy eats.

Our CSA basket arrives on Wednesdays, which can make it a little tricky to plan for. Weekends are traditionally when we head to the grocery store to stock our kitchen, so this mid-week arrival sort of throws things off. Some other folks have mentioned a similar challenge with CSA deliveries. Since you don’t know what you’re going to get, it’s tough to plan menus and keep the kitchen stocked properly.

With a little bit of planning and a few key staples, though, it’s easy as pie to get your pantry CSA ready!

Want to know what to stack your pantry with? Read the complete article

Summer veggies and fruits are finally here. There’re tomatoes again this week, including new varieties. Yay! We’re hoping to have enough to preserve them for winter. Do you can? If you do, let us know. Would love to organize a “canning” workshop but need pros.

On storage for the week:
– Cucumbers
– Squash
– Greens (Kale and or Chard)
– Melons
– Tomatoes
– Carrots
– Tomatillo or Eggplant
– Basil
– Cherry Tomatoes

Fruit shares include:
– Peaches
– Plums

Oh! Chutneys are another great way to store fruit. Check Angel’s recipe. You won’t be disappointed.

The heat wave has shifted our peak season by about two weeks, so CSAs will be getting melons now instead of in late August. In fact, some of our melon varieties will be done this week.

Every week and every season brings on new challenges and nothing is the same. Last week, we got a message from cooperative extension that late blight was found in Chenango Count. Ramadan started today and the Egyptian crew is both happy and anxious as they will have to work in this heat.

It looks like it will cool down for us somehow. Fordham will be joining us for the fall and Farmshare will be advertising the winter share already. What happened to summer?!

– Zaid

Guess what? We have squash again this week! But worry not: tomatoes, melons, peppers, and beets make this week share well worth. (Will have to wait till next for the Napas though.) Here’s the distribution list.

Veggie share:
– Squash
– Cucumber
– Eggplant
– Melons
– Carrots
– Tomato
– Beets
– Peppers
– Kale

FRUIT SHARES
– Peaches
– Plums

NOTE: Ozone Park may receive blueberries instead of plums.

Napa cabbage: Beyond slaw
by Chris Perrin

Looking for a healthy crunch? Need something to wrap, wok or roll? Have you tried napa cabbage? Napa cabbage is an Asian vegetable that resembles regular green cabbage, but is longer and oval-shaped. Napa cabbage has slightly more protein and fewer calories than regular cabbage and a unique taste like a mild celery or bok choy. Here are eight things you can do with this very versatile veggie.

1. Napa Cabbage Rolls
2. Quick Kimchi
3. Napa Cabbage Stir-Fry
4. Napa Cabbage Slaw
5. Braised Napa Cabbage
6. Napa Cabbage Spring Rolls
7. Napa Cabbage Taco Topping
8. Napa Cabbage Soup

Read the complete article for descriptions and more.

In my hometown of Buffalo there used to be this restaurant situated across the Niagara River called “Old Man River”.  It was ol’ shack of a place that served up your normal greasy fare – hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, rings, shakes, etc… I fell in love with one item on their menu called the Bunny Dog.  Basically,  it was just a grilled carrot placed in a hot dog bun. I’d put all the regular fixins’ on it – ketchup, mustard and relish – and it would turn into the yummiest vegetarian hot dog I have ever tasted.

Well,  Old man River has sinced closed (sob!), but the Bunny Dog remains alive at my house. Last night we grilled some of the CSA carrots on the grill for about 30 minutes.  I then placed in a toasted hot dog roll and added some ketchup and a tad of mustard and ouila! homemade, ORGANIC bunny dog!  It tasted delicious and brought back memories of my youthful vegetarian years. sigh.

***UPDATE. I just googled Old Man River and it seems NOT to be closed?! Perhaps they reopened cause I thought it went out of business. Well, hmm, this is great news and I’ll make sure to visit next time I’m in town.

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