Farmily Appreciation, Trouble w/ ‘Curbits, & Growing A Revolution

Just, Thanks - From the Family

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For everyone who is wondering, Elias and fam are doing really well. We deeply appreciate all of the words of congratulation, the small gifts, the prepared food, the cups of coffee. Especially the cups of coffee. With most every “how’s the baby?” and “hey, here’s a cup of coffee because you probably need it,” I think about the foundation on which all of this, the farm, the family, the CSA, has been built. I’m not sure I can adequately fit seven+ years worth of farm history into a paragraph to illustrate how great our community really is, but I do want to express our gratitude for every CSA member, every fellow farmer/maker, and the farmers, Nathan and Michelle Howell and Martin and Joleen Stone among several others, for founding Community Farmers Market, the market we consider not only our primary place of business, but our second home. As much as our thriving depends on healthy soil, so too does it depend on healthy community. The two, together, have given us a profound sense of place, something we longed for since first reading The Art of the Common Place by Wendell Berry, or in Jordan’s case Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, seven years ago.

Speaking of a sense of place, we’ve been planning for our second Winter season on the new-to-us farm. In the five years we’ve been farming for a living, we’ve started over four times, so it’s a welcome change to know we’re not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Not only are we planning what to grow for Winter CSA, we’re also seeding beds to cover crops to improve them for next Spring (i.e. keeping roots in the soil to hold it in place and feed the soil biology). Be ready for details and openings beginning next week!

Trouble with Cucurbits

“A continuously happy life produces extremely unhappy consequences. In nature we see that there are not always pleasant springs and fruitful summers, and sometimes autumn is rainy and winter cold and snowy, and there is flooding and wind and storms, and moreover the crops fail and there are famine, troubles, sicknesses and many other misfortunes. All of this is beneficial so that man might learn through prudence, patience and humility. For the most part, in times of plenty he forgets himself, but in times of various sorrows he becomes more attentive to his salvation.”

St. Ambrose of Optima

Presently, however, we’re still struggling with our cucurbit crops. Our second planting has already come and gone, with little squash and zucchini to speak of and no cucumber, yet again. The third succession is still a couple of weeks away from producing—third times a charm?—and we’re going to do what we can within our scope of practice. But, we may also have to rethink our approach to this family of crops entirely next year. There is an idea in the growing body of research on soil biology that asserts healthy soil microbiology (think of it as the soil microbiome) directly supports the immune system of healthy plants, making them naturally more resistant to pest and disease, exactly the same way that healthy human beings are more resilient. Sometimes, even the most healthy of people need an intervention, and we’re doing our best to figure out where to draw the line in the short-term without negatively effecting our long-term goals. Healthy soil doesn’t happen overnight, it may take a few seasons and we’re hesitant to intervene in a manner that would take two steps back. Again, the line between ideals and the real-world collide. Fortunately, we grow many different crops, and the failure of one or two isn’t as disastrous as it could otherwise be. There are still several crops in the field doing really well.

Growing a Revolution

“There is no profession which for its successful practice requires a larger extent of knowledge than agriculture, and none in which the actual ignorance is greater.”

Justus von Liebig

I recently listened to David Montgomery’s new book, Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life. If you’re interested about the present state and future of agriculture, you should absolutely read it (or listen to it on Audible, it’s still audiobook season ‘round here). There is a lot going on at the grass roots level within agriculture to be hopeful about, both large and small and it’s capacity to not only stop being so vulnerable in the face of climate change, dependent upon expensive chemicals, and downright unprofitable, but be a major part of the climate solution, become more self-reliant, and more profitable while doing so. Spoiler alert: no-till farming and it’s handful of principles are mentioned repeatedly throughout.

There is a chapter in the book dedicated to the changes going on at the ground level in the mid-West. More farmers are adopting no-till strategies on a large scale.What stood out to me, personally, was an anecdote about one of the older sons of an early adopter being perplexed at seeing a farm till a field for the first time. One of the greatest barriers to a no/low-till future is cultural, the sentiment that it’s just not the way it’s been done for the last few generations, or that is just can’t work (i.e. feed the world). A common theme through the book is that the greatest change has not come from the top down, but from the bottom up, and has even greater potential for the upcoming generation. It’s particularly powerful for myself, having just welcomed our third child into the world two weeks ago, to know that the work we are doing today to promote not only forward-looking farming practices, but the work others in the community are doing around local food to bring more farmers and eaters to the local table, may become common sense for our children who go on to farm or support farmers on a regular basis, or for those we apprentice and send out to farm.

“A person with a new idea is a crank, until he succeeds.”

Mark Twain

StoneHouse CSA

A quick note about Winter CSA, current CSA members get priority. If you’d like to continue through the Winter (November through April), please RSVP so we know how many shares we will have available for new members. There is always a greater demand for Winter CSA, so let us know as soon as possible, please. If you’re able, we’ll give you a 10% early baby discount on the amount you contribute.

The beans are just beginning to fill out, so we may have enough for everyone this week, and they should be making a regular appearance in the CSA for the rest of the Summer. The first round of tomatoes are is in full swing and the peppers are beginning to ripen. Unfortunately, the second round of squash, zucchini, and cucumber are through prematurely, so we’re waiting on the third planting… I don’t want to talk about it.

Here’s what you can expect in your share this week:

  • Slicer Tomatoes

  • Heirloom Tomato (Black Krim)

  • Shishito Peppers

  • Pablano Peppers

  • Green Beans (?)

  • Potatoes

  • Scallions

  • Fresh Basil
    If you’re ready to put a batch of pesto in the freezer, we’re selling grocery bags of basil and a head of garlic for $10 (we made well over a quart with that amount and still had some left over). All you need is olive oil and your choice of nut, Just send us a message before your pick-up day.

Here’s a few recipe ideas we’ve come across (links in bold)…

When in doubt, roast.

When in doubt, roast.

  1. Blistered shishitos. These are fast, simple, and make THE. BEST. appetizers. We prefer to finish with sea salt and lemon juice.

  2. Shakshuka. Probably our favorite way to burn through a pile of tomatoes, peppers, and eggs. The basic idea is simple, but leaves room for plenty of variation.

  3. Grilled scallions. Yes, are scallions are the size of small leeks, which actually amesk them better for grilling. We’ve not tried this one, yet, but I’ve heard from several folks, “why have we not been cooking them this way our entire life!”

  4. Roasted medley. When in doubt, roast it. When Jordan is at a loss for what to do with a pile of veg on the counter, it gets quartered, coated in olive oil, tossed with sea salt and herbs, and roasted on 450F for about an hour(ish).

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