We had several firsts here on the farm during this recent week of holiday festivities. This was the first time that Rusty has dressed up and celebrated Halloween. Prior to this, he was too young to understand or get excited, especially since we live far away from the raucous public trick-or-treating aspect of the day (no trick-or-treaters out here!). I made him a little ghost costume from two pillowcases. It was more than a bit funky, but he’s young enough to still appreciate my effort, and I learned that a little facepaint goes a long way toward turning funky into fabulous. He was the cutest little ghost I have ever seen.
For us Halloween was mostly about the dressing up (two days in a row, for different occasions) — we didn’t do any candy or major partying. But Halloween still represents a significant turning point in our yearly rhythms. While September and October bring some sighs of relief, November brings the real rest of the season, which will last through to the beginning of January. Although you wouldn’t know it with the continued balmy weather (with stormy interludes), but the next three months will bring us the coldest and wettest days of the year. This is when the world says to us on some mornings: “Enough! You cannot possibly work outside today! Take some time to catch up on paperwork and change the oil on the tractor!” And, we gladly listen!
Following up closely behind Halloween, our family also observed Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) for the first time. We are blessed that our children haven’t weathered any significant losses of their own yet, but Casey and I had many people we wanted to remember. And, so we gathered photos and heirlooms and other items on a shelf to honor them during this quiet time of year. We were filled with a warm, bittersweet joy looking at the assembled items and recalling the people we have loved and who have loved us and are now gone.
And, at this pause in the year, contemporary life gave us another little gift — an extra hour this weekend, creating what felt like two longer than normal days. We filled that time with togetherness, playing elaborate imaginary games in our living room and walking to the river to collect rocks and look at mushrooms along the way.
With the continued breaks in the weather, Casey has been putting fields to bed for the winter too. Last week, before our first frost of the season, the crew harvested the last of the summer squash and peppers and pulled the plants so Casey could disc and sow cover crops. Each field turned in and sown is a bit of closure for our farm — this season done now so that we can pause and absorb it all before jumping back in again in the new year.
Extra time in every direction. More darkness in our days. Room to breathe and think and play. These are gifts of this season. I enjoy the return to contemplation and observation. To creating things quietly in the evening. My hands have begun to itch to finish holiday crafts that I have been slowly working on for months. Even though I start things earlier in the year, these upcoming long nights are the proper time to get out needles and embroidery floss and yarn and really get busy on the minor little handmade things that bring extra beauty into our family and home.
While we are enjoying the feeling of closure this season is bringing (including the upcoming end of our 2013 Veggie CSA season), we are already looking forward to our 2014 season and the return to our CSA roots. May you too be enjoying the recent turning and the new (temporarily) brighter early morning hours, and may you too begin joyfully looking forward to 2014. A good start would be turning in your 2014 CSA Commitment Form (see below for some more info!
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
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FAQ questions about our 2014 CSA: We’ve received a few questions about how things are going to work in 2014 with our two CSA programs, and I thought I’d address some of them here. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Why the change for the veggie program? Those of you who have been with us for more than three seasons will remember that this is how we operated our farm’s popular CSA for the first four seasons. There was a moment in time when it felt like it made sense to change things up, so we did. Factors have shifted again, and we are excited to return to a more traditional model of vegetable CSA, wherein each member receives a thoughtfully harvested share of produce each week, selected by us for beauty, freshness, and variety.
How do I go from a 5 item share to this bigger size? We’ve always had members who, for whatever reason, can’t consume a whole share on their own each week. If you currently have a medium share, in 2014, you have a couple of options: to find a friend/co-worker/neighbor to split a share with you or to increase your consumption of vegetables by trialing new recipes and eating at home more.
Re: sharing a share — there are different ways to do this. Some people who share meet at pick-up with their share partner and split up the produce together. Others switch weeks for picking up. In other cases, one person always picks up and delivers half of the items or produce to their partner. There are many options!
If you would like to stretch yourself and try the share on your own, I am happy to help people find more ways to eat vegetables — our household consumes vast amounts in our daily simple food, and I delight in helping other people really truly fall in love with vegetables as a staple food. I will be sure to pack our 2014 newsletters with serving ideas for the vegetables. My love for cooking produce knows no end! I could talk about the benefits and joys of eating vegetables all day long!
What is the “Full Diet CSA”? I have mentioned this casually a few times in newsletters recently, offering that if folks want to really increase their eating of farm fresh food that they should contact us. But perhaps you need a bit more info to get started? Our Full Diet CSA is a truly radical model of eating — members pay a flat rate for the year based on number of people in their household and ages of children. Then each week they come here to the farm to pick up their food. We provide vegetables, of course, but also farm fresh fruit, eggs, meat, milk, nuts, and a few ground flours (all gluten free). We don’t assign quantities to anything — people select their share on a “free choice” model. That means that they take what they want to eat that week. Some households may take home ten bunches of kale, others just two. There are some upper limits on the eggs and meat (although those are both going up in 2014), but otherwise, people experience the fabulous abundance of the farm in a new way! 2013 was our first year doing this CSA model, and it has been very cool. I’d be happy to provide more details to anyone interested in joining in 2014.
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Holiday harvest coming up! We’re having our annual Holiday Harvest again this November. If you’re new, this is an opportunity for you to place a special order for items you would like to serve at your holiday meal (or just for your household to eat during our winter break from the CSA). We’ll have one Holiday Harvest in November and possibly another one just before Christmas. I’ll post more details in upcoming newsletters!
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Meet this week’s vegetables:
- Brussels sprouts
- Delicata winter squash
- Salad mix
- Carrots — We’ve given out carrots almost every week all year. It feels like a vegetable that needs no introduction, and yet as fall turns dark and cold, I find myself thinking of the carrot with renewed appreciation. Even though we might munch on carrot sticks happily throughout the summer (oh so good for dipping at picnic lunches!), now I want to slow cook our carrots in butter or roast until crispy. Long ago, some CSA members introduced us to one of our all-time favorite carrot preparations. They called them “butter carrots,” because of the cooking method and resulting flavor. It’s pretty simple but requires some forethought — simple chop you carrots into similar-sized discs and then put in a pan with butter or oil and set to low-med heat. Stir occasionally, but mostly just let the carrots sizzle away. The edges will eventually start to caramelize. The kids eat these by the fistful. Casey and I usually use them as a garnish on a salad or other dish. They pack a lot of awesome flavor.
- Sunchokes — If you need a sunchoke reminder, I posted about them in our veggie list a few weeks ago. If you haven’t given them a try yet, I highly recommend doing so. These are a wonderful winter root vegetable suitable to many uses!
- Yellow onions or leeks — A note about the leeks we’re giving out — these are “summer” leeks, which means that they are bred to be extra tender (too tender for over-wintering, hence the summer distinction). The long stalk is tender all the way to where the leaves branch at the top, making for a whole lot of tasty leek to eat. I use them in place of onions in cooked dishes when I want an extra special flavor. It’s hard to describe the difference in the flavors, but I think of leeks as perhaps more savory??? However you describe it, it is delightful! I wash the leeks and then slice them lengthwise and then chop into little “half moon” shapes. I sauté these well in a pan with plenty of oil — I like to cook them until they are tender and turning transparent. Then I add whatever else I am cooking — greens, peppers, roots, etc.