Weekly CSA Newsletter: October 15-21, 2006 (Week #19)

In This Issue:

  1. This week's share may include: ...
  2. Pick-Your-Own Crops and Information
  3. Notes from the Field - Frost
  4. Recipes
  5. Upcoming Events: LAST Third Sunday Gathering October 15th at 4 PM
  6. CFO Contact Information

1. This week's share may include

  • Bok Choy
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Winter Squash
  • Lettuce
  • Swiss Chard
  • Collards
  • Leeks

Next week is the final distribution! Come pick up winter squash and root veggies for the late fall and winter and say good-bye to the farm for another season.

Winter share distributions are November 19 and December 17 from 2-6 PM under the distribution shelter at the farm.

2. Pick-Your-Own Crops

  • Cilantro / Dill / Parsley

All shareholders are invited to pick your own from 9 AM to 7:30 PM on Sundays and from 3 PM to 7:30 PM on Thursdays. Please visit the PYO station near the red shed for locations of crops and all PYO tools and materials.

3. Notes from the Field - Frost

This is the time of year when a vegetable garden needs a frost. The gardener himself secretly wishes for a frost, though it isn't quite cricket to come right out and say so. Openly he is expected to brag about the tomatoes he still has ripening. Actually, he has ripened just about enough tomatoes for this year.

We had our first frost of the season on Saturday night. Well, not quite our firstfrost. There have been hints for weeks - brown spots on the basil, wilted galinsoga in chilly spots in the chard, crispy leaves on the beans in the morning. But these frosts were fleeting, unpredicted by weather reports and gone by the time we arrived in the morning. On Saturday, however, when my visiting parents and I arrived home from the Topsfield Fair and checked the weather, the National Weather Service was reporting a predicted overnight low of 33 degrees, with a freeze warning in effect for Waltham. I had a feeling that this was for real.

Our Field Station fields are among the first places in Waltham to see a frost when it happens - they are wide open, unprotected by trees, and down at the bottom of some of the local hills where the cold air settles in the early morning hours. Our fields at the Lyman Estate, on the other hand, are surrounded by woods, with the brook running by, and often go weeks later in the fall without a true frost. At the Lyman Estate, we had unprotected eggplant that would probably make it through the night. At the Field Station, we had been expecting to lose our tomatoes, basil, peppers and beans with the first frost, and we had done a 'final' harvest of some of those crops just to be sure.

When I saw the weather report, though, something in me still called me to the farm. I needed to make sure that the thermostat on the greenhouse, where all the sweet potatoes and winter squash are curing, would not go below 45 degrees, and check up on some of the younger crops that might need a light covering to get through the night undamaged. Under an imperceptibly waning moon, my parents and I came to the fields at twilight to blanket some lettuce with reemay. We harvested some last peppers and some basil. We closed up the hoophouse, where some tender winter greens had just been planted, and checked the thermostat on the heater in the greenhouse. We watched the sun go down and resigned the rest of the crops to the night.

There is something beautiful about the first frost on a vegetable farm that is hard to explain to folks who have not experienced it. For many people, the idea of crops killed by the frost is connected with a melancholy feeling that autumn brings, the uncomfortable stirrings of transition, the altered sunlight slanting towards the shortest day. Although fall in New England is one of the most beautiful times of the year, many of us experience it with a pang of longing, realizing that we'll soon be deep in the dark days of winter, more housebound and bundled up than we would wish.

For me as a farmer, however, the first frost - an explicit, uncontrollable ending to crops that our whole crew has labored hard to protect - is an unambiguously joyful occasion. Every year it brings me up short in what can only be described as reverence. Every year I am filled with gratitude for the unmistakable signs of completion, the coming of rest, and the chance to try again next year that are evident everywhere in autumn, and are so rare in other realms of life.

That's one of the best things about nature in a land of four seasons - frost comes and puts an end to the succulent growing things. No garden should endure, with all its dividends and demands, more than about six months a year. The other six months one should be allowed to rest and dream and yearn and get rid of the calluses.

When we woke up on Sunday morning, nothing in my backyard on the South Side of Waltham was touched by frost. My father, warm and cozy in his hotel room, told me on the telephone that he was sure it had not frosted. As we made the drive to the farm, though, frost began to appear on the roofs and in all the shaded hollows along Beaver Street. When we arrived at the fields, the thermometer stood at 34 degrees, the compost was steaming in the cold morning air, and the basil hung limp and brown in the light of the rising sun.

Hail the frost! Hail the blackened vine! Let those who make green-tomato pickles have those green tomatoes! The corn stands sere and stripped, the beans are rustling in the wind, the death rattle in their dried pods. The squash have given up. The lettuce has all bolted. Put away the hoe, close the garden gate, and let it frost.

Of course, the season does not end with the first frost. We still have lots of food in the fields, much of which gets better with the frost. We have fields to clean up and equipment to repair and maintain. We have meals to prepare and reports to write and a CSA shareholder survey to distribute. Thanks to my parents, we have lettuce to nuture along. There will be other frosts, and other lovely mornings, and other thanksgivings. For one morning, though, it was enough to celebrate one ending and be grateful. Hope you enjoy the harvest.

Amanda Cather, with quotations fromHal Borland, Twelve Moons of the Year

4. Recipes

Green Curry

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 2-3 teaspoons green curry paste*
  • 1-1.5 cups chicken breast, beef or pork, cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1.5-2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1.5-2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 chili peppers (seeded, split lengthwise)
  • 5-6 magrood leaves (also known as kaffir lime leaves)*
  • 4-5 sprigs of sweet basil (optional)*
  • 1.5 cups sliced green/red peppers and bamboo shoots**

* These ingredients can be found at Asian food markets.
** Instead of canned bamboo shoots, try using other farm vegetables

Method:

  1. Put about 0.5 cups of the thick coconut milk in a wok or non-stick pan. (Coconut milk often separates in the can with the thick fatty part rises to the top.) Bring to a boil over medium heat. Then simmer until the oil separates from the milk fat and rises to the top.
  2. Turn the heat to medium and add the green curry paste and stir it into the coconut milk mixture. Stir for several minutes.
  3. Add the meat, fish sauce, magrood leaves. Stir fry until the meat is nearly cooked.
  4. Add the remaining coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the sugar, peas, peppers, chili peppers and other vegies to the mixture.*** Stir well and continue to cook slowly until the mixture boils again.
  6. Add the sweet basil and remove and serve.

*** Consider par-boiling any vegetables that don't cook quickly. For instance, hard vegetables like broccoli and carrots can be placed in boiling water for 2 minutes and then blanched in cold water. They'll be basically cooked after that, and you can add them into the recipe to finish heating/cooking with the other vegetables.

Great Autumn Raw Salad

by Jen Shepherd

  • 1 medium-sized winter squash (the sweeter varieties are best; I use kabocha)
  • fresh ginger root (1/4 size of the winter squash)
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 beets
  • 1-2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • Flax oil (found in refrigerator section of vitamin aisle in health food shops)
  • Add-in's: soy nuts, goat cheese, tofu, etc.

Peel ginger root & beets; simply wash/scrub carrots & winter squash (the squash skin gives the salad a nice crunch). Cube everything about 2x2 inches. Chop well in a food processer. Mix everything together and add in fennel seeds, flax oil, and any other add-in's (though it just lovely raw).

Note: all ingredients can be adjusted according to taste. I personally like to add a lot more ginger than suggested here, but not everyone likes it this spicy. Also, flax oil is an acquired taste. I think it has tones of honey, but I know a lot of folks who would disagree. Any oil would work, but the flax compliments the sweetness of the of the other ingredients.

5. Upcoming events

Sunday, October 15th, 4:00 pm Third Sunday Gathering (the last of the season!)

Third Sunday Gatherings: The third Sunday of every month we host an informal gathering of members, shareholders and supporters. This is a chance to connect with other farm-friendly folks. The gatherings are scheduled to begin at 4:00 PM. Meet near the distribution shelter. Third Sunday Gatherings begin in May and are held through the third Sunday in October. The Third Sunday of November will be a harvest potluck and CFO's Annual Meeting will now be held in January 2007 (date TBD).

6. Contact Information

To reach us:

Community Farms Outreach is a nonprofit organization dedicated to farmland preservation, hunger relief, and education.

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