Changes on the farm

Hi everyone,

Spring was in the air this week and I can see the first daffodils starting to poke their tops out of the soil. It won’t be long before the spring animals start hopping around. I put a new lot of chicken eggs in the incubator, thinking it’s a great start of the season. The days are starting to get a bit longer already and we can all feel it here.  A few more weeks until the main winter CSA season comes to an end and we move into spring. From there on it won’t be too long before the CSA shares start to change from mainly root crops to leafy greens.

Changes on the farm

As of last week Matt is fulltime back in Wellington. After a year and a half part time living and working on the farm it was time for a change. We will sorely miss his presence as his involvement helped us more than anything to grow the CSA. Matt will still be involved (I hope) in the background, helping with the development of the website and customer database.  Thanks Matt, without you I am almost certain we would have given up last year!

As a result of Matt leaving, but also because of hard winter growing times, we have decided to give the Hill Street market on Saturday’s a two month break.  It’s better to do one thing right, than two things half! Even though we very much appreciate our lovely regular weekly customers at Hill Street, we feel that our CSA members must come first, and as such we had to make the hard but important decision that produce and time is allocated to growing for the CSA.  Depending on what the weather gods bring we hope to be back in September! (Although we are starting to appreciate spending time with the kids on the soccer field and netball court).

Potatoes

Thanks for your replies on the potatoes; it’s been an interesting journey. A few weeks ago I wrote about the great natural way of storing root crops: in the ground and harvest when you need them. No need for electricity to chill, no need for artificial sprays to keep them in a good condition!

However, because of the very wet weather in June, some places in the garden got water logged for a few days and then a frost came on top. Effect:  Weaken the structure of the potatoes on the inside.  We then harvested them and gave them a good wash (which we always do) with the pressure hose.  We then let them dry and packed them the next day.

At that time we concluded that the pressure of the water did most of the damage; bruising the weakened potatoes. It takes a while before the damage comes to light and as such when we sorted and packed we did not see what was happening on the inside yet. We only realized this after feedback from some of you last week. Thank you so much!

So, lesson learned, we thought. We decided not to wash the potatoes as neatly (just get the bulk of the soil off) last week and see if this made a difference, we also changed the pressure on the water hose and rigorously sorted (thrown out over 50%) them hoping that we got most of them.

Now, after a few more weeks of checking and experimenting with different cleaning techniques, we think most of the damage is already happening in the ground.  We have stored potatoes for many years this way, but this is the first year we encounter this problem. We have had wet years in the past too. I now seem to think it’s the variety of potato. Past years we just grew the old heritage ones, the Moonlight variety is a new variety. Very nice and heavy cropper and has done very well for us over autumn. Maybe it’s not as hardy as the older varieties.  Frank just dug up another lot and we have to throw more than half away! What a shame!

Eggs & cartons

So now and then we receive an email or call from a member about our eggs. It goes something like this:

“I just wanted to query the eggs. re they from your chooks? They always come in free range egg boxes and I just wanted to make sure. I can only eat organic food because of a liver condition and I never eat free range because they can de-beak them and do other terrible things like battery farmed and they feed them bad food...Thanks so much.”

Please note that we re-use any clean egg cartons that come back to us to save us from having to buy packaging.  Our eggs, the ones you receive every week, are truly ours! We have around 60 happy laying chooks running around here under our olive trees, lots of shelter, good food and care. So, if you have any spare empty egg cartons, we love to get hold of them as we are always running out, especially the half dozen ones.

Turnip Greens and other greens

We send veggies out as much as possible with the tops attached. We do this, unlike most commercial places, as we realize that the tops of most crops are very useful and often even healthier than the root crops attached to them (and for which they are originally grown, e.g. carrots, beetroot and also turnips.)

As the leafy green tops have shorter storage potential as their roots, they are normally removed and discarded. Luckily we do not have to do that as we send them directly to you, and it is up to you to make the most use out of them. It’s like having an extra present that you were not expecting!.

The turnip or white turnip is a root vegetable mainly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Turnip Greens are the tops of the plant and resemble mustard greens in flavour. The strong flavour of the larger leaves can be reduced by pouring off the water from initial boiling and replacing it with fresh water.

Storage: Best way to store the greens is to remove them from the root bulbs, wash and drain and cook/eat within next few days. Turnip roots can be stored longer than the greens. Either loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the crisper of your fridge or in a root cellar.  Like any root vegetable, turnips want a cool, dry and dark environment.

Tips for Preparing Turnip Greens

Rinse turnip greens under cold running water. Chop greens into small slices for quick and even cooking. To get the most health benefits from turnip greens, we recommend letting them sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit may be able to help activate their myrosinase enzymes and increase formation of beneficial isothiocyanates in the greens.

The Healthiest Way of Cooking Turnip Greens

We recommend Healthy Steaming turnip greens for maximum nutrition and flavour. Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with 5 cm of water. While waiting for the water to come to a rapid boil, chop greens. Steam for 5 minutes and toss with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 medium clove garlic (pressed or chopped), 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil salt, and black pepper to taste . Top with your favourite optional ingredients.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  • Serve healthy sautéed turnip greens seasoned with some soy sauce, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.
  • Make a simple meal with a little Mexican inspiration. Serve cooked turnip greens with beans and rice.
  • Healthy sauté turnip greens, sweet potatoes and tofu, and serve alongside your favorite grain.
  • Use turnip greens in addition to spinach when making vegetarian lasagna.

Your CSA shares this week:

Fruit Share: 2 kg apples and around 800 grams of pears.

Small Veggie Share: A cauliflower, 400 grams of beetroot, 1 leek, 1 kg pumpkin, a bag of perpetual spinach or kale and a sprig of rosemary.

Large Veggie Share: A cauliflower, 400 grams of beetroot, 1 leek, 1 kg pumpkin, either a bag of perpetual spinach or kale, pak choy, silverbeet, a bunch of parsley, 1 kg of potatoes, and a sprig of rosemary.

GE and other interesting happenings

While on the web researching for my newsletter blog and moving from one to another video link I got flabbergasted with the amazingly different way of thinking we humans seem to possess. One extreme view can be seen here : a  GE discussion on a Canadian TV show a few weeks ago (http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/TV+Shows/Lang+%26+O%27Leary+Exchange/ID/2387888169/,) I was glad to then move on to an awesome video made by Woody Harrelson sharing some powerful thoughts. The video contains a message that touches us all and is riddled with truth throughout. http://www.collective-evolution.com/2010/05/06/woody-harrelson-thoughts-from-within/. A good start to the new week.  I think I need to go outside and sit under a tree now too to calm me down!

Have a great week,

Josje and the farm team