Winter Season starting next week!

Dear all,

This is week 13 of the Autumn season and next week our winter season starts.  Thank you to everyone who has paid up front for the season, informed me of their weekly/ fortnightly payments and/or let me know if they like to make any changes to their regular order.  Feedback is very important as we like to make sure we get it right and hang on to the progress we have made recently.  We know that the cold and wet winter months are always a bit tougher than summer when everything just grows without much hassle.

Anja, one of our earliest CSA members in Wellington, came to the farmday  with her family 2 weeks ago and emailed me back with the following comment:

" Hi Josje, It was great to visit the farm last Sunday. I have more respect and appreciation for all your hard work, now that I have seen everythingwith my own eyes".

Another very nice comment we received from one of our very new members was: "We LOVE the veges and fruit!! Our kids said, "wow, we've never heard apples crunch like that!". It was very cute."

I always feel a bit anxious after sending new invoices out for the new season. Will our members be happy with what we do, what if they all drop out? and I dread opening the emails for your replies. However, I know we won't be able to satisfy everone's wishes and people come from different backgrounds and with different expectations. Thank you for the feedback so far (positive and negative), and please let us know before the new season starts next week what your plans are if you have not already.

From the feedback sofar I gather mainly 2 things: there is too much apple in the fruit share and everyone is keen on our organic pastured eggs. We could easily sell 4 times as many eggs than as we currently do!

Fruit Shares

The first one (the apples) is easy to address and we were going to do that from now on anyway. The main picking season for first grade fruit is as good as over, our own little cool store is full and we made the most of it by treating you with fresh crunchy tree picked apples straight from the tree into your bag. You cannot have it any fresher!  The seasons for fresh tree picked fruit are short, although we do not realize that anymore with year round produce from the supermarkets. 99% of NZ produced apples these days are going into expensive Temperature and Gas Controlled cool stores where the oxygen is taken out and some other gas is put in to stop them from getting old, soft and developing a crinkly skin. When ready to go the market they are transferred to another cool store, where they are slowly adjusted to the normal world and made ‘ready’ for resale.  The energy to produce an apple outside its normal season has increased significantly over the years and is more than the energy it will give you when you eat it!  Best is to eat them when they are in season and that is what we have trying to achieve by giving you a good share.  In the winter season you will receive our old fashion stored apples for as long as they are yummy to eat (please provide feedback when you think they are only useful as juicing material) and we will source other fruit to diversify the fruit shares.  I suggest to those who would like a half fruit share or one every fortnight to wait it out for another few weeks, to see if you still think the same.

Eggs

Light Sussex ChickensWith regards to the high demand for fresh WEF eggs, sorry we have no spare eggs to go around at the moment. This time of year, the chickens go through a change, lose their feathers and put all their energy into developing a fresh winter coat. With less daylight hours per day many of them (especially the older ones) just stop laying for a while.  Large commercial operations provide artificial light to keep them going, provide high input protein feed and restock their flock more often than we do. At the moment we are still staying under our 100 female chickens to make sure we comply with the New Zealand law and is very much a side operation.  We are rethinking our chickens as there is such high demand for eggs and are wondering if we should at least double it; make it more of a standalone operation, instead of the kids and me doing it next to everything else.  It either will grow slowly by natural breeding here on the farm which we started this year or we make a capital investment by buying say a 100 at the time.  Orphington RoosterThere are advantages and disadvantages to both systems, mainly slow and affordable as developments are spread out, or fast and costly as we would need to make a capital investment to buy chicks, buy or build chook houses at once, and apply for consents etc.  At the moment we are not able to set money aside for capital investments like increasing our chicken operation, repair the cherry block, or build a greenhouse for improved variety over the seasons.  But we are getting closer! Amber, one of our CSA members in Masterton has recently donated 3 very lovely Light Sussex female chickens that are too big for her back yard. The Light Sussex is a great dual purpose breed (good for meat and relatively good egg layers) and we have put them together with our Black Orphington Rooster. We are saving their eggs for our incubator and our first plan of action is to breed happy and strong chickens for spring production.  We’ll keep you up to date.

In your CSA Shares this week:

Fruit Share: 1.5 kg Braeburn Apples and 1 kg Apollo Feijoas.  I

t was only in New Zealand that I have come across feijoas and it has taken me many years to even try one as I found the taste to unfamiliar to anything else. However the kids adore them and I like them especially in a fruit crumble (half apple, half feijoa). Some cream on top while still warm from the oven.

Andrea emailed me a great recipe for the many apples that she has received while also having her own apple trees!:

“Here is a apple recipe from a French girl who stayed with us{passed down from her mother}...can you upload as v easy & no butter, a good way to deal with apples that are blemished-getting past best-by date ...can be add-libed also eg spices/cranberries.

Mix-3 c flour, 2 c sugar, 2 Tablespoons baking powder. Add- 3 lightly beaten eggs, 1 cup oil {I use canola not olive but could be other "mild" oil} 1 c yoghurt. Minimal mix together & then add 4 lg apples cubed-I leave the skin on.

Pop into a large or many small {ideal to then give away} tins & bake at 180 deg for 30 mins or so, should be a moist cake so don't overcook...will last 3-4 days.”  

Small Veggie Share: 1.2 kg Moonlight Potatoes (or 500 grams of Jerusalem Artichokes), 1-1.2 kg Pumpkin, 2 to 3 Leeks, 1 large Florence Fennel or 2 smaller ones and a bunch of Tararua spring grown Water Cress.

Large Veggie Share: 1.2 kg Moonlight Potatoes (or 500 grams of Jerusalem Artichokes), 1-1.2 kg Pumpkin, 2 to 3 Leeks, 1 large Florence Fennel or 2 smaller ones, 1 Celery, a bunch of Spring Onions, a bunch of Coriander, 280 grams of Courgette or a bag of Choho Oriental Spinach, 1 Broccoli and a bunch of Tararua spring grown Water Cress.

Hunters Cassarole, a recipe combining apples and potatoes

Ingredients: 1 kg peeled potatoes, salt, 250 grams of cooked meat or mince, 400 grams of tart apples (Braeburns are preftect for this), pinch of curry and salt, 2 onions, 200 ml stock, fresh breadcrumbs and some butter.

Boil the potatoes in salt water, cut in slices and mix with sliced apples and the meat. Add curry and salt. Layer with finely diced onions into an ovenproof dish. Pour stock over the last layer. Add breadcrumbs and diced butter. Cook in a medium hot oven.  Option: put parmesan cheese on top. Delicious dish hot out of the oven on a cold dark day!