Wild Ramps - from Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, Wisconsin
Baby Bok Choy
Asparagus - from PWFF and Mick Klug Farms, St. Joseph, MI
Red & Gold Beets
Mini Cucumber (to some)*
*Wilmette, Evanston, Deerfield, Northbrook, Lake Forest, Vernon Hills, Libertyville, Buffalo Grove and Glenview members will receive this week. Oak Park and Grayslake farm members will receive next week.
This Week's Egg Shares:
Due to their size, pullet eggs often only make it to our farmhouse kitchen, however, this week and next week, Egg Share members are receiving these "farmer's eggs," a springtime treat.
We collect these smaller-than-normal sized eggs from the nest boxes of our pullets, or young hens. Because these are among the first eggs ever laid by the young hens, typically about 4 months old, they produce medium eggs -- medium eggs are defined by the USDA as weighing 21 to 24 ounces per dozen, versus between 24 and 27 ounces per dozen for large eggs – every couple of days during the first month or so of their egg-laying careers. Research shows that ounce for ounce, the nutritional content of the yolks and the whites of pullet eggs is identical to that of large eggs. The pullet egg yolks are generally that same size as ones found in large eggs, but there is typically less white, which in the end, makes them richer in flavor. Chefs love their rich yolks and round sizes. Pullet eggs are perfect for baking, deviling, or simply frying.
Good evening from the farm!
Last week's newsletter welcomed all farm share members to the spring farming season. We're happy to be sharing the harvest with more spring share members this week.
We'd also like to introduce you to our 2021 Vegetable Production Farm Crew. They hail from Chicago and the Lake County suburbs, and, as usual, we all share a love of good food! Here's a bit about them and their favorite dishes to make at home.
From left to right, Abbey, our Assistant Farm Manager, joins us for her third season with us (fifth season farming) and she's a lover of "ugly" vegetable soup. She's a great cook, always willing to experiment with the less-than-perfect veggies from the field.
Laura, a first-year crew member with us (but not new to farming!), loves anything with broccoli rabe. While we aren't growing broccoli rabe this season, we are trialing a new sprouting broccoli variety that we hope will work out for both Laura's dishes and your own.
Ben is our Farm Harvest Lead this season, which means he manages our crew, harvest records and quality control in the field. His recent favorite homemade dish is a Chickpea Cauliflower Masala with a side of naan for scooping. Yum! Ben's love of being active and outdoors is obvious as his favorite vacation spots are hiking in Appalachia and the Great Smokey Mountains.
Peggy is a crew member who recently made a career change from software development into learning agriculture, as she hopes to start her own farm someday. Being career changers ourselves, we can relate to her passion for learning the art and science of local food growing. She's a fan of Cookie & Kate's Lentil Soup (in recipes below) which sounds like the perfect lunch to eat after a chilly morning harvest at the farm.
Tyler, our Farm Manager and longtime farming confidante, enjoys making a sidecar and cooking up anything with venison. When he's not farming, Tyler is an avid hunter and fisherman and he's also planted several fruiting trees and shrubs at his home. He's great at sourcing food locally!
Arlet and Alex J. (on the right side of the picture) helped us to test our handcrafted remay roller last week.
Arlet is in her fifth season working with us and leads our Wash Pack and training. She enjoys making chorizo with farm eggs. She's also generous, bringing sweet treats to celebrate crew members' birthdays, oftentimes sharing homemade tres leches cake and flan.
Alex J. is a first-year crew member with us but she's definitely not new to farming or working with local food artisans. Alex worked for a beginning farmer at the Prairie Crossing Farm Business Development Center years ago, so she's long been familiar with this farm, too. Her favorite dish to make is any dough (e.g., dumplings, pierogi or buns) filled with fun ingredients.
Always smiling, Alex P. is back for his second season with us as a crew member. When he's not farming, he's making music, coaching soccer, driving school buses, and generally giving kids in Chicago a friend to lean on. He, like many of us, is a lover of lasagna with its many variations with different cheeses, vegetable additions and meats.
Finally, even though farmer Jeff's favorite dish to make is sautéed, mixed greens with ramps, he made me my personal favorite for Mother's Day: beets! This beautiful raw beet salad was a sweet and refreshing side dish to his roasted chicken and homemade ramp focaccia. As always, my favorite dish is whatever anyone makes for me!
We're grateful every day for our creative, curious, caring and kind crew. We hope you'll meet them at some point this farming season.
From our whole team, we hope you enjoy this week's spring harvest! ~ Jen, Jeff, Tyler, Abbey, Arlet, Ben, Peggy, Alex P, Alex J, Laura
P.S. A few have mentioned that our every other week rotation between pickup sites can be confusing. You're right. We'll strive to better communicate each week who is picking up.
That said, thank you for your patience in managing this schedule with us. This is what community supported agriculture is all about. Your willingness to work with this schedule allows us, your farmers, to harvest towards more consistent numbers week after week. This consistency in numbers is also extremely helpful in our crop planning, planting, fertility management and even helps with our USDA organic certification process. So, we thank our community (you!) for supporting the complexities of growing diversified, specialized local food.
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Withthe warm spring temperatures and occasional rain, our asparagus started growing early and fast! However, we're now waiting on much needed rain and some heat. Our partner farmers and friends, Mick Klug Farm, are sharing their bountiful asparagus harvest with us this week to give our asparagus some time to grow.
Baby bok choy is one of our favorite spring crops because of its naturally sweet flavor, however, we're not alone in our love of this crop. Unfortunately, we've experienced an aphid outbreak in our hoophouse again this season. These unappetizing, sap-sucking insects have done a lot of damage to our young bok choy. Aphids have a lot of natural enemies -- ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, lacewings and others. But the aphids are more comfortable in cold weather than most of their natural enemies. So until the weather warms up, we will continue to have challenges with them.
We're planting flowers along the edges of our hoophouses to boost the beneficial insect populations and we're using natural sprays but despite our efforts, you may find some of the little bugs on your bok choy. Although we've rinsed with cold water, aphids don’t usually come off with a simple rinse in water because they adhere to the surface of the plants. So you have to swish them around in cold water that has a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of vinegar or a drop of soap in it. The vinegar, salt or soap act to reduce the surface tension between the aphids and the leaf. Leave the greens in the cold water for a few minutes, swish them around, drain and rinse the greens.
We're planting lettuces in regular successions now and they are thriving in the cooler weather! This week's red oak leaf lettuce is tender and varied in color throughout the inner leaves. You can expect to see a variety of lettuces throughout the season with our spring lettuces being the most delicate, summer lettuces being the most crispy and refreshing, and fall featuring delicate lettuces again.
Even during challenging times, we try to minimize our plastic packaging for members. To do this, we oftentimes combine produce (e.g., greens), which might be normally packaged separately, into one bag. Since most spring vegetables must be refrigerated in a plastic bag, please reuse these plastic packages. Keeping greens items in plastic helps prevent wilting. If arugula or another tender vegetable appears droopy, soak it in cold water for a few minutes, gently shake off the excess water, and refrigerate in a plastic bag until it perks up. Also, we rinse all the vegetables here at the farm, but you should always wash them thoroughly prior to eating.