Monday, August 27, 2012

Watershed Farm CSA - 28 August 2012 - Delivery #11

Red sun at 6 am this morning

Hi everyone!

It was great to see those of you who made it out to the Growing Green Sustainability Festival in Bridgewater this past Saturday!  It was a busy event, and because of it I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain why we are a sustainable farm.  First and foremost, we don't rely on chemicals for fertilization, weed, or pest control, and use organic methods that are far less resource intensive and healthier for the earth, including using human power rather than tractor power wherever possible.  Another thing that makes us a sustainable farm is our connection to the community: at the farmer's markets and even more so through the CSA, which you are so importantly a part of.  Being connected to local markets and people who care about local food puts us in a position to produce food outside of the conventional food system, without which a small farm would not possibly be viable.  You see, we couldn't compete with the economies of scale operating in big business, so by having people like you who appreciate the freshness, seasonality, and locality of our produce over the grocery store we are making great progress towards a more sustainable food system.  To quote our 2012 brochure: "Only 12% of the food we eat is grown in Nova Scotia.  The average distance food travels before it reaches Nova Scotian supermarkets is 4,000 kilometers".  So as you can see, you, our valued CSA members, help make us a sustainable farm! 

Moving the turkeys to a fresh pasture this afternoon. 

We are fortunate to have our friend James from Calgary visiting and WWOOFing for the next couple of weeks.  He worked with us in our previous jobs, so comes with a wealth of produce post-harvest handling and quality control standards, but of course is totally new to the hands-on farming part and so far seems to be loving it!  He especially gets along well with the chickens, and has even done some chicken and turkey "wrangling".  Tomorrow we are taking a tourist retreat so he can see the Bay of Fundy.

Here on the farm we are working on a re-vamped irrigation system since the pond went dry and we now have a snazzy new drilled well.  It's still being figured out, but in the meantime we are able to run the irrigation lines, which is essential, especially for the greenhouses and other covered growing areas. 
The two chicken flocks became one last week, which not only makes egg collecting easier, but also will help break the parasite cycle on some mites that are affecting the chicken's feet.  They will all return to the coop in a couple of months for the winter, but for now will enjoy the second growth of grass coming up in our recently hayed field. That brings up a note that we should still be able to squeeze in a few more egg shares, as some of yours are finishing up.  Email me if you would like 5 more dozen eggs for the remainder of the season! 
Some other residents that are thoroughly enjoying the fresh grass are our flock of sheep, which is now up to 9 with the 4 new lambs so fat they are hard to tell from their mothers!  I actually can't believe how fast they grow, from earlier in the season when I was able to hold them in my arms!  I am including a photo of both, so you can see the difference!

This little lamb I'm holding is now almost the same size as his mother!  He is second- or third- in from the right of the photo above.

We tried to take a photo of me holding him now, but since there was no way we were going to be able to catch him, Lisa helped me get an "action shot"!  If you believe it, the one I'm holding in the photo from May 1 is the same one that is shown from the side in the front center of this shot (with the little dark mark below his eye). 

In your basket this week:

Shelled Beans
These are a very special item that I doubt many of you will have seen before: Fresh shelled beans!  Thank goodness for our shelling crew, which was led by James and helped out by all of us: We thought you might be scared off by the shells, which look rather ratty when they start to dry down.  It is just a handful, but you can throw these beans right into your stir-fry, soup or sauce, or just lightly steam them to take out that slight starchy taste and put them in a salad.  We couldn't help but eat them raw as we shelled them, and they're delicious!  I made tomato sauce last night with our supper and threw some beans in: what a treat to not have to soak them overnight and then boil them for hours.
Our friend Susan who comes to work for her share on the farm helped shell them and was intrigued to make the connection that "beans" and "green beans" are the same thing, just picked at different maturities: The green beans you've been getting up until this point are essentially the immature pods of the shelling (or "dry") beans you see in the bulk department.  Of course, they're different varieties, and the ones in your basket have beautiful colours and speckles, but they are basically just a mature green bean.  As Susan, who is a nutritionist, noted: these have a lot more iron, too!

I have run out of things to tell you about beets, so I took a couple of pages from Sandor Ellix Katz book (literally!) Wild Fermentation, a well-known how-to for any type of fermented live culture foods.  Attached to your newsletter this week is a couple of his recipes for beets, if you're interested in trying something new with yours.
(And make sure you eat the tops, arguably the best part!)

Green Onion
I'm glad we don't give you green onions every week, as cleaning those babies is a lot of work, but they are a great fresh taste for all of the things you are going to cook this week.   

Braising Mix
What we are dubbing "braising mix" this week contains chard, kale, arugula, and pea tendrils.  Chop and stir-fry or steam them all together, or use the different bits for various dishes.  If I were presented with a beautiful mix such as this, I would sautee the greens all together and garnish with pea tendrils for a really stunning side dish.

Herb Blend
I am a huge proponent of fresh herbs, but since even I wouldn't know what to do with an entire bunch of sage, we gave you three different herbs that go well together or can stand alone.  Sage is a strong flavour and goes well with poultry and in stews and soups.  Oregano goes great with tomato dishes as well as red meat.  Thyme also goes well with beef, pork, chicken, or fish, and is a great flavour in soups.  The three together are best friend to chicken dishes, especially classic roast style.  They are all very easy to dry, which can be done by hanging in a shaded and dry, dust-free area in your house.  Once they are fully dry, store in an airtight container to preserve the flavour, for fresh flavours all winter long!

I could stare at our tomatoes all day and not get bored!  There's big ones, little ones, funny-shaped ones, ones with ribs, fuzzy ones, brightly-coloured ones, ones with stripes: but no doubt about it, they're all BEAUTIFUL! 

We thought we'd give you one last zucchini before the winter squash takes over.  The going joke on the farm is: Why do city people lock their doors when they visit the country? To prevent their cars from being filled with zucchini!  I hope you're not sick of it, but if you are, you can freeze it.  What I do is refer to my favourite zucchini loaf recipe, and then grate it and freeze in the portions I need for the recipe (mine calls for 2 cups, but yours might be different).  I hope when you do refer to your favourite zucchini loaf recipe that you just make some instead!  (And if you felt the need to share with us, too, we can definitely help you out with that part!)

Full-size Shares also get:
Head Lettuce
This is a true miracle at this time of year.  As I explained last week, it is very hard to grow lettuce in this heat, and what we did grow successfully was munched by a bunny.  Well, he didn't find this patch, and though the heads are small, we thought we'd give you the beginnings of a salad.

Cucumbers are a heat loving crop and need warm nights to grow, and a couple of nights this past week I've awoken in the night to pile on more blankets, which tells me they may be near the end.  Enjoy this taste of summer, while it lasts!


Though my favourite part of each week is writing the newsletter, I do get a little tired of writing about the same things again and again.  So this is fun: Just in!  PARSNIPS!  For those of you who have never seen one before, they look a bit like white carrots, and we've left a little of the tops on so you can see how fresh they are (we would have left more, but they wouldn't have fit in the bags!).  My favourite thing to do with them is mix them in with my carrots in my favourite carrot recipe.  I've given it to you before, but here it is with the parsnips edited in:
RECIPE: Glazed Carrots and Parsnips
1 pound carrots and parsnips, sliced
1/2 C chicken stock
2 T butter
2 T honey

Put everything in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until carrots and parsnips are cooked and the sauce coats them.  Sprinkle with a fresh herb of your choice just before serving.

They add a complex and exciting flavour to the recipe above: the spiciness of them is accentuated by the honey, and it looks really beautiful with all the colours, too.  I have made this with just parsnips, and it was equally delicious.
If you decide to do something else with them, know that you do want to peel them with your trusty vegetable peeler, and remove the tops.  You can boil them and mash them with potatoes or on their own, you can throw them in with a roast or into your soup pot: they do make a truly delicious soup.  Jon suggests you roast them in the oven at 400 degrees with a bit of olive oil until they start to brown.  Later in the season they get sweeter, but they are the first taste of fall nonetheless. 

I was just saying this morning how much I love autumn and how excited I am to start crunching on leaves around the farm.  It makes me feel like a little kid as though it's time to go back to school, but of course we will just keep plugging away and harvesting and by the time the first frost hits will have hopefully put away enough stores for winter and then will start on the end of season field clean up.  But here I go getting ahead of myself: including this week, you still have seven beautiful baskets of produce coming your way to fill your fridge, your table, and your tummies with delicious, local food.

One of our favourite kittens, who answers to many names including: Mittens, Mr. Bojangels, Bo, Buddy, and Baby Harley.  He is the right mix of friendly and hunter, thus a perfect farm cat.  And we think he's pretty handsome, too!

Thanks for doing your part to support sustainable farming on the South Shore!

Teri Dillon

Watershed Farm
768 Allen Frausel Road
Baker Settlement, Nova Scotia
B4V 7H8
c. 902.212.2301 | p. 902.685.3901
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