Week One

newsletter with photo

Welcome to the 6th Fern Creek Farm CSA season! Those of your who read Preserving Life at Fern Creek but are not in our CSA, these newsletters give a peek of what goes on at Fern Creek throughout the growing season. If you don’t belong to a CSA you’ll get a sense of what they are like, and if you do our newsletters offer a snapshot of another one.

REMEMBER PICK-UPS THIS WEEK ARE ON WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY from 2-5.

lettuce-beds

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We’ve had a good spring at Fern Creek. Lisby and Jon (who will introduce each other in an upcoming newsletter) moved to Fern Creek the first of March and have been great apprentices. Already they’ve learned how to set up permanent beds (we moved to all permanent beds this year) including setting up the irrigation lines for watering. They have planted and weeded along side us, built crates and picnic tables, and all on their own dealt with the adolescent skunk that meandered into the lower hen house one evening. Jenny started an internship with us in May and will be writing a regular column for the newsletter. You’ll meet her in a couple of paragraphs. We’re excited to have all three of these folks as part of our team this season, and look forward to the chance for you to get to know them as well.

Mark’s project this year (every year we think we are done with expansion projects) was adding a u-pick orchard and berry field. We’re calling it New Jam Orchard and Berries and dedicating it to our six grandchildren (Nash, Eden, Wes, Juniper, Auden, and Mark–the first letters of their names spelling out NEW JAM). We grafted 15 of the 42 apple trees that we planted. They have names like Williams Pride, Gravenstein, Honey Crisp, Benji Shogun Fuji, Pink Lady, and Bardsey. Cascade Delight Raspberries and Columbia Star Blackberries are growing up trellises, and rows of strawberry varieties with names like Puget Reliance, Tillamook, and Sweet Sunrise are tucked between the apple trees. Blueberries and gooseberries round out the field. We look forward to seeing New Jam Orchard and Berries grow up right alongside those six grandchildren.

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Two or three vegetables may be new to some of you in the first couple of weeks, so here’s an explanation of less familiar vegetables you’ll see starting this week.

"Dinosaur" kale

“Dinosaur” kale

Kale has become uber popular. So much so that we are growing more kale than chard this year. Kale is a leafy vegetable in the broccoli family, and like broccoli, it contains lots of great nutrients: Vit. K, A, and C, some antioxidants and more.  We’re growing three varieties this year, and this week you’ll get an assortment to try. Here’s one of our favorite ways to use kale, though kale chips are popular with us and a lot of the Fern Creek CSA children. You’ll find more recipes in weeks to come, and can always find ideas in your book, From Asparagus to Zucchini.

Collards are another leafy vegetable in the broccoli family, and better known and loved in the south. Once I tasted collards a few years ago I decided to add them to our “braising green” collection. Braising greens simply means cooking greens on medium heat with some fat (e.g. bacon grease, butter, olive oil) and maybe adding some onion, leeks (or leek scapes), and perhaps some minced garlic, and maybe a pinch of hot pepper, salt and pepper, and then cooking them on low for anywhere from 8-40 minutes. The longer greens are cooked, the softer they become. Collards from the south are served soft and usually cooked with bacon. You can use the early-in-the-season collards (and kale) in salads, or use raw or lightly steamed collards in place of lettuce for wraps.

Leek Scapes, like garlic scapes, are a delicacy that comes just once a year. They come from over-

Leek Scapes

Leek Scapes

wintered leeks, and are the flowering stalk the leek puts out in the spring.  The taste blends a mild green onion with the texture and a hint of asparagus–yet also distinctively leek. Cut them on a diagonal, saute them in butter or oil and use them to top eggs, roasted new red potatoes, to toss into salads, or over pizza, or in pasta dishes. The possibilities are nearly endless!

Kohlrabi is a brassica that grows above the ground. It has a delightful alien-like appearance and a mild, crunchy taste. Cut off the tendrils (leaves and tendrils can be chopped and added to stir-fries or salads) and peel off the tough skin of the ball. Slice and eat it raw on its own, or add it to salads or stir-fries. Kohlrabi is a cool weather crop so we’ll have a taste of it now, and perhaps more in the fall.

Anticipated in The Market 
Red Romaine Lettuce and Lovelock Lettucekohlrabi
Kohlrabi
Broccoli
Rhubarb or Strawberries*

Bunching Onions
Leeks and/or Leek Scapes
Kale (Dinosaur, Red Russian & Siberian)
Collards
Herbs (Chives and Dill)
Heirloom Tomato Plant**
Book for 1st and 2nd year members***

Pick Two
Bok Choy
Additional Kale
Radish
Mesclun Mix
Spinach

*The recent rain wreaked some havoc on our first strawberries (and perhaps some over-grazing we allowed the hens this winter). You all may get a hallock of berries, in which case the rhubarb will be in the Pick Two shelf. These lists are anticipated–we never really know what the fields will deliver until we get out there to harvest!

**See this for a guide on how to successfully transplant your tomato into the ground or a large pot.)

***To help members make the most of their crates we include From Asparagus to Zucchini (a cookbook and resource guide for using the produce you’ll get in your crates) with the first pick-up for new members. To thank 2nd year members for returning we are including Lisa’s book, Walking Gently on the Earth.  In it you will learn much about our philosophy for living on earth that extends beyond (but includes) the food we eat. Third year members and beyond–if you don’t yet have Walking Gently, we’re glad to give you a copy, otherwise, accept our deep-felt thanks for coming back and entrusting us with your farm fresh produce for yet another season! 

The Corner Store is a set of shelves in a corner of The Market that carries extra goods. Some are not grown at Fern Creek (fair trade, organic products) and others are made at Fern Creek (vanilla, jams, hot cocoa mix, later pickles). Anything we sell there fit within our mission and purpose. We’ve carried Fair Trade chocolate bars, organic fair trade cocoa (Dutch processed), and organic fair trade chocolate chips, and will do so if you all express a desire for them to us. We’ve set up a lending library on the bottom shelf of The Corner full of books about food, agriculture and ecology by authors like Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollen and Bill McKibben. If enough of you want some local hazelnuts I’ll go pick up an order (I’ll have a sign up in The Market). I get them wholesale and sell them for $9/pound which you’ll find is much less than what you are paying at Fred Meyer or most anywhere else this year. You’ll find our eggs and local organic butter in the fridge. We’ll be selling eggs by the dozen ($4.50) and half dozen ($2.50), and pullet eggs by the dozen ($3.25). (These are the smaller eggs laid by newly laying hens). We request that you take no more than a dozen eggs/week until we get a sense of how many people would like eggs every week.
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Jenny’s Nutrition Nook

Hello everyone! My name is Jenny and I am one of the interns this year at Fern Creek Farm. Along with my love of farming and growing food, I have a passion for nutrition. I am currently studying nutrition at the National College of Natural Medicine and learning about the amazing ways food impacts our quality of life. I’m astounded at the way food can heal our bodies and that small changes in our diets have huge impacts on our health. My hope is that food can be our medicine. By learning more about how to grow food and prepare it, this can be a reality for me as well as those I come in contact with. Every week I will be writing about the health benefits of what’s in your crate. I hope by the end of the season you will have a few healthy tidbits to take with you about the nutritional benefits of fresh, local food. I’m excited to be with you all this year.rhubarb

This week we are highlighting rhubarb, a wonderful addition to any spring table. It’s full of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant – a nutrient that helps block some of the damage caused by free radicals. What are free radicals? They are molecules made in the body from the breakdown of food or the exposure to radiation and tobacco smoke. They contribute to cancer, heart disease, and arthritis as well as other inflammatory conditions. Vitamin C is also needed for the growth and repair of all tissues of the body and for wound healing and the formation of scars. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and not one made or stored by our bodies, which means we must include plenty of vitamin C rich foods in our diet daily. Enjoy the rhubarb from the Pick 2 shelf this week—and if you miss it this week—be sure to try it eventually!
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RECIPE

Rhubarb Compote (Recipe by Martha Stewart, submitted by Jenny. Makes 4 cups)

Ingredients

 1 3/4 pounds rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
1 cup sugar
1 piece (1 inch) fresh peeled ginger, finely grated

Directions

  1. Stir together rhubarb and sugar in a large saucepan (off heat); let stand until rhubarb releases some liquid, about 10 minutes.
  2. Bring rhubarb mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb has broken down but some whole pieces remain, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Place ginger in a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl. Press down firmly with a spoon until juices are released (to yield about 1 teaspoon). Discard solids. Stir ginger juice into rhubarb mixture.
  4. Let sauce cool completely before serving over ice cream, yogurt, pancakes or pound cake, or using to make parfaits.

 

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