Angelic Organics Farm News

Week 11 - Sat - Aug 30, 2008

Our Newsletter web layout is currently "in development"/under construction. See Bob Writes... from first week for more details.
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Amy is an intern who graduated from Earlham last spring, so she will stay with us and help out until the end of the season. Thanks, Amy!

This Week's Vegetable Notes - by Diana Nolden, assistant growing manager

It happens the same time every year, our crew shrinks in numbers as both our current college and high school students return to their educational institutions. As we read in last week's newsletter, Intern William returned to NYU for his senior year. Also, few crew members headed off to college for the first time. Being so close to Beloit College, both Farmer John’s and my alma mater, this is the time we get visiting students either on tours or in work groups. I must be more aware of these departures this year because I recently recalled my own memories of shipping off to college.

It has now been 9 years since my parents drove me down on a Saturday afternoon to move me into my dorm. A little background information, until that point I had lived my life in one place. My dad has lived his whole life in the same house. I had never even gone to summer camp. The most time I had spent away from my family was a few weeks, and even then I knew I would be coming home. So this was very new to me. And as much as I complained about the town I grew up in and how I couldn’t wait to get out, I was scared.

With my dad’s truck loaded and my mom and sister following in a car, we headed south. I had a soccer meeting where I met my new teammates and then I moved my new college goods into my room. Soon it came time for my parents and sister to leave. That’s when things became not ok. A few hours later, in my room, I was doing anything to fight back the tears. My new roommate, having talked before our arrival, said she would supply the phone for our room. Well, she hadn’t even begun to unpack it and when I asked she told me it needed to be charged. Panic began to set in and my RA (Residential Assistant) intercepted me offering her phone. I dialed my parents’ number and my dad answered. The tears came instantly and I bawled, “If you come and get me right now, I will come home and farm with you.”

I wasn’t happy about it then, but they didn’t come to get me. I can imagine that it broke their hearts, but tough love right? I would never have admitted then or in later years that I said those words or how scared and homesick I was. Now I find it humbling and a bit funny. Here I am, having survived my first night stranded at Beloit College and I still became a farmer.

Tomatoes. It is that time of the season when we have boxes of extra tomatoes sitting around. After bagging tomatoes for the pack we set up a station for our seconds and sometimes our firsts that are available for the taking. Some of these are going to find their way into my kitchen to be canned, but for any shareholder interested in driving out to the farm, please come and help yourself. Just call ahead to find out what our supplies are like.

 

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What's In Your Box

Bob writes...

Please note: this box summary is written the week before you receive your box. It is updated but not all the boxes packed for your delivery day will be exactly the same, although it is likely that all the boxes at your dropsite will be the same. Some things may be in your box that are not listed, and some listed things may not be in your box. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all your vegetables.

The page numbers listed below refer to cooking tips and recipes in Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables as provided to all shareholders. Some recipes are listed at AngelicOrganics.com/RecipeService

ROOTS

Beets-with their greens, pp. 55-56

FRUITING CROPS

Melons-cantaloupe or watermelon; pp. 211-214

Sweet Corn-See "Bob writes..." and previous newsletters for details; pp. 223-227

Heirloom Tomatoes-unbagged

Tomatoes-bagged; pp. 228-235

Peppers-pp. 215-222

Eggplant-unlikely, pp. 174-180

Cucumber-maybe, pp. 95-101

COOKING GREENS-pp. 81-94

Helvetican Spinach-young swiss chard; see next week's newsletter for more.

HERBS-pp. 102-120

Cilantro

Dill

SALAD GREENS-pp. 136-141

Lettuce-a red leaf and/or one or two green romaine

ALLIUMS--pp. 121-128

Garlic

Swap Box Note: Each location will have 2 swap boxes of heirloom tomatoes, 2 swap boxes of sweet corn, 2 swap boxes of chard, and 1 swap box of a mixed variety of vegetables.

Coming Soon...Potatoes, Cabbage, Winter Squash

Once again, this week, Shelly is transcribing the newsletter. It was Joanne’s idea and when Bob thought about it, he thought it was a great idea. Now that we pack over 850 vegetable boxes and 540 fruit boxes every other Tuesday, that day is particularly full. Further, we are also transplanting kohlrabi and lettuce, lead by Diana. Primo is spreading compost and preparing the fields for fall cover crops. So there is a lot going on.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that some people are very passionate about sweet corn. And after potatoes (which we grow here in our clay soil—it’s not sandy soil like in Idaho or Maine), sweet corn may be the second most difficult crop for us to grow organically. Historically, sweet corn generates the most shareholder comments. Further, most of these comments are negative. In general, I will attempt to respond to these comments here (keep in mind, there have been less than 10 such comments this year). Before I start, though, bear in mind that I have consciously decided to not put too much sweet corn in your box, opting instead for other vegetables and making “swap boxes” of corn.

First off, for those taste complaints, here are some considerations: a) we grow sugary enhanced and synergistic sweet corn varieties, as opposed to shrunken or super sweet varieties--mostly due to cross pollination issues and being inexperienced with growing the super sweet varieties. Further, these super sweet varieties seem like they might border on genetically modified processes, although I will openly admit that my knowledge of such is very limited; (I do intend to explore more about this over the next several months and years, to determine whether we should grow super sweet varieties; but, if we grow "super sweets" we could no longer grow regular "sugary enhanced"); b) sweet corn immediately after being picked starts to convert it’s sugars to starches; good cold storage slows this down (and our coolers have been working well storing it at 36 degrees F); however, we highly recommend that you make the sweet corn one of the first things you eat when you receive your box. In addition, if our corn is not up to your sweetness standards, we recommend that you remove it from the cob and add it to your favorite recipes, such as the Kale, Tomato & Corn recipe in your cookbook or your favorite soup recipe. Yummers.

For the comments regarding insects--we have noticed that to some extent, this issue is due to specific varieties. Those varieties which have very full large ears all the way to the tip seem to open up the husks and allow easier access to the bugs. Sometimes these are the varieties that taste best. We do transplant sweet corn so that most of it, hopefully, matures before the bugs arrive. We also spray an organic pesticide, bacillus thuringiensis-kurstaki. I am aware that in grocery stores, people tear the corn open and reject that which they don’t want, with much going to waste. Our system of course doesn’t allow for that, and as such there is much less waste. We try to cull out ears which look like they’ve been infected. We know that for some, even one bug can ruin your appetite for all of your ears. For those who are new this season, this year’s corn has not been as buggy as others. Lastly, we include sweet corn for only 4-5 weeks in your boxes.

In regard to mold, this could actually be corn smut, which is considered a delicacy in Mexico. Fermenting can also be a form of this. In any case, we still will investigate more about this condition. If you pick up here at the farm, maybe you can bring any unsavory ears for us to see.

A complaint or two has just characterized the corn as "bad". If this is so, perhaps it is one of the 3 things listed (taste, insects, or mold). Finally, the wet early summer also confused our corn and the low areas of the field matured strangely. Perhaps this too is a factor. In any case, if any of your box contents are unsatisfactory, please let us know as we will try to make it up to you. Thanks.