Angelic Organics Farm News

Week 12 -Sat - September 6, 2008

Our Newsletter web layout is currently "in development"/under construction. See Bob Writes... from first week for more details.
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Jenny Hoople, part time farm worker, part time library assistant, Raul's wife, and Joanne's neighbor!

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

This past Saturday’s conversations during harvest got me thinking and remembering. It was a politically and religiously charged debate, but something I have always admired about the farm is the diversity of the crew. As different as we are, opinions and boundaries are respected and when the topic gets too heavy we can always digress back to the simple task our hands are doing. “How about those collards?” piped Jenny Hoople.

Not that Saturday’s conversation about God’s Will vs. Global Warming brought on a religious awakening inside myself. I was raised Catholic, but that never quite sat right with me and for many years I have grappled with my beliefs. That does not mean I do not believe in a higher power, I just wonder in how much of our day-to-day lives “it” is involved in. My latest theory is that we are put here, given free will, and instructions of try not to screw it up. However, if you begin down the wrong path, will an unforeseen force set you straight? Some might call it divine intervention. This brings me back to the latter part of my opening line--remembering, i.e.,specifically how I came to work at Angelic Organics.

Three summers ago I was working a seasonal job in Madison with an end date on the calendar and a position waiting for me on the east coast. I was moving back to Martha’s Vineyard where I was going to work as a Farmer/Teacher for The F.A.R.M. Institute, a position I held the summer before as an intern. With my truck loaded and my dad in the passenger seat, I drove away from my home in Wisconsin. It was around the I-90/Rockton Road exit (interestingly enough) that the new farm manager of the F.A.R.M. Institute called. He asked if I had a minute to talk. Then, he hashed into how they sold off the animals and cancelled all summer programs. Next, he told me that if I came out there I would not have a job. This conversation was all happening at the same time that my dad was trying to give me a 50 cent piece for the toll booth. Long story short, a 50 cent piece doesn’t work in the toll booth and my dad had to drive a devastated me back to our home in Wisconsin.

It took a long time for me regroup, but I got some part time jobs and began searching for new farms. A month after the whole ordeal, my dad had knee replacement surgery. It would have been up to my mom and grandpa to handle the morning and afternoon chores in addition to any other farm work happening in the late fall. When I reflect on those months, I believe I was needed at home and one way or another I was going to be there. It could have been less dramatic, but I survived to eventually move and work at Angelic Organics.

However, it wasn’t until I got a job at Angelic Organics that the phone call and its timing struck me as providence. Later, my dad and I joked that when I got that phone call, we should have just turned off on Rockton Road and kept driving, eventually running into AO. Maybe I was rewarded in someway for my sacrifice, I have learned skills and information at Angelic Organics that The F.A.R.M. Institute would never have imparted on me. I am also glad that life was easier for my family, and that may truly be where my faith lies--family, friends, and the people I love.


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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


Cauliflower-great as a snack or cooked, Stacey likes it curried; pp 264-269


Carrots-maybe, pp. 163-168


Melon-an orange honeydew; pp. 211-214

Heirloom Tomato(es)-unbagged

Tomatoes-Jenny Hoople and I made a delicious sauce with these; pp. 228-235

Peppers-pp. 215-222

Hot Pepper-unlikely; jalapeno, Hungarian hot wax, or banana peppers, in your tomato bags

Sweet Corn-maybe, the last until next year, just a couple ears, best cooked; pp. 223-227

ALLIUMS-pp. 121-128

Onions-Red storage


Collards-also look in the swap box

HERBS-pp. 102-120


SALAD GREENS-pp. 136-141

Choi-these may be muddy as they were harvested on Thursday when we received 3.2 inches of rain from Hurricane Gustav. This is young choi that you can add to a salad or cook in a stirfry. The Choi with Gingery Butter from the cookbook is yummers!

Lettuce-heads of Green Star (a green leaf), Nevada (a green summercrisp), and/or Red Salad Bowl ( a red oakleaf)

Coming Soon...Broccoli, Potatoes, Winter Squash, Leeks


Helvetican Spinach--Regular spinach does not grow well in the summer heat--it quickly bolts and turns yellow. As such, usually we are only able to grow it for the first 2 or 3 boxes (delivered in mid/late June or early July). In the absence of summer spinach, we used to grow a substitute called New Zealand Spinach. New Zealand Spinach is also known as tetragonia--perhaps its real name. And while its leaves are succulent, they are rather thick and not really suitable for raw usage (unlike how spinach may be used). Over the years, except for a few shareholders, many people have expressed their dislike for tetragonia—probably mostly due to their unfamiliarity with what to do with it. In any case, last year, when our seed catalog dropped tetragonia, we decided that we would plant what we had and switch to something else in 2008. This year is now, and now we have our New Zealand Spinach replacement: Helvetican Spinach.


You won’t find Helvetican Spinach in any seed catalogs, at least not under this name. “Helvetican Spinach” is the name I created for younger Swiss Chard. See, if tetragonia can be given the name New Zealand Spinach, I feel that Swiss Chard should be able to be called Swiss Spinach. After all, Swiss Chard, especially when it is smaller, is much more spinach like than tetragonia is. [It should be noted that Spinach, Swiss Chard, and Beets are related--they are members of the goosefoot family a.k.a. chenopods. Tetragonia is not however a member of this family---hmm.] From a salad or cooking standpoint, Helvetican Spinach is much more suitable as a spinach substitute--especially when spinach is out of season. (Try using chard for spanakopita.) Further, there would a be a solid debate here, on the farm, as to who prefers one over the other. Diana’s favorite vegetable is Swiss Chard--she publically declared it as such in newsletter here, and in front of a crowd of Beloit College students earlier this year, in the spring. And that’s when the leaves are larger--perhaps you've heard how young, adolescent, baby, and micro greens are currently very popular--even gourmet.

So after this decision to go with young Swiss Chard as a replacement for New Zealand Spinach, I felt the need to brainstorm on how to raise its profile--how to make it more popular. Just as tetragonia was linked to spinach through the New Zealand moniker, I thought let’s do the same--tie it to spinach. But “Swiss Spinach” is hard to pronounce. Thanks to the internet and wikipedia, upon looking up Switzerland and scanning for ideas, “Helvetica” jumped out at me. As I understood it, “Helvetica” is latin for Swiss. [Who isn’t familiar with Helvetica-the-font?] Hence, “Helvetican Spinach” is born. And just as “Canola” has raised the image of rapeseed oil, may “Helvetican Spinach” raise the image of young Swiss Chard. With your help, perhaps we can take the world by storm with this.


Postscript Spinach lovers should not fret. We plan to continue to grow fall spinach. We’ve already planted 6 beds so far and plan to seed at least 2 more. And for those who are familiar with the fall spinach grown on our farm, as well as the many other greens and brassicas, once the cool weather swoops in, these crops sweeten up. Frost, in particular, is a friend of spinach--the colder it gets, the better it tastes--I liken them to tasting like sweet peas at a certain point. But there is a limit--fortunately, spinach can probably survive and even thrive temperatures down to 22° F as long as it thaws out within a day or two. Chard, by the way, can survive a light frost but it will get damaged at around 28° F. Helvetican Spinach, young Swiss Chard, however, is a little more frost tolerant as it can survive a colder snap than older plants and still live to grow more. Likely, we can find general agreement that the cold is friends to our taste buds (even if it does make harvesting more difficult for our workers.)


Don’t forget the fall open house is coming up -- Saturday, September 20th from 11 am - 4 pm, with pumpkins galore and more. Look for more details by email or in future newsletters.