Angelic Organics Farm News

Winter Week 2 - Sat
               November 15, 2008

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Bob Writes…

Last night the temperature reached the lower 20’s (°F). This zapped our plants and kept us from harvesting some of them--most notably spinach. It just didn’t warm up early enough in the day for the spinach to recover from the cold. Fortunately, there are enough other crops to fill the hole that the missing pound (estimate) of spinach creates. Also it is very fortunate that spinach can handle this cold weather and you can still expect it in future boxes. We are planning our next spinach harvest around future more favorable weather conditions. While it looks like it may warm up, unfortunately, it also looks like there is rain approaching.

I would like to specifically highlight some of the other items in this week’s box:
• the lettuce is a variety called winter density; it just made it out of the ground before the cold weather would have ended it. The heads are small and we were not able to wash them; but for the final lettuce of the year, this romaine variety will make excellent sandwich tops or small salads.
• the Brussels sprouts were harvested when they were frozen. Since these are the most cold hardy crops that we grow, I worry least about freezing damage. Still, you should monitor their condition and decide if they should be eaten sooner rather than later.
• similarly, the broccoli was harvested before the plants were fully able to recover from the cold. When harvested, the broccoli plants were no longer frozen. However, since I am around plants everyday, I am aware of how alive they are and how they can recover from varying conditions (such as freezing, frosts, rain pelts, and winds). In this case, I would have liked the broccoli to have had more recovery time but our vegetable pack required us to get to them sooner rather than later. I did have the broccoli loving members of our crew sample the broccoli, and many declared that is was the best tasting broccoli they ever had--thanks in part to the freezing weather.
• some beet greens seem a little floppy but these greens also sweeten up so I encourage you to cook them and allow them to help make your lives a little better (perhaps).
sunchokes are also very cold hearty (see The Real Dirt on Vegetables for more on these); further, they are particularly known for the benefits that frosts impart on their taste (just like parsnips are). Unfortunately, we have not yet devised an efficient way to harvest these and over half of our crop still remains in the ground. Because their harvest is slow, because the ground is freezing more often, and because we have plenty of other crops, it is unlikely that we will harvest any more of these. On the positive side, because sunchokes are perennials they will come back next year and likely yield even more. Perhaps by then we will have devised a more effective way to harvest them. Some shareholders received a pound of these in their box this week.

• unlike most varieties of winter squash, butternut is special in that it actually sweetens up after it is harvested. I have read that butternut squash is actually most sweet right before it collapses into itself as it rots. So, of course, do not fret if you notice in the next weeks any soft spots, just cut them off and use the rest of the fruit. One other thing to note regarding butternut, it is my understanding that most pumpkin pie purees are actually made from butternut squash. Further, I have also heard that Illinois is the leading producer of butternut squash. If these are not in fact true, then I have been mislead and I am further exacerbating the situation by misleading you as well. If there are any ambitious individuals out there who decide to research these assertions, please forward to me your results complete with references and citations!
• I do not like cilantro--at all. [Except, for some unknown reason, I do like cilantro chutney with Indian food (usually with samosas)--yum!!] Anyway, in the last couple of years, I have noticed that cilantro is actually quite cold hardy. Untony Tony, on the crew, remarked that in the spring, cilantro is one of the first things to pop out of the ground. So, when the cilantro in our fall fields was still growing despite the cold weather (although not as well as they could have been if we had intended to have it at this time of the year), I once again polled the cilantro loving members of our crew as to whether we should give it or not. And the fans of cilantro taste tested it and said yes. They said that even though it was a little chewier, it was worth harvesting it so that we would get one last taste of fresh, local cilantro before the winter. It proved to be a difficult harvest as the plants were more squat, the stems were shorter, and it was colder out. But we persevered and almost all of you got cilantro except for a few Wednesday boxes which got Parsley instead. We may survey you to see what your cilantro experience was like and we may plan to have cilantro a little earlier next year.


Video of Diana discussing the games the crew plays in the fields while they harvest (about 1 & a half minutes long):
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Video of Diana discussing the flow of work from the office to your plate (almost 2 minutes long):

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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 of 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


  • Brussels Sprouts*-pp. 253-256
  • Broccoli Florets*-pp. 248-252


  • Beets*-with greens, pp. 55-62
  • Potatoes-pp. 289-294
  • Sunchokes*-pp. 299-301
  • Carrots-try in a creamy curried soup with biscuits, yummers! pp. 163-168
  • Sweet Potatoes-maybe, pp.302-306
  • Radishes-bagged with pac choi, pp. 129-135


  • Swiss Chard*
  • Choi*-pp. 76-80 or Totsoi*-pp.136-141

ALLIUMS-pp. 121-128

  • Garlic
  • Onion(s)-yellow storage


  • Winter Squash-butternut, pp. 307-315
  • Popcorn-Perhaps test pop a few kernels, otherwise let dry a couple weeks longer for optimum popping!

HERBS-pp. 102-120

  • Cilantro* or Parsley*

SALAD GREENS-pp. 136-141

  • Lettuce-mini-heads of winter density

* = sweetened by the frost


Diana writes...

It is about quarter to 7 in the morning as I sit down to write my piece for this week’s newsletter. Our crew has been starting at 7am since the time change, and I have found the hour between 6 and 7am to be a very productive. I have always gotten my best work done in the mornings. This dates back through high school when my dad would wake me up at 4:30 or 5 to get my homework done. I would be camped at the kitchen table and he would wrap a blanket around me. I now wonder if that wasn’t the smartest idea, because I also slept through most of my high school classes. I always figured I had a minor case of narcolepsy.

It is during this hour, while waiting for the crew to arrive, I work in my office. I am currently updating our files and documents for the 2009 growing season. I usually do all of this while listening to music, loudly. I am a huge Ryan Adams fan and this morning it was one of his songs that got me thinking about what I wanted to say. The lyric was short, said only once in the first verse, “these days they go so fast.” True.

At this time of the year, it is easy to feel that literally, the days are going fast. To date, daylight comes on at approximately 6:37 am and the sun will set today, November 11th at 4:37 pm. It must make a person feel crazy to go to work when the sun is just beginning to shine only to emerge 8 hours later to the moon and stars. I can appreciate the work I do outside, even in the cold, because I get to experience the sun for the few short hours it is in the sky.

In a figurative sense, these words can represent the end of our 2008 season. For myself, “these days they go so fast” speaks also about the end of my time at Angelic Organics. It has been mentioned in brief through the newsletters that this is my last season; I am moving on to a new chapter. Even though there is excitement that comes with new possibilities, there is also sadness. I feel a part of everything that happens at Angelic Organics, right down to the “Nolden Approves” programmed into the Greenhouse Seeding Directives and marked on the backpack sprayer. It is true that my heart feels a pang when I see tasks usually my responsibility now delegated to other crewmembers. It is then that I have to remind myself that I won't be here and others need to learn.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that a place can exist without you. Maybe those feelings accompany the places you hold most dear. I remember this feeling after graduating from Beloit College. I still had friends attending school and upon hearing about their escapades I remember feeling disbelief that life continued in the void I had left behind. It is silly, and arrogant, to think that life would just stop because I no longer inhabited a particular space. Angelic will go on in my absence, and continue to be great. I can only hope that my contributions will continue to be helpful in coming years. Also, that I will become one of those mythical employees who has stories remembered about their time here. I guess I still have time to cram broccoli down my pants and set off running.


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