Week 10: Putting the “Society” in Little Society Farm
Bees in flowers, clearly something we like to photograph! This bee is amongst our squash plants.
Click here to fill out a preferred veggie form, and/or scroll down to see what's in the box this week.
We had another small but successful work day this weekend, with Will helping out much of the day, and Alyssa and Brent joining us for dinner. We spent a good chunk of time knocking down ragweed and using it as mulch, and also doing some good garden maintenance, weeding and tying up tomato plants. We’ll continue to have sporadic work/pizza days as the season goes on, since many who have expressed interest in coming out to help haven’t been able to align their schedules with the days we’ve hosted so far. If you’re one of those people, let us know! And feel free to send us an email if you have any requests for future dates (either positive or negative). We value our relationship with each and every one of you, and want to make sure that you know that this is your farm, too. And, of course, there’s always a project or two that could use an extra hand!
Speaking of farm friends, we wanted to take a moment to talk about our terrific mentor farmers, Erin and Rob of Hilltop Community Farm. You may remember them from our newsletter a few weeks back as the suppliers of the black currants CSA members received. This week, they are generously providing CSA members with aronia berries, which we hope you will enjoy! Hilltop Community Farm is a wonderful example of a lot of the things we are working towards here at our farm: they have a diversified fruit orchard, they grow many unique varieties, they use many permaculture principles in their farm setup, and they do all this with minimal mechanical tools. They are also warmhearted and full of knowledge.
We were placed in this formal mentorship arrangement through Stateline Farm Beginnings, a ten session class we took last winter through the Angelic Organics Learning Center in Rockton, IL. Its purpose is to prepare new farmers to run a sustainable farm business, and classes include topics such as taxes and recordkeeping, as well as assignments that guide you in preparing a detailed business plan. If you or anyone you know is interested in starting up a farm business of their own, feel free to talk to us about our experiences in this class. All in all, we found the information useful, and appreciated the chance to build our network of people interested in doing the same kinds of farming as us (or even just interested in the spirit of sustainable agriculture like us!)
A note about aronia berries from Erin and Rob:
If you're looking for some aronia inspiration, here's a few ideas: We used to get all choked up about chokeberry (aka Aronia melanocarpa). It's a native fruit to the Great Lakes region and as its name suggests not the most palatable fresh off the shrub. We've grown to appreciate it's value added offerings to our orchard menu. Aronia's blue/black fruit is reflective of anthocyanins - super high in nutraceutical content and anti-oxidants. If you like tart, you will love the berry fresh, though if you'd rather soften the flinty tang, then aronia pairs well with yogurt, in smoothies and baked goods, or as a jam. And if you're looking for an intriguing fruit for the bar menu, aronia is sure to last! You can juice or ferment into wine or cordial, infuse into a vodka or flavored vinegar. It's also super easy to freeze this super fruit and experiment with in the 'dormancy' months where life slows down a bit.
In the Box
Welcome Peppers (and Aronia Berries!) to the CSA box. Hey there Onions, welcome back.
- Salad Mix
- Peppers (jalapeños or Bangles Blend sweet peppers)
- Cilantro (upon request!)
- Carrots (no tops, but tops available upon request)
- Summer Squash (Costata Romanesco Zucchini, Bennings Green Tint Scallop Squash, or Yellow Crookneck Squash; fill out a preferred veggie form if you have a preference between these varieties!)
- Aronia Berries
- Eggs (for some)
*We have lots of this! Want only purple basil? Only Thai basil (if you haven't tried this or noticed, it has a distinctly different flavor...kind of like licorice)? Double the kale? Just let us know on the preferred veggie form!
This week is a reminder of how simple eating vegetables can be...
Sauteed Veggies on Pasta
1. Take salad mix, aronia berries, and eggs out of your box and set aside.
2. Chop everything else up in whatever sizes you want.
3. Put these chopped up things in a sauce pan with butter, oil, or for the truly health-conscious, water. (Perhaps start with the largest and firmest chopped veggies, wait a minute or three between each add until you add the smallest and softest veggies).
4. (Optional) Make pasta and put the sauteed veggies on top!
5. (Optional) Add cheese to the top and bake it!
Chop up squash, radishes, and carrots into bite size pieces. Place in a to-go container or baggie. Snack on them throughout the day! Brad forgot you could do this until last week when he substituted his entire lunch for three hours of veggie grazing. If you don't like the taste of raw veggies enough for this one, think while you are eating about how healthy and alive each bite is making you!
Steamed Kale with Parmesan Cheese
This is one of our go-tos when we want to consume large quantities of kale.
1. Chop or tear up kale into bite-sized pieces.
2. Steam it lightly
3. Admire the vibrant green it turns, but...
4. Don't get distracted; you should add Parmesan (or other favorite type of) cheese, garlic, crushed red pepper, and salt soon after it is ready and eat shortly thereafter while still warm!
Brad's Food Philosophy Corner
Brad shares his reasons for farming, one per week!
Know what's in/on your food
In a global industrial food system, bureaucracies enforcing laws or certification programs seem necessary if we want some assurance that what we buy has certain characteristics like organic or gluten free. Without this, companies will stretch the truth, just plain lie, or shift responsibility down the chain of production ("they said they grew it organically..."). For a few reasons, I see the fact that this is a necessity of large scale food systems as one of its greatest weaknesses in comparison to small, local producers.
First, scams abound, and the longer the supply chain, the more opportunity for scams. For several reasons, it is really hard to know whether organic, for instance, is actually organic. Second, the meaning of a label can be changed when large agribusiness gets a hold of it and begin to change the rules to meet their needs, as has happened with the watering down of the organic label. Further, licensing/certifying activity often already disadvantages smaller operations by their very nature since the costs, paperwork, and time to do so in a small operation is far from proportional to what it is for a large company. Finally, there are several aspects of food production that labeling and certifying don’t and probably won’t ever capture like the quality of nutrition and taste or the humaneness of the labor.
Ultimately, if you really want to know what’s in your food, the best way is to grow it yourself or have a personal, trusting, direct relationship with a farmer.