Week 12: Rain, Rain, Rain
We’re doing something slightly different with the preferred veggie form this week. You see, we have a middling amount of lots of things, but not enough that everyone will be able to have some of everything. As a result, we’d appreciate it if you could fill out the preferred veggie form telling us which of several options you would be okay with. If not, you will receive whatever we give you out of all the various options. We appreciate your flexibility!
With storms over the past week that definitely affected some of you, whether through road closures or apartment evacuation, and the ominous rumble of thunder I can hear in the background even now (okay, I may be imagining that, but the radar tells me it’s coming soon!), rain is on the mind. And not just rain, but extreme weather patterns in general. We knew it would be risky starting to farm in the age of climate change, but I’d like to take a moment to talk about some of the ways that we’re hoping to weather the storm, figuratively and literally.
One of the biggest goals we have is to manage the way water interacts with our land, primarily by putting in swales on contour and planting things with deep roots, like trees. This way, when water falls heavily on the land, it will be better absorbed and incorporate back into the water table, rather than running off in swift-moving channels, which is what it currently wants to do. This will help not only in extreme rain events, but also in drier times.
And speaking of our plantings, we’re playing with varieties and trying to push what comes to mind when people think of “what farms grow.” Trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials will hopefully be able to withstand adverse conditions better, especially when we look at where they are coming from. We have both the challenge and the opportunity to experiment with plants that normally grow in warmer climates, or find varieties of them that are cold hardy. For example, many people wouldn’t think you could grow paw paws or pecans in Wisconsin very successfully. We’ve obtained seeds of both of these trees from northern growers, so we have high hopes that these varieties will flourish in this climate, or perhaps in whatever climate we have when they come to maturity….
In the Box
As mentioned above, we have a wide variety, but somewhat limited quantities of several veggie options this week. Fill out the preferred veggie formfor more information.
- 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!)
- Ground cherries
- Beans (the same as previous weeks, Dragon Tongue and Red Swan Beans)
- 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 we hope to be giving you a lot of tomatoes. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the quantity or are just want to save these beauties for later, here are the three common ways to preserve tomatoes (from easiest to hardest)...we do them all!
1. Freeze em! We do this mostly just with cherry tomatoes. Often we will just rinse these off (destem them if they aren't already) and pop them in freezer bags If we aren't sure if they are good we will slice 'em in half first. They certainly won't be fresh and snackable when you thaw them out several months later, but they are great to cook with.
2. Dehydrate them. I bet you could do this with an oven, but we have a dehydrator that makes it real easy. Tomatoes are highly liquid though, so this takes FOREVER (or around a day on the setting we use). Afterwards I live to dice them up, pack them in a jar and pour oil over them until the are submerged. The smaller sizes are less overwhelming when you want to add some later to pizza or a sandwich.
3. Canned tomatoes. First time I did this I followed some conventional recipes and it took really long and was a total pain. If I had to blanch and skin all of the tomatoes every time I did this, I simply wouldn't do it, so I figured I'd try not doing that and see what happened....totally works! Now I can go from bowl of tomatoes to quarts of canned tomatoes in the span of one cool summer evening.
- Cut the tomatoes into chunks making sure to not include any bad parts or stems (if you are really worried about the skins still, give the tomatoes a run through the blender first!).
- Add these tomato chunks to a pot as you complete them and turn that pot on pretty high once you've got a layer of tomatoes at the bottom.
- When about a half-hour from being done cutting these tomatoes we'll start a large pot of water boiling (big enough to submerge quart jars in).
- When all the tomatoes are in and they are cooking away, sterilize the jars you'll use to can with by putting them (already washed once) in the (hopefully now boiling) large pot of water for about ten minutes.
- Sterilize the rings and lids as well in that pot or a smaller pot or pan of boiling water.
- One by one pull them out of the boiling water and fill them up with the hopefully near boiling tomato chunks so there is an inch and a half of room at the top.
- Add a dash of salt and two tablespoons of lemon juice (per quart).
- With a clean napkin/towel, wipe off the lip of the jar, set the lid on it and lightly screw the ring on.
- with some tongs (these jars are hot!), put the jars back in the large pot of boiling water and make sure each of these (if using quarts) is in there for at least 35 minutes while the water is boiling and they are submerged).
- Then, grab those tongs, lift them out of the water and space them out on a towel (or surface that can take hot jars!). Make sure they aren't right up against each other. If you did everything right you should hear a pop from the lid sealing. Often we will just go to bed and check on them in the morning when they have cooled off. If we are using the standard lids we just run a finger across the top and make sure the "bump" in the top is depressed, having been sucked tight.
There are several other canned options for tomatoes, including canning whole tomatoes, pasta sauce, salsa, or one of our favorites, tomato jam. The basics above apply, but better safe then sorry with this sort of stuff, so we'd personally recommend finding a trusted recipe if you stray too far away from these ratios!
Brad's Food Philosophy Corner
Brad shares his reasons for farming, one per week!
Supporting Small Business - Deconcentrating Power
When producing food stops being a process owned by hundreds of thousands of small farms and instead is owned by about 10 global companies, decisions are made differently, by different people, with much different goals in mind. Anyone not a part of that system is voiceless and powerless. When discussing farm bills, tariffs, or subsidies, “farmers” are referred to as a homogeneous group that certainly doesn’t include diversified vegetable growers or pastured animal farms. I am not ignorant to the fact that operations like ours (or even 10 times bigger than ours) make up a minuscule amount of the farmed land, but they still exist and, well, as an ecological farmer, I am not sure we should be mono-cropping soy, corn and wheat, shipping it around the world and processing the hell out of it.
Ultimately, however, I am opposed to large companies in general because of their corrosive impact on democracy. These companies have immense wealth in comparison to everyone else (Apple just passed the $1,000,000,000,000 mark!) With this wealth they can buy political influence. Likely you agree with this, but if not, think about it from a business perspective. Their fiduciary responsibility is to maximize profit. They wouldn’t donate to campaigns, hire lobbyists, fund “think tanks,” if they didn’t expect to get that amount plus more back from their “investment.” Regardless of “merit” or “rights”, just pragmatically speaking, if you love democracy, you should oppose highly concentrated wealth and power distributions and support small business . :)