Week 18

Week 18: This is the end, beautiful friends

Our sheep are here!

Check out the contents of the box below, and/or fill out a preferred veggie form here. (And sorry in advance for how long this newsletter is! But hey, you've got all winter to read it!)

This week is officially the last week of the CSA. After this, if you still have a hankering for something cold-hardy like kale (actually, probably just kale), you can still let us know and we can try to work something out, but for the most part, this will be the end of the CSA for the year, other than our final “thank you” dinner for CSA members. Expect one more email with future plans and a survey next week, though.

We want to thank everyone on this email list for being a part of our community. We really appreciate the number of people who participated in our little fledgling CSA, came out to the farm (whether for work days or just visiting), and sent us nice emails. It really means a lot to us. Now, for this newsletter, we’d like to recap some of our successes and failures of the season.

The view out the bedroom window this morning.

Successes:

Chickens! We were glad so many people like getting eggs in their CSA box and the little ladies are also just fun to keep. We were also really happy we managed to design and construct a chicken tractor that seems to be working well for the pullets.

CSA customization! We thought the preferred veggie form worked out really well this year, both to avoid giving people stuff they didn’t like and wouldn’t eat, and also to maximize the number of options we could give people (when we had some product, but not enough for everyone). The compost buckets seemed to be a hit, too, and we were happy for the added nutrients for our compost pile.

Pictured: not a honeybee. Bee shown for dramatization purposes only. Repeat: not a honeybee.

Failures:

Bees! Eleanor found out that while she quite enjoys taking care of many animals, the microlivestock is not her cup of tea. We got bees mostly to boost pollination, not for honey, and that’s a good thing, because we were very negligent beekeepers, and, while we do still have bees living in the hive, we did not harvest honey, and it’s anyone’s guess if the hive will pull through the winter (a chancy thing for even experienced beekeepers).

Giant ragweed! We planted a cover crop of half buckwheat, half perennial grasses to try to outcompete the giant ragweed that was emerging from the soil back in May/June, but unfortunately, even the mighty buckwheat could not overtake that goshdurned ragweed. We purchased a scythe to try to deal with it, and found that it really was too little, too late (though thank you to our amazing friends who put in many sweaty hours attempting to cut it back—looking especially at you, Lacy, Jake, and Will!) Now that the sheep have arrived, we’re on to Plan C (rotationally graze them around the land and let them clear the ragweed out some). We’ll see how that goes!

Once again, picture for representational purposes only. We didn't plant this oak tree (discovered today next to our pumpkins), but we did plant others!

Perennial system setup! With all the focus we’ve put on making things work for the CSA this season, we’ve had a bit of the problem of “can’t see the forest for the trees”—we’ve had to focus on running the day-to-day operations and haven’t had the time to devote to setting up the perennial systems we ultimately see as being the heart of the farm.

As with many things in life, nothing is a complete success or failure. If we hadn’t had the early failure of the shelter blowing over, we wouldn’t have the chicken tractor we made out of its broken parts. Though we love having chickens, we do have to grapple with their mortality and the various smaller chicken dramas they bring with them. And though we complain about the giant ragweed, its presence on the land is definitely better for the soil than pesticide-heavy corn or even bare ground (and it’s also good wildlife habitat, too!).

Reminder

To celebrate the end of our first CSA season and all of the wonderful people who helped make it possible (YOU!) we’re hosting a harvest dinner at the farm Saturday, November 17. We’ll have a farm tour at 4:00, and dinner will start around 5:00, with the potential for a campfire afterwards if it's not too frigid out. Email littlesocietyfarm@gmail.com to RSVP. Hope to see you there!

Also, if anyone has extra mason jars or egg cartons lying around, feel free to donate them to a good cause (us)!


In The Box

Adding an item from the pantry this week. Probably won't feed you all winter long, but hopefully it'll be a nice little bit of local food in the "off-season."

Preferred veggie form found here.

- Jalapeno Peppers

- Sweet Peppers

- Green Bell Peppers

- Carrots

- Kohlrabi

- Cabbage

- Broccoli

- Pumpkins! (Long Pie: small and narrow, Howden: big, traditional shape)

- Sorrel

- Eggplant

- Summer Squash

- Cherry Tomatoes

- Unripe (Green) Tomatoes

- Kale

- Basil

- Eggs (mostly tiny ones!)

- Potatoes

One of these Four options:

- Apple Butter

- Tomato Jam

- Pesto Ice Cube

- Canned Tomatoes


Recipe

It's been several years since we lived in Atlanta, but we still hold a fond spot in our hearts for some Southern cuisine. We're offering unripe green tomatoes in the box this week, partly just because we wanted to give you a recipe for fried green tomatoes!

Here's the link to a recipe (haven't tried this particular one, but it looks legit). A delightfully Southern breakfast with fried green tomatoes is to put them on top of some grits with a fried egg and (optional) bacon. Don't forget the butter! I mean, you've got to have butter with your grits.

And now a few more pumpkin recipes!


Pumpkin Muffins (the ones Eleanor's mom would always make when she was a kid)*

1 c. white flour

½ c. whole wheat flour

1 c. sugar (white, brown, honey, or molasses combined to equal 1 c.)

2 eggs

½ c. vegetable oil

2 teasp baking powder

¼ teasp. cinnamon (cook’s choice to add greater amount, or other spices, such as ginger or nutmeg, also)

2 teasp. baking soda

1 c. cooked or canned pumpkin

optional: ½ c. walnuts or other nuts or sunflower seeds, or chocolate chips (note from Eleanor: chocolate chips are NOT optional, and no need to bother with that other stuff!)

1. Combine sugar and eggs and oil beating well, then stir or beat in the flour, b.p., b.s., spices, then add the pumpkin. Mix well. Next blend in the nuts or seeds, and chips.

2. Spoon batter into muffin pans, filling each muffin cup about ½ full. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-25 min., but check them after 15 min. by inserting a toothpick in one to test for doneness; the toothpick should come out clean.

Makes 1½ dozen.

*This recipe is taken verbatim from an email from 2011 when Eleanor requested the recipe from her mom and got it sent back to her 19 times, which we found rather delightfully amusing.


Squash Chocolate Chip Cookies

Eleanor makes these all the time if she needs to bring something to a potluck and has any pumpkin on hand (especially if it's already been cooked and frozen and measured into convenient increments!) Taken from Make the Best of Everything.

1 stick of butter at room temperature

1/4 cup of white sugar

1 and 1/4 cup of Squash Puree

2 cups of flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons of Maple Syrup

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

2. Cream Butter, Sugar and Maple Syrup and Vanilla.

3. Add Squash Puree and Mix

4. Add Dry Ingredients

5. Add Chocolate Chips

6. Mix

7. Use a Cookie Scoop and make 1 inch balls about 2 inches apart.

8. Bake for 10-14 minutes.


Honorable mentions: Pumpkin cinnamon rolls and pumpkin butter.

Brad's Food Philosophy Corner

Brad shares his reasons for farming, one per week!

A Reason For Brad Not to Farm (spoiler alert: may not hold up to scrutiny)

(may also involve a lot of cheating-the-world-limit-by-footnotes)

250 words means I often can’t address counter-arguments or consider “the other side.” So, for this last corner I wanted to address the reason I hear most often for a global industrial monocropping food system: it produces more calories per acre which is necessary to feed a rising population.[1] FALSE. First, this assumes all calories are equal.[2] Second, referenced studies don’t accurately calculate acres.[3] Third, it doesn’t actually produce more calories per acre.[4] Fourth, simply increasing the amount of calories per acre wouldn’t address hunger.[5] Fifth, and most abhorrent to me, you can’t look at calories per acre as somehow disconnected from every other aspect of our life.[6]

I am not opposed to agricultural tech and innovation and am not ignorant to the power of a thousand plus-acre farms with $400,000 “precision-ag” tractors. I never even had an anti-GMO reason.[7] That isn’t to say I’m ready to agree to the proposition: “GMOs and Industrial farming have their place.” Rather, with every decision or judgment, farming or otherwise, I firmly believe it can only be evaluated by considering it in relation to a holistic vision of the world. When I consider the quality of experience as both laborer and eater, the human relationship to land and one other, the economic interdependence and equality, the effects on broader ecosystems, the exercise and nutrition, the knowledge, the well-being and the independence…when I consider the world I want to live in as a whole, well, that makes me want to plant some shit!

[1] There is a frustrating cruelty to this argument and line of reasoning and the form appears in all sorts of debates (see immigration). A system (our growth-based industrial economic system) creates a problem (overpopulation) that can only be solved by that system’s tools (industrial farming).

[2] I doubt we could survive for very long on high fructose corn syrup alone…

[3] I actually heard someone claim once that CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) are really the most environmentally friendly because the animals aren’t using as much land. Apparently, they didn’t know where the feed came from (and that there is calorie loss when the calories travel through an animal first) or that many other acres are affected by runoff! Same goes for non-animal operations though. The inputs all have some sort of footprint which is never calculated. Finally the world’s available acres are increased if farming practices are used that can take advantage of slopes.

[4] Studies often compare a side by side monocropping of organic corn with a monocropping of conventional corn. No doubt, conventional will come out ahead (but even on this point a 30-year Rodale study found organic coming out ahead). Stacked-function overyielding polyculture farms are often disqualified because they aren’t conducive to industrial large-scale farming, yet this sort of farming definitely can yield a higher calorie per acre (think about an overstory of large nut trees, another “layer” of fruit trees, vines running throughout, a layer of berry bushes, groundcover plants, root vegetables, and animals grazing anything left over…THAT is some calorie production!

[5] We already produce enough food for the world, but yet hunger remains!

[6] We accept it isn’t “just about the calories" in its starkest formulation, like A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, yet it often goes ignored in the many more real, but less obvious occurrences. The Wendell Berry article linked to last week does a great job exploring this. In addition, of course, to the MANY negative externalities discussed previously.

[7] Partly because I am too intimidated to go against popular science figures like Bill Nye and Hank Green. I will say though that often people are swayed by the “promise” they provide, without acknowledging the reality: programming kill genes into crops so farmers can’t collect seed and have to keep buying it from that company. Also, it seems like a good candidate for looking too narrowly at a problem while ignoring the ways everything is inextricably connected.

Here's to a few more glorious fall days before winter inevitably overtakes us all!