Week 7: Updates and Invites!
Click here to fill out a preferred veggie form, and/or scroll down to see what's in the box this week.
The season is progressing, and so are the numerous projects we have going on here. We’d like to take a minute to update you on some of the things we’re working on here on the farm.
Priority number one lately has been our chicken tractor for the “chicks” (now more like slightly-smaller-than-normal chickens). You may or may not remember that a chicken tractor is basically a mobile chicken coop, which we’ll be able to move across the yard and field, giving the chickens fresh pasture to peck at, scratch, and graze from, and spreading their “fertilizer.” We’ve been working to repurpose parts of our doomed shelter (as told about in newsletter week 4), and covering this structure in chicken wire to form the “run” part of the chicken tractor. Here’s a picture of Brad in a chicken tractor cage (don’t worry, we let him out).
We’ve also constructed most of the coop part of the structure; we just need to put a door on, put a roof on, and connect the two main pieces together. In the meantime, we’ve finally gotten the chicks outside. Brad was kind enough to lend his nut house (more on that later) to the chicks for a temporary chicken tractor. Here you can see the chicks enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, and in the background, the walls of their future home.
Speaking of the nut house, this is basically a cage that we constructed to protect tree seedlings we started from nuts, so that squirrels don’t dig them up and deer and rabbits don’t nip them in the bud, figuratively and literally. Since we stole their cage to give to the chickens temporarily, we took the opportunity to weed the little baby trees, and uncovered some that we didn’t realize had sprouted and were hiding in the weeds! This is an ongoing learning experience for us; the trees did not have as good of a germination rate as we had hoped, so we’ll have to work to improve when we start new ones next spring. Here’s a picture of some Wisconsin Pecan seedlings that we hadn’t realized had sprouted until yesterday because they were buried by crabgrass. This is a rare variety of northern pecan that is supposed to actually bear viable nuts this far north (much smaller than the typical Southern pecan, but apparently delicious…we’ll hopefully let you know in ten years)!
And as a quick update to last week’s newsletter, we’ve started going to town on the ragweed with our scythe! It does take a little bit to get used to using it, and some of the ragweed stalks are a little thick for ease of use scything them down, but we’re working on it!
Now, for the invitation mentioned in this email’s subject line, we’d like to invite one and all out for a work day on the farm! You’ve got an idea of some of the projects we have going on; do any of them speak to you? Does anyone have experience building things? Want to try your hand at using a scythe? Just want to sit in a garden and peacefully yank out some gigantic weeds? We’d love to have your help! We have two upcoming work days planned, this coming Sunday, July 29 and the second weekend in August, Saturday, August 11. Both of these work days will run from 10 am to 6:00 pm, with a tour of the farm at 9:30 am and 6:00 pm. Come for any or all of this time, and at the end (6:30ish), we’ll serve homemade pizza (we'll also have snacks throughout)! Note: if you are a CSA member and just would like to see the farm but don’t want to or aren’t able to work, you’re still welcome to come out for a tour and/or pizza. We’re also planning on throwing a harvest dinner party later in the season when we have some winter squash to cook and bake with. You can certainly just show up, but if you are planning on coming it'd help us plan if you fill out this form.
In the Box
Welcome to the box, Squash! Welcome back under-appreciated Beets! Hurry up Tomatoes (hopefully next week)!
- Salad Mix
- Carrots with tops
- Summer Squash (Costata Romanesco Zucchini, Bennings Green Tint Scallop Squash, or Yellow Crooked Neck Squash, fill out a preferred veggie form if you have a preference!)
- 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!
Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes about two dozen)
Whenever Eleanor bakes something, she looks for a healthy version of the recipe. While this recipe, which comes directly from Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, perhaps doesn't eliminate as much sugar as it could, it's still a great way to sneak vegetables into one's baking. Eleanor has made it many times and can vouch for it. She'll also heartily recommend the book it was taken from!
1 EGG, BEATEN
½ CUP BUTTER softened
½ CUP BROWN SUGAR
1/3 CUP HONEY
1 TBSP. VANILLA EXTRACT
Combine in large bowl.
1 CUP WHITE FLOUR
1 CUP WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
½ TSP BAKING SODA
¼ TSP SALT
¼ TSP CINNAMON
¼ TSP NUTMEG
Combine in a separate, small bowl and blend into liquid mixture
1 CUP FINELY SHREDDED ZUCCHINI
12 OZ CHOCOLATE CHIPS
Stir these into other ingredients, mix well. Drop by spoonful onto greased baking sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350°, 10 to 15 minutes.
Brad's Food Philosophy Corner
Brad shares his reasons for farming, one per week!
More Nutritious Vegetables
Asking whether organic produce is more nutritious than conventional produce is analogous to questioning whether a vegetarian diet is healthier than one with meat. It isn’t if you only eat packaged variations of cheese and bread followed by sugary drinks and desserts (talking to you, 22 year-old Brad). While I do think that long term pesticides negatively affect the nutrition of produce, it is more complex than that and “organic” doesn’t guarantee nutritious. Some complexities that do affect the nutritional content are variety selection and soil health.
Regarding variety selection, as mentioned previously, on large scale operations varieties of vegetables are selected for things like their aesthetic quality, storage potential and ease of growing on an industrial scale. If quality is considered, it usually means sweeter and not more nutritious (talking to you, sweet corn). On a smaller scale where hand-harvesting and direct marketing are possible, highly nutritious (and/or more flavorful!) varieties can be grown and selected for.
Soil biology is the other aspect of this. The plant can’t take up micronutrients that the soil doesn’t have and how you manage the soil can greatly affect which micronutrients are available. While many good soil health practices, like rotating crops, adding compost and manure, cover cropping, mulching, and not killing every other living thing are accessible to large scale farming, it just simply isn’t done, meaning the average vegetable today is much less nutritious than it was a generation ago.