CSA Newsletter Week #11 August 7th

Farm Notes
Believe it or not, today marks the halfway point for your CSA share! We are 11 weeks in, and we have 11 more weeks to take us to the season’s end.

Many of our fields are covered in a lush growth from our cover crops. Cover crops, like buckwheat, cowpeas, and rye to name a few, serve multiple purposes for us. Some of those purposes include reducing soil erosion, adding organic matter with lots of nutrients back into the soil, and attracting pollinators.

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In your share this week, expect an abundance of cucumbers! This would be a great time to make pickles, and we’re including a recipe below. We also have corn back in this week’s share, a bicolor variety. The garlic variety is Bogatyr, and the onion variety is yellow Candy onions again.

On deck for next week is watermelons! So be prepared to take home a heavy share next week.

Note from an Apprentice
By Nancy Savage

Hello UK CSA members! My name is Nancy Savage, and I am a student in the Sustainable Agriculture program in the College of Agriculture. I am a non-traditional student who made the decision, after much soul-searching, to leave my career of 18 years and return to school. This was not easy to do, and in fact it was quite scary. Some may say I was having a mid-life crisis, but without a doubt it was one of the best decisions that I ever could have made in my life. I love school and learning, all of my professors have been wonderful, and my fellow students are supportive and very passionate about their respective degrees in the College of Agriculture. It is a wonderful environment to be in and I know that I am very fortunate.

I started off the summer with a trip of a lifetime by visiting Costa Rica with the UK Horticulture Club. Upon return, I began my apprenticeship at the UK South Farm, which again has been one of the “best experiences of my life.” You often hear people talk about having a revelation in their life when they make statements like this, and you wonder, do they really mean that? Well I do! I am having so much fun at the farm, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a lot of work, because it has required me to pull from some energy reserves that I haven’t had to use in a long time. But, it is all worth it, especially on distribution Thursday, which is my favorite day. When we hop on the wagon in the morning, the ride out to the fields is so peaceful that I want it to last a little bit longer. We work together as a team to harvest the vegetables that are in your share. Honestly, they are so pretty when they are in the fields, but we all talk about how much fun it is to see them getting picked up by everyone that evening. Your enjoyment of these fresh healthy vegetables really does give us an energy boost after a long day of harvesting, cleaning and bagging the vegetables that you receive.

IMG_7276Nancy holding a bucket of harvested banana peppers

As an apprentice, some of the skills that I have learned are bee keeping, plant disease and pest identification, fixing leaky irrigation lines and how to drive a tractor. On an additional note, I have also been working on the farm since February with the Viticulture team. I have fallen in love with “grapes” since having a lecture on them in one of our classes last year. In fact, it is an area that I may eventually pursue a profession in upon graduation. I have learned so much about pruning and maintaining grape vines in the last six months, and now it is pay off time as the grapes are starting to finally ripen. In fact, you will find a surprise in your share this week of delicious grapes. The cultivar is called “Mars”, and I think the clusters are beautiful and tasty, so I hope that you all enjoy them along with all of the awesome fresh vegetables. I think the CSA is one of the greatest programs that you can join and I am doing all that I can to be a great ambassador by spreading the word of its benefits.

Finally, I would like to say “Thank You” to all of the people who work at the UK South Farm. They are such a dedicated group of people who make their living to ensure that the food they grow is of the highest quality. I know I will never look at food the same way that I used to, because there are people who work very hard for all of the produce that we eat. I am proud that I could play a very small part in this role this summer. And I am so glad to have worked with all of my fellow classmates who really are the best ambassadors and the future of farming.

Oh, and if you are ever at a point in your life like I was, I would encourage you to make a choice to follow your heart. For me it was making some sacrifices financially, but the personal payoff has been rewarding in more ways than I can ever have imagined. Enjoy your share this week!

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What’s In Your Share

For August 7th, you’ll find:

+ Squash
+ Zucchini
+ Cucumbers
+ Tomatoes
+ Carmen Peppers
+ Yellow Bell Peppers
+ Green/Red Bell Pepper
+ Hot Peppers
+ Corn
+ Garlic
+ Onions
+ Conventional (this means NOT ORGANICALLY-grown) “Mars” Grapes . These are a gift from the Viticulture Unit here at the Horticulture Research Unit–thank you to Sean, Jeff, Patsy, Nancy and Jared!

The following crops are available for U-Pick:

+ Flowers
+ Herbs
+ Okra
+ Cherry Tomatoes
+ Yellow Wax Beans – The beans are overripe, and will benefit from being cooked down. This is your last chance to get more!
+ Basil and Dill Flowers – There is a newer crop of basil to U-Pick in the middle of the row, closest to the Dill Flowers. Both crops are in the 5th field. Dill Flowers would be a great addition to refrigerator pickles!

Please remember to bring your own pruners or scissors for harvesting U-Pick items!

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Veggie Tips

+ Surprise, surprise — we are including Grapes in your share this week! As Nancy mentioned, the variety is called Mars. This is a seedless red grape. Please note that these grapes were grown conventionally; they are not organic. But that doesn’t change their flavor — they are a favorite of many people at the farm for their juicy sweetness.

+ There are many varieties of Tomatoes to choose from each week. We’d like to highlight the main varieties you’ll come across.

Top row, left to right: Cherokee Green (green), BHN 871 (golden orange), Persimmon (creamy orange)
Middle row, left to right: German Johnson (pink), Vinson Watts (pink), Speckled Roman (striped paste, two sizes), Riviera (oxheart red)
Bottom row, left to right: Big Beef (red), Mountain Merit (red), Plum Regal (red paste), Black Velvet (dark brown/red)
Not pictured: Amish Paste (similar to Plum Regal), Cherokee Purple

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The heirloom tomatoes at our farm include: Amish Paste (not pictured), Cherokee Green, Cherokee Purple (not pictured), German Johnson, Persimmon, Riviera, Speckled Roman, Vinson Watts
The hybrid tomatoes include: BHN 871, Big Beef, Black Velvet, Mountain Merit, Plum Regal

Paste tomatoes are ones ideally suited for making sauce, salsa, or canning. They have fewer seeds, are firmer and less juicy.

Fun fact: the Persimmon Heirloom dates back to 1781, reportedly grown first by Thomas Jefferson!

To try: Riviera is a type of “Oxheart” tomato, named for it’s heart shape. Try them stuffed (recipe below)!

Want to learn more about Heirloom vegetables? One of our local tomato growers, Bill Best, wrote a book called Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste that is worth checking out! The Vinson Watts tomato is one of the many varieties written about in the book.

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Recipes

Kosher Pickles
Adapted from MarkBittman.com
You can get dill flowers from our U-Pick fields!

Makes: About 60 pickle quarters or 30 halves
Time: 1 to 2 days

Note: No vinegar here, so these don’t keep for very long (about a week), but they’ll be eaten quickly enough that you’ll never see one go bad. If you miss your vinegar, you can always add it to the brine after curing or sprinkle a few drops on the pickles directly right before eating. That gives you better control over the acidity anyway.

Ingredients:
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 cup boiling water
2 pounds pickling cucumbers, washed (scrub if spiny) and halved or quartered lengthwise
At least 5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large bunch fresh dill, preferably with flowers, or 2 tablespoons dried dill and 1 teaspoon dill seeds, or 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Directions:
1. Combine the salt and boiling water in a large bowl; stir to dissolve the salt. Add a handful of ice cubes to cool the mixture, then add all the remaining ingredients.

2. Add cold water to cover. Use a plate slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl and a small weight to keep the cucumbers immersed. Set aside at room temperature.

3. Begin sampling the cucumbers after 4 hours if you’ve quartered them, 8 hours if you’ve halved them. In either case, it will probably take from 12 to 24 or even 48 hours for them to taste pickly enough to suit your taste.

4. When they are ready, refrigerate them, still in the brine. The pickles will continue to ferment as they sit, more quickly at room temperature, more slowly in the refrigerator. They will keep well for up to a week.

Other Pickle Recipes to Try:
Bread and Butter Pickles
Refrigerated Pickles (without dill)

Provencal Stuffed Tomatoes
From foodnetwork.com

Ingredients:
6 ripe tomatoes (2 1/2 to 3-inches in diameter)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Good olive oil

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the cores from the tomatoes, removing as little as possible. Cut them in half crosswise and, with your fingers, remove the seeds and juice. Place the tomato halves in a baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, scallions, basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle the tomato halves generously with salt and pepper. With your hands, fill the cavities and cover the tops of the tomatoes with the bread crumb mixture. Bake the tomatoes for 15 minutes, or until they’re tender. Sprinkle with the cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 30 seconds more. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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