For those of you that picked up on campus last week, thank you…for your patience! Our box truck has been having problems starting and it was an adrenaline filled rush to get everything on trucks and over to the Good Barn. But we had an excellent crew to help us get everything together and wonderful customers who bear with us! We hope this week our truck will be back in working order, otherwise, we’ll see you in the rental truck we used to get.
As crazy as it sounds, we have begun the winter squash harvest. The plants have been dying back and its time to get the squash out of the field, lest they become sun scalded. This week we harvested 2 varieties: acorn and delicata. We will store them and let them process before they are ready to be handed out in several weeks.
Note from an Apprentice
This week’s note is from Maggie Reams.
I have learned a lot of the logistics of vegetable production and farm management in all of the classes I have taken in my 3 years at UK, nothing can compare to the knowledge I have gained in the past twelve weeks.
It all started with weeding. The first day I worked at the farm a whole crew of us practically spent all day in the carrot field picking out tiny weeds with our hands.
This may seem like a horrible, backbreaking task but for some reason I absolutely loved it. Now you’re probably thinking, “Oh it was her first day, of course she didn’t mind the labor”, but as time went on I really never stopped enjoying the hard work that comes with farming. Part of this is because I am already a very driven person, but mainly it is because I know all of the labor we put into this farm results in the beautiful vegetables we provide for you, and a sense of appreciation and protection that we are giving to Mother Gaia and her land.
Another task I have really grown to enjoy is every part of irrigation. Hooking up the irrigation system in all of our fields and repairing leaks and tears in the drip tape with special valves and emitters is a challenging task, but it is also very rewarding. Irrigation is an essential part of the farming system; the vegetables require a certain amount of water, and being able to help fix this is a great feeling (not to mention the water spraying all over you on a hot day is FANTASTIC).
In the past month or so there hasn’t been much need for the irrigation system because of all the rain we have been getting. The rain this year has caused many problems on our farm as well as farms around Kentucky. An increase in pest populations and not being able to work in the fields as much as possible has impacted the health of the plants and the farm schedule. However, the amazing crew has worked around it and with it to make sure everything is in order. In the past couple of weeks when we got some dry weather we were out transplanting and seeding the fall crops. Just about two weeks ago I helped direct seed the beets and carrots with the vacuum seeder. It was a long process of making sure the containers of seed were full, checking the depth and placement of each seed, and refilling the fertilizer bins with bags and bags of our organic fertilizer. A monotonous task that I loved every second of. In about a month or two all of you will be able to enjoy the final product!
Working with the crew has been, by far, my favorite part of this apprenticeship. Building relationships with people that share the same interests and drive that I do, as well as different views, has been such a learning experience. I have always heard the saying “work smarter, not harder” and that does really apply to farming and finding the most efficient way to do something, but one thing that someone said to me while cooking lunch for the farm crew is “different strokes for different folks”. Combining these two mottos you really are able to understand the whole picture of my experience with these people. Learning from your peers whether it is a new idea or a way of completing a task is so essential to your growth as a person. I loved that I was able to share and gather knowledge from the family at the south farm.
When I was a little girl, I never would have imagined myself having a deep passion for farming flowing through my soul, and even though 3 months may not seem like a long time to some of you, I believe I have truly grown as a person along side the beautiful crops and land we have here at the farm.
What’s In Your Share
For this week, you’ll receive:
+ Watermelon (Sangria variety)
+ Yellow squash
+ Cucumbers (the last week of cucumbers)
+ Sweet and Mild Peppers
+ Grapes (organic “Mars” variety)
The following items are available for You-Pick:
+ ground cherries
+ hot peppers: jalapeños, serranos, and capperino cherry peppers
+ cherry tomatoes
+ Herbs: onion chives, garlic chives, flat parsley, curly parsley, thyme, marjoram, savory, lavender, chamomile, sage, oregano, rosemary and basil*
* Note: some of the herbs are still very small, so please be mindful to only harvest a small portion of each plant. In particular some of the rosemary plants and basil are still quite small.
Please remember to bring your own pruners or scissors for harvesting U-Pick items!
Here are some storage tips on some of the veggies in your share this week:
Cucumbers are mainly water and once they are harvested they tend to shrivel very fast (for this reason, most commercial cucumbers are sold waxed). Cucumbers help replenish the fluids & minerals we lose during the hot summer months. Cucumbers can be an effective skin conditioner because they are high in vitamin E.
+ Store cucumbers in the hydrator drawer of your fridge for up to 1 week.
+ Sliced cucumbers deteriorate very quickly.
+ Hold tomatoes at room temperature for up to 1 week
+ Do not store in fridge. Fridge will deteriorate flavor within minutes.
+ Cut tomatoes deteriorate quickly
+ Not fully ripe tomatoes will continue to ripen stored out of the sun at room temperature
+ Sauté, bake, broil, grill, or eat them raw
+ Slice tomatoes and arrange on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil or a vinaigrette, chopped fresh basil or parsley and salt and pepper.
+ Add tomato chunks to summer soups and pasta sauces
+ Sauté plum tomatoes and add to an omelet
+ Hollow-out partially, stuff and bake or grill
+ Roast halved tomatoes on a lightly oiled baking pan in a 250„a oven for 3 hours (season with minced garlic and fresh, chopped basil before you pop them in the oven)
All green peppers are unripe red or other colored peppers. Peppers are high in iron and vitamins A,C, and E.
+ Ripe peppers spoil faster than green peppers.
+ Store in the fridge for up to a week, unwashed.
Summer Squash Tomato Skillet
From The Practical Produce Cookbook by Ray and Elsie Hoover
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 yellow squash
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. pepper
In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft. Trim, halve and slice yellow squash and zucchini. Add to skillet and sauté 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and seasonings. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender crisp and liquid is absorbed.
Quick Chicken Fajitas with Peppers
From The Practical Produce Cookbook by Ray and Elsie Hoover
1 lb. boneless chicken breast
1 tbsp. oil
1 green pepper in 1/4 inch strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup chunky salsa
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
8 8-inch flour tortillas
Cut chicken into thin strips. Heat oil in a large skillet. When hot add chicken, pepper and onion. Stir fry 4 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Combine salsa and chili powder and add to chicken; cook and stir until thoroughly heated. Warm tortillas. Place about 1/2 cup of the mixture on each tortilla. Fold up bottom; fold in sides and secure with a toothpick, leaving top open. Serve with sour cream if desired.
Watermelon Salad with Mint Leaves
From Paula Dean
1 5-lb. watermelon
1 red onion or sweet onion
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
6 whole mint sprigs
Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Peel and slice the onion into rings.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.
In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.
To serve, divide salad among individual plates and garnish with mint leaves.