Control, or Lack of It: Summer CSA 2011 – Week 2

 In CSA Newsletter

In organic farming, there are certain things we can try to control and a much greater number of things we cannot.  After last week’s hail, high winds, and 2.5 inch downpour – control is on my mind.

We can control the varieties of vegetables we plant (Vulcan or Magenta Lettuce); who we hire; how weed-free we keep our fields; how much to harvest at a given time, etc.

What we can’t control is weather and other living pest beings with their own wills, free or not.  The centrality of weather to the everyday life of a farmer is something difficult to grasp unless you spend each of your days in the pursuit of growing food. For most non-farmers, weather generally influences proper attire for a given day and suggests a range of possible activities.  A rainy day means an umbrella and indoor activities.  Hot means flip-flops and a dip in the pool if you’re lucky. A frost warning in late May? Simply a strange, perhaps noteworthy occurrence that means pulling your covers around you just a little tighter at night.

For a farmer, these weather issues result in anxiety and attempts to control what we can, and deep breathing to accept what we cannot. That late May hard freeze had Mike and I in the fields with head lamps working until 10:45 at night, pulling huge plastic tarps over our strawberries,  in an attempt to keep the flowers (i.e. future berries) from being damaged.  (Every ten minutes one of us would run back towards the house until the baby monitor would catch a signal, assuring us Zea was okay in her crib.) A series of rainy days can mean relief after days of moving irrigation pipe. Or at the wrong time, too much rain can mean huge delays in transplanting crops into the ground. And despite my farmer buddy’s phone call last Wednesday, where he told me, “There’s no way, NO WAY we can get bad hail damage twice in a season!”, hail ripped through our farm again last week.

The result of high winds and hail? Ripped, bruised, shredded leaves. Thousands of dollars of crop damage and the knowledge that our crops’ abilities to ward off disease for the rest of the season has been compromised. Talk about a bummer. What was just a regular, gray post-storm morning for most folks last week, was a slow, depressing morning of walking through the fields and assessing what what was lost. A depressing morning of calling restaurants who’d ordered food and saying, sorry, don’t have it. A slow morning, where we tried not to think about all the hours and hours of labor made moot.

So what’s a farmer to do? The way I see it, there are two choices: you can get angry about the situation, or you can tell yourself, ‘It is what it is’ and move on. Mike and I consistently choose the latter. I always remind myself that things can always be worse. I remind myself that that’s why diversity in CSA is so important. I try not to get angry about what I can’t control, and move on, working to control what I can.

Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it? Even if you aren’t a farmer, the idea of not being able to control everything you’d like, is something you’re surely familiar with. So even if the centrality of weather to a farmer isn’t something you understand first-hand, you can understand its ramifications. Weather issues = those frustrating things in life we wish we could control, but can’t.

In your box this week, you’ll see the evidence of that hail most on your chard. It’s perhaps the ugliest chard we’ve ever sent out, but since chard is eaten cooked, looks really shouldn’t matter much. Luckily the hail didn’t reach our Pioneer Road fields, so the salad mix and spinach is in good shape. The lettuce is the only other thing in your box that you might see evidence of the hail. Prioritize eating your lettuce before your salad mix, as the hail damage will shorten the storage time of the head lettuce.

New in your box this week is rainbow chard, scallions (or green onions if you prefer that name) and kohlrabi. Kohlrabi are best eaten raw. They taste a lot like broccoli and are great shaved onto sandwiches, chopped into salads, or eaten as snack sticks dipped in your favorite salad dressing. Regular members are also receiving mustard greens. These are spicy and are best eaten cooked.  Mustard greens show up most in southern cooking recipes and in Indian curry recipes. See this week’s recipes.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your veggies this week!

Sincerely, Mike, Cassie and Zea

  • Bok Choi
  • Chard, Rainbow
  • Garlic Scapes green, cylindrical, bunched
  • Head Lettuce, Romaine
  • Mustard GreensREGs
  • Kale, Red RussianEOs large leafy bunch, purple stems
  • Kohlrabi spaceship-like green or purple bulb
  • Radish
  • Scallions
  • Salad Mix
  • Salad Turnips
  • Spinach

REGs = Regular members only

EOs = Everyother members only

This Week’s Recipes:

Summer Week 2 – June 15th, 2011 – Everyother Group B