Week 4- May 3rd/4th


Happy May to you all!  This week, like many weeks of a CSA season, includes twists and turns and surprises.  We are getting a little warmer temperatures and touches of sunshine here and there.  All this bodes well for our farmers and their crops.  I hear there is more rain to come and can only hope that it’s not so much that it floods fields for days and days.  In other news, Penn’s Corner got a home this week!  Many of you many not realize but our entire staff works out of home offices.  Just today we began moving into an office space in Larimer.  More details about that next week.

Our farmers and staff have spent a lot of time recently talking about CSA and weather.  We at Penn’s Corner have the good fortune of being diverse and having a lot of farms to pull from.  Where the weather is gray in one part of southwestern PA, it may be a little sunnier in another.  As a result, our CSA members rarely, if ever feel the effects of bad weather or crop losses.  But we don’t want this good fortune to go overlooked.  We thought that we would use this week’s blog to give our new members a little history of the concept of CSAs, and hopefully refresh some returning members along the way.

This excerpt from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Library identifies the basic premise of CSA beautifully:

Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or “share-holders” of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.

In Farms of Tomorrow Groh and McFadden report that “Since our existence is primarily dependent on farming, we cannot entrust this essential activity solely to the farming population–just 2% of Americans. As farming becomes more and more remote from the life of the average person, it becomes less and less able to provide us with clean, healthy, lifegiving food or a clean, healthy, lifegiving environment. A small minority of farmers, laden with debt and overburdened with responsibility, cannot possibly meet the needs of all the people. More and more people are coming to recognize this, and they are becoming ready to share agricultural responsibilities with the active farmers.”

The Penn’s Corner farmers all work tirelessly to grow nutritious, high quality produce and other products for our members.  There is safety in numbers so when we do experience crop losses or in the most recent case, unfavorable weather we do our best to pull together and fill our CSA boxes.  There will be times when crops aren’t ready when we expect them to be, or when something just isn’t available.  We will always try to notify you of such changes and assure you that in the end, when it’s all said and done, that over the course of our season you will have received the full value of your share.

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If you are a Cabin Fever member and want to add the Harvest Share to your membership now is the time!  The additional 24 week share can be added to your membership and paid in full or in installments.  Be sure to contact Karlin before we are sold out.

*This week our Tuesday boxes will not have green garlic in them but rest assured that it will be in your boxes next week!  Some weeks Tuesday will have more products in the box and other week’s Wednesday will.  This is the combined result of small scale agriculture and distribution logistics.  We assure you that it will all even out in the end.

                                   THIS WEEK’S HARVEST

Tuesday

~ 1/2 gallon apple cider, Kistaco Farm

~ 1/4# red Russian kale, Nu Way Farm, CF

~ 1/4# wild foraged watercress, Nu Way Farm, CF

~ 1.5# banana fingerling potatoes, Clarion River Organics, OG

~ 3# Rome apples, Dawson’s Orchards

~ radish bunch, Nu Way Farm, CF

~ pickled Clarion River Organics turnips, Sitos’ Foods

Wednesday

~ 1/2 gallon apple cider, Kistaco Farm

~ 1/4# wild foraged watercress, Nu Way Farm, CF

~ 1 dozen free range eggs, Ny Way Farm, CF/Clarion River Organics

~ 3# Granny Smith apples, Dawson’s Orchards

~ red butter lettuce head, Goose Creek Gardens, CNG

~ green garlic, Clubhouse Gardens, CF

~ 2# red potatoes, Blue Goose Farm

~ radish bunch, Nu Way Farm, CF

~ pickled Clarion River Organics turnips, Sitos’ Foods

* OG- Certified Organic                                      CNG- Certified Natural Grown                                          CF- Chemical Free

Watercress

watercress

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)- are fast-growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic, perennial plants native from Europe to central Asia, and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by human beings. These plants are members of the cabbage family, botanically related to garden cress and mustard — all noteworthy for a peppery, tangy flavor. Watercresses are not closely related to the flowers in the genus popularly known as “nasturtiums”.  Watercress contains significant amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C.

Clean your watercress and add it to salads, sandwiches, or garnish a soup with it.  Below we’ve included a lovely recipe from La Tartine Gourmande.  Have some of last week’s feta still?  Use it in this. Try your Granny Smith or Rome apples in place of the Gala’s, use a knife if you don’t have a mandoline and skip the seeds if you don’t have any on hand.

Watercress salad

(serves 2 people)

Dressing:

  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Salad:

  • 2 handfuls washed watercress
  • 1/2 small red apple (Gala for me), cored, quartered and finely sliced with a mandoline
  • 3 radishes, finely sliced with a mandoline
  • 3 tablespoons feta cheese crumbled
  • Black sesame seeds, to sprinkle and to taste

In a bowl, add the ingredients in this order: sea salt, pepper, lemon juice and honey. Whisk in the oil and emulsify; set aside.
In a large bowl, toss gently the salad ingredients. Add the dressing and toss. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

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Lifits

The lifits, or pickled turnips in your box this week are an exciting addition to our CSA.  Sito’s Foods, a Pittsburgh enterprise, is a certified Woman Minority Owned Business member.  In this case Sito’s has used Clarion River Organics’ purple top turnips to make lifits.  Lifits are very common in Middle Eastern cultures.  Enjoy them in salads or simply as a snack.  I should probably mention that a little raw beet is used to dye the turnips red.     

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Green Garlic

Check out this New York Times article to read about green garlic and find some amazing recipes.

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