Our newsletter from June 28:
Dear CSA members,
Hard to believe that we are a week past the summer solstice and the end of June is here already. I always notice the summer solstice as a turning point in the growing season: the leafy greens start to dwindle in vibrancy as the fruiting vegetables start to set their little green fruits: tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis, etc. The grasses in our conservation reserve fields mirror this process as well as their energy moves from producing lush blades to setting seed heads. This is the time of year when we try to sneak evening walks through those grass fields to appreciate the firefly light show, which inspires more awe in me than any fireworks display that I’ve ever seen (it’s quieter too). We are hoping to get some walking paths re-cut through these fields this weekend, so if you feel like a dusk stroll through firefly land, let us know!
I finally got a few hours of apple thinning in this week, which gave me time to ruminate on abundance and how too much of a good thing can weaken both trees and people. The lesson of not trying to bring so many projects to fruition that I don’t have the energy to fully develop any of them is definitely one I need to learn! Sometimes I think I’m nuts putting so much time and energy into growing food, when it is by far the least lucrative of my jobs. But as difficult and all-consuming as this work can be, I’m compelled by it; I want to understand how to do it in a good way. In order to live, we have to eat other living beings, whether those lives be animal, plant, or yes, even insect in some parts of the world. That’s the deal on this planet, like it or not. But as Robin Wall Kimmerer writes in her wonderful book Braiding Sweetgrass: “If we are fully awake, a moral question arises as we extinguish the other lives around us on behalf of our own . . . how do we consume in a way that does justice to the lives that we take?”
In my backyard, plants frequently go from growing in the ground to being digested in my stomach in a matter of minutes, which really brings home the notion of “living food”! And makes me keenly aware that my act of eating is the most intimate sort of communion with the world. With that awareness, comes responsibility: to use my life to nurture the conditions that nurture life. The soil, the air, the water. To not let this day’s harvest diminish possible future harvests but instead make it enhance my ecosystem’s ability to produce future abundance.
I haven’t got all that figured out yet on a practical level and perhaps I never will, exactly. But I think each year we get a little better at it. This year, especially, I’m appreciating how far we’ve come in using cover crops for both soil enrichment and for weed suppression in between transplants until they grow up to a size where they are able to outcompete weeds themselves. In the asparagus patches as well, where my family managed weeds with herbicides for many years before we took them over, it is lovely to see the white clover we planted outcompeting annual weeds and providing nectar for the bees. The asparagus seems to be flourishing with the clover underneath it as well, which is probably because the clover nurtures a healthier soil microbiome.
On to the eating crops, though! This week we have for you two crops that we struggled with this Spring: snap peas and carrots. We always seem to struggle with carrots, from germination issues to carrot rust fly problems. But at least we have a few for you to snack on today and we do have a couple of additional plantings in the ground, so perhaps we’ll have more for you later in the season. The snap peas we normally don’t have so much difficulty with, but for some reason this year, the local sparrow population decided that the tender tips of snap pea vines were their favorite morning snack. I’ve got scare balloons and pie tins hung all over the pea trellis, but I don’t think they scared the birds off for more than a couple of days. But at least they left a few for you today!
I’m happy with the flavor on the lettuce heads that we have for you, but I wish the heads were a bit tighter and denser. I suspect that this hot/cold weather we’ve been having has confused them about whether to head up or bolt (send up a flower stalk) and that’s why they are looser than normal.
The parsley in your shares is a variety that we really love. It’s a little sweeter and more tender than some flat-leaf parsleys, which means that it lends itself to being more than a garnish! It might sound weird, but one of our favorite ways to eat parsley is in omelettes. Here’s an approximation of John’s recipe:
John’s Parsley & Green Onion Omelette
Ingredients: 4 eggs; 1/3 cup milk or cream; salt & pepper; 1/3 of a cup chopped parsley; 1/3 of a cup chopped green onions; ½ cup of grated cheese (feta, cheddar, or swiss are all good choices); oil or butter to grease the pan. Optional: 1 tsp or more of grated parmesan cheese and/or ½ tsp of Dijon mustard.
Beat eggs with milk or cream. Add salt and pepper to taste and parmesan and mustard if using. Heat oil or butter to medium heat in a skillet. Once heated, add egg mixture to pan. As eggs begin to set along the side, use spatula to lift a small amount at a time and tilt skillet so that some of the uncooked eggs run underneath the cooked part. Continue to do this around the edge of the pan until most of the egg is cooked. Sprinkle parsley, onion and cheese down the middle of the omelette, then using the spatula, carefully lift one side of the omelette over to the middle of the filling. Do the same with the other side so that the two sides overlap in the middle, on top of the filling. Turn heat down to low and cover. Let set for a minute or two so that the cheese gets all melty. Feel free to modify quantities and ingredients based on what you have and what sounds good to you!
Here’s another way to enjoy parsley as a main ingredient, from the cookbook From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-fresh Seasonal Produce:
Kim’s Excellent Parsley Salad
Ingredients: fresh parsley, finely chopped red or green onion; chopped hard cooked eggs; cooked chickpeas or other beans; garlic chives (optional); olive oil; fresh lemon juice; salt and pepper
Clean and cut up lots of parsley! Combine with onion, eggs, chickpeas, and chives, if using. Shake oil and lemon juice together (2 parts oil to 1 part lemon juice). Toss salad with dressing, salt, and lots of pepper.
Enjoy! Amy & John
Kale & Chard undersown with buckwheat. When it gets too tall, we’ll knock the buckwheat down and tuck it under the plants as a mulch.