So here we are in August. This is often flush time, flush as in we’re flush with certain crops. Which we are. It has been tomatoes of late. This week it is peppers. Let me tell you about peppers, because I love peppers. Many, especially early in the season, are your standard bell peppers – we grow red, yellow and orange. We also grow a great Italian variety, Carmen, which you may well see for the next months. Yes, months! I know that can be an overwhelming thought, but it’s also one that reflects seasonality. Peppers every week? More tomatoes??! Squash again this week?!
Ok. This is one of the perks and one of the challenges of CSA, and seasonal eating in general. Summer crops tend to be from the tropics, things that are perennial or at least long-lived in their natural environment: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, okra, beans, tomatillos… Yes, they often senesce at some point in the garden but only because they’ve been bred as a crop and are not hardy enough to make it through our varied climate and insect-uality. Peppers can make it till a hard frost, we plan for them to last long past tomatoes and some years we have them at Thanksgiving (my favorite). You plant these crops and they produce many fruits over a long period of time. And you have to pick them or they get sick and die, so if you want to have tomatoes available at all from July through September or October, you’re going to have them every week. Unlike our cool season favorites: broccoli, cabbage, carrots, beets, lettuce. These are plants that we harvest once and can change up more often when packing the CSA.
So what’s a farm to do? And on the flip side, what’s an eater to do? As a farm, well, we give you a couple pounds of tomatoes a week and hope to everywhere that you like tomatoes. We can also put the Trade Box out at pickup, which we’ll start doing again. We can plant different varieties and try to spice things up that way – i.e., yellow squash to zucchini to Tromboncino squash to yellow squash. And I think we can add some complexity to our system either by having other markets (so we can grow everything and sell them different places, so you don’t necessarily see them every week) or by preserving crops for eating at other time: making sauce, freezing, making prepared salads, pies, soups and other dishes to sell or give through CSA. This would allow us to break up the monotony – say every fourth week we skip the tomatoes and made sauce, or pickles or relish out of the cukes, or Romesco out of the peppers. These are both strategies we’re exploring as we grow the farm, particularly the latter; the latter being a beautiful process and complicated by an imbalance in kitchen space relative to size of CSA and quantity of tomatoes at a given time! Bonnie, Steph, Deb and I really enjoy thinking about this and we’re circling in on how to make it work. Have you tried the tomato sauce? Try the prepared foods we sell each week as we figure this out. They are in the walk-in cooler at the Farm Stand every day and are made across the street at Willowsford Kitchen. We generally have one or two prepared salads, sandwiches, and dessert, and now often tomato sauce or Romesco. We also have soups in the freezer. They are great. That’s what I think; let us know, of course, what you think.
As an eater, you can do much the same thing. We try not to give too much of a single vegetable at a time, but if they start piling up, try making soup to freeze or sauce to can. If you need extra veggies to make the batch “worth it” from a time or space perspective, we should have at the Farm Stand. And if you don’t know how, take a cooking class with Bonnie or Steph themselves!
Regardless, tell us how we can help you make the most out of your produce and your CSA share. CSA is a great adventure and it can be done in many ways – lots of items, few items, lots of small amounts of items, large amounts of few items, total choice, some choice… We want to know what fits your life best, and how we can help you change a little to fit the nature of seasonal eating best, too.
As for this week’s peppers, check out Bonnie’s recipe and demo video for making Romesco. Also try roasting and freezing your peppers if they pile up: roast, peel, marinate, bag, freeze. The best in winter!
Have a good week and be great,