From the Farmer

Week 15 – 9/12/2012
Hello CSA Members,
 
I feel like saying, “Welcome back” this week, which seems to be an odd thing considering we’re in our 15th week. Welcome back to the newsletter? Welcome back to CSA? Welcome back to school? Maybe that’s it, welcome back to “real life” as if the school year signifies this: school buses and back to school, after-school activities or sports, “back” to the three-season routine.
 
Maybe I’m just feeling a transition. The storm that came in this weekend came in fast and brought what feels like the end of summer – twenty degrees dropped in the time it took the wind to move from one side of the field to the other. Usually I pin the end of summer to one of two things, the noticeable change in light or the Autumn equinox the third week of September. Astrophysics I guess, solar system stuff. Noticeably changing light and the equinox don’t necessarily happen on the same day; really there’s a period of transition marked by many events – sowing of cool weather cover crops, harvest and curing of summer-grown storage crops, a cool night here and there. Yet there’s always something, some event, a moment, when you realize it’s happening. Maybe it’s subjective, but it’s there. This year it may have happened this weekend. We’ll probably continue to have warm weather, but the storm has cleared the humidity out of the air, the wind is cool and the shade covers you from the heat. It’s pretty nice really.
 
It’s healthy to anticipate change like this. We keep an eye on the radar, and we knew what to get done to take advantage. Friday and Saturday we harvested certain fields for the last time (Out Out Brief Pumpkins), harrowed others so the weeds wouldn’t grow too big before it was dry enough to do something about them, added rock amendments, and finally sowed more seeds of both cash crops and cover crops. With good germination from the rain, we should be looking good as Fall and Winter really come on.
 
Winter Squash
 
Winter Squash in the share is another sign of the end of summer and beginning of Fall. I usually consider them ready to sell at equinox, so ours are a little earlier than usual this year, but this can be a good thing! In your box this week: Delicata squash.
 
Winter squash is an annual veggie like summer squash; the varieties we grow span several species within the genus Cucurbita. While summer squash are harvest immature (before their seeds have matured), we want winter squash to mature, so their flesh develops a fine texture and sweet taste, and so they will store well. We look for changes in coloring and a hardening of their rind. After we harvest them, we let them cure for a short time so they will keep better. With the right storage conditions (don’t refrigerate! They like it 50-60 degrees, with good airflow – try your basement) some varieties will last all winter – and some even longer!
 
What you’ve got in your box this week is a little zeppelin of a squash, Delicata. It’s longer than wide and has a creamy color, green stripes, and sometimes a little orange behind the green – that orange is one of the tells of a good squash, though you don’t see it on all varieties and its absence shouldn’t be considered a bad sign. Like Acorn squash, Delicata is often called a “Fall Squash” as these don’t require curing. They are ready to eat out of the field. They do not store as long as squash like butternut, buttercup, or kuri, so you’ll receive these first.
 
Delicata are great baked. Cut them in half, turn the flesh-side up, and maybe add a little butter and brown sugar (or maple syrup). The skin is edible and peeling is not necessary. 
 
New at the Stand
 
New at the Farm Stand, some must tries. First, new eggs. These eggs come from Onyx Hill Farm in Purcellville. John Ebersold and Leah Knode (who is also a vet and does house calls) raise several heritage breeds of chickens on pasture, meaning they live a pretty happy existence (for a chicken) eating plants and insects. You’ll notice that there are different colored shells (I like the green ones!) and that these eggs have a rich, orange-yellow yolk. This is a good thing – you may notice they taste more like eggs than most eggs. A good egg should also sit firm in the pan when you crack it. We like that these are coming from much closer and feel good about how John and Leah raise their birds. Let us know what you think.
 
Also this week apples and granola. Apple varieties include Gala and Honeycrisp. Both are sweet, the Honeycrisp especially is a great fresh eating apple with the taste and crunch of a real apple. Try one!
 
Kate from Willow Restaurant makes pecan granola, which I am currently, and happily, sampling. It is gluten-free and is great with milk, kefir, or yogurt; I like it with the vanilla yogurt from Pequea Valley. This is really good granola; it has oats, pecans, just enough dried fruit, and is sweetened without being too sweet. We’re selling it in small boxes at the Farm Stand this week; let us know what you think, if you’d like larger packages, we will arrange.
 
And of course, pie. With apples.
 
See you this week and be great,
 
Mike
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Willowsford Conservancy

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