2017 CSA Week 7

****Please NOTE**** The 4th of July falls on a Tuesday this year! 4th of JULY IS NEXT WEEK!?!?!?
We WILL NOT be having pickup on Tuesday the 4th!
All members who pickup on Tuesday will pick up on Monday July 3rd 5-7:30 at the Mason’s

We have a couple of vegetable goals we like to meet for the Fourth of July: first zucchini, first red tomato, golf ball sized potatoes, first cucumber. All the vegetables (well they are technically fruit) that flower and then set fruit; cucumbers, winter squash, summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, produce slowly at first and then ramp up production until they peak and then they slow down again.

We LOVE including summer goodies in our CSA shares and you better believe as soon as we have 100 peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, or tomatoes in a week we will be putting them in your box; we can’t really split 20 zucchinis between 100 families..but have no fear...zucchini is coming to your box soon!

I don’t usually include broccoli and cauliflower in the “by Fourth of July’ list because I assume it’s a given that, with our earliest planting date, we should have it in late June...but ALAS! All the heading kohl crops (brocolli, cabbage, cauliflower, and romanesco) took such a beating from the wind this spring that they are further behind than usual.

With the heat and sun now, it’s easy to forget what a dark (like no sun!NONE!no sun at all!), cold, rainy, March and April we had. We also had, pretty much, a weekly Crazy Wind Event. Despite all the weather, the early planting of heading kohl crops went through they are starting to head up and look awesome. We are thinking cabbage and broccoli in the next two weeks with cauliflower and romanesco by mid July. We have succession plantings after that to hopefully keep them coming through August and September.

CSA week 7

Lettuce Mix - partial bag 
Green Butter Lettuce -  1 
Bulb Fennel -1 med or 2 small 
Green Onions - partial bundle 
Kale - partial bundle 
Garlic Scapes -   3 oz 
Red Beets - partial bundle 
Dill - partial bundle 
!BABY CARROTS! - Partial bundle

Lettuce Mix - bag
Green Butter Lettuce - 1 large
Bulb Fennel - 3 each
Green Onions - bundle
Kale - bundle
Garlic Scapes - 4 oz
Red Beets - bundle
Dill - bundle
!BABY CARROTS! - bundle

General food prep ideas;
Pre-chopping things for the week saves a ton of time! Chop stuff up and keep it ready to quickly use. I’ve been chopping up a couple bundles of those incredible green onions every few days and keeping them in a lidded Pyrex container for easily topping EVERYTHING.

Also I’ve been chopping two bundles and cooking them down with a stick of butter and then using those as a starter for other dishes. (butter + onions = something good to eat)

Big Pots and Pans. If you like making kale chips, it’s worth getting the large industrial sized baking sheets from a restaurant supply store. They just barely fit in a home oven but they are really convenient for making kale chips. (Also a great investment for making lots of cookies at once :) )

Weekly egg bake – I’ve had a few people ask for a recipe or guide for the ‘egg bake’ I often mention. Each week we wisk 2-3 dozen eggs, ~1/2 cup cream, salt and pepper and add to a large casserole dish. Then I take about 1.5-3 pounds of whatever leafy greens I have around (kale, chard, super greens, baby kale, beet tops, etc., ) I saute butter, chopped green onions, and while that cooks I add the greens; it seems like a ton of greens but it cooks down, sometimes I add some balsamic vinegar. I take the sauteed greens and put them in the casserole, they kind of fall down into the raw eggs, then top with chopped fresh herbs (lately dill later in summer i’ll switch to basil, and then parsley in fall) top the whole thing with a generous amount of cheese and bake until it’s not runny.

Butter Lettuce- this is the last time for butter lettuce in the shares until fall. It prefers cool weather. We have an experimental planting started now to see if we can keep it coming through the heat but usually summer lettuce is red leaf or red romaine as they do better in the heat.

Garlic Scapes- The scape is the garlic plant making a seed head; if left on the plant the plant would put more energy into making seed and less into the bulb. When garlic is scaping we harvest it everyday to get the scapes while they are young and tender; hopefully before they have made a full ‘circle’. If left on the plant longer they make a big curly cue like a corkscrew. You can chop your garlic scape and use it as you would use garlic in any recipe.
If kept in a sealed plastic bag your scapes should keep in the fridge for 2-4 weeks...but we bet they will disappear into casseroles, stir frys, and dressings long before that. We have been hoarding the scapes the last week in order to have a nice pile of them for you in this week’s share. THIS WILL BE THE ONLY WEEK WE HAVE SCAPES IN THE SHARES.
Other scape ideas; use a veggie peeler to make long peels and top with pizza. Coil into a spiral and put on a skewer for the most beautiful kabob EVER. Give it a quick blend in the blender or food processor with olive oil and freeze it to use later.

Dill would be great with a cold beet salad, and I thought you might want to make one too :). Roast or boil beets until tender, slice or cube and add olive oil and salt. Chop and top with dill. You could make the dill creamy by adding yogurt, heavy cream or the cream from the top of canned coconut milk.

Bulb Fennel

Every bit of fennel is edible; the frothy tops are a lovely culinary fresh herb. The stems can be frozen and added to vegetable stock/soup. And the bulb is delicious cored and thinly sliced and used raw in salad or slaw or lightly sauteed.   

2017 CSA Week 6

****Please NOTE**** The 4th of July falls on a Tuesday this year!
We WILL NOT be having pickup on Tuesday the 4th!
All members who pickup on Tuesday will pick up on Monday July 3rd 5-7:30 on the Mason’s front porch! We will post this announcement at the top of every news letter until the 4th of July.

Phew! What a week we had last week! Monday it was 90 degrees and windy in the fields. Tuesday we had over an inch of steady rain and winds (No gusts! No Hail!) during a harvest day; the lettuce mix was literally blowing away in the wind during harvest. Wednesday we had a high of 55. Thursday and Friday were perfect weather for working outside; overcast with a high of 65. Saturday we had a beautiful mild sunny day.

This week we will celebrate summer solstice on Wednesday. On solstice we like to mindfully respect the humbling power of this season; so full of sun and light. As we approach summer solstice, and the longest day length of the year, we are feeling the fullness of the 16+ hours of daylight.
The day length in our northern latitude (48 degrees north) in combination with our year round cool nights makes Northwest Montana an ideal place for growing greens and we know it’s easy to OVER DO IT and put too many greens in your box. Loooooonnnnnnggg ago we lived briefly in Philadelphia and we were members of a CSA there. Little did I know then that I was learning about what I didn’t want my own CSA to be like someday. Each week we went to pick up and came home with about $20 of kale. Seriously; kale of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I love kale and I’m pretty decent at cooking with it, but that CSA was too over the top with the greens. Remembering our own CSA experience, we try to never overload the boxes with braising greens. We really want your nightly meals to be able to be prepared from the contents of your CSA box. That said, in our climate, even on ‘the first day of summer’ and well into the first weeks of summer the things that grow the best here are leafy.

The summer veggies are in the ground and growing slowly. The 60 degree weather this week, and in the coming forecast, are pretty typical for June in Montana. Our green beans are up and getting their true leaves, the squash look pretty much the same as when we set them out three weeks ago (this happens every year then all at once they are huge and fruiting!), the tomatoes and cucumbers are growing a little everyday….and the kale...well, you can pretty much cut it to the ground right now and it will be as tall as a human child in ten days. This week it is officially summer AND we will have ‘summer veggies’ in the coming weeks and months AND for now we get to enjoy these abundant leafy veggies.

CSA week 6

Partial Full
Spinach - partial bag 
Baby Kale - partial bag 
Baby Romaine - lettuce 2 each 
Green Onions - partial bundle
Dill - partial bundle
Kohlrabi - 2 each
Golden Beets - partial bundle
Basil - just a bit 

Spinach - bag
Baby Kale - bag
Baby Romaine lettuce - 3 each
Green Onions - bundle
Dill - bundle
Kohlrabi - 3 each
Golden Beets - bundle
Basil - just a bit more

Baby Kale-We love this little kale for Caesar salads; at a recent pot luck our middle child tried a salad a friend made with baby kale and proclaimed “WHO MADE THIS WONDERFUL SALAD!?!?!”

Kohlrabi- in addition to the ideas I shared for preparing kohlrabi in the newsletter last week, I remembered on the cold and rainy Tuesday that I love shredding kohlrabi with equal parts potato and some green onions for making some lovely comfort food...hash browns. Here’s another unique awesome favorite that we ate in one sitting:

Kohlrabi Mac and Cheese
In a large heavy bottomed pan melt one stick butter, saute a whole bundle (or two) of chopped green onions, add salt and saute, while the onions start to cook peel and shred about 1 lb or six cups of grated kohlrabi, add to pan and saute (you could use shredded cabbage, or any other root vegetable as well). Prepare your favorite mac and cheese casserole and stir in these lovely sauteed veggies and bake as usual.

Salad Dressing
I love this easy guide for making dressings…
and your DILL would be lovely in some dressing! Or chop up your dill and keep it in a covered container in the fridge; what isn’t good with fresh dill on it?

Little bit of Basil-after this week when we include basil in the shares it will usually be 2 oz of basil for full shares and 1.5 oz for partial shares. We are dividing all of our first basil harvest among our CSA members. Our family will make our first basil topped pizza of the year to celebrate solstice!

Golden Beets- If you’ve never had these you are in for a treat! The beets are still small this time of year and roasting and eating these may just be the culinary highlight of your week. When they are small I don’t peel beets; I just cut them in half and roast in butter in the oven until soft.

Golden Beet tops may just be my favorite of all the braising greens ( I know what you are thinking... But you say that about all the greens’). Beet greens are super nutritious and crazy high in potassium, but all that healthy stuff aside, the best thing about them is that they taste amazing. We used sauteed beet greens for our weekly breakfast casserole this week (golden beet tops, green onions, hakuri turnips, pork sausage and Parmesan cheese egg bake!) . Beet tops are very similar to chard and like chard they can be used interchangeably in ANY recipe that calls for cooked spinach.

Happy Summer to our wonderful CSA customers! We hope your first day of summer is full of love and light~ Lower Valley Farm

2017 CSA Week 5

****Please NOTE**** The 4th of July falls on a Tuesday this year!
We WILL NOT be having pickup on Tuesday the 4th!
All members who pickup on Tuesday will pick up on Monday July 3rd 5-7:30 on the Mason’s front porch! We will post this announcement at the top of every newsletter until the 4th of July.

Hello Wonderful CSA families!

We are just back from our weekly crop walk around the farm and stand in awe and wonder at the productivity and yields of our farm this spring.

We have been busy implementing many changes that are making the farm more productive and improving our quality of life. This spring we finished a new walk-in fridge, updated our wash/pack shed, a dedicated vehicle and refrigerated trailer for market, csa drop offs, and deliveries. We built a new greens spinner for hydro-cooled (remember, not washed,hydro-cooled!) baby greens, bought new implements for our tractors and a new transplanter, and hired more employees.

These improvements are all amazing and really changing the way the farm works for the better. We want to do this work not just in our 30s but for the next 30 years and having appropriate tools has made the work much easier on our bodies this year.

We are attempting to create more ease in all the ‘bottlenecks’ and all the parts of the farm that are physically unsustainable. One big bottleneck for us has been that up until three weeks ago our copious amounts of baby greens were rinsed and spun to dry in a hand cranked spinner. Jay stayed up late a couple night in a row and with the help of Youtube videos, hacked a washing machine to become a greens spinner. 

When using this new tool for CSA harvest last week, we didn’t spin dry the lettuce mix long enough and some of the CSA lettuce was way too wet when it was bagged; resulting in a very short shelf life.

We are so so so sorry about this! We pride ourselves in our high quality greens and love hearing how long they keep for our customers. We are taking this as a learning opportunity. We will add a timer and have a ‘set’ time for the new greens spinner to ensure the greens are dry.

As part of our "new equipment" learning curve, we are excited to include an extra 8 oz lettuce mix in all our partial shares and a 16 oz lettuce mix in all the full shares this week.
We are so grateful for each and every one of you!

CSA week 5

Arugula - partial bag 
Napa Cabbage - ½ large or 1 small 
Head lettuce:
Red or Green leaf or bibb - 1, small 
Lacinato Kale - partial bundle 
Green Onions - partial bundle 
Cilantro -   partial bundle 
Kohlrabi - 2 each
Lettuce Mix - 1/2 lb

Arugula - bag
Napa Cabbage  -1 med
Head lettuce:
Red or Green leaf or bibb - 1, large
Lacinato Kale - bundle
Green Onions - bundle
Cilantro - bundle
Kohlrabi - 3 each
Lettuce Mix - 1 lb

Kale-I know lots of you love kale and lots of you wonder what the heck to do with it! )
Probably our favorite thing is make kale chips: They are a lot of effort for the amount of ‘snack’ you get from your efforts, but such a good way to get some dark leafy greens into your day. I love Tracy’s directions for kale chips and her clever idea for the ‘everything kale’. (link)

Green Onions-I keep a chopped up bowl of green onions in the fridge in a lidded glass Pyrex bowl and pull it out for a great topping to ANYTHING!

Kohlrabi- kohlrabi is the weirdo in the box this week. We hope you love it but understand that many people don’t (love it). If you fall in the later camp take heart that it is something we only include in the shares 2-3 times a season as we know not everyone loves it.
We LOVE it!
Here is how we prepare it most often; peel and cut in half then thinly slice the kohlrabi into thin half moons and use to eat anything you would normally eat with crackers; chicken salad, cheese, potato salad, hummus, etc., it is also good thinly sliced and added to a sandwich.
Peeled and shredded-get out a grater or food processor and shred these lovely kohlrabis and for a kohlrabi slaw or shredded salad.
Also! The leaves are edible and good sauteed. They are similar to kale and can be stir fried/braised.

Napa Cabbage and Cilantro- pretty much a match made in heaven! Napa cabbage peanut sauce with cilantro is happening in our house this week!

A bit about what goes in your shares each week:
The CSA list you get each week is a guide, and not set in stone. Sometimes crops bolt or get bitter or damaged in the days between when we write the newsletter and harvest day.
We don’t package things as much as when we take them to market. We don’t label them and we hope the csa newsletter photo with words on it as your weekly guide. We love minimizing packaging and labels. For 100 members to get, on average, two bags of greens (or micros/shoots) per week that saves 4000 labels and twistie ties when we don’t use those in the shares. AND! It saves us time! Pretty cool! That said, the CSA is a work in progress and we value your feedback greatly; so please don’t hesitate to let us know if you are having a hard time identifying greens or if the greens are falling out of the bags (no twistie)...etc., we love working together with you!

We very carefully record the amounts and values each week and make sure we are staying ‘on target’ with value for the week.

In general the baby greens are 8oz for full share and 6 oz for partial.
8 oz is our ‘regular’ size at market and 16 oz is the ‘large’ market size.  We don’t usually put a full pound of baby greens in the shares because at 7 dollars it’s hard to get a nice diversity of produce in the box and still not go over the weekly value.
We LOVE your questions and feedback about what’s in the shares. Don’t hesitate to ask!

Wishing you all a great week!
~Kindly, Lower Valley Farm

2017 CSA Week 4

We had a week of beautiful warm weather last week. We were really surprised that the temps got up to 93 here on Wednesday and the pressure system that night broke with a huge thunderstorm that rolled onto the farm off Flathead lake. The wind mostly came from the south but there were gusts from the west as well. Wind changing directions is usually a one-way ticket to row cover blowing off our crops. We did have some pieces come off and damage a few of the delicately stemmed early planted broccoli. Luckily it was a short storm and there was minimal damage.

Our crew all handled the heat like champs last week. While upper 80s and low 90s isn’t super hot, we have been working outside in about 50 degree weather for the last three months and that kind of a jump can take a big toll on your body when you work outside. This year we are so fortunate to have a full time three-member crew of Mandy, Jay, and our new full time employee Kari Hammer. I could go on, for days, about how wonderful Kari is! She is a quick learner, hard worker, great communicator, and generally just awesome to be around. We are so thankful to have her!

We have been able to invest this year not only in the equipment necessary to make the workload on the farm more sustainable, but also invest in having more labor on the farm; we know many farms come and go and we are deeply committed to this work. We are able to make these investments in tools and a labor force because of our dedicated customer base and we are so thankful for all of you. Bringing a sustainable workload to an organic farm is a huge piece of longevity in sustainable agriculture. It is so easy to ‘work yourself to death’ and get burnt out before the farm gets the momentum necessary to really be ‘on it’s feet’. We are so blessed to be doing this work in community with our customers and our CSA is the heart of the customer base of our farm.

We want to mention a bit about the packaging and quantity of the veggies in your weekly box. We really like that we can use more minimal amounts of plastic in the boxes than we use at market. We use a thin small ‘produce bag’ rather than the gusseted plastic bags we use for market. We also don’t use a twisty-tie on the greens, saving a little bit of something adds up when it’s 100 members for 21 weeks!

Also, someone last week asked if we always include all the items in the partial shares. We do. And sometimes, so that we don’t go over the value of the share more than 15-20% over the course of the season, one or two of the partial share items will be small. The Partial shares are a value of roughly $18/week, and to include all the items in the box their often there will be a bundle or bag that, to me, looks really really small. But we have decided, for now, we would rather include all the items even if some of them are in very small amounts, rather than not have some of the items included in the partial shares.

Please let us know if you have any questions about the size or quantity or amount of produce you are getting in your box. We love the direct relationship we have with our customers because we get such valuable feedback from you about the veggies, how you are using them, which things there are too much of and which things there are ‘not enough’.
That said, we know May and June are heavy on the salad and braising greens AND the summer veggies will be here in the months to come!

Lettuce Mix - partial bag 
Super Greens - partial bag 
Salad Turnips - partial bundle 
Sun Shoots - partial bag
Baby Beets - partial bundle 
Rainbow Chard - partial bundle 
Green Onions - partial bundle 
Dill - partial bundle 

Lettuce Mix - bag
Super Greens - bag
Salad Turnips - bundle
Sun Shoots - bag
Baby Beets - bundle
Rainbow Chard - bundle
Green Onions - bundle
Dill - bundle

~Basic Directions to Saute “bitter” greens~
Heat a generous amount of fat in a large pan (how much fat you think you should use...then double it!). Add the finely chopped allium of your choice (onions, garlic, shallots, etc., ) and cook until translucent. While that is cooking finely dice your greens (kale, chard, super greens, mustard tops, collards, beet greens, radish greens, bok choi, tatsoi, kohlrabi tops, etc.,). The secret to not having “slimy greens” is to chop the greens small. Once finely chopped, add the greens to the alliums/fat in the pan and saute until reduced about 3-5 minutes at the last minute you can add something vinegar-y such as lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, fish sauce (I like Red Boat Fish Sauce which I don’t think you can buy locally and I get it on Amazon) or apple cider vinegar, you can add something spicy like Sriracha sauce or Tobasco. For a lovely rich sauteed green you can add some heavy cream and Parmesan cheese at the last minute (Kalispell Creamery has heavy cream at most of the local grocery stores). For non-dairy creamy greens, coconut milk (the wonderful kind in the can!) is a delicious addition to greens
Some sauteed green suggestions:

cooking fat  
coconut oil
Grass-fed tallow

lemon/lime juice
apple-cider vinegar

fish sauce/soy sauce
heavy cream
canned coconut milk

Parmesan and dill      

Chard can be used interchangeably for cooked spinach in ANY recipe. We love it for frittata, quiche, an addition to soup or stir fry, or just a quick sauteed side dish.

Super Greens are a mix of mustards, Asian greens, collards, and kale harvested at baby leaf. They are great for a raw salad. We especially like these as salad greens with a creamy dressing like ranch or Cesaer. If they are too bitter for you in a salad, you can lightly saute them.

Baby Beets- We like baby beets with the tops removed, cut in half, and boiled until tender. Wonderful topped with dill. The generous amount of beet greens can be sauteed or boiled. When I have a lot of them I will often get a big pan of water boiling, boil the greens, run them under cold water, squeeze the water out so they are in a kind of ‘green ball’ and finely chop them after boiled. Love! Beet! Greens!

Wishing you all a great week ~ Kindly, Lower Valley Farm