2018 CSA Week 3

Happy Memorial Day CSA Families!

We continue to be amazed by the productivity of our fields this spring; and with all the sun, warm weather, and rain...oh man...there will be a lot more good veggies coming in!

We spent a lot of time this winter thinking about what is a CSA, what is our CSA, what direction do we want our CSA to go.

Nationwide CSA memberships are on a decline. There are a lot of theories out there about why this is the case. Is it the Blue Apron/Hello Fresh model having an impact? Is it just ‘too weird’ of a way to buy produce? Is it just not how consumers are interested in purchasing produce? These are all theories and … guys … I have no idea why CSAs are trending down. We are happy that ours is growing (thanks!)

And as we have chewed over the question of ‘what is Lower Valley Farm’s CSA?’ I keep coming back to, yes, it is wonderful produce, yes, it is a really good value, yes it is reduced amount of packaging and product waste, yes it is reduced use of petroleum, yes it is all kinds of awesome for building a resilient local food community. CSA is all of these things AND it is the experience of the bounty of each season.

CSA allows you to truly experience what grows in our climate with abundance in each season.

Right now you are experiencing the bounty of spring in Montana and the quantity of lush greens we are pumping out weekly right now from the farm are staggering. You’ll get used to big bowls of salad and getting creative with all the leafy greens. You may even feel yourself getting tired of eating some of these things! Eating seasonally brings an intentionality to cooking; we prep food differently in the spring when we have SO MANY LEAFY THINGS than we do in the summer when there is so much cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes. Meals change again in the fall with the return of abundant leafy greens and the beautiful rainbow of colors of roots and storage crops.

Truly, what a blessing it is to get this box each week that so closely reflects the seasons.

Being a member of CSA is more than just a box of veggies. If this is your first year eating seasonally, it gets more and more enjoyable as the years pass and we are so happy to have you with us this season. For those of you coming back, I know you are savoring these greens knowing this bounty is so quick, so temporary, and brings so much joy to the table.

This week we have:

Kale -either Toscano or Curly, Radishes, Tatsoi or Baby Bok Choi, Dill, Purple Green Onions, Lettuce Mix (wahoo!), Super Greens, and Spinach.

Partial shares in 1/2- ¾ amount.

Super Greens- This is a delightful mix of baby asian greens, mustards, and baby kales. We love the flavor of this mix. If it’s too strong for you chop it up and saute it. I like it paired with a creamy dressing and sardines for a quick nutrient dense lunch.

Green Onions- Aren’t these just the most beautiful purple green onions you have ever seen.

Radishes- this week’s radishes weren’t quite covered all the way with the row cover we use to keep bugs out. A bit bug eaten...and still delicious to saute and eat. I know this is three weeks in a row of radishes. We have our first salad turnips coming on and should have them in the shares next week. We love radishes raw and I also like them finely chopped and sauted and added to just about anything. Last week I made a grilled cheese with sauted radishes, sauted radish tops cooked together with the melted cheese. Try cooking those radishes:


Martha’s Spinach Dill Pie looks super tasty!


Another comfort food type way to enjoy the wonderful flavor of dill and spinach together is with a creamed spinach with dill like this one from Kitchn:


Our kiddos really love kale chips I love this idea of the “Everything Bagel Kale Chip”


And always a hit is a creamy curry like this chickpea and Tatsoi Curry from Dishing Up The Dirt


Have a fantastic week!

CSA 2018 Week 2

We are happy to report that the first week of CSA went really well! Adding two new pickup sites had us being extra careful counting boxes and making sure everything was going to the right place.

We are starting our sixth year of farming and we are very happy to report that all the amazing things that are supposed to happen when you use organic practices are happening in spades (oh the farm puns!) at the farm. For years we have been building soil health by adding compost, rotating crops, and practicing good soil stewardship by using minimal tillage to create an ideal environment for soil microbiology to do its work, and guys--Ohmygoodness!--it’s really really really working!

So far this year we have had zero crop loss, and that is so awesome, because it’s our goal to not just grow a lot of food, but to sell all the food we grow and for every darn leaf to be healthy and vibrant, and it’s actually happening! As the crops are starting to come in, some are looking 100 percent premium and a few are the best we’ve ever seen (this week’s baby kale...next week’s lacinato kale bundles...the way the tomatoes are growing--it’s all AMAZING! )

So, what is it that we do, and how is it that our food tastes so good? (It is really good, right?) It’s certainly the freshness and the care and skill taken with the harvesting and post-harvest handling, along with the flavor, which is directly linked to the soil.

Somewhere in the last 15 years, since the USDA created USDA Certified Organic label, there has been a mind shift in the population. Well, maybe it has always been there, but consumers have come to think of organic as “oh good, there isn’t poison on my food.”

Guys, organic is SO MUCH MORE than not spraying poison on food.

Organic farming is based on the idea that soil health is directly linked to human health. The practice of growing a living soil that makes vibrant and healthy and delicious food is a career that is deeply rewarding, engaging, and creative. It’s an honor to do this work.

Food is meant to sustain, nourish, and be enjoyed, and we love that you are getting to experience food grown in vibrant, healthy, living soil. It’s a privilege and an honor to eat every bite.

Veggies in CSA week 2:

Napa Cabbage, Pea shoots, Baby Romaine or Baby Butter Lettuce, Beet Greens, Radishes, and Baby Kale

Partial Shares get all the same veggies in ¾ amounts.

Napa Cabbage - This is such a versatile vegetable and...it just tastes like spring to me. I love that it is so good both raw and cooked. A recipe that’s a hit with all three of our kiddos is: https://www.earlymorningfarm.com/napa-cabbage-peanut-noodles/

Pea Shoots- These are so delicious as a salad green that tastes like sweet peas. They are lovely on your daily/weekly salad as a topping, and also the perfect topping on stir fry. I love to make a big bowl of food, top it with pea shoots and ladle some piping hot broth on top to reduce the shoots just a bit.

Baby Romaine/ Baby Butter Lettuce - Guys, simply cut the cores out of these and use the leaves to wrap around all the things!

Beet Greens - These may be my very most favorite greens, and the tender young beet greens are always so delicious.

{Top secret tricks to cooking delicious greens: 1. Chop them up so they don’t get slimy 2. Saute them. 3. Add something delicious the last minute of saute...like balsamic, apple cider vinegar, or sriracha sauce.}

Radishes - I love having these chopped up in a bowl in the fridge for a topping for just about anything, but have you ever tried them cooked? Call me crazy, but I made a pizza topped with sauteed radishes and baby kale and it was pretty darn good.

Baby Kale- My favorite salad right now is baby kale and chopped roast lamb topped with a creamy dressing. Deliciousness! I love this kale raw, especially enrobed in a creamy dressing and sprinkled with something crunchy like walnuts and/or thinly sliced apple.

Thought of the week: Sometimes folks think organic is ‘how food used to be grown’. Much of the history of agriculture hasn’t been sustainable, even long before the advent of petro-chemical farming, land was often ‘farmed to death’. As organic farmers, we are stepping forward into the future by partnering with natural systems and building soil. It’s a practice that is not just sustainable, but regenerative, AND we are doing it in partnership with our local communities...pretty cool stuff.

2018 CSA Week 1

CSA week 1 ~ May 14, 2018

Welcome CSA families! We are so excited to have you in Lower Valley Farm’s 2018 CSA. We look forward to making this our best season so far. We hope you have all read our Membership Handbook, if you haven’t you can find it on the homepage of our website.

This spring has been full of crazy weather. Once the snow finally melted we were a bit behind schedule on our normal field work...and we got a bit more behind as we installed 6 new ‘caterpillar tunnels’ at the farm. We got those up, filled them with veggies, and proceeded somehow to get caught up on field work and we find ourselves now in mid-May with everything at the farm chugging along beautifully.

This spring we have three employees returning to the farm and they have been AMAZING at helping the farm get going this spring. Last year was our first year having employees and we felt so blessed to have such a great team to work with. This year, coming into the season with 100% employee retention rate, everyone knows how to do their work and everyday we are able to be so productive.

The growth at the farm is all possible because of the support of our community, and we are so thankful to you all. Supporting local agriculture is so much more than just saving gas/petroleum from food shipped from far away. Small farms provide incredibly meaningful work and provide our local community with a quality of vegetable that is unsurpassed in nutrients, flavor, and shelf life.

Truly, we are in partnership with you. We are thankful to do this work and we are looking forward to this season very much.

Now! Look what’s in that box this week!

A whole lot of spring goodness:

Bok Choi
Baby Bok Choi or Tatsoi
, either ‘valentines’, ‘french breakfast’, or ‘red radish’

Partials get the same veggies in ¾ amounts

Now….what to do with all this spring goodness…

Bok Choi - Your Bok Choi is intimidatingly large, isn’t it. Even the Partial shares...they are still pretty big, right? You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that since they are so fresh and grown in such healthy living soil, these Bok Choi don’t taste anything like the big woody flat tasting ones at the grocery (wait a minute I need to get out of the habit of saying that because….NOW WE HAVE PRODUCE AT THE GROCERY!….but you know what I mean….So-Cal/Northern Mexico Bok Choi’s got nothing on our Big Sky Bok Choi.)

Chop this bad boy up from the white stems to the green leafy top. The whole darn thing is delicious. We like the full size Bok Choi for stir fry. I know they are big but they reduce down a lot.

These vegetables ↑ will cook down to become this ↓ . . . for real!

AMAZING bok choy recipes at Early Morning Farm.

Baby Bok Choi/Tatsoi* *sites that get baby bok this week will get tatsoi in a coming week and vice versa

Aren’t these baby bok choi just super-cute? We harvest them extra small because we can’t get over how good they are coated in avocado oil and seared on the grill whole. DELICIOUS!

Tatsoi - This is my favorite of all the Asian greens (well...maybe Napa Cabbage...but it’s a close call). I love to chop tatsoi from the stem to the leaf and just ever so slightly saute as a side dish. Also very good raw the leaves taste similar to spinach and the stems have a lovely crunch.

Dill - Mix it with yogurt or heavy cream for a simple dip or top your salads, casseroles or….anything…! it’s dill-icious!

Arugula -enjoy in a salad with Ceasar dressing, topped on a pizza, on a grilled cheese,

Spinach - Chop up these big leaves and enjoy in salad,

Your Arugula and Dill Would Pair Together Nicely to make this Dill Arugula Fritata

If you don’t read anything else in the newsletter I really hope you read this: EAT YOUR RADISH TOPS That’s right! Those radish tops are delicious! I’ll be having some in my Mother’s Day omelette. They taste like a baby mustard green. The early spring weather always makes radish tops that are just so delicious. Saute them. Eat them.

Thought of the week (not sure I’ll do this every week...maybe this will be the only week with a thought of the week?).

Do you think willpower is a limited resource? It turns out some researchers say it is and some say it isn’t. Just in case it is finite, don’t use any willpower up trying to ‘make yourself eat your vegetables’. Eat them because they are good. Not because they are good for you. Not because you should. Not because you know they are full of nutrients so you choke them down. Nope, eat them because they are good and enjoy them.

Now, that said, it takes intention to prepare food and there are some things you can do to set yourself up for success. Make a large salad this week. We use a 4 qt glass Pyrex bowl with a lid. Make a casserole or egg bake with your spinach or your radish tops. Chop up your dill and have it ready to use in a glass jar in the fridge. Make a stir fry. Eat with gratitude and intention. Save that willpower for something like patience with small humans or strangers at Costco.

Happy Spring and we hope you enjoy every bite of spring goodness in your CSA box this week! Kindly, Jay & Mandy