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173 130th Street • Deer Park, WI 54007
507.923.6251 • sweettopfarm@gmail.com  
www.sweettopfarm.com
CSA Newsletter: Week Eight
03 August 2016
scroll down to read what is in your CSA box, storage tips, recipes, and see photos of the farm this week

A Brief History of Community Supported Agriculture

I will be the first to admit that until I worked for a CSA farm, I had never even heard of one. My family had a garden (mostly tomatoes) but we did not shop at farmers markets, only occasionally farm stands or stores. In 2005, I worked for a small vegetable and flower farm near Asheville, North Carolina. There, I started to learn about Community Supported Agriculture. Little did I know, my parents had recently moved around the corner from one of two CSA farms that started the movement in the United States: Temple Wilton Community Farm. In the years to come, Adam and I became much more connected with CSA farmers through employment, mentorship, and friendship. Today, I help manage the Western Wisconsin CSA Farmer Steering Committee--a group that is working to better connect CSA farmers with each other as well as trying to strengthen CSA in our region. 

From FairShare CSA Coalition in Madison, WI: Community Supported Agriculture as we know it began in the early 1960′s in Germany, Switzerland, and Japan as a response to concerns about food safety and the urbanization of agricultural land (sound familiar!?). Groups of consumers and farmers in Europe formed cooperative partnerships to support farms and farming by paying the full costs of ecologically sound, socially equitable agriculture.

In 1965, mothers in Japan concerned about the rise of imported food and the loss of arable land started the first CSA projects, called “Teikei.” The Teikei movement in Japan is alive and well and speaks of “seeing the farmer’s face on their vegetables," shortening the supply chain to support local farmers, prioritizing environmental stewardship, and maintaining control of their local food system.

Now, fast forward 20 years to a time when Community Supported Agriculture did not yet exist in the United States. In the fall of 1985, three farmers--Trauger Groh, Lincoln Geiger and Anthony Graham--in Wilton, New Hampshire began a series of conversations about starting a Community Farm. Interest from the surrounding community broadened the support, and in 1986, two separate farms, Temple Wilton Community Farm in Wilton and Indian Line Farm, managed by Robyn Van En and her colleagues, in Egremont, MA, started their first season. From the beginning, the role of farm members has been essential to the success of a farm. CSA was never meant to be a marketing strategy but rather an opportunity to have the community support the farm in a way that allowed the farmer to do what was right and good on the land, in turn helping the community. Isn't that a beautiful concept? 

In 2011, we worked for Common Harvest Farm in Osceola, WI, one of the first CSA farms in the Midwest that began in 1989. When Dan and Margaret started farming, "a new kind of farming began that, at the heart, was about eating well and being connected to the land.  People saw the need to share in the risks of the farm, to form a relationship that in return would enable them to share in the bounty and sustainability of the farm" as well. Today, as a result of this movement in the mid to late 1980s, there are over 12,000 CSA farms in the United States.

As I researched pieces of the history of CSA in the United States to include in this very brief description, I learned that Trauger Groh passed away on June 27th. What a legacy to leave behind! He truly believed in "agriculture supported by community and community supported by agriculture." Trauger emphasized "That farms flourish should be the concern of everyone, not just the individuals working as farmers." In memory of Groh, Steven McFadden touched on ideas articulated by Trauger that also seem very fitting to mention here:

  • Our relationship with nature and the ways that we use the land will determine the future of the earth.
  • Farming is not just a business like any other profit-making business, but a precondition of human life on earth. As such, farming is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Community supported agriculture (CSA) is not just another new and clever approach to marketing. Rather, CSA is about the necessary renewal of agriculture through its healthy linkage with the human community that depends on farming for survival.
  • CSA is also about the necessary stewardship of soil, plants, and animals: the essential capital of human cultures.

What does CSA mean to you? Why are you a Sweet Top Farm member? Does your membership mean more to you than getting a box of vegetables each week? How can we help you feel more connected to your farm? While we welcome your thoughts, we also encourage you to just think about your membership. Next week, I'll write about some of the challenges CSA farms experience today. If you did not read last week's newsletter about our history as farmers, you can read it here: Week 7 Newsletter.

To read more about the History of CSA, visit these resources:


Temple Wilton Community Farm History
Just Food
In Memory of Trauger Groh
Common Harvest Farm

Please read the details below about individual vegetables in your box this week. Enjoy this week’s harvest.

Your Farmers,
Megan, Adam, and Edith

ATTENTION: Do you have a cloth bag (or two or three)? We started the season with 250 and are down to about 100.  PLEASE RETURN THE BAGS! We reuse them each season, and they are not for you to keep.  Thank you for your cooperation.
What's in your box and
where does it go?
 
  Fridge? Bag?
basil no vase of water
bell pepper yes plastic
cantaloupe yes once cut, in container
carrots yes plastic
celery yes plastic
cipollini onions yes plastic
cucumbers yes plastic
garlic no countertop
new potatoes no paper
summer squash yes plastic
zucchini yes plastic
Recipes
 
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (can use fresh onions, green onions, or white part of leeks)
4 cups new potatoes, cut into 1/2 or 3/4-inch cubes
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 small or 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (don't peel)
Baby green beans, trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch lengths
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/3 cup basil pesto
Shaved Parmesan, to serve

 

Pesto Soup with Zucchini and Potato
 
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened, but not colored. Add the potato and stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, beans, and peas and cook for 2 more minutes until the potato is cooked and the zucchini, beans, and peas are just tender. Stir in the pesto and season. Ladle into the soup into bowls and serve topped with the shaved Parmesan.
 
Adapted from Delicious magazine, from farm member Sara Restad
 
Minty Cucumber and Cantaloupe Salad

1 large ripe cantaloupe
4 medium cucumbers (or 2 large ones)
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
About a dozen medium-sized mint leaves, very finely chopped
For the Honey-Lime Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp. honey
Salt and pepper to taste


Cut the cantaloupe in half and scoop out the seeds. With a melon baller, carve out as many balls as you can get out of your cantaloupe. Chop the cucumbers in thin, quartered slices. Place the cucumber slices and melon balls in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, toss gently with your hands. Place the colander over a bowl and allow the juices to drain for about 20 minutes. (Keep the juice for smoothies!) Place the cucumber and cantaloupe balls in a salad bowl. Add the cubed feta and chopped mint. Place all salad dressing ingredients in a lidded jar and shake vigorously. Pour on the salad, toss gently, and serve cold.

Adapted from pbs.org

Click these recipes for additional ideas:
Left to Right: Time for cantaloupe; Tiny fall carrots with turnips, radishes, lettuce mix, and cilantro under cover.
Details about today's
CSA box

 
Basil
A handful of stems to add to cucumber salad, pasta dishes, as a substitute for lettuce on a sandwich. Basil is very temperature sensitive and shouldn't be put in the fridge. Treat like a bouquet of flowers and put in a cup of water on your counter.

Bell Pepper
A purple pepper that tastes a lot like a green pepper. Sadly, it turns green when cooked, so if you like the purple color, slice and eat raw. We are seeing a little color on the other peppers, but don't expect much change for another couple weeks.

Cantaloupe
When we walked through the beds of cantaloupe on Monday, we were shocked to see SO MANY ripe ones. This is two weeks earlier than we've ever had melons. Some are ripe and need to be cut today and stored in the fridge. Others could sit out a day or two on your countertop--give the melon a sniff and cut when it smells sweet. 

Carrots
This is the last of the first planting of carrots. Just in time--the next bed will be ready in a week.

Celery
Northern grown celery is delicious! It has a strong flavor and can be cooked or eaten raw. We are seeing Black Heart on the young leaves in the middle of the plants--something that isn't always noticeable when harvesting. It doesn't affect the larger stalks that you would be eating now, so just discard the heart of the celery if you notice browning. It is ESSENTIAL that it is cut, washed, and sealed in a bag in order to make sure is doesn't become limp. You can also chop it and put in a bag in the freezer for use during the winter in soups, sauces, or even Thanksgiving stuffing.

Cipollini Onions
These flat onions will make you cry but they are irresistibly sweet when cooked. Really fantastic grilled or roasted. Some of you have a mix of cipollini and Walla Walla. 

Cucumbers
Cukes are back in full force! Cucumber sandwiches anyone?

Garlic
This particular variety-Krautini-seemed a little off when we harvested it.  Although it seems fine now, we don't think it will store through the winter months very well. 

New Potatoes
This is a new variety for us called Dakota Pearl. Let us know what you think.

Summer Squash and Zucchini
Running out of uses for squash and zucchini? Shred and add to a quiche or frittata, substitute 1 cup of zucchini for basil when making pesto, thinly slice and put on top of pizza instead of (or with) pepperoni, or try this week's recipe.
A NOTE ON TOMATOES: Our tomatoes were off to a good start this year until late June when we noticed that every plant was showing leaf deformities on old and new growth (see photo on left). We sent information and photos to UW Extension and they suspected herbicide drift but were not completely sure. The closest soybean field is over 400 feet away with a young spruce tree line between the soybeans and our pasture--far exceeding the 30 foot buffer required for organic farms. Everyone agreed that drift so far away is odd, but not entirely impossible. We didn't see any other crops affected, so I suppose we will never know. The new growth looks great (photo on right), but the tomatoes just recently put on blossoms. That means that tomatoes will be late this year (end of August). Cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen, so as soon as we have enough, we'll start putting them in the box.
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173 130th Street
Deer Park, WI 54007






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