173 130th Street • Deer Park, WI 54007
507.923.6251 •
CSA Newsletter: Week Two
22 June 2016
scroll down to read what is in your CSA box, storage tips, recipes, and see photos of the farm this week

Growing a Farmer

Recently, Edith told her Grandma that she was going to be busy for the next three months and wouldn't be able to visit her.  "What kind of work do you need to do?" asked Grandma.  "Well, I have to plant the melons and take care of them," replied Edith. She often lists off ten or so other crops she is caring for and tells her babies that she has to go do some work and will be back later.  It's heartwarming to witness how much she really gets what we are doing here--this is our job, these are plants that need to be cared for, we don't like weeds in our carrots or ground squirrels eating our peas, sometimes it rains and sometimes we irrigate, we harvest, we wash, we go to market, we deliver boxes of vegetables.  At two and a half, Edith tells me she wants to be a teacher (who also drives a school bus like her papa), but I think we are growing a little farmer.  

After a sticky and slightly cranky heat wave, we welcomed the cool breeze and autumn-like first day of summer.  On Monday while I watched a gaggle of farm kids (we are a couple of miles from several other farm families and do a childcare swap), Adam hand-weeded and hoed carrots, leeks, and strawberries--a task that is much more manageable when it isn't 90 degrees and humid.  Wait, strawberries!? That's right!  We planted strawberries this spring and hope to have the first harvest next summer.  During the first year, we pinch all the flowers so that the plants can put there energy into becoming established.  Our hope for 2017 is that we will have a late June CSA member gathering on the farm with a chance to pick some strawberries and tour the fields. 

ABOUT THE BOX: Typically, we do not put more than two heads of lettuce in your box, but this week, we couldn't resist adding a velvety butterhead lettuce too. In our experience, this particular lettuce head splits open when left in the field, especially if it is really hot.  In addition to butterhead, you also have red leaf and romaine lettuces.  If cared for properly (see notes below), these will easily keep for a week or two.

The pac choi and head of chard look very similar.  See the photo below to distinguish between the two.  The kohlrabi however is very easy to identify.  There are two bulbous plants banded together.  Peel the bulbs and eat raw (our favorite) or you can cook with them as well. The skinny curly cues are garlic scapes and can be chopped and used in anything calling for garlic.

You'll notice that the pac choi and radish greens have holes in the leaves.  These are caused by teeny-tiny metallic blue flea beetles.  There are crops that we always put row cover on in the spring to deter damage from this pest, but they are so abundant and ravenous this year that if a leaf was touching the fabric, they nibbled right on it through the fabric.  Fortunately the damage you see is cosmetic, and you can still eat anything with the tiny holes.

No spinach or cilantro this week; both bolted (going to flower) during the last heat wave.  Both crops will return towards the end of the summer and into the fall.  Also, the sugar snap peas aren't quite ready.  They are sweetest when they are plump, and we like to make sure there are plenty so everyone gets a generous amount.  They will be in the box next week along with beets and possibly the first summer squash and zucchini.

HALF SHARE MEMBERS: Your basil plant is in a large pot. We pruned it back 10 days ago to encourage branching.  If possible, transplant it into the ground or a larger pot within the next couple weeks. Pinch off leaves as you need them, and if your basil starts to flower, cut it off to promote more growth. 

A FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER: While we wash your vegetables after harvesting them, it is important that you wash them again before you eat your produce. We strive to keep the soil and bugs on the farm; however, the recent rains splashed dirt in places that can’t be reached until you cut the vegetable open.

We recommend taking a few minutes to unpack everything from your box as soon as you can and properly store it in plastic bags or containers. Now is also a good time to wash and prep your produce so that it is ready to use when you want to eat it (washing and drying your lettuce so that it is ready to put on a sandwich for example). Not only will your vegetables last longer this way, you are more likely to use your produce if it is ready to eat.  Our hope is that you will view your CSA share as something that you look forward to, nourishes your family, and helps you form a strong bond with your farm, not as something that you are scurrying to "use up" each week.  Here are some other useful tips to get you excited to eat your vegetables:

  • Buy a salad spinner if you don't have one already; they are worth every penny (we've even seen them at Goodwill)
  • Visit the library and check out a few cookbooks with an emphasis on vegetables
  • Unpack your box with your children; ask them what they want to try first
  • Invite friends over to enjoy a meal emphasizing your CSA vegetables
  • Visit the farm
  • Cook and eat a meal together as a family
  • Try using this CSA cookbook:
Do you have other ideas that help you use your vegetables?  Send them to us and we will share tips with everyone throughout the season.

Finally, remember to break down and return your box (and the cloth bag when you receive one) to us each week as we reuse them throughout the season. Instructions on how to flatten your box were sent with your welcome letter and can be found at this link: Welcome Letter. Leave your flattened box at your dropsite in the same location where we put your full box, and we will pick them up next time we deliver. It is important that the boxes stay dry and as clean as possible. We appreciate your help.

You can find the newsletter and recipes here: On our website, you can find recipes from seasons past if you need additional ideas.  We frequently post on Facebook, and you can "follow" Sweet Top Farm by liking us on Facebook.  Like us on Facebook for more news, information, and photos.

It is our pleasure to be your farmers this season. Enjoy eating and cooking with this week’s vegetables.

-Megan, Adam, and Edith

What's in your box and
where does it go?
  Fridge? Bag?
Barese chard yes plastic
butterhead lettuce yes plastic
garlic scapes yes plastic
kohlrabi (bulbs) yes plastic
pac choi yes plastic
radishes yes plastic
red leaf lettuce yes plastic
romaine lettuce yes plastic
scallions-purple yes plastic

HALF SHARES: potted basil plant
no no
Grilled Romaine Lettuce Salad
3 strips bacon
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 head romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise, rinsed and dried
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Heat bacon in a 12" skillet over medium heat, and cook, turning once, until crisp and fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate, reserving 2 tbsp. drippings, and let cool; crumble and set aside. Transfer reserved drippings to a bowl, and add oil, vinegar, and Worcestershire; whisk until smooth, and set dressing aside.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat.) Working in batches, if necessary, place romaine halves cut-side down on grill, and cook, turning once, until charred and slightly wilted, about 4 minutes.

Transfer lettuce cut-side up to a serving platter, and season with salt and pepper; drizzle with dressing, and sprinkle with reserved bacon and blue cheese.

Adapted from
Lemon Garlic Chard

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (scapes)
1 bunch/head chard, chopped
1 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Dash freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons shaved fresh Parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown. Add Swiss chard and water to pan; cook 2 minutes (or less) until chard wilts. Stir in lemon juice and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese.

Adapted from
Click these recipes for additional ideas:
Details about today's
CSA box

Barese Chard
This is a new and unique variety of Swiss chard that has white ribs and thick shiny green leaves. These little heads of chard look similar to the pac choi but has a dull white stem.  The entire plant is harvested instead of single leaves like other chards. You can eat the entire plant, and we like it chopped and sauteed with garlic in olive oil.

Butterhead Lettuce
The round head of lettuce in your box.  The name suits it, as it's leaves are soft and buttery--about as good as it gets!

Garlic Scapes
Green curly cues in your box; this will eventually flower if left on the garlic. We pinch them off so the plant puts the energy into making a large garlic bulb. Chop and use in any dish calling for garlic.

The bulbous green "thing" bunched in twos. Chop the leaves off and peel the bulb. Slice thin and sprinkle with salt.  This is hands down Edith's favorite snack, side dish, and dessert. You can also chop and add it to stir fries or shred it and add it to cole slaw or salads.

Pac Choi
Green leaves on a bright white stem. The spots on the leaves are from flea beetles and are just cosmetic.  Chop up the entire plant and stir-fry or slice in half length-wise and grill.  Juicy and delicious!

Radishes are tasty on salads, but did you know that you can cook them as well?  Coarsely chop and saute with a little honey and cider vinegar--takes away the spicy zip and gives you a whole new radish experience.

Red Leaf Lettuce
The lettuce this year is really beautiful, but don't let that keep you from eating it. While lettuce is packed with Vitamins A, B-6, and C as well as iron, magnesium, and potassium, there are only 7 calories in a one cup serving--so go ahead and indulge! 

Romaine Lettuce
Chicken Caesar Salad anyone? Have you tried grilling romaine lettuce? Give this week's recipe a try.

A pretty bunch of scallions (green onions) with purple and white tips.  Chop and eat raw on a salad, top your tacos or enchiladas, toss into an omelet, or saute in a stir-fry. 

HALF SHARES ONLY: Potted Basil Plant
Basil loves sunlight and a once a week watering (unless it is planted in a pot, then 2-3 times per week).  We recommend that you replant your basil in a larger pot or in the ground.  To harvest, pinch leaves or longer stems back to where you see new growth.  Also, pinch off any flowers to keep the plant from becoming bitter.

Pac Choi on left; Barese Chard on right.
Photos from top to bottom: Baby summer squash; A garter snake surprised Adam in the garlic; Adam harvesting garlic scapes under a blue sky; Farm kids enjoying a summer solstice popsicle; Strawberry plants are starting to put out runners, on the right, called daughters.
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173 130th Street
Deer Park, WI 54007

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