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

Donut Holes, Flea Beetles, and Fresh Salads

Welcome to a new season!  May was a busy month for us.  A majority of our planting for the season happens during that time, and this year, we had just the right amount of moisture and heat that the weeds were also thriving. We had some help during this time from a Northland College student who was earning credit by working on our farm, and our farm manager Edith (two and a half going on fifteen), made sure that we took popsicle breaks and sat down to build a lego village every now and again.  It is rare that we are able to leave the farm this time of year, especially for an overnight trip, but we couldn't miss the celebration of Adam's dad's retirement.  After an impressive 47 years with Kroger, Randy is ready to spend more time with family and will be helping out on the farm too.

Although temperatures the past couple of months have been similar to last spring, we have not been getting the well-timed rains we had last year.  What!?  It's true.  As storms approach this direction, a donut hole forms over our area, so while it rains in every direction around us--sometimes several inches--we get nothing.  Needless to say, we've been irrigating quite a bit, but the crops respond best from rainwater.  Between Sunday and Tuesday nights, we received 1.25 inches, and with the upcoming heat this weekend, we're expecting some major growth to happen. 

ABOUT THE BOX: It's time for salads to take center stage on your dinner table (and perhaps breakfast and lunch too).  The lettuce this time of year is tender and delicious. I am the salad queen at our house and really enjoy arugula with eggs at breakfast, a pile of lettuce on a hummus sandwich at lunch, and a salad the size of my plate at dinner. Yep, I could eat your entire bag of salad mix in one sitting.  We don't expect you to be as crazy about greens as me, but with hardly any calories and a nice dose of Vitamins A and C and a shot of iron and calcium, it's worth trying to eat as much as you can before the spring greens are done.  Remember that the spinach and arugula can be cooked too (try the recipe below), and wilt down to much smaller portions than when they are raw.  Also, if stored properly, the spinach and head lettuce will last for a week or more (we suggest eating the salad mix and arugula first as the leaves are more tender and won't last as long).

You'll notice that the pac choi, arugula, 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.

Your basil plant is in a large pot and we pruned it back 4 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. If by chance it looks like a caterpillar munched a leaf when you pick up your plant today, it was actually an Edith-pillar.  She LOVES basil and snagged a few leaves while our backs were turned.

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
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?
arugula-bunched yes plastic
butterhead or red leaf lettuce yes plastic
cilantro yes plastic
garlic scapes yes plastic
green leaf lettuce yes plastic
pac choi yes plastic
potted basil plant no no
radishes yes plastic
salad mix yes plastic
spinach-bunched yes plastic
Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (stems removed) 
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic or one garlic scape, minced
2 Tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
In a food processor, combine cilantro, yogurt, garlic, lime juice, and salt. Blend until smooth.

With the motor running, slowly add olive oil through the feed-tube. Chill at least 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Notes: Be sure to mince the garlic before adding to the food processor. Otherwise, you may have large chunks of garlic in the salad dressing.

Adapted from
Green Quiche with Walnuts

1 frozen pie crust
1/2 bunch arugula, chopped
1/2 bunch spinach, chopped
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the greens, eggs, milk, and cream. Stir vigorously to bruise the greens into a reduced volume. Fold in the walnuts. Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into pie crust.

Place pie crust on a baking tray.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is set. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with a lightly dressed green salad.

Adapted from

Click these recipes for additional ideas:
Details Today's
CSA box

A zippy bunch of rocket shaped leaves.  Wonderful eaten raw in salads (with lettuce), on sandwiches, paired with eggs, cooked as a replacement for spinach.  The small holes in the leave are cosmetic, put there by ravenous flea beetles.

Butterhead or Red Leaf Lettuce
The butterhead has soft velvety leaves; the first planting is not "heading up" altogether, so if you didn't get one this week, you will in the coming weeks--we have two more successions. The wavy leaves of the red leaf lettuce are tender and just as delicious.

Fragrant bunched herb in the box. Great as a taco or salad topping or try the salad dressing recipe below.

Garlic Scapes
Green curly cue 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.

Green Leaf Lettuce
The bright green head lettuce in your box.  Great for sandwiches!

Pac Choi
Dark green leaves on a 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!

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.

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.

Salad Mix
The first cutting of spring mix is always the best!  Although we wash it here, we recommend that you wash it again before eating.  Eat the mix within the next few days to enjoy at maximum freshness.

A beautiful bunch of dark green leaves; can be eaten raw or if cooked, do so for a short period of time

Photos from top to bottom: Sugar snap peas are sizing up; Spring crops; Killdeer nest in the middle of the chard bed; Freshly mulched tomatoes; Flowers just starting to bloom.
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173 130th Street
Deer Park, WI 54007

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