Dear Friends of the Farm,
Welcome one and all to Monroe Organic Farms! We are very happy to have all of you as members and we are excited about being your farmers for the summer! Distribution will be light for a couple of weeks. Mother Nature has been throwing stones at us; once on June 8th and again last night along with 3 inches of rain. You will see the evidence on your tender lettuce leaves and on the squash. Due to the rain and hail, everyone will not get the same produce. We will have to mix it up in order to give everyone something. You will get a combination of peas, lettuce, squash, turnips and garlic.
What a miserable day to start picking for Distribution! It rained all night Sunday night and was sprinkling when we got up Monday morning. It is a wet, cold start to our season opening! Colorado seasonal produce is the name of the game and time & temperature is the game. To find out what time of year you can expect your favorites; a Harvest Schedule can be found by going to the Home Page on the website then click on ‘Produce”, then click on ‘Summer Produce’. You will not see watermelon by the 4th of July. It takes the heat of the summer to get those on by the end of August or the beginning of September! It is the same with tomatoes. We have been experimenting with Sailor Caps; a type of “wall of water” system that acts like a mini greenhouse out in the fields. We hope to have early tomatoes this year (maybe by the 1st of August). Leeks and celery are other plants that take all summer to grow large enough to harvest!
If you are a new member, what should you expect from your CSA farm? Weekly deliveries of fresh, organic produce. You are sharing the risk of farming with your farmer. This is no different than gardening yourself. Mother Nature does not always cooperate with our plans. It is unrealistic to expect everything to be perfect all the time. We grow varieties for their taste, not necessarily for their beauty! If there is an abundance of produce, you will get it. If there is a shortage of produce, you will see that too.
Please be respectful of your Distributor and their home. They have volunteered their home to make it more convenient to pick up produce in your area. If you cannot make it during regular distribution hours, please call and make arrangements to pick up at another time. Distribution Centers will hold produce for 24 hours. If you do not call and make arrangements to pick up your produce, it will be donated to a place of need following that 24 hour period. While you are on vacation, we also recommend you donate your produce. This is a big part of Community Supported Agriculture. Not only are you supporting your local farmer, but your community as well! You can have someone pick up the produce for you, but your Distributor will need their name and phone number. This gives them permission to distribute your produce to someone else besides you and it gives them a phone number just in case they forget to stop by (which they almost always do)!
You will be getting lettuce for a very short period of time. This farm is located on the Eastern Plains. We get several degrees warmer than a farm along the Front Range. We will not have an extended season of lettuce because the heat will cause the lettuce to bolt and go to seed. You will see the affects of the June 8th & June 19th storm on your tender lettuce leaves. You may find your lettuce heads wilted by the time you get your produce bag home. There is nothing wrong with it, it has simply dehydrated. Hint: Place it in a cool sink of water and within a couple of hours, they will be as good as new! Any leaves that do not hydrate; use an old Chinese technique. Serve for dinner that day. Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and place wilted greens in water; let sit for 1 minute. Eat immediately! Nothing goes to waste and you eat the leaves at their most nutritious level! (p.s. Some of our lettuce has spots on them, it is called Freckles. It is supposed to be that way! Do not throw away!)
I bet most of you did not know that the protein in eggs are the purest, highest quality there is. All other protein is compared to the protein in eggs. On a scale where 100 represents top protein efficiency, eggs sit at 93.7%. Here is a list of other protein sources and how they measure up: Milk 84.5%, Fish 76%, Beef 76%, Soybeans 72.8%, Rice 64%, Wheat 64% and corn 60%. One large egg has 75 calories and the fat supplied by an egg help nutrients such as Vitamin A, D, E & K as well as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium to be used by the body. It could possibly be the most efficient protein for your body you can eat! Our eggs are no more than a week or two old. These eggs are so fresh; you will need to let them sit for two weeks before you can hard boil them. Fresh eggs are nearly impossible to peel! Our eggs can be kept in the refrigerator for three months.
Those of you getting honey monthly and bi-monthly are getting your first delivery next week. Those of you who signed up for a one time delivery of honey will get that in August.
I got a call from First Fruit, your Western Slope Orchardist and they gave me a full report on their situation. They too are having a cold wet spring. They did not get any hail so far, but did get a hard two-day frost at the end of April beginning of May. There will be no apricots this year and the cherries will be light. Chris still expects to deliver at least 5 pounds. The plums and apples are really looking good, but they put on their flowers mid to late April. He only expects half the peaches to mature, but believes he will have enough for Distribution. All in all, you will still get your 90 pounds of fruit but it will be a late season. He doesn’t believe he can start deliveries until the first week of July.
If you are a home gardener that would still like to grow something wonderful in their own yard without duplicating the farm, we have a few suggestions. Why not grow lettuce, spinach or other types of greens in the shade of your home or flower garden? You can water them as much as needed and it will not be as affected by Colorado’s warm days. Radishes, cherry tomatoes and pear tomatoes are fairly easy to grow and provide a nice substitution for the larger varieties we grow. Herbs are another wonderful item to add to a home garden. Not only are they fun to grow, but can easily be dried on a countertop for winter use! Just remember, when using fresh herbs, you will need to double the recommended amount noted in a recipe. Dried herbs are more intense, but fresh herbs will really make your recipe pop with new life!
A Member with a better Internet system (than I have) will post my newsletters to the blog. Please notify your Distribution Center if you prefer to get a hard copy at the Distribution site or if you prefer to access the blog. It is important to read my newsletters each week because they will inform you of additional “bonus” picking days, other events that may directly affect you or the produce you’re getting and fun things that are happening on the farm.
We will be sending statements out by the end of the month. It is time to pay your second installment for produce. You may pay these fees in full or in half by July 15th and the other half will be due September 1st. If you are purchasing spring beef, those animals will be going to processing soon. They should have been paid in full by June 1st. If there is a balance for beef on your statement, I will expect that to be paid in full by July 15th.
I can’t tell you how excited we are to have produce to pick and deliver to you. This is just a sample of what’s to come! My family is very excited about being your 2011 farmers. Thank you for giving us this opportunity. We are looking forward to a fantastic summer! When there are extra crops to pick you will hear about them through one of the newsletters or your Distribution Center. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions. Your Distributors are a wealth of information; they too can answer most of your questions. Best way to reach me is by phone, especially when the busy spring becomes an extremely busy summer!
Jacquie, Jerry, Alain and Kyle Monroe