Author Archives: Gretchen

Newsletter – August 15, 2017

This week you are getting Yukon Gold potatoes, garlic, golden beets, squash, cucumbers, green cabbage, lemon cucs, purple & jalapeno peppers, kale, tomatoes, corn, muskmelon and red watermelon.  Phew, that is a mouthful!! Enjoy every bite! 

Corn:  It never occurred to me that many of you may not have had organic corn before.  After receiving an email from a confused member on what to do with it, I thought I might write about it again.  Worms do not like GMO corn.  Between the adulterations to the genes, it is heavily sprayed for insects.  That is why it looks so perfect in the grocery store!  Start by removing the worms (this is a great activity for kids because they are fascinated with the corn worms).  They are normally on the top of the ears.  Cut off what they have eaten and if one has made its way down a row, simply cut that off with a knife too.  Boiling your corn will sterilize it.  Now you are good to go!! 

Fruit:  Get your canning jars and jelly jars ready!!! You are getting 20 lbs. of either Allstar or Suncrest peaches.  Both are a delicious freestone canning peach.     

Final Payment:  Time to make your final payment for your farm share.  It is due September first.  Statements will be going out again this week.  Please remember that I expect to be paid in full for the Summer Share, Fruit Share, honey, oil and lamb.  A $25 late fee will be assessed on the 4th of September and your produce will be cut off if not paid in full by this date.  Those of you who have made arrangements for a different payment plan, please continue as per our agreement.

A few of you were upset about the late fees and cut off in July.  How upset would you be if you didn’t get your paycheck when you expected it…say 2 to 4 weeks late? I have given you plenty of time to make payments, especially since most of you signed up last February.   I’m sorry I have to get tough with this.  But every year I have around 15 to 25 people who refuse to pay for the produce they have consumed.  I am not a huge corporation and it is very difficult to absorb that kind of unkindness every year.   It is especially feels hurtful when I already donate 25 shares every year that we are not allowed to write off! 

Newsletter/Blog:  It is vitally important to read the weekly newsletter.  It gives you info about your share, the farm, what is happening around here and the Western Slope and payment notifications.  If you feel you do not want a hard copy, but want reminders the newsletter has been posted to the blog; this is how to do it.  Address:  monroeorganicfarms.wordress.com.  Add this to your favorites.  Once you get to the site, the newsletters are reprinted to the left.  Sometimes the member who posts this for me will add comments, pictures and recipes that were not included in the newsletter.  On the top right, there is a place to sign up for email notifications when there is a new posting.  Add your email address and press Sign me up.   

Festival:  After 25 years of putting on a festival every year; we have decided to take a break.  We will not be having a Fall Festival this year.  We have decided to do them every five years on our anniversary.  We didn’t have a good turn out last summer….it just doesn’t seem to be special to anyone anymore, so we will make it special by having it every five years! 

U-pick items:  Tomato, anaheim & pablano picking will be coming up very soon.  If you are interested in canning tomatoes and/or roasting peppers; we will have them available.  There will be a $5 charge for roasting the peppers.  Get on our Wait List for these items.  I will need your phone number, name and what specific items you want to pick while you are here!  Do not plan on picking both at the same time, we will run out of peppers long before we run out of tomatoes.  (Jerry just notified me the peppers are ready, so let’s get roasten!!!) 

Newsletter – August 7, 2017

Dear Friends of the farm,

This week you are getting red potatoes, red onions, garlic, carrots, squash, lemon cucumbers, eggplant, purple peppers, green beans, basil, and tomatoes. Sounds like ratatouille or eggplant parmesan to me!!!

Fruit: Sierra Rich peaches are heading your way! A beautiful peach and one of the best tasting too!!

Produce Tips: It has been cool lately, but that does not mean it will stay that way. The hot days are wonderful for all the crops on the farm but can be hard on your produce shares. This means that your bags may have wilted produce. When we take cool showers we feel very refreshed. You may need to give your produce a cold water bath to refresh them too. Since the produce is so fresh, it will hydrate within a few hours to overnight. Don’t forget! Do not throw dirt down your sink; it will clog up your pipes. I wash my produce into a large metal bowl and discard the water outside!

Eggplant do not like to be cold or hot, which makes storing them a little difficult. If your house is warm inside, store them in a dark cool cupboard or if the house is really warm; wrap in plastic wrap & store in the fridge. If your house is cool, store them on the counter and use within five days. The best thing to do is to use them just as soon as you can! They are not bitter because they are so fresh. Therefore, you do not need to sweat them. Remember, they take on the flavor of whatever is cooked with them. That is why they are so delicious in tomato based Italian dishes!

Carrots/beans/squash/cucumbers: Carrots should be washed, dried and stored in a plastic bag. It is best not to wash your beans, cucumbers or squash until you are ready to use them. Beans I place in a cloth bag and I throw my squash, cucumbers and beans into the crisper drawer.

Potatoes: Store the potatoes and onions, unwashed, in a paper bag or a cardboard box or they will start to rot immediately. Potatoes need air because they generate their own heat.

I love, love, love to grill these babies! I simply cut them to bite size, sprinkle with salt and pepper, (add butter if you love it) and double wrap in foil and place on grill. My family will scarf down my garlic cheese potatoes. I boil 6 to 8 potatoes with garlic (1 clove per 2 potatoes) with half an onion (preferably white) with salt and pepper. Drain and mash, shred cheddar cheese (around one cup) and stir in just enough to mix, stopping before cheese starts to melt. Serve while hot!

Cooking classes: One of our longtime members, Mary Rogers, is offering a weeklong program to help home cooks learn to make healthy meals more easily. She’ll be sharing new and interesting ways to use our produce, how to get comfortable using vegetables plentifully, and her KitchenSmart System to take the struggle out of meal making. Mary has been teaching about healthy meal making for 25 years and has even taught a couple classes for members here at the farm that everyone really enjoyed. She loves sharing her skills and knowledge with others, especially fellow CSA members, which is why she is offering you a $50 discount off the registration fee. classes.cookhappylivehealthy.org

Squash Pappardelle with Pesto
adapted from Prevention Magazine 2017

Shave 2 or 3 summer squash into ribbons with a potato peeler; place uncooked in a bowl.

Pesto Sauce
2 Tb grated Pecorino Romano
2 Tb pine nuts
½ tsp salt and black pepper
Process sauce until smooth.
1 cup basil
Pour over squash & toss
¼ cup olive oil
Add extra cheese if desired!

Newsletter – July 31, 2017

This week you are getting potatoes, garlic, Walla Walla onions, carrots, squash, lemon cucumbers, reg. cucumbers, purple peppers, eggplant, cinnamon basil, green beans, corn and yellow watermelon.

If you are wondering about green beans, you’re right; we normally see them by mid-July! The story is this; we covered as many crops as we possibly could back in May when we had all that hail, snow and freezing temperatures. Crops such as beets, kohlrabi, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and beans did not get covered. Most of these plants can take a bit of a freeze and be okay. The beans did not make it. We had two plantings that had broken ground and they died immediately. From all the water from the melting snow and low (cold) temperatures, a couple plantings in the ground rotted because they had not sprouted. So you will see beans on and off throughout the summer.

How to use your share: The shares are getting bigger every week and the variety is really ratcheting up. This is all very exciting news! But several of you are already getting overwhelmed by the high production. Remember, we are trying to get you to eat those three veggies a day to maintain your health. Medical journals report you must eat 5 veggies a day (plus fruit) to start correcting health problems. Get a CSA cookbook! It has 10 recipes for every veggie we grow!!
Plan your meals around what the farm is giving you. This means you will need to change your grocery shopping day. Hopefully by now you are finding you don’t need to go to the store very often except for bread & dairy products.
Plan your meals and freeze the produce you are not going to use right away. The best way to do this is with a vacuum packer. (I have also done this with freezer bags and a stir straw. After filling the bag, seal the straw into a corner and suck out the air. Use your teeth to pull out the straw and seal the bag at the same time.) You can find a freezing guide on my website or visit CSU’s freezing guide.
My grandmother Bobbie taught me a couple of slick tricks: She used to cook all of a couple of types of produce for dinner, then freeze the left overs. This can be done with the vacuum packer too (mark the bag that it is fully cooked food). Now you have instant veggies that do not have to be cooked and can simply be warmed up and served.

The second thing she would do was to cook the produce, have it for dinner and then put the leftovers in a sealable plastic container. When it was full, she had instant vegetable soup! All she had to do was make the broth & add the veggies. Super easy, super-fast and (of course) the soup was delicious!

Fruit: You are getting nectarines from First Fruit this week. The fruit growers on the Western Slope are having a difficult summer. They had a very hard freeze at the end of April then another hard freeze at the beginning of May. Several of their trees were in bloom at the time. There was only one grower that had cherries and apricots. All of them said their apples were hit pretty hard and so far, only one grower said they would have one or two types of apple this fall. So, the majority of your fruit will be peaches. Between the three growers I use, Ela Family Farm, First Fruit and Rancho Durazno; we hope to get you as much fruit as we can throughout the season. (we do expect to get everything we need!) If they cannot provide the fruit, we will be dividing your Fruit Share fees between the growers to keep them in business. This is what Community Supported Agriculture is about. Supporting the growers in the good years and the bad!

Statements: Besides your deposit; half of your produce fees, honey, oil and fruit were due July 15th. Late fees have been added and new statements are going out within the week for the second half of your fees. They are due September 1st. If I am not paid in full by the first of September, all produce will be cut off and will not be delivered until we are paid in full. Missed produce will not be replaced.

We appreciate your business & thank you for your support! Jerry & Jacquie, Kyle & Sam

Newsletter – July 25, 2017

Dear Friends,

This is week six of an eighteen week season. You will be getting Yukon Gold potatoes, garlic, white sweet onions, carrots, green cabbage, squash, cucumbers and then one of the following: purple bell pepper, tomato or eggplant. The last three items are just starting to produce. It will be a week or two before we have everything for everyone! We are also in between muskmelon plantings. The current field has slowed down and a new field has not started producing yet.

Organic Certification: We just went through our organic inspection last week and I was telling some members about the experience. They suggested I write a little bit about it so everyone understands the difference between someone saying they are using organic practices and someone who is going through the actual certification. It isn’t an easy experience ~ especially when the government is involved! So this is what happens…

Record keeping is a huge part of what we do. We have to document everything that happens on the farm every single day. Starting with the purchase of supplies, seeds, equipment, water, etc. has to be listed. We have to keep labels from all our sources & copies of their organic certification for every seed we purchase from every single business. Then that seed has to be documented as to when it was planted (direct seeded into fields or greenhouse plantings) and to what fields they were planted. Then we have to document when the field was watered, cultivated, weeded, harvested, quantities of harvest and where that harvest went every time we walk into that field… for every planting in every field. This can be a daunting task when you think about the fact that Jerry has multiple plantings of just about every crop we raise! So each field & crop will have its own set of records.

When the inspector comes to the farm; they start out with a three hour inspection of our documentation. They then pick a seed and Jerry has to show them from start to finish in the 2016 or 2017 records what has happened to that crop.

The next inspection takes place outside for an hour or two. Inspectors start going through all our sheds to see what is in them (looking for chemicals). Then they go through the equipment to make sure it is in good shape and not spewing oil or hydraulic fluids. If there is a leak, we have to show we are capturing these fluids before they hit the ground. Fields are looked at next. It is very easy to see if someone is organic just by how clean the fields are. It is nearly impossible for every field at all times to be weed free. Weeds are a fact of life in organic farming! They look for bug diversity to see if chemical weapons have been used.

If the inspector questions what is happening in a field, they can take plant samples for chemical testing (which has never been done at our place!). They can then see if a chemical was used, what kind of chemical and is it approved for organic use on certified organic crops.

They then come back into the house and discussions then take place about any new requirements or regulations and things they want us to improve on. This can take up to two more hours.

So the next time you purchase something from a certified organic farmer, give them a big hug……they deserve it!

Jacquie’s Summer Pasta (page 71 of CSA Cookbook)

2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
2 summer squash, any kind, cubed
8 oz bowtie pasta

Heat oil in large skillet and sauté onion & bell peppers for 2 minutes. Add squash, garlic and tomato. Cook until squash is soft & tomato has broken down. Cook the pasta while you wait. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in cooked pasta. Variations: Add chicken, Italian seasonings, dill, hot peppers or your favorite cheese.

Serves 4-6
Great cold or hot

Newsletter – July 17, 2017

Dear Members,

This week you are getting Yukon Gold potatoes, red onions, garlic, golden beets, cucumbers, squash and muskmelon. (Purple peppers and eggplant will be here soon!) The first two plantings of green beans froze in May & the seed rotted in the ground for the following planting. But they too will be here before you know it!

Fruit: You are getting peaches this week from Rancho Durazno (Peach Ranch). This is an early peach and is fairly free stone (which means it separates fairly well from the pit), but is not as free stone as the later canning peach. It is a very tasty, sweet peach. Please enjoy!!

Do you remember? Ten years ago this date, I was writing about the trend that several dogs and cats were getting very sick (with some even dying) from tainted food. It turns out that a by-product from the coal industry (Melamine) was being added to their food by China’s rice, wheat & soy meal producers. It turns out Melamine made the food appear to contain more protein even though Melamine is not a food substance and has no food value!!!

What was not being spoken about is the fact that US meat producers were purchasing inexpensive protein meal from China. Plus, it is a common practice for pork and chicken producers to feed their animals the floor sweepings from pet food manufacturers. So if you were not purchasing your meat from an organic source, there was a good chance that feed for these animals were tainted too.

As long as our meat industry continues to raise livestock on a least-cost basis, I believe our health is at risk. This includes the organic industry too. Did you know that most cost-cutting practices lower the nutritional value of our meat? The universal practice of raising cattle on grain and straw instead of hay and fresh pastures gives us beef that is higher in fat and lower in antioxidants & omega-3 fatty acids. Some cost-cutting practices proved to even be deadly. Feedlot managers in the 80’s and 90’s started adding cattle scraps (from processing plants) into cattle feed. Mad Cow disease was the tragic result of this cost-cutting idea.

Again I am touting the idea that buying locally grown products is your solution to this problem. Small local farmers care about their land and animals and work them in such a way that no feedlot would even look at. The cost is way too high. Our steers are raised with their mamas until they are naturally weaned and eating pasture grass on their own (about one year). We take them and continue to feed them pasture and hay. Three months before processing, in addition to hay & their pastures; we feed them a corn mixture we grind ourselves to soften the beef a little. The result is lean beef high in omega-3 fatty acid and the natural antioxidants normally found in beef with a low fat content.

Beef: We still have five steers available for purchase. The steers will be ready to harvest in December or January. A quarter of a steer costs $650 and a side is $1300. We will be happy to take these animals to Valley Packing of LaSalle, CO for you. It will take approximately two weeks before you pick up your meat because they hang the sides of beef to age it before it is cut and wrapped. You will have to pay Valley Packing for the processing when you pick that up!

Hope you have a great week!

Jacquie, Sam, Kyle and Jerry

Newsletter – July 11, 2017

Dear Friends of the farm,

This week you are getting Yukon Gold potatoes, garlic, Walla Walla onions, red beets, cucumbers (Either the regular slicing cucumber or a pickling variety ~ both equally delicious to eat raw, but only the pickling variety can withstand the canning process for making pickles.), summer squash ( any kind), cabbage or broccoli, muskmelon (it’s just the beginning!) and kale.

This is a new variety of muskmelon that comes on early and is supposed to be pretty sweet. It is the earliest we have ever picked muskmelon and we are so excited!! They will get sweeter over time, so if yours is not the best you have ever eaten; maybe the next one will be (especially when our main season variety comes on!)!!

We started harvesting the potatoes and even though there are a few big ones, the majority is still very small. Their skins are so tender at this stage, and they can get roughed up or bruised pretty easily. Wash gently, don’t scrub, throw out the badly bruised (a small bruise won’t hurt) and cook them up…. Because the first-dug potatoes are absolutely the best and don’t take any time to cook!

Fruit: No fruit again this week, but peaches are just starting to bear! So there is a good chance we will get peaches next week. Yay!!!

Pickling cucumbers: I am taking names and phone numbers for those of you who would like to come pick pickles. The only day and time available will be Sunday morning at 8am. We will start out hoeing for an hour then we will move on to the pickle patch. Please do not email your information; I am not checking email very often anymore because I am not in the office, call the number above and leave a message! I will call you back to schedule a day to pick when the field really starts to produce.

Do you remember? Back in 2004 we were bombarded with videos of cattle with Mad Cow Disease. There was a cartoon in the paper I thought was hilarious and kept it in my office closet. I recently came across it and thought I would share it with you… Unfortunately the piece had gotten wet at some point and I cannot read who the artist was. But it reflects the issues we were dealing with at that point of time.

A gentleman is sitting at a fine restaurant looking through a menu. He says to the Waiter, “Until this Mad Cow thing passes, I’m staying away from beef.” The Waiter replies, “Then may I recommend the mercury-laden fish with a side of genetically altered corn?” Ah….awareness!

Grandma Edith’s Pickled Beets

I have never been a big fan of beets. I am also very allergic to something in sweet pickle spice. My Grandmother discovered I would eat beets if they were made this way. She would serve them warm for dinner, then put them back in the liquid, refrigerate them then serve them cold for lunch the next day! What I like about the simplicity of this recipe is that you get to taste the beets and not all the spices. Great to serve on salads.

Equal amounts (1/4 cup or 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup measurements depending on amount of beets being served) of the following: vinegar, water and sugar. Peel and slice or cube beets. Cook until tender.

Newsletter – July 3, 2017

Dear Members,

This week you are getting garlic, red onions, carrots, fennel, green cabbage, summer squash (any kind) oregano and either iceberg lettuce or magenta lettuce (same as last week).

Fennel is a very versatile vegetable.  Not only are the bulbs delicious in soups, cooked with roast or pork and shred in salads or slaws, but the greens are great as well.  Eat raw or dried.  Add to fish or the cavity of chicken, find a fennel pesto recipe (why should basil have all the fun?!) or add to collard greens to give them a little zip.

This kind of oregano is a fairly mild form so I use a bit more than recipes call for.  You will need twice as much fresh as you will need dried in any recipe (and most recipes are referring to the dried form when listed).  It’s easy to dry, just rinse & put on a paper towel or plate and wait.  When dry, slide off of stem and put in a airtight jar.

Fruit:  There will not be any fruit this week, they are in-between pickings.

Strawberries:  Here we go again folks!  This is our theory about the strawberry patch:  After growing in some of the best conditions in our 30 year history; our Spring’s over the last 5 years have never been so crazy and unpredictable.  We believe that the strawberries are coming out of dormancy in February or March when it gets nice and warm.  Then April and May come along and Mother Nature decides to give us a little bit of winter again.  The cold, freezing temperatures are killing the plants that have started to send out new growth.  We lost over half of the new field.  Jerry, Kyle and Sam planted a third strawberry field.  What we are hoping is this; if just half of each field survives, maybe combined we will have an entire field of strawberries we can pick.  Keep your fingers crossed and hope for a better Spring next year. Where it stays cold in Feb. & March and then proceeds to get warm the middle of April and stays warm in May!!

Produce Payments:  Half of all your remaining fees are due the 15th of July (except for animals).  Late fees of $25 will be applied on July 21st.  Please allow 2 weeks for us to process your checks (will still get credit for arriving on time).  We will do our best to get them processed just as soon as possible!

If it is the 4th of July, then summer must be here!  Hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend!

Cream of Spring Vegetable Soup   (page 8 of the Farm Fresh CSA cookbook)

  • 4 T. Butter
  • 4-8 small turnips, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 heads kohlrabi, peeled & chopped
  • 1 cup half & half

Melt butter in a pot, add onion one minute then add garlic and sauté until aromatic.  Add kohlrabi, turnips and carrots and sauté 5 minutes.  Add four cups of stock and cook until veggies are tender.  Puree soup until smooth adding additional stock until you are happy with the consistency (or don’t, I like both).  Return to pot.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Soup can be prepared a few days in advance or can be frozen at this time.  Before serving, heat soup and whisk in half & half.    Serves up to 6.