Category Archives: Food Storage & Preserving

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

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Newsletter – June 20th, 2017

Dear Friends of the Farm,

Welcome to our first week of Distribution!! We have a beautiful bag of produce coming your way! In May we had two freezes and a hail storm. Jerry has always pushed the limits on trying to get produce as early as possible for you. We have three cold frames filled with carrots, tomatoes and beets. We cover early plantings of field crops such as kale, turnips, tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers with a light cloth to protect it from freezing and hail stones. The cloth did its job because we are starting to uncover these crops to weed and they look terrific (though the cloth is full of holes)! The rest of the farm is really looking good too. Now that it is getting so hot (hard on humans, but great for plants) everything is growing like crazy & green, green, green!!!

Produce: This week you are getting butterhead lettuce, peas, garlic scapes, summer squash (either yellow straight neck, zucchini or Q-ball (light green, round type zucchini)broccoli, kohlrabi and garlic. We are hoping all three distribution days will get these crops, but it is the first week and we may be short. We will make it up to you next week if a distribution center is shorted. It is very important that you return all your bags every week! Because we reuse them over & over!!

It is a good plan to pre-washing outside to get the majority of the dirt off in the yard (or an extra-large bowl set in your kitchen sink) and not down your drain pipes. Children especially love this task. (They are very good at picking off the worms in your corn too! Make it a game and see how many they can find.) By getting your kids involved in the pre-prep work, talking about the produce & asking them what they want to eat will help get them motivated to try the different varieties. Did you know children have to try something 9 times before they get a taste for it? It’s true!! So make them eat a bite or two every time it is served!

Your Distribution Center: Please do not forget that your DC is a member too. They have offered to be a DC to make it as convenient as possible for you to get your produce. They too have busy lives and are trying hard to please everyone. A majority of our DC’s have 30 to 40 Members coming by. Respect their hours and if you need to pick up at a different time or have forgotten to pick up during normal hours; please call and make new arrangements. They will hold produce for 24 hours. If there is no contact from you within that time period, the produce will be donated to a place of need; including your fruit. We encourage Members to donate their produce when going on vacation. Last year the Membership donated a whopping 1440 pounds of produce to organizations around the metro area. Let’s try to beat that record! If you plan on having someone pick up your produce for you while you are gone; your DC will need their name and phone number. This gives them permission to hand out your produce to someone other than yourself and it gives them a contact number when they forget to pick up…which they almost always do! Ask your DC questions! They are a wealth of information and will help you use your share. Get a cookbook. There are ten recipes for every veggie we grow. And, it was put together by members of this farm! It is useful and the recipes are excellent!!!

4th of July: Since the 4th lands on a Tuesday this year, we will be doing Tuesday distribution on Monday. The rest of the days will remain the same.

Your Expectations from the farm: 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. Along with June/July rain we sometimes get hail. Don’t be surprised to get produce with scabs from the damage this causes. We try very hard to catch produce that is badly bruised. But sometimes this slips by us & it will start to mold in your bag from the heat. We apologize ahead of time! We do not intend for this to happen! We love what we do and care deeply about the land we live on, the food it produces and the people it feeds. We are the caretakers and we intend to take care of you and your farm!

Statements: We will send statements each month. Your first produce payment (including fruit, oil and honey) is due July 15th. You may pay these fees in full, or half by July 15th and the other half by September 1st. If you are paying monthly, then continue making your agreed upon & scheduled payments.

First Year Members: This year will be your hardest summer. It takes time to adjust to getting your produce this way! Plan on going to the grocery store after you get your share. You need time to process your produce by sorting and washing. If you are willing to put up with the dirt, don’t wash until you are ready to use it, it will last longer. Produce breaks down as soon as it gets wet. But I also understand you might not want dirt in your crisper drawer! The tenderer a crop is, the sooner it will need to be eaten, i.e. greens, summer squash, peas, beans, broccoli, cantaloupe, cucumbers and tomatoes. I will give you hints on storage as we go through the summer.

Newsletters/Blog: A Member with a better Internet system (than I have) will post my newsletters to the blog. Please notify your DC 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 your 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. Access the blog by going to: monroeorganicfarms.wordpress.com. Do not forget to check out our Facebook page (also run by members) as well for pictures and videos!

The next u-pick crop coming up is pickles and that will be sometime in July. The strawberries did not make it, so we are out again this year. We need to have normal springs (freezing in Feb & Mar without freezing in May!) in order for a decent crop of strawberries.

How to contact me: Please remember I am gone 5 days a week delivering CSA shares or at farmers markets. I am home on Monday & Friday mornings or Tue/Wed/Thr late afternoons. The best way to reach me is by phone. I am very good about answering phone calls, not so much with email! I am just not in the house that long! Email me if you do not need an answer right away. But if it is about a change in your share or DC, please call me. We pick on Monday for Tuesday, Tuesday for Wednesday and Wednesday for Thursday. Keep this in mind when you want to make a change! Whenever you call about your share, especially if needing to make changes, always identify your Distribution Center!

Thank you: Welcome to the 2017 farming season with Monroe Organic Farms. We hope you enjoy every morsel! I can’t tell you how excited we are to get started! This is just a sample of what is to come. My family are looking forward to a fantastic summer. Thank you for giving us this opportunity; we are very excited about being your farmers!

Jacquie, Jerry, Sam, Kyle and Crew

Newsletter – July 13, 2015

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Hi Everyone!

This week you are getting New Red potatoes, Sweet Spanish White onions, garlic, purple kohlrabi, radishes, carrots and squash.  The Half and Full Shares will be getting the remaining fennel from last week and everyone will get one of three types of lettuce again.

I was recently asked if there is a special way to store the beautiful onions and fresh garlic.  I do not do anything special.  I put the onions (unwashed, but trimmed) in my crisper drawer and leave the garlic on the counter!

Kohlrabi is in the cabbage family.  It can be eaten shredded in coleslaw or salads, it is excellent in stir-fries as a replacement for watercress and it is wonderful simply sautéed in butter or coconut oil.

CSA Memberships & Fruit Share:  The concept behind CSA is to support your farmers in the good years and bad.  It is always a possibility every season that we cannot fulfill your CSA shares with the amount of produce we normally give out.  The fruit is no different.  You need to be prepared that this can happen.  I am looking at options that work with Members as well as First Fruit.  After much discussion at the dinner table, it has been decided refund checks are not an option and neither is going out of state for fruit.  Distribution Centers will be surveying you about the possible options you do have pertaining to your Fruit Share.  We will continue to discuss the results and make a decision on how we plan on handling this very unfortunate situation.  We should feel fortunate.  Because I didn’t hesitate and started looking for other resources immediately, we are getting fruit for our shareholders.  There are other CSA’s that are not getting any fruit at all!

Internet Enthusiasts:  We need some help from those of you who love to explore the internet and love those sites that review and rate everything.  We need to get our name out there!  Could you please make a listing for Monroe Organic Farms?  I just recently talked to a new member and she said she found out about us from one of these sites.  Here is an example of sites she said she looked us up on:  harvest.org, denver.cbslocal.com, coloradocsa.info and yelp.  If you can think of anything else….then please put something out there!  If you love doing these kind of things, please check out if anything has been set up for us and post a comment.  It would really be a huge help to us!!  (I didn’t know anything like this existed, but as you know, I am such a huge fan of the computer!)

80th Anniversary Celebration:  Next summer will be a very exciting year for us!  Monroe Organic Farms will be 80 years old.  As many of you know, farmers try to be ‘jacks of all trades’.  But this is too important for us alone to work on and we are asking for your guidance.  Would you please help us by joining a committee to work on our 80th celebration?

I’m sure there are several of you who know how to “work” the media.  How do we get our name out there?  How do we let the world know how old we are?  What do we want people to know, what do we want it to look like, where do we put this information.

I really want the Fall Festival for the members to be the pinnacle of all this.  What do we want to change with the festival?  Do we want to do something in the spring too?  How do we make it more fun for everyone?

We need to meet this winter and discuss different scenarios.  One idea I had was to paint face ‘cut out’ boards.  It would be nice if someone could host and we could all meet once in Denver, Boulder and at the farm.  I’m sure we will have to meet more than just one time!  Who has some ideas and who wants to help out with this monumental occasion!  Please contact me by email and I’ll get you on a contact list!

Your Bags:  The farm and DC’s need a little help here.  We need the bags sorted by color and size.  If you could please remove everything from your bag and shake out any crop residues, that would be great!  Please keep the small bean/pea bags separate from the large bags.

Jacquie’s Soapbox:  Okay, this is where I start in on a subject that is really bothering me, so this is a good time to drift away from the newsletter if you don’t want to hear me go on and on!

Front lawns.  What good are they?  When was the last time you sat down on or used your front lawn?  Did you go out and play catch with your kids this last week?  Did you go out there and do some yoga/stretching or calisthenics?  Did you have a bar-b-que with your neighbors?  I bet the last time you used your front lawn was to mow it.

Why do we allow HOA’s to require front lawns?  Why as citizens or legislators can we not stand up and voice our objections and stop this nonsense?  Front lawns are absolutely absurd here in the arid high plains desert, but we love them.  They should be ripped out and xeriscaped or planted in a garden.  (I grow a pasture grass that needs little water and basically no mowing!)  If you are going to water something, why waste it on grass.  Make it something you can eat or in perennial flowers.  Someday we will look back on front lawns like we now look back at littering and smoking in public areas.  Keep this in mind, one square foot of Kentucky Bluegrass (which most lawns are made of) requires 55 gallons of water each year to survive.  (Oh! FYI:  If every person in a four person household did not flush the toilet one time during each day, they would save 1100 gallons of water a year.  Remember Meet the Fockers?  “If it’s brown, flush it down.  If it’s yellow, let it mellow!”)

Water is like gold west of the Rockies because of all the water shortages in so many places.  Though it may not seem like it right now, we too were crying for water not too long ago.  Remember 2012?  Our annual rainfall is 14 inches a year (including snow).  We are considered a high plains desert for a reason!  Cities right now, are buying up water as fast as they can.  And guess where that is coming from?  Farmers.  We have something extremely valuable and the cities want it.  They are willing to pay a very pretty price for it.  But we need to rethink our needs.  Do we want lawns or food?  What will happen when we dry up all these farms?  What will they look like?  Do you realize 72% of our produce is already imported from other countries?

I don’t blame the farmers for selling.  They are aging and we have not made farming as profitable for them as other businesses.  When they retire, there is no one that is young and willing to work the extremely hard, long hours to take over the farm.  They sell off their water so they can retire.  It is not an easy choice, but it is hard to say no when there isn’t anyone interested in taking over the family farm.  Even Kyle struggles with the decision sometimes!   I ask you this one thing – what is important to you?

Thanks for listening and I hope you have a healthy and happy week!

Jacquie, Jerry and Kyle

UPDATE ON FRUIT SHARES JULY 15: Jacquie does not yet have details, but she will share with members as soon as she does. She does expect fruit shares to receive peaches and plums, though there is not yet a source for apples or pears. She is still trying!

Newsletter – July 28, 2014

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Dear Friends of the Farm,

Can you believe we are one third of the way through the season?!  The farm looks terrific too.  We are so relieved the rain has stopped and the temperatures are warmer.  All your fruit and vegetable plants are starting to take off and get bushy.

This week you are getting red potatoes, white onions, garlic, red beets, squash, slicing cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, broccoli or cauliflower, a bunch of Swiss chard and green beans.

Did you know that oregano, basil, mint and lavender can be added to iced tea or lemonade to make a flavored drink? Continue reading

Canning / Jamming Contest Winners!

What a great day for the Harvest Festival yesterday! I was fortunate to be asked to judge the canned foods and jams again this year – and we had a wonderful lineup of entries. The winners were:

Sweet
First Place – Spiced Red Wine Jelly
Second Place – Raspberry Jam
Third Place – Tomato Preserves

Savory
First Place – Sweet Pickle Relish
Second Place – Corn Relish
Third Place – Bread and Butter Pickles (labeled B&B on top)

If these were your entries, we would love if you would share your recipes for to be posted on the blog. If you know who made any of these, please get me their names and contact info.

Congratulations to the winners!

Member Preserve Recipes!

Canning and pickling season is here!  While I was at the Monroe’s picking cucumbers, I asked some fellow members about sharing recipes…  Pat Stark came to the rescue!

Claraice’s Bread & Butter Pickles
Claraice Sheffield, Manilla, Iowa (1935)
25-30 small to medium pickling cucumbers
8 large white onions
2 large sweet peppers (red or green)
1/2 Cup pickling salt
5 Cups cider vinegar
4 Cups sugar
2 Tbsp. mustard seed
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. turmeric

makes about 8 pints
Wash cukes and slice as thin as humanly possible. Chop (or grind) onions and peppers; combine with sliced cucumbers and salt. Let stand 3 hours. Drain.
Mix vinegar, sugar and spices in large kettle, bring to a boil. Add the drained cucumbers, peppers and onions. Heat thoroughly but DO NOT BOIL.
Seal in sterilized jars.

And… another of Pat’s family favorites…

“Oklahoma Chili Sauce”
Aneth Fulton, Alva, Oklahoma (1915)
24 large tomatoes
6 onions, chopped
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 bunch celery
1 quart white vinegar
1-1/2 Cups sugar
1 Tbsp of each: salt, ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, dry mustard

makes 4 quarts
1) Peel and chop tomatoes.
2) Process peppers and celery.
3) Place all ingredients in large kettle.
4) Simmer for 3 hours.
5) Seal in sterilized jars. [Dept. of Ag. recommends boiling water bath.]

Pat’s notes: There is no chili in this recipe so it’s really a tomato relish. Grandma Fulton dunked the tomatoes in boiling water to split the skins for easy peeling. When cool, she cored and crushed the tomatoes by hand and processed the peppers and onions in her food grinder. While I still peel and crush the tomatoes by hand, I use a food processor for the peppers and onions and simmer everything overnight in a crock pot. The aroma will drive you crazy!
When to serve? It’s ready immediately. Great for breakfast or dinner. Grandpa would spoon a generous portion next to potatoes and eggs in the morning and Grandma always placed an open jar on the table to serve with beef or poultry.

Newsletter

Dear Friends of the Farm,

This week you are getting red potatoes, sweet yellow onions, squash, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, white, cheddar and/or purple cauliflower, celery, beans, basil & corn! A few of you will get Japanese or Globe eggplant, artichoke and tomatoes. There isn’t enough to give them to everyone and most of you will not get any of these five crops. But we don’t want them to go to waste. The hot days over 90 degrees and warm nights over 63 degrees have helped to get these crops to mature. Unfortunately they are not maturing fast enough to give them to the entire membership! However this is the beginning of wonderful things to come! We have to tell you we are surprised by the sudden abundance we received recently. We knew this would happen, but expected it to happen more towards the middle of August!

Everyone is anxiously waiting for the peaches this week. First Fruit says the Newhaven’s are ready and we will be getting them this week! First Fruits Organic Farms is an orchard run by two brothers, Chris and Kevin Kropp. They have been running this organic orchard since 1988 in the Paonia area. The microclimate provides the unique combination of hot summer days followed by cool nighttime breezes, which creates fruit that is unusually high in natural sugars & concentrated flavors. Many have said the fruit is the best they have ever tasted! They utilize bio-friendly methods of pest control and rebuild their soils with minerals, composted manures, cover crops and beneficial microbes to leave the precious living soils better than they found them. By purchasing First Fruits Organic Farm fruit, they believe you are not only providing yourself, your family and your friends with a safe, healthy and delicious bounty from the land, but also support farming methods and practices that are sustainable and responsible. Just the fact that you have found their fruit worthy of taking home and feeding yourself and your family is the biggest reward and compliment you could give them. The two Kropp families asked me to tell you a huge heart-felt Thank you! (Partially taken from an updated bio you can now find on our website.)

Thank you for being patient with me over the last two weeks. Alaina moved two weeks ago into a different house and we have two weddings to go to this last weekend. It is so hard for us to do anything extra over and above the farm this time of year. And to have something happening two weekends in a row has Jerry crawling in a ditch to hide!

I know several of you are always looking for new ways to prepare the crops you get on a weekly basis. Mary Rogers is a current member of the farm. She has a blog called everydayeating.wordpress.com. She helps you not only figure out what to do with your veggies, but includes tips in preparation and recipes. You can even sign-up for cooking classes!

Here is a helpful way to use all of that squash; make pickles!

Sweet & Spicy Pickles

Cut 4 lbs summer squash (use all the different kinds) into ¼ inch slices or cube into bite-size pieces.
Cut onions in half and then in half again, then slice into ¼ inch slices.
3 dried hot peppers or 8 fresh anaheims or 4 fresh jalapeno peppers.
Heaping ¼ cup canning salt
1 quart crushed ice
5 pound weight
2 ¼ cups vinegar
1 cup dark maple syrup
¾ cup water
1 tbsp mustard seed
1 tsp whole allspice
½ tsp celery seeds
6 pint jars with lids and bands

Toss squash, onion, ¼ cup salt and ice together in a large bowl. Cover with a plate and weight down. Let this stand for four hours. Meanwhile sterilize jars, lids and bands, (boil for 3 minutes). Boil the next 7 ingredients (if using dried chilies) plus 1 ½ tsp salt for 10 minutes. If using fresh chilies; cut through skins but do not cut through the meat of the chili – several times and add to mixture in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain vegetables and pack into jars. At this time, you could add one of the chilies to the jars as well (half and de-seed the anaheim & jalapeno)! Fill jars with hot liquid leaving ½ inch space at top Seal and roll jar on its side to remove any bubbles. Add more liquid if necessary. Seal and submerge jars in boiling water for 20 minutes for slices, 25 minutes for chunks. Let pickles stand for 1 to 2 weeks to develop flavor.

Recipe adapted from Nature Preserved

We had a fantastic compliment this week. A current member from another CSA called asking how they could get involved with our CSA because they are not getting much variety or quantity with their shares. I guess a niece is a member of our farm and they have been comparing shares. I knew this was probably happening within the membership, this is just the first time someone has admitted to it! I can’t tell you how happy I was to talk with this person to find out how we do compare with another CSA. She said she was happy with her share until she saw what was given out from your farm. Needless to say, she is anxiously waiting for next year to start!

Have a fantastic week! Enjoy all the new, fun veggies this week!

Jacquie, Jerry, Kyle and Alaina