Category Archives: Newsletter

Newsletter – June 27, 2017

Dear Farm Friends,

Our first week was as exciting as ever, but this week is even better! We are so happy to be giving you peas, carrots, squash, kohlrabi, garlic, garlic scapes, onions and lettuce. The scapes are the tops of the garlic. This has become the new favorite of our members! It is extremely versatile. It can be grilled and eaten as a vegetable, minced and added to salads & eggs (like onion) and it’s wonderful chopped up for stir-fries. One member told me the best pesto she ever had was prepared with garlic scapes. Another told me she made green garlic hummus with scapes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with these little buggers! They’re wonderful!!

Kohlrabi is in the cabbage family and can be eaten as such. Its great raw in coleslaw, salads or as chips. I replace watercress in stir fry’s with it and it is wonderful on its own sautéed until tender.

Fruit: You received cherries last week and will get apricots this week. We are working with Rancho Durazno & Ela Family Farms, both are certified organic. Rancho Durazno purchased those bags at a farm sale and was reusing them. I did not realize there was a bar-code number on the bag or would have addressed it in the newsletter!

Bags and Boxes: I forgot to tell you how important it is to return your vegetable bags every week. We reuse them as many times as we can. This includes any small produce bags for beans or peas. (Please take the time to dump or shake out any extra organic material left in the bottom. This way your DC does not have to clean out 30 bags & Jacquie does not have to dump out 600!) Distribution Centers will be keeping track of this, so don’t be surprised if they remind you how often you have forgotten or how many bags you have not returned!

Facebook/Blog/Website/Email: Please be aware that I do not work from these social media sites. Several members took it upon themselves to start these up and continually update them. Everyone needs to contact me directly by phone when making changes to their shares. I will need not only your name, but also your Distribution Center. Email is the same. I know this is very convenient for you, but I am home only a half day on Monday and Friday each week. So it is not the best way to contact me. I am very good about answering phone messages, but I do not have time to look at email. You can use email for anything that does not need to be answered immediately!

Donations: We are now taking nominations for families with health problems and/or financial problems to get a share from the farm. We have around 15 shares available after helping out current farm members. Please call or email your nomination including what their situation is & how to contact them. We will try to get those started no later than the middle of July.

Thank you for a great first week. I know a lot of DC’s were on vacation either the week before or the week of our first delivery and you may have gotten a late notice or had someone doing distribution that was not your Distributor. As the summer goes along, things should even out!

Jacquie, Kyle, Sam and Jerry

Veggie Wash (Especially for store bought produce!)

Juice from a whole lemon
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 cup water
1 spray bottle

Mix and spray onto surface of veggies. Let sit for a minute or two. (Longer if trying to remove wax.) Scrub lightly on soft skinned veggies and more & scrub brush aggressively on hard skinned produce like winter squash, cucumbers, root veggies and melons. Leafy greens simply should be sprayed, sit and rinsed.

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

New Boulder DC

apples

We now have a Dist. Center for the Boulder area!  It is a very
centralized location near 20th and Alpine.  Please call Jacquie if you
are interested in signing up for a winter share.

Everyone subscribed to a winter share should be contacted by the end of this weekend.  Distribution starts Wednesday November 2nd.  Each DC will first contact you by email. PLEASE RESPOND TO THEIR EMAIL!  Your DC will call everyone who does not respond to make sure you have the information you need to pick up produce.

You have an option to order apples for delivery on November 2nd.  It is a
20# box for $30.  You can order as many as you like.  There is an option
to have apples delivered on the 14th of December too.  Please call the
office to place an order.  Do not email Jacquie or call your DC.  Orders
must be placed no later than Oct. 27th for the Nov delivery.

We are excited to be working with member shares again.  Thank you in
advance for supporting this very old truck farm!

Jacquie Monroe
970-284-7941

Newsletter – October 10th, 2016

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This week you are getting: potatoes, garlic, onions, turnips, daikon radish, jalapeno & bell peppers, leeks, celery and broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower,

Fruit: This is your last delivery of apples and they are Golden Delicious. We are taking orders of boxes of apples for the Winter Shareholders ONLY. Call the above number & let me know how many you need. They will be delivered the first Wednesday of November with the first delivery of your Winter Share. There is a chance to get another box in Dec.

Winter Share: We still have Winter Shares available if you are still interested! Complete the Winter Storage Share Form 2016 and mail back to sign up.

Garlic Separation: We need to do this Sat. & Sun. at 10am. Call and make an appointment just in case of a cancellation.

Overview of 2016: Yet again, we had a cold wet spring. We would get four days of rain with one day off. We finally warmed up, crops were growing like mad and the farm just looked terrific when the hailstorm of the century hit us! Crops that were devastated were the cucumbers, green beans & melons of all types. Also hurt in the storm was the tomatoes, peppers, onions and potatoes. We were able to pick the remaining melons until there was nothing left. To our surprise, the eggplant, lemon cucumbers & summer squash recovered quite well! The benefit of the hailstorm; you got more greens than you have ever gotten in the past. But, it took five people 5 hours (per distribution day) to pick the spinach for you. We cannot do this when we have a normal summer and the normal amount of produce. Green beans, cucumbers, melons and tomatoes will always trump greens! How wonderful was it that the frost waited until we could pick the last planting of corn. It would have come on sooner, but the storm set it back by a couple of weeks.

With Kyle and Sam’s return to the farm the week after the storm; allowed us to plant kale, lettuce, spinach and more summer squash. These are all fast growing crops and you have been reaping the benefit of these crops this fall. We are still in awe of the amazing recovery this farm made! I told you the farm was resilient!

The CSA Adventure: CSA is a very hard thing to get used to! You have to learn to cook with what you have instead of what you want. Learning the Colorado seasons and when produce is actually harvested is new to half of you. You have to clean the produce yourself (which you should be doing anyway with your grocery store produce) and do your main grocery shopping after you get your big bag of goodies from the farm. But this is one of the cheapest ways to fill your family’s needs, eat more vegetables and improve your diet at the same time!!

This takes a lot of work & commitment to do what it takes to feed your family locally grown produce. Give this a chance. It takes two years to get used to getting your produce this way. The first year is the hardest. The second year is much easier because now you have the information you need on how to use the produce and take care of it from your first year. And if you were dissatisfied, please give CSA a chance with another farm. Every farm is different and each one is unique on what it grows and how they distribute produce. When you spend one dollar locally, it gets used 7 more times within your community! Don’t send your hard earned dollar to a “box store” that will send it to their corporate office out of state. Support local businesses (and people) by shopping at CSA’s, farmers markets and farm stands!

Goodbye and Thank you: Being the eternal optimists that farmers are: next year will be fantastic! We have to admit; we are exhausted and are greeting Mr. Winter with open arms (if he ever gets here!). It can be draining (emotionally) when you cannot control the most important input that controls your income (the weather). We cannot stress how much we have appreciated your support over the season and your patience with Mother Nature.

Feeding people is our passion. We are committed to providing the best tasting organic produce you have ever eaten. We have fed thousands of people and donated thousands of pounds of produce to people & communities around Northern Colorado throughout the years. We have never done anything so important or made us as happy. Thank you for being a part of this! We love you all and appreciate your support more than ever! We cannot exist without our Members; who happen to be the most passionate people about supporting local farming and eating organic produce. We are looking forward to being your farmers in 2017! Have a wonderful, restful winter and think of us when you pull out vegetables from the freezer!

Jerry, Jacquie, Kyle and Sam

Newsletter – September 26th, 2016

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Dear Friends of the farm,

This week you are getting potatoes, yellow onions, carrots, broccoli, purple peppers, basil, yellow & red tomatoes, either butterhead or romaine lettuce and corn (the last picking).  And there is a possibility you will get either cabbage or cauliflower too.  This is a great week for distribution, enjoy!

Fruit:  Sorry folks, I have been lax on telling you what you are getting and from who for the last couple of weeks. Once I really didn’t know and the other time I completely forgot to mention it!  The pluots and peaches were from Rancho Durazno, the red and green pears were from First Fruit and the plums and pears were from Ela Family Farms. You will be getting apples for the rest of the season from Ela Family Farms as well.  This week you will receive Gala apples.

Tomato Picking:  Several of you have been asking about tomato picking and that will not happen this year.  Jerry tells me that the storm destroyed most of the tomatoes.  What was left has been ripening slowly and we have been giving them all to you each week.

Lost & Found:  Lost – when we put the yard games away this year we discovered we are missing two red bean bags and one tennis ball.  I do not plan on replacing these items so if you could check with your kids and return these items to your distributor, we would really appreciate it!  The bean bags were homemade to look like strawberries. Found – I have a plate, several bowls and utensils that were left behind.  I do not mind returning them.  Please call and let me know what you need and where to send it.  Thanks!

T-shirts:  Hurray!  We finally have them, (a little late I know) but they are here!!!  Thank you for supporting the fund that helps pay for the donated shares. Farmers do not get credit on their taxes for donating food.  It is a true donation of the heart and we feel this is an important part of being a farm.  We decided to sell the cookbooks, hats and t-shirts to help fund this instead of making a profit and sticking it in our pockets.  I love the look of these shirts and hope you do too! Enjoy them, wear them proudly knowing they are for a good cause and thank you for your support!

Braised chicken with root vegetables
(page 64 in cookbook )

1 T olive oil
1 bunch of kale
4 med. potatoes
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bunch turnips with greens
salt & pepper
2 springs of rosemary
3 large carrots
4-6 chicken pieces (thighs and legs)
2 cups dry white wine

Chop all greens, cube, half or quarter veggies. Cook garlic and rosemary in oil til fragrant.  Add veggies and greens to pot, season with salt & sauté for five min.  Season chicken with salt and pepper & set aside.  Add wine to veggies and reduce by one-third.  Put the chicken on top of the veggies, reduce heat to low, cover tightly with lid and cook until chicken is tender and juices run clear, app. 40 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread.

Newsletter – September 5th, 2016

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Dear Members,

This week you are getting potatoes, white onions, purple carrots, daikon radish, white turnips, eggplant, jalapeno peppers, bell or specialty sweet peppers, cabbage, tomatoes and corn. Fruit share will be getting getting pluots and peaches and anyone who ordered a box of peaches will be getting that, too.

Winter Share and Animals: Thank you for taking the short survey. Here are the results: out of 90 people surveyed; 60% wanted organic squash and 40% said not to purchase anything. 60% said not to purchase any dried beans and 40% said to purchase them. So….Jerry will purchase local, organic squash for November and December and not for January and February. He will not purchase any dried beans at all.

We are looking for a new distribution center (DC) in Boulder. I need someone there to help us unload the truck and be present for distribution. Time window of two hours is required, (preferably late afternoon/evening), but longer hours or hours that suit your CSA customers are fine. We need a garage at least the size of a single car because of cold weather. You get $100 discount for helping out. This is not difficult work, the members are so excited to see you & get their bags of produce and you get to choose your hours. Please call me if you need more info! If we cannot find a DC, you can go to Westminster or Longmont.

Here is the Winter Storage Share Form 2016. I will need this back by the end of September. Please mail to me with your check to pay the deposits. I will be offering shares outside the CSA at this time because pre-ordering occurred this past January/February. Call me if you have any questions, I am still not checking email but once every week or two.

Festival RSVP: This is our 80th Anniversary! Let’s celebrate in style by getting together on a beautiful day in September! Nothing speaks of a party without food. Hamburgers, hotdogs, drinks and your utensils will be provided. Why not boast a little and bring your best side dish.

Please continue to call or email Peg Lehr with your RSVP (wrdwrrior@comcast.net or 303-877-2554). We cannot figure out how much food, plates, forks etc. without these numbers. The festival is Sunday, September 18th from 11 to 4. The deadline is September 9th.

We will have U-pick hot peppers and raspberries (plus a few surprises in the barn). You will not be able to get a full bushel. Peppers will be roasted as full bushels and then divided equally into thirds or (quarters if necessary)! We will have hayrides to the pumpkin patch (Jerry will purchase organic pumpkins for the occasion). We plan on making a display from a 1990 festival with a picture of our family from that time period. You are welcome to have your picture taken with this display and a few murals will have been painted for picture taking as well. Other activities include face painting, corn shucking contest, stick horse races (Please bring your best steed. Prizes will be awarded for races and a grand prize for the best in class!) plus games on the front lawn. We hope to have a new game available where families compete by loading up dad with pumpkins and he tries to carry them to a finish line. The winner gets to keep all the pumpkins he can carry! Canning contest for jams/jellies, savory/sweet relishes and pickles. Let Peg know if you are bringing something to be judged. T-shirts and hats will be available (I hope) to purchase by the festival.

Several members have been so gracious to help with food expenses this year. One member of the farm is having a large sheet cake made to commemorate our 80th anniversary. If you decide to bring a dessert, I would say we only need gluten free. A second member has graciously offered to bring all the hotdogs and buns for the festival. Thank you in advance for your donations.

Mark your calendars to keep this day open. We plan on having a ton of fun!!!

Volunteers needed: The festival cannot run without all the extra hands that day. If you have not volunteered in the past, this is an excellent opportunity to invest some of your time into the farm! We still need Volunteers for the following: the Check-in Station, 4 Master Grillers, people to cut up produce, set up tents, tables and chairs, sevearl to rinse cookware & set under the serving table and resupply cut veggies & to refill drink containers, 4 to check on bathrooms and empty trashcans around the area, 5-6 people to run the canning booth and/or t-shirt booths.

Storm Follow-up: Please visit our Facebook page to stay on top of what is happening on the farm. Sam and Kyle have taken over the page, made it public and are going to post information & pictures as often as possible so you can see firsthand what is happening on the farm.

The farm is looking better these days (and doesn’t smell anymore!). We were impressed with how quickly the Patty Pan squash repaired and started producing again. The zucchini and straight neck squash have also repaired slightly and continued to produce a little. The third and fourth planting of squash wasn’t hurt as badly because the plants were smaller in size and the huge hailstones were far enough apart to not affect them as much. Eggplant is an extremely sturdy plant. Of everything, it didn’t get torn up as much. The hail did knock off most of the flowers though. But soon there were pretty violet flowers all over the plants again. You are getting all that the plant had produced before the storm. Time will tell if we get more later in the season. You are getting tomatoes from the 2nd and third planting. We stager the planting so you get a fresh supply of tomatoes all season. Plus, when there are too many ripening at a time, this gives us a chance to offer u-pick opportunities. We do not know at this time if there will be enough tomatoes to pick by the box this year. We will keep you informed! At lease we have a few for distribution and that is what really counts!! Your bell peppers and specialty sweet peppers were hurt badly and have not really come back at all. The plants look fine, but the peppers were crushed by hail. We are gleaning the fields for every possible pepper we can find. And as I have said before; all our root crops have survived and are looking well for both the summer and winter shares.

Our Insurance Policy: Did you know that we use the farmers markets as insurance for our CSA? We normally go to 9 farmers markets a week. After the storm, we quit all but one. (We estimate we lost 65% of our crop.) I still attend the farmers market in Boulder on Saturdays. We do this for two reasons: 1. Customers are more accepting of the damaged produce and 2. I get more money for my produce at this market.

We discovered a few years ago that we could not cut out all the farmers markets. The reason? We have so much production from Thursday through Sunday (when we don’t pick for members) it has to be picked and used somewhere. You see, we pick every day or the produce would be huge & uneatable. Over time, we discovered when we have a bad year and produce is in short supply, we can cut the farmers markets out and all the produce is saved and given out for distribution. We have had small hailstorms before, but our members very seldom felt the affect. We would lose a crop or two, but most fields could still produce something and be harvested for members.

What can you do to help us? Purchase a Winter Share! We would not survive this storm if we had to depend on farmers markets. But unlike other CSA’s, we put our members first and you always get the best the farm can offer (and all the leftovers from Thursday go to market). Most people walk away from my farmer’s market booth because of the dings, scars and bruises. If it was not for our CSA, we would be lost. Your insurance is the farmer’s markets, but our insurance is the CSA! This is what CSA is about: Support your farmer in the good years and the bad. And when you have an opportunity, support your community too. You can do that by donating your share when you go on vacation or business trips. Unfortunately, you are seeing the results of a very bad storm, but on those good years, (which happen more than not) you will get the bounty and all its glory!

Spicy Roasted Veggies
Serves 8

In a plastic re-sealable bag add:
¼ cup EVOO
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion salt
4# root veggies, any kind
Cut all the veggies the same size and place in bag with oil & herbs. Bake on cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Wonderful cold or hot!

Thank you very much for being so good to us!
Jacquie, Jerry, Kyle and Sam

Newsletter – August 30th, 2016

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This week you are getting Yukon Gold potatoes, yellow onions, carrots, squash, eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers (jalapeno) and tomatoes.

Fruit Share Members: You are getting Santa Rosa plums from Ela Family Farms. First Fruit is having a bountiful season. They are offering a 20# box of peaches for $40. If you would like one, please call me no later than Thursday evening. When you call me, make sure you clearly state your name, your distribution center and how many boxes you would like to order. Because everyone has cell phones these days and the reception tends to be tricky out here; it wouldn’t hurt to repeat everything! First Fruit will need to start Friday picking peaches in order to have them here early Tuesday morning. He said I could call him as late as Friday evening with our final total…But anything after that would be difficult to include in the order.

The 1980’s: I would say this was a very exciting decade for the two of us. We married in 1984. I worked at a real estate title company and Jerry was working for the same place (that is where we met), but found out his heart was at the farm. He worked for his dad for the rest of the decade. I helped out after work and on weekends. I really didn’t have much choice in the matter; we lived in Eaton, had one car and Jerry took me to work & picked me up! I went where the car went. There always seemed to be something that didn’t get done by the end of the day and we had to go back to the farm.

Jerry’s grandfather & dad ran a U-pick farm since the mid 1950’s. Folks had the option to purchase crops at the farm stand under the shed or pick their own for a discount. By the 1980’s, people were not canning as much as they used to. They still came by to purchase smaller amounts from the farm stand, but that was slowing down too. Jerry started attending farm meetings about farmers markets. They were the rage back east and in California. Several were starting around the area and we wanted to be involved. Jerry was on the boards of two farmers markets; Ft. Collins (Sunday and Wednesday) and Boulder. We decided to attend three more in Cherry Creek, Cheyenne and Downtown Ft. Collins (on Saturday & a different organization).

This was the beginning of a new era for both small farmers and for customers alike. Farmers markets were way more convenient and there was a pretty good selection of produce. We called ourselves Monroe Homegrown Vegetables back then. Pretty much told our story right in the name. Jerry’s mom and dad ran the farm stand while we went to markets (Jerry’s brother and sisters pitched in too). They were successful, beyond our wildest dreams! But prices were very low because customers expected to get produce cheaper directly from the farmers than from grocery stores. We sold muskmelon 3 for $1.00, tomatoes 5 for $1.00, ¾ of a pound green beans for $1.00 and a 25# box of tomatoes went for $5.00. Everything went for a dollar; it was the most we could get! By the time the 1990’s came around, prices had jumped a little: muskmelon were 2 for a $1.00, tomatoes were 3 for a $1.00, green beans were $2.00 for ¾# and a 25 pound box went for $8 to $10. By the beginning of the 2000’s, prices had risen again: tomatoes were a dollar each, muskmelons were $1 to $3.00 each, green beans were $2.00 to $3.00 for ¾# and a 20 pound box of tomatoes went for $15. (Did you notice the size of the box just got smaller?) Today we get $3.00 a pound for tomatoes, muskmelons are $5.00 each on average, green beans are $4.00 a pound and a 20# box of tomatoes sells for $3 to $35.

Just to sum some things up and explain why we changed over the years: My problem with the farm stand was I had to be there from 7 am until dark, seven days a week. I could never leave the stand or leave the farm. We took over the farm in 1991 (I was not longer working in town by then) and after one year of running the farm stand ourselves, we closed the U-pick farm in 1992. We also decided to change our name since there was an explanation for what we did, “organic”. We became Monroe Organic Farms. We liked and appreciated the farmers markets, but whenever we had a weather related problem, no one seemed to care! They would just go to the next farm booth. We felt there had to be something out there that supported the individual farmer better. Besides, we were attending 14 farmers markets a week by then and they were just about killing us! I could not see how we could continue at that pace for the rest of our lives.

We started our CSA in 1993 (one of three at the time) with 38 members; and most of whom were working members! Back then, working members started the first week of April and finished the last week of October. I’m not exactly sure how we would have run the farm without them. These working members became our “Core-Group”. They were in charge of evaluating the farm shares and giving us their suggestions. The first year, we gave them way too much produce and everyone wanted to get a smaller share (which we did not provide)! I really didn’t know what the average family of four ate on a regular basis because I had just started mine (Alaina was born in 1989 and Kyle in 1991)! We told them we needed them to tell us what would be the perfect amount for the Half Share to feed a family of four with kids between the ages of 5 and 12. The second year, we gave out too little! It took us a total of five years of continual surveying to get the shares where they are today. Even so, we still adjust because so many people’s diets have changed over the years. So, when we do survey you, they are very important to complete!

Decades of Customers: In the last five years, Jerry, Kyle and I have run into people who have said they came to either Lester’s U-pick farm (Jerry’s grandfather) or Jerry Sr. U-pick farm as children. Jerry’s customer, Mary, came on a regular basis to his farmer’s market to purchase anywhere from 5 to 10 boxes of tomatoes a week. She did this for 15 years or more. Mary would buy them for everyone she knew. She spoke of coming to the farm in the 1950’s & 60’s. She passed away five years ago at the age of 90. Kyle ran into a woman this summer at his farmer’s market who said she had visited the farm when she was in her 20’s and knew Jerry Sr. He thought she was around 80 years old. And I had a gentlemen come to me at my market three years ago to inform me he knew the family farm and loved coming with his parents to pick tomatoes. One time, Jerry Sr. gave him his very own watermelon to eat. He said he never forgot that! I think he was in his mid-70’s. I can’t believe we are still running into people that knew the family farm from so many years ago. It warms my heart almost to melting!

Eggplant Dip (page 2 in our CSA cookbook)

1 medium eggplant, peeled & diced
½ tsp pepper
1 or 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 green onions, chopped (or chopped white onion)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp tahini paste, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread eggplant and garlic on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with oil. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove skins on garlic and mash together with eggplant. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. (I like to cook the onion too and mash with the eggplant). Serve with crackers or veggies. Other alternatives available in cookbook.