Newsletter – August 29, 2017

Dear Friends,

This is week 11 out of an 18 week season.  You are getting red potatoes, Walla Walla onions, carrots, squash, cucumbers, lemon cucumbers (simply eat like a cucumber), green, purple and jalapeno peppers, green beans, beefsteak tomatoes, Cherokee Purple (heirloom) tomato, muskmelon, honeydew and the Half & Full shares will get watermelon.

A few members are commenting about how much produce you are receiving this year.  What a horrible problem to solve!!  There is a reason we are giving you a lot of produce.  Last year we had a devastating hailstorm on July 29th that took out 75 to 80 percent of the farm.  We quit all but Boulder farmers market and retained that produce for our members along with whatever we could pick during the week.  Distribution continued throughout the summer, but with much fewer variety & quantities.  We want to show our appreciation for our past members support for not leaving the CSA by giving you a greater selection as well as a nice quantity of produce.  We love you all!  Thank you for sticking this out with us!  This is a good time to check out our canning and freezing guide on our website!!!  (By freezing as you go, you will reduce the cost of your share by sliding it into winter!)

Seed Saving:  Watermelon seeds need to be rinsed and dried, then placed in an envelope and taken to your distribution center, we will collect from them.  Plastic bags will make the seeds mold and we will not be able to use them!

Fruit:  You are getting a large box of peaches called Zee Lady and a bag of pluots this week.  A pluot is a cross between a plum and apricot… simply delicious!  Zee Lady are known for their great texture and flavor…soon to be your favorite!

A reminder as to why you are getting your fruit is such large quantities!  The fruit growers on the Western slope had a hard freeze at the end of April and again in the first half of May.  Their trees were well on their way to blooming or in full bloom.  The freeze reduced their quantities of fruit and most of them will be out of fruit by mid-September.  I am working on finding organic apples in the Grand Junction area, but no luck so far.  We are trying to get you as much fruit as possible before the season wears out!!

Final Payment for Summer Share, Fruit Share, honey, oil and lamb are now due in full by the 1st of September.   If you call to find out if we have gotten your check, please give me the following information.  (I can’t look for it if I don’t know what I am looking for!)  I need the name on the check (sometimes spouses write checks from their account and the farm account is set up under a different name), check number, date it was written and amount.  Please remember it can take up to three weeks to process your check.  I don’t work in the office every day.  I am delivering your produce on Tue, Wed and Thr, I’m at the farmers market on Sat. and I am with u-pickers on Sundays.  Dani only comes in on Friday and half day on Monday.  By the way; those are the best days to reach us!

Did you know My Grandmother, Edith Bickling  (aka Grandbee by my children),  lived on my family farm approximately 10 miles northeast of Greeley during the depression.  She told me a story when I was a kid that I never forgot.  There was a railroad approximately a mile and a half from her farm.  People would ride the freight trains trying to find work in cities across America.  She told me she would feed anyone who came to her back door looking for a meal, but never from the front door.  She never explained why…but no one was ever turned away.  They simply went to the back door!  Knowing Grandmother Edith, she just didn’t want someone who looked homeless and dirty sitting on her front porch….

Until next week, enjoy the flavors of the season,

Jacquie, Jerry, Kyle and Sam

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Newsletter – August 21, 2017

Dear Friends of the Farm,

This week you are getting Yukon Gold potatoes, white onions, garlic, carrots, squash, cucumbers, lemon cucumbers eggplant, broccoli, purple & green bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, beans, muskmelon and either orangeglo or Wilson sweet watermelon. These two watermelons are very old varieties and we ask you to please save the seeds. Jerry’s Grandfather grew the Wilson Sweet back in the 1920’s & 30’s. The seed was thought to be “lost”. We have been looking for it for the last twenty years and finally found it in southern Missouri! Orangeglo was first offered in the 1960’s, but was thought to have been grown by small farmers and gardeners for many years before.

Don’t forget to wash your melons with a scrub brush before cutting them open! It’s a good idea to use my veggie wash first! (See first two or three newsletters for recipe.)

Fruit: None this week, but be prepared for another box of peaches and possibly pluots next week!

Bags/Boxes: We are short of bags, so many of you must not be returning them on a regular basis. Please remember we reuse these bags over & over and they need to be returned every week.

Because there are so many goodies to pick up every week, it is very important to bring extra bags or boxes with you to make it easier to take things like corn, tomatoes and melons to your vehicle. What a terrible problem to have to solve!!

Have you ever wondered what it is, exactly, we do on the mornings of distribution? We are in the height of the season and we can always use helping hands on the farm. The produce is picked and needs to be counted, bagged, boxed or crated and loaded onto the truck. If you would like to discover the wonders of being a working member on Tue, Wed or Thr mornings; why not join us once to see what it is like? We start at 7am and finish loading the trucks around 10am. Call me and let me know if this is something you would like to experience and you can take your share home with you at the end of the day. No going to the Distribution Center for you!

Eclipse: Ancient cultures across the globe worshipped the moon & sun. They thought that great evil spirits were devouring the sun during eclipses. They would make as much noise as they possibly could to scare the evil spirits away. Confident in what they were doing, documentation was made for future generations!! Enjoy this special event!

Winter Share: It’s time to sign up for Monroe Winter Share. Crops we expect to have are included on the form. It was awfully hot in July and quite cool in August; time and temperature (for the rest of the summer) will determine the harvest-ability of sweet potatoes, but they look good so far! Lettuce will only be given out as long as we have decent weather. But good weather means the bugs get into it (because it is the only thing still alive!) So either way, freezing temperatures or bugs will stop the delivery of greens probably in Dec. or Jan. All the root crops are in good shape. The dried beans, popcorn, cabbage & winter squash look good and are on track for winter harvest!

We need to know no later than September 29th if you plan on getting a Winter Share. It is recommended that all products ordered in 2017 be paid in full in 2017 because your membership fees for 2018 are due in January! Therefore, you have four months, starting in September, to pay for your Winter Share.

Swedish Breakfast Sandwich

Slices of crusty bread
Cream cheese
2 slices of browned bacon, per bread slice
1 cucumber thinly sliced on a diagonal
1 tomato thinly sliced(any kind), cut at a diagonal

Either warm the bread & spread the cream cheese, or spread the cream cheese then warm together so that the cream cheese gets very
soft. Add bacon, then cucumber, then tomato. I like a little pepper to top it off. This is a very traditional breakfast, but they prefer sausage. I have also made this with lunch meat.

This meal gets me ready for a busy, hard working day and keeps me filled until lunch. I feel so energized!!

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