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Updates from the farm

Updates from the farm and city.
Posted 7/19/2017 7:18pm by Jason.
7/17/2017 CSA NEWSLETTER
 
Whats in the box?! 
 
CABBAGE, KOHLRABI, LETTUCE, SCALLIONS, ZUCCHINI, TOMATOES - JULIETS & SUNGOLDS
 
(If you find the outermost leaf of cabbage to be bruised, it is normal from transit. Just peel that layer back)
 
Middle of summer. I’d like to think and say the last couple weeks have been unusually crazy and difficult, but if I’m honest with myself, they’re pretty typical summer months. Thanks for everyone’s patience last week, with the messed up delivery schedule, after our delivery truck burst a radiator hose during the drive down to the city last week. What a ton of extra work that was. We had our ace handy person, Adam, get out of bed, drive 60 miles, and patch the radiator hose. That allowed us to get the produce back in the truck. The next morning we were able to get a radiator hose and perform a lasting fix. Aside from tearing a muscle in my ribs at 2 am when we were putting the boxes back in the cooler, all seem to have went well.
 
Tomatoes are in the box this week. The green shoulder thing on the Juliets is due to a deficiency of potassium in the soil. We’ve been adding more of this nutrient in our irrigation water, and all varieties except the Juliets have fully responded and have no green shoulders. This variety seems to have a particular appetite for potassium. We’ve seen this before on this variety, even when all others are normal. As things are, the tomatoes still taste pretty good. When we fix the problem, over the next couple weeks, they’ll be even better.
 
On the business side of things, we’re getting excited more and more all the time about plants, and selling them. Competition in our particular niche of the food world has gotten extremely fierce, on a whole new level, with all the box delivery schemes out there now: Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and many others. Billions of dollars are being invested in these businesses, and it’s a big part of what is making profitable farming harder than ever. All farms CSA numbers are down, farmers’ markets are down, and Blue Apron just went public with a stock offering valued in the billions of dollars. Already, our margins were razor thin. Now you need a high powered microscope to see them.
 
Did I say something about plants? How did those of you who got your 8” basil plants like them. We’ve been selling lots of 8” potted herbs in general, lately, and they have been the biggest seller at many markets. Of course the one that really isn’t food at all, lavender, is by far the best seller. Flowers. Never thought I’d turn into a flower grower. But I can’t eat 10 pounds of carrots/day, and our CSA, which used have nearly 600 shares, is well below 400. The good news is that I LOVE growing plants. It’s why I started farming in the first place. And I’ve been SO stubborn to make it pay growing food. Most smart people do it a few years and then realize that they’re working for their employees and customers. It should be called the customers’ market, not the farmers’ market. Check this out:
 
 
I wrote this newsletter in 14 minutes because I have to get in the truck and drive the boxes down to Chicago. Anyway, would those of you who got basil plants please let us know how you liked them? We’ll probably be including more in future deliveries.
Posted 7/17/2017 2:47pm by Jason.
WEEK 21 | SUMMER WEEK 3
SNEAK PEEK
 
Whats in the box?! 
 
CABBAGE, KOHLRABI, LETTUCE, SCALLIONS, ZUCCHINI, TOMATOES (JULIETS)!!! 
 
Our featured item this week is cabbage!  I found this Martha Stewart Roasted Cabbage Wedges recipe ages ago and make it all the time. I like to play around with it... It says to use caraway or fennel seeds, and that is really good... I'll skip that sometimes and use a little bit of toasted sesame seed, a little toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. You can also add coarsely chopped garlic to it. You can really do whatever seasoning you like, just follow the cooking instructions. 
 
 
 
Whats available in our store this week?
 
This week we have:
 
Broccoli

Cabbage (Green & Red)
 
 
Red Russian Kale
 
Lacinato Kale
 
Kohlrabi
 
Potted Lavender Plants
 
Potted Rosemary Plants
 
White Onions
 
 
 
Notes this week...
 
 
What a week! We ended up getting all the shares delivered and all ended well. So many of you took the time to write notes of understanding and offered assistance, we truly appreciate it.
 
I had hoped to add some more items to the store but it kind of took a back burner to the challenges we had. Sweet corn got a huge yes vote, so as soon as I can order it I will let all of you know
 
Coolers...
 
Given the warm overnight temps we have coming it really is best if you are able to leave out a cooler for your delivery. A few hours on a humid summer night make greens go limp in a hurry. They'll usually still be fine to eat but won't last as long as if they were kept cool. Be mindful of the size cooler you leave out too - As I was doing deliveries the other day I came across a few pretty small coolers that I couldn't really fit much in, especially if they also ordered blueberries or other additional items. We'll do the best we can with what you leave for us, that may mean that the lid won't be all the way closed or the bag won't be all the way zipped, don't want to smash anything. 
 
 
Brian & The Tomato Mountain Farm Team 
 
Posted 7/13/2017 1:31pm by Jason.
 
Dear members,
 
We are, once again, chugging along! Chris just left the farm and should be here at around 3:30p with all the CSA boxes. We are essentially doubling all of our routes, making 6 out of the 10 normal routes, and making all the deliveries today. We'll be starting around 4PM this afternooon and hope to wrap up around 4-5AM. 
 
So many of you wrote notes of encouragement and appreciation, from all of us, thank you! It's great to hear, especially when it feels like we're causing you so much inconvenience.  
 
I'll be driving one of these routes and away from my email until we're done - I know a bunch of you have messages into me... I will get to them asap tomorrow. I scanned them for anything that seemed urgent and replied in kind - If I missed your message and you need to get a hold of me please don't hesitate to reach out on my cell - 312-607-5553.
 
Brian 
 
 
A message from Chris:
 
Last night turned into a nightmare when the radiator hose in our delivery truck blew a hole 50 miles from the farm. We were able to get to a mechanic to locate the coolant leak to diagnose the problem, but it was impossible to locate a new hose immediately.
 
It would take me a few pages to outline all the crazy possibilities and scenarios we put together to try to figure out how to get the boxes to Chicago last night. It was not possible. The saving grace for the produce on the truck is that we were able to get a very temporary patch on the radiator hose, get the truck back to the farm, and get the produce in the cooler before anything went to bad.
 
As much as this is a huge stain on us, and an significant inconvenience for our customers, I can say two good things. First, everyone here worked very hard, until 2:15 am, to solve the problem and get the produce down to the city. Nobody at the farm makes more than $15/hr, and 6 of us worked together all night to solve the problem. Nobody got any extra pay, and nobody was obligated to get out of bed try to fix the problem. Secondly, and very much related, we learned a lot about our team and how strongly it is held together. It’s been awhile since we’ve had this many employees, team players, who are willing to do whatever it takes, whenever it’s necessary, to meet our obligations as a farm.
 
I’m going to let Brian, the main man in Chicago that most of you know, figure out and decide that. He’s been burning the candle on all three ends lately dealing with this or that disaster. Oh yeah, that reminds me… The cooler in Chicago, that we use to hold CSA boxes and farmers market produce, broke down yesterday. That is on Brian’s plate too. If any of you talk or communicate with Brian soon, thank him for me. He’s been doing some crazy 18 hour days, at all hours, lately.   Chris
 
Posted 7/12/2017 10:41pm by Jason.
Dear Members,
 
Our truck, with all the CSA shares, was slated to arrive in Chicago at 9:00p this evening. I received word the truck had broken down near Beloit and the driver was waiting on assistance. We were hoping it would be something simple... It's not looking like something simple...
 
We will be working overnight to come up with a solution, but I'm not sure what it is just yet. Given the truck has been sitting in the heat for this long we are not even sure about the viability of the produce. 
 
I will update you as soon as I know anything. For now please know we are doing everything we can.
 
My apologies for this inconvenience. I know some of you experienced problems last week too - seems like when it rains it really does pour. 
 
Thank you all, more to come,
 
Brian 
 
 
 
NEWSLETTER WEEK 20 | SUMMER WEEK 2
 
 
Whats in the box?! 
 
(Sorry, no box pic this week, internet was down at farm due to the weather)
 
PEAS, LETTUCE, KALE, SCALLIONS, WHITE ONIONS (WITH SOME GREENS, BROCCOLI!
 
 
The weather sure has been something this past week. Hot during the day, but very wet and cooler at night. We are seeing more tomatoes coming online but the cool nights are not helping ripen them up as fast as we'd like.
 
Having these huge rains can be a little bit challenging too. It makes it difficult to work in the fields as you just sink into the wet soil. This also compresses the soil and squeezes oxygen out of the ground, which is not helpful. We use the hoop houses to control some of the moisture, and they do help a lot.  But the plants are still planted directly into the ground, not in raised beds or anything like that. Can't do much about repeated storms bringing 1 1/2 - 2 inches of rain - the ground becomes saturated.  When the plants get this wet they tend to put their energy into getting tall, which means less energy is going to fruit production.  Too much moisture can also lead to disease.
 
We had hoped it would be this week, but beginning next week there will be tomatoes in every CSA share. And they will be in each share for the remainder of the summer season and potentially into the first week or so of the fall season. We will be bringing a limited amount of sungolds and juliets to this weekends farmers markets.
 
We will be expanding our offerings from our partner farms, especially fruits. A ton of you got in on the blueberries from Mick Klug this week, and man... They are so good! They will be available for the next 5 weeks or so. I am hoping to add raspberries and maybe peaches for next week. 
 
Would any of you be interested in ordering sweet corn when it becomes available? 
 
Best,
 
Brian & The Tomato Mountain Farm Team 
 
Posted 7/12/2017 5:56pm by Jason.
NEWSLETTER WEEK 20 | SUMMER WEEK 2
 
 
Whats in the box?! 
 
(Sorry, no box pic this week, internet was down at farm due to the weather)
 
PEAS, LETTUCE, KALE, SCALLIONS, WHITE ONIONS (WITH SOME GREENS, BROCCOLI!
 
 
The weather sure has been something this past week. Hot during the day, but very wet and cooler at night. We are seeing more tomatoes coming online but the cool nights are not helping ripen them up as fast as we'd like.
 
Having these huge rains can be a little bit challenging too. It makes it difficult to work in the fields as you just sink into the wet soil. This also compresses the soil and squeezes oxygen out of the ground, which is not helpful. We use the hoop houses to control some of the moisture, and they do help a lot.  But the plants are still planted directly into the ground, not in raised beds or anything like that. Can't do much about repeated storms bringing 1 1/2 - 2 inches of rain - the ground becomes saturated.  When the plants get this wet they tend to put their energy into getting tall, which means less energy is going to fruit production.  Too much moisture can also lead to disease.
 
We had hoped it would be this week, but beginning next week there will be tomatoes in every CSA share. And they will be in each share for the remainder of the summer season and potentially into the first week or so of the fall season. We will be bringing a limited amount of sungolds and juliets to this weekends farmers markets.
 
We will be expanding our offerings from our partner farms, especially fruits. A ton of you got in on the blueberries from Mick Klug this week, and man... They are so good! They will be available for the next 5 weeks or so. I am hoping to add raspberries and maybe peaches for next week. 
 
Would any of you be interested in ordering sweet corn when it becomes available? 
 
Best,
 
Brian & The Tomato Mountain Farm Team 
 
Posted 7/12/2017 8:15am by Jason.
 PEAS, LETTUCE, KALE, SCALLIONS, WHITE ONIONS (WITH SOME GREENS, BROCCOLI!
 
We are now offering BLUEBERRIES from our friends at Klug Farms!
 
Also in the store you will find: snap peas, kale, lettuce, scallions, red and green cabbage and basil.
New to the store: Lavender and Rosemary as potted plants!
 
Our featured item this week is broccoli! It is very nice and tender crop this season, and it is super versatile.
 
PROTIP - Broccoli Storage - Cut the very bottoms of the broccoli stems and store them in a shallow dish of water in the fridge (like cut flowers) and they will stay super firm and fresh for weeks.
Posted 7/2/2017 1:50pm by Jason.

The Summer 2017 CSA season begins this week, but you can still sign up!

Your membership will be pro-rated for any missed deliveries.

Posted 11/5/2015 2:00pm by Sean.

2016 crop survey... and moving toward a zero carbon footprint!

Posted 10/22/2015 2:22pm by Sean.

A frost before a mild winter; notes on our roasted butternut squash puree.

Posted 10/2/2015 12:58pm by Sean.

Welcome to Fall! Notes on tilth, green tomatoes, and kohlrabi.

Tomato Mountain Newsletter - Week 21 | Summer Week 3July 19th, 2017

7/17/2017 CSA NEWSLETTER   Whats in the box?!    CABBAGE, KOHLRABI, LETTUCE, SCALLIONS, ZUCCHINI, TOMATOES - JULIETS & SUNGOLDS   (If you find the outermost leaf of cabbage to

SNEAK PEEK - Week 21 | Summer Week 3 July 17th, 2017

WEEK 21 | SUMMER WEEK 3 SNEAK PEEK   Whats in the box?!    CABBAGE, KOHLRABI, LETTUCE, SCALLIONS, ZUCCHINI, TOMATOES (JULIETS)!!!    Our featured item this week is cabbage! &n

Update On Deliveries & A Message From ChrisJuly 13th, 2017

  Dear members,   We are, once again, chugging along! Chris just left the farm and should be here at around 3:30p with all the CSA boxes. We are essentially doubling all of our routes, makin

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