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Updates from the farm

Updates from the farm and city.
Posted 3/19/2018 5:28pm by Business Manager.

Hi everybody!

Hope you're all enjoying the tasty produce from last week's shares. We're glad we were able to give you more of our famous spinach these week! And there's lots more coming your way... 

If you are a seasonal member please be sure to sign-up for the spring season! Spring is the perfect time of year for lovers of greens (lettuce, kale, chard, bok choi, spinach). You can also expect a handful of root crops: sweet salad turnips, radishes, beets, and carrots.

And for all members- we have a request for you! Many of you ask how you can help and the answer is plain and simple- spread the word about our CSA! We'll be including flyers in your shares next week for you to distribute to friends, family, neighbors, or whoever you can think of! Please encourage them to sign-up, the spring season is a great time to start.

Remember- for every member you refer you can receive $10 credit towards our online store.
 
Speaking of our online store- starting this week we'll be offering three types of handmade bar soaps from Salvation Soaps! Lemon Poppyseed, Lavender Lemongrass, and Charcoal!
 
Check out what else is available to complete your box next week:

Having trouble finding or using the online store? Contact support@tomatomountain.com (also reach out with any requests you'd like to see offered!)

Thank you and have a great week!

-Alanna & The Tomato Mountain Team

Posted 3/19/2018 1:43pm by Business Manager.

Hello members, past and present,

Our spring membership begins this April and we're on track for a great season! We are really hoping you will join us with a Spring Membership
 
Spring is the perfect time of year for lovers of greens (lettuce, kale, chard, bok choi, spinach). You can also expect a handful of root crops: sweet salad turnips, radishes, beets, and carrots.
 
 
 
We'll also be continuing our partnerships with more than seven other local farms so you can complete your grocery list all at once! Choose from optional add-ons like cheese, eggs, mushrooms, grains, potatoes, honey, maple syrup, and more! 
 
You can't beat the convenience of having ultra-fresh produce delivered right to your doorstep. Commit to eating healthy, expanding your kitchen lineup, and reducing your carbon footprint by joining our CSA this season.
 
If you are a sustaining, or full-year member, you are all set for the spring season. If you are currently seasonal member, you may visit our website and select "returning member" and add the spring season to your account.
 
Any questions? Please email us at support@tomatomountain.com, Alanna will be able to assist with any questions you have.  We’re looking forward to it and hoping our CSA membership grows. We hope you’ll tell your friends and maybe even get a few of them to sign up. 
 
Alanna & The Tomato Mountain Farm Team 
Posted 3/14/2018 4:30pm by Business Manager.

Spring is in full swing. The ground is almost thawed out and we’re in the middle of a bunch of warm, sunny days. Looks like this beautiful stretch of weather should last through the weekend, maybe a bit longer. All the forecasts in the 6-14 day period suggest cool and wet weather. This is pretty typical for spring, so we’ll take the nice, sunny days when we’re lucky enough to get them, and deal with the wet and gloomy weather as it comes.

Although it’s been warm during the days, the nights have been freezing hard, and that’s keeping the spinach sweet. There is finally lots of it in the box this week, and there will be at at least as much in the box for the last delivery of the winter season in two weeks. We have opened up the hoop vents so that it does freeze and get cold enough to maintain excellent flavor, and also to keep the spinach from growing too fast and starting to “bolt” of go to seed. We can have this top notch spinach for at least another month if we keep the hoops cool enough and growth steady, not too fast and soft.

We know it wasn’t the best winter for spinach. Especially for those of you who were with us last winter this was probably a disappointment. Some of that is our fault, not planting it soon enough, and part of it is the big difference in the winters. February of 2017 was extremely warm, with many record breaking days. That kept the spinach growing so much we couldn’t even harvest and sell it all. This year winter was very cold, especially early on, and the ground froze in the hoops so we just didn’t have the growth until now. We’re going to do the best we can to make it up this week and next.

Otherwise, seed starting for spring is going well, and things are mostly on track. Because money and farm finances have been so thin lately, I’m doing more than I have in years to keep payroll down, and also to stay as much as possible in close touch with what and how we’re operating as a business. When people quit, I only rehire when absolutely necessary, and do as much as I can. Some of you may have noticed me delivering your box. I’ve been driving delivery routes since a driver quit last fall, to see how the Chicago scene is operating, and how deliveries go. My greenhouse/seed starting person quit a couple weeks ago and I’m doing most of that as well, and will for as long as I can manage. I love plants and started farming because of them, so it’s fun and natural for me to reclaim that part of the farm.

I’ve written a grant proposal for the annual $12,000 Frontera Foundation Grant, to build a slick, modern website that will take our CSA, and especially our add ons, to the next level. With so many farmers and CSA’s going down and giving up, it is put up or shut up time for many of us. I’ve been tempted to quit for the first time in 25 years of farming. I’m going to give this perspective a couple years to take shape and evolve into somethings special and unique. Keep your fingers crossed for us getting the grant. Got to go. Enjoy your spinach.

-Chris

Posted 3/12/2018 11:09am by Business Manager.

Hey everyone! 

Here's what you can expect in this week's box...
  • Spinach- larger amounts than last delivery!
  • Carrots
  • Red meat (watermelon) radishes
  • Whole roasted tomatoes
  • Frozen Butternut Squash
  • Tomato Juice (medium and large shares only)

Need some new ideas using these ingredients?

Check out this butternut squash and tomato sauce recipe- you can use our whole roasted tomatoes in place of the tomatoes it calls for.

Or try out this recipe for sautéed radishes with spinach

As always we invite you to share recipes you've tried or photos of your delicious meals using #tomatomountain.

There's still time to order your add-ons! Tomorrow at noon is the deadline. Complete your share with items like salsa, cheese, potatoes, and new this week- grains! Any requests for our add-on store? Contact support@tomatomountain.com

Don't forget to leave out your coolers with any materials you have from past deliveries- we recollect jars, boxes, and the silver insulation sheets we use in boxes.

Have a great week!

-Alanna

Posted 3/9/2018 12:46pm by Business Manager.

Hi all!

I have exciting news for you on this lovely Friday afternoon- Tomato Mountain has partnered with Hazzard Free Farm to offer our CSA members grains!

Many of you have requested this, and I'm happy to say they are available in store now. You choose from a selection of the following-

Not only is this a woman-owned operation (woohoo International Women's Day week!), but the farm is also dedicated to growing organically and using the age-old techniques that date back to when it started in 1847.

Let these new products also be a reminder to order your add-ons! As always, mushroom orders are due by end of day Saturday and everything else by 12pm Tuesday.

Have a great weekend!

Alanna

 

Posted 3/7/2018 12:21pm by Business Manager.

Greetings!

I hope you're all having a lovely week. Spring is upon us! Up at the farm, this means it's seeding and prep time. In Chicago, it means time to renew seasonal CSA memberships!

In spring you can expect more greens- like arugula, lettuce, and kale. Eventually shares will start to include crops like turnips, carrots, and scallions too! You can see a crop calendar on our website for more.

While you're on our site- don't forget to order your add-ons for next week's delivery. We've added another bundle deal- this time for chilaquiles! Also check out potatoes, cheeses, salsas, parsley plants and much more!

Are you enjoying our CSA? Tell a friend! You can even get store credit for referrals...

Thanks and have a great day!

-Alanna

Posted 3/7/2018 12:01pm by Business Manager.

Greetings!

I hope you are all having a lovely week. I'm reaching out to all the seasonal members because now is the time to register for the spring CSA season. 

In spring you can expect more greens- like arugula, lettuce, and kale. Eventually shares will start to include crops like turnips, carrots, and scallions too! You can see a crop calendar on our website for more.

All you have to do is follow this link, scroll down to spring season, and follow the directions from there. You can always reach out to support@tomatomountain.com with any questions. 

While you're on our site- don't forget to order your add-ons for next week's delivery. We've added another bundle deal- this time for chilaquiles! Also check out potatoes, cheeses, salsas, and much more!

Enjoying our CSA? Tell a friend! You can even get store credit for referrals...

Thanks and have a great day!

-Alanna

 

Posted 3/1/2018 12:54pm by Business Manager.

Spring has arrived. There will be some cold stretches and a snowflake here and there, but the ground is almost thawed out, and the sun is getting much stronger/higher in the sky. In the next 6 weeks we’ll pick up two hours of daylight and better than 20 degrees. The 6-10 day forecast is warm, and nothing in the longer range forecast suggests anything cold, so we’re in for what looks like a nice and moderate start to spring.

Of course hoop house spinach is growing much better. We did begin applying the brakes yesterday, by opening one small vent on each hoop, to keep the quality high and yields a bit more manageable. It’s kind of a hurry up and slow down thing. These variables and decisions can be very subtle and complex at the same time. The heat and sun are great, but too much heat and fast growth aren’t good either, so we need to be careful not to push things too hard. If we do, flavor and quality will go down, and we also run the risk of having the spinach bolt, or go to seed. Any combination of the spinach getting too hot during the day, or too many warm days in general, especially if it the soil gets a bit dry, will encourage it to switch over to the reproductive, flowering mode. At that point, flavor goes downhill and leaves become much thinner.

The last two boxes of winter will have extra spinach in them. It lasts for a few weeks in the refrigerator, so you should have no problem going through it all. Keeping the hoops partially open will allow cold nights to keep the spinach sweet, at least for the rest of this month, so quality and flavor should be great through the end of the winter share.

We’re growing lots more plants for sale this year because it’s fun and these sorts of sales allow for more interaction with customers. We’ll be offering more plants as add ons than we did last year. I’m also thinking of ways to offer classes and instruction in any way I can. It’s just more fun and after 25 years of doing primarily food, I’m looking for something fun and fresh. Plants are why I got into farming in the first place. I’ve found that the bigger the farm gets, the more it’s about rules, business and production, rather than plants and satisfying interactions.

If anyone has particular requests or ideas of plants they’d like to see us sell, let us know. Currently, we’re doing herbs, lettuce planters, peppers, and this year I’ll dabble with tomatoes in containers. From selling plants at farmers’ markets the last few years, I know what people are interested in. Lavender, basil, rosemary, and thyme are the popular, warm living Mediterranean herbs. On the cool loving side, people like mint, parsley, and cilantro. Lettuce planers are my best selling cool loving planter, and this year we’ll do a few larger planters with kale and/or swiss chard.

One thing I’ve never done in containers, but will try this year, is strawberries. There are some nice day neutral, everbearing varieties that do well in containers, and most people love them. Kind of wish I’d thought of that sooner and already started the seeds, but there’s still plenty of time to get them going. It’s on our short list.

-Chris

Posted 2/26/2018 11:08am by Business Manager.

Happy Monday everyone! Hope your week is off to a great start.

In the box this week you can look forward to...

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Red meat (watermelon) radishes
  • Whole roasted tomatoes
  • Frozen Butternut Squash
  • Tomato Juice

I have two recipe recommendations for you all today, both from our wonderful CSA member Patricia. Thanks for sharing, Patricia!

Oatmeal Butternut Squash Cookies

 

Fermented Watermelon Radish

Please feel free to share recipes and photos of dishes you try with our produce! I love seeing what you all come up with. On social media, use the hashtag #tomatomountain. 

There's still time to add to this week's box- any orders placed past noon tomorrow will be included with next delivery- the week of 3/11.

Don't forget to leave your coolers out! Have a great week!

-Alanna

 

Posted 2/23/2018 8:59am by Business Manager.

The big day is here- Happy CSA Day!

What is CSA Day all about?

CSA farmers across the country (including us!) need your support now for a successful harvest this year. Now is the time when we are making investments in seeds, equipment, and the labor it takes to grow for our CSA. If you love our service, help us encourage others to join so we can grow!

We encourage you all to spread the word about us! Post on Facebook or Instagram using hashtags #tomatomountain and #CSAday.

 

Also, don't forget to take a look at all the goods available in store this weekincluding flat-leaf and curly parsley plants.

Have you tried to Greek Feta or Chevre from Capri Cheesery yet? We have a limited supply left! 

As always, the last day to order mushrooms is Saturday, and all other orders are due by Tuesday at 12pm!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thanks,

Alanna

Spring Sign-Up Reminder AND New Products In Store!March 19th, 2018

Hi everybody! Hope you're all enjoying the tasty produce from last week's shares. We're glad we were able to give you more of our famous spinach these week! And there's lots more coming your way...&nb

Sign up for Spring 2018 CSA Membership!March 19th, 2018

Hello members, past and present, Our spring membership begins this April and we're on track for a great season! We are really hoping you will join us with a Spring Membership!    Spring

Tomato Mountain Newsletter- Week 5 Winter 2018March 14th, 2018

Spring is in full swing. The ground is almost thawed out and we’re in the middle of a bunch of warm, sunny days. Looks like this beautiful stretch of weather should last through the weekend, may

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