CSA Newsletter ~ Week 1
|We're very happy to be kicking off our first ever CSA winter season share. Due to our planning and extra fall plantings of root crops and spinach in our hoop houses, we're proud to be able to offer a good supply of healthy, high quality, locally grown food throughout the winter. Only about a third of our CSA members who
were with us last summer/fall have signed up for our winter share, and we can only speculate why that is. What we're doing is so new and unusual that most folks just aren't used to the idea of local food in the Midwest in winter, let alone the fresh greens (spinach) we'll have in all but this week's box. We think these will be some of the most interesting boxes of the year as they'll include fresh greens, stored root vegetables, our jarred tomato products (look for our tomato-vegetable juice soon), and even a few frozen items we put away last year.
And it's happening in the middle of the coldest month of a winter that has not disappointed as far as cold temperatures and snow go. First there was the mega blizzard that dumped well over a foot of snow on the farm, and then blew several more feet of snow back over every cleared/shoveled surface in sight. Since then, it's been quite cold--well below average with lots of nights in the single digits and below zero. While it hasn't been bitterly cold, with the exception of a few days, it has been below average and quite cold for about the last month. I understand that hasn't been the case in Chicago yet this winter, but that extra100 miles North makes quite a difference.
The cold is no problem for the spinach we've got in the hoop houses and we expect to have it in the rest of our winter deliveries. We probably could have gone out and harvested enough spinach for everyone this week, but it seemed best to let it grow a little more, maximizing its amazing sweet flavor and yield to insurethe biggest and highest quality harvest we can over the long term. This winter is much colder than last year so the yield will be delayed, the flavor will be incredibly sweet, and the leaves will be extra thick.
As for what is in this first box, there are root crops, including our amazingly sweet fall carrots and the last of the sweet Hakurei turnips. And there are alliums, including all but the last of our yellow onions andgarlic. The Medium and Large shares will receive the last of our cabbage left from the fall, while the Small shares are receiving an extra helping of carrots and a sweet treat.
Last but not least are our unique whole roasted tomatoes. For those of you who haven't seen these or don't remember, they are not literally "whole" tomatoes in a jar, but rather the whole (as in whole wheat) tomato, meaning no seeds or skins have been removed. [To actually keep the whole tomato intact we'd have to take several time- and money-spending steps that would affect quality in a negative way while using more resources and costing everyone more money. Those steps include blanching the tomatoes to remove the skins (the easiest and cheapest way), and adding calcium chloride, which serves to strengthen the tomato cell walls so that the tomatoes don't fall apart in the heating/cooking process as they otherwise would.] We don't want to process the tomatoes and reduce their overall nutritional value. The result of our minimal process is a roasted product that has slightly less water, and all the nutrition and fiber that only a whole product can provide.
Thanks for taking part in our first winter share offering. If you like what you see, we hope you'll tell your friends and neighbors. We still have the capacity/crops to support about another 100 customers for this winter season. Otherwise, we'll be taking our amazing spinach to farmers' markets. While that isn't all bad, it feels better to develop relationships with more CSA customers as these connections last longer and are more satisfying.
and the Tomato Mountain Farm Team