Canary Tongue Lettuce
New Potatoes or Fava Beans
Welcome to our 2016 Community Supported Agriculture season. As is usual in our region, the last month has been full of extreme changes in weather including unseasonable early summer days to a deep frost in mid April and weeks of dry shifting to 10 days of gray skies and lots of downpours. Beginning our fifth year of farming in Prince Edward County, smack dab in the center of Virginia, we have gotten accustomed to many extreme fluctuations. Still it is what remains as our biggest challenge each and every spring. This weather affects our ability to get crop fields prepped, to get them seeded or transplanted and it affects our timing of multiple successions of quick crops; all of which affect our consistency with harvest and our product availability. Not to mention appropriately timing our hoeing or cultivation in order to keep plantings managed so that they can grow healthy and strong plants.
For example this Spring all of our seedlings in our propagation house were ready to be transplanted 1-2 weeks earlier than in prior years, some of this is due to better greenhouse management; but mostly this is because we had very warm and sunny weather in March and early April, so the plants grew really well. This means though that we need to have the crop- land ready for the plants and we need conditions to be right for planting. Many of the crops got in early, but some fields just were not ready, so we either hold the seedlings longer, which can stunt the plants or we “pot them up” into larger size containers, which is extremely time consuming not to mention costly. This choice is just one of many in farming that has a domino effect, with each and every step determining the next. These decisions are part of a farmers job and every year we have more experience to carry with us to help make the most effective choices the next time around. This is how we become better farmers.
So how has the 3 plus inches of rain this past week affected the CSA shares? Well over the next few weeks we will begin to see the affects from crop to crop. Often in our very heavy soil it will mean waterlogged roots and this can stunt growth. As we are still seeing some standing water in some of our fields, we know that in the future we still have a lot of work to do improving our soil, both through better drainage and improved microbial life and soil activity.
Fava beans and early new potatoes are both first timers in our May CSA shares. We are also excited to have a strong stand of spinach to share with you all, as generally we only have spinach from late fall through early spring and the CSA members never get to enjoy it. The green garlic came on very early this year, so this may be our last week bringing it to market. We are giving you all a substantial amount and it will last for 3 plus weeks if not longer. Keep it in a bag in your crisper and if the outer greens yellow, just peel a layer down. Please enjoy this once per season treat. Below we have included some recipe ideas to inspire delicious meals with this week’s share items. We are excited to begin this season with you all. Enjoy the share…..Autumn and Brian
Roz bel Ful Ahdar (Rice with Fava Beans) the New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
In Egypt this is prepared in the Spring, when fava beans are very young and tender. It is served hot as an accompaniment to meat, or cold with yogurt and a salad. Egyptians do not remove the skins of the beans.
1 pound fresh fava beans, shelled
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic or 1 green garlic stalk, minced white & greens
1 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 1/2 cups basmati or long-grain rice (wash)
2 ¼ cup water
Boil the beans in salted water for a few minutes, until they are tender, then drain. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two. Then add the drained beans and sauté a little, stirring and turning them over. Add the rice, and stir until transparent.Add the salt, pepper, and chopped dill and pour in the water. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender.
Borani-e Esfenaj (Spinach and Yogurt Salad) the New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
This refreshing Iranian salad has a pure and delicate flavor.
½ pound spinach
½ cup thick-strained Greek-style yogurt
1 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp sugar
salt and pepper
1 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
juice of ¼ lemon
Wash the spinach and remove the stems only if they are thick and hard. Drain the leaves and put them in a large pan. Cover and set over low heat until the leaves crumple into a soft mass. They steam in the water that clings to them in a very few minutes. Drain, and when cool enough, squeeze out the excess water with your hands. Chop with a sharp knife and mix with the rest of the ingredients.