Last Week of Winter Share

Digging in for 2019!

Digging in for 2019!

Last Week of Winter Share

Hi everyone! We’ve arrived at the final week of our winter CSA shares. We hope you’ve enjoyed all of the winter veggies, and thank you for your support!

We will be deactivating our Small Farm Central website on March 15th. We recommend you roll over your existing CSA balance by March 15th because that’s the last day of our 5% Early Bird Discount; however, if you can’t create your new account by the 15th, your balance will still be available once you make your decision.

To roll over your balance now, reply to this email and we'll send you your personalized discount code. Then create your new CSA account on Harvie

We recommend that you sign up for your summer + fall shares soon - shares are selling fast!!

But it’s still snowing!!!

But it’s still snowing!!!

Again, many thanks to you, winter CSA members! We hope we can keep growing for you in 2019! Let us know if you have any questions about our new CSA shares.

— Joanna & Bryan

On the Brink

It just keeps snowing!

It just keeps snowing!

On the Brink

Hi everyone! Hope you’re reading this in a cozy, toasty place. The past couple of weeks have tantalized us with springy weather, and then snowed all over our dreams. We’re so close to getting going…but it’s not quite time yet. We have almost everything we need to get started in our possession like seeds and potting mix. We just don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and end up with giant baby plants with no where to put them because the ground is still too wet. As of this week, it’s been officially declared an El Nino Winter/ Spring this year, which leads us to believe it’ll be wetter than average again. This makes us feel gloomy, but can’t fully dampen our spring spirits. It’s about to be both of us full time on the farm, and we’re getting AMPED!!

As we organize ourselves for spring, we have decided that the last week of our winter CSA will be March 6th. We’ve sold out of many of our favorite winter goodies, and we also need to switch to our new web ordering system, Harvie and stop paying for our current service. We’ll extend the early bird sign up discount until March 15th so that folks can still order up through March 6th and then transfer their balance to a summer share. Once you’re ready to transfer your balance, send us an email and we’ll send you your personalized coupon code that will roll over your remaining balance. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.

Building up a surplus of sleep while we can

Building up a surplus of sleep while we can

JOIN OUR 2019 CSA

Easier Ordering

We’ve switched our CSA website to a new service called Harvie that will make ordering your share much easier! We’re super excited, and guess that you will be too!

Still Customizeable

Instead of picking items each week, you’ll set your produce preferences at the beginning of the season, and receive only your favorites in your box. You can swap items before you receive your box or add extra vegetables for special events or preserving the harvest.

Still Has a Flexible Schedule

Pick up a share either weekly or biweekly. Going on vacation? No problem! Put your share on hold for the week, or reschedule for another pick up. We’re offering two 14-week seasons (June - mid September and mid September - December) this year for added flexibility.

Additional Pick Up Locations

Grab your share from HEX Ferments, Prime Corner in Hampden, Ednor Gardens or Charles Village! Plus, our newest pick up location for our South Baltimore friends: Bar Method in Locust Point!

Payment Plan Available

Pay in full or use a payment plan: 25% down at sign up, 25% the first week of delivery, and then the remaining 50% balance will be divided equally on your weekly pick up schedule.

DISCOUNTS FOR EARLY BIRDS

Sign up before March 15th and receive a 5% discount!

Sign up for both summer and fall shares and receive a 5% discount!

Do both to receive a 10% discount!

Lavishing the salad mix while it’s the start of the season

Lavishing the salad mix while it’s the start of the season

Thanks everyone! We can’t wait to grow for you this summer and fall!

- Joanna & Bryan

Conference season

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Good morning, everyone. It is decidedly not wintry today, but we did get some good snow dogs time in last weekend. FYI, we’ll likely only be doing newsletters every other week for a little while, as there’s very little to report with 10F nights on the forecast.

This weekend kicked off our annual mini conference season. Our region has two wonderful sustainable agriculture conferences every year. Friday and Saturday was the Future Harvest - CASA conference in College Park, while the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture will be held in a few weeks in Lancaster. There are trade shows, workshops on everything from effective workforce management strategies to how to bake bread with local flour, and many opportunities to catch up with old friends in the region and make new ones. If you have dreams of starting your own farm or garden, or local food business, it’s a great place to start.

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This year Joanna learned about options for diversifying our business with mushrooms, and Bryan taught a workshop on wholesale opportunities for the small farm. CASA also honored Chip Planck, a retired farmer from Loudon County, VA, who, with his wife Susan, is a legend in our region as one of the originals doing and promoting organics in the DC area. Chip is a big reason why Joanna and I are farming together today. After retiring from farming himself, he has helped nurture networks of new farmers in the region, and has served as president of the CASA board, stewarding it’s strategies for sustainable farming education and development for many years. Joanna and I met at a CASA training series, and we’ve learned a great deal of what has made us successful at CASA-led programs. I remember Chip saying before a workshop, that we were all there to learn lots of details about how to plan and sell and be successful, but that the most important part was to have the passion to just go out there and do it, and make it work as you can as you go. That inspiration has stuck with us, and it was really lovely to see Chip honored in this way.

That’s it for us this week. Bundle up this weekend and eat some cabbage! And don’t forget to…


JOIN OUR 2019 CSA

Easier Ordering

We’ve switched our CSA website to a new service called Harvie that will make ordering your share much easier! We’re super excited, and guess that you will be too!

Still Customizeable

Instead of picking items each week, you’ll set your produce preferences at the beginning of the season, and receive only your favorites in your box. You can swap items before you receive your box or add extra vegetables for special events or preserving the harvest.

Still Has a Flexible Schedule

Pick up a share either weekly or biweekly. Going on vacation? No problem! Put your share on hold for the week, or reschedule for another pick up. We’re offering two 14-week seasons (June - mid September and mid September - December) this year for added flexibility.

Additional Pick Up Locations

Grab your share from HEX Ferments, Prime Corner in Hampden, Ednor Gardens or Charles Village!

Payment Plan Available

Pay in full or use a payment plan: 25% down at sign up, 25% the first week of delivery, and then the remaining 50% balance will be divided equally on your weekly pick up schedule.

DISCOUNTS FOR EARLY BIRDS

Sign up before February 28th and receive a 5% discount!

Sign up for both summer and fall shares and receive a 5% discount!

Do both to receive a 10% discount!

It's 2019!

Getting into the New Year’s redecorating spirit!

Getting into the New Year’s redecorating spirit!

It’s 2019!

Happy new year again! Almost one week in and it’s really feeling official. Bryan is deep into budgeting and crop planning, and I’m wrangling our 2018 books getting them ready for our saintly accountant. That being said, we’re still cleaning up from 2018. Before we know it, it’ll be March and we’ll be running around like chickens with our heads cut off! In an effort to offer you the best CSA in 2019, we have big news now…

JOIN OUR 2019 CSA

Easier Ordering

We’ve switched our CSA website to a new service called Harvie that will make ordering your share much easier! We’re super excited, and guess that you will be too!

Still Customizeable

Instead of picking items each week, you’ll set your produce preferences at the beginning of the season, and receive only your favorites in your box. You can swap items before you receive your box or add extra vegetables for special events or preserving the harvest.

Still Has a Flexible Schedule

Pick up a share either weekly or biweekly. Going on vacation? No problem! Put your share on hold for the week, or reschedule for another pick up. We’re offering two 14-week seasons (June - mid September and mid September - December) this year for added flexibility.

Additional Pick Up Locations

Grab your share from HEX Ferments, Prime Corner in Hampden, Ednor Gardens or Charles Village!

Payment Plan Available

Pay in full or use a payment plan: 25% down at sign up, 25% the first week of delivery, and then the remaining 50% balance will be divided equally on your weekly pick up schedule.

DISCOUNTS FOR EARLY BIRDS

Sign up before February 28th and receive a 5% discount!

Sign up for both summer and fall shares and receive a 5% discount!

Do both to receive a 10% discount!

What We’re Drinking

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Feeling like you need a restorative beverage after holiday indulgences? Try some spearmint tea from our friends at Hydes Hill Herbs. It’s cooling and cleansing on your insides. Drinking it as a hot tea still feels warm and wintery despite its chilly properties. Available in the Herbs and Teas section of Small Farm Central.

Rosie is not ready to stop holiday eating!

Rosie is not ready to stop holiday eating!

Feel free to let us know if you have any questions about our summer/fall CSA - we hope you’ll join us!

Cheers!

- Joanna & Bryan

Happy New Year!

Whipporwill peas are one heirloom southern pea from which we salvaged enough seed for next year.

Whipporwill peas are one heirloom southern pea from which we salvaged enough seed for next year.

Good afternoon. We’re back from our holidays in New England feeling rejuvenated, and ordering is open for Wednesday, the 2nd. Christmas was an excellent time to put the farm on the back burner for a little while, and now, after some much needed beauty rest, we’re very excited for the 2019 season. We had some major disappointments in 2018, as well as some successes, but we’re confident that we can learn from our mistakes (while praying for better weather). March already can’t come soon enough!

Most of our plans for 2019 involve doubling down on things we do well like kale, squash, potatoes, while also cutting out some of our biggest flops like cabbage and cauliflower.

One exception is dry beans. We had big plans for legumes this year and seeded over 2 acres. After a summer of drought and deluge, we harvested almost nothing, but next year we’ll be at it again. We were however successful at growing out enough of some rare heirloom bean and pea seeds so as to put those varieties into production next year.

One of those varieties is a drought tolerant southern pea (today’s black-eyed peas) called Whipporwill, which was brought to the US through the slave trade and was grown at Monticello. We’ll be tasting these tiny peas tomorrow as the traditional “red pea” in our new year’s Hopping John, along with some homegrown mustard greens and a friend’s pork. We’ll let you know how it is and hopefully we’ll have loads for you next winter. Happy New Year!

Me at the Harvard Fogg Museum enjoying some modern potato art and confirming that fresh potatoes are indeed  powerful .

Me at the Harvard Fogg Museum enjoying some modern potato art and confirming that fresh potatoes are indeed powerful.

Picking Things Up

Our beautiful cover crop daikon radish pulling nutrients up from the deep soil horizons

Our beautiful cover crop daikon radish pulling nutrients up from the deep soil horizons

Picking Things Up

We were able to catch up on some clean up this week with the warm, thawing weather. We also got very wet and muddy. Bryan planted lots of onions for harvest next summer. I continued cleaning up plastic mulch from this year’s summer crops, which feels like a never ending task. We do a lot of picking things up and putting them down somewhere else around here, and this week was no exception. Seemed like a good week to draw attention to this humble act since it’s not masked by the more fun aspects of growing food, like picking up a crate full of tomatoes and putting it down somewhere cool. While we are still in clean up and recovery mode, we are happy to still be harvesting loads of fresh greens each week and gearing up to be excited about the 2019 growing season. We’ll be buying our potting mix for next year’s transplants on Monday, in fact!

No CSA Pick Up on December 27th

Heads up that there will be no CSA pick up on December 27th since we’ll be travelling for the holidays. Get all of your goodies this week!

What We’re Eating

Polenta with Beans and Mustard Greens

We ate lots of creamy, dreamy polenta this week! We tried this recipe, plus a bolognese-style red sauce served over polenta. Both have been scrumptious and do great as leftovers.

Adapted from New York Times

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  • ½ pound (about 1 1/8 cups) dried pintos, red beans, borlottis or other similar heirloom beans, rinsed and picked over for stones (we used pintos), soaked for about 4 hours or quick soaked

  • 5 cups water

  • 1 small onion, halved

  • 1 medium or large carrot, diced

  • 3 garlic cloves, 2 crushed, 1 minced

  • A bouquet garni made with a couple of sprigs each parsley and thyme, a bay leaf and a Parmesan rind

  • Salt to taste

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to taste)

  • 1 pound mustard greens, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 cup polenta

  • Freshly grated Parmesan or feta for serving

  1. Chop 1/2 of the onion and set aside. To cook dried beans, drain soaking water and transfer to a heavy pot. Cover with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water, and add more water as necessary. Over medium-high heat, bring to a gentle boil and skim away foam. Add unchopped halved onion, crushed garlic cloves and bouquet garni, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour. Using tongs, removed halved onion and whole garlic cloves. (My beans cooked quicker than this, so make sure to taste and test them as they’re simmering.)

  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet and add chopped onion and carrot. Cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes, and garlic and pepper flakes. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes, until onion softens. Stir vegetable mixture into beans. Add tomato paste and salt to taste (I use at least 1 1/2 teaspoons), cover and continue to simmer very gently for 1 hour or until beans are tender all the way through and their texture is plush and velvety. Remove and discard bouquet garni.

  3. Add greens (depending on the size of your pot you may have to add a portion at a time, cover for a minute until the first portion wilts, then add the next portion and so on until all of the greens have been added) and continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until greens are tender but still have some color and life in them. Taste bean broth; it should taste rich, delicious, a little spicy. Add salt as necessary. Keep warm

  4. Meanwhile, toward the end of the cooking time for the beans, cook polenta; or wait until beans are done and start polenta or grits. When done, spoon into wide soup bowls and press down in the middle with the back of a spoon. Spoon beans and greens with broth over polenta or grits. Top with a little Parmesan or feta and serve.

Rosie, still small and cute

Rosie, still small and cute

Thanks everyone, have a great week!

  • Joanna & Bryan

Warm and Cozy

Melvin supervised while we built a hugelkultur mound at our friend’s family’s property in Southern Maryland yesterday.

Melvin supervised while we built a hugelkultur mound at our friend’s family’s property in Southern Maryland yesterday.

Warm and Cozy

We’re working hard outside and resting well inside this week. We helped out a pal at his property this weekend building a hugelkultur mound out of felled trees. Hopefully it will produce delicious blueberries in years to come! We’re gradually still cleaning up the farm from the 2018 season and starting to get excited about 2019. And of course, we’ve been eating very well!

What We’re Eating

Beef Stew

We made a family favorite this past week: beef stew. The sweet carrots and onions perfectly complement the tender beef. We, of course, added a multitude of frozen peas.

Adapted from New York Times

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour or brown rice flour

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  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 1 pound beef stewing meat, trimmed and cut into inch cubes

  • 5 teaspoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1 cup red wine

  • 3 ½ cups beef broth, homemade or low-sodium canned

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds

  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  1. Combine the flour and pepper in a bowl, add the beef and toss to coat well. Heat 3 teaspoons of the oil in a large pot. Add the beef a few pieces at a time; do not overcrowd. Cook, turning the pieces until beef is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch; add more oil as needed between batches.

  2. Remove the beef from the pot and add the vinegar and wine. Cook over medium-high heat, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the beef, beef broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.

  3. Cover and cook, skimming broth from time to time, until the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the onions and carrots and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more. Add broth or water if the stew is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle among 4 bowls and serve.

Chaotic family photo

Chaotic family photo

Thanks everyone!

Joanna & Bryan

offseason

Going into their 6th year, S2L2’s tunnels have grown tens of thousands of pounds of food, but are starting to show their age.

Going into their 6th year, S2L2’s tunnels have grown tens of thousands of pounds of food, but are starting to show their age.

With the beginning of December, we’re really barreling into the offseason around here. Joanna has been hard at work helping coordinate the Future Harvest-CASA Beginning Farmer Training Program. Meanwhile, I’ve started a contracting project renovating 10 massive, aging high tunnels at Strength To Love 2 Farm in Sandtown-Winchester. So while we may not have many veggies in the ground, I have been thankful for the higher-than-average temperatures as I wrestle with old steel piping all day.

But just because we haven’t been on the farm as much lately, doesn’t mean your CSA will be getting any less interesting. Cabbages and beets are in from Sassafras Creek Organic Farm in Leonardtown, and a couple varieties of onions are now available from 78 Acres farm in Smithsburg. Both these trusted growers sell through the Chesapeake Farm to Table aggregator, with whom we work closely, and we’re very glad to offer some of their crops to you.

If you’re wondering why we choose to buy some vegetables in, it’s a bit like our choice to buy in tree fruits, if less obviously so. Different farms have different systems, specialties, and business models that make them much more proficient at growing large quantities of certain crops as opposed to others. Specialized weeding, harvesting, and washing equipment, even on a relatively small footprint, allow a farm like Sassafras Creek to successfully grow many more beets and carrots, more efficiently than we could without changing quite a lot around here.

So we choose to focus our current carrot-growing capacity on producing unique varieties for fresh, greens-on marketing, and leave the orange long-storage guys to someone who’s really mastered it. Similarly, we take advantage of our favorable growing conditions to produce lots of extra winter squash and watermelons to sell to other CSA farms in the area. We feel very lucky to have so many other organic and sustainable farms in the area we can trust to grow produce that lives up to the same standards we set for ourselves.

brassica juncea

One such crop that we think we really get right is the mustard green. Although in America, we most commonly think of mustards as the get-the-heck-out-of-here horseradish spicy of “Southern Curled,” mustard greens are as diverse as cabbages and kales. As they grow up in our tunnels, we’ve decided to start listing many of our mixed greens individually so you can love them as much as we do.

My personal favorite is the “Miike” mustard green from Kyushu, the southernmost of the main Japanese islands. We’ve grown several varieties from this region, but have finally landed on a “reselection” from Wild Garden Seeds in Oregon. If mustards enjoy any advantages over kale, it’s their consistently tender texture, regardless of age or size, as well as the eating quality of their stems. Instead of having to cut out and discard the stem, it’s actually the best part. Miike exemplifies both these qualities, and it’s very sweet, ever-so-slightly hot, and uniquely umami flavor is best enjoyed cooked lightly or not at all.

If you’re a serious mustard lover, this one is perfect sliced into ribbons, and tossed with a touch of sesame oil, vinegar, soy, and pepper oil into a slaw. Colorful radish disks or matchsticks make a great topping.

Another great choice is to stir it into a soup at the very, very end. For a more traditional south Japanese vibe, try a very simple soup made with broth (dashi, chicken, or vegetable) with scallion whites, ginger, cubed tofu, a splash of soy and mirin, and a coddled egg. Right before serving, stir several whole leaves into the soup until just wilted but still florescent green, top with a dash of sesame or pepper oil and serve.

But the sweet, tender virtues of mustard need not only be enjoyed in East Asian cooking. Miike greens are also great in classic Tuscan white bean soup. Make any Italian-y bean soup of your choosing—something like this—skip the kale (and the de-ribbing), and instead of cooking all the green out of your greens just let them simmer for 3-5 minutes before serving. Give any or all of the above a try and let us know what you think.

Enjoy!

Bryan and Joanna

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We hope you all enjoyed a lovely time with your family and friends and came out the other side full of love and good food. We enjoyed a spectacular turkey from Whispering Breeze Farm with Bryan’s family in Bel Air.

As always, it’s back home and back to work, as we set about catching up on Quickbooks and cleaning up, and getting started on 2019 planning.We even made our first seed purchase for next year: ginger!

To ensure the highest quality product, we buy certified organic, disease-free, outdoor grown ginger from Hawaii to ship here in March. These experts have been doing it for 25 years and produce amazing quality seed for one of the most special and unique crops on the farm. And as a little early Christmas gift to ourselves, I also threw in some related Thai ornamental bulbs that I can’t wait to see blooming on the farm.

Tropical farm goals.

Tropical farm goals.

Reminder: New Pickup Location

A very important reminder: this week is the official beginning of the Winter CSA season. If you order between now and April, your share will be available at HEX Ferments in Belvedere Square between 1 and 7pm. No other pickup locations will be active for the winter.

Reminder: Pizza Party Time Change

Because of the snow last week, Well Crafted had to reschedule a large event they’re hosting to our pizza party night, Thursday November 29. There’s still room for us, we just need to make it a little earlier. Instead of the originally planned time, we WILL BE THERE FROM 5:30 TO 7:00 PM ON NOVEMBER 29. There will still be special snacks with Good Dog Farm produce, with the best beer and ‘za in Baltimore available for purchase. Come hungry!

Reminder: Teas and Herbs + Farm Swag

A reminder to try out the herbs and teas we’ve added to our store. This year, our friend and local food and flower maven Shelley White started her own herb farm in lovely Fork, MD (incidentally, right around the literal corner from where Bryan’s dad grew up). Hydes Hill Herbs is only the second dried herb farm in the state (Congrats, Shelley!), and we’re very excited to be able to offer her herbs and teas through our CSA. All products are grown using 100% organic practices, the teas are strictly herbal with no additives, and the culinary herbs pack so much more flavor than anything you’ll find outside your own garden. Give it a try, spice up your winter menu, support another beginning farmer, and never look back!

We’ve also added a new section for Good Dog Farm swag (currently magnets and stickers). Look for new wearable swag in the future! Happy Thanksgiving!

Bryan and parents at the Thanksgiving table.

Bryan and parents at the Thanksgiving table.