Why CSA matters!
Hi, friends. It's finally here! The new CSA season is upon us!
This is an especially big moment for us and we're so happy to have you all along. When you're starting a farm, everything is an experiment, more or less. Often this means growing three or four near identical varieties of collards and seeing which you like best. Other times it means trying out a new growing system, tool, or crop in the hopes it will improve our offerings, our efficiency, or our bottom line. Basically we're always stepping out on a limb--some are just bigger and higher than others.
Then it comes as no surprise that starting this CSA is also an experiment and a risk. When we started Good Dog Farm in 2016, we knew we needed to focus on large plantings for wholesale to make the most of our limited time while we both still worked full-time jobs. However, we always knew that we really wanted this farm to feed people. We also knew that we needed to diversify into the cornucopia of wonderful vegetables our region can support. We needed to diversify both for reasons of personal sanity and taste, but also as a hedge against the large risks that come with large plantings of single crops. It turns out this volatile and unpredictable Spring has been a master class in the merits of diversity. So we stepped out onto another limb. This year, we decided to expand our CSA into the summer season, to plant several acres of diversified wonderful spring and summer veggies, and to hope that this new type of CSA appealed to new potential customers as much as it appealed to us.
From where we're sitting today, we couldn't be more pleased with the result. We are just tickled that all of you decided to take a little risk yourselves and trust us to grow your produce this year. For one, it would have been been a bit like throwing a party and having no one come. More importantly though, your choice to come along with us is helping take some of the risk out of farming, and your participation is an increasingly vital part to our business, our lives, and our little local environment up here in Hereford. We really want to offer a sincere "thank you" for that, and we also would like you to know that we take our responsibility to live up to your trust seriously.
While Spring weather is rarely predictable or consistent for farmers, the tastes we all hunger for in spring seem regular as clockwork. As the world turns green around us, the best flavors are fresh, tender, crisp, and sweet. We have a lot of spring offerings at the moment. Some will be fleeting (strawberries, radishes), while others will be with us for another month at least (asparagus, collards). In the excellent cookbook Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden, he suggests that one begin each season by enjoying produce as fresh and raw as possible, and as that starts to lose appeal, then to step up the heat and try for more inventive recipes. We definitely agree with that thought around here, and it lends itself especially well to the first, bright morsels of Spring. It goes without saying to enjoy our strawberries and snap peas as raw and as quickly as you can, but we encourage you to spread the wisdom around beyond the usual suspects. Since we're stealing his advice here, we might as well steal a recipe or two as well, so here's a wonderful recipe for a raw asparagus salad to the left. But really, buy that book! It's an excellent and methodical walk through how to enjoy the best vegetables through each season and is therefore a wonderful CSA companion.
And on the other end of things, even in this season of beginnings, we are already reaching the end for our radishes after two May spells of daily highs in the 90s. Be warned, these radishes are hot, but don't let that scare you off just yet. We are currently in love with another of Mr. McFadden's recipes that mellows their flavor and brings out their more tender, sweeter side: the quick pickle. Simply remove the tops (or not), cut to desired size (or not at all), place in a clean jar, top with the mixture listed below, and store in the fridge. As he sagely advises, they're ready when you like how they taste (just 2-3 days for us).
Quick Pickle Brine
1/2 C rice vinegar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1-1/2 C hot water
5 tbsp sugar (or less, to taste)
1 tbsp & 1 tsp salt
Thanks again, and happy eating! See you next week!