CSA Week 17: A Smorgasbord of Everything.

week-17

I know, you’re probably wondering what the photo of the bumble bee has to do with a smorgasbord. Well, nothing really. I just saw a bumble bee on these flowers along the edge of our driveway when I went out to get the mail today, so took photo of it. I thought it was pretty an decided to share it with you.

And now, what do I mean by a Smorgasbord of Everything? It means that since this is the last CSA box of the season for the half share members, I’m filling the boxes with all of the different things I still have left on the farm, but not every box will be exactly the same. So here are some of the things you’ll find:

All boxes will have:

Apples – we harvested apples this week, and since we grow about 30 different varieties, so we mixed a whole bunch of different kinds together into one bag. Some of the varieties you’ve heard of such as: Zestar, Honeycrisp, Regent, Cortland, MacIntosh, Beacon, Honey Gold, Chestnut Crab, and Haralson. Then there are some varieties you’ve never heard of such as: Striped Harvey, Famouse, Minnesota 1734, Empire, and Kaneb Sweet. I guarantee you will have lots of fun tasting and comparing them all….even though you won’t know which one is which. However, please note…the apples have not been washed at all. In fact you will see some that have some freckles of dirt on the skins. No worries, it may look ugly, and if you really want to remove it you can scrub it off with a scrub brush. But just beware that there have been many birds lounging in these trees throughout the growing season…. if you know what I mean….

Winter Squash – you’ll find either an acorn, buttercup, butternut, or red kuri squash. The acorn and buttercup squash are dark green with bright orange flesh; Butternut squash is tan with orange flesh, and the red kuri is bright orange with orange flesh.

Grapes – I have a huge grape crop this year, and they just keep on giving. So you’ll have another carton of table grapes for snacking or making jam.

Green and/or ripe heirloom tomatoes – You’ve had a lot of experience with the ripe tomatoes, but the green tomatoes offer you a couple of options. 1.) you can let them sit on your kitchen counter and they will ripen up just like the ones you’ve enjoyed all summer. 2.) you can pickle them or prepare fried green tomatoes and try Jim’s Aunt Mary’s recipe on our website.

Herbs – some type of herb, either sage, parsley, or thyme. I’m sure you will recognize parsley, so for the boxes that have either sage or thyme, I will put a label on it for you.

Peppers – the hearty pepper plants bounced back after being attacked by both the deer (in the hoop house) and the groundhog. Both the sweet peppers and the hot peppers made a comeback, so you’ll find a little of each.

Random appearances – these items will be randomly placed so you’ll just have to see what surprises I’ll have in store for you.

Beets and/or beet greens – even though the deer in the hoop house really munched them down, some of them survived and many of the greens grew back. For those beets that really got chomped, you’ll see that the root has been removed, but the greens are still nice and edible.

Swiss chard – large leaves of greens with colorful stems of red, pink, yellow or white.

Potatoes – red, white, yellow, or blue, just like you’ve seen over the past few weeks.

Kale – dino or red Russian varieties.

Artichokes – one or two here and there.

And now, for the half share members, the season has come to a close. Full share members you have one more week to go. All of you will find an evaluation form and self-addressed, stamped envelope. I would really appreciate your feedback on your experience with the Sapsucker Farms CSA this year.

As for next year… I will no longer be doing a CSA. While I will continue to grow organic fruits and vegetables, I will be pursuing a new direction for the growing operation. For those of you who are interested in a CSA, I highly recommend Fresh Starts Farm located right here in Mora. This is a wonderful farm with lots of experience growing vegetables, and their CSA serves the Mora, Cambridge and Duluth markets.

Meanwhile…in other news from the farm…

We are delighted to announce our newest Yellow Belly Small Batch Hard Cider flavor: Barrel Aged. This is our cider blend that has been aged in oak bourbon barrels. It’s very smooth, with a delicious balance of apples and a very slight note of bourbon and oak. It is now available in Mora, and is rolling out in retail stores and restaurants across the Twin Cities and the rest of Minnesota.

YB bottles and glass medium

Thank you all for your support.

I want to thank each and everyone of you for supporting our farm. I hope that you have enjoyed your experience with the Sapsucker Farms CSA, and I certainly hope I get to see you at the Mora Farmers market, or when I’m doing a Yellow Belly tasting at stores across the Twin Cities and other parts of Minnesota.

Cheers to you all,

Debbie

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CSA Week 16: I REALLY Hate Groundhogs!

week-16

The groundhogs have been viciously attacking the crops this year. I used to see them as cute, furry little varmints and I’d cheer for their escape when being stalked by a bird of prey. But that all changed this year. Now I see them as nasty rodents with big fangs that take pride in devouring as much of my crops as they can.

This year, they have completely devoured the entire edamame crop, and the entire brussel sprouts crop, they’ve stripped the kale plants up the stems to the point where they look like little palm trees (shown above), fortunately there is still some kale left to harvest, and they invaded the hoophouse and nailed the sweet peppers. THAT’S why I really hate groundhogs.

Despite the devastation they’ve done, I am able to still fill the boxes with some goodies this week. So here is what you’ll find:

Peppers – some of the peppers are regenerating, so I think I’ll be able to have enough for the boxes this week. Most of them are hot peppers, but a few sweet peppers can be found too.

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes – While I still have lots of tomatoes, most of them are green. Now that the weather is cooling off and the days are getting shorter, the tomatoes are not ripening as quickly. But There still are some out there to be had and I will find them.

Eggplant – Did you figure out how terrific they are? I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. And I hope you look forward to seeing more in your box this week too!

Basil – It’s still looking beautiful, and I still have quite a nice bunch growing. So even though you’ve had it in your box last week, as long as it is still doing so well, I’m including it again. As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as too much basil. If you don’t want to use it in a recipe, then just put it in a vase and enjoy the wonderful aroma.

Grapes – I have oodles and oodles and oodles of grapes this year. And the groundhogs haven’t touched them…. mainly because they are growing on an arbor on the side of the shed, and that dogs patrol that area to keep furry critters away.

Potatoes – A nice bag of red, white, blue, and white potatoes.

Onions – A few medium sized onions.

Kale – The groundhogs didn’t get them all, so kale lovers, you’re in luck.

The delivery schedule this week is back to normal:
St. Cloud offices – Tuesday morning by 10:30
Good Earth Co-op – Tuesday morning by 10:30
Made of Mora – Thursday by noon
World Headquarters – Thursday by noon
City Center Market Co-op in Cambridge – Friday by noon

Enjoy,

Debbie

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CSA Week 15: Slight Schedule Change this week.

week-15

Please note that the boxes delivered to Made of Mora deliveries will be ready on WEDNESDAY this week instead of Thursday. Same for boxes picked up here at World Headquarters, will be ready on Wednesday instead of Thursday. All other delivery times will remain the same. Here is the schedule this week:

Good Earth Co-op, St. Cloud Offices – Tuesday by 10:30 a.m.
Vital Images – Tuesday between 11:30 and 12:30
Made of Mora – Wednesday by noon
World Headquarters – Wednesday by noon
City Center Market Co-op – Friday morning by 10:00 a.m.

Ok, now that we have the housekeeping taken care of, here is what you’ll find in your box this week.

Grapes  As I explained to the full-share members last week, these aren’t your ordinary table grapes.These are unique, Minnesota grown grapes that thrive in our cold climate. We have purple, white, and red grapes, but please don’t ask me what variety they are because we lost the list with the description of what we planted. But if you’d like, I can certainly come up with some impressive names for each. These grapes do have seeds, and they have a super intense grape flavor. Even though most of them are purple, there is a variety of different kinds of purples, so that is why each bunch will have it’s own unique flavor.

Leeks – This year I grew a different variety than I’ve grown before. This is a much smaller leek, so they are not as woody as the bigger leek, and much easier to clean. If you’re not familiar with leeks, they are like a giant scallion, and can be added to soups, stews, or when sliced very thin, added to salads.

Swiss Chard – You had some practice with beet greens, now you can apply the skills you’ve learned with preparing beet greens. Why? Because Swiss Chard is a member of the beet family.

Potatoes – A nice big bag of red, white, blue, and yellow potatoes. Living in the Midwest, the land of “meat and potatoes” I know you know what to do with these. Combine these spuds with some leeks for a nice potato-leek soup.

Eggplant – In other parts of the world, particularly in the Mediterranean, eggplant would be the “meat and potatoes” to that region. Some friends of ours from Turkey have shared with us some incredible dishes they have prepared using eggplant, and I have become a huge fan of it. But I know that eggplant is not very popular in this area, but I hope you’ll find a recipe that you’ll enjoy. In fact, when you combine the eggplant, garlic, and basil that is also in the box this week, you’ll have a simple and delicious meal. And the recipe is right here too.

Basil  I am so impressed with my basil crop this year. Usually basil is usually shriveling up this late in the season. But this year it’s not, so I get to add it to your box this week.

Onions – you’ll notice that the onions are a little bigger this week. That’s because I’ve been saving them for now. If I started giving you big onions, then itty bitty onions I know you would be disappointed. This way, the little onions found a happy home and purpose in life, instead of being overlooked and ignored.

Garlic  A head of garlic freshly harvested from this year’s crop.

Vine-ripened Heirloom Tomatoes – While there are still lots of tomatoes on the vine, the cooler weather and shorter days mean the tomatoes are ripening much slower now. But what is ripe will be in your box this week.

Enjoy the bounty,
Debbie

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CSA Week 14: Slight Schedule Change this Week.

Week 14

Please note there will be a slight change to the CSA schedule this week:
Good Earth Co-op – No change, boxes will be there on Tuesday by 10:30 a.m.
Made of Mora Wednesday by noon for this week instead of Thursday.
World Headquarters Wednesday by noon instead of Thursday this week here at the farm.
City Center Market Co-op, Cambridge Thursday morning by 10 am instead of Friday mornings.

So with the changed schedule this week, some of you will be able to enjoy the bounty earlier than usual. And here is what you’ll find in your box this week:

Grapes – These are not your typical table grapes. In fact, we’ve lost the paper with the list of names of what we planted, so we don’t even know what they are anymore. But what I can tell you is that you won’t find them anywhere else. We have several different varieties of purple, red, and white grapes, with most of the varieties being purple. They do have seeds, but they have a much more intense, tart, grape flavor than you’ve ever experienced. Of course, those of you who have been members of the CSA in the past, know exactly how good they are. They have also ripened up much earlier this year. Normally I prefer to harvest them after the first frost as that will sweeten them up a bit. But what the heck. They’re ready now, so you’ll be enjoying them now and [SPOILER ALERT] next week too!

Herb Sampler – You’ll find three different herb packages this week: Sage – Like most herbs, sage had lots of health benefits, full of flavonoids and antioxidants. It’s also delicious and is most most commonly used with poultry dishes. Thyme – has an earthy flavor and is used in many Italian dishes. Oregano – the sage kind of took over where the oregano was planted but I was able to find just a very small bit to share. Oregano is also used in a lot of Italian dishes, and is especially great with tomatoes sauces.

Beans – The second harvest of beans is now in progress and so far I’ve been able to harvest them before the ground hog gets to them. You’ll find the familiar, colorful varieties of purple, green, and dragon’s tongue.

Beets with greens – Last week I told you how the deer have gotten in to the hoop house and they decimated the sweet peppers and beets. Fortunately they didn’t get all of the beets, and I was able to rescue these remaining survivors, which is officially the last of the crop for this season. I’m hoping that the veggies these deer ate in my hoop house will help them grow up big and strong so I can shoot them and put them in the freezer come deer season in November.

Potatoes – A combination of white, yellow, red, and blue potatoes.

Onions – Some more little ones, much like last week.

Kale – some curly and purple kale this week.

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes – I haven’t caught the chipmunk in the hoop house yet. I see the little rascal scurrying away, so his time will be limited. Meanwhile, the ripe tomatoes seem to be more plentiful and higher up on the vine, perhaps he can’t reach them? At any rate, I have a nice big bundle of ripe tomatoes for you this week.

So don’t forget you folks in Mora and Cambridge. Your boxes will be ready a day earlier than normal.

Enjoy,

Debbie

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Yellow Belly Wins People’s Choice Award.

Week 13.3

What a fun day we had. On Saturday August 20th, Yellow Belly was busy at two different craft beverage events: St. Cloud Cider Fest at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud, and The Summer Beer Dabbler at CHS Field in St. Paul. And in St. Cloud, participants voted for their favorite cider and Yellow Belly won the People’s Choice Award! Thank you to all who participated.

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Huge thanks to Dan Humphreys of Brand Savvy Creative, Barb Allen, Joe Duncan, Tom Fagrelius, and Nate Robertson who pitched in (literally) to help at these events.

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CSA Week 13: Declaring War!

Week 13.1

I do believe that all of the critters here at Sapsucker Farms have joined together to attack all of the delightful, organic goodies all over the farm. The primary attack has taken place in my beloved hoop house. Never before, have I ever experienced such a coordinated attack by so many critters, that I am convinced that they have conspired to make it happen.
In the hoop house, there is a ground hog who has been able to get in and do a ground assault on the peppers. Meanwhile, I have had two deer… a mama and a baby… who are the first ungulates to figure out how to get inside the hoop house. And they have covered the aerial assault on the peppers, and have decimated the remaining beet crop. ARGH!.

Meanwhile….in the tomato patch, the chipmunks have indulged on all of the big, beautiful, gorgeous, delicious, gigantic, vine-ripened tomatoes. The most perfect, stunning, tomatoes, that I have been drooling over this past week, have each had one, big chomp from Alvin and his friends. I really hate chipmunks. And I hope that you too, have changed your mind about these greedy, and toothy little furry monsters.

Sigh.

Ok, but not all is lost. I am still able to scrounge up some pretty good things to put in your box this week. Even though it’s not what I originally planned. So here is what you’ll find.

Week 13.2

Shiitake mushrooms – the full share members were able to indulge in these meaty, delicious shrooms, and I’m happy to say that the crop has continued to produce so that everyone will get a taste of them this week. If you’re not familiar with shiitakes, you can google it to learn more. Otherwise, here are some easy recipes for you to enjoy.

Eggplant or Kale – I have lots of eggplant in the field this year, and so far nothing has tried to devour it. However, I only have a small amount of eggplant that is large enough for putting into boxes this week. So the folks in St. Cloud and Vital Images will get the eggplant this week. The rest of you will find kale instead. However, the roles will be reversed in a couple weeks, when the eggplant crop gets bigger, and is ready to be picked. Unless, of course, the field gets attacked by a flock of pterodactyls, which is entirely possible. Personally, I LOVE eggplant. It is such a versatile veggie with so many ways to prepare it. And here are some recipes for you to try.

Artichokes – actually, I should say “artichoke.” There are plenty of artichokes to have one in each box this week, but many more are on the way. Artichokes are easy to prepare. Here are some easy recipes to try, but be sure to google more ideas. I like to just boil them to tender, then pluck each pedal and dip in mayonnaise.

Potatoes – four different colors of spuds: red, blue, yellow, and white. Living in the Midwest, the land of meat and potatoes, I know you already know what to do with them. However, I should warn you, that the potatoes are very dirty…on purpose. Keeping them dirty will allow them to store for awhile longer. If I were to clean them up, I would also need to dry them out, and once they are cleaned and dried, they start to deteriorate. You’ll be seeing a lot more potatoes in the future, so just plan on some dirty, but delicious bags of spuds.

Mini onions – The crop of onions this year ended up being very small. Small in terms of size, not small in terms of what was planted. I don’t know why the onions were so small this year, I did ask the onions what was up with it… but I quickly learned that onions don’t speak English. Whatever. At any rate, even though the onions are small, they are still tender and delicious. So just pretend that they are shallots an you will be very happy with the results.

Basil – I am so impressed with my basil crop this year. Even though it is growing in the hoophouse, so far, there have been no critters – furry or multi-legged insects that have attacked them. That means you will have another batch of pesto to enjoy.

Peppers mostly hot peppers. As mentioned, the ground hogs and the deer have decimated my pepper crop. However, they seem to not like hot peppers. The Jalapenos, Hot Wax, and other hot peppers have been spared. I hope that at one point the deer and ground hogs took a nice big bite of a jalapeno, and fire blew out of their nostrils. Is that bad? Oh well. I have found a few sweet peppers too, so you might find some of those too. The good news is that there are lots of baby peppers on the plants, so if I can keep them out of the hoophouse, we may get some more yet this season.

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes. Sorting through the rubble of the chipmunk attack, the good news is that there are plenty more green tomatoes on the vines. Unfortunately, this week the harvest is going to be significantly less than what you’re used to. My heart sinks as I think of the damage they have done. But I remain hopeful that there will be plenty more big beauties for you in future boxes…with the help of [an organic] bb gun…

Meanwhile… other news from the farm… On Saturday, August 20th, we participated in the St. Cloud Cider Fest. And we won the “People’s Choice” award for best cider! There were about 175 other beverages at this event, and the discerning consumers at this event voted that Yellow Belly was their favorite! We want to thank everyone for all of your support. And if you would like to give our cider a try, you can find some near you right here.

Week 13.3

Wishing you a delightful, fun, and safe Labor Day weekend. And be sure to enjoy some Yellow Belly as well.

Cheers,
Debbie

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CSA Week 12: Shrooms go Boom!

Week 12

While we humans may not appreciate all of the damp, rainy weather, the shiitake mushrooms have taken advantage of it and went boom! And picking them kept our WWOOFer, Joe, busy to haul in about 50 lbs of yumminess. That’s right, this week you are in for a real treat. Here is what’s in your box:

Shiitake mushrooms – these are large, fleshy mushrooms, that can serve as a meat replacement. I simply sautee them with some butter and garlic and eat them as an appetizer. But here are a number of different recipes you may want to try. If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, please don’t just throw them away. If you were to buy organic shiitake mushrooms at your local co-op, they fetch a price of $12 per pound. So give them to someone who does like them and you will make them very happy.

Artichokes – At last the artichokes are ready to harvest. They come in all sizes ranging from teeny tiny to large. My favorite way to enjoy them is to simmer them in water for about 45 minutes until tender, then pull the pedals and dip them in mayonnaise.

Gnarly carrots – some more funny shapes, sizes, and colors of sweet, tender, carrots.

Swiss Chard – A nice big bunch of rainbow chard. If you need a refresher course of how to prepare them, here are some recipes.

Mini cabbages – what is a mini cabbage? It is a very small cabbage that just didn’t get as big as the rest of the crop. They taste just the same, they’re just really little. So rather than letting them go to waste just because they are smaller than normal, how about we just eat them? That’s the plan this week.

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes – A big bunch of juicy, delicious tomatoes in many beautiful colors.

Mint – Since this is the unofficial last week of summer, I thought it might be a great opportunity for you to celebrate the summer with a nice cool beverage with fresh mint – a cucumber cooler, or mojito, whichever you choose, cheers to you.

Have a veer blessed week.

Debbie

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CSA Week 11: Lots of Color.

Week 11

I just sat down on the porch, got all ready to write this week’s newsletter and remembered that I forgot to take a photo of this week’s harvest. So instead, I’m pulling up a photo from the Mora Farmer’s market last Saturday. While it’s not the same ingredients in your box this week, it is a very colorful display of what’s coming out of the veggie field these days. So here is what you will find in your box this week:

Beets with greens – Dark red, green, and gold colors. You’ve had the beet greens earlier this season, now you get a handful of the entire root with the greens. You will find a combination of golden and red beets. And don’t forget that the greens are also delish. If you’re looking for some preparation inspiration, here are some recipes to try.

Gnarly Carrots – Orange and white. These are NOT your typical, boring, straight, thin carrots that are common in the grocery store. These carrots have character and come in many different sizes and shapes. Some are chubby, some are skinny, some have multiple legs, some are white, most are orange, and they are all crispy, sweet, and tender.

Beans – green, purple, cream, and striped. Another helping of the multi-colored beans like you had in your box a couple weeks ago. You discovered that the purple beans turn green when they are cooked.

Kale – dark green, and a little lavender. A handful of the food that turns ordinary folks into super cool kids.

Peppers – yellow, green, red. A combination of sweet and hot.

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes – red, yellow, purple, pink. A nice big package of a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

The delivery schedule is as usual:
Good Earth Co-op St. Cloud – Tuesday by 10:30
St. Cloud Offices Tuesday by 11:00
Vital Images – Tuesday between 12 noon and 1pm
Made of Mora – Thursday by noon
World Headquarters – Thursday by noon
City Center Market Co-op, Cambridge – Friday by 10 am
YB

And for all of you cider and craft beer fans, there are TWO fun events this Saturday August 20th that you might be interested in attending. We will be pouring samples of Yellow Belly at both the St. Paul Beer Dabbler at CHS Field in St. Paul, or the St. Cloud Ciderfest at Dick Putz field in St. Cloud. Both events are super fun, so we hope to see you there!

Cheers,
Debbie

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CSA Week 10: Summer Sweet Corn.

Week 10

The one crop that exemplifies Minnesota summers is sweet corn. And tomatoes. And this week you’ll find both of these in your box, which means this is the ultimate Minnesota summer box.

Here is what you’ll find:

Sweet Corn – This is really a specially crop of sweet corn. Why? Because I didn’t grow it. Those of you who are veterans of my CSA know that I really don’t like growing sweet corn. And this year is no exception. I didn’t grow this, but this crop is still very special. My church in Cambridge owns a few acres of land on which is grown this sweet corn. When it’s ripe, an army of volunteers harvest the sweet corn, then sell it for $5 per Baker’s Dozen. Then 100% of all proceeds from the sale of this sweet corn is donated to the Cambridge food pantry. Last year over $7,000 was raised for the Cambridge food pantry just from the sale of this sweet corn. So as you enjoy this luscious rite of Minnesota summer, you can also celebrate the fact that the proceeds from this corn is feeding many more mouths in Cambridge and Isanti County.

Quirky Carrots – I confess, I’m not the best carrot farmer. While I do grow carrots, they are not straight and perfect looking. Quite the contrary. They are rather gnarly and creative. So you will find a healthy fist full of very unique looking carrots. But despite their unconventional look, they are tender and delicious.

Swiss Chard Even though this is the first time that Swiss chard has made an appearance in your box, you have already had a similar experience with this green. Swiss chard is a member of the beet family. So however you have prepared your beet greens from previous boxes, you can do the same with Swiss chard. And if you’re still looking for inspiration, you can browse through these recipes on our website.

Purple Turnips with greens – These turnips are much larger than the small white Hakurei turnips in a previous box.Turnips are in the brassica family, along with radishes, cabbage, broccoli, and more. Not only are the turnips edible, but so are the greens. For inspiration, here are some recipes to try.

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes – a nice big pack of a variety of color, sizes, and shapes of delicious heirloom tomatoes.

Broccoli – A head of broccoli, just like last week.

Enjoy the harvest,

Debbie

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