CSA Week 8

Hello CSA Members!

Here is what we *hope* to bring you for Week 8 of our CSA:

REGULAR SHARE
CHOICE: Favas OR Radicchio OR Lettuce
CHOICE: Bunched Green (Possibly Kale, Collard Greens, Chard)
Grilling Onions
Zucchini
Herb Choice (Possibly Basil, Sorrel, Edible Flowers OR Squash Blossoms)
Fresh Garlic

LARGE SHARE ADDITIONS
TWO CHOICES: Favas AND Radicchio OR Lettuce
DOUBLE Bunched Greens
Beets
Leeks

FRUIT SHARE
Cherries

Posted in 2020, Farm, Newsletter | Leave a comment

Virtual CSA Farm Tour

It’s a Red Wagon tradition that we have at least 2 or 3 CSA Farm Tours every year. It’s a chance for us to show off the Farm and for our CSA to see what, where and how we grow your vegetables.

Sadly there will be no tours or hay rides this year so I took a few pictures to hopefully give you a feel of what is happening at the Farm.

Let’s start with the rhubarb patch, see the green plants in the forefront where we are watering. It looks like we are watering weeds doesn’t it?

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Nope, it’s rhubarb. You wouldn’t believe how much rhubarb we have pulled from this area this year. Here is a closer picture.

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These are Caterpillar tunnels. We start crops early in Caterpillars then remove the cover when the plants we started can handle the elements. These tunnels have tomatoes in them now.

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Here is a zucchini planting that was started in Caterpillars earlier. The cover was recently removed.

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We are harvesting from there now.

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Lots and lots of peppers.

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Huge row of eggplant, peppers to the left.

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This is our irrigation pond. It is right behind where we do our CSA pickup at the Farm. We water the whole Farm from here.

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We do several plantings of most crops. Here are the 2nd planting starts of some brassicas. They will be planted out soon.

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Cucumbers in the field and the 2nd planting starts of cucumbers just emerging in their trays.

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Tomatoes in the Caterpillar tunnels.

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These are field tomatoes. We grow in both Caterpillars and in the field to cover our bases and make sure we have a good tomato crop one way or another.

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Here is some of the Farm crew planting using the waterwheel. I forgot now what was being planted.

I hope this gives you some idea of what goes on in the field.

We miss interacting with you but know we are as committed as ever to bring you wonderful local organic food.

Here is a virtual hug and a huge virtual smile.

See you at pickup.

Mo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, Farm | Leave a comment

CSA Week 7

Hello CSA Members!

Here is what we *hope* to bring you for Week 7 of our CSA:

REGULAR SHARE
CHOICE: Romaine OR Radicchio
Bunched Green (Possibly Kale, Collard Greens, Chard)
CHOICE: Kohlrabi OR Topped Turnips
Fava Beans
Zucchini
Herb Choice (Possibly Basil, Sorrel)
Fresh Garlic

LARGE SHARE ADDITIONS
Romaine AND Radicchio
DOUBLE Bunched Greens
Peas (Possibly Sugar Snap or Snow Peas)
Onions

FRUIT SHARE
Cherries

Posted in 2020, Farm, Newsletter | Leave a comment

Fresh Garlic

Unless you grow your own garlic or belong to a CSA you may never have seen or eaten fresh garlic.

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Garlic you buy or that you will get in the next few weeks is dried (cured) for about 2 or 3 weeks so it will store safely. The garlic you got last week and will get this week was harvested within a day or two of you getting it and should be used in a week or 10 days.

See how fresh that is?

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Fresh garlic has a vibrant-mild ‘soft’ flavor much like garlic scapes and green garlic. You can use fresh garlic in any garlic recipe and you can use much more of it because it is so mild.

I like to peel then simmer my garlic in olive oil for about 20 minutes and store it in a jar in the refrigerator.

I use it to cook greens or spread it on toasted bread. Fresh garlic is great in Caesar Salads.  I was poking around our site here and found an old recipe Lauren posted that looks delicious and  would be great made with fresh garlic.

Maybe I’ll make that with the garlic I get this week.

Hope you are all well. Have a great week, I’ll see you at pickup.

Mo

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, Garlic, Recipes | Leave a comment

CSA Week 6

Hello CSA Members!

Here is what we *hope* to bring you for Week 6 of our CSA:

REGULAR SHARE
Turnips
Head Lettuce Varieties (possible head lettuce, romaine, or raddicchio)
Peas (possibly sugar snap peas or snow peas)
CHOICE: Fresh Garlic OR Herb Choice
Bagged Green (possibly arugula)
Bunched Green (Possibly kale, collard greens, or chard)

LARGE SHARE ADDITIONS
DOUBLE Lettuce
DOUBLE Peas
Fresh Garlic AND Herb Choice
An Extra Item

FRUIT SHARE
NONE

Posted in 2020, Farm, Newsletter | Leave a comment

Grilled Hakurei Turnips with Lemon Cream

Last week I posted a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Six Seasons.

I, like you, have a lot of Hakurei turnips in my life right now and I was trying to think of something different to do with them that I hadn’t made before. Six Seasons cookbook was sitting on the counter and I was flipping through and saw a recipe for Lemon Cream and was intrigued with the description; “a light, almost feminine dressing”.

I love Hakurei turnips cooked. Whether roasted, grilled or pan fried, they become juicy and a little sweet, unlike their crunchy-sharp raw selves.

I decided to make the lemon dressing and grill some turnips.

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Can you kind of see how they get juicy when you cook them? Look at the lightly dressed lettuce. The lemon cream was perfect for this salad.

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To grill the turnips I cut them in 1/2, I left some of the stem on and tossed them with olive oil and salt and pepper and grilled them on a hot grill for 3 or 4 minutes each side.

 

My turnip leaves weren’t great or I would have grilled them separately and used those for a bed of greens and dressed them with the lemon cream.  Instead, I used the beautiful lettuce we got instead and tossed the greens with the grilled turnips and the dressing.

  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (I used 2 garlic scapes chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • About 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Put garlic and cream in medium bowl and let infuse for 2 hours in the refrigerator, so the cream takes on a gentle garlic flavor (I just mixed it all up).

Fish out the garlic cloves from the cream (I left the garlic in), season generously with salt and lots of twists of pepper, and then add the lemon zest. Begin whisking the cream. Once it starts to thicken, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the olive oil. Keep whisking until it is light and airy. It won’t be thick like fully whipped cream, but it will have a nice creamy texture. Taste and adjust with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice. Use this dressing within a day.

I forgot to take a picture of the Lemon Cream mixed alone. It got nice and thick, but not too thick. It just coated everything and didn’t glob on the leaves and weigh the lettuce down but it coated everything really nicely.

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I hope you are enjoying your CSA. Leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.

See you at pickup.

Mo

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, Recipes, Salads, Turnips | 1 Comment

CSA Week 5

Hello CSA Members!

Here is what we *hope* to bring you for Week 5 of our CSA:

REGULAR SHARE
Turnips
Head Lettuce
Sugar Snap Peas
Fresh Garlic
CHOICE: Arugula OR Braising Mix
Kale
CHOICE: Herb or Rhubarb

LARGE SHARE ADDITIONS
DOUBLE Head Lettuce
DOUBLE Sugar Snap Peas
DOUBLE Fresh Garlic
Pea Shoots

FRUIT SHARE
NONE

Posted in 2020, Farm, Newsletter

Farm Worker Pay and the Price of CSA Shares

Recently, a longtime CSA member asked me about the price of our CSA shares. The short story is that our prices are directly tied to farm worker pay. Labor is by far the biggest expense at Red Wagon. Vegetable farming is incredibly labor-intensive, and it is hard to charge enough for vegetables to provide decent pay for farm workers. (This is why there is so much farm worker exploitation in our country.)

The biggest threat to the existence of Red Wagon Farm is the ability for us to find a good farm crew. Every year we struggle to find enough capable people to work on the farm. We are especially shorthanded right now because of coronavirus—not because of illness, but because of the peculiar life circumstances we all find ourselves in these days (maybe more on this in a future blog post??)

The most obvious difficulty in finding a farm crew is that being a farm worker is hard. You work long, hard hours that start early in the morning. We’ve worked in temperatures from 10 degrees to 102 degrees in hot sun, freezing rain, snow, windstorms—you name it! Less obvious is that it takes a ton of training to become a good farm worker at Red Wagon. You have to learn how to grow and harvest over 100 crops on our farm. And there are a lot of unpleasant tasks like thinning beets on your hands and knees for hours. Or washing a huge pile of coolers with a pressure washer. Or fighting off mosquitoes while you’re trying to harvest peppers. You have to be really passionate about farming to make it through these challenges.

Being a farm worker is hard financially, but not just because of low hourly pay. Our main farm crew works from mid-April through mid-November. That’s only 7 months, which means that you have to find a way to earn money the other 5 months of the year if you want to return the following season. That often means working at a job that you don’t particularly like. People suggest we hire students, but they have to leave in August to go back to school. That is our busiest time of year and we can’t hire and train new people then. The lack of year-round work is a huge problem for keeping workers on a vegetable farm.

How does this tie into CSA prices? Our regular veggie shares have gone up 29% from 2016 to 2020. The biggest reason for this is the increase in the Colorado minimum wage during this time due to Amendment 70. In 2016, minimum wage was $8.31/hour and now in 2020, it is $12.00/hour. That’s an increase of 44%. Amendment 70 also mandates future minimum wage increases that are tied to increases in the cost of living in Colorado. While it’s great that minimum wage has increased, the result is higher prices. So, you can expect to see future increases in the price of your CSA shares.

Red Wagon has always paid more than minimum wage, but an increase in the minimum means an increase in the entire pay scale so our pay rates have increased, too. Right now, new farm crew members are starting here at $13.50 per hour. If you were working full-time and year-round, that comes out to $27,540 per year. Think about trying to live on that in Boulder County for a minute. Then add in the fact that you only have 7 months of work per year on the farm. Most people can only make this work financially for a year or two at the most.

The starting pay of $13.50 per hour at Red Wagon is better than I know of at other farms. There are a lot of issues related to pay and farm worker exploitation on large-scale farms. That’s a story for a different time and place. But many small, organic farms also exploit their farm workers. The farm calls the workers “interns” and provides often primitive housing and a small monthly stipend, which actually isn’t legal under labor laws. The result is people working for less than minimum wage on small farms. I don’t know how you could do this in good conscience, especially given how hard the job is.

We have struggled with ways to pay our farm crew enough that people can have a decent life and work at Red Wagon for a number of years, but we are far from having an answer. In 2015 we started our Farm Worker Support Fund. Last year we collected $3,600 from CSA members and were able to distribute a few hundred dollars each to the farm crew at the end of the season, which is very helpful and appreciated when the work stops at the end of the season!

We try hard to pay Red Wagon farm workers as much as possible. I constantly struggle with ways to improve pay and I hope we can continue to increase wages in years to come. This means having the financial support of CSA members like you!

Posted in 2020, Farm, Newsletter | 5 Comments

Turnip Salad with Yogurt, Herbs & Poppy Seeds

I saw this salad in a cookbook I really like called Six Seasons.

I have mentioned that I like to clean my refrigerator of all my vegetable odds and ends the day before my CSA pick-up. I did that today and found I had everything I needed for this nice herby salad.

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I pretty much followed the recipe. I made a couple changes. I’ll note the changes in the recipe.

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TURNIP SALAD WITH YOGURT, HERBS & POPPY SEEDS
SERVES: 4

  • 1 bunch of Japanese turnips, with their tops if they’re nice and fresh, or use any greens you have for the salad bed.
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • about 1 cup lightly packed mixed herbs: (mint leaves, parsley leaves, chives, and sorrel is what I had) finely chop those
  • 4 scallions, trimmed including the green tops
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • honey to taste

Preparation

Slice the turnips as thin as you can. If you have a mandolin, use it; otherwise a sharp knife will work just fine.

Rinse, dry and roughly chop what ever greens you are using.  Toss them with a little olive oil and a little vinegar. I used red wine vinegar.

Put the turnips in a large bowl and squeeze half of the lemon. Add the chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and plenty of black pepper and toss to blend. Add the yogurt and toss again. Add the herbs, scallions, and about 1/4 cup olive oil and toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. This is where I added a little honey, it wasn’t in the original recipe but I thought it needed a little sweetness to counter the tang of the yogurt and the tartness of the lemon.
Scatter about half of the poppy seeds on the bottom of the platter or individual serving
plates, top with the turnip salad, and finish the the rest of the poppy seeds.

This was really good and would go really well with some grilled fish or meat or just some bread and cheese.

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Have a great week. I’ll see you at pick-up.

Mo

Posted in 2020, Recipes, Turnips

What’s in My Share? – Week 4

Hello CSA Folks!

We’re hoping to help you identify your veggies early in the week this week.

You can expect to see:

Kale! Kale comes in a variety of leaf shapes and colors. You might receive Red Curly (not pictured), Green Curly, or Tuscan Kale this week.

Green Curly Kale

Tuscan Kale

Sugar Snap Peas have begun. These sweet treats are great raw or stir fried (if you don’t eat them all on your way home!) Pull the stem off, but eat the entire pod with the peas inside.

Sugar Snap Peas

A handful of garlic scapes were included in a few of last week’s shares but this week a lot more of you will be seeing these delightfully curly crops. We love garlic scapes! They will be on a choice with herbs. We harvest any herbs that look good that morning which may include chives, garlic chives, oregano, mint, thyme, sage, lovage, edible flowers, tarragon, and eventually basil.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

The last new crop for the week is head lettuce! Hopefully it’s a familiar crop to you, but maybe you haven’t seen it in a “head” or outside of plastic. This week we are cutting them out of the ground, rinsing them and delivering to you fresh as can be!

Head Lettuce

You should be familiar with arugula and turnips from last week or previous weeks.

As the week goes let us know if there’s still something you don’t recognize!

Posted in 2020, Farm