Well, at the close of 5 glorious months of local veggies, I’m sad to report that this was our last week (for this year!) with our farm. I had completely forgotten, but apparently in the spring they offered fall extensions to interested members. Despite not being a fan of winter squashes, I would definitely be up for it next year for the (seeming) steady supply of potatoes, carrots and onions, as well as any surprises they care to throw in!
Still, for this year, this was the last of our non-extended produce:
Our season was finished off by a final delivery of leeks, potatoes, onions, rutabega, more daikon radish (!), chard, scallions and some lovely golden beets (yay!) and what I’m hoping is a pie pumpkin. A lovely way to wrap up the season!
Thus far, I’ve grated the daikon into stir-fried noodles (it is every bit as smelly as I remembered; still tasty though) and have plans to try a sort of bastardized lo bak goa (unless I can swing by the Asian grocery to pick up Chinese sausage). I’m a little ashamed to admit that as much as I like eating seasonally, after last week’s roasted rutabega-beet-carrot medley, I found myself actually getting a little sick of root vegetables. Already! It’s not even November yet! Still, I was very happy to see this week’s golden beets, and am looking forward to them (maybe on the bbq? maybe?).
As stated, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to make a pie out of the pumpkin (Boj kept the rutabega this week) and many of the other veggies have been finding themselves in soups because… it’s frosty out, and frost means soup weather! That at least I don’t regret about winter eating. (Our curry consumption has also ramped up a bit in the past month, which I am in no way sorry about.)
So… that’s about it for the final week. Let’s look at the season as a whole, shall we? (Indulge me. I find collages of veggies very cheering in these grey days.)
It’s a pretty good-looking season, right? There are definitely some identifiable stables (carrots and potatoes!) but overall, I thought there was a fair variety going on. Here’s the numbers:
|Too Little||Just Right||Too Much||Comments|
|Staples — there for half the season!|
|Carrots||10||:)||At some points, we couldn’t finish them, which is saying something for our household.|
|“Regulars” — reliably delicious|
|Beans||5||:)||2x Green, 2x Wax, and 1x Purple|
|Bok Choi||2||:/||To be honest though, I’d prefer the baby kind to these jumbo ones.|
|Cabbage (Napa)||4||:)||So good.|
|Celery||2||:)||Should I consider this a herb?|
|Chard||6||:)||A quarter of the deliveries is very reasonable; I like that they didn’t rely overmuch on the chard.|
|Cukes||5||:)||Personally I’d like more, but this was pretty good. One of the deliveries included pickling cucumbers|
|Garlic Scapes||3||:)||Possibly I overindulge at the farmers’ markets, but this was plenty for me.|
|Kale||4||:)||I wouldn’t complain if there was more!|
|Lettuce||7||:/||With the mesclun as a staple, this was too much for me!|
|Onion||5||:)||Really liked the slightly smaller size too.|
|Onion, green||2||:)||Are these the same as scallions?|
|Peas||2||:(||Once snap, and once snow. I wish we could have more, but realize that’s probably not reasonable.|
|Peppers, hot||2||:(||I realize that peppers are difficult crops, but maybe just a few more?|
|Peppers, sweet||4||:)||Honestly, I get that peppers are hard to grow. I’d be fine eschewing these in favour of hot peppers.|
|Radishes||6||:/||Was it only six weeks?! Maybe I’d feel better if there’d been more spicy round top radishes. Those French breakfast ones were horrible.|
|Radishes, Daikon||2||:)||Nice for a change!|
|Scallions||4||:)||Again… same as green onions? No?|
|Spinach||1||:(||Boo to the lack of spinach love. I would love baby spinach in the spring greens mix.|
|Squash (crookneck)||2||:)||Together with the zucchini, this was a really nice balance of summer squash.|
|Squash (winter)||4||:)||Nice variety! One each of buttercup, butternut, delicata and spaghetti.|
|Tomatoes||6||:)||Could do with more (no cherry/grape?) but this was good too.|
|Turnip||1||:(||We also got a week with just the greens. Turnips should be a more than once-per-season veggie!|
|Zucchini||4||:)||Three weeks of green and one of yellow. Very nice.|
|Herbs — offered for nearly three quarters of the season!|
|Basil||3||:)||Pretty sure I can never have too much basil.|
|Chives||1||:(||Chives grow like weeds! Bring on more chives!|
|Oregano||3||:)||One of these was “choose your herb”|
|Parsley||3||:)||This definitely increased our tabouleh consumption over the summer!|
|Sage||1||:)||A “choose your herb” selection|
|Lemon Thyme||3||:)||Once flowering! Twice I chose this.|
|I have to say that I loved the “choose your own [herb] adventure” thing — what a great way of offering variety!|
|Fun surprises — almost one every other week!|
|Broccoli||1||:)||I wouldn’t complain if we got more, but I know how much work these are.|
|(Lemon) Cucumber||1||:)||A lovely surprise!|
|Dried Turtle Beans||1||:)||I would love to see a bigger variety of beans, but love MORE to get enough beans to make a decent-sized portion|
|Fennel||1||:)||Totally made my week!|
|Garlic Bulbs||2||:)||Nice, but not necessary.|
|Green onion bulb||1||:)||Very educational.|
|Pumpkin||1||:)||A lovely end to the season.|
|Watermelon||1||:)||Yeah!! If anything, I’d love to see more melons in our shares.|
Keep in mind that this is just what was included in the share. It is immeasurably convenient to pick up your share in the Farm Store where, for example, if you want to buy cheap tomatoes by the quart for canning at the height of tomato season… you can! Better still, the store, aside from carrying mostly the same veggies we got in the shares, also carries local honey, fair trade coffee *, as well as their own eggs and poultry!
* Although Chris picked some up for us, The Boy has yet to try his. I’d report back but not being a coffee drinker, you probably want to wait on The Boy for the verdict here. I will say that the package has a dude on it who bears a great resemblance to Chris though…
Okay, maybe Joel looks a little more mellow in that particular comparison.
Overall, I have to say I am ridiculously happy with this farm. Surprisingly, The Boy also thought it worked out really well and, as we’ve noted, we’re already signed up for next year. Chances are good that we’ll sign up for the fall extension too. What is it about this farm specifically that fills my little heart with glee?
1 – Weekly emails.
I’ve said it before, and I can’t stress it enough. Communication matters. Aside from the (timely!) weekly emails detailing what work the farm is focusing on that week, and what’s included in the weekly box, I have to say that Farmer David is super-prompt in replying to email, and even sent me a note to thank me for signing up again. I appreciate that this farm wants to organize group events (like the pot-luck) and next year, I will totally try to organize a “drive in” movie night with them.
2 – Excellent balance.
I know that you can’t please everyone. I tried to keep that in mind when putting my faces up in the table above. With that said, however, I have very few complaints about the balance of vegetables over these past 5 months — and that’s pretty impressive!
If my world were perfect, I’d have one or two weeks that included small tomatoes (so good for roasting!) and maybe two more weeks with peas. Also, more turnips. Definitely less of the French breakfast radishes and maybe only four or five weeks with lettuce. I’d do without sweet peppers if I had to to get the above, for sure.
3 – Truly local
I love the fact that because we go to the farm every week to pick stuff up, we get to see the chickens growing up (until they are, a little creepily, announced to be “ready for eating!” by the emails; I know that’s how it works but it’s still a little unsettling). Once, one of the farm co-ops actually motioned me to the back of the barn where she was about to hose down Zorro for being in an area he apparently knew he wasn’t meant to be in. As an added bonus, the farm offers eggs and both chicken and geese at a reduced rate to CSA members. If we weren’t already well-stocked from Stacey’s farm, I’d be really happy for the convenience!
Also, although this is a little petty, I love that this farm is in the city. It made the weekly pickups a kind of relaxing break — 15 or 20 minutes where you can just zone out and watch the geese run around for a bit, or ogle the jars of honey.
4 – Good organization.
Part of this comes back to communication, but I appreciate that all of the information I was looking for when considering this farm was on their website. At the open house, aside from answering any other questions we had, the team also explained very clearly the mechanics of a weekly pick-up at the farm. Throughout the season, that was detailed in the emails, and the Farm Store itself is set up to make it very clear and easy for members to show up and grab their stuff without a lot of puttering and confusion.
5 – Quality of produce
I feel unfair comparing across seasons because, as I said way back in the early weeks, last spring was so very cold and rainy compared to this year. I can’t deny, however, that it is nice getting big, lush shipments every week, and knowing they’re organic to boot! I never expect my CSA veggies to look like supermarket ones (for one thing, the carrots are almost never that boring), but this farm managed to impress me pretty much every week. They’ve set the bar pretty high for themselves for next year!
So there you have it. I’m pretty sure I’ve found my veggie Happily Ever After — I’ll report back on how it’s going next spring! Also, unless something goes horribly amiss, this is probably the last uber-detailed end of season summary I’ll do. It’s been educational while I’ve been getting used to the CSA process, but now that I feel like I’ve got it down, I will mostly likely relax with my record-keeping…although I’ll probably still take weekly pictures. After all, what would be a summer of CSA veggies without a collage to commemorate it?