Week one of the CSA season is in the books. I hope you all enjoyed your first share of the year. The beginning of the season is always so chaotic with unpredictable weather and a lack of labor at some crucial times. But the students doing their summer internship are doing a great job so far. They’ve been out on the farm for about 2.5 weeks now and they’ve taken every farm task that has come their way in stride. With the farm in a different state every semester that they are out here for their internships, there are a lot of firsts for folks. Every crop that we grow on the farm is unique in it’s own way, whether it’s how we plant, cultivate, harvest or wash it. So, there’s a definite learning curve to each new thing on the farm. This past week was busy spent doing a lot of harvesting crops for the first CSA pickup and Coltivare, the college’s restaurant in downtown Ithaca. We also transplanted, fertilized and cultivated various crops on the farm. A big job that was accomplished for the first time last week, was “suckering and trellising” the greenhouse tomatoes. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, I’ll give you a brief overview. We grow all indeterminate varieties of tomatoes. That means that they grow to be about 8-15 feet tall in our greenhouse. We drop string from the rafters and then weekly train the tomatoes up the string for support. That’s the trellising. In addition to that, we also prune new growth that is coming off the main leader of the plant. That’s the suckering. Even though we are going to get less fruit per plant, we do this so we can get higher quality fruit, fruit that will ripen faster and be a little larger.
It’s definitely a time consuming job, but tomatoes are one of our most important crops and we like to spend a lot of time with them. The plants have more than doubled in size in 2.5 weeks are now starting to flower. Next up for them, is to order some bumble bees to help with pollination. (More on that in a couple of weeks.)
In addition to all the time spent doing farm work, another important aspect of the summer internship for students is to go on weekly field trips. We try and go to different farming and food business operations in the area to see the food system in action. Last week we had the opportunity to visit Edible Acres. If you’re unfamiliar with these wonderful folks, I highly recommend checking out their website. Especially, if you’re interested in native perennials. They are a permaculture nursery and forest farm and are doing lots of really cool stuff. I think everyone enjoyed themselves.
Alright, let’s move on to this week’s CSA share. The choice this week will include the same items as last week plus the addition of a new item. So, that means that there will be black radishes and purple top turnips. Rutabaga and potatoes from 2018. My wife made an awesome potato/baga hash with onions and those mini sweet peppers and served it alongside some eggs with sauteed spinach. Greens this week will include the aforementioned spinach, along with mizuna and stir-fry mix. There will be more strawberries this week. Hopefully the rain will hold off long enough for us to harvest them tomorrow when they are mostly dry. I’m just going to throw this out there, just in case the strawberries don’t get devoured immediately. We totally overlooked dessert on Father’s Day this weekend and didn’t have much in the house to choose from. As I was searching the pantry for something to accommodate my sweet tooth, I came across graham crackers, peanut butter and nutella. I was like, “perfect, this will definitely hit the spot.” And it did. And then my wife brought it to the next level by thinly slicing some strawberries and adding them into the mix. Let’s just say, no one in Farmer Todd’s household was disappointed that dessert had been overlooked. Ok, enough of that little aside. The new item this week are garlic scapes. I LOVE everything about garlic and the scapes are no different. If you’re unfamiliar, the scapes grow out of the center of hardneck garlic varieties. They need to be harvested in order for your garlic bulb to size up. They can be used just as you would garlic by chopping them up and adding them to your favorite dishes or stir-fry’s. Garlic scape pesto is always a winner. But my all-time favorite thing to do with scapes is to keep them whole, toss them in a bowl with olive oil, coarse salt and a little pepper and throw them on the grill. Keep turning them until they start to blister and you have an incredible side dish.