Down on the farm: Welcome to our new subscribers who are receiving their first boxes this month. We hope you enjoy our vegetables and that we can help you to eat the way we all know we should eat! Donna has guided you through getting your subscription set up, and, if you have any additional questions, please let us know. We hope to get to meet you at our Open House.
Remember how I said last week that this was good growing weather and we had lots of red peppers? Susan Salisbury, our favorite local agriculture/business journalist, wrote an article for the Palm Beach Post last Thursday about Palm Beach County produce rotting in the fields because there is an oversupply. She correctly described it as "a harsh lesson in agricultural economics". Periodically this "perfect storm" happens: good growing weather here results in high production; and bad weather up north makes it worse because transportation is slowed and people don't shop as much for produce. (I think they eat a lot of canned soup during these storms.) What is always interesting to me is that a small diversified farm like ours and a big farm with hundreds of acres of only a few crops have such similar production cycles. It just shows again how much influence the weather has on crop production.
Dedicated people with our local food banks-both paid and volunteers-are busy taking in and redistributing what they can. But our local area can only absorb so much: thousands of boxes of tomatoes, peppers, greens, herbs, and other specialized (and highly perishable!) crops come out of south Florida fields-daily-during the winter. So, when those northern markets are not taking any, some is going to be plowed back into the soil. If you're a gardener, you know that additional organic matter is always good for most soils. But, plowing in that organic matter doesn't bring in any money for the growers to pay the expenses they have already incurred to grow the produce. (at least, not in the short term). Obviously, the answer is for everyone to join a CSA program! Because you are willing to buy what we harvest (and we really do try to grow what you like!), it is the closest anyone can get to making supply and demand come out even.
And, of course, we also have our talented local restaurant chefs who make delicious and beautiful dishes from what we and other local farms are harvesting at the time. In case you missed the list early in the fall, here are those restaurants: Angle at Eau Palm Beach Resort, Benny's on the Beach, The Breakers, Buccan, Cafe Boulud, Grato, Max's Harvest and Max's Grille, Pizzeria Oceano, The Regional, and Thirty-Two East. (Also some private clubs: Addison Reserve, The Beach Club, and Pine Tree) Some of our vegetables are sold by Farms to Chefs, which distributes to additional clubs and restaurants from Hobe Sound to Aventura.
The tomatoes, especially the cherry types, in the boxes this week may not be as ripe as what they have been in the last few weeks. Be patient and don't refrigerate them! But, the good tomato news is there are some different tomatoes coming out of our fields now, and, as they are available, we'll include some in your boxes over the next few weeks. Most are plum tomatoes ('Roma' types) from the tomato breeding program of EarthWork Seeds, Inc., who has been testing plants on our farm for about 3 years. Some of these are standard plum varieties and others are crosses that Jason has made. By planting them out and seeing how they grow and what kind of fruit they produce, he can see which plants have the characteristics his company is looking for. (Making these crosses is a "traditional" breeding method. Remember-nothing we grow here was bred using genetic engineering methods.)
Also from EarthWork is their new tomato variety called 'Red Racer'. It's a small tomato-about golf ball size-with great flavor, and the disease resistance and earliness that are important for us growers. Since 'Red Racer' was selected from trials done on this farm, and a couple other locations, we are proud that it has been selected as an All-American Selection for 2018. The AAS program tests new varieties of vegetables and flowers at dozens of sites all around the U.S. and selects those that do well in different locations. Seeds of 'Red Racer' will not be available for almost a year, but we're trying to give you samples of this new tomato as we harvest the fruit from what was planted here for the trials this year.
When we seed and plant the fall crops, from late July-September, pretty much all we are doing is planting those seeds and putting up new beds. Considering the weather here at that time of year, it's lucky that we can do those things on a somewhat relaxed schedule then. Right now, as we begin to seed and plant most of the same crops for spring harvests, the challenge is to get everything done, since we are harvesting and packing winter crops at the same time. In our greenhouse, eggplant seedlings and a new crop of cherry tomatoes are up. Some new tomato plants are already in the field, and this week it looks like it will be warm enough to plant seeds for watermelon transplants. Other new crops, such as corn, squashes, and other melons, will be seeded directly into the field soon.
Apologies from me: Sorry we haven't had any green beans so far this season. We lost the first crop to weeds and other problems, and then didn't have a place to plant them for a while. Now we finally got some started so should have them in about 6 weeks. And I'm also sorry that we are about out of both the tiny fruits: cucamelons and pineapple tomatillos. More plants are growing, but, since they are both warm weather crops, they will take until March, too.
What's in your box this week: Salanova lettuce mix, probably with nasturtium flowers broccoli and/or cauliflower (both in large boxes) cherry tomatoes red peppers green onions tomatoes root vegetables: beets, turnips, or carrots, whatever is available spinach (large boxes only)
(To save you some reading: this is the same announcement that was in here last week. I'll add some information to it on Jan. 29 and Feb. 5.) Our annual Subscriber Open House will be February 11th and 12th. This Open House is not open to the general public, but subscribers are invited to bring friends and/or family. Each of those days, there will be farm tours at 9AM, 11AM, and 1PM. Tours usually last about an hour, or slightly longer. We try to keep the tour groups to less than 50, which is why we ask for reservations.
There is also a potluck lunch at noon each day. If you want to come share lunch with other subscribers, reserve your spots in either the 11 AM or the 1 PM tour, so you can eat after or before your tour. If you will be joining us for lunch, you don’t have to tell us what you’re going to contribute to the potluck-that's why it's called potluck! (But please do contribute-if you don't have time to make something, bring some good bread or a deli dish or dessert.) We just eat what everyone brings and always seem to end up with a good mix of main dishes, salads and other side dishes, breads, and desserts. (Sometimes it seems to be a little heavy on the desserts, but I haven't heard any complaints about that!) We supply the drinks, plates, and eating utensils.
The only requirement for that weekend is that you do reserve your spot in a tour group. Please e-mail your reservations to Donna at email@example.com . We need to know 3 things: 1. your name (not the names of everyone in the party-just the subscriber who is making the reservation); 2. the TOTAL number of people in your party (please count the children, too); 3. which DAY (Saturday Feb. 11th or Sunday, Feb. 12th) and the tour TIME (9, 11, or 1) you wish to attend.
Donna will send you a confirmation within 2 days. If you don't receive that from her, please check with her again to be sure she got your reservation. And, if you need directions to the farm, she can send those to you, also.
EXTRAS: The best way to order extras is to email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org 2 PM the day before you get your box. If you are ordering later than that, please call 561-638-2755 and leave the message on the machine, since we don't always have time to check email in the mornings. (Those ordering for Monday boxes should call and leave a message, since you don't receive this list in time to order by email.)
Cut flowers require earlier orders since we don't keep a supply of them here. We order just the amount that we need from the other farms.
Locally grown Flowers (for Monday and Tuesday boxes, order by noon on the Friday before your box; for Thursday and Friday, order by noon on Wednesday). For information about these flower growers and some pictures of their flowers, check the Subscriber Business Links on our Subscriber section
Seed to Bloom, Loxahatchee: colorful mixed bouquets-whatever is in season. $9.50 plus tax
Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long- stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 plus tax (most stems are about 3' tall)
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 1 lb. glass jar $5.00 each palmetto only (When these are gone, we will no longer be carrying 1 lb. jars.) 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (orange blossom, wildflower, or palmetto) 1 gal. $53 (orange blossom or palmetto) 8 oz. bee pollen $12
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (most from his Loxahatchee hives, although some are on our farm) Honey 1 qt. glass jars $17 Honey with comb 1 pt. glass jars $17
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil chives cilantro dill mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints: chocolate mint, apple mint, peppermint, orange mint oregano parsley rosemary sage?? tarragon (True French tarragon is almost impossible to grow here. This is actually Mexican mint marigold, which is used for tarragon in the south and west. All winter it also has small yellow, edible flowers.) thyme
'Baby' Greens $3.00/bag (8 oz. bag) Baby kale mix: 'Red Russian' and/or Tuscan kale Arugula 'Elegance' mustard greens mix-slightly spicy mixed mustards with some broccoli raab leaves Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, red kale, and/or purple kohlrabi) Salanova salad mix Spinach-leaves are larger than most baby greens
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Swiss chard- red, white, or mixed Curly kale- green, red, or mixed Tuscan kale (also called Lacinato or alligator kale) Collard greens (short supply-may run out until they grow more)
From other farms: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby (Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee) $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4
Squashes Seminole pumpkins $1.50/lb. (most sizes from 1-2+ lbs.) Spaghetti squashes $1/lb. (just a few left) Larger "mystery" winter squashes 50¢/lb. Squash blossoms 6 for $2.50
Tomatoes "Slicers"- mixed varieties $2.50/lb. Mixed Cherry tomatoes sandwich bag $3 (If you want these for gifts, we can put them into a pint clamshell, also $3 each.) Green tomatoes $2/lb. (for frying or pickling!) Heirloom tomatoes $3/lb. Mix or match (if the ones you want are available) Let us know when you plan to use them and we will do our best to send you some that will be ripe when you need them. yellow 'Amana', purple 'Cherokee purple'-smaller than the other 2 red/pink 'Pruden's purple' "Sauce tomatoes" -about 20 lbs. of tomatoes that are smaller or have more cracks or other marks than the more expensive tomatoes we sell. These are available at this price ONLY by the half bushel box-not in smaller quantities. $15
Other Vegetables and fruits from our farm Nasturtiums box of 10 flowers and 10 leaves $3 mixed color flowers, slightly spicy flavor; flowers and leaves can be tossed into fresh salads, and there are recipes for stuffing the flowers Eggplant $3/lb. Hot peppers: Jalapenos; round red 'cherry bomb'; or yellow Datil peppers mix or match 3 peppers for $2 Green or red chiles $4/lb. long New Mexico type-some are hot, some aren't NEW! Kohlrabi $1.00/lb. 'Superschmelz'-first time we have tried this one. The seed company (Bakers) says it doesn't get tough even when it weighs 10 lbs. These only weigh about 1-1.5 lbs. now. Tell us about how many pounds you want. Red or green bell peppers $.50 each Papayas $1/lb. (green or ripening) (not very many yellow ones now) Radishes -bag of 6 $1 (mixed red, white, and purple)