Down on the farm: As those who garden certainly know, tending growing plants is one of those activities that gives you a lot of time to think. On Thursday I was cutting some extra herbs for some who were buying extras (thanks!) and thinking that, in 16 years of writing this newsletter, I have never actually explained what we do here to put your boxes together. Much of it has evolved over the years-it has improved and, at the same time, become much more complicated. So, this is going to be a "flow chart" in words.
The day before the boxes are going out, Donna starts by printing the labels. Then she writes all the "extras" which have been ordered onto sticky notes and sticks them on the appropriate label. She also makes a big list of all the extras ordered for the day. Some crops are harvested the day before-especially those which take a lot of time to pick and wash, such as root crops. Crops such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, and squashes are picked when they are ready to be picked, and stored at the proper temperatures. Late in the afternoons, Santa and Angelica may start cutting some lettuce for the early boxes. Unless we are expecting bad weather in the morning and/or there are a lot of extras orders, we usually leave most of the greens for cutting in the morning. That situation of having a lot of extras is happening more and more (thanks again!).
Manuel comes in about 6 AM and makes the boxes. I get in about 6:30 and line them up on the tables by delivery route and for farm pick up-early or late. While I am doing that, Miguel shows up and puts the labels on the boxes. Then, working from the list on the board, he and Chago begin to put this week's items into the boxes.
Like worker ants spreading out from an anthill, golf carts skitter different directions as 4 or 5 of us head to different parts of the farm to pick what is needed for the boxes and the extras. Santa and Angelica usually have all their mornings taken up cutting and washing greens for the boxes, and then those for any restaurant or green market orders, as well as picking squash blossoms. Miguel and Luis may be weighing out bags of beans or beets or going to the field for extras. Abelino is constantly driving back and forth from the field, bringing a load of Brussels sprouts, large bags of kale and chard, or other things from the list Donna made. Chago is weighing bags of tomatoes for the boxes and helping to put things into the boxes. Manuel is picking or bagging cherry tomatoes or beans.
As we begin to fill the boxes, Donna is in the office, listening to your messages, writing notes with additional extras, and changing labels if someone has notified her that they need to cancel their box or pick it up at a different time. In the packinghouse she checks each box to see that everything is in them, and that we have not included something that is on that person's "exclude" list. Then she adds the extra orders that we have brought in from the field and arranges everything so the tomatoes or beets aren't squashing the lettuce.
Two delivery people-going different directions-leave here between 8:30 and 9:30 on each of the 4 days we make boxes. Then we try to get the early group of pick-up boxes out around 9:30 (after our well-deserved 9 AM breakfast break.) After that, we finish up the pick-up boxes for later in the day and then start filling restaurant orders. That's how it all works-as smoothly as the proverbial "well oiled machine"! (I wish...)
If you're a connoisseur of arugula, you may have noticed changes in what you have received over the last 2-3 months. We usually have planted a variety called 'Rokita' for our baby arugula. It has lots of flavor, but isn't too strong (Of course, some of that depends on the weather). It also has slightly lobed leaves. The seed company we buy it from (the only one who carries that variety) ran out in the late fall and said they would have some in February. Seed for wild type arugulas is prohibitively expensive to use as a baby green, which requires a LOT of seeds. So we switched to 'Astro' which has wider leaves and a milder flavor. Then I found one called 'Grazia', which was a little less expensive than the other wild types, with deeply lobe leaves and stronger flavor. That's what we are harvesting now. But, the good news is that the seed company really did get more 'Rokita' seed so we planted it last week and should begin harvesting it in less than 3 weeks. (If I can keep the diamond back moths under control.) We have enough of it to use it for the rest of the season.
I am beginning to see a little red on some of the new cherry tomatoes. So they may be back in the boxes next week. This will be the last week for beets for everyone, as well as the last week that we will have Daikon radishes, spinach, turnips, celery, and kohlrabi for extras.
What's in your box this week: Salanova lettuce mix, probably with nasturtium flowers green onions broccoli tomatoes beets (no greens unless you ask Donna to leave them on, but they are not very pretty now) green beans a cucumber or two eggplants or summer squashes (both in large boxes) fennel (large boxes only) arugula (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: Many of us don't like licorice so we may not expect to like fennel. After much urging to try it, I finally did and discovered that it smells like licorice more than it tastes like it. So, you might actually enjoy its crispy texture and light flavor, either thinly sliced in a salad or roasted.
This is the peak of our Brussels sprouts season (if we really have such a thing in this climate). Has anyone tried roasting them while they are still on the stalk? I see recipes for doing it, but can't see an advantage. It seems to me that it is easier to take them off before roasting.
A little housekeeping: A lot of you will be traveling during the next month. You don't have to wait until the last minute to let us know that you want to skip a box (or boxes)-email Donna at any time and let her know the date(s). She'll put it on your label so it will be there when that week comes up. You have the option to skip the box and get a credit or donate it to the Caring Kitchen (if you choose that option, you still pay for the box).
The Caring Kitchen picks up from us on Tuesdays. All of us want the people at the CK to get the full value of the fresh vegetables you donate, so we don't make your box on your regular day and save it for the next Tuesday. What actually happens is that Donna saves a list of those who have chosen to donate a box during the previous week and then we make those boxes-only for Tuesdays. This can present a dilemma for boxes that are picked up: Sometimes people forget to let us know that they are not going to pick up their box. Then, when it is still here the next day and Donna calls or emails, they say "please donate my box". But, it has already sat outside overnight waiting for you to pick it up. So, if there is anything perishable in the box, we have to throw those items out. The moral of this story is, if you are generous enough to donate your box, please let us know before we make it. Thanks.
March payments were due last week. Remember: even if you have paid for the box for the whole season, you will receive an invoice if you have ordered more than $10 worth of extras. You'll hear from Donna this week if your payments are not up to date!
EXTRAS: The best way to order extras is to email Donna at email@example.com 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 number of bouquets 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 or wildflower only) 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?? celery (last week to get a bunch of this skinny celery.) chives cilantro dill lemon balm (It's like a lemon mint) 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 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: 'Red Russian' only 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 mustard greens) Salanova salad mix Spinach-leaves are larger than baby greens (LAST WEEK!)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Escarole, large head Endive, large head Swiss chard- red, white, or mixed Curly kale- green, red, or mixed Collard greens MAY HAVE SOME: Tuscan kale (also called Lacinato or alligator kale)
From Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 (Sorry-we won't have any on Monday or Tuesday this week.) Squashes Seminole pumpkins, and/or a few small butternut squashes $1.50/lb. Spaghetti squashes $1/lb. (just a few small ones left)
Tomatoes "Slicers"- small, mixed varieties $2.50/lb. Green tomatoes $2/lb. (small ones) "Sauce tomatoes" -about 20 lbs. of tomatoes that are overripe, 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 Brussels sprouts (on the stalk) $1/lb. Watermelon radishes $3.00/lb. -large radishes, pink inside . Daikon radishes- 1 lb. $3; (LAST WEEK) NEW! Fennel $3/lb. 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 Pansies box of 10 bright colored flowers, $3 (Bet you didn't know these were edible. They look pretty, but the flavor is not great. That's why they're usually covered with a sugar glaze and served with deserts.) Hot peppers: 4peppers for $2 Only yellow 'Datil' peppers right now Kohlrabi $1.00/lb. 'Superschmelz' The seed company (Bakers) says it doesn't get tough even when it weighs 10 lbs.-but ours are only about a pound or two. Tell us about how many pounds you want. (last week) Turnips $3 /lb. (small-no greens-last week for them) Papayas $1/lb. (green or turning yellow)