Down on the farm: It's times like this when the Community part of Community Supported Agriculture is obvious. Thanks so much for all your good wishes, offers of help, additional support for us and the crew, and questions about how the farm fared during Irma. As we look at the devastation in so many neighboring communities and islands, we are so thankful that we have a farm which is basically intact and still producing vegetables for all of us. Crops in the field were damaged, of course, some from the wind, and others died of fungal diseases which reproduced fast in the heavy rains during the storm and in the weeks after that. Not unexpectedly, our biggest loss was the plastic top of our greenhouse. But, the crew, led by Charlie, has already replaced it-and our transplants and microgreens will grow better all winter, because it lets more light through than the old one did.
Last week Charlie asked me when the watermelons will be ready. I said "which ones?" That's because many of our watermelon, cantaloupe, and winter squash plants had produced fruit before the storm-some were only a couple weeks from harvest. Most of those fruits are still on the plants. Many plants lost most of their leaves, exposing the immature fruit to the sun. We sprayed with the powdered clay product, Surround, to try to protect them the first week. Some fruits have scratches from the wind, but they look better than I would have expected a few weeks ago. However, with big fruits like that, one is never quite sure what they're like inside. So, I'm waiting until some look ripe and then Donna and the crew and I will do our guinea pig thing: pick some and test them (not surprisingly, there are more volunteer testers here for the melons than for the squashes). Donna tried a spaghetti squash last week. She said there was a little bit of a rotted place in the seed cavity, but she took that out with the seeds, and the squash was fine. So, you're going to get them for this first week-hopefully 2 weeks. If you usually cook butternuts, pumpkins, and spaghetti squash before cutting them open, you may want to cut them first this fall. And, they also may not store as long as usual.
It could be that the storm will result in larger crops of these cucurbits, spread over a longer time than usual. Except for a few big vines that died soon after the storm, most have grown new leaves and are flowering again-just like a new crop. Whether they produce good crops will depend a lot on the weather. And, if you think about these poor plants, they are supporting those older fruit, and now forming new ones. We're also going into shorter days, which mean the fruit takes longer to mature. So, it will be interesting to see what happens.
The corn has been rather uneven, especially after the storm-which knocked over the larger crops. You may find some ears which are not filled out, and all are small-and there are not as many as we should have had. (Maybe because the raccoons took more than their share!) But the younger crops were small during the storm and didn't fall over as much, so it should get better. We have planted corn 5 times in the last 2 months, so we are trying to have it for everyone.
Not surprisingly, you will notice that Erickson Farm's avocados are not as flawless as usual-they did bang against each other and the branches on those trees for a few hours. Of course, a lot fell off, too, so we won't have as many as other years. After doing this for 17 years, one of my big dilemmas with the newsletter is actually a positive thing: so many of you have been with us for so long that you have heard much of my information, sometimes many times. How do I write something new for our long term subscribers and still explain something basic about our farm that "newbies" might not know? I've come to the conclusion that the best thing is usually to just treat it as a review section for the experienced subscribers, and hopefully add some new things, too.
Even though we know some of you almost like family, for those we don't know yet, here's who we are: Nancy - Your farmer-and newsletter author; Donna -Office manager, customer service, IT tasks; account manager, chief box inspector, and much more-she's the one you deal with the most; Charlie -restaurant sales and deliveries, maintenance-especially golf cart repairs- and recently in charge of replacing the greenhouse covering, which Irma took off;
Unlike most farm crews which are more specialized, our crew members do almost anything that needs to be done: planting, harvesting, putting up the beds, tying tomato plants, or sweeping out the packing house, and, especially, reminding me of something I forgot to ask them to do! All have things they do best, of course: Santa and Angelica -production of transplants and microgreens; Miguel, Chago, and Luis -our tractor drivers: spraying, discing, watering new plants, bedding, laying plastic; Abelino -seeds the baby greens, sprays weeds. If you pick up your box, you may see him checking to see if there are enough greens at the pickup site. (His English is improving so he often can understand if you say hello or talk to him about the crops.)
If you have been with us a while, you may have noticed a name missing from this list: Manuel. We're sorry that we lost Manuel in July-soon after he turned 80. Like Chago, he was raised in rural Puerto Rico, but had worked on Green Cay Farm for over 50 years. For most of that time, he was the crew leader, in charge of 40-60 workers. The last few years, he worked only mornings, putting the boxes together before the rest of us got here, and then patiently picking cherry tomatoes or okra, or pulling weeds. We'll miss Manuel's stories of how agriculture used to be in Palm Beach County: about the years there were big freezes, the unique people who have worked here over the years, or what it was like to make several trips a year carrying migrant workers back and forth to New Jersey, (before interstate highways, of course). He was our unofficial historian-no one knew for sure if the things he told us actually happened in the years he said, because no one else could remember as much as he did!
A change to our product list this season is that we will no longer be selling bouquets from Seed to Bloom Flowers. It is strictly an economic decision-neither their company nor ours was making enough from the few we sold to make it worth the transportation. Laurie and I both appreciate the support from those subscribers who bought flowers, especially on a regular basis. And we certainly will miss those beautiful flowers perfuming our cooler and brightening our packing house. The best part is that you can still buy them! Visit their booth at Lake Worth Green Market or Wellington Green Market on Saturdays, or Jupiter Green Market on Sundays. (The bouquets they sell there are larger and so cost a little more than those that we sold for them.)
On a more positive note, check our extras list for Culturful beet kvass, a new locally-made product that we are selling.
What's in your box this week: summer squashes corn??-probably just a little cucumbers arugula or kale (both in large boxes-we hope) spaghetti squash butternut squash (large boxes only) Erickson Farm avocado
A little housekeeping: I am trying to use more "social media", so, if you are a person who uses Facebook, we are on there as Farming Systems Research@veggies4u. And, when I see something especially interesting or pretty on the farm, I post on Instagram: veggies4u.
Around our area: Palm Beach County Extension will be holding a program called “After Irma: Restoring Your Landscape and Preventing Future Damage” for residents, business owners and community association representatives. The class will be on Saturday, October 14 from 9:00 to 12:30 and will repeat on Tuesday, October 17 at the same times. The program will focus on selecting plants for wind-resistance, proper planting and tree care, and pruning of young and mature trees to increase longevity and storm resilience. Also covered: how to assess and restore trees in the aftermath of storms, how and when to hire an arborist, plus tips on when to remove - or restore - a tree. Real-life images of damaged trees from Hurricane Irma will help participants understand the mechanisms of tree failure. A hands-on portion will include an examination of trees in Mounts Botanical Garden. Classes will be held at the Mounts Auditorium at 531 N. Military Trail in West Palm Beach. Cost: $5.00 per person to cover materials. Cash and checks accepted. Participants should make checks out to PBC Board of CC. Pre-register by calling Candace Smith at 561-233-1759, or by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org, as class minimums and maximums apply.
EXTRAS: The best way to order extras is to email Donna at email@example.com by 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.) NEW! Beet Kvass – see below for information 1 week advance order please! 12 oz. bottles $3.50 3 liter "pouches" $25 (101 oz)
Locally grown Flowers (may need some time to recover from storm damage): Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long-stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 plus tax (most stems are about 3' tall) 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.
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (orange blossom, palmetto, or wildflower) 1 gal. (12 lbs.) $52 (orange blossom or palmetto) 8 oz. bee pollen $12
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (some hives are on our farm, some are in Loxahatchee) Honey 1 qt. glass jars $17
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil apple mint oregano rosemary "tarragon" thyme Lemongrass $3 for 1/2 lb. (about 5 stalks)
Microgreens, sandwich bag $3 (mix may contain radishes, arugula, and/or red kale)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Collard greens green/white chard Callaloo (tropical green-for cooking) New Zealand spinach
Other vegetables from our farm: Butternut squash $1.50/lb. Spaghetti squash $1.50/lb. Yellow squash or zucchini $2/lb.
Beet kvass information: We are now carrying a new product, a Beet kvass, which is made locally by two women who are subscribers of ours. No, the beets are not local-no one grows that many beets here, especially at this time of year. (They did try: when they started the company, they asked us about buying beets from us, but we just can't supply that many, even during the winter.) For more information about this product, check their website, www.culturful.com or see the information that they have provided below: Culturful beet kvass is a fermented, probiotic-rich food that offers the nutritional benefits of raw juice and cultured veggies. "Kvass" is Russian for "sour fermented drink." This age-old tonic is produced by lacto-fermentation, the same process as pickles and sauerkraut are made. Eastern Europeans have traditionally served beet kvass as a refreshing drink in warm weather. Alternatively, they use kvass as a base for a cold summer soup, such as borscht. When beets ferment into kvass, the nutritional value of the beets is significantly magnified. Beet kvass offers enzymes, B-vitamins, phytonutrients, active cultures/probiotics, electrolytes. The nitric oxide from beets makes Culturful a particularly good addition to pre- and post-workout drinks. Consumption of beet kvass can: » IMPROVE BLOOD FLOW. » REDUCE INFLAMMATION. » LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE. » DETOXIFY THE BODY. » REGULATE APPETITE. » IMPROVE DIGESTION. » BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM. » OFFER CANCER-FIGHTING PROPERTIES. Culturful Beet Kvass is made from raw organic beets and purified water, it has a tangy taste and beautiful purple color. Beet kvass contains no alcohol and almost no beet sugar (4g of sugar per serving). It is produced by hand in small batches in the Healthy Kitchen Factory, a vegan facility in Boca Raton. Beet kvass can be enjoyed straight from the bottle or added to a smoothie, mixed with fresh juice, made into cold soup, even added to a cocktail. For recipes please visit https://www.culturful.com/recipes Enjoy great taste, captivating color, and the fermented goodness of Culturful Beet Kvass. Na Zrovie! To your good health!
Farm contact information: Donna (Office) 561-638-2755 firstname.lastname@example.org Nancy email@example.com