Friday, May 13, 2022

Herb Highlight: Oregano


 The oregano plants are big and healthy right now, so enjoy this herb fresh right now and get extra to dry for use throughout the year.  It can be dried in the dehydrator or hung in small bunches to air dry. 
  A quick story about our journey with oregano.  We've been growing oregano for years and enjoyed it but always thought our oregano didn't have a very strong flavor.  So we were curious when, a few years ago, we read in the Southern Exposure seed catalog the description of their oregano: "the flavorful Greek Oregano, not the flavorless oregano commonly available."  So we bought some seed and it grew well.  And in fact, this oregano had quite a bit stronger flavor.  Another interesting difference was it bloomed white while the other blooms pink.  In any case, we were excited and ready to make a complete switch to the new variety when we noticed something: the new variety was starting to suffer with some mildew diseases while our original variety was still going strong without any issues.  The plants didn't die completely but couldn't be harvested from.  So we kept both varieties to over winter.  And again the next year, they both came on strong, but our original far outlasted the new one that again got disease.  So we're continuing to grow both varieties of oregano, but the one because we like it better this time of year when we could grow either, and the other in order to extend the season after the variety we have now is done.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

From the kitchen: baked sweet potatoes

  You can microwave a sweet potato, but it will taste a lot better if you bake it.  That's what a friend told us after we served him our baked sweet potatoes for dinner, and sent him home with some extra baked ones to eat later.
  I have multiple sweet potato cookbooks from the library right now, and after I try a few recipes from them, I'm pretty sure I'll hear what I always hear when I try a new sweet potato dish, "You can make that if you want, but they taste better if you just bake them."  Of course, I'm not including slicing potatoes into chips and deep frying them in lard.  And sweet potato pies are popular, too.  And everyone likes sweet potato biscuits every couple weeks, but our family can eat simple baked sweet potatoes multiple times per week and not grow tired, especially by rotating through the different varieties with all the different tastes, textures and colors.
  It doesn't seem quite right that such an easy preparation can be so good.  Just put the washed sweet potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake at 425 for about an hour.  That's it.

Monday, February 21, 2022

2022 CSA PLAN


  We're taking sign-ups for the 2022 Vegetable CSA now. 
  A CSA is the next best thing to growing your own food, so if you'd like to eat the kind of food you'd grow for yourself but you aren't in a position to do so, consider joining our CSA! 
  Below is the plan for our CSA customers that will be picking up their shares at our farm, mostly on Tuesdays.  And here is a link to the Statesville CSA plan.

THE CSA PLAN
   2022 will be our 18th year offering CSA shares.  A CSA is a partnership with a local farm that provides you a weekly share of produce items and helps make it possible for us to grow a radically homegrown alternative to supermarket-style food/agriculture defined by big corporations, chemicals, genetically modified crops... (For more information about how we farm see what we wrote here and other things on our blog.) 
  The CSA plan consists of 23 weekly shares each with a value of $22 spread out over an approximately 6 month season (from, depending on the weather, roughly the first week of May and continuing through approximately early November, minus possibly a week sometime during the year that we'll need to take a bye week on our end, leaving at least 3 bye weeks for you.) 
  The cost of the CSA for returning CSA members is $506 (23 weeks times $22.00), but for first-time members our beginning offer is a half season share for $242 for 11 weekly shares (covering the first 12 weeks of the season with one bye week and renewable for the second half) so that new members can try out the CSA without needing to commit to the full season.

WHAT'S INCLUDED IN CSA SHARES
  A standard share contains a full assortment of several dozen different seasonal fresh vegetables (tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans, lettuce, okra...), shitake mushrooms, and other garden and specialty field crops (like peanuts, strawberries...), all from open-pollinated seed and grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers.  Here is a link to photos of sample CSA shares.  
  We're glad to pack your share with an assortment of whatever we think is at its best each week with maximum variety from week to week.  But we also offer the option to marginally customize your share, depending on what we have available.
  Every Saturday, we'll send out an e-mail with a list of most of the items we expect to harvest for the coming pick-up day.  If you see anything on the e-mail list that you'd especially like included in your share, just e-mail us what you would like by our Monday deadline.
   If we're not able to meet requests we'll substitute other items so that in any case you should receive a full $22 share.
  If we expect to have more demand for an item than we'll be able to accommodate, we'll typically not list that item and instead include such limited items in the shares of members whose requests were minimal enough to leave us room to include those things, so not everything that goes into CSA shares will be on the e-mail list and available for requests.
  
LOGISTICS
  In response to the Saturday e-mail, you'll need to let us know by noon on Monday if you would like a share that week or if you are taking a bye week.  You'll also let us know what time to set your share out for you (anytime that afternoon or evening but not before 2:00.)  A little before the time you tell us, we'll set a paper bag with your name on it out on the pick-up table.  If you don't see outside and would like to talk to us about anything, just honk your horn.
  For the first several weeks of the CSA season, in order to fit with our spring harvesting schedule, Wednesday will be the pick-up day.  Then sometime around early June we switch to Tuesday pick-ups for the rest of the season.
  
WHAT IF YOU'RE OUT OF TOWN OR CAN'T COME TO THE PICK-UP ONE WEEK? WHAT ABOUT EXTRA WEEKS?
  Our CSA season should run at least 26 weeks, so you should have at least 3 bye weeks. If you're out of town or want to skip getting a share one week for any other reason, just let us know that you're taking a bye week by the order deadline, 12pm Monday.

HOW TO PROCEED IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN JOINING THE CSA
  If you have more questions about our CSA, please send us an e-mail or call us (704-546-5074) or make plans to visit the farm.
  Any of our customers is welcome to come for a farm visit/tour, but we require a farm visit of new CSA members.  This gives you a chance to better understand what our farm is all about, what your partnership with us is about, and what it means for what you'll be receiving in your CSA shares. It also helps us better explain the logistics of our system to first time CSA members and to answer any questions you have.  And, of course, it gives you a chance to see how long it will take you to get to our farm.

PAYMENT
  We start taking sign-ups for our CSA in February and ask for a $100 non-refundable deposit to hold your spot (or you can pay the $242 in full).  The remainder of the $242 is due when you pick up your first share.

STATESVILLE CSA PLAN

  Below is the plan for our CSA customers that will be getting their shares through home delivery in Statesville.  If you will be picking up shares at our farm in Yadkinville, see this link.

CSA OVERVIEW
  If you'd be interested in making a weekly commitment to buying a $22 assortment of our vegetables, then our CSA might be for you.  In exchange for the commitment our CSA members make to us, we commit to growing a full assortment of weekly vegetables for them.  Most of the things we grow for our CSA members are available to our Statesville home delivery customers as well, but we give our CSA members priority so our CSA members get the greatest variety of things from our farm.  CSA members receive their shares either by taking part in our home delivery program or by picking up their shares at our farm.


WHAT'S INCLUDED IN CSA SHARES
  Our standard $22 CSA shares contain a full assortment of several dozen different seasonal fresh vegetables (tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans, lettuce, okra...), shitake mushrooms, and other garden and specialty field crops (like peanuts, strawberries...), all from open-pollinated seed and grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers.  Here is a link to photos of sample CSA shares. 
  We're glad to pack your share with an assortment of whatever we think is at its best each week with maximum variety from week to week.  But we also offer the option to marginally customize your share, depending on what we have available.

CSA COMMITMENT
  We expect to be able to offer CSA shares nearly every Saturday from May to October but also probably one or two weeks in April, two or three weeks in November, probably one week in December, maybe one week in March... We'll just let you know in the newsletter we send out before each drop-off whether CSA shares will be available to order that week.  On the weeks we make deliveries but don't have CSA shares available, mostly mid-winter, you are welcome to just order items off from the list, but we won't fill in or substitute to make a $22 share like we normally would.
  In order for us to continue our commitment to each of our CSA members, we expect our CSA members to order a CSA share at least 85% of the times we offer shares (but if you get at least 25 CSA shares per year, we'll count that as close enough, even if we make enough drop-offs that 25 winds up being less than 85% of the total number of weeks.)  So you should expect to spend at least $550.00 with us if you want to take part in the CSA.

ORDERING
  In response to the newsletter we send out announcing a delivery, you will need to e-mail us back to request a CSA share.  If you have specific requests for what you'd like us to include in your share, that's also the time to make those requests.

BALANCE AND RECEIPTS
  Just as for the home delivery program, you'll keep a balance with us from which we will deduct your weekly orders.  This makes it straightforward if you would like to order items beyond your weekly share.   For example, you could order a share plus a bouquet of flowers or plus an additional 20 lbs of sweet potatoes.  We'll simply deduct the amount of your total order from your balance.
  Within a few days of each drop-off we'll send you an e-mail with (1) the total cost of what you ordered at the last drop-off, (2) your remaining balance -- if your balance drops below $66, we'll ask you to go ahead and replenish your balance, (3) the number of CSA shares you've gotten and the number of weeks we've offered CSA shares so far that year (so that you can make sure you're ordering at least 85% of the time, assuming you want to continue receiving CSA privileges.)

NEW CSA MEMBERS
  New members take part in the CSA as trial CSA members.  This gives you a chance to see if the amount and types of food work for you, if the amount of out-of-town traveling you do is compatible with the regularity of the CSA, if the drive to pick up your food (if you live outside our home delivery area) is manageable, etc.
  We ask trial CSA members to request CSA shares 11 out of 12 consecutive CSA deliveries.  You can begin any week we're offering CSA shares to regular CSA members. 
  We invite trial CSA members to order as if they were CSA members.  That means you can request a CSA share any week when we're offering CSA shares to our regular CSA members, and as with regular CSA shares we'll fill in whatever portion of the $22 CSA share for which you don't make requests and we'll make substitutions for any requests you make that we can't fill, sometimes including items that weren't part of the list in the preceding newsletter.  The one difference is we'll pack the shares of our regular CSA members first, so sometimes we may need to short you and you won't receive the same priority as regular CSA members. 
  After you've requested 11 CSA shares (within a period of 12 consecutive CSA deliveries) we'll count you as a regular CSA member so long as you keep ordering shares at least 85% of the time.
  If during this time you realize the CSA isn't working for you, you can simply drop back to the home delivery program.  This means you'll just start using your balance just like any home delivery customer, ordering as much or as little as you want as often as you want, skipping as many weeks as you want, and you'll no longer be able to order CSA shares except on the weeks when we offer sample CSA shares to everyone. 

HOW TO PROCEED IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN JOINING THE CSA
  (1)  Let us know you're interested in joining the CSA
  (2) Plan a visit to the farm.  Any of our customers is welcome to come for a farm visit/tour, but we require a farm visit of new CSA members.  This gives you a chance to better understand what our farm is all about, what the CSA partnership is about, and what it means for what you'll be receiving in your CSA shares. It also helps us better explain the logistics of our system to first time CSA members and to answer any questions you have.
  (3) Join the home delivery program (if you're not already a home delivery customer.)  To join the home delivery program, you'll need to give us a check for at least $150 and commit to spending a minimum of $150 over the course of the next 12 months -- the first $150 required for taking part in home deliveries is non-refundable regardless of whether you decide to continue with the CSA -- but your first 11 trial CSA shares will add up to more than that, so you'll need to plan to add to your balance soon into your CSA trial to continue unless you make a larger initial payment.  Any amount over $150 is fully refundable.

  If you have more questions about our CSA, please send us an e-mail or call us (704-546-5074) or make plans to visit the farm.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Statesville Home Delivery Plan

DELIVERY AREA  Our regular delivery area is the part of Statesville west of I-77, south of I-40, and north of Hwy 70.  Other areas, particularly if they're very close to the regular delivery area or between our farm and Stateville might also be options, so if you'd be interested in the home deliveries but don't live in our regular delivery area, please ask.  Picking up your orders at someone else's home that does live in our delivery area is also an option if you don't live in our delivery area yourself.  Picking up at our farm is also always an option (in which case none of the following details apply -- you can just pay for whatever you get when you get it.) Sometime this year we may also add a Statesville drop-off point where customers could meet us at a particular time, but for right now we're just leaving orders at customers' homes.


PAYMENTS  Home delivery customers maintain a balance with us to pay for orders.  To get started, we ask that you send us a check for $150 and plan to spend at least that much over the course of the next 12 months.  The first $150 is non-refundable.  We ask that subsequent payments be in increments of $100 or more.  Anything you add to your credit after the initial $150 is fully refundable.

DELIVERY FREQUENCY  We'll be making home deliveries year round, with more or less frequency depending on the time of year.  The weekly delivery season will start around late April/beginning of May and continue through most of November.  After that, we'll gradually transition to approximately monthly deliveries and then back to weekly deliveries again the following growing season.  During the weekly drop-off season, drop-offs will almost always be on Saturday mornings.  There will be no set day for drop-offs over the course of the rest of the year.  The day and time will be given in the delivery announcement e-mail.

ORDERING We'll send out a delivery announcement e-mail 2-3 days before our intended drop-off.  We'll typically leave a 24 hour window for you to place your orders.   Simply e-mail us a list of the items and amount of each item you would like.  You can order whichever weeks you want and skip whichever weeks you want.

SHORTAGES  Most of what we have to sell will be practically limited to one degree or another, and we expect demand will randomly vary a lot from week to week, so there will surely be weeks when we don't have enough to fill all the orders we receive of some items.  In that case, we'll give priority to the customers that are the most regular in ordering.  And sometimes we won't be able to harvest any at all of things we thought we were going to be able to harvest when we sent out our e-mail newsletter ahead of time.  If we don't have enough to fill your order, we'll short you whatever we have to, and, of course, deduct from your balance only whatever we actually deliver.

ITEMS MARKED "CSA ONLY" If you see items on the list marked "CSA only" that means we expect we may not have any of that item left after packing CSA shares.  Please request these items anyway if you'd like them.  There's always a chance we'll have to short you on an item, so if an item is marked "CSA only" that just means the odds are greater that we'll have to short you, but it doesn't mean we won't have it or that you're not allowed to order it.  About half of the time when non-CSA members have ordered "CSA only" items we have been able to fill those orders.

DROP-OFF FEES  There is no drop-off fee for orders of $20 or more. For orders less than $20, we charge 25c for every dollar less than $20 (so there will be a 25c drop-off fee for a $19 order, 50c for an $18 order, 75c for a $17 order, $1 for a $16 order... $2 for a $12 order... $3 for an $8 order... $4 for a $4 order... $4.75 for a $1 order).
  Drop-off fees will apply regardless of whether we're delivering to your house or whether you're picking up at someone else's house, but if the sum of the orders to a particular house exceeds $20, then we'll reduce the drop-off fee for each order to that house by an extra dollar.
  If we don't have enough of an item to fill your order and we have to short you, we'll nonetheless count that item toward your order total for calculating your drop-off fee (unless it's a "CSA only"/"probably CSA only" item and you're not a CSA member.)

RECEIPTS AND SUPPLEMENTAL PAYMENTS  We'll e-mail you a receipt of the credit you used that day with a running tab of your remaining credit.  This should help you determine when you need to add to your credit.  If you want to add to your credit, you can leave a check for us to pick up any week, but please alert us ahead of time to look for it.

RETURNING ITEMS  We very much appreciate you saving plastic and paper bags for us (and any other reusable containers that you receive from us), but we won't be picking up these sorts of things during our drop-offs on a regular basis.  However, if you ever come up to the farm, we'll be able to receive those things here anytime, and if you can save things up for a while, we should be able to find a week when we can make your house the final stop and pick up any items you want to leave for us then.

TO SIGN UP Call us with any questions: 704-546-5074  Then make sure we have your phone number, home address, and e-mail address, and contact us about making your initial payment.  Then watch for our delivery announcement e-mails and order whenever you like.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Seminoles


   Seminoles taste great, keep well, and are productive in the garden.   The pulp can be eaten as a simple side dish or used in baked goods.  The seeds roast up easily for salty snacks.  They are pretty, both before and after cooking.  In fact, in almost every way, seminoles are an outstanding winter squash.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Sign-up for our e-newsletter

 Want to know what we have available for pick-up at the farm or to find out about drop-offs in Statesville?  We send out a regular e-mail to keep you up to date.  Sign-up by contacting us through our Local Harvest account.  Let us know your e-mail address and approximate location.