After all the work of raising vegetables, pastured meat and eggs (and 3 boys), sometimes there’s not much time left for internet marketing ploys…Needless to say, a crop update is long overdue.
It feels like the months of June and July evaporated. Like any season, we have had crop successes and challenges so far. You might have noticed that the summer squash/zucchini, cucumbers, and beans have been scarce this year. These are usually some of our most reliable early summer crops, but we had three failed successions. Thankfully, the latest plantings are producing some nice zucchinis, yellow squash, and beans this week, and cucumbers are just around the corner. Our garlic supply is very limited this year, so it will all be going to the CSA until it is gone. Though the bulbs are extra small, they are still very tasty. On a brighter Allium note, the onion crop is looking great! We just finished up harvesting the sweet Candy onions (you’ll have seen these at market and in the CSA shares for the past 6 weeks), and now we are moving on to the big job of harvesting the remaining 7000 storage onions (red and yellow) which should last through the winter.
Unfortunately, we lost the battle to Colorado Potato Beetles in our earliest potatoes. The small amount we were able to harvest will all be going to the CSA. The remaining 2/3 of our potato crop is looking pretty good. We were able finish trellising the last of our field tomatoes this week. This year, there are over 1200 row foot of ‘maters in the ground, so we were very thankful to have help from family, friends, and Amish neighbors to accomplish this job. We were also able to obliterate the giant, out-of-control weeds in the walkways between the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers (bell, snacking, and hot), eggplant, and other crops thanks to a new walk-behind mini-bush hog. Although a bit later than usual, all the Solanaceae crops are looking fabulous and will be making their debut at market in the next few weeks. We can’t wait for tomatoes!
We are very happy with how the carrots have done on the compost beds. They, along with spinach and lettuces, have really thrived. We plan to convert more fields into no-till beds for our Fall plantings, as there are proving to be many benefits. Though Autumn is still many weeks away, we are already planting and making preparations for the Fall CSA! The freshly cultivated winter squash and pumpkins are about to bloom and start forming little butternuts, delicata, acorns, and many more types of squash. Thanks to an 8 foot tall deer fence and recent weeding, the sweet potato patch has become a jungle of healthy vines. Broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi and other fall treats are leafing out in the trays, and we plan to seed tatsoi, mizuna, arugula, and all kinds of roots this week. We’ll be putting our Fall CSA signup info online very soon, so keep an eye out!
Earlier this week, after dinner and putting the boys to bed, we found ourselves unloading and sorting the latest bounty from the butcher. The freezers are all pretty full and if we don’t step up our marketing, we risk becoming pastured meat collectors (on a related note, you can order a freezer hog here).
We came back in at 1am and there was no energy left for virtual peddling. Earlier in the day, the hours going to the butcher, grinding 4 tons of feed, and getting our Thanksgiving turkey poults off to a good start in the brooder must have taken something out of us.
Conventional agriculture is funneled into the commodity marketplace where all things are supposedly equal, and the cheapest is of course the best, and since farmers have no control over the price, they simply try to grow increasing amounts of commodities. Basically, all of the money is in the marketing, and it is a shame. You can raise 40 hogs with integrity and sell them frantically and lose money. Or, you can raise 8 hogs, and do a better job of marketing and sell them all and make more money. It is a fact (or you can raise commodity hogs and encourage toxic algae blooms and swine pandemics and stink up the countryside so you can produce a pale, dry porkchop that relies on questionable animal welfare and worker practices all while losing money 7 out of 10 years. But those big barns are impressive, right?). Like all things, finding balance is important. This is something we are still working towards, and we’d like to think we get a little closer every year.
Whether you’re a CSA member, a market regular, or part of the Good Eaton Club, we are grateful for the opportunity to be your farmers. We know buying local is not as convenient as the supermarket. Sometimes the line in front of our booth is long (especially when the freezers are packed full, like they were today at market), and your patience and perseverance amazes us each week. The parking can be unpredictable, but so many of you consistently find a way to get to market and leave with bulging bags, baskets, and coolers. Some of you even bring your own carts! No, small isn’t always the most efficient, but it does taste pretty good and it makes a person feel good to be part of a larger movement. In contrast, you can’t talk to your farmers at the Crow-gers self-checkout, even if you feel you are owed an explanation for the leaky, cellophaned tray of insipid pork, recently washed up from the faceless commodity stream that is America’s other white meat. I suppose the shopper becomes as faceless and interchangeable as the pork in this sort of arrangement. We hope that you find the same satisfaction in dealing with the people who raise your food as we find in growing it for you.
The Eaton Farm
Community Cooking Spotlight:
Kid-friendly Kale Meatloaf!
Often overlooked, meatloaf is an underrated dish that deserves more credit. It is so simple and filling, utilizes grassfed and pastured meats and eggs, and is the perfect dish for tucking away vegetables that might not otherwise get eaten. This particular recipe features kale, but you can use any type of green you have on hand. Other veggies, like shredded beets, carrots, and zuchini, also work nicely in a meatloaf. I like to make a huge triple batch to have in the fridge for amazing sandwiches throughout the week. Meatloaf also freezes well. Enjoy! -Liz
adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook
2 cups freshly made bread crumbs or oatmeal
1 onion, chopped fine
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 pounds Eaton Farm ground beef, pork, turkey, or combination
3 cups kale, any variety, destemmed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a loaf pan. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl; your freshly washed hands are the best tools for the job. Pat into the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.
Variation: Instead of using a loaf pan, pack the meat into muffin tins or Pyrex baking cups for individual muffin-size meat loaves. Bake for only 25 minutes at 400° F. My boys love these!
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