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Harvest Shot, Large Garden N Grove CSA Box May 14-15th, 2014

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Green beans for all our friends, and favas for Large shares, only. Lots of avocados, probably dancing on the edge of getting complaints about too many avocados this year. On the other hand, limes are hard to come by..despite our 200-tree count grove, it has been a particularly bad year for limes. Which might account for the ridiculous price for them in the store. Wholesale price for limes (if we had any) is over a hundred dollars a carton.

The wind and fires out here are consuming are attention. Once again, just as we were scheduled to harvest our mulberries, they were blown to the ground.Unlike blackberries, mulberries fall off in your hand when they’re ready to pick. That makes picking easy, but accidentally knocking off dozens of berries while reaching for that just-of-of-reach-really- big one..also easy. So when the winds pick up, it’s over. Mulberry mulch for the whole grove. :/ This may be why mulberries haven’t become mainstream yet.

My New Best Friend

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One of my favorite side dishes at Vietnamese restaurants is the vegetable-stuffed rolls that are wrapped in rice/tapioca skins. It never occurred to me I could make them myself until recently when I thought I’d give it a try. Ok…it takes some practice, but it’s worth the effort of a few failed “logs” because these things are so tasty! Rice paper (see image) is sold in a dry, paper-like form in most grocery stores. You dip each sheet individually in a bowl of warm water, and the inedible rice paper sheet miraculously  turns into the flexible, tender skin that you recognize at once. I just couldn’t believe that the dry form could ever turn into anything edible…I thought maybe the ones I’d purchased were old. They come out of the package brittle and plastic-like. A quick dip in warm water, though, and they’re ready to stretch over whatever you choose to stuff them with. I put everything in the center, fold opposite edges in first, then just roll, dip and eat.

Ingredient List
Purslane
Avocado slices
Spinach
Cauliflower–diced fairly small
Cilantro
Carrot
Sea salt
Quinoa (I added just a little in each roll, you could use rice or amaranth as well)
Dipping Sauce
(I could have gotten more creative here, but this was delicious and very easy)
Mixture of Balsamic Vinegar and Local Olive Oil (I source both of these from Temecula Olive Oil Company, they have a website for mail order, as well as a CSA for their farm’s olive oils.)

Harvest Shot May 6-7, 2014

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Our Pakistani mulberries continue to offer up sparse yields after losing the early harvests to the high winds of April. This week, only large shares will see the unusual fruit. We’re hoping to be able to offer everyone tastes next week, weather permitting.

You’ll note a clamshell this week of an odd succulent vegetable: that’s our purslane. Grown for its nutritional value as well as its satisfying “crunch,” this year’s leaves seem to be more “lemony” that last year’s. The stalks are just as tasty as the leaves. I’ve included a couple recipe ideas for this hard-to-find veggie this week.

Please Return Our Boxes

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Despite our pleas, we still are not getting everyone on board with returning their boxes each week. So we’re going to have to find the time to go back to the old time-consuming check off of box returns. It’s a shame to throw away our box each week, and about half our subscribers are doing just that. We’ll start to check off missing returns starting next week, and communicate with drop point hosts/participants to see if we can solve the problem. Please, if you are having a problem remembering to return the box, keep it simple and just don’t take it home to begin with. Bring something you can transfer your beautiful produce into, and leave the box behind for the host to store for our driver the following week.

Thanks!

Harvest Shot April 8-9 2014

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Harvest shot for this week. We lost much of our early mulberry crop to unseasonably windy nights. Just such a disappointment to see so much of our beautiful fruit on the ground. Squeaked by with very small portions for all Large Shares this week from our earliest trees. We do have half an acre of later fruit coming in, and look forward to a less meager provisions.

Change Order Link Keeps Farmer Sane

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Change Order? Click Here

As our little CSA has grown, the complexities of keep it all straight have grown as well. We have 50 drop points, mostly weekly, although there are three that are only biweekly. There are those that receive boxes weekly, but add-ons biweekly. (We don’t offer vice versa) There’s Large Boxes, Small Boxes, and Salad Boxes, both with and without eggs.  There’s vacation skips for weekly subscribers, much appreciated, Please-Shift-Our-Box to the homeless shelter for biweekly vacationers (and some generous weekly subscribers’ donations), credit card number changes, cancellations at the end of commitments, new starts, delayed starts, restarts, and lots of on-going, uncommitted trials starting and stopping. As the roster-builder-change-order taker here, besides the lead farmer, I spend a full day each week combing through my email accounts in search of Change Order Requests…and there’s no way I can ever go on a real vacation, because this task is so complicated only I can do it.  Oh, and there’s the challenge of usually… a newcomer… that leaves voice messages or notes on rosters (that I never see) or post-it notes mailed with checks, etc., submitting change orders…. although I’ve always asked  that all change orders come to one place, our csa@morningsongfarm.com email account. I can’t even imagine trying to keep it all straight if I had to comb through voice mail, snail mail, scribbled on rosters and random post-its…in addition to email accounts to keep it all straight.

I absolutely have to do something about the imperfect system as we’ve grown.

Sooooo…I’ve come up with the plan that I think is going to reduce the hours involved in keeping Change Orders organized, and gives our subscriber the satisfaction of a paper trail. I’ve created a secure Change Order Form that’s easy to click and send, with plenty of space for comments if needed.

Please use my new improved, 3rd party secured, Change Order link, and let me know if you have feedback on ways I might improve it. I will continue to appreciate emails and the friendly exchange of ideas that many of the farm’s subscribers maintain with me, but when a note includes a Change Order…I will direct that part of our communication to our link so that all Change Orders end up in one place each week for easy management.

Chickens Excited About Their New Menu Item

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We’ve worked for quite a while now on our livestock “fodder” system, which is a simple, automated hydroponic system that grows grain for feeding chickens, goats, etc. It’s been a little more complicated than we had hoped, as suppliers of some barley provide grain that sprouts poorly (why?) and we weren’t able to ascertain in the beginning if the problem was our system or their seed. Now we have a baseline of reasonable expectations, so we know if seed is good or not right away.

The system itself is so tinker-toy simple, that at first I thought we’d be up and running in days. Ha! Like all things Morning Song, that which seems so simple is never thus.  The system is humidity and heat sensitive, and because we set it up in our greenhouse, near the chicken barn, we had chicken-related seed theft that baffled us for weeks, on top of automated watering malfunctions that plagued us from the start. From time to time an occasional chicken flies the coop and pecks around the farm. A few ringleaders discovered the fodder system’s treasure trove of sprouted seeds during an unauthorized foraging adventure. Chickens love seeds, sprouts, and tender leafy greens. So it doesn’t get much better than a barley sprout for a chicken on the lam.  It didn’t occur to me in the beginning that the guilty-sprout-stealing parties were chickens. The system is off the ground, and each tray has little access for an animal that flies, plus the system was INSIDE the greenhouse and getting inside requires either an accidentally left open door, or quite the acrobatic endeavor through small tears in the greenhouse skin to actually break and enter. Just didn’t seem like our perp was a chicken. Chickens are smarter than they look, that’s all I have to say.

We’ve solved the chicken seed theft issue, mostly, and are working on expanding our fodder system so that our plan to shift from purchased, bagged feed as the primary offering, to freshly grown sprouts can be realized. We will continue to use Modesto Mills Soy Free Organic Feed as an ancillary menu item, but hope to provide the superior, fresh fodder we grow here, as our flock’s primary food source over the next few months.

This system is modular, and makes sense even for a family with 2 or three chickens. At some point, we’ll offer classes, supplies and the inexpensive systems themselves to those that would like to provide their backyard flocks the superior nutrition of home grown, healthy sprouts. Ask if you’re interested.