CSA Harvest for August 15th

IMG_0376The harvest is at its peak these days. We have so many cukes, zukes and green beans for you! There are also tomatoes, Swiss chard, garlic, beets, okra and peppers.  You’ll get a 3rd cutting of basil leaves.

New this week are pole beans. These are long flat green beans which may be prepared and eaten the same way as the usual green beans.

David, Verena and I harvested, dried and packaged several 3RF herbs, including clover, bee balm, comfrey, catnip and chamomile.  We are selling them for $1/bag.

Greg also has many great specimen trees and shrubs for sale at $10/plant. Just ask him when you come to the farm.

Meet Verena Eichenberger

Verena in Ann Arbor
Verena in Ann Arbor

Verena is Three Roods Farm’s latest intern, hailing all the way from Switzerland. She recently graduated from High School. She wanted to come to the United States for the summer to improve her English. Ken, Robin’s brother (and father of Timmy who is a friend of Verena’s brother Raphael), suggested Verena come to Three Roods Farm, and since July 14th this is where she has been.

Verena picking black currants
Verena picking black currants

At home in Thun, Switzerland Verena enjoys playing the flute, spending time with her family and friends, eating chocolate, and doing everything outdoors e.g. biking, skiing, and hiking around Switzerland’s beautiful mountains. Her favorite books and movies are non-fiction true stories.

Being on 3RF isn’t the first time Verena has gotten her hands dirty. She has often helped her parents with a large garden they have at home.

At Three Roods Farm Verena passes her days weeding in the garden, harvesting vegetables, planting trees in the orchard, helping Robin prepare meals, and helping Greg with whatever he thinks up for the day. In her free time here she enjoys playing the piano, reading the book Twilight, which she was inspired to read after seeing the movie, and going on adventures with me to explore Michigan.

Michigan's eastern shoreline
Michigan's eastern shoreline

So far we’ve seen the coastline of the thumb, stopping at a beach in Caseville and hiking through Port Crescent State Park, biked throughout Genesee County to see local parks along the Holloway Reservoir, and seen a bit of big city life during a day in Ann Arbor. One thing that never ceases to amaze her is the number and size of our trucks.

Verena helps put up the tipi
Verena helps put up the tipi

Verena did not come to the US alone; her friend Ramona joined her, but Ramona is wwoofing at the Strawbale Studio in Oxford learning about natural building. When they meet up, they excitedly begin to speak of all that they’ve done in Swiss-German, their native tongue. Before returning to Switzerland, Verena and Ramona will travel to Toronto to see more of the Great Lakes Region. When Verena returns home she will begin studying Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Story and photos by David Rittenhouse.

8/8/09 CSA Harvest

cucumber
cucumber

The harvest is gaining momentum. You must take some time to freeze or can the produce because soon you will not be able to find your kitchen from all the vegetables.

This week you will receive cucumbers, kale, peppers, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, green beans, garlic, cilantro, and zucchini.

beets
beet root and leaves

Wouldn’t it be interesting to be tiny and live in cucumber and beet world?

You will receive the entire plant because the greens are almost as nutritious as kale.  In fact, you could cook them up together. Beets can be grated raw on salads. They can be juiced with carrots. The leaves can be sauteed in olive oil with garlic and onion and served on the steamed beet roots.

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Due to the cool nights, the vegetables are ripening slowly.

There are more tomatoes this week than last, including the very sweet Sungold cherry tomatoes. This variety is orange when ripe and lower in acid than the usual red ones.

Some of you didn’t find the chamomile or yarrow last week.  Please look up above the produce bags and take 1 of each if you want them.

okra with its flower
okra with its flower

Okra is not grown by many northern farmers. It is popular in the southern USA, often mixed with black-eyed peas or cajun style mixed vegetables. We enjoy it, but we grow only a small amount in order to introduce it to you, but not overwhelm you. Let us know if you like it and what you do with it.

Fava beans were grown this year as a trial.  We don’t feel confident of the quality. Majid and Benaan will be the judge of this. You will have the option of taking some home to try.

Robin’s Indian-style Cole Slaw

Banana peppers
Banana peppers
  • 3 cups finely chopped green cabbage
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup grated/shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 1 minced banana pepper
  • 1 lg date, soaked and pitted and mashed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp flax seed oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • soy sauce or salt to taste
  1. Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl and set aside.
  2. Blend the other ingredients into a smooth dressing.
  3. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and mix well. Serves 4.

August 1st Harvest

 cabbage
cabbage

We are happy to say that the good earth has produced much for us to eat this week. More cabbage.  I tried a new recipe last week and Greg said, ” You can make this again!” You will find the recipe posted later today.

broccoli
broccoli

We also have more green bush beans, lettuce, peppers, basil, and garlic.

New this week is broccoli, which I’m sure needs no introduction.

Aren’t Dave’s photos of the vegetables beautiful!  Look for a link to all his farm photos in the lower right column.

Also new this week are shallots. These small onions have been described as a cross between garlic and sweet red onion. They have a delicate flavor and mince well for sauces and vinaigrettes. Also new this week are tomatoes. Our varieties include Moscovitz, Prudence Purple, Roma, and Cherry. You will get a small amount this week, but more in coming weeks. Swiss chard will be in your share, too. This tasty green leaf produces abundantly like kale, so you will get one or the other every week from now on, so learn to like it ~ it’s good for you!  The chamomile fromlast week is still hanging for those who missed it. This week you will get another herb, yarrow.  The variety we grow is a cultivar and as such doesn’t have much medicinal use, but makes a great dried flower.  Hang it upside down for a week in a dry place and then put it in a vase.  It will keep its color all year. We have a small amount of okra.  As in years past, we will offer it to the weekly harvest family as an option.

CSA Harvest – July 25th

Ok everybody ~ Here’s the latest on this week’s harvest ~ Dr Greg says “Everything is going to come up at once now”. And so it is….  cabbage ~ kale ~ zuchhini (there’s too many h’s in that word) ~ bush beans ~ a 2nd cutting of parsley ~ peppers from mild to hot ~ tomatoes just beginning ~ cherry tomatoes sweet orange juicy fill your mouth ~ sorrel if you like ~ dill if you like ~ lettuce alone (what do honeymooners eat…?) ~ it sounds so good to me….yes it sounds so good to me…………cowboy take me home…..IMG_0237

The Tipi is up!

Dave, Trish, Verena, Robin
Dave, Trish, Verena, Robin

On a beautiful Sunday in July, the dream of a tipi became a reality. It had started as an idea: a place for the grandchildren to play when they visit.  It grew to become a place for guests to stay, for womens groups to meet, for spiritual congregation. At this point, my hope is that it will be a place of blessing for all who enter, whatever their purpose.

Myself, several interns and a couple of friends had spent a month sanding and oiling the poles.  Then we waited for the rains to stop, after which the sod was cleared and a yard of sand brought in. Finally, the perfect day arrived.

Robin brings the first pole.
Robin brings the first pole.

With the help of interns Verena Eichenberger from Switzerland and David Rittenhouse of Minnesota, I gathered all the necessary items and we drove out to the site. We opened up the tipi cover and began laying out the tripod poles. The Nomadic Tipi Company had sent along very clear instructions with many photos.  Moreover, I had been lucky enough to have assisted Toby Benetti, Michigan’s own tipi maven, in setting up his tipi in May, so I had ‘experience’.

Pulling up the tripod poles.
Pulling up the tripod poles.

We selected the 3 biggest poles for the tripod and determined the angle for the door pole. Then we made a clove hitch knot and while Verena pulled, I pushed. David took all the photos.  Theoretically, 2 people who know what they’re doing, can set up a tipi in half an hour. It took us all day. But what’s the rush? We knew the knot was strong because Verena proved it.IMG_0152 We spent much time centering the tripod poles at the correct angles in the alloted space. Fortunately David had learned trig in high school so he figured it out. Then we laid in the remaining 12 poles. The instructions called for someone to whip and snap the long piece of rope around the poles. Fortunately, Dave was tall enough and strong enough to be our whipper-snapper.  The dictionary says that a whipper-snapper is a presumptuos person. But I don’t think Daniel Webster was ever called upon to help put up a tipi or he would have given another definition.

A young whipper-snapper.
A young whipper-snapper.

As soon as the frame was up, we noticed one groundhog – and then another – step out from the edge of the windbreak, stand up on their hind legs and look curiously in our direction, as if to figure out who their new neighbors could possibly be.  Dave hoped they might bring over a welcome basked with treats for us. No such luck. But Trish Hansel, who happened by around this time, suggested that we make an offering to them when we have our first meal at the tipi. In any case, we took a break for lunch.

Pinning the tipi together.
Pinning the tipi together.

The canvas cover is very heavy. We used the last pole to hoist it up and then unfurled it around the other poles.  The tipi is held together with sharpened wooden dowels which pierce the overlapping pre-made holes. It was hard to get the pins into those tight holes. I can see how this entire process will be easier next time.  We used a step ladder to reach the highest holes.  If you didn’t have a ladder, one person could climb on another’s back to reach it. After this, we staked the tipi down all around the bottom.  Then it was time to put in the liner.

IMG_0169Verena and Trish worked together to get the smoke flap poles into the sewn pocket flaps. That was a tricky task.  It has been accomplished in this photo. The clouds gave us the message that a storm was approaching.  So we kept working busily, even though we were tiring of the job. We put 3 levels of rope around the poles on the inside of the tipi. These were used to attach strings from the liner pads, so the liner would stay up.  The inside liner is 6 feet tall.

Trish ties on the liner.
Trish ties on the liner.

One of the amazing things is that a tipi kit doesn’t cost much more that a good computer system.  Another, is that Native Americans lived through cold winters in such tents because the tipi is the only tent design that allows an indoor fire!  The smoke hole at the top takes all the smoke out, and the cozy design means that a small fire will keep the inhabitants quite warm.  The inner liner provides privacy when a fire is lit and also keeps the occupants drier in a rain.

looking up from the doorway
looking up from the doorway

I’m looking forward to sleeping in the tipi. And hosting womens writing groups. And holding satsang.  And playing with my grandchildren……

CSA Harvest #5: July 11th

Black currants
Black currants

Our 5th harvest features sweet, tart black currants. The bushes are full. We’ll need plenty of pickers!  Fortunately, we’ll have 3 interns as well as those of you who are coming tomorrow.  With all the trading around, I haven’t a clue who to expect anymore!  Black currants make wonderful jam. I also put them in green drinks.  You could use them in place of strawberries in a rhubarb crisp.  We are not giving rhubarb again, but if you need some you can take what you need.

Other items this week are: snap peas, radishes, mesclun lettuce, head lettuce, sorrel, lavender and garlic bulbs.

Lavender can be used to flavor black tea. It can be dried – it will keep it’s color for a while.  It’s fragrance is popular in sachets, potpourris, and personal hygiene products.  A friend of ours, Jennifer Vasich, owns a store in Romeo called Gabriel’s Garden which specializes in lavender products.  I especially like the insect repellent she sells.  She has an online store, too  www.allthingslavender.com.

Weekly fresh garlic bulbs are a special feature of our CSA.  Each share will get 2 bulbs of garlic every week from now until the last harvest.  If you do not have a good garlic press, get one now.  Don’t get a cheap one, because you will use it often.  Fresh squeezed garlic tastes good on so many things.  Try it the next time you make garlic bread: Butter the bread, then spread squeezed garlic on top of each slice, then put all the bread in a warm oven until dinner.  Yummy!

One more thing… the Elder flowers have blossomed.  We are keeping this as an ‘optional’ item. If you have an interest in them, let us know when you pick up your produce.  We’ll walk to the orchard together and cut some.

Swarming Bees

Thousands of bees fill the air.
Thousands of bees fill the air.
After a week of unseasonably cool weather, the July 4th holiday weekend was happily hot.  This triggered a swarm response in my bees. Three swarms left the hives.  We captured 2 of the swarms, but had to let the 3rd swarm fly off because I had nowhere to put them.  We were all working outside that morning when we heard the buzzing sound get louder and louder. There was no mistaking that sound.  Looking up, the air was filled with bees.

We looked up from our work, and saw a sight, too common at this time of year, and yet always amazing.  Thousands of bees circling around, looking for a suitable temporary place to land.

Within minutes, they decided on a hawthorne tree just south of the apiary.  When the cluster had formed, we scoped out the situation and realized we could lop of a branch and carry it back to a ready hive box.

Charlie touches the cluster
Charlie touches the cluster

Charlie Ryan, our fearless intern, touched the hive and said, “It’s soft!”. Later, he was stung once on the forehead, but used a leaf of plantain as a poltice and was fine soon enough.  Charlie volunteered to be the branch lopper.  Sophia, who was visiting from Wash DC for the weekend, eagerly donned my spare coveralls and said she’d carry the branch back to the apiary.

CIMG2831

We approached the cluster carefully and had to remove many small thorns, which give the HawTHORN tree its name, before Sophia could grab hold of the branch. When all was ready, Charlie lopped the branch while Sophia held it.  Then she held it high and walked to the apiary while I cried out “All hail the queen! Make way for the queen!”  This reminded me of the time when Sophia led her 2nd grade class at the Detroit Waldorf School on St Lucia Day.  As the oldest child in the class, she had the honor of dressing as St Lucia with a crown of candles on her head, leading a procession as her class brought special buns and coffee to all the classrooms.

But I digress.  The branch of bees was brought to the empty hive box, placed over the frames, given a good shake, and all the bees, including the queen, were transferred.  All is well in the apiary.

The cluster gets a new home.
The cluster gets a new home.
Hail to the Queen!
Hail to the Queen!

Harvest #4, July 4th

wp-content/uploads/2009/07/033.JPG
Parsley with Purslane ground cover

Dear Friends ~

It’s been a cool and rainy week.  Not much fun for vacationers.  And not much can get done at the farm. But our current interns, Doug Coleman and Charlie Ryan, have kept busy oiling tipi poles in the sheep shed.  The sheep are out on pasture. They don’t mind the rain.  There are trees in the field to shelter them. And their woolen coats repel rain to a large extent.
The snap peas are ready this week.  These peas are delicious to eat: shell and all.  They are so sweet and tasty when fresh picked, I rarely have any left for stir-fry or freezing.
We are still in salad heaven with plenty of mesclun mix and bibb lettuce.  More radishes this week, too.
Our parsley bed is ready for a first harvest.  Parsley, like the cilantro and the mesclun mix, is a crop that can be cut many times and continue to grow back. The parsley is surrounded by a ground cover of purslane.  Most people consider purslane a weed and throw it out.  We like to eat it.  It has a juicy, lemony flavor which makes it a great addition to those heavenly salads.  Plus, it is one of only a handful of foods which is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids!
We will give you chives this week. Chives are generally used as a garnish for egg or potato dishes or for cream soups.  There is some evidence that they improve digestion and have anti-hypertensive qualities. If nothing else, they add color and a bit of flavor.
Borage is an old fashioned herb, mostly ignored nowadays.  There’s no need for that.  It grows easily in Michigan. The leaves may look intimidating with their hairy cover, but they are soft and sweet.  Wash them well and add the small leaves to salads.  The larger leaves can be thrown into a soup or stew. I put them in green smoothies. The star-like blue borage flowers are a tasty topping to a salad.