CSA Bonus Week, 2021

It’s so exciting to start a fresh, new year! This week is just a little preview of the true CSA season that will start in a few weeks. When I do farm walks, I do a visual inventory of what might be harvestable for all 150 families in the upcoming week. I’ve been watching and evaluating the last few weeks, and when I could finally identify five harvestable items, I made the decision to do a Bonus harvest. Five seems like a reasonable number to expect that people will want to come and pick up; the minimum number of items, I think, to justify a trip to the farm or pick up location. And since I’m no longer going to a farmers’ market, the CSA gets everything.

Clockwise from top left:
Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) or Miners’ Lettuce, Leeks, Sauté Mix, Fresh Thyme, and Purple Savoy Cabbage.

All of the items that are ready now have been in the ground since last fall. I did the last plantings in September of 2020, and they’ve been chilling and/or growing since then. I’ve listed the items in your share above, and included clickable links to the things you may need help learning how to prepare.

Bitter and sweet, Rapini, or Broccoli Rabe are the flowering shoots of turnips.

Other exciting news at the farm:

You may have followed the planting of the farm’s acre of native habitat. Emily and I planted all the trees several weeks ago when they were ready to pick up. 300+ native conifer and deciduous trees, and flowering and fruiting shrubs. (Actually, she did most of the planting, and I did the fence removal and marking of flags). In the years to come, they will provide habitat and home for the wild birds and mammals that already call Whistling Train Farm home, and I’m hopeful that it will attract even more species as it matures. You may or may not know that the farm is an Audubon Hot Spot, and we’ve begun to attract a flock of active birders.

In response to interest from aspiring and experienced birders, we will soon be setting up a Birder Station, with birding maps, a weekly Bird List (species seen on the farm and where to likely find them), tips for identification, a sign-in station, and (as suggested by birders) a birdseed fund donation jar. Everyone who visits the farm is welcome to participate, and I’m really excited to share my urban wildlife oasis with anyone who is interested.

The propagation house is filling up with seedlings, and the other greenhouses have all been planted with early crops: Peas, Carrots, Salad Turnips, Radishes, Spinach, Arugula, Cilantro, and Chervil. Already I’ve planned the next successions of crops that will follow those early things… like the first Snap Beans and Cucumbers, Tomatoes, and Peppers. This week looks dry, after today, and I’m hoping to get the first outdoor crops planted, including Fava Beans, the first outdoor peas, beets and turnips, spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, and so many more.

Emily and I planted over 300 native trees and shrubs in what will become an acre of habitat to host native species.

I’m very excited about the new, improved CSA U-Pick Garden! It’s going to be bigger and better than ever before, with tidy beds of many herbs and flowers that should last from early June and into October. Bush peas and beans will go in as soon as we can get the ground ready, and the Pumpkin Patch will be right next door to the flowers so you can watch them grow. I’m also excited about repeating the glorious Sunflower Patch, and planting two varieties to extend the glory for several more weeks.

I’m really pleased to have been forced into this new CSA-Only farm model, and to have a better idea what to expect as the season gets going. Unlike the chaos of last spring, where every week was a different experiment in marketing and producing food, this year feels much more stable and satisfying already. The FarmStand will open May 1, with seasonal fruits and vegetables from very local farms. And if you haven’t pre-ordered your garden plant start kids, be sure to do it soon. Pick up will happen the weekend of April 17. In just three weeks you can have a full garden of the same varieties that I’m growing here on the farm, and you can choose from vegetables, companion flowers, or culinary herbs. Click here to pre-order from the online FarmStand.

The Propagation Greenhouse is filling up with baby plants!

I hope you are looking forward to this season as much as I am. It’s going to be a great one!

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