“What I wish someone had told me before I joined a CSA.”

TIP #1:

Take the time to learn about storage early on. In our Box to Banquet document, we give you tips for every vegetable you’ll see in your shares. Try to learn it early.

There is especially two mistakes that are common to CSA Rookies.

First, “Take the tops off your carrots as soon as you can, or they’ll get soft.”

This is such a discouraging thing. You see those beautiful carrots come out of your box and you’re so excited – the highlight of your box! But then, you forget to take the tops off and the very next day you find those same carrots have become rubbery and soft. The greens have pulled all the moisture out of the roots.

So, take those tops off and use them to make pesto, or put them in your Veggie Broth Cache in the freezer. Place your carrot roots in a plastic bag, close it up and keep it in your crisper drawer in your fridge.

Second, “Watch for those green leafy things. You need to use these first because they don’t have a long storage life.”

You will likely get a fair amount of ‘green leafy things’ in your CSA box, or from the local farmers’ market. Kale, Swiss Chard, Beet greens, Spinach, Lettuce, Arugula, Mesclun mix. The refrigerator sucks the moisture out of these vegetables.

One of the best ways to keep these green leafy things is to get some “green bags.” These are made specifically to help those highly perishable foods last as long as possible, and I know the Debbie Meyer brand are re-usable up to 10 times.

So take the time to learn about the life expectancy of each veggie, plan to use the highly perishable items first, and how to store each one so you’re “not wasting food”.

TIP#2:

If you haven’t used your veggies by day 4, freeze it. Learn how to freeze each vegetable by reading that Box to Banquet document we shared with you.

Whether you fall prey to the inevitable veggie overload that happens from time to time in a CSA, or if you find a vegetable you’re unfamiliar with. The common thing is to stuff them into your fridge to deal with them later…until you end up with a stockpile.

We are very intentional in helping you with this issue. Each week we plan a Box-Opening video where we will go through each item in the box, and how you can freeze it by one of two methods. Either the “simple bag & freeze” or the “blanch and bag” method.

This strategy can help buy you some time until you can figure out what best way you want to use your food.

We also will have a few videos available in our private Facebook group to help members with things like: How to Blanch Spinach, and we’ll take you through the step by step process.

TIP #3

Keep your meal prep simple! It doesn’t have to be fancy or time consuming to be nutritional and great tasting.

We have a few CSA members who love to cook, producing 5-star gourmet meals every night. But if we’re realistic, that just isn’t all of us all of the time!

Veggies can be prepped quickly and cooked simply with just a few methods: Bake, steam, sauce, roast or grill.

Just take 10 extra seconds to meal prep, add a few spices, and you’re set with a meal worthy of any family dinner.

The goal is to help you learn how to eat well, using locally-grown, seasonal food, and to do it simply, so you meals LOOK and TASTE like you slaved over them all afternoon, but they’re really just quick and easy!

So, when 3-oclock rolls around and you open your fridge and you’re overwhelmed with “veggie overload” and you really just don’t know where to begin, don’t let it paralyze you. We can teach you some tricks to help you master this.

TIP #4:

Learn the 3 basic uses of each vegetable. I love this tip, I use it and I know that it works!

Even though some Newbie CSA members may not know instinctively what to do with garlic scapes, it only takes a couple season until they have a few go-to recipes or formulas that they can use.

Every veggie has at least 3 basic uses. Can you use this veggie in salad? A skillet meal? A sauce? Grilled?

Researching and finding 3 good basic recipes for you each food variety is a way to keep overwhelm from happening to you. So I encourage you to make it a goal to try and find 3 basic uses for each veggie.

If you take the time to set a concrete goal like this and follow through, it really helps you see your progress.

TIP #5:

Find out what’s going to be in your box before you pick it up. If you can find out ahead of time what’s in your box before you get it, either by checking the weekly e-mails, or watching the box-opening videos, or even checking the “2018 harvest projection calendar.”

We feel like people waste less food if they know what they’re going to be getting. Not only do we plan to let you know what’s going into the boxes, but we give recipes that go along with some of the veggies in your box too.

If at all possible to do this before you get your box, then you can come up with a game plan. We’ve heard CSA customers say that just reading the email the night before, somehow gives them more success when they pick up their boxes the next day.

I hope this was helpful to you. And for a freebie today, I’m offering an eBook I wrote on one of our vegetables. I am making an entire eBook library, one for each of the veggies we grow that will be made available to anyone who becomes a member of our CSA. I am attaching the one about Kale

 

eBook3kale

Advice to CSA Newbies

WHAT I WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TOLD ME WHEN I WAS A CSA NEWBIE

Advice from past CSA members.

HELPING CSA-ROOKIES SUCCEED

 

Expect to make some mistakes! Trial and error is part of how we learn.

Take the tops off your carrots ASAP! Eat the most perishable items first, learn what they are.

Keep your menu simple, meal prep doesn’t have to be fancy to take a long time. Vegetables can be prepped quickly, and they are just as nutritious and tasty when prepared the simple ways with just a few spices.

Storage matters so much. I didn’t store things right, so I lost them.

Try to learn the basic uses of each vegetable.

Eat the most perishable veggies first. This includes things like lettuces, greens and herbs.

Ask yourself “What can we make for dinner?” instead of “What do you want for dinner?”

Learn how to freeze things to use later on in the winter. If you haven’t used it by day 4, I would freeze it.

Act quick when you get home from the pick-up. Store your vegetables properly. Deal with the most perishable items first. Take the tops off your carrots.

Get those green bags, they really extend the life of the veggies once their prepped and cleaned and will lead to less waste in the end.

If you don’t know what to do with something new, you can roast almost anything.

Plan ahead. I changed my meal planning and grocery shopping day till after the newsletter announced what was going into the box that week, so I could plan to use as much as possible of it in my planned meals.

Invest in containers used specifically for storing and extending the life of the vegetables. There are many options on Amazon, but I found ones made by Progressive are excellent.

Process the contents of the box as soon as you get home. Doing this while you’re still excited about the box will help you get over the hurdle of much of the prep work later in the week. You’ll be able to produce your meals that much quicker too.

Read the newsletter so you know what’s coming in your box. You can then start choosing recipes and determine what other things you’ll need. I suggest making your trip to the store the day before or the day after your box pick-up.

Proper storage is the key to longevity and avoiding waste. If not used immediately, roast, bake, blanch or steam whatever possible and freeze for use later in soups or casseroles.

Google is your friends. If you don’t know what to do with a veggie, think of how you would use a similar veggie and do that. Don’t be afraid to try new things or be creative.

Don’t be afraid to use a veggie for breakfast. It’s a great way to use up what you have and start your day off with a mega dose of nutrients.

Print out the guide to using and storing veggies prior to the season and keep it in an easy to reach place in your kitchen so you can access it every week. If necessary, view it each week prior to veggie pick-up so you know exactly what to do with those vegetables when you get home.

Try to clean and prep your veggies the night you get them. It will be a lot easier to incorporate them into meals on busy nights once this is done.

Grill everything! Use marinades, spices, olive oil, balsamic vinegar or whatever else you like to jazz it up.

Look up recipes for veggies you are not sure of to see how you can work them into your meals for the week.

Be willing to do recipe research and experiment with ingredient substitutions. Write down what you did and whether it was successful or not along with suggestions on the recipe page for future use.

The first year was tough. There was just so much food. And we didn’t know what we didn’t know. But you can do it! For it to work, you need to make a commitment. You have to say, “We want to do this.”

You will struggle with using it all. And you’ll feel guilty about wasting food. Realize that you will waste a bit every week, but that you can get to the point where you really feel like you don’t waste much.

It takes time to master the CSA Way. First season you are observing and learning the rhythm of the veggies. Second year you are more prepared.

 

ARE YOU READY TO JOIN OUR CSA?

Here are the next steps:

  1. Go to this link to visit our sign-up page. https://dahlinfarm.com/become-a-member/

 

  1. Decide what size share will best fit your family.

 

 

  1. Print, sign and mail your form with your payment.

Growth Through the Seasons

Sign Up

This is a subject that we as Americans in 2018 know little or nothing about. I can drive to Safeway today (January 23rd in the Pacific Northwest) and find a perfect (looking) red tomato.
Supermarkets boast that they can give us any food we want at any time of the year. Well, if you can afford it, they can, but as a result of this kind of thinking, most of us have completely lost touch with eating seasonally.

  • As a farmer and gardener, I am impatient for those first tender greens of spring, lettuce, dandelion greens, spinach, asparagus, baby beets. (cleansing foods)
  •  Late spring brings such delights to our taste buds as strawberries, peas, and baby carrots.
  • At the peak of summer those heat loving plants start giving us sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers, summer squash, and beans. And then so many tomatoes that it forces you to learn how to preserve them. (cooling foods that give strength)
  • With the cool nights of fall, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, leeks, potatoes, winter squash and even sweeter carrots than before, to make all those comfort foods that warm you.
  • Late fall brings all those vegetables you’ll need to squirrel away for the long winter, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Parsnips, and pumpkins. (foods that provide that inner heat)

Where we live here on Dahlin Farm, our growing season is frost-free for about 90 days. We try to extend that a little with row covers, hoop-houses, and a green-house.

We are limited though, and so we have prepared a “Harvest Chart” that states what crops we expect to harvest at what time, and about how many weeks that harvest will continue. With multiple plantings, we get fresh crops to continue as long as possible.

We’d love to give you a copy of that chart, harvest chart2018

Farming is a craft – not a fad that will pass away, and together with our members, we are a community of sustainers that will regain this heritage and keep this Way of Life alive for our children.

If you’d like to learn more about our boxes of produce, Read More

Changes…

Next year we are planning to make a few changes. These might not be the only changes that take place, but for now this is what we are aiming for.

1: We plan on dropping our meat csa program. We just weren’t making enough money for the extensive amount of labor and time we were spending on raising the extra animals. We were just barely covering our expenses. We will have a couple hogs to sell locker pork by the halves or wholes, and we will have a couple steers that we plan to sell as locker beef by the quarter, half or whole.

2: We plan to secure 24 produce shares on our csa. 12 large and 12 small. We hope we can get people interested and signed up early so we don’t have to find customers when we are super busy with the gardening.

3: We hope to sell our excess produce (that doesn’t go into the boxes) to the Newport Farmers’ Markets on Saturday mornings, (consequently the pick up day for csa boxes is also going to be Saturday mornings so we can still have only one harvest day per week), and any produce after the sale, that cannot be held over will be donated to the local food bank.

4: We really need to hire some farm-help. We would like to see one to two helpers who love gardening and will show up for work willing and cheerful. We need approximately 50-60 hours per week from the first week of April until mid-October. We will pay $10 hour. This can be two people who want to work about 10 hours a week, or one person who can work 20 hours a week.

5: We have a high tunnel greenhouse arriving sometime soon we hope. It should be operational by the end of May 2018 and will greatly increase our productivity with the more tender crops that are usually hard to grow in our northern climate.

Thanksgiving Turkeys

ALL NATURAL, ORGANICALLY GROWN TURKEYS!

turkeys

We have some of our fabulous turkeys left to sell before Thanksgiving. If you’ve never had one, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Put a couple in the freezer so you can have wholesome, healthy meat for your family throughout the year.

We feed an all natural diet without GMO’s, antibiotics, or artificial anything! Moved onto fresh grass daily and raised in the sunshine and fresh air. You can’t get any better than that. Besides all that, we process them all carefully by hand one at a time and never dunk them into chlorine baths, but chill them in fresh well water. They will be ready for you to pick up on Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Get your name on the list before they’re all spoken for. Email dahlinfarm@gmail.com, facebook message, phone call 509-447-4558, or text 509-671-1047

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Fall Greetings!

Well, here I am on the other side of brain surgery and slowly recovering.

The farm work is still busy as is custom for this time of year….my helpers continue to just keep working…putting one foot in front of the other and doing what is right in front of them, day after day.

We are all looking forward to the slower season of winter…the shorter days with evenings by the fire with a good book, going to the cellar to find all kinds of good we’ve stored up there through the busy summer days, and the planning and dreaming of how we can do it all so much better next year.

God has been teaching me a lot through these past several months and I continue to lean hard into Him to know what all he has planned for me. He is my strength and my comfort.

I’ve written a new newsletter this week too and you can find that in one of  the links along the right hand of the page.

Pests, Pruning and Productivity

What’s been happening around here?

You haven’t heard from me lately, I know.

As I walk through my garden these days, accompanied by a close companion, I see the different crops and the things they need most to make them prosper.

The Kale that needs some sort of “medicine” to rid them of the pests that are clinging to them. The Tomato plants that need pruned to produce a better crop. The peas that have passed their prime, stopped producing and are ready to be uprooted that another crop may take its place. The tiny Swiss Chard that should have been large and ready for harvest, but the weeds around it have kept it from thriving, and it is small, unproductive and needs some attention.

My garden always points me to my own soul. I need the medicine, pruning, and attention of my Father to rid me of whatever keeps me from flourishing. And the trials He sends are nothing more than the work of the Master Gardener.

Each crop I pass needs a different type of care…just as my trial is not the same as yours.

Yet, I do not want to be that unproductive crop that languishes under anything that keeps me from being all He wants me to be. About 4 weeks ago, I suffered an event that presented as a heart attack and left me so weak I could not continue with my work. After spending days and nights in the hospital and many tests revealing it was not a heart attack, we haven’t really put our finger on exactly what happened, but what did result was the incidental finding of a brain tumor that has placed “brain surgery” on my new crazy schedule. Although the neat and tidy schedule I had before was very orderly and precise, I must follow the new one.

I am trying to learn what it is that God is trying to teach me with this new lesson, that He could not teach me in some other way.

The morning before that event of June 25th, my son Silas read to me from a page he follows on FaceBook. I cannot remember who he was quoting and I am probably getting it not exactly right, but in general he said, “If we knew the future, we would ask God for exactly what He is sending us today.” That spoke to me that day and echoed louder over the days and now weeks that followed.

I need this pruning He is doing in me, and even though it shows up my imperfections, it promises to make me more like Jesus and so I welcome it as from the hand of a dear old friend.

I am thankful that my life is not left to “chance”, knowing that there is a purpose for everything in my life makes it so much easier to face.  Chance would be like sending our herd of cows into my garden to prune it, which would be disastrous.

I also know that if the surgery is to be effectual, it will be painful; yet I can rest that it is the right trial for me.

Here is a very old poem I read in an old sermon that makes me know I will not be given more than I need.

“If trials six be fix’d for men
They shall not suffer seven.
If God appoint afflictions ten
They ne’er can be eleven.”
And so, I am marching on with God by my side and I trust he will be glorified in the outcome.

And the garden will be beautiful when He is finished.

My family and friends have determined to help me keep all my commitments for the rest of the year; I am so very thankful for them all.

 

Beauty in small beginnings.

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These little sprouts coming up may look like nothing much to you, but to me they are cabbages, and tomatoes and peppers and all kinds of good.

The tiny leaf isn’t quite a carrot, but all the hope of one is there and all it needs is time. Oh, it needs water and food and sunshine, and mostly it needs the blessing of God. Just like we do to become all we were meant to be.

There is a beauty in small beginnings, a loveliness all its own. A full laden apple tree in all its glory is a beautiful sight to see. But an apple tree covered in blossoms is just as beautiful I think.

The farm work continues at a great pace right now as we are gearing up for the season. It will soon be upon us in full earnest and then there won’t be much time for contemplating the glory around us. Hopefully we will never lose sight of it.

Baby calves are around us now, playing and dancing in the barnyard to make us chuckle. After losing a little calf last week, seeing strong playful calves is a pleasant sight.

The snow has almost disappeared completely and though there was a hard frost again last night, day by day the sun is warming the ground a little bit more and changing the world.

Please tell your friends about our farm, we are still waiting for a few more of you to join us in this farming adventure of ours called Community Supported Agriculture. There’s so many reasons to join us:

You will get to

  • Know where your food comes from
  • Feed your family nutritious, pesticide free foods
  • Support your neighbors
  • Eat healthier
  • Feel good

Contact us today and we’ll answer your questions and help you get signed up.

We grow a nice balance of old familiar staples and some new variety crops. We will work with you, trying to make a delivery schedule possible with your location.

We also offer a few working shares, so if you are interested in trading your labor for produce, call us or send us a note about that too and we’ll let you know what’s available.

Until next time,

from all of us here at Dahlin Farm,

Cheers!

 

A Life of Dying

I’ve been planting seeds lately, and today Theresa helped and planted many more.

What is this crazy thing going on…putting that perfect little seed down into the moist dark soil and letting it die in hopes of a harvest?

newseedings

Sometimes, I get anxious to see if it’s germinating and sprouting down there, and I’ll gently dig it up and take a peek. At first it gets soft and swollen, like it’s just going to rot away. Then it splits and cracks like it’s going to just break apart. Next the insides start spilling out and then I can see it’s going to grow and live and flourish.

Continue reading A Life of Dying

A Fine Crop of Weeds!

Fertility fit for a fine crop of weeds!

Last year I had a bumper crop of weeds, and so this spring I am gathering my weapons so that they don’t get ahead of me this year.

I recently had our garden soil tested at a laboratory. I had never done this before, but had always added compost and manure and mulch onto our garden year after year.

Since I had a struggle to see my vegetables as overabundant as they had been in years past, I decided to look into things better. Could it be something lacking in my soil? I certainly didn’t know any more than a ph reading; I didn’t know the levels of nitrogen, calcium, phosphorous or anything else in my mulch pile either.

Well, I had a friend who studied agronomy come and read my soil test results to me, and apparently there isn’t a deficiency in my garden soil at all. Everything is looking good, if I add some chicken manure as usual, it will be fit to produce well again.

So what could have been the problem?

The water system was terribly deficient early in the season last year, I remembered. Then I bought a new water pump and we were doing better.

The entire month of July was nothing much but rain and more rain.

The weeds seemed to be doing fabulous, but I didn’t have time to keep on top of them the way I had in years past.

Well, my conclusion is that a few weeds you might ignore, but when they get out of hand, it is too late. Kind of like the weeds in our soul, we need to not let them get a foothold. Once they take over, they destroy what could have been productive and full of beauty.

The way to keep the weeds from our soul, we fill our hearts with Scripture; tools, weapons, and a good war-plan.

I know that to get a good crop of thistles, and weeds, all I need to do is sit back and wait. My soil is fertile and they will grow very well there. Especially as I add a little more manure and compost, water and sunshine.

And so, I am doing the same for our gardens as I would do for my heart. Gathering all the weapons I can think of to prevent the infestation of weeds.

Black mulch, silage tarps, green manure crops, drip irrigation, and tools to make the job easier. This year I am planning ahead and expecting great results!

Please join us in this farming venture!

We would love to have you as part of our CSA. Whether you are hoping to buy clean meat or exceptionally healthy, clean vegetables and fruits, we hope you will sign up soon.

We have made it easy for you to join, with our printable pdf form, easy payment plan and discounts for those who love a bargain.

You can even work off your share if you like.

We are still offering one of our lovely gift baskets to anyone who helps us find 3 members who sign up. Please spread the word, share our page, and sign up soon!
All you have to do is download this pdf, print it, fill it out and mail it to us. You can pay before the end of March for a 5% discount.

We can even bill you through PayPal if you wish to pay with a credit/debit card, either for a one time payment in full (for the discount) or for monthly or bi-weekly payments.

We look forward to hearing from you!