Farm NewsLetter 08/28/06

August 28th, 2006

The winter shares are available to returning members exclusively thorough Thursday 8/31. Please sign up this week if you want to continue with the farm through the winter (Nov-April). This last summer season sold out and we already have a waiting list for the winter season. To hold your place, please fill out the attached membership form and bring it with a check to pickup, or mail them to Laura Masterson, 6632 SE 47th Ave, Portland, OR 97206

We’re taking a field trip with the crew this week to the Washington State University Farm in Ridgefield WA to taste the results of their Icebox Melon trials. Carol Miles has 3 acres of certified organic land at the farm and does all kinds of different variety trials there for the university. Icebox melons are smaller melons, most under 10 lbs. In the trial they measure and weigh the melons, quantify the sweetness using a brix meter, count the number of melon per plant, and calculate days to maturity. This particular trial is of interest to us as we work to expand the range of crops we offer to you, the shareholders. It is also hard to imagine a better way to spend a summer afternoon than tasting over 100 varieties of watermelon!

In our climate, in order to get marketable fruit, most melons are grown on black plastic. I am especially interested in finding some melon varieties that we can grow without plastic. It is acceptable, by organic standards, to use plastic mulch to grow certain crops. We of course use plenty of plastic t-tape to irrigate the veggies. We also use some spun polyester row covers to protect certain crops from insects or frost. In addition, we use some large sheets of plastic to warm up the soil early in the spring, and to cover our hoop houses. That said, I personally think that using plastic on the farm is a slippery slope towards unsustainability. In the rush to grow more crops, ripen them earlier, and have them for a longer season, it is easy to see how some farms come to be covered in plastic. I’ve drawn a line in the sand and have so far decided to use only the more durable plastic on the farm. Plastic mulches, like the ones the melons are grown, are only good for a single season. Ours isn’t a perfect solution, and we’re constantly tinkering with the system. Hopefully, with more good organic research like the kind Carol is doing, we’ll be able to find some truly sustainable, and tasty, varieties of melons that will grow naturally for us here in the northwest.

Zenger Farm on Saturday Sept. 2nd
1-5pm for Workin’, 5pm-7pm for Potluck & BBQ
11741 SE Foster Rd, Portland

The Weather: A mild week framed by two HOT weekends
Thank you everyone for all your help!

Your share this week may include:

Arugula A nice addition to the summer salad.
Green & Purple Beans Both the purple string beans & flat romano beans are tender & tasty.
Carrots Bunches of sweet baby carrots
Cucumbers These slicers are thin skinned and tasty.
Dill Great in potato salad, in pickles or with fish
Eggplant Use these long thin Asian eggplant just as you would the fatter Italian varieties.
Fennel I really like the mild anise flavor they have when shaved into salads or roasted (see recipe below). They are also great grilled along side summer squash and eggplant.
Lettuce Heads These little iceberg lettuce heads take me right back to my childhood. Try the retro wedge- just quarter the heads and drizzle with blue cheese dressing.
Onions The red ones sweet enough to use raw on salad or burgers. They’re great grilled too.
Peppers These are great chopped up and sprinkled on salad, or add the long slices to your crudité plate and dip in your favorite dressing
Summer Squash Wow do we have squash this week! All different shapes colors and sizes. The recipe below is a great way to use up the bigger ones.
Tomatoes!! These little Stupice tomatoes from the greenhouse are super tasty
Turnips These sweet little Hakuri turnips go great in summer salads.

Coming Soon… Sweet Corn, Gypsy Peppers, & Heirloom Tomatoes
Roasted Haricot Verts, Potatoes, and Fennel
From The New Basics, By Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

An unusual but very tasty combination of roasted vegetables

2 fennel bulbs (about 1 1/4 lbs total)
1 1/2 lbs small red new potatoes
1 1/2 lbs haricot verts (thin, tender green beans)
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Cut the tops off the fennel, and then cut the bulbs into quarters. Thinly slice the potatoes. Snap ends off the beans.
3. Combine the fennel, potatoes and oil in a mixing bowl and toss well. Spread the mixture (with the oil) out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the coarse salt, and bake for 30 min.
4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, Toss the beans with the cooked vegetables and bake until lightly browned, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper, and serve hot or at room temperature

Makes 4 portions