Embrace Freshness, Support Local: Thornapple CSA's New Journey Begins!

From Field to Feast: Celebrating the Diversity of Your CSA’s Seasonal Produce

June 26, 2024

Table of Contents

From Field to Feast: Celebrating the Diversity of Your CSA’s Seasonal Produce

The Rhythms of the Seasons

It’s official – the Valley Flora van is on the road as of this morning to bring you the first CSA delivery of the year. Today will be the first pickup for Coos Bay members and Farm members, and Bandon and Port Orford folks will get their first delivery this Saturday. As of this week, we’ve made some important updates to our pick-up protocol and changed some details specific to each pickup location. Please visit our website and read up, even if you are a returning member.

Our season is off to a slightly slower start due to the cold wet spring we’ve had. But rest assured, the food will be ample, and you can expect to see more and more produce in your tote as summer advances. We’ve been working double time to get caught up on transplanting, and yesterday put a third of an acre of winter squash in the ground after we packed CSA totes. I think the crew broke our winter squash speed record – bravo! We’re rapid-fire planting lots of other outdoor crops that need warmer weather to thrive: peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes.

This week is what we call the “pop-up farm week” when a lot of acreage goes from bare ground to planted in the blink of an eye. Our propagation greenhouse empties out and the field fills up, and our focus shifts predominantly to outdoor fieldwork. We don’t have a mechanical transplanter on the farm, so every single transplant goes in the ground with a trowel by hand. This week, that equals 2,085 winter squash plants, 150 pickling cucumbers, 660 brussels sprouts, 880 sweet corn, 216 fennel starts, 1,000 pepper plants, 450 lettuce starts, plus a few other things. There’s a week in April when we plant 19,280 onion, leek, and shallot starts – you feel that in your hamstrings the next day. All to say, we have a pretty intimate relationship with every single plant on the farm, from seed to harvest.

The Tug-of-War Between Summer and Fall

It seems that summer truly arrived with the solstice. The kids swam in the creek yesterday, and the rest of us actually broke a sweat in the field. We finally started irrigating this week – almost three months later than last year, which was a dreadful, scary year for water. I’m pretty sure if any of us stood still for long enough (which is never going to happen), we’d see the plants doubling in size before our eyes. The days are long, the soil moisture is perfect, and the sun is shining. It’s a good feeling after a cold wet spring and a halting start to the season.

The potato patch is definitely on an exponential growth curve right now, and it’s all that the horses and I can do to keep up with the cultivating and hilling. Abby is swimming in a rainbow sea of salad greens, milking every last ounce out of these long days and even borrowing a few hours at night to get those beautiful bagged baby greens into your Harvest Basket each week, plus all the Salad Shares. Some folks will see arugula in their share this week, others a lively braising mix of mustards and baby kales.

And just about every crop is bouncing ahead right now. At last, our first sugar snap peas came off the vine on Monday, the onion field is looking juicy, and the broccolini is yielding like never before. We’ve been carefully nursing our more sensitive crops along through this cool wet weather – cucumbers, melons, winter squash – and it’s a relief to know they’re getting the heat and sun they need now.

A Time to Celebrate Local Flavors

This time of year, I’m always reminded of how lucky we are to live in British Columbia, a province that celebrates the diversity of its local food culture. As FarmFolk CityFolk eloquently puts it, “The diversity of ecological regions combined with a thriving local food culture in our province come together to create an exciting plethora of options for delicious local food.”

From the best wine-growing regions in the world to a coast rich with fresh seafood and fertile berry fields in the Fraser Valley, BC brings together a wide range of growing regions that offer distinct local flavors. And here at the farm, we’re proud to be a part of that vibrant local food community.

Eating locally is more than just a passing trend – it’s a way of life that connects us to the rhythms of the seasons and the unique terroir of our region. When you support your local CSA, you’re not just getting the freshest, most flavorful produce – you’re also investing in the vitality of your community. As our friends at Flying Coyote Farm put it, “Local food is worth celebrating.”

Embracing the Diversity of the CSA Harvest

One of the things I love most about being part of a CSA is the opportunity to explore the incredible diversity of seasonal produce. Rather than sticking to the same old grocery store staples, a CSA membership encourages you to embrace the unique flavors and textures that each season has to offer.

Take our friend Erica, for example. She recently shared a fantastic recipe that helped her fall in love with radicchio, a vegetable that can be polarizing for some. By pairing the radicchio with sweet potatoes, manchego cheese, and crunchy seeds, Erica was able to tame the bitterness and showcase the vegetable’s vibrant color and texture.

Stories like Erica’s remind me that the true magic of a CSA lies in the spirit of adventure and discovery. When you commit to eating with the seasons, you open yourself up to a world of new culinary experiences. Maybe you’ll stumble upon a novel vegetable that becomes a new family favorite, or rediscover the joy of an old standby like carrots or beets.

Celebrating the Unexpected

Of course, the unpredictability of farming also means that we occasionally encounter the unexpected. This spring, for example, we faced a major setback with our carrot crop, losing four consecutive plantings to heavy rains and voracious slugs. As I shared in our latest newsletter, this was a first for me in all my years of growing food.

Normally, our sweet, crunchy carrots are a weekly staple in the CSA from mid-June until the bitter end in December. But this year, we had to ration our only remaining bed and disappoint our wholesale customers. It was a disappointing situation, to be sure, but it also reminded me of the resilience and adaptability that are so crucial to successful farming.

Rather than dwelling on the setback, we pivoted our focus to the abundance of other crops that were thriving, like our summer squash, beets, and leafy greens. And we doubled down on our efforts to get our next carrot beds established, knowing that the delay would just make that first harvest all the sweeter.

In the end, the absence of carrots in the CSA tote became a poignant symbol of the challenges that farmers face in an era of climate change. But it also underscored the importance of the CSA model, which allows us to weather those storms together as a community. When one crop falters, there are always others to take its place, ensuring a diverse and abundant harvest throughout the season.

Cultivating Connections

Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of being part of a CSA is the opportunity to cultivate deep connections – not just with the food itself, but with the people who grow it. As FarmFolk CityFolk points out, “By eating locally, you can contribute to a vibrant local food community and learn about the flavors in your area.”

At Thornapple CSA, we take great pride in educating our members about the ins and outs of farming, from the challenges we face to the joys of watching each crop come to life. Whether it’s sharing delicious recipe ideas, posting updates from the field, or inviting you to visit the farm, we’re committed to fostering a sense of community and mutual understanding.

After all, supporting local agriculture is about more than just buying produce – it’s about investing in the people and the place that nourish us. When you join a CSA, you’re not just a customer; you’re a partner in the process, connected to the land and the farmers who steward it. And in return, we’re dedicated to providing you with an unparalleled dining experience, from field to feast.

So as you open your CSA tote each week, I encourage you to let your culinary imagination run wild. Embrace the diversity of the seasonal harvest, experiment with new recipes, and connect with the vibrant food community that surrounds you. After all, the true magic of a CSA lies in the journey of discovery, where every box is a new adventure waiting to unfold.

About Us

Thornapple CSA: A community-driven initiative championing sustainable agriculture. We connect members with fresh, organic produce, celebrating the bond between land and community.

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