First Pick-Up of the Season!

It’s that time of year! First pick-up is today Thursday, June 1st. We are looking forward to a great 2017 season! We have a lot of new faces this year along with our returning members. Also, we welcome back some students from John Bowne High School’s Agriculture program who will be assisting us this season as part of their community service credit.

Our pick-ups will be from 5:00 – 8:00 pm in the garden area of Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd. and corner of Linden Place. Parking is available in the lot next to the loading dock area.

As with previous years, we will try to send the newsletter by Wednesday afternoon once we receive Golden Earthworm‘s information – this week’s box contents, recipes, news about upcoming events like strawberry picking, films, canning workshops, and other ways the CSA and our network work for you.

We are happy to offer some of the wonderful add-ons we’ve had in the past as well as some exciting new local vendors of artisanal, small batch products who will sell at our distribution site. Once again, members can purchase directly from them. So here is the run-down on what’s the same and what is new:

1) This year we are using a new farm vendor Goodale Farm. While you had to order your share of dairy, eggs and/or meat, if you would like to order anything from them, send us an email and we will arrange it.

2) This year we are trying out a Swap Box – the farm will provide a weekly bag of veggies for our members to swap with a veggie they may not like or want. The “Swap Box” will be labeled and any member is welcome to exchange their veggie for what’s in the box. See your site supervisor or core team member if you have questions.

3) Whitestone (Green Earth Urban Gardens) honey, and S & V Jams are still available to purchase directly from a FCSA volunteer at pick ups.

4) Some of the vendors you met at our Meet the Farmer event in March will return once a month on alternate weeks to sell their delicious products:

Sweet William’s Tortes – Our returning CSA member Elisabeth will have freshly baked fruit pastries made from an old family recipe baked in Flushing. Welcome back Elisabeth! You may place an order today at sweetwilliamstorteshoppe@gmail.com. Due to overwhelming demand, we will now be accepting advance orders. Available varieties are: Plum, Peach & Strawberry. 8 inch $25. 4 inch $6. Tortes usually sell out within the first hour of CSA pickup. Place your orders…don’t miss out!!
Spice Tree Organic Spices – organic global trotting spice mixes blended in Queens by moms.
Asian Mushrooms – amazing super fresh mushrooms grown for Flushing CSA in upstate NY.

You might also want to bring your checkbook, credit card or cash to buy a Flushing CSA tote bag, local Whitestone honey or jam. We will have them all season starting at pick-up tomorrow.  

If you don’t plan on buying a bag, please remember to bring one for your veggies! 

5) Please take a moment to carefully read the Volunteer Instructions, as they have been slightly modified since last year in response to feedback and changes designed to improve members’ experience.

Please be sure to sign-up for your volunteer hours if you haven’t already; you should have received an email from SignUp.com; Let us know ASAP if you have not. Please – it is important that you honor your volunteer commitment; it is part of the cost of CSA membership. As you know, we are an all-volunteer run organization and we need your to help run the season smoothly so you can enjoy your delicious organic produce and add-on items. If the hours are truly a burden, reach out to the Core Team – maybe you have another skill that could fulfill your commitment.
6) Strawberry Picking & Farm Tours
 
Golden Earthworm has launched a new Member Portal on our website.  All important notices and program information can be found on this page.  In case members miss an e-mail or a social media post, everything will be archived here.  Please direct your members to this page so that they can easily find the information that may be looking for:  http://goldenearthworm.com/members/
The farm has set dates for our U-Pick Strawberries!  Please note that members can come to the farm on any of the open days, but they are reserving June 10th for Flushing CSA. O RESERVATIONS ARE NEEDED THIS YEAR. Please check this page for full details and an explanation of the free U-Pick quart, etc: http://goldenearthworm.com/csa-portal-notices/2017/5/10/2017-u-pick-strawberry-schedule .
7) Remember some herbs from the farm will be included in your veggie share. Fruit shares will start in July. Sorry! It all comes down to what’s ready to be harvested at the perfect moment of ripeness. Be ready to be amazed!
Your Core Team:
Caroline, Dionne, Emily, John, Judy and Larry
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Welcome to the first week of our 2017 season!  The harvest this week is a full expression of springtime on the farm.  Lots of greens with delicate leaves, bursting with flavor and nutrients.  It’s just what our bodies need after a long winter eating storage crops and produce shipped in from thousands of miles away.  Our kales and lettuces were seeded in the greenhouse back in February, then transplanted out into the fields last month.  The baby arugula and mustard mix are fast-growing greens seeded just about a month ago and ready for harvest this week!

Videos of the Week
– Harvesting the baby arugula with our mechanical harvester.
– Washing the mustard greens salad mix in our washing room.

Getting into the groove… Over the next few weeks we will all begin to get into the groove of CSA – the changing seasons, the harvests, the rhythm of the week, the surprises in your shares and the delicious new flavors you’ll enjoy!  If this is your first year being part of a CSA farm share, there may be a bit of a learning curve as you learn to cook with a whole box of vegetables that were chosen for you, not chosen by you!  Many of our long-time members have come to embrace (and love!) the fact that the farmers and the seasons dictate the weekly shares.  You don’t have to choose, for a change, you can just sit back and be delighted by the bountiful weekly harvests coming your way…


Here are a few simple tips that will help you get the most out of your shares…

#1 – Produce needs to be stored properly!  I will always tell you how to best store your shares in our weekly crop list.  (See below.) Greens need to be in a sealed container or bag so they don’t dehydrate.  I like to use these Produce Storage Bags, but plain old zip-locks work just as well.  I re-use these plastic bags over and over, but if you are intent on avoiding all plastic, we have also had good results using glass bowls with a fully-sealed lid. Our produce is harvested the day before your delivery, so it should last if it is properly stored.
#2 – Get yourself a salad spinner — If you don’t already have one, this will be the most useful tool in your kitchen. Remove the inner colander and use the bowl of the spinner to wash your greens.  Remove any visible soil and put all of your greens in the bowl and fill it to the top with water.  Agitate.  Then transfer the greens to the colander insert, dump out the water and spin dry.  If you see a lot of dirt in the water, you may want to repeat the water soaking/agitation process again before spinning.  I’m sure you’ll find lots of other uses for your salad spinner!  I really can’t say enough about my love for it.  This is my favorite. 
#3 – Cook with an open mind!  Find your favorite tricks & short-cuts!  There may be items in the share that you think you don’t like. I urge you to try some of the recipes in our newsletter and if you still don’t like it, e-mail me!  I bet I can come up with some recipes that you and your family will enjoy. 🙂  When in doubt, do what we do….  roast it, grill it, throw it in soup, or add it to your juice or smoothie!  We’ll be here every week to inspire you with new recipes and ways to enjoy the flavors of the season!

Enjoy your box!  – Maggie, Farmer Matt & the Crew

This week in the shares…


Mustard Greens Salad Mix – I bet this is new to most of you!  You can’t buy it in stores.  Last year we grew a mustard braising mix, but this year we are trying new mustard green varieties and harvesting them at their 3 week stage, while the flavors are mellow, the leaves are tender and it’s perfect for salads.  We’ve been enjoying these salads with a simple vinaigrette and some toasted pine nuts.  You could also add a little feta cheese and red onion.  Let us know what you think of these new salad flavors!
Storage: In an airtight (plastic) bag in the refrigerator. Uses: Raw in salad. When to use: Within 5 days.  

Red Boston Lettuce – This tender leaf lettuce is also known as Butter or Bib lettuce and it grows well in the early part of the season in the cooler temperatures.  It also loves all the rain we’ve been getting!  The most important thing to know about Boston lettuce is that the leaves are so soft and tender that you must use a light dressing.  No ranch or heavy dressings here!  Try my vinaigrette recipe below, or just drizzle with good quality olive oil, vinegar and salt & pepper.  I love to make a special salad with orange sections, red onion and toasted almonds (in my vinaigrette) with this lettuce.
Storage: In an airtight (plastic) bag in the refrigerator. Uses: Raw in a salad. When to use: Within a week.

Green Boston Lettuce – We always grow these red and green varieties in pairs.  They are so beautiful growing in the field and sitting in your salad bowl.
Storage: In an airtight (plastic) bag in the refrigerator. Uses: Raw in a salad. When to use: Within a week.

Bunched Red Kale –  Don’t say you don’t like kale!  We grow only the best varieties that you can’t find in stores, and this red stemmed variety happens to be the best of the best!  Kale Tip #1 is REMOVE THE STEM!  No one likes the stem, so cut it out.  You can use it in soups, but it’s really too tough to use if you’re going to eat a raw salad or steam the greens.  (I give my stems to the sheep, but if you don’t have any sheep, I understand.)  Fine Cooking has an excellent photo tutorial and video to teach you how to easily remove the stems. Kale Tip #2 is Kale is Versatile!  This variety is perfect for raw kale salads, which last time I checked, is still all the rage.  It’s crazy healthy and crazy delicious, so I’m putting my favorite kale salad recipe below.  Kale is also delicious steamed.  Just make sure you steam it until just tender.  If it’s not cooked enough it will be hard to chew and if it’s overcooked it looses its nutrients and best flavor.  So keep an eye on it!  After steaming, I usually transfer it to bowl and dress with olive oil, freshly chopped garlic and umeboshi vinegar. (What?  Never heard of it?  You’re welcome.)  Kale is also delicious thrown into smoothies with fruit or juiced.  I’ll talk more about juicing and smoothies in an upcoming newsletter.  Kale chips, anyone?  Kale in minestrone soup?  I could go on….
StorageIn an airtight (plastic) bag in the refrigerator. Uses: Raw, Baked (Chips) Cooked (Best in Soups), Steamed, Smoothies or Juiced. When to use: Within a week

Baby Arugula – This arugula is so baby, I think it definitely falls into the “preemie” category.  It’s just about 3 weeks old.  Arugula this young is never sold in stores because it is so incredibly tender and delicate and delicious!  So be warned that you should handle it carefully when washing and dressing.  I think you’ll love it!
Storage: In an airtight (plastic) bag in the refrigerator.  Uses: Raw When to use:Within 5 days.

**Item Note**
Our Tuesday and Wednesday groups received radishes or turnips this week.  But just in time for today’s harvest, our Bok Choi was at the perfect size to pick for you!  So you’re getting the first of the season’s bok choi this week and you’ll receive radishes and turnips some time in the next few weeks.  (We keep careful track of who gets what on which days so that everyone receives the same items over the course of a few weeks.  Fair is fair!)

Bok Choi – This is a wonderful Chinese leafy green – perfect for stir-fries.  It’s also delicious raw in salads, which I just discovered this past week.  The recipe below is super!
Storage: In an airtight (plastic) bag in the refrigerator.  Uses: Raw or cooked. When to use: Within 5 days.

Recipes
I try to share recipes that are simple and adaptable for all palates and diets and really showcase the flavor of our produce.  Some are family favorites and some are from our favorite cookbooks or blogs. If you have any recipes that you’d like to share, please do!  

Perfect Green Salad & Vinaigrette – Boston Lettuce salad perfection!
Raw Kale Salad – Use this week’s tender red kale!
Mustard Greens Salad with Gruyere & Anchovies – from Epicurious
Braised Bok Choi – Super simple way to enjoy this green!
Apple Bok Choi Salad – For enjoying the bok choi raw!

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