What's Available This Week
This week you can choose from yellow potatoes, new red potatoes, beets with greens, lettuce heads, baby lettuce mix, baby arugula, baby bok choi, salad turnips, scallions, baby green curly kale, baby lacinato kale, bunched green curly kale, bunched lacinato kale, baby chard, basil, pea shoots, cucumbers, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, and garlic scapes.
You can pick up your summer share at the farm on Thursdays and Fridays from 8 am to 7 pm. If you are new to coming to the farm, use "680 Shunpike Road, Shrewsbury VT 05738" to get to our driveway. You can pick up your share from the Ludlow Farmers' Market on Fridays from 4 pm to 7 pm on the front lawn of the Okemo Mountain School right on Route 103, just south of down town. You can pick up your share from the Rutland Farmers' Market on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm, right downtown by the Walmart parking lot.
I was driving through New Hampshire this weekend, and I passed an idyllic farm stand. Their gardens were beautiful, right behind the stand. There looked like there were some pick your own veggies, flowers, and maybe even some herbs, and people were working in the gardens at a lovely, calm "day away from the city" pace. You can obviously never know what the economic engine of a farm is by driving by in a couple seconds, but it made me start thinking about the image of farming versus the reality of farming. It's possible the entire farm was right there behind the stand. Or it's possible that farm has 30 acres of veggies in a different location with a large crew with a fast paced work environment, where if you aren't bunching 3 bunches of kale per minute, you are cut from that task, and maybe then risking your job on the farm.
Culturally, we expect farms to be these beautiful, calm places, where you can get away from the chaos and congestion of life. And sometimes that is true. There are farms who earn their living through agritourism, welcoming folks to the farm for visits, overnights, meals, tours, etc. This expectation can be more pronounced in urban and suburban areas: I grew up in busy, busy north Jersey, and got to go to a sleepaway farm camp in the summers waaaaaay out in Pennsylvania. It was so divine! It was everything I believed a farm was: cows, chickens, creeks, hay fields, fun, fresh food, free time, time to explore, leisure time to get my hands in the dirt, swimming in a pond! In reality, agritourism represents significantly less than a percent of farms in the US, though, which means most other farms are running their business by selling a product, versus an experience. One is not better than another, they are just very different. Though we want to imagine farms as somewhat of an escape from the stresses of modern life, the realities are often different from those cultural images.
I cannot speak with enough knowledge of what a farm job is like on a giant corporate farm, which still accounts for over 95% of the food in our national food system. I do know that most rely on guest workers, they are highly mechanized, they are dangerous, they are low paying jobs, and there is literally no time to stop and smell the flowers. (There wouldn't be flowers anyway, because anything besides the one or two crops that farm is harvesting would have been eradicated.) But even on a small scale farm like ours, the work of farming is often more like a giant farm, than an agritourist farm. I would love to have the time to make our farm a bit prettier around the barn and main visible areas, but unfortunately, having a tidy working farm doesn't pay any of our expenses.
During our work time on the farm, we move quickly from place to place, we are constantly analyzing how we are doing a task to see if it can be done more efficiently. We keep data on production costs to know how to charge for products based on our cost of getting food from seed to display. If we aren't constantly moving quickly and efficiently, it would make the costs of the food rise, and in the US, where we spend the lowest percentage of our income on food compared to other countries, we don't have the leeway to slow down. As it is, locally grown and certified organic produce can already have a higher price tab than conventional supermarket food. (I say "can" because stay tuned for a few weeks from now when I write about food cost myths and realities!) So these are all tensions that run through farming: to keep food prices as low as possible while paying all the farm bills, to keep the work pace as efficient as possible while respecting and valuing our team, and to fulfill that cultural expectation of farms being a beautiful place to come and breathe.
Don't get me wrong, those are all our goals! (If we didn't value our farm being a beautiful place to come and breathe, we wouldn't have an on-farm pickup!) It's just fascinating to me to sit on a long car drive and think about all the ways farms operate, and all the social expectations that are often at odds with each other. The gift for us, is that we can be some of all of that: We don't fire people when they can't bunch 3 bunches of kale in a minute, even though we do focus on efficiency. And we do value having our farm fulfill that role of being an outdoor space that is cared for and respected through conscious stewardship, and attention to biodiversity.
It also helps me visualize potentially happier, more valued farm workers when I buy an $8 quart of strawberries, versus worrying about someone getting their hand mangled off in an onion topper machine if I were to buy super cheap, supermarket onions. There are places for both of these food purchases, and not all of us have the luxury to splurge on $8 strawberries, and pass on cheap onions. I feel that reality. It is a reality for some people all the time, and some people some of the time, that we need to access the corporate food system to feed our families. There is nothing wrong with that. And by learning and knowing more about our food system (which I love doing all the time!), we have the power as conscious consumers to gently push the food system to blending those dual expectations of affordable food with beautiful farms.
After all, I believe beautiful farms, like the one I drove past in New Hampshire, are the future of a healthier earth. Where the land is taken care of, and workers of all industries, not just the food sector, don't have to run around at a fast pace to earn their minimum wage salary. I know I sound like a tremendous idealist, but to paraphrase a great farmer, Greg Cox, of Boardman Hill Farm in West Rutland, farmers are inherently optimists. We believe in a more perfect future. Otherwise we wouldn't start over every year, tucking those little onions seeds into their trays in the winter, even if our onion crop was an abysmal failure the year before. So that extends beyond our farm beliefs: I believe that as a society we will be able to expand our charitable and affordable food systems while still improving the conditions for the earth and farm workers. By being a part of a CSA, you may believe that as well :)
As far as this farm this week, our crew got all our onions, shallots, and most of our leeks weeded this week. We are hoping to do a bunch of other weeding and hoeing to catch up on some runaway crops, and then tuck in some mid-season transplants. I cannot believe we are already seeding winter storage beets.... Just last week we were selling the end of last year's winter storage beets. I love farming cycles!
Hope you have a fantastic week!
-ESF Team: Kara, Ryan, Morgan, Peter, Mikayla, Taylor, Shain, and Sam
Roasted Garlic Scapes
Scapes are available for such a short season, and we LOVE them. So I try to use them a zillion ways while they are here. There is literally nothing else like them, and nothing like using them fresh. Try this super simple recipe for delicious scapes.
2 bunches of garlic scapes, chopped into 2-inch chunks
1 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper
Toss all the ingredients together, and spread on a baking tray. Bake at 350, turning once or twice, until they start to lightly crunch or get lightly browned. Remove and enjoy! (You can also do these on the grill by not chopping them in advance, grilling them whole, and then chopping them up before serving.)