Sunflower Farm CSA 2013 Third Quarter Report

(Sent out to our members on Sept. 13)

Greetings!

We’re now three quarters of the way through our CSA deliveries and obviously we’re at the height of what’s in season. The boxes are quite heavy now and will stay that way until the end.

We’re done with corn and beans but we hope to have lettuce until the end. We should have carrots and potatoes most weeks. We have planted lots of late spinach but so far it has been very slow to get going. We also have lots of late season brassicas like broccoli that we’re hoping will form heads for us before we’re done.

We’ll be harvesting the sweet potatoes soon. While the day time temperatures can be okay (or tropical as they’ve been this week) because sweet potatoes are a tropical plant they don’t like the cooler soil temperatures so we’ll take a look shortly and see what’s been happening under the blanket of vines and mulch.

As we begin providing “brassicas” to you I must remind you of the nature of organic growing. Our garden is alive with little white butterflies that are laying eggs on our broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower plants. These eggs will hatch into “cabbage loopers” which are lovely little green caterpillars. So when you receive one of these items from us, please remember that while we will have done a first washing, we can’t always see inside the many florets to find all of the caterpillars. So please don’t freak out too much if you cut into a cauliflower and find a green caterpillar. They will not hurt you! In past years I have sprayed with Bt, which is a bacteria that the caterpillars eat. It causes them to lose their appetite, so they die. It has to be purchased fresh each year because it is alive and with all the time constraints of running the CSA I neglected to order this in time. So, my apologies in advance for any holes on the cabbage and any of the little green monsters that get left behind.  Michelle wants me to remind you that by soaking your broccoli or cauliflower florets in salted water, any remaining caterpillars will be drawn out by the salt and can be easily removed at that point.

Talking about the cosmetic nature of organic produce, we had a friend visiting from Europe who told us about a fairly large grocery change that she shops at. This grocery store has introduced awards for the most unique looking vegetable. They were encouraging customers to take and post photos of produce they had purchased that didn’t fit the usual ideal of perfection. I love this idea because we’re getting into carrot season and they are one vegetable that loves to do weird and wonderful things. The two-legged ones are the most common but I’ve seen 3- and 4-legged ones this year. In the past we may have held onto these for our own consumption but once I heard that big grocery chains are now having farmers leave them in, keep your eyes peeled in case your Sunflower Farm CSA vegetables might be award winners. It’s like Cracker Jack with a prize in the box, only healthier.

We’ve had a number of requests so far this season from people who are not CSA members wanting to purchase our produce and our response continues to be “No.” While we’re flattered that people want to enjoy specific things from our garden, we let them know that everything we grow is being split equally between our CSA members. I am holding back a bit of our less cosmetically appealing garlic and potatoes to use as seed for next year, but otherwise everything from our garden will find its way to our members’ boxes. We really appreciate the confidence you have shown in us and your support of our CSA!

There are 4 deliveries left this year, which will take us up to the week before Thanksgiving. There are pumpkins and lots of different squashes almost ready to be harvested. We hope you’re enjoying the fall bounty!

Here are two little tidbits of information I thought you might enjoy;

Bite into organic tomatoes You say tomato, we say . . . organic! When it comes to this fleshy red fruit, it’s best to give conventionally grown produce a pass. Not only do the local organic varieties have more flavour, but a recent study by Brazilian researchers shows that organic tomatoes contain substantially higher levels of vitamin C and polyphenols (antioxidants that help prevent cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers) than their non-organic grown counterparts.

Clock food miles Here’s a number for you: 5,364. That’s how many kilometres a basket of groceries purchased at a Toronto supermarket has travelled before reaching store shelves, says a Canadian study. (That’s 81 times farther than the same items purchased at a neighbourhood farmers’ market!) Buying local reduces harmful carbon emissions, supports small-scale farmers and means produce is picked at its ripest and most nutritious.

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