We had our first fall frost Sunday morning, only eight days late, which was surprising given it was in the upper eighties last week. It was a pretty hard frost: 36 degrees under drought conditions can do quite a bit of damage. Almost all of the summer crops (eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green beans, and okra) were either severely damaged or killed with the exception of the second succession of okra, the second succession of jalapeños, the Anaheim peppers (which are adapted to cooler nighttime desert temperatures), and one section of the second succession of bell peppers. We were able to glean some items prior to the frost, which we will hand out at Wednesday pickup locations.
We will start handing out dry beans, popcorn, and cornmeal in the coming weeks. These are crops that most CSAs don’t offer, and there is a simple reason: without significant machinery, these crops are incredibly onerous and expensive to produce. We seed, harvest, process, clean, and sort all of these crops by hand. We grind the cornmeal on a stone-mill. There are hours and hours of work in them. Considering that you can buy commercially produced Certified Organic dry beans, popcorn, and cornmeal for $1-2/lb., there are few small farmers who choose to produce them for market or even for themselves.
However, many of our region’s heirloom and indigenous varieties are corn and bean crops – none of which are produced commercially. There are several reasons for this: they can be less productive than modern varieties, they are not suited to mechanical harvest, and they do not fit in preset categories (for example, stores sell white or yellow cornmeal, yellow popcorn, and four or five types of dry beans…while there are thousands of other heirloom types of corn and beans). Because it is important to us to help save our region’s heirloom, heritage, and indigenous crops, we choose to grow several varieties of corn and beans each season. I hope that you appreciate them as such…a rare treasure that isn’t available in stores! This season we grew: TN Red Cob corn (cornmeal), Neal’s Paymaster corn (cornmeal, winter shares), Southern Maiz Blanco (cornmeal or seed, winter shares), Dynamite (popcorn), Cherokee White Eagle Blue Corn (seed for us and Farm and Sparrow Bakery), Ottofile Flint Corn (seed), Turtle black beans (CSA), October beans (winter shares), Tarasco Cranberry beans (shellie beans for CSA, dry beans for winter shares), Tiger Eye beans (winter shares), Arikara beans (winter shares), Jacob’s Cattle Gold beans (winter shares), Painted Pony beans (winter shares), Goose beans (seed), Jamapa beans (seed), Selma Zesta beans (seed), Logan Co. Greasy beans (seed), TN White Crowder beans (seed), and Cherokee Trail of Tears beans (seed).
This week’s share: sweet potatoes, heirloom garlic, heirloom dry black beans (need to be picked over and pre-soaked prior to cooking), heirloom popcorn (shown above), choice of bunching green (kale, chard, mustards), choice of salad green (arugula or mesclun mix), lettuce (very beautiful), radishes, carrots (remarkable given how late I seeded them and how dry it is), a little broccoli (hopefully for everyone), choice of herb (cilantro or dill), peppers (sweet and hot), eggplant for Wednesday, and green tomatoes for anyone who wants them.
I am not sure whether spinach will be ready for regular season shares or not. It does appear to appreciate slightly cooler temperatures. We are also waiting on Napa cabbages and green cabbages.
Dry black beans: to cook, presoak overnight, drain, and place in pot with 3x water. You can add other things like epazote, garlic, onions, etc. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Salt. Cook 2 hours, or until soft. Use in any recipe that calls for black beans. Here are some suggestions: http://www.thekitchn.com/11-delicious-ways-to-eat-black-beans-227509#gallery/50809/11
Our In Good Tilth article is out (“Perspectives from a CSA Farmer”)! All the pictures were taken by Sustaining Member Anika Toro. Check out the article at https://igt.tilth.org/perspective-from-a-csa-farmer/