Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BPF CSA Week 7 news

Birch Point CSA
2011 Week 7!

In Your Share This Week:

Fava Beans! These beautiful Italian shelling beans are unlike any other bean- the flavor is unique and wonderful. If you like beans at all, you will love these. The trick is that they take some work to enjoy. Each bean (inside the pod) needs to be peeled before eating- the easiest way is to steam or blanch them first, then they slip from skins easily. Click here for instructions. Last night we made a fava “pesto” on bruschetta- toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic, then topped with fava spread and shaved parmesan. See recipes section- it’s super easy if you have a food processor, and even if you mash them by hand it’s not hard, just takes longer.

The very first hoophouse Tomatoes! This is exciting, friends. In a year with such a cold, wet, late spring, we’ve got ripe tomatoes in July. I fall in love with the hoophouse over and over. This is just the beginning- a mix of cherry tomatoes and small slicers- there will be so many more!

Summer squash and/or Zucchini- again, the first of the season! You may see classic green zucchini, Costata Romanesca (ribbed zukes), eightball zukes (looks just like the name implies), yellow straight-neck or crook-neck squash, patty pan squash (the bumpy little yellow and green guys that look like spaceships), or light green summer squash. Guess what- while each has their own shape and color, they are ALL interchangeable in recipes; yes, even zucchini bread (any overgrown summer squash/zuke is perfect for that). My favorite is sliced and fried in butter til just browned on the edges, with salt and pepper, and fresh herbs chopped on top.

Napa (Chinese) Cabbage- instead of baby salad mix, this week’s salad greens are Napa. We’re giving the baby lettuce a rest to regrow for next week (we’ve been hitting it pretty hard) and give the newest planting a chance to size up before its first harvest. Napa is a cabbage, so it has a little of that cabbage “bite” to it, but it is mild and tender. So use Napa any way you’d use lettuce- shredded, chopped, whole leaves as a “bed” for other dishes, etc.

Scallions – as far as I know, everyone loves scallions. So we grow a lot. Please let me know how this quantity is working for you.

Beets! Same as last week- who wouldn’t want beets two weeks in a row? If you're not going to use them immediately, to store,remove greens and store separately- if attached, the leaves will evaporate moisture, causing the root to shrink and become soft. Without leaves, the roots can keep for weeks or even months in plastic in the fridge. Some people think the beet greens are the best part- use them just like spinach or Swiss chard (and vice versa).

Kohlrabi- same (who wouldn’t want kohlrabi two weeks in a row?) ;)

Broccoli- the third installment of tiny, early broccoli. It keeps trickling in- I’d like to give you all two heads at a time when they’re this small, but there are only enough heads maturing at any one time to give everyone one per week for now. Enjoy!

Fresh Garlic- the first of the season! This garlic is fresh out of the ground, not cured at all, so refrigerate and use it up. It won’t store for months like fall garlic after curing, but it’s pungent and delicious, and easy to peel since it’s still so moist. Use the upper portion of the plant for making soup stock. See Announcements section for the 2011 Garlic Harvest Party, when you can help get the garlic out of the ground and into the barn.

Kale or Swiss Chard-
Katherine DeGood said, “Thanks to a few busy weeks I was inspired to blanch and freeze a bunch of chard and kale to use in my veggie lasagna this winter. Thought it might be good to pass on to those who aren't sure about being able to use it all right away. I blanched it for 2 minutes, drained and cooled it in a colander and then lightly got the excess out once it was cool before putting it in a freezer bag.” Thanks Katherine! Also, see Recipes for Jason’s favorite Kale-Tomato summer slurry.


1. Garlic Harvest Party and Movie Night all rolled into one! Saturday July 30. Bring the whole family; we’re digging the Stinking Rose. The Plan: Dig, Pull, Bundle, Transport to barn, Hang up to cure. All ages, experience levels, and abilities welcome. Wear work clothes and gloves, and hard-soled shoes/boots if you want to be a digger. Potluck to follow, featuring anti-vampire fare. Stay after the potluck for a movie in the barn (featuring popcorn and a good vampire flick). Schedule: Garlic Harvest: 3-6 p.m. Potluck 6-ish til 7-ish. Movie directly after. Come for any or all of it! Bring friends.

2. Heart of Summer shares available- a new thing for 2011. Summer-only shares are six weeks long, and are intended for folks who are in northern MI only for summer, who want to try CSA but couldn’t commit to an entire season, or just heard about CSA and can’t wait til next year to join! Cost: $200, starts last week of July and runs through August. Please refer friends and fudgies.

3. Did you see Julie’s CSA Family Photo Album questionnaire that came around two weeks ago? Julie wants your stories- please reply to her email with your info, if you’d like to be part of the album. We’ll have hard copies available too, so you can fill in your info and leave that with us at CSA pick-up (or return it the following week).

Field Notes
This Tuesday, Jason, Julie, and a crew of volunteers pulled off CSA harvest without me! I had to be out of town (for a funeral, my mom’s brother died suddenly the week before), so the fearless crew ran the show here. They did all the chores, installed more irrigation, handweeded, hoed, watered, picked potato beetles, and harvested. They did such a great job that I’m considering taking more long weekends off. ;) I am thankful to have such capable and generous people here on the farm this year- thanks so much to everyone who pitched in from Saturday to Tuesday.
In other news, we’re getting to the season when we harvest every day- things like tomatoes (in the hoophouse for now, but from the field soon enough), summer squash, beans (1-2 weeks out), cucumbers (2-3 weeks out). If you love harvesting and would like to come out one afternoon a week, or even one hour a week, and “adopt a crop,” we will train you and set you loose! Let me know when you’re coming.
Once we get the rest of the fall brassicas in the ground this week, we will be at our summer “plateau”- when we’re not planting much additional space, just maintaining the somewhat crazy level of activity we’ve established. The plateau usually comes in July but got pushed back like everything else from the late spring. The first two weeks of August are Julie and Jason’s vacation weeks, respectively, so we will be down one pair of hands for those two weeks. If you or anyone you know can pitch in a day or two, we’ll put you to work.
I’m looking for a good, heavy-duty gas-powered weed whip. Do you have such a thing languishing in your garage or pole barn? If I can find a used one, that’s my first choice, but if not, I’ll start looking at new ones. What recommendations do experienced weed-whippers have? Brands, sizes, features, etc? I’m thinking string and blade attachments and a shoulder strap. Beyond that, I don’t know what to look for or consider- help please?

Meet Your Farmers

This one’s about me- Michelle. I’m from Michigan; I love the great lakes state and its sweet water, hills, shores, forests, all of it. I have moved away and come back several times, and I think this time it’s for good. I grew up in suburbia in downstate Michigan, and my family always had a little garden, but not a farm. In college, I thought I’d study French or drama, but I took one plant class and it was all downhill to botany from there. I first encountered CSA at the Community Farm of Ann Arbor, the first CSA farm in Michigan. My post-college housemates were apprenticing there, and I volunteered with them a few times and was hooked. I’ve worked at farms in Massachusetts (first full season was an internship at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA in 2000) and Michigan. My masters degree is in horticulture from MSU, and while I was there, I managed the Student Organic Farm through its first three years of life, and, along with the student farmers, started their year-round CSA. In 2006 I took a five-month bicycle tour of CSA farms in Michigan, which landed me here in Leelanau county. My goal here is to make this farm as self-sufficient as possible, closing the gaps in our nutrient cycles and minimizing off-farm inputs. In the next three to five years, I plan on myself and at least one other full time farmer making a living exclusively from the farm (no off-farm jobs), employing several local folks seasonally, and expanding the farm internship program to be more comprehensive and fine-tuned. On the odd occasion that I’m not working on the farm, you might find me walking the dog to the lake to swim, cooking, serving on the board of ISLAND, or xc skiing every day in the winter


Fava Beans
: true confession time- the only thing I’d ever done with favas was blanch the or sauté in olive oil then eat with salt and pepper and maybe lemon juice. That is quite enough- they are that good. However, I looked up “how to cook fava beans” the other day and came up with some great ideas- many from I made a version (blanched beans, not poached in oil) of the fava “pesto” to spread on garlic-rubbed toasts last night, and it was amazing. A few entries that jumped out at me are below. Let me know YOUR favorite fava dish! We may have one more week of favas, or these may be the only ones; hard to say if the small ones in the field will size up or not, with the recent heat.

30 seconds in boiling water is long enough to make the skins easy to remove.

Try some raw after you've peel them to see if you like the flavor. When they get a little older they can get a bit bitter and starchy, in which case they would be best cooked more.

My favorite prep is to poach about 75% of the peeled beans in olive oil over low heat for about 10 minutes. Then put the poached beans, reserved raw beans, and oil in a food processor, add salt and pepper, and puree. Add more olive oil if necessary to make it creamy. Spread over crostini and top with black pepper, shaved pecorino, and a few drops of truffle oil. Pure heaven. Serve with an Alto Adige Sauvignon Blanc.
From user nja on May 17, 2006 11:30AM on

Another great vegetarian dish with dried favas comes from Umbria. Purée the reconstituted and cooked beans with a slice or two of crustless white bread soaked in milk. Beat in some EVOO to lighten the texture. Keep warm. Meanwhile, parboil some rapini, then drain and sauté it in olive oil in which you've browned a few smooshed garlic cloves. Spread the purée on a platter, top with the rapini, drizzle with more EVOO and serve, preferably with some crusty peasant bread. Amazing synergy of flavours, one of those greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts dishes. (MF note: you can sub broccoli for rapini; it won’t be as bitter, but will have excellent flavor and color)
From user carswell on May 17, 2006 11:52AM on

Summer Kale-Tomato Slurry by Jason Dudycha

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 med onions, chopped coarsely (or 4-5 scallions, white and green parts)
olive oil
3-4 med tomatoes, chopped large
3-4 kale leaves, incl. stems, chopped coarsely
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
pasta or rice

First sautee garlic and onions in 2 Tbsp olive oil. When browned, add tomatoes, 2 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp salt. Simmer 1-2 min or until tomatoes are soft. Add 1 more Tbsp olive oil, vinegar, and nutritional yeast. Stir until creamy consistency. Add kale, mix all together, cover, simmer 1-2 minutes. Salt to taste. Remove from heat, serve with pasta or rice.

Friday, July 22, 2011

CSA week 6 photos

Birch Point CSA Week 6 news

Birch Point CSA
2011 Week 6!

In Your Share This Week:

Beets! (see picture at right) The first “big” beets of the season, with lovely beet greens. You saw beet greens with baby beets on them a few weeks ago- these were the thinnings that we pulled out to allow the beets to grow as big and fat as they are now (and they’ll continue growing). This week you may see classic dark red (Early Wonder variety) or pink-red with a red and white bullseye pattern inside (Chioggia variety). Chioggia taste just like red beets, but won’t stain your kitchen red. Some people think the beet greens are the best part- use them just like spinach or Swiss chard (and vice versa).

Kohlrabi (see picture above- rotated on its side; but picture it upright) ;)- green or purple, this spaceship-esque vegetable is one of my favorites. I like to eat it raw best. Peel the skin and slice the flesh into wedges or sticks, and sprinkle with a little salt (or not), and enjoy like carrot sticks. You can also grate it into slaw, or cook it any way you’d cook broccoli- steam, roast, stirfry. The leaves are also edible, and taste like broccoli or cabbage. Use them any way you’d use kale or cabbage.

the second installment of tiny, early broccoli. Your fall broccoli heads will be bigger, but for now, the heat is causing these early, summer broccoli to head up and spread out before they had a chance to get very big. The flavor is delicious, and texture is tender, however, and you can eat the broccoli leaves! (also just like kale or cabbage)

Peas- sugarsnap and snow. It’s the end of the world as we know it, for these cool weather-loving sweeties. The heat wave has done them in. We may get a few more pints for next week, but pea season was just short and sweet this year. You may, however, see pea shoots in your shares later this season- we grown them as greens, for salad when they’re tiny or cooking when they’re bigger, and they taste just like peas!

Fresh Garlic- the first of the season! This garlic is fresh out of the ground, not cured at all, so refrigerate and use it up. It won’t store for months like fall garlic after curing, but it’s pungent and delicious, and easy to peel since it’s still so moist. Use the upper portion of the plant for making soup stock. See Announcements section for the 2011 Garlic Harvest Party, when you can help get the garlic out of the ground and into the barn.

Kale or Swiss Chard- hopefully everyone’s settled into the kale-chard routine by now, and you’ve come up with your favorite ways of preparing these CSA staples. Let me know your fave recipes, and I’ll share them in future newsletters.

Baby Salad Mix with edible flowers- Despite the crazy heat, our baby lettuce patch is going strong (surprise!). You may get arugula flowers on the side, since some people love arugula and others can do without it- pluck these blossoms from the stems and sprinkle on salad or any dish, or enjoy them on their own- they are sweet! (yes, that means the arugula patch bolted, but there’s another going in next week, so look for arugula again later this summer)


1. Garlic Harvest Party and movie night all rolled into one! Saturday July 30. Bring the whole family; we’re digging the Stinking Rose. The Plan: Dig, Pull, Bundle, Transport to barn, Hang up to cure. All ages, experience levels, and abilities welcome. Wear work clothes and gloves, and hard-soled shoes/boots if you want to be a digger. Potluck to follow, featuring anti-vampire fare. Stay after the potluck for a movie in the barn (featuring popcorn and a good vampire flick). Schedule: Garlic Harvest: 3-6 p.m. Potluck 6-ish til 7-ish. Movie directly after. Come for any or all of it! Bring friends.

2. Heart of Summer shares available
- a new thing for 2011. Summer-only shares are six weeks long, and are intended for folks who are in northern MI only for summer, who want to try CSA but couldn’t commit to an entire season, or just heard about CSA and can’t wait til next year to join! Cost: $200, starts last week of July and runs through August. Please refer friends and fudgies.

Field Notes

This past Sunday night we got 0.6” of rain! Biggest rain in over a month, biggest news on the farm. Then we launched into that amazing heat wave. That meant two things: very wilty farmers and huge, fast growth of plants! Thankfully our irrigation is still working (I just got news that our friends Ryan and Andrea at Providence Farm in Eastport have to sink a new well and are stuck without enough irrigation right now- please send good thoughts their way). A few varieties of lettuce and all the arugula bolted from the heat (sent up flowering stems as a response to heat stress, making them bitter and unusable), but most things thrived. First fava bean and summer squash/zucchini harvest today (just a few- the tidal wave is still a few days out)! You’ll see favas, zukes and summer squash in your shares next week. ALSO just in: the first hoophouse tomato harvest! And also just a few- we’ve been snacking on them but there are almost enough ripe ones for shares- next week you’ll see a few cherry tomatoes and/or early slicing tomatoes in your shares! It feels like the crops are finally catching up to the season. We finally got the north garden tilled for planting fall brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, rutabagas, etc) most of which are popping out of their trays and can’t wait to get in the ground. Sunflowers, which got planted super late, are finally growing- it’ll be a few weeks til the first blossoms though. Flower share people: I think we’ll start in August instead of late July. I’ll keep you posted.
The MSU Student Organic Farm Organic Farmer Training Program students went on their annual “study afarm” trip to northern lower MI farms this past week. Since 2007, Birch Point has served as their annual base camp while they visit 6-8 farms in the area, in addition to BPF, chat with farmers, gain exposure to a variety of farms, and of course swim in Lake Michigan! We hosted 15 student farmers and five staff who camped out in the yard, held a bonfire Monday night (after Sunday night’s rain!), and cooked delicious meals for us and themselves.

Meet Your Farmers

Gotta put this one off again, til next week. It’ll be good. ;)


Beet Greens with Goat Cheese

1 bunch beet greens, cleaned and chopped (including stems)
1 onion or 2-3 scallions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar
walnuts, chopped and toasted
heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)
Goat cheese- either the dry, crumbly kind (my favorite) or the soft creamy type

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over med heat for a few minutes til soft. Add chopped beet greens, sauté til wilted but still bright green (just a few minutes). Add walnuts, salt, pepper. If using cream, add, stir, and remove from heat. Toss with generous quantity of balsamic vinegar. Serve with a significant quantity of crumbly goat cheese on top, or creamy goat cheese stirred in. Serve over pasta (especially good with the creamy version) or rice.

Beets on a Grill

Beets- greens removed, but skins, tops (where leaves attach), and roots still intact- to keep juices in while grilling.
Olive Oil
Aluminum Foil

Heat up grill. This is especially practical if you are already grilling other things. Coat beetroots generously in olive oil, wrap tightly in foil, place on/in grill for 30-60 min, depending on temperature and size of beets. For large beets, go the full hour. For smaller beets, you may get away with shorter grill time. The point is to cook them til the insides are meltingly soft, and the outsides are caramelized. Slice and eat the insides and skins, roots and all- it’s kind of like beet cracklin’s.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

BPF CSA 2011 Week 5 news

Birch Point CSA 2011
Week 5 News

In Your Share This Week: It’s an Asian Invasion ;) (See Recipes section)

Peas- Snow and/or Sugarsnap. Eat the whole pods. There are just so many peas right now.
Giant Chinese Cabbage (Napa Cabbage) with outer leaves- the outer leaves are a little ragged, but still delicious.
Giant Scallions
The Sweetest Little Broccoli Heads Ever (tiny, early broccoli- you’ll see larger heads as the season progresses)
Dried Hot Chile Peppers (stored from last fall)
Garlic Scapes- the very end (I know I said it was the end last week, but this is REALLY the end- next week we’ll start harvesting fresh garlic! A couple weeks later we’ll have our garlic harvesting party- stay tuned)
Baby Salad Mix with Edible Flowers
Kale or Swiss Chard


1. New this summer: starting the last week of July, 2011, Birch Point will offer up to 10 six-week “Heart of Summer” shares, specifically for folks who are in northern MI only for summer, or who want to try CSA without committing to an entire season, or who just recently heard about CSA and can’t wait til next year to join. Please spread the word to friends and summer people. More info available on the website:
2. Second Films for Farms of the season: Saturday June 30- all are invited. Bring friends, family, food, and a chair or blanket to sit on in the barn. Film TBA

Field Notes
Last week we were blessed with a barrage of visitors and volunteers. I specifically want to mention April, who visited from downstate. April has been working for the past the two years at Tantre Farm in Chelsea (outside Ann Arbor), where I worked ten years ago! It was so much fun to compare stories about Tantre Farm then and now, and April also happens to be a rock-star weeder and pea picker, so it was a joy to have her here. Thanks to everyone who came out and pitched in this past week!
It still hasn’t rained since last week- since longer ago than that, even. We got a tiny sprinkle on Monday, just a teaser as it turned out. Luckily the irrigation and all the organic matter in the soil is working to keep the soil moist in the plants’ root zone, if not right on the surface. All the compost and cover crops we’ve added in the past four years are really showing up this season- we’ve added relatively little compost compared to past years (except in new planting areas), but plants are healthy, green, and productive. We’ve had to add compost and do spot-applications of alfalfa pellets for short-term nitrogen boosts in the hoophouse. But the field soils appear to be supporting healthy crops without much help from us this year! It’s high time to do another soil test (I like to do them every other year, but the last one was in 2008), and I’ll share the results when we get them. I’m especially interested to see how the soils have changed since the last test- we’ve added tons (literally) of organic matter and changed the ecology of the soil pretty dramatically by switching it over from a primarily perennial (old pasture/abandoned fields) to a primarily annual (vegetables) system.
A new baby salad planting went in today. I like to seed salad in at least two staggered plantings- things like lettuce, spinach, and baby chard take a longer time to germinate and grow, so I plant those first. One to two weeks later, I’ll plant the spicy greens- things like baby kale, tatsoi, mizuna, cress. Those grow much faster, so a staggered planting results in more uniformly sized leaves. Sometimes that strategy works perfectly; sometimes the leaf sizes are still pretty variable. I like to play around with timing and pay attention to the weather. Every planting is a little different (that darn weather), though, both in rate of growth and in composition- I tend to plant more non-lettuce varieties in the heat of summer, since they tolerate heat better than lettuce. In the spring and fall, salads tend to be heavy on the lettuce, lighter on the spice. What’s your favorite baby salad green variety- green or red lettuces? Baby red Russian kale? Mustard greens? Tatsoi? Beet greens? Baby chard? The edible flowers? Something else?
We finally finished mulching the potatoes! At least we used up all the mulch-still a couple of bales shy of finishing. Those spuds look GOOD! Thanks to Jason and Matt for seeing it through to the very end. Next step is to call my neighbor to see how many extra bales of old moldy hay he can round up from the back of his barn (anyone out there have a stash?) I think the potatoes will recover from the severe Colorado Potato Beetle infestation- we’ve been hand-picking eggs and larva off almost every day. I sprayed one row with an organic insecticide, and it seems to have been effective, though not necessarily more so than hand-picking. The damage is comparable, but maybe the proof in the pudding will be how soon and how heavily the beetles return to each row, and how much damage they do next time. I’ll keep you posted.

Meet Your Farmers
I’ll introduce myself next week, since we highlighted Jason and Julie the past two weeks. In the future, we’ll feature farm volunteers, and then CSA members, maybe even you.


Birch Point Chinese Cabbage Salad

This dish can be served warm or room temp or cold. If you chop and prepare everything in advance, then toss it all together as soon as the noodles and protein are cooked, then you’ll have a warm salad. If you toss it all together and let it set and/or refrigerate it, that’s equally delicious, maybe even better on a hot day.

1 package rice noodles or bean thread noodles (clear, turn to white)
You can also use any long, thin pasta (spaghetti, fettuccini, capellini) you have on hand, but the rice or bean noodles are pretty and maybe more traditional (since I made up this dish there’s no real tradition yet, but I like the Asian style rice noodles-see what you like best)

Equal amount Chinese cabbage, shredded or finely chopped into noodle-like strands
I like a 1:1 ratio of noodles to cabbage, but more cabbage is very nice too (1:2)

2-3 garlic scapes, finely chopped

1 lb firm tofu or other protein of your choice, marinated, then crumbled and fried til browned (Marinate tofu 20-30 min for more flavor- it’s a great vehicle for other flavors, but not too exciting on its own, in my opinion. See below for my favorite marinade.)

1-2 large scallions, sliced thinly and diagonally for elegant ovals instead of rings- nothing wrong with rings, it’s just nice to mix it up sometimes, you know?

3-4 Tbsp. sesame seeds

½ cup chopped peanuts

(optional) 1-2 dried hot chiles, soaked in warm water til soft, then muddled or chopped

Oil for frying tofu/meat on med-high heat

Boil water, add noodles, boil or set in hot water til soft (follow instruction on pkg), strain. For cold salad, rinse in cold water to cool. For warm salad, toss with oil to keep from sticking together until mixed with the rest of ingreds. Toss with cabbage, dressing, fried tofu, chiles, and garlic scapes. Top with scallions, a generous handful of sesame seeds, and chopped peanuts. Serve warm or chill first.

Toasted sesame oil
Tamari/soy sauce
Rice vinegar (or white vinegar. Or apple cider vinegar)
Juice of one lime
Peanut butter and/or tahini (I like half and half)
Generous pinch ground ginger
Generous pinch cayenne (optional)
Mix 1/4 c. each sesame oil, soy sauce, and vinegar, add a generous dollop or two of peanut butter/tahini, mix well. Add lime juice and spices, thin with warm water if necessary to generously coat all ingreds.

Tamari or soy sauce
Rice vinegar, white or apple cider vinegar
Ground ginger
Ground cumin
Ground cayenne
Ground black pepper
Mix equal parts tamari, vinegar, and water, add a glug or spoonful of honey (warm water helps to mix honey with other ingreds). Add a few generous pinches of each spice, mix well, pour over crumbled tofu in a shallow dish, swirl to cover all pieces. Swirl occasionally if some pieces are exposed. Set for 20-30 min, pour the whole thing into a frying pan of med-hot oil- it’ll steam and sputter from the liquid, so lean away from the pan for this part!

Note: hold onto this recipe; you’ll want it in a couple of weeks when we are rolling in cilantro. You can substitute Chinese cabbage with lettuce or regular cabbage or kale. Optional: top this salad with cilantro in addition to scallions and peanuts!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

CSA News Week 4

Birch Point CSA
Week 4 News

In Your Share This Week:

possibly the last of this until fall, depending on the weather. Enjoy!

Baby salad mix: a beautiful mix of different red and green lettuces, baby red mustard, baby kale, tatsoi, and edible flowers

Garlic Scapes
- the tail end of these; they've all been plucked now, just enjoy this last batch!

Kale OR chard- can't go wrong with those greens. Let me know YOUR favorite recipe!

Radishes- either French Breakfast or Easter Egg or class cherry belle (round red)

PEAS!!!! Either snow (flat, wide) or sugar snap peas (fat, crispy, sugary)- mix and match some of each. Eat the shells on both of these! Snow peas are great for stir-frying (both types are, but I like snows better), and snap peas for fresh eating. If any of these make it into a dish, I’ll be surprised- they are so tender and crisp and sweet, I recommend fresh snacking!


1. Farmers Park-it: this Saturday’s market is again at the Old Town parking deck. Come find us on the lower level- look for the big brown van.

2. Want to be a famous CSA member? DiFranco, our part time farm intern, wants your help! Julie is putting together a Birch Point Family Photo Album, and you can help. Please see “Meet Your Farmer” – at the end of it is a note from Julie. She’ll send you an email with a few questions later this week. If you do NOT want your email shared with Julie, let me know.

3. Wednesday July 13: Green Cuisine at Food for Thought in Honor. Birch Point will be there to represent CSA in our area! Come out to Honor from 5-8 p.m. to sample some local food, local beverages, and good company.

Field Notes

One word: D R Y. After a long, wet spring of lovely, consistent rain, July hit like a furnace. We finally got the drip irrigation out on everything that’s planted, so it’s manageable, but it makes me extra grateful to live in the Great Lakes bioregion where we at least have the water we need for irrigation. I try to remember that when wrangling with and cursing re-used drip tape (it’s a labor of love to keep that plastic out of the landfill for as long as possible by re-using it multiple seasons). I’m never entirely sure it’s worth it- the time spent scouting for leaks, finding the right spool of old tapes to go in the right sections of the gardens, splicing leaking or torn tapes. However, the thought process goes like this: if the farm is going to spend money on irrigation, I’d like as much as possible of that to go to real live people here in this area, rather than to a faceless plastic manufacturing company located far from here. Sometimes my fanatical salvaging tendencies get a little inefficient, but for the scale we’re at currently, I think it’s still worth taking care of the drip tape and reusing it. More on that later. For the time being, please know that your crops are being well watered with well loved plastic drip lines. ;)
Potato update: the Colorado Potato Beetles have been active! Our mulching crew did an excellent job of hand-picking the little monsters on the day of the mulch party, but of course they are back, and ravaging a couple of varieties of spuds. Some varieties are more susceptible than others, especially, it turns out, the Rose Finn Apple fingerlings. I’m considering spraying an organic insecticide on only that variety (continuing to hand pick larvae off the rest of the field), but what do you all think? I dislike the idea of spraying substances intended to kill anything, but our intention when hand-picking is to kill, too. What do you think? Your input is requested and valued!
Hoophouse update: Tomatoes are all upright (trellised) and bearing fruit! The first ripe cherry tomatoes came in last week (a handful), and soon there will be enough for CSA shares. It’s extra exciting in this delayed season to have the hoophouse cranking out hot season crops already. Feeling thankful for plastic right now. ;) Hoophouse kale and chard continue to yield enormous leaves that shock people at market.
The peas are starting to crank out fruit by the bucket. We’re starting every-other-day pea picking now until they dry up. Every year when peas come on, I eat so many I feel sick. It is lovely to have so many peas, but I hope the same thing doesn’t happen to you. Favas are starting to form on the plants! These giant members of the pea and bean family may be new to some of you, but we’ll include recipes when they come on. I hope you’ll like them as much as I do. The kohlrabi are starting to form bulbs, and may be ready in two weeks! Pole beans are all germinated and growing well; soon they’ll be ready for a trellis. Cucumbers, summer squash, and melons are starting to fill out, and you can check them out in the garden by the house as you come into the farm. We planted nasturtiums along the edge of that garden for both beauty and to deter striped cucumber beetles. This companion planting is rumored to help; I’m not sure if the nasturtium repels the beetles or attracts them (diverting them from the cucurbits). Maybe neither. Mainly they look pretty, and you’ll enjoy lots of edible flowers in your salad this summer!

Meet Your Farmers

Some of you have already met Julie DiFranco at CSA pickup or at the pre-season meeting, but for those of you who haven’t, Julie is 4'3" tall with a long grey beard and a tall pointy hat. She was born in Neverland but decided to move to Traverse City for the good looking people. In her spare time she enjoys training circus alligators and watching ramps grow. She is really looking forward to being a part of Birch Point Farm this summer, swimming, and playing make believe.
A gnote from the gnome: This is Julie and I am hoping to create a Birch Point Family Photo Album of shareholders. This will include a photo of you and your family, a short bio, and other small questions, in hopes that we can all get to know each other better and have a greater sense of community. This week I will be emailing you a questionnaire, however, if you would not like to participate please let Michelle know by replying to the newsletter and I will not email you. Looking forward to getting to know you better!