2021 CSA Newsletter #2

Week 2 is here, folks! Last week was the second week of the Summer Internship for the students and they did an outstanding job with everything they were tasked with. Harvesting for the first CSA pickup was what they started their week off with. In the spring, we did some harvesting here and there for Coltivare but this was really the first time that they harvested with a purpose and deadline to meet.

When working with interns, it's really important that they understand the "why" when learning the "how". So, last week's harvest it was crucial that they understood why we were harvesting certain crops before others. We spend a lot of the summer learning various "harvest and post-harvest" techniques for the crops that we grow. Since it was still quite hot last week, we needed to harvest all of the greens that were in the share first thing while it was still relatively cool. With all crops, the breakdown process begins immediately after harvest. Some crops like potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables, that process can take months. But for leafy greens, especially salad-type, that breakdown process happens much faster and the time of day when they are harvested can impact that. By harvesting early in the morning, the "field heat" isn't as hot and the greens won't wilt as quickly. After harvest, we hydro-cool the greens in a cold water bath to rehydrate them. The triple rinse that we do serves two purposes, cleaning the greens and bringing them back to an appropriate temperature, which will increase the shelf life. We also harvest greens a day or so ahead of time because allowing them to sit in the walk-in cooler for at least 24 hours also increases the shelf life. You may notice that your greens are a bit wet when you get them. That is done intentionally as part of the post-harvest handling. Because many of the greens that we grow are so tender, they can bruise and be damaged very easily. We handle the greens at 3 different stages: harvest, wash and bagging and try to be mindful of how they are handled at each stage. Instead of using a spinner, which would be an additional 2 handles, we let greens drip dry as best as possible. If you find things a bit too wet, you can always add a small piece of paper towel to your bag to absorb some moisture or use a spinner if you have one.

Moving on from that brief "harvest and post-harvest" handling of vegetables 101. The second half of the week, a lot of time was spent in the greenhouse and hoophouse areas. We worked on getting the greenhouse beds ready for tomatoes (more on that in next week's newsletter) and potted on close to 100 hot peppers in gallon pots for their summer/fall residency in the greenhouse. Growing peppers indoors, especially hot peppers, allows them to turn color in our shorter growing season. When they turn color, they get their full flavor and heat. We're growing about 10 different varieties of hot peppers this season, so get ready for some heat later in the season. There was also some more transplanting and seeding done which is accomplished weekly.

Let's talk about the week 2 share. This week's choice will once again have spinach, a stir fry mix of bok choy and tat soi, black radishes, carrots, garlic greens, thyme and sage. This will be the last week for seedlings and there will also be some oregano. And drum roll, please..... strawberries are here!! This is our last season with this planting. We try to keep our strawberries for three seasons before planting new ones and this is year 3. We will be planting new plants in a few weeks for next year. Strawberry season is hit or miss depending on the weather and it's always over way too quickly. But the berries I've tasted so far are super tasty. We grow 3 different varieties that should ripen over a few weeks but due to the heat we've experienced we will be picking from all 3 tomorrow for pickup.

Have a great week!


Farmer Todd