Sunday, January 9, 2022

BGF NEWS - January 2022 - VOL. XLVII, NO. 3

WHAT’S UP ON THE FARM?


Happy New Year from the farm!


Weather in the past month:      Snow: 5.0"
                                                        Freezing Rain: 0.25"
                                                        High temp: 74° (12/15/21)
                                                        Low Temp: -8° (1/2/22)


The darkest days of winter are now past us and as each each day dawns we have a bit more daylight. The winter crops really appreciate the increasing day length. Crops in the high tunnel are basically held in stasis from mid December until around Valentine's day. Then, it's as though a switch is flipped and they suddenly start to put on lots of new growth (much to the farmer's and VegEmail customers' delight!)


So what are we doing to keep ourselves busy on the farm at this time of year? Mostly, keeping everyone warm, fed and watered, managing and harvesting for the VegEmail sales and massive amounts of office work! (At least that's how it feels.)
Two big recent projects included the annual tasks of The Great Calendar Transfer where all of the target seeding, planting, harvesting and fruiting data is added to the new year's calendar. This is essentially the farm's brain and operations manual. It is amended daily as we go along with weather, task and sales information so at year's end it is the repository of the farm's season. We archive each calendar and then are able to use them as a resource for historical data. Yes, most people probably do this electronically these days, but a paper copy and a handful of colored pens in still how this farmer's mind works and I relish the ritual at the turning of the year.

The other big January task is establishing the garden maps for the upcoming season. These we do electronically, using spreadsheets to visually represent each plot in the field and high tunnels. This allows us to manage our multiple season crop rotation in a fairly efficient manner through simple cut and paste functions rather than having to recreate the entire system each year. There will always be changes on the fly during the season, depending on a variety of conditions, but this sets us up to know how much seed and how many of each plant we will need to start in the coming months. 

Besides paperwork, this is the season of conferences and zoom meetings for farmers. It is also a time of focusing on catching up on fiber work, tool maintenance, organizing, correspondence, ordering supplies and hopefully learning some new things! 

A couple of weeks ago we held out annual "Post Mortem" of the season with the farm crew. This gives us a chance to sit down over a cup of tea and reflect on the season while it is still somewhat fresh in our minds. We review crops, equipment, processes and anything else on which the crew members might have an opinion. This is also the time when I ask them about their plans for the future season (while hoping every one of them declares their intent to return!) 
We were half successful on that mark with two of our crew returning for 2022 and two of them moving on to other things. On that note we want to send three big cheers of congratulations to Rebekah who just celebrated her high school graduation and is looking forward to college in the coming year. 
So what does that mean for the farm? It means we are looking for one additional full-time employee for the coming season and possibly a part-time as well. Do you know someone who might be interested in spending a season outdoors in a beautiful setting, working with great people, eating great food and getting lots of physical exercise? Is it you?? A son or daughter, niece, neighbor or friend? Send them our way, we'd love to talk to them about the possibilities!


Speaking of the upcoming season...
CSA 2022:
Veteran member sign up has begun. If you were a CSA member in 2021, you should have received an email last month with the details and a link to the sign up form. If you didn't receive your membership email for the 2022 season, please let us know ASAP.  Veteran members have until the end of January (just a few more weeks) to lock in their spots and then we will open any remaining shares to our waiting list. Huge thanks to those of you who have already responded and an additional farm-fresh round of applause to those who have already paid (that helps us cover all those new seeds!) If you are interesting in joining us as a new member this season, you can email us at mail@bluegatefarmfresh.com and ask to be put on the waiting list.

Want to get some great local food in the meantime? VegEmail deliveries continue every two weeks throughout the winter. You can order your farm-fresh produce, preserves, seasonings, Ebersole Cattle Co. eggs & meats and Lost Lake Farm LLC cheese from the comfort of home. It's like a farmers market in your Inbox! If you want to order and aren't already getting email announcements about the deliveries, be sure to let us know!

That's about it from us this month. Thank you for making it all the way to the end of the newsletter and for joining us on all our farming adventures. It is such a privilege to live in this beautiful place and to raise safe, healthy food for so many amazing people. We wish you all the joys of the season and a bright new year!


Is a monthly newsletter not enough for you? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.


If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Indigo, Luci & Sky

Sunday, December 19, 2021

BGF NEWS - December 2021 - VOL. XLVII, NO. 2

WHAT’S UP ON THE FARM?

Precipitation in the past month: Snow: trace
                                                            Rain: 0.3"

Happy holidays from all of us at BGF!

I know, I say it almost every winter newsletter, but I can't believe another month has already passed and now here we are looking at the end of 2021. 

And what a month it has been with weirdly warm temperatures followed by the 2nd scariest storm I've ever seen (the worst being our tornado in 2019). I was terrified of what I would wake up to on Thursday morning, envisioning total high tunnel destruction, all the crops within ruined, but miraculously we found very little damage. I am still nearly speechless with shock and gratitude.

So what else have we been up to in the past month? We finished up the harvest season in the field just this week and have cleared most of the field crops and all of the row covers and hardware. We did leave a few hardy crops in place, just see how they fare if our milder than normal temperatures persist. You just never know! Our high tunnel crops are coming along nicely, though some days I feel like all I accomplish is opening all the row covers to let in the sunshine and then recovering them before the temperatures start to drop in the late afternoon.

We took advantage of the unseasonable warm weather to  spend some much overdue time shoring up our small high tunnel, replacing all the lower lumber and the plastic on the roll up sides. I'm fairly sure these much needed updates contributed much to the high tunnel weathering the recent storm. We've also been transplanting assorted perennials and mulching the strawberries.

We are still harvesting and packing orders for our VegEmail deliveries every two weeks. It gets tricky with the colder weather and sometimes the walk-in cooler is the warmest place to pack and store orders, which seems a bit ironic but we don't have heat in the barn so into the walk-in we go! 
It's been a little crazy with our increased order volume so we are working on a plan to temporarily partition off a small area in the barn that we could heat for packing days. We have lots of parts from "retired" high tunnels and think we can put them back to work for this. 
It would be a huge boon if it all works out as hoped.  The VegEmail orders been brisk enough that a couple of our crew members come in to lend a hand for harvest & delivery days. I really appreciate their help and company, otherwise I miss them all winter long!

Most of our other tasks these days are indoors. We recently finished our seed inventory and have nearly all of our seed orders placed.  A few of our orders have already started arriving, so that makes for a fun mailbox run. There is something so full of promise in a new seed packet! The rest of the time we are planning and prepping, doing a bit of fiber work and jam-making and attending virtual meetings and conferences.

Speaking of planning, it is time to move forward on the 2022 CSA season.  Given the past two year's unprecedented demand for CSA shares, we are reaching out early again this year to ensure that we are prepared for another rush on local foods. Veteran members should have received an email earlier this week with the details and a link to the sign up form.  CSA members from 2021 will have until the end of January to lock in their spots and then we will open any remaining shares to our waiting list. If you are interesting in joining us as a new member this season, you can email us at mail@bluegatefarmfresh.com and ask to be put on the waiting list.

That's about it from us this month. Thank you for making it all the way to the end of the newsletter and for joining us on all our farming adventures. It is such a privilege to live in this beautiful place and to raise safe, healthy food for so many amazing people. We wish you all the joys of the season and a bright new year!


Is a monthly newsletter not enough for you? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.


If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)
Indigo, Luci & Sky

Sunday, November 14, 2021

BGF NEWS - November 2021 - VOL. XLVII, NO. 1

What’s up on the farm?


Precipitation in the past month: Rain: 3.3"
                                                           Snow: Trace
VegEmail recipes: 
Roasted Carrots with Rosemary & Fennel

BGF's Favorite Kale Salad (see recipe below)

Welcome to our November newsletter. We will publish these on a monthly basis until the start of the CSA season in June. Our goal is to give our members, customers and friends a window into our world on the "back-side" of the seasonal calendar. So grab a hot beverage, sit back and join us for a little tour of the farm this month.


We are thankful for a time to slow down a bit. Not that a farm ever really rests, but November is usually the time that the pace on the farm really starts to ease. The rush of the main planting and growing season is done, the farm crew is on limited hours and the spent crops are largely out. Somehow, even though these things are mostly true right now, it doesn't feel as "slow" as years past. While we have had a few nights dip below freezing, getting as low as 26°, most of our fall field crops are still doing fairly well. We did lose some things due to cold, but that is always the case at some point during the fall and we are pleased that we are still harvesting from the field in mid November. It is particularly appreciated since our VegEmail sales have been very popular again this year. We are SO very thankful to all our amazing customers who place orders throughout the year. We never could have imagined that it would be possible for us to leave our 15+ years of farmers markets and not only survive but thrive! It is only because we have the most AMAZING customers and we are so very thankful for you!

So, besides harvesting and packing a crazy number of VegEmail orders, what have we been doing? Well, even though we have had an exceptionally warm fall, as the temperatures started to cool, it was time to get the row covers on our late crops. Due to the dry conditions, our fall crops were slow growing and many of them hadn't yet been harvested by the end of October. 
So row covers to the rescue, these big pieces of fabric on wire hoops buy us (and the crops) some extra time. They aren't a fail-safe, but they do help insulate cold-tolerant crops and hopefully allow us to continue to harvest from the fields later in the season. They are "a bit" of a pain, requiring a fair amount of hardware that all has to be installed and maintained and it is always a battle on windy days.
Every time we harvest, the covers have to be taken off and put back on, so everything is more labor intensive but mostly the effort is worth it. This year, it has definitely been a boon to have them in place for those handful of below freezing nights.

So far, we haven't had to start harvesting from the high tunnels yet, which means those crops will be more plentiful once we do have to move inside.  

Some of our crops don't get covers, especially root crops. We just let them grow to the size we want and them harvest them all at one time. We can do this because these crops store well for an extended time in the cooler. This includes carrots, beets, turnips, radishes and daikon. This makes for some very long harvest days as they all have to be washed and topped (greens removed) before going into the cooler. But once that work is done, it is such a delight to have them all ready to be bagged up for orders. Happily, as of last week, these crops are all tucked into the walk-in cooler for the season.
Clearing the beds of spent crops is always a big job in the fall. All the plant matter goes to one of our composting piles. Then all the trellises, support posts and fabric mulch have to be cleared and stored. Irrigation system parts are all rolled up, labeled and stored as well. These tend to be messy and sometimes wet tasks and we were very pleased that this year, those all happened on fairly warm days, as often that isn't the case. 

Usually the final really big fall task is planting the garlic crop for next year. All of the heads are broken into cloves and each clove is hand planted. Our farm crew has gotten really efficient at this task but it is still a big project. This year we planted a bit under 200 pounds of garlic, which translates to about 3600 cloves. 
Then once the cloves are set, they are all covered with soil and the whole plot is mulched with straw. It is a huge project and one that we celebrate once completed!

As I mentioned, we still have most of the fall crops producing, so much of the cleaning up is yet to come, not to mention clearing all that row cover fabric and hardware. So there is still plenty to do outside and we just hope the weather will continue to be cooperative.

This is also the time of year when I start focusing more on our yarn and fiber inventories. There's lots of fiber and yarn to dye and much spinning to be done.
We were super excited to release our new line of hand-dyed sock yarn earlier this month and look forward to continuing our dyeing experiments there. Just a reminder that we offer our UPick Yarn sales on the first VegEmail delivery each month in Des Moines. So locals and stop in a peruse our full fiber inventory. Folks who have yarn interested but aren't in DM can contact us directly for other options and we are happy to ship any of our fiber products.

VegEmail deliveries have now switched over from our weekly summer schedule to every other Tuesday in Des Moines at Peace Tree-Des Moines Branch and in Knoxville at the Grand Theater. We will continue to do these sales every two weeks until the first of May. Our next delivery is Tuesday, 11/23 and the order form  will go out on 11/17 at 5pm. If you aren't receiving the VegEmail order form and you would like to, just fill out the form here: 
VegEmail Sign Up

 CSA 2022: We have already started getting questions about next year's CSA season. Given the strong interest that we had last spring, we are planning to open our sign up period early again this year. So "current" CSA members from the 2021 season can start signing up in early December. Then we will open any available spots to our waiting list in January. So keep your eyes open for more CSA details to come next month.

All the activities and craziness aside, we are thankful for the privilege of living here on this beautiful farm, raising tasty, healthful produce alongside our fabulous farm crew. We couldn't do it without our amazing family, customers, members and community supporters. So we are thankful for you! We hope your Thanksgiving is filled with a bounty of delicious foods and time with your favorite people. Be safe out there!

Is a monthly newsletter not enough for you? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Indigo, Luci & Sky

BGF's Favorite Kale Salad  
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons dried cranberries or cherries
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
3 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 bunches kale (about 1 pound), center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, (if using salted, cut down on the 1tsp salt above)
Parmesan cheese shavings

Place cranberries in small bowl; add balsamic vinegar, seasoned rice vinegar, honey oil and salt and allow to soak several hours (overnight is even better).

Place kale in a large bowl, add cranberry mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese shavings and sunflower seeds just before serving.

Also very tasty topped with cooked chicken, tuna or salmon for a one-dish meal!

Recipe Source:  adapted from an epicurious recipe by Dan Barber

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

BGF NEWS - October 12, 2021 - VOL. XLVII, NO. 20

In this week’s box:


Carrots: asst.
Chard: Bright Lights Mix
Cherry Tomato Mix
Fennel
Garlic: Music
Lettuce Bouquets: asst. varieties
Onions: Patterson (yellow storage onion)
Tomatoes: asst.
Turnips (baby): Hakurei

and perhaps one of the following:
Bean Mix
Broccoli/Purple Peacock: florets & leaves
Eggplant: Orient Express (thin, dark purple, Asian-style), Orient Charm (thin, neon purple, Asian-style) or Listada De Gandia (purple/white striped, Italian-style)
Red Okra: Burgundy and Candle Fire
Summer Squash:  Slik Pik (lt. yellow, long), Zephyr (yellow & light green)

For those with the Herb option: curly parsley, garlic chives, thyme

Featured Recipes:  


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 1.65"

Well, here it is, the final delivery of the 2021 CSA season. It's mindboggling to me that 20 weeks have gone by, seemingly in the blink of an eye! CSA veterans will probably recognize that I say this every year at the last delivery, but it never fails to amaze me.

In starting work on this edition of the newsletter, I was curious what the first photo was that I took at the start of the CSA season. Turns out it was this one of the turnip harvest for that first delivery. It seems somehow appropriate, turnips to start the season, turnips to finish!
Last pic of the 2021 CSA season
First pic of the 2021 CSA season

We spent much of the past week cultivating in the high tunnels and the fields, knowing (hoping) our dry conditions would soon come to an end. 
If we can stay ahead of the weeds at this point in the season, we are way ahead of the game when we have to put all the row covers on the crops which should happen soon. I feel like the beds now look about the best they have all season. 
With the rain and cooler weather recently, we've been tucking into the barn with the dogs for extended garlic, shallot and onion cleaning sessions. By the end of the day Monday, we finally got through the last crate! So now all of the allium crops are ready for storage and/or sale. We still have to prep all the seed garlic for planting, but we are now one step closer to that goal!

Final Delivery Note:
 In case you missed it above, today is the final delivery of the 2021 CSA season. Thank you for joining us on this Veggie Adventure. We hope you have enjoyed the journey! 
Special thanks to our delivery hosts, Peace Tree Brewing Co. and the Grand Theater for giving us a home away from home. Starting in November, we will publish a monthly newsletter updating you on the current goings-on around the farm. We will start sign-ups for the 2022 CSA season in early December. 

VegEmail Sales:  Don't worry that with the end of the CSA season you'll be stuck with grocery store eggs and produce, we continue to do weekly Saturday VegEmail sales until the end of October. Starting in November we will move to bi-weekly Tuesday evening sales. You should continue to get the VegEmail announcements. If you see things you would like to purchase, just fill out the order form and then meet us that following Tuesday at Peace Tree in DM or the Grand Theater in Knox. 

Upcoming dates of note:

Tuesday, Oct 12th: final CSA delivery of the 2020 season
Saturday, Oct 30: final weekly Saturday VegEmail delivery
Tuesday, Nov 9: bi-weekly VegEmail deliveries begin. We plan to  continue these deliveries on Tuesdays, every 2 weeks until the end of April.

Member Spotlights: We want to thank all of our members who took the time to share a bit with the group this season. Whether featured here in the newsletter or folks who posted recipes, photos, experiences and questions in the BGF Community group or even just shared a question or suggestion with us or another member at a pick up. That "value-added" aspect of the CSA is such an important part of the experience. It is the aspect of "Community" Supported Agriculture that often goes unrecognized in most forums but one that we strive to foster and celebrate!

A little detail on your produce this week:


Beans: Fresh beans are an easy "store."  Just leave them in their plastic bag and keep them in the produce drawer.  Can last up to 2 weeks.

Broccoli: Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If soaked in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.

Eggplant: Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters.  Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator.  Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild.

Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary.  Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu.  Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.  The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared.  Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.

Fennel: Cut off the stalks where they emerge from the bulb. To use the feathery foliage as an herb, place the dry stalks upright in a glass filled with two inches of water, cover the glass loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. The unwashed bulb will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least a week. To use, remove any damaged spots or layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and check the inner core. If it’s tough, remove it with a paring knife. Fennel should be washed carefully, because dirt can lodge between the layers of the bulb. Chop or mince the leaves.


Okra: These lovely, dark red, horn-shaped vegetables are a warm weather treat. Extremely cold sensitive, store in their plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge, or place the plastic bag in a small paper sack and store in the crisper drawer and use within the week. Traditional southerners will cut into rounds, bread in cornmeal and fry, but our favorite version is our dear friend Annie's method, "All I do is rinse off the pods and lay them in a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. Ten to fifteen minutes is all it takes...twenty if the pods are really big and "woody" feeling. I put salt on them and eat as finger food. It reminds me of young sweet corn."

Root crops: Remove leafy tops and store them like other greens. The roots should be placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and used within a few weeks.


Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel.

Tomatoes: prefer to reside on your counter and not in the refrigerator unless they have been sliced.


All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. Large leaf greens can benefit by being wrapped in a linen or cotton towel inside the bag if excess moisture is a concern.

** NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)


Indigo, Luci & Sky

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

BGF NEWS - October 5, 2021 - VOL. XLVII, NO. 19

In this week’s box:


Beets: Ace, Chioggia, and/or Golden
Braising Greens Mix: Tokyo Bekana, Amara & Tatsoi
Cherry Tomato Mix *descriptions in 7/20 newsletter
Garlic
Head Lettuce or Lettuce Bouquets: asst. varieties
Peppers: Sweet *descriptions in 8/3 newsletter
Potatoes: Yukon Gold
Shallots
Tomatoes: last of the season! (unless they aren't)

and perhaps one of the following:
Bean Mix
Broccoli: Belstar and/or Imperial
Eggplant: Orient Express (thin, dark purple, Asian-style), Orient Charm (thin, neon purple, Asian-style) or Listada De Gandia (purple/white striped, Italian-style)
Red Okra: Burgundy and Candle Fire
Summer Squash: 8 Ball (round, green), Golden Glory (yellow zucchini),  Slik Pik (lt. yellow, long), Zephyr (yellow & light green)

For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, rosemary & lemon balm

Featured Recipes:  


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.80"

Even though all the signs have been pointing that way, it is still hard to believe we are now in October and next week is the final CSA delivery of 2021. You would think someone who has as much contact with nature as I do would no longer be surprised with the progression through the seasons, but I am, every single time. 
So here we are, just one week from our first average frost date with many of our warm-season crops still reaching for the waning sun. It isn't unusual that we still have some of those crops at this point in the year, but it is unusual that we have pretty much all of them. So even though we keep suggesting that this is the final delivery for "xyz" crop, we just keep sending them out! And we will do so with all of them that are available, until the very end...also known as next week.

We spent much of the past week cultivating fall crops, cleaning garlic and sowing another couple of high tunnel beds with arugula and salad mix. There are just 2 more beds to plant, both of them are currently in basil and we just can't bring ourselves to tear it out yet but it's day's are numbered. 

We worked like crazy last Wednesday to mow, disc and seed oats in a large area in our El Sur plot that had been potatoes, garlic and squash. This will serve as a cover crop to keep the soil in place over the winter and be in better condition for next year's plantings. It made for a long evening, but we got it all done just in time for an overnight rain. It was exactly what we and the oats needed and they are already starting to germinate.

Upcoming dates of note:

Tuesday, Oct 12th: final CSA delivery of the 2020 season
Saturday, Oct 30: final weekly Saturday VegEmail delivery
Tuesday, Nov 9: bi-weekly VegEmail deliveries begin. We plan to  continue these deliveries on Tuesdays, every 2 weeks until the end of April.

Member Spotlight: Dr. Sandy Seeman
I invited Sandy to be our final Spotlight member this season because she is a longtime member and a truly dedicated CSA produce user, even planning her vacations around her CSA shares. But also because she is a naturopathic doctor and I find her knowledge and perspective of food & health fascinating and insightful.

I am Dr. Sandy Seeman and I live with my teenage son Sage and my partner Gered, a self employed plumber and contractor.  I am a naturopathic doctor, a practitioner that uses diet and lifestyle to help people prevent and recover from illnesses and live their best life.  Naturopathic doctors believe in the body’s ability to heal itself and we see our role as investigating to determine the cause of an individuals discomfort and teaching them how to removing obstacles to healing.  

We have been members of Blue Gate for years now and this year decided on a double CSA as we kept running out of vegetables last year!  We also wanted to support local farmers as much as we can with our food dollars.  I love that my food travels such a short distance and that the healthy soil that Blue Gate nurtured becomes part of my body and microbiome.  My favorite part of the CSA is the commitment to eating a plant focused diet and the fresh flavors we get each week that help us do that.  

We also have a garden at our home, which is also my office, and that inspires my clients and shows my commitment to walking my talk and doing our part to live and walk lightly on the planet.  What I also love is that my garden is a wonderful joy and hobby but there isn’t the pressure for it to provide a significant portion of our food needs.  If something doesn’t grow or work out (as it does each year) I know I will be getting my food needs met by the CSA.  It also allows us to preserve anything extra from our garden for the winter months.  I can also get expert advice from Jill about my garden too.  

The CSA has challenged me to try new recipes and be inventive with a double portion this year.  Early in the spring when we get much of the same we began making a blended whole vegetable green drink that has become a favorite pre dinner snack.  It has varied throughout the seasons of spring, summer and now fall.  What sparked it is doing more learning of wild foraging and realizing that many of the “weeds” we were clearing out of the garden as a nuisance were incredibly nutritious and it was silly for us to be putting them on our compost pile and purchasing spinach or lettuce to eat instead.  We put thistles, lambs quarters, plantain, dandelions, purslane, and others once we identified them and knew they were edible.  We have utilized kale, chard, and other greens from the CSA in the green drink as well.  It is such a great replenishment and has done wonders for our energy and immunity this year as well as kept our garden cleaner than ever!  We have made big salads, lots of ratatouille this summer, and another favorite is a ginger peanut sauce that goes over stir fry or salads.  

Basic Green Drink recipe for 2-3
1 lemon, cut into pieces
2 large handfuls of greens of choice
1 cucumber, carrot, tomato, fennel  beet or other veggie
1 small handful of dates
1/2 cup frozen fruit - blueberries, strawberries, pineapple are favorites
Small handful fresh herbs - fennel, basil, rosemary, mint
Water to cover and blend
 
Ginger Peanut Sauce for salads, stir fry
3-4 tbsp peanut butter (other nut butters or tahini would work too)
3-4 tbsp oil like avocado or coconut 
1 tsp or to taste grated ginger
1 tsp or to taste minced garlic
Honey to taste
Salt to taste



A little detail on your produce this week:


Beans: Fresh beans are an easy "store."  Just leave them in their plastic bag and keep them in the produce drawer.  Can last up to 2 weeks.

Beets- Cut off greens, leaving an inch of stem. Refrigerate the unwashed greens in a closed plastic bag and use with your chard mix as beets and chard are closely related. Store the beet roots, unwashed, with the rootlets (or “tails”) attached, in a plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks, but their sweetness diminishes with time. Just before cooking, scrub beets well and remove any scraggly leaves and rootlets. If your recipe calls for raw beets, peel them with a knife or vegetable peeler, then grate or cut according to your needs baby/young beets usually don't need to be peeled

Broccoli: Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If soaked in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.

Eggplant: Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters.  Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator.  Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild.

Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary.  Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu.  Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.  The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared.  Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.


Okra: These lovely, dark red, horn-shaped vegetables are a warm weather treat. Extremely cold sensitive, store in their plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge, or place the plastic bag in a small paper sack and store in the crisper drawer and use within the week. Traditional southerners will cut into rounds, bread in cornmeal and fry, but our favorite version is our dear friend Annie's method, "All I do is rinse off the pods and lay them in a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. Ten to fifteen minutes is all it takes...twenty if the pods are really big and "woody" feeling. I put salt on them and eat as finger food. It reminds me of young sweet corn."

Peppers:  Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.

Shallots: the grown-up cousins of onions, shallots have a rich, mild flavor that really shines in soups, sauces, salad dressings, vegetables and egg dishes.  Store in a cool, dark place with good air circulation.


Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel.

Tomatoes: prefer to reside on your counter and not in the refrigerator unless they have been sliced.


All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. Large leaf greens can benefit by being wrapped in a linen or cotton towel inside the bag if excess moisture is a concern.

** NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)


Indigo, Luci & Sky