strawberries

beets, carrots, csa share image, cucumbers, dill, green cabbage, Hakurei salad turnips, nappa cabbage, oak leaf lettuce, parsley, red Russian kale, scallions, strawberries, zephyr squash, zucchini

Week 5, CSA share contents


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Hi folks! Here’s the run down of this week’s share. The summer squash are coming on in full force, so be ready for it! We’re at that good place right now where we have the last of the spring goods (e.g., carrots, beets, and greens) and then we’re coming into the summer goods (e.g., zucchini, squash, cucumbers). Look at this beautiful spread (this is an example of a regular sized share).

strawberries, zucchini, dill and parsley, and zephyr squash

tatsoi, Hakurei turnips, beets, red Russian kale and green oak leaf lettuce
Chinese cabbage, green cabbage, scallions and carrots
green cabbageChinese cabbage
scallions
carrots
beets and greens
zucchini
zephyr squash
cucumbers
red Russian kale (aka ragged Jack)
Hakurei salad turnips
tatsoi
green oak leaf lettuce
dill and parsley
Gorgeous fruits and veggies!
Thanks for stopping by!

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beet greens, beets, cabbage, csa share, kale, lettuce, scallions, strawberries, turnips and greens

Week 4, CSA share contents


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I’m behind on the posting this week, so I’m gonna give you a quit run down of the CSA contents for the week, without all the jibber jabber.

Here are some beautiful root vegetables (beets, carrots and Hakurei turnips and greens) with strawberries.


broccoli
red oak leaf and green butter crunch lettuces
herbs (dill and parsley – WWFM folks, we’re sorry, we completely forgot to pick the herbs – we’ll make up for it 馃檪
red Russian kale (aka ragged Jack)
vates kale

more kale
you can eat the kale stems too. you’ve just got to cook em longer. you can substitute them in recipes that call for celery (unless, of course, you’re going for the distinct celery flavor – but they’re cook and crispy).
spinach
beets

Hakurei turnips
carrots
can you tell I think the veggies are pretty? 馃槈
so happy to have color variety!

cabbage (above)
the whole shebang!

2011 CSA, bok choy, cilantro, dandelion greens, dill, kale, leeks, lettuce, scallions, snow peas, strawberries, swiss chard, tat soi

Week 3, May 9-15 CSA Share Contents


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Howdy do, folks? It seems I’m communicating with all of y’all via the blog and newsletters these days. I’m sad to say that I still haven’t met everyone in the CSA yet, since I’ve been staying home studying for my prelim exam – but that’s only going to be the case for another week and a half and then I’ll be right there with Ben at the drop sites!

So, I did a little something different this week with the pictures of the share contents. I know a lot of CSAs use boxes and that’s something we haven’t really been doing. We don’t use the boxes for a few reasons. The most important reason is because we prefer to keep the produce nice and cool so when you come to pick it up it’s in great condition. Heat works wonders on these veggies and once they wilt, it’s all over. Another reason, which will become pretty apparent once you check out these pictures, is that the produce just won’t fit in one box – at least not a box with a lid on it. I took pictures of each of the items in the box and I also tried to include everything in the box, so y’all could get a nice view of what it would look like if you did get a box of your share.

So, without further adieu…

Here’s the box with the contents of this week’s share all together (minus the dill and cilantro – it seems I forget to take a picture of something every time!)
Broccoli
Dandelion greens
Rainbow chard
Strawberries (one quart for small and regular shares; 2 for large shares)

Berry close up
Snow peas
Close up
Baby leeks

Bok choy
Kale
Kale close up
Red bibb lettuce

Green romaine lettuce
Tatsoi

Scallions
The baby leeks are on top, scallions on the bottom here.
My, that sure is pretty!

Alrighty. That’s all folks! See you in a week or two. Take care and thanks for stopping by!

2011 CSA, beet greens, bok choy, cilantro, dill, lettuce, newsletter, recipes, scallions, spinach, strawberries, tatsoi

Week 2, May 2-8 Share Contents


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Hi folks! I have pictures of the share contents for Week 2. To avoid forgetting to take the pictures, I photographed the produce pre-wash, so you’ll notice soil on the veggies. They’ll be nice and clean when you pick them up, of course. But it’s always good to give them another cleaning before you use them. The only thing we don’t wash at the farm are the strawberries, as they should only be washed right before eating them (to maintain their “shelf” life).

I also just printed out this week’s newsletter. You can expect more in this newsletter compared with last week. This week we’ve included Michele McKinley’s description of Farm It Forward, an idea Ben and I approached AHA (Advocates for Health in Action) in February. We’re having our first fundraiser this Sunday at Market Restaurant. For more info on that, please see the preceding post. We’ve also include some basic information (storage and cooking instructions) to help members make good use of your weekly shares. We’ve highlighted bok choy, rainbow chard, lettuce and dill. And finally, Ben wrote a little segment we’re calling “Farmer Musings” to let members know what’s going on here on the farm. We hope you find the newsletters helpful.

Okay, now, for the pictures!

Here’s a regular/small sized share. Everything is pictured here but the chard and the herbs.
Items in this weeks share include: strawberries, bok choy, tatsoi, beets, dill and cilantro, lettuce, spinach and scallions.

This is a green bib, called Nancy.

This is a red romaine, called Marvel the Four Seasons.
A recipe for tofu stuffed lettuce rolls is in the newsletter.

Tatsoi

Bok Choy. The newsletter includes a recipe for Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Cashew Sauce.

Spinach. We like to steam it all and eat it with eggs for breakfast.

These are scallions. The difference between scallions and green onions, is that green onions are basically baby (bulbing) onions, while scallions will not bulb.
Detroit Red Beets (for full shares only – but many more are on the way for all share sizes)

You can steam or saute the beet greens too!

Cilantro and Dill (a recipe for dill and horseradish biscuits is included in the newsletter)

Yummy, yummy strawberries! This variety is called Chandler. 

Here’s Ben about to wash all of the produce. This week I completely forgot to get a picture of the Rainbow Chard, but I think y’all know what it looks like. And if you forgot, you can always check the Week 1 CSA Share post. We included a recipe for Swiss Chard Gratin in the newsletter.

Washing the spinach.

Well, I suppose that’s it for now! If you have any questions or suggestions for how we can make your membership experience better, please feel free to send us email or give us a call.

Also, we would really love it if members would contribute some recipes of your own so we can share them with everyone.

Thanks for stopping by! Ben will see you at the pick ups and at market. I’m MIA for the time being, working on my doctoral exam (prelim) for global sociology. I take the exam Monday, May 16th. After that, you’ll be seeing my face around a whole lot more! Ben told me a lot of folks from market wished me luck – thank you! I can certainly use it!

P.S. If you know folks that are interested in joining a CSA and you are happy with us, please let them know we are still accepting CSA members. We will prorate new members to account for missed pick ups.

2011 CSA, arugula, bok choy, cilantro, dill, lettuce, spinach, strawberries, swiss chard, tat soi

Week 1, April 24-30 CSA Share Contents


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Hi again folks! Last year, particularly at the beginning of the CSA season, a lot of the newbies were unfamiliar with some of our CSA share items. So, this year, we’re going to try our best to post pictures of all of the items in the shares each week. We’ll see how long that lasts! With all of the other happenings on the farm, photographs are definitely a low priority. But, we will do our best, because I think they are helpful.

And, just to reiterate one more time, it is not too late to sign up for the Summer 2011 CSA with us. We will pro-rate your share if you come on board late.

So, you will notice one MAJOR thing missing from these pictures – strawberries! They’re in the shares, but we forgot to take the pictures in time. We’ll be sure to include them in the photos next week.

Here’s a shot of the regular share box.

And here’s another.
Tat Soi
Arugula
(for large shares only – large shares will also receive twice as many berries, spinach and lettuce, compared with regular and small shares)

Dill and Cilantro (just a little for now, but much more to come!)

Red Russian Kale

Swiss Chard

Bok Choy

Spinach

Red Salad Bowl (an Oak Leaf Lettuce)

And here’s Bocephus. He’s not included but he wanted to say, “Hi!”
2011 CSA, beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peanuts, squash, strawberries, tomatillos, tomatoes, vinaigrette, Western Wake Farmer's Market, zucchini

Strawberries and Summer Crops


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Last weekend we participated in the Western Wake Farmer’s Market Strawberry Festival. We made a creamy strawberry vinaigrette with a tossed salad, topped with fresh-picked, sustainably grown strawberries. Sadly, we didn’t have any strawberries to sell at market last week, but hopefully we will have enough for market this Saturday. We shall see. We are giving first priority to our CSA members, but any left overs will be available for market customers.

Since we ran out of vinaigrette recipe cards last Saturday, we told folks we’d post the recipe on the blog. So, here it is:

Spring Greens Salad with Creamy Strawberry Vinaigrette 
For Vinaigrette
         1 cup chopped strawberries
         陆 cup walnut oil
         录 cup balsamic vinegar
         2-3 Tbsp heavy cream
1. Puree or smash strawberries with a potato masher.
2. Add oil, vinegar, and heavy cream.
3. Mix well. Taste. Adjust to taste. You can add salt and pepper or you can add sugar if you like. We just keep it simple.  
Salad Ingredients 
         Use your favorite salad greens
         We use mesclun mix, mizuna, fris茅e, spinach and arugula 鈥 but we adjust according to what鈥檚 available
         录 to 陆 cup chopped walnuts
         1-2 cups (depends on how much strawberry you want in your salad) chopped strawberries
1. Wash and spin salad greens.
2. Chop salad greens.
3. Add vinaigrette, chopped walnuts and strawberries.
4. Toss ingredients (or you can place strawberries separately on your plate after you鈥檝e tossed the other ingredients to highlight the strawberries in your dish).
5. Enjoy!

As usual, we’ve been keeping fairly busy on the farm. We’ve been planting a lot of our summer crops, including cucumbers, squash, zucchini, watermelon, corn, peanuts (our first time doing this, so it may just be a personal crop), and green beans. We’ll be transplanting tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant and peppers soon – likely later this week.

We’ve also been busily cultivating. Above is a wheel hoe. I went through the potato plants with it to keep them good and free of weeds.We also planted some flowers, which of course, are not yet ready – but here are some pretty flowers that are currently in bloom.

A gorgeous iris (not sure which variety – if anyone knows, please comment below).

This is crimson clover. Ben planted it all over the farm to help provide more nutrients for our soil. Clover is particularly helpful for fixing nitrogen in the soil. It’s also very pretty.

Well, I suppose that’s it for now. This week marks our first week of the Summer CSA. We’ll be providing CSA members with strawberries, lettuce, kale, bok choy, tat soi, spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, frisee, mizuna and dried rosemary. We’ll also include a weekly (hopefully!) newsletter with CSA shares for the first time this season. Members last year liked the blog, but wanted something a little extra. Our weekly newsletter will be an effort to meet that particular need.


If you’re interested in joining our CSA, it’s not too late! Please print out a copy of the CSA brochure (linked to the right of the screen) and mail us your first payment to Ben’s Produce;1000 McLemore Road; Clayton, NC 27520. If you miss the first week or two, we’ll prorate you, so no worries there. And, of course, if you have any questions, please email us at BensProduceNC@gmail.com or give us a call at 919.800.8898.

Have a fantastic week and thanks for stopping by!

farmers market, ramblings, strawberries, wind

Pictures from May 1st Market


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I realized that I’d forgotten to post the latest pictures from market. Y’all may or may not want to see them (if not, move on down for more useful recipes) :).

Ben holding the tent down. It was a little windy last Saturday. We hope to have weights by next Saturday.

So, we tried the “sustainable farming” board (recall, it’s illegal to use the term “organic” if you are not certified organic – that includes saying that we’re “non-certified organic”). It’s completely understandable that farmers who are certified don’t want others to use the term. They pay good money and have to deal with quite a bit of bureaucracy to gain their certification. However, it does seem fairly unreasonable not to use the term “non-certified organic”. Regardless, we are still working through this. It seems that this sign actually generated more questions that the one from market the prior Saturday. I think we’ll keep trying – but may stick to the one from last time. Please let us know if you have any ideas or recommendations for dealing with this. 馃檪

I have no idea what I’m doing here or why I’m looking away. Either Ben snapped a few pictures while I wasn’t paying attention (because there are numerous pictures like these), I rarely look straight forward, or I was being silly striking sideways poses. This was the first time I wore my hair down at market. I don’t think I’ll be doing this again any time soon. It wasn’t too hot for it, but I don’t think hair and edibles really mix ;). I’m fairly certain none went into the produce, but I certainly don’t want to risk it! (I can see Ben grimmacing about that last statement now, “Patricia, don’t tell people there might be hair in their produce. Just let it be.” Whatever 馃檪 farmers’ markets are all about transparency, right? 馃槈

We realize other vendors sell their strawberries for $1 less per quart than we do. However, we have been making a real effort to let folks sample the berries and determine for themselves whether they think the berries are worth the extra $1. I don’t think we’ve won everyone over – which is certainly not the goal. Part of our philosophy regards an emphasis in cooperation among farmers (as opposed to competition) – so, if folks prefer the other berries, well, that’s good for small farmers overall. 馃檪 BUT, we still say, give ours a try. I am convinced we have the best berries in town. I’ve never eaten any as sweet as these (and I grew up picking strawberries in the summers)…I’ll leave it at that ;).

Okay. This will be the LAST blog for a bit. I’m overdoing it. And if you’re wondering why, it’s because I have writer’s block (for school) and I need to get SOMETHING on “paper”. Thanks for bearing with me (and acting as my muse – my papers are about farming).

Good night!
Patricia

CSA, farmers market, pictures, strawberries

Time Flies


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Hi ya’ll. It feels like the weeks are flying by! Before we know it, it will be SUMMER. Ah, summer. And then there will be so many different beautiful tomatoes, amazing summer squash (the flying saucer squash is my favorite, but I’m a sucker for all squash), eggplant, hot and sweet peppers, okra, green beans, sweet smelling herbs, rainbows of flowers…cue “Summer Breeze” :).

But in the meantime, I have great news. The waiting is almost over. Strawberries are on their way! I’ve been looking forward to eating strawberries since the end of strawberry season last year. There’s nothing quite like farm fresh strawberries. Strawberries so sweet, they taste like they’ve already been dipped in sugar (which, I confess I did as a kid eating strawberries from the grocery store). I don’t know if anyone else is as excited as I am, but I can’t wait to eat strawberries, especially in a yummy mixed greens salad. Mmmmm hmmm.

In other news, this weekend marked our third week at market. It was a gorgeous day to be out. I feel so lucky that going to market is completely unlike “going to work”. It’s easy to get up in the morning to go spend a few hours surrounded by awesome people, great music, beautiful colors, and good food.

Well, as usual, I have a few pictures to share.  I hope you’re enjoying this gorgeous weather as much as we are. Have a fantastic weekend and week. Thanks for stopping by!

Patricia

Hey Y’all, So I’ve been busy with the farm and market, working every day! We will be starting CSA pickups in a week on Tuesday, April 27th. Saturday pickup at market will start on Saturday, May 1st. March was colder than usual, which slowed growth on everything. Come April, daily temperatures shot up into the 70’s and 80’s, which has helped. April has been dry though, counteracting the higher temperatures. CSA share sizes will be on the smaller side for the first 2 or 3 weeks as we wait for crops to mature. Don’t be alarmed, we will offset the smaller shares later when other crops come in.

Expect strawberries, lettuce, spinach, tatsoi and other delectable produce the first weeks of CSA, with sugar snap peas, scallions, bok choi, broccoli, carrot and cabbage in addition later in May. We will have recipes for you if you need some inspiration. We can’t wait to get the CSA started!

We have mowed our cover crop of rye, vetch and clover to feed the soil and the microorganisms in the soil. Way down the page below the pics Patricia posted are a couple pics of the crop and Farmer Tom mowing it down. Soil health is the foundation for healthy vegetables, which is part of the foundation of healthy eating and being!  Your health begins in the earth!

Check the online store for availability, which is fairly slim this week. We will have Tuesday online order pickup at our house and 1911 NCSU delivery on Wednesday. Remember to have your orders placed by Monday evening.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store-
http://www.vendio.com/stores/bensproduce.

Current vegetable availability includes:
Arugula
Kale
Mizuna
Lettuce
Mesclun Lettuce
Scallions
Tatsoi

Eat Well and Be Well,
Ben

Market…
Ben weeding strawberries…

Lettuce in the field…

Ben weeding strawberries…

Heirloom Deer Tongue lettuce…
Charlie Parker, happy to be at the farm…


Market…

Ben and our friend Tarah at the second week of market, being silly…                                                                      

Beets in the field…
Market…

Ben in the light…

Our market stand…

Close up of our cover crop of rye, vetch and clover…

Larger view of the cover crop…

Farmer Tom mowing the cover crop…