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CSA Scout: When a Farm Needs to Supplement

CSA bounty from, clockwise from top left, Spiral Path Farm, Great Country Farms, Karl's Farm and Olin-Fox Farms. (Photos by Michelle Forman, Sarah Hamaker, Joe Yonan and Rita Fox)

The bushel box from my CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscription is getting a little fuller and more diverse each week. On Tuesday, when I came home to find it awaiting me in my building's lobby, I was happy to see half of a beautiful cabbage, a decent-size zucchini and a little bag of new potatoes in addition to the green onions, turnips, Daikon radish and herbs that I've been getting since the beginning. As a half-share subscriber, I get fairly limited quantities, but having those potatoes, particularly, made me feel set up for the week.

When I read the newsletter from Karl's Farm, I learned that these aren't their potatoes. Here's what they wrote: "The potato harvest was quite disappointing. With all the rain we knew that the crop could be spoiled, but you never see the full extent of it until you dig them up. Rather than waste what we did harvest, after much discussion, we bought a couple bushels of potatoes from an Amish farm whose crop was more successful. Their potatoes are not organic, but they are local, and we hope our decision was the right one."

I can speak only for myself, but I say: It was. I do prefer organic produce, but I'm in a CSA primarily to support local farmers and eat locally, and Karl's decision helps me accomplish both.

What did I make with my Week 5 box? So far, it was a late dinner of stir-fried rice, made with a new product from Lundberg Farm -- precooked, microwavable long-grain brown rice -- that instead of microwaving I tossed cold into a hot wok with the spring onions, diced zucchini and ginger. I cracked in a duck egg, splashed in some fish sauce, stirred in some chopped basil and had to stop myself from eating it right out of the wok.

Here are edited reports from other CSA Scouts:

Rita Fox, Triangle
Two adults
Share from Olin-Fox Farms, Reedville, Va.
$396 (9 weeks)

In the box:A huge bag of veggies. 1 kohlrabi, 3 onions, 6 yellow and green squash, 1 bunch broccoli, 2 heads Napa cabbage, 3 cucumbers, 1 dozen eggs, 1 bunch basil, 1 head cauliflower, 1 bunch arugula
Meals and cooking plans: Used arugula in a wrap. I also used some basil in a hummus sandwich. It's not enough to make pesto. Gave cauliflower and one cucumber to Dad, just to share our goodies. Will do stir-fries with the broccoli and kohlrabi. Maybe a pasta toss with the squash and remaining basil. Last week, we tossed two squash and the head of Napa cabbage outside for the deer and other visitors.
Other thoughts: Satisfied with quantity, but getting the same things each week gets old, especially if we aren't particularly fond of it (kohlrabi, Napa cabbage). Very happy to get broccoli and basil!

Michelle Forman's zucchini and yellow squash salad. (Michelle Forman)

Michelle Forman, Silver Spring
Two adults
Medium share from Spiral Path Farm, Perry County, Pa.
$413 (25 weeks)

In the box: yellow squash, Swiss chard, garlic scapes, sugar snap peas, green onions, red and green Boston lettuce, zucchini
Meals and cooking plans: Yes! We made it to that place in the summer where my box isn’t filled with only lettuce! I have a very busy week ahead, so I decided to make dishes with these items on Sunday to prevent them from going bad. I put them in the fridge and have used them for lunch and dinner. I made Swiss chard and barley, a delicious dish: savory from the garlic scapes and green onions, tart from the balsamic, and extremely nutritious. My favorite was zucchini and yellow squash salad. Cooking separate dishes is usually not worth the effort. Getting these veggies in my CSA box gave me a reason to cook them! This recipe actually came on the note in my box this week. I am having salads with the lettuce, of course.

Sarah Husain, Columbia
Two adults
Full share (eight items) from One Straw Farm, White Hall, Md.
$485 (24 weeks)

In the box: 2 pints of the best snap peas we've ever had, 3 bunches of beets and beet greens, 2 bunches spinach, 1 bunch chard
Meals and cooking plans: We ate the snap peas plain. They were fantastic. The beets we're also excited about after having them last year: Just boil, rub off the skin, slice and eat plain. I made the two bunches of spinach into dip (from, again, Allrecipes, but I'll use WaPo next week!) with no mayo, added cream cheese, other spices. The spinach dip was great! I blanched the greens by boiling water in a hot pot and pouring it over the greens sitting in a strainer, then added the rest of the ingredients. Last week’s quiche was fantastic, so we'll finish up our dozen eggs and greens by making it again this week. The beets we'll boil and eat plain. Yum.

Sarah Hamaker, Fairfax
Two adults, four children
Half share from Great Country Farms, Bluemont, Va.
$475 (20 weeks)

In the box: 1 pint of sugar snap peas, 1 small bunch of spring onions, 2 good-size heads of broccoli, 4 medium beets with leaves, 1 oregano plant
Meals and cooking plans: Since I was out of town last week, I am able to combine last week’s sugar snap peas with this week’s, giving me enough to create a side dish of steamed snap peas. The farm provided a handy recipe for simple roasted beets that I think will be easy to make. I must confess to snipping off the beet leaves and tossing them, as prior experience has taught me that I will not be using them (even though some recipes do call for beet leaves, I am too chicken to try them). As to the spring onions, I will have to get creative, as I have an overabundance now! Perhaps a nice quiche with some broccoli will use up a lot of the spring onions. If I can’t find a good way to freeze some of the spring onions, I will have to convince my husband to use them in his morning egg dishes and lunch salads to finish them off.
Other thoughts: The oregano plant sits on my counter, along with last week’s cilantro plant. Both are still among the living, but I anticipate that shortly to be not the case, given my propensity to kill living green things.

-- Joe Yonan

By Joe Yonan  |  July 2, 2009; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  CSA Scout  | Tags: CSA, Joe Yonan  
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Sarah - Last summer I sliced spring onions, blanched them for about a minute, and then froze them. Just pulled them out of the freezer to add to stir-fry, pasta, etc., during the year.

Posted by: ColleenFoodieTots | July 3, 2009 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Our jugbay CSA regularly supplements with produce from neighboring farms and the Amish auction. They always let us know if it is not organic. Cool.

Posted by: dsnyder333 | July 3, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Do we know any CSA that delivers into DC, to an address or any of the farmer's market? I don't have a car, and it's not as convenient to go to farmer's markets in the suburb to pick up my share.

And where does one procure duck eggs? :-)

Posted by: Boomerang | July 3, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Boomerang, my CSA, Karl's Farm, delivers right to my address for an extra $100 for the summer season. Click on the link at the top of the post to see their web site -- the summer CSA is sold out, but they'll be signing up members for the fall CSA soon.

Last year, I was a member of the Bull Run Mountain Farm CSA that delivers to 16th and P on Tuesdays. I was disappointed with it, but am liking Karl's better.

For another possibility, you might check out this early CSA Scout post (at that I wrote about Star Hollow Farm, which operates a very flexible "online farmers market" that includes the possibility of a CSA box. They deliver to the Adams Morgan farmers market on Saturdays.

I get my duck eggs from Pecan Meadow Farm at the 14th and U Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

Posted by: joeyonan | July 3, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

@Boomerang - I saw duck eggs amongst those from many other birdies at the Whole Foods in Alexandria recently. A possible option if you can't hit the farmers market.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 6, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Sarah Hamaker's husband is here to report that he used spring onoins in his Monday- morning omelet -- and they livened it up!

Posted by: Discman | July 6, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

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