Big picture, small details

Steve had a chance to step back and take a broader look at organic farming this week. He attended the Student Organic Seed Symposium (SOSS) in Madison, not as a student but as a community member. Steve studied plant breeding at UW/Madison and we maintain close ties with the horticulture department, which houses one of the largest public vegetable breeding programs in the country.  I’ve written before about our collaborations with Dr. Irwin Goldman and Clare Luby at UW/Madison.  I’ll write soon about this year’s projects.

SOSS describes itself as a “student-driven symposium focussed on fostering dialogue between students, researchers and industry professionals.”  I read that and thought “farmers too” then realized that (ha!) we are “industry professionals.”  The symposium brought some of our heroes to Madison: Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds; Rob Johnson, founder of Johnnys Seeds; John Navazio, friend and crop breeder at Johnnys Seeds, plus Irwin Goldman and Bill Tracy of UW/Madison.  They are all stars of organic vegetable breeding.  Steve attended the Organic Seed School, a day of discussions and demonstrations about breeding vegetable varieties specifically for organic conditions, then joined a evening discussion on the same topic.  Our farming work often feels routine this time of year.  It’s good to pause, consider the larger issues we are involved with, and learn something new.

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Today, UW prof Jim Nienhuis brought a group of students, scientists and farmers to visit our farm. All are visitors from Central America. Jim brings a group each year to tour our farm. The group is intensely interested in small scale agriculture. We answer as many questions as we can.  I think we learn as much from the exchange as they do.

Then it was back to work for Steve, specifically melons.  Steve harvests every watermelon we grow for you, unlike other crops which are harvested by our capable crew.  Judging watermelon ripeness is exacting, and Steve remains the expert.  The man loves watermelons and wants to send you our best melons.  You would not believe how many he eats this time of year.  Beth

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Excuse the older photo. I haven’t snapped Steve in the melon patch yet this year. From left, Bri, Kyle, David and Steve harvest melons.

When should you refrigerate tomatoes?

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Ripe tomatoes (top) and less-ripe tomatoes (bottom).

As usual, we have packed a mix of ripe and less-ripe tomatoes so you can stretch them through the week. The top two tomatoes in the photo are ready to eat. The bottom tomatoes need to ripen at room temperature for a few days.  Put on your counter or keep in a brown paper bag.

Tomatoes retain their best flavor and texture when stored at room temperature, no lower than 55oF.  However, you should refrigerate your tomatoes if they are fully ripe and you don’t expect to eat them right away.  It is better to sacrifice a little flavor and texture than lose your tomatoes to rot.  Also, fully-ripe tomatoes are less sensitive to chilling injury.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (August 13/14, 2015, week #13, purple EOW)

Sweet corn, 7 or 8 ears
Tomatoes, 3.5 lb, mostly slicers, maybe a few Romas
Red watermelon AND/OR muskmelon
Italian beans, 3/4 lb
Carrots, 2 lb
Red bell peppers, 2
Red Italian frying pepper, 1
Walla Walla onion, 1
Red onion, 1 or 2
Parsley, 1 bunch
We have some small harvests to share.  Each site will receive globe eggplant OR Japanese eggplant OR Silver Slicer cucumbers OR cucumber OR zucchini.

Next week’s box will probably contain plum and slicing tomatoes, melon, peppers, garlic, herbs and more summer veggies.

Melons – Each site will get either ‘Starlight’ red watermelon OR a ripe muskmelon.  One or two sites will get a small red watermelon plus a small muskmelon named “Sugar Cube,” a variety bred to be small and tasty.
Onions –  We’ve sent a sweet Walla Walla onion plus a more pungent red onion.  The mild Wallas are best raw, the red onion will fry nicely.  We sent this combination because you can tell them apart.

THIS WEEK’S RECIPES

Comforting Classics

Carrot Salad with Caramelized Lemon
Sweet Red Pepper Sauce with Capellini
Light Corn Vegetable Soup
Basic Summer Tomato Sauce
Eggplant and Pepper Bruschetta 
Marinated Carrot and Onion Pickles

Outside the Box Recipes

Sesame Noodles with Peppers and Carrot
Smoky Red Pepper Sauce
Corn O’Brien
Catalan Tomato Bread
Eggplant Tomato Tian
Balsamic Onion Jam

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Feel free to add shredded carrot and even a bit of shucked corn, if desired. Add more liquid to accommodate these extra vegetables.

Shrimp and Pepper Paella

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Strip Steaks with Sweet Pepper Ragout

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