Alright folks, I think it is safe to say that summer is really here! We have had some good shares for ya all so far, but this weeks share is what being a CSA member is all about! While it has been a goofy growing season for some things, it is looking like we are going to have a dynamite year for tomatoes. So we are happy to share the first round of garden fresh tomatoes with you, our members. You will find a selection of Brown Ethiopians, Black Krims, and a few various red and yellow tomatoes that I do not know the names of. Each share has 2 tomatoes that can be used for slicing or in salads, or could also be used with the salsa pack that is also a part of this weeks share. In the salsa pack you will find tomatoes, purple and red jalapenos, yellow onions, and a head of garlic. All you will need to finish a fresh salsa will be a little freshly squeezed lime juice, some salt to taste, and the cilantro and parsley in the herb bouquet.
Also included in this weeks share are all the fixing you will need to make a great garden salad – salad mix, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, beets, and Rainbow Swiss chard. The summer squashes are starting to come in nicely so there is a mix a yellow and green summer squashes spread out over the shares, a head of cabbage and an herb bouquet that contains parsley, cilantro, and basil. And lastly, this weeks bread is a simple whole wheat loaf.
A big thank you to everyone who passed on the kind thoughts to us last week concerning the death of our little puppy George. It was a hard few days for us with a lot of tears, but we are moving forward! We are glad he was a part of our family for the short time he was around, and we are also glad that his pain and suffering is over. Until next week, enjoy the food and let us know how your salsa turns out!!
Another week has come and gone here at the Dead End Alley Farm. And with that week we find ourselves a bit closer to the Fall equinox that eventually happens every season. But even with that melancholy time of year on the horizon, we still have a big handful of weeks left to enjoy with family, friends, and good food. And good food is what being a CSA member is all about.
This week we have a few new items that we are very happy to share with you all. First off are the first potatoes of the season. There is a small mix of whites, russets and blues spread out over all of the member shares. Second up is a nice selection of both red and golden beets. This time last year we were swimming in beets, and sadly we are far behind that high mark of last year, but at least we have some. And third, the garlic harvest is in! We had a great year with our garlic, and grew over 300 heads spanning 7 different varieties. The garlic that you will find in your share today is considered fresh garlic, so it will peel slightly different than garlic that has been cured, but otherwise is identical to heads of garlic that you are used to already using.
Also included in this weeks share you will find radishes, a mix of cucumbers, celery, summer squash, salad mix, and dwarf-blue kale. All of these could be used to make a big, garden salad. Speaking of recipes, to go along with your salad, why not roast the root veggies. Coarsely chop the potatoes, carrots, beets, and garlic ( I might also include some celery in this as well) and add to them a bit of olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and a handful of herbs, and let sit for about an hour. Preheat oven to 350, and roast the veggies for about an hour or so and serve with fresh salad, and bread!
Lets finish the rest of the share now. This weeks bread is a hardy white bread baked with salted sunflower seeds. With all the baking I have done lately, this one may be my favorite so far. You will also find chicken stock, and also strawberry and rhubarb syrup. It was suppose to have been jam, but it failed to set-up properly. Don’t let that fool you, it is still wonderfully sweet and can still be eaten with toast in the morning, added to yogurt, or served over ice cream!!
We pride ourselves on the value added products, as the name says. By adding value to a weekly CSA share through products like stocks, breads, and preserves, we bring it to the next level. We all like fresh bread, but most people don’t have the time to bake it themselves. And we all like jam or other sweet things but we don’t have the fruit to make it with. These kinds of products are not only delicious, but also save you time in the kitchen. Its our job to make at least a part of your dining experience fresh and local and packed with added value. Enjoy!
Today I am having a hard time finding the words for the weekly newsletter. It is not that events are going poorly or that I have bad news to share, but I think it comes from a state of stasis. The gardens find themselves at an interesting point in their journey thus far. While we still have close to another 2 full months of decent growing weather (hopefully and keeping my fingers crossed), I feel that right now our gardens have reached a mid-season blandness. While this could be seen as a negative, lets not go there, but instead try to find some beauty in the plain!
Most of what you are receiving this week are some of the familiar faces you have already met over the last 2 months or so. Once again there is a nice bag filled with freshly picked beans. What I might do with some tonight is just lightly saute’ them in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. A few other cast members you will find are kohlrabi (purple this week), carrots, a couple of cukes, a purple Marconi pepper, fresh baby salad mix, an herb bouquet with celery, basil, sage, and cilantro and rhubarb.
One new veggie we have included this week are the first heads of cabbage this year! I know, besides myself, there is at least one other cabbage lover that is a part of this CSA so there is at least one thing to get really excited about! Tomorrow I am going to try making something called Bierocks, a german bread stuffed with ground beef and braised cabbage, so there is one idea you could try. You could also put together a slaw also using the kohlrabi, carrots, and onions. One last idea, is making up a small batch of sauerkraut. If you decide to try that, google small batch sauerkraut using mason jars to find a recipe that looks good to you.
And lastly is this weeks bread. It is a whole wheat, oatmeal, and honey bread. Since taking over many of the CSA responsibilities this year, baking the bread has also become a part of my life again. Thanks to the CSA, I think I have found a new hobby that the whole family enjoys! Well that wraps up this newsletter, and another week. Thanks again for your support, and we will see ya at pick-up time!!
Mid July and the garden grows well, the bees are ramping up honey production, and the weather has finally dried out a bit. While the gardens are still a little behind, nature does provide, and more produce is coming into season! The other night we were invited to a get together of other CSA farmers and nursery growers, and it was a relief to hear that not only is it our operation that is behind, but most of their farms are also a few weeks behind schedule as well.
But none the less, we have a lot to offer this week. As always, we have freshly baked bread – this week it is a salted, whole wheat round loaf that was truly delectable fresh out of the oven and slathered with butter. We are also very happy to share in the abundant harvest of cherries again. If you don’t mind a sour treat, there is a good chance that you will finish these right out of the box!
You will also find another bag of our wonderful green/yellow beans. We have been growing this same variety now for about 3 years and they are abundant producers that are also a very nice fresh bean. Other veggies you may recognize from last week are the lemon cucumbers, kohl rahbi, and a herb bouquet that includes parsley, cilantro, wild marjoram and garlic chives.
A couple new items that you will find are baby carrots, swiss chard, dino kale, some small spicy peppers and the first zucchini of the year. A big shout out is in order to the good folks at Green Earth Growers who were kind enough to share some of their harvest of green cukes and zucchini with us, Thanks!!
A few recipes ideas could include a spicy cucumber salad incorporating the cukes, spicy peppers, some parsley and cilantro, salt, pepper, and some lemon or lime juice. You could also turn this same idea into a salsa if you have tomatoes to use.
The green beans, swiss chard, and zucchini could easily be turned into a nice fresh salad topped with a homemade vinaigrette, and the cukes and carrots could just be eaten raw with a homemade yogurt dip.
Last week Karyn made a great pasta sauce using mild Italian sausage, and the herbs included in this weeks share (not the cilantro though). She cooked off the meat and drained off the excess fat. Set the meat aside, and using a bit of the liquid fat, throw in all of the herbs (coarsely chopped) and saute’ lightly for a few minutes. Add a small amount of either whole milk, half & half, or heavy cream and cook down for a few more minutes. Add back the meat, salt and pepper to taste and serve over the pasta of your choice.
Well that closes out another week. It is hard to believe that August is right around the corner, but with that you can look forward to even more produce. Soon enough you will start seeing tomatoes, more peppers, garlic, and potatos. Until next week, enjoy the food, and thanks again for your support!!
After a slow start this growing season, it seems that summer has finally arrived (fingers crossed)! After all the rain we have been getting, the water-logged gardens have had a chance to dry out a bit, and the roots have started to dig deeper. The greens grow big, flowers are starting to bloom, and some of the projects we started well over 5 years ago are starting to pay off.
There are a few things about our CSA that sets us apart. The first is that we are so small. While this can be both advantageous and a hurdle, we choose to use it to our advantage. An example of this is the use of many different perennials that can be found throughout our gardens. The obvious ones are the many fruit bearing trees that have been planted over the last 8 years. And this year we are proud to offer our first real harvest of Meteor cherries to our CSA members. Meteor cherry is a sour cherry that can be eaten right off of the tree, baked in pies, turned into jam, eaten with ice cream, or used in many other ways (wine, infused into hard liquor). It is the use of these perennials, especially the use of the fruit trees and berry shrubs, in our weekly shares, that in a few more years will help to set us apart from some other CSAs that are out there.
Also this week you will find the first round of green beans, onions, kol rabi dwarf blue kale, collard greens salad mix, cucumbers, a small bunch of herbs including parsley, and a new take one the bread recipe.
Some ideas for recipes this week – a green bean, kol rabi and cucumber salad. Quickly blanch the beans, peel and shred the kol rabi, and seed and dice the cukes. Add a vinaigrette made out of cider vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper, and any other ingredients you find appealing and you have a nice salad for a hot summers night.
Kale and collards are two of my favorite greens. Dice up some onion and saute’ those with a few strips of diced bacon. Coarsely chop the greens and add those to the mix. Using stock of your choosing, continue to braise the greens adding more stock as it cooks down. Add salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of sugar and a tablespoon of vinegar and you have a great side dish to some BBQ!
A quick reminder, we will always take back jars to reuse, and remember to bring back the canvas bags so we don’t run out! Until next time, enjoy the weather and eat some good, local food!
Happy July friends and family! Another month passes by as well as many events. As most of you know, our family was in Italy for about nine days and we did not provide a CSA share last week. As well as being gone for over a week, there was major flooding in our neighborhood which included the sanitary sewers backing up; we’ll just say it was a real sh*tty situation! But we are back and are providing shares for all four of our members (including the bi-weekly 1/2 shares) this week.
As the world deals with climate change, it is becoming more noticeable in everyday life as well. While the weather and climate have always had fluctuations and natural cycles, it seems to becoming more apparent that the climate is truly shifting towards unpredictable extremes of temperatures, draughts, flooding, and more. This season is a prime example.
While much of the globe has been breaking high temperature records, our neck of the woods, the uppermidwest of North America has had below normal temperatures and lots and lots of rain. Because of this arrangement, there is lots of greenery everywhere, but a lot of our garden plants are having a hard time getting going. The radishes and beets have been a disappointment this year and we have had a near total crop failure with the spinach. While I am not trying to paint a horrible picture, this is a good reminder of how precious our food systems are, and that their fragility is an issue we need to start taking more seriously.
Well, enough of the soap boxing, let’s get onto this weeks share. One things that has done tremendous for us are the snap peas. Eat these right out of the bag, dip ’em into a homemade yogurt sauce, or you could use them in a stir fry. If you find yourself going in the stir fry direction, you may want to throw in some of the garlic scapes that are also included this week. A garlic scape is the reproduction organ of hardneck garlic varieties. It resembles a green curly que, that is packed full of garlic flavor. It can be used in soups, stir frys, sauces and most places that a strong garlic flavor is needed. It does not cook the same as garlic and does well with a little additional time before eating, though I think pureeing it for vinaigrette dressings may also work. Experiment with it if you have the courage!
You will also find in this weeks share a small amount of lemon cucumbers, lettuce, rhubarb, and a bouquet of wild marjoram and winter savory herbs. I envision a salad with diced up lemon cukes, and maybe a rhubarb vinaigrette if you are feeling adventurous. For value added products this week, we have Karyn’s famous bread, but baked with some rye flour this time, veggie stock (onions, collard greens, nettles, carrot, garlic scapes, salt, and peppercorns), and a small jar of pickled baby carrots and scapes.
Once again we appreciate the support of our members and we are so happy that people are supporting small, local, urban farmers such as our selves. While we can’t always control the weather or how certain crops perform, we always strive to do our best to provide you with a high quality, weekly share. See ya’ at pickup!!
Well the time is finally here! After such a long, and cold winter, the Earth has finally awoken, and here at the Dead End Alley farm we are starting to be surrounded in lush, and verdant greenery. While some of our gardens are a little behind schedule, we are starting the season out with a great first CSA share.
Included in this weeks share you will find rhubarb, Eygptian Walking onions, Celtuce (which is an Asian lettuce), radishes, wild majoram, Karyn’s famous bread, homemade chicken stock, and a spring harvest of honey from our bees! Some cooking ideas for the various produce could include rhubarb crisp, a salad made with the celtuce and radishes served with a vinagrette made with a few sprigs of the majoram and a bit of honey it as well, along with a soup using the stock. The walking onions can be used like any other onion, but make sure to use the green tops as well!
Marjoram is a relative of oregano and can easily be substituted for any recipe that calls for oregano. Soups, pastas, meats…
I am very excited about the honey for many reasons. Mainly though because it comes from our bees that survived the cold winter this last season. We went into winter with 3 hives and came out with only one, but they are very strong bees and we are happy to share their honey with you.
In the spirit of freshness, most of the produce is minimally processed, so what that translates too is WASH your food before using it. While we take great care in quality and food safety, the food is grown in a living environment that other critters call home, so be safe and properly wash all produce before preperation.
For now we will be using canvas bags for our weekly pickups. If you have an extra 1 or 2 to contibute to the rotation that would be great. At some point we may switch to milk crates instead, but that will happen at a future date. And we are always open to comments, questions, and ideas, remember a CSA is based on community, so let us know what you think, or how we can do things better. Until next week, enjoy the weather! Peace and Cheers … Andy and Karyn
Happy 2014 everyone! So far, as most folks know, it has been one of the coldest winters in almost 30 years. The snow continues to pile up and our wood pile diminishes! But regardless of these dark days of winter, we all realize that spring will be here soon enough. In anticipation of a great year ahead, we do have some news that we would like to pass on for those who may be interested. First off we are looking for possibly 2-3 more full share memberships for our CSA. A membership costs $500 and runs roughly from June 1st (possibly earlier) all the way into September. A typical weekly share consists of a nice selection of seasonal produce, usually a baked good, and other value added products throughout the season.
Second we are doing a custom, to-order tomato sale this year. We have been saving, and starting tomato seeds for a long time now, and thought we would share some of that genetic wealth with our supporters and customers. Below is our full list for this years tomatoes. If you are interested, please either email us, or message us through Facebook and let us know which varieties and how many of each we can start for you. All transplants will cost $3 and can be picked up at our place on a yet to be determined date.
And lastly, we also hope to offer what we have been calling “The Summer Abundance” share. Even with our CSA, and our own family to feed, we still at times find ourselves with lots of extra produce. So for those of you who can’t commit to a full CSA share, or just really like kale, we will keep you posted on what we have available and prices. All are welcome to visit us at The Dead End Alley farm, and we look forward to seeing ya around this upcoming summer … Andy & Karyn
2014 Tomato List
Abraham Lincoln – Released by Buckbee’s Seed co. in 1923 and hailed as “The Giant of all Tomatoes”. Abraham Lincoln produces loads of meaty, 8 oz red tomatoes late in the summer. Bears in clusters of 4-6. Real true tomato flavor lost in most of today’s hybrids. Keeps producing right up to the first frost.
Amish Paste – Bright red 8-12 ounce fruits vary in shape from oxheart to rounded plum. Delicious flesh is juicy and meaty, excellent for sauce or fresh eating. One of Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste varieties.
Amish Salad – Small, pink, 2 oz. oval cherries seem to last forever on the vine without rotting or losing flavor. Flesh is very firm, mild and sweet, perfect for sauces, salads and for drying. Up to 6 blemish-free fruits per cluster, with many clusters on large plants that have heavy, regular-leaf foliage cover not typical of cherry varieties. Well-suited to both fresh market and home garden. Andy’s favorite cherry tomato of all time!
Arkansas Traveller – Heirloom. Originating before 1900 in the Ozark Mountains, Arkansas Traveler is prized for very flavorful, medium-sized tomatoes that resist cracking and keep on coming, even in drought and hot weather. Taste is mild, like the pink color of the fruit. These plants can get a bit big, and unruly, but well worth the work. Grown almost every year here at the Dead End Alley.
Black Krim – This variety hails from the Black Sea, near the Crimean Peninsula of Russia, where warm influences from the Black Sea make summers perfect for growing tomatoes. Heat-tolerant Black Krim has a dark brown-red color that gets even darker in hotter weather. It makes beautiful dark slices. Black Krim is prone to cracking, so be sure to water regularly, especially when there is not enough rain, to avoid cycles of wet-to-dry-to-wet-to-dry soil that causes the fruit to crack.Vigorous plants grow best with strong staking or tall cages.
Black From Tula – Russian heirloom imported by SSE and offered to members in 1996. Made available commercially by SSE as part of the Russian Collection in 1998. Described by one SSE member as “the ugliest, most delicious tomato I’ve ever grown.” Good yields of brownish-red slightly flattened globes weighing up to 14 ounces. Rich full flavor, great for slicing and canning. This has been a reliable producer for us.
Black Pineapple – This unusual variety was developed by Pascal Moreau, a horticulturist from Belgium. The multi-colored, smooth fruit (green, yellow and purple mix) weigh about 1 1/2 lbs. The flesh is bright green with deep red streaks. Everyone loves their superb flavor that is outstanding, being both sweet and smoky with a hint of citrus. For us it has been a light producer, but the flavor and quality more than makes up for fewer numbers of fruits.
Brandywine – The most popular heirloom vegetable! A favorite of many gardeners; large fruit with superb flavor. A great potato-leafed variety from 1885! Beautiful pink fruit up to 1-1/2 lbs. each! What else needs to be said!
Celebrity – Hybrid. Great flavor in firm, 8-oz., crack-free fruits. Performs well in almost every region and under adverse conditions. Good blight tolerance and foliage cover. A great tomato for being your average red orb and is very dependable, don’t write it off just because it is a hybrid.
Federle – Plant produces good yields of jumbo 7″ long red banana shaped tomatoes. These things are huge!! Tomato has full rich tomato flavor and very few seeds. Excellent processing type paste tomato for making paste and heavy sauces. Also good for making salsa.
Garden Huckleberry – Large purple berries that are cooked and sweetened, (do not eat raw). Great in pies; huge yields of fruit all summer long. Plant 14 inches apart. Strong tall plants do not have to be staked. Grow plants like peppers. Great for anyone wanting quick easy berries and a huge yield. Originated in Africa.
Goldie – This golden-colored heirloom tomato has been grown and seed passed down by families for 150 years. It is believed to be a yellow version of Giant Belgium, and has huge tomatoes of a comparable size. The flavor is wonderful. Vine growth is vigorous and large.
Green Zebra – Beautiful chartreuse with deep lime-green stripes, very attractive. Flesh is bright green and very rich tasting, sweet with a sharp bite to it (just too good to describe!). A favorite tomato of many high class chefs, specialty markets, and home gardeners. Yield is excellent.
Ground Cherry – Huge yields of tart-sweet berries. This is the common type used by the Pilgrims; excellent for pies, jams, and preserves of all kinds; also delicious fresh. The fruit grow inside a paper-like husk (the same as Tomatillos). Grow it the same as you would tomatoes.
Hill Billy Potato Leaf – Big, meaty yellow tomatoes with red streaks and an amazingly sweet taste —sure to attract attention and adulation! High yielding, indeterminate variety produces very juicy fruits, often weighing over a pound. Makes a great slicer for salads and sandwiches.
Hungarian OxHeart – Said to have originated in a village 20 miles from Budapest around 1900. Huge pink oxheart fruits weigh upwards of one pound. Very few seeds and almost no cracking. Ideal for fresh eating, canning, and for making roasted tomato sauce.
Indigo Rose – This variety is stunningly jet black! As it ripens the underside turns from green to a rosy red. Flavor is great, strongly acidic and when sliced it looks just like a plum with its deep red flesh. The plants are vigorous and show good field resistance to fungal diseases and blights. The 2 – 2.5 ounce fruit grows on vines with nice clusters of 6-8 fruit. A new variety from Oregon State that is definitely worth a try.
Martino’s Roma – Incredible yields of very richly flavored pear tomatoes that weigh about 2 ozs., and are 3 in. long. These paste-type fruit are meaty with few seeds and not much juice, perfectly suited to cooking, but delicious enough to eat fresh. Compact plants have rugose, dark foliage. Heirloom variety and extremely productive. Determinate.
Mortgage Lifter (Halladays) – Kentucky family heirloom grown since the 1930s by three generations of James Halladay’s family. In a trial of 25 Mortgage Lifter types, Halladay’s produced the best crops of 1-2 pound pink beefsteak fruits. Exceptionally meaty and typically crack-free. Great old-fashioned tomato flavor.
Nyagus – Nyagous originated deep in the former Soviet Union. It was brought to popularity by tomato enthusiast Reinhard Kraft of Germany. Nyagous bears baseball size fruits that are in clusters of up to 6 fruits. Very prolific. The flavor is described as complex, sometimes smoky and sweet. A great tomato if you need just one for yourself.
Roma – A generic roma. We have no idea what it is, but will be giving it a shot this year to see how it performs in our garden. You can too!!
San Marzano – THE classic Italian paste tomato with rich, complex, sweet flavor essential for making traditional Napolitano sauces and whole canned tomatoes. The large plants produce loads of small, elongated red tomatoes late in the season and need to be staked.
Striped Cavern – These orange-red tomatoes are striped with bright yellow and shaped just like a bell pepper. They are hollow inside, but have very thick walls which offer plenty of good tasting tomato flesh. They are so meaty that each fruit weighs about 8 ozs., with a core of seeds up toward the stem end. Fabulous for stuffing, but also fine for slicing and eating fresh. Expect abundant harvests.
Striped Roman – The Striped Roman Tomato is a very rare Heirloom developed by John Swenson. Bright red Roma shaped tomato with long orange stripes. The plant is an abundant producer and the paste of this rich meaty tomato is sweeter than any Roma Tomato. We have noticed that this tomato is susceptible to blossom end rot which is caused by a calcium deficiency in your soil. If you can overcome that, than this tomato is one of the best!
Ultimate Opener – The new champion of early tomatoes! More often than not, early-ripening tomatoes are under-sized, have marginal flavor and color and have way too many blemishes. This new tomato, developed by the same breeder who gave us such classics as Early Girl and Better Boy Hybrids, produces blemish-free fruits about 1/3 larger than Early Girl with marvelous flavor that’s so sweet and juicy you can’t stop eating them. Strong, vigorous, indeterminate plants are capable of tremendous yields, much higher than comparable early varieties, ensured by a strong disease resistance package. Harvest fruits just 57 days from transplanting.
Umberto – Very old Italian heirloom, listed by the renowned French seedhouse Vilmorin-Andrieux in 1885. Named after King Umberto I, King of Italy in the late 19th century. The plants produce unbelievable harvests of small, pear-shaped fruits. These meaty morsels have a nice balance of sweet and tart, with full Old World tomato flavor. Great for paste, sauce or for drying under the late summer sun!
Zlaty Ozarowski – Ożarόw is a town in South-eastern Poland, famed for one of the last remaining Jewish Cemeteries in that country. The name of this tomato means ‘Gold from Ożarόw’. These are beautiful medium to large orange tomatoes, full of flavour, on a shortish semi-bush plant. Side-shoot the plant until it produces a fork, then let it do its own thing. This is a mid-season tomato. I grew this for the first time last year and was blown away by how tasty, beautiful, and easy to grow these tomatoes are. Quite possibly my favorite tomato I have ever grown!
*In the spirit of transparency, some the descriptions have been copied and pasted from Baker’s Creek, Gurneys, Seed Savers, and Totally Tomatoes. This is not an attempt of blatant plagiarism, but so many others have already written up great descriptions of these tomatoes so I thought I would use those along with a few of my own notes. Sorry if this is a problem for anyone!!
Hey Everyone! 2013 is finally here, as well as our new website! We started working on this last winter, and due to a variety of distractions, interruptions, and various projects, The Dead End Alley Urban Farm website got put on the back burner. But no more! For those of you already familiar with our farm and received food from us last season through our CSA program, this is now the spot to find out what is going on (or you can always come over and visit us as well!!) Click on the “Follow” button and automatically receive CSA and garden updates through email.
As the spring gets closer, we will keep you updated on plans for this upcoming CSA season. Most of our seeds are purchased and many of them will be getting started here soon so we can get an early start. You can plan on seeing many of the same great veggies you received last year, as well as some new ones that will be thrown into the mix. We are also hopefully going to be adding a few more raised bed gardens to our operation which will allow us to add one or two more shares to the CSA.
As always, our number one goal is to grow and provide the highest quality produce for our CSA members. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please contact us at –
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Peace – Andy