Some new varieties to try

 

 If you've ever scanned a vegetable seed catalog, surely you know the giddy feeling we get every winter of new possibilities--and I admit, a little fear, as well.  ("But groundhogs ate all our cantaloupes last year.  Can we get it right this time?")

Pushing our hesitancy aside, here's a few things we're trying in 2018:

  • Did you know Anne Arundel County has its own melon variety?  The Anne Arundel muskmelon should be orange and green on the inside, similar to the Arava melon that we've grown successfully in some past years.  Varieties bred for our region are a rare treat, and with luck, this one will be well-adapted to the soil types, plant diseases and pests common to our area (think downy mildew, powdery mildew and cucumber beetles).  It's true that cantaloupes are the all-time favorite of groundhogs, which have a thriving population here at Clagett Farm.  But we have improved our skills in fencing and trapping, and we think this is our year.  Too bad we don't have a Prince George's County melon!
  • For over a decade, we couldn't size up a single beet on this farm, but we're getting better.  We think the biggest improvement was fertilizing with a little Boron (the same stuff sold as Borax in the laundry aisle of your grocery store).  Boron, Nitrogen and Sulfur are all negatively-charged ions in the soil, and are prone to leach deep into the soil and out of reach of our crops when it rains. Over the years, our Boron supply has dwindled to almost nothing, so we're slowly adding it back, little by little, and catching it with organic matter to hold it in place.  So this is the year we go a little crazy and try this new variety of striped chioggia beet to test our chops.  
  • And that last picture is of Christmas lima beans.  Normally we prefer bush beans over pole beans, because they are easier to manage and give us a big harvest quickly.  But this year we're trying out a few varieties of pole beans, including this beautiful lima.  Pole beans are said to taste better, and should produce beans over a longer period of time.  U-pick, anyone?

Wish us luck!  And better yet, invest in our new season by becoming a 2018 CSA member!  We need 250 full-paying CSA members to make this business work.  And that means you!  Who's going to eat all these lovely vegetables if you don't sign up?  

 

 


Winter brings new life to our high tunnel

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One of your farmers, Jared Planz, captured this photo of a storm moving in over our high tunnel.  A high tunnel is a greenhouse where we grow plants directly in the ground (as opposed to the greenhouse where we grow seedlings that get transplanted into fields elsewhere).  We've been getting the beds and frame ready so we can put on a new cover.  Pretty soon, this high tunnel will be home to an early planting of tomatoes.  Winter is still a busy time on the farm! 

We've been doing a lot of planning in spreadsheets, as well.  Did you know, over the course of this season, we'll plant 600,000 seeds in the ground, of 175 different varieties?  And before you've eaten your last leaf of salad in November, we'll get help in the fields from over 1000 people.  Getting excited yet?

(Pst!  That's your hint to sign up for a 2018 Clagett Farm CSA share.)

 


Clagett Farm CSA shares for 2018 are available now! 

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Clagett Farm CSA shares are available now!  New and returning members can purchase a share beginning now. 

www.cbf.org/clagettsignup

Ever thought of giving a farm membership as a holiday gift?  You can!  It’s a great way to give something HEALTHY to someone you love.    

Are you a returning member but not ready to buy a CSA share yet?  Don’t worry, we’ll guarantee a slot in the upcoming season for you and all of our other 2017 CSA members until March 1st.  And as always, we give you a $50 discount to thank you for being a loyal, returning member. 

New this year, we are offering a 13-week share.  This is a good option for those of you who can’t make it most weeks, but still want to come a few times per year.  Instead of the full 26 shares, you get half as many over the same period of time (May 9th – November 10th).  You can collect the shares whichever weeks you want, but a maximum of only one at a time.  And you can only you-pick on the weeks when you pick up a share.  We’re only offering a limited number of 13-week shares, and only for pick-up at Clagett Farm.  So if this is the option you want, don’t wait until March to sign up. 

Most of you will want to purchase a full season share because it is the cheapest option per week, because you get all the wonderful, organic vegetables you love, and because it’s the best way to support this farm.  You still get all the same flexibility we gave you last year—you can pick up the shares any week, 2 shares maximum per day.  And you can pick up at the farm on Wednesdays or Saturdays. 

If you sign up for farm pick-up, you can pick up at Dupont up to 6 shares total for the season.  If you sign up for Dupont pick-up, you can pick up at the farm as often as you’d like. 

I bet you have friends who would like to sign up for a CSA share at Clagett Farm.  Tell them to register!  Otherwise, when they’re tasting the wonderful, ripe tomatoes you bring home this summer, they’ll wonder why you didn’t tell them about it sooner. 

Let me know if you have a questions, or if you have ideas for how we should spread the word. 

Your farmer,

Carrie


Last Chance to Reserve Your Holiday Wreaths

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For our 2017 Wreath Drive, long-time Clagett friend and farm-hand Jenn is selling wreaths made from flowers and grasses grown organically at the farm, and in her DC garden space. 
 
Each wreath is hand-crafted to order and exquisitely designed—ensuring that everyone has the most beautiful holiday on record! Wreaths are $50 each, with delivery and gift-wrap options available for additional charges. For Clagett CSA members and friends, two wreath pick-up dates are available: One in Dupont Circle, DC on November 29th, and one at Clagett Farm, MD on December 2nd. There may be extra wreaths available for sale at these pick-ups, but it’s always best to reserve in advance.
 
Order your own wreaths by filling out this form. We have a limited supply of local flowers and foliage, so please order as soon as you can! And, most importantly: Happy Holidays from your farm team!
 
 

This Week's Share and U-pick Beans, Tomatillos and Hot Chiles

Clagett canning

Have you been canning tomatoes this year? CSA member and Instagrammer ianblackwellrogers has, and shared with us this great photo of the work in progress. Thanks! 

Want to see one of your photos featured in a future email? Send it to us or post it to Instagram with the hashtag #ClagettFarm!  

THIS WEEK'S SHARE:

  • 1 head garlic
  • 6 pounds total combination squash + tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound total combintion beans + spicy mix
  • 1 pound total combination eggplant + peppers
  • 1/2 pound total combination radishes + hot chiles (some are very mild)

 

WHAT'S ON U-PICK:

  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Tomatillos
  • Hot chiles
  • Ground cherries
  • Swiss chard
  • Flowers
  • Herbs -- sage, garlic chives, thyme, oregano, mint, sorrel, cilantro, basils (Genovese, Thai, cinnamon, sacred, opal, lime), stevia, lemongrass, parsely. 

RECIPE RECOMMENDATIONS:




Having Zucchini Fatigue? Here are some member recommended recipes to liven up your cooking: 



That's it for this week! Enjoy the share! 

~ Farmer Carrie and the Clagett Farm Team


This Week's Share and U-Pick Tomatoes!

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THIS WEEK'S SHARE:

  • 1 head GARLIC
  • 6 pounds TOMATOES
  • 2 pounds SQUASH (not sure yet the weight, since we're still picking it)
  • 1.5 pounds total combination PEPPERS + CUCUMBERS

WHAT'S ON U-PICK:

  • TOMATOES
  • ground cherries 
  • basil
  • flowers -- lots of beautiful blooms right now
  • herbs -- sage, garlic and onion chives, thyme, oregano, mint, sorrel, cilantro, lavender, basils (Thai, cinnamon, sacred, opal, lime), stevia, lavender, lemongrass 

RECIPE RECOMMENDATION:



CSA Member Eileen wrote in with a gazpacho recipe she loves that uses lots of ingredients available in the current share:  

"Here’s my favorite gazpacho recipe that I made from last week’s share.  My friend garnishes it with a dollop of sour cream. I don’t think it needs it."
 
Chop the following items and put into a large bowl:
 
3 large tomatoes
1 green (or red or yellow) bell pepper
1 large cucumber ( I used about 5-6 of the small ones from last week’s share and didn’t peel them)
1 C chopped celery
½ C chopped green onions
2 avocados peeled, seeded and chopped
 
Blend the following together with either an immersion blender or a regular blender:
4 TBSP olive oil
5 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 jalapeno peppers ( I experiment and add later to determine the heat)
½ tsp black pepper
 
Add to the chopped vegetables then
 
Stir in 4 cups of tomato juice and mix with a large spoon.
 
Refrigerate overnight.
 
You can serve it with a dollop of sour cream and some tortilla chips on the side.


That's it for this week! Enjoy the share! 

~ The Clagett Farm Team


Here's What's In This Week's Share

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Farmer Carrie posted this beautiful, buzzy sunflower photo on Instagram. Want to see one of your photos featured in a future email? Send it to us or post it to Instagram with the hashtag #ClagettFarm!  

THIS WEEK'S SHARE:

  • 1 head GARLIC
  • 3 pounds total combination TOMATOES + TOMATILLOS
  • 1/2 pound total combination PEPPERS + CHILES + GROUND CHERRIES*
  • 1.25 pounds total combination POTATOES + CHARD + CUCUMBERS
  • 5.5 pounds SUMMER SQUASH 

WHAT'S ON U-PICK:

  • basil -- Italian basil is in great abundance for pesto
  • chard 
  • flowers -- lots of beautiful blooms right now, especially sunflowers, zinnias, and Tithonia 
  • herbs -- sage, garlic and onion chives, thyme, oregano, mint, sorrel, cilantro, lavender, basils (Thai, cinnamon, sacred, opal, lime), stevia, lavender, lemongrass 

* Ground cherries are little yellow, tomato-like fruits with papery husks.  They are also known as husk cherries, cape gooseberries and physalis.  This is just the beginning of the ground cherries, so if you don't get them this week, we'll have them many more weeks, and they'll be on the u-pick list soon.  

That's it for this week! Enjoy the share! 

~ The Clagett Farm Team


This Week's Share: Garlic scapes arrived

Becca flowers

You can always stop by the farm and pick the flowers growing in the beds near the wash station. CSA member Becca sent us this photo of a gorgeous arrangement she made using Clagett flowers. Beautiful!

Want to see one of your photos featured in a future email? Send it to us or post it to Instagram with the hashtag #ClagettFarm!  

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

We'd still love to have you join us at the farm for a workshare or volunteer shift! Here's more info on how to get involved.

Have you been enjoying rhubarb in the shares this spring? So has CSA member Catherine, who baked up this delicious-looking Banana-Rhubarb Bread over last weekend:

Banana rhubarb bread

Here's the recipe she used. Thanks for sharing that with us, Catherine!

THIS WEEK'S SHARE 

  • 1/2 pound total combination rhubarb + radishes 
  • 1/2 pound garlic scapes (They pack a punch!  Chop them up, and you can use them as you would garlic cloves.)
  • 1/2 pound total combination collards + kale OR 1/4 pound total combination lettuce + spicy mix

WHAT'S ON U-PICK:

  • Strawberries are still here!  The rain made them a little less yummy, but there are still plenty to pick, and you still get hit with some delicious ones as you're eating.
  • We have seedlings leftover from your last two weeks' shares and also from some recent planting we've done in the field.  Some seedlings are in individual pots, and some you must pot up yourself while you're here.  First-come, first-served until they're gone.  
  • There's lots of herbs and even a few flowers in the garden behind the washing station.  This is an especially good time to get cilantro, garlic chives and celery leaf.  
  • Mulberries are ripe!  There's a few trees near the washing station that you can sample from if  you don't know what they are.  We have mulberry trees growing wild all around the farm.  Most ripen black, but some ripen white.  The ripe ones fall from the tree when you shake it.  The mulberry-lovers among you should bring a sheet to shake the berries onto, or ask for one when you get here.  Casual eaters will find plenty lying around on the ground.  
  • Stinging nettle is mineral-rich, good for your circulatory system, and is delicious as a tea or soup.  But it's a pain to handle.  Cover your legs, feet, hands and arms, and you'll be rewarded.  It grows along the fence behind the strawberry field in G1.     

That's it for this week! Enjoy the share! 

~ The Clagett Farm Team


Pickup This Week! Here's What You Need to Know

As you know, our CSA season officially starts this week (!), with pickups at the Dupont Circle site and the farm.

One quick heads up: It's already U-pick time for strawberries! Starting at 3 p.m. Wednesday, come to the farm anytime you want and pick as many strawberries as you'd like. (CSA members only, please. And if you want to pick strawberries on Saturday, please wait until after 1 p.m. so we have a chance to pick what we need for the weekly shares that day.)

And now here are some reminders about how the regular share pickups work.  We'll send out another email tomorrow detailing what exactly is in this week's share.

Happy spring!

Pickup options:

  • Wednesday, May 10
    • Dupont Circle: 6-7:30 p.m., 1737 Fraser Court NW; it's an alleyway off S between 19th and 20th. Look for the white van!
    • At the farm: 3-7 p.m., Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Md.
  • Saturday, May 13
    • At the farm: 1-4 p.m., Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Md.

 

A reminder of the "rules":

  • Your purchase of a CSA membership gives you 26 "shares".  A share is the portion of food we have allotted for our CSA members for that week.  The CSA is 26 weeks long (mid-May through mid-November with one week off in July), so for most of you, you will continue to take one share per week for 26 weeks.  
  • You may take those 26 shares any weeks you want, and you may take a maximum of 2 shares per week.    
  • Some weeks you might choose to skip, and some weeks you might choose to double your share.  As long as it all adds up to no more than 26 shares by mid-November, we're all happy.    
  • This new system makes it a little harder for us to anticipate how many shares our members will pick up in a given week.  We consider it a top priority to make sure you have the same WEIGHT and QUALITY of vegetables from the beginning to the end of the pick-up period.  However, the people coming in the last 30 minutes to the pick-up might not have the same number of items to choose from.  In other words, we will not save all the bruised tomatoes for the end, nor substitute turnips where the early-comers got carrots.  But if the people who show up at the beginning get to choose either strawberries or mushrooms, the people at the end might choose between strawberries and sugarsnap peas--same amount, quality and desirability, but not exactly the same choices.   

What remains unchanged:

  • You do not need to tell us in advance if you plan to skip or double your share that week.  
  • You may send anyone you'd like to pick up your share.  The person should simply tell us that they are picking up for you, and we'll take it from there.  We know you're not trying to fool us.  It just simplifies our check-off list if the entire family and friend network is not included on the list for each member.  
  • You may U-pick any day, any time during those 6 months. (Watch the weekly email and check the white board to see what's available on U-pick that week.) It does not matter if you've taken a CSA share that week..
  • Every week we donate nearly half of what we harvest to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food pantries, and other social service agencies in our area that serve people in need.  Any vegetables that you don't take will be part of that donation.  
  • We will list the items in your share on a dry erase board at the pick-up site.  So that you may select the items that you like the most, we ask you to weigh out your own share.  We do not pre-bag it for you.  

New and improved guidelines about picking up your share

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We thought you, our dear CSA members, deserved a few changes that would simplify the CSA pick-up and add some convenience for you in 2017.  We've removed the 8-day rule, and now you can skip and double as you'd like, all season.  Don't know what the 8-day rule was?  Don't worry.  Here's the new rules:

  • Your purchase of a CSA membership gives you 26 "shares".  A share is the portion of food we have allotted for our CSA members for that week.  The CSA is 26 weeks long (mid-May through mid-November with one week off in July), so for most of you, you will continue to take one share per week for 26 weeks.  
  • You may take those 26 shares any weeks you want, and you may take a maximum of 2 shares per week.    
  • Some weeks you might choose to skip, and some weeks you might choose to double your share.  As long as it all adds up to no more than 26 shares by mid-November, we're all happy.    
  • This new system makes it a little harder for us to anticipate how many shares our members will pick up in a given week.  We consider it a top priority to make sure you have the same WEIGHT and QUALITY of vegetables from the beginning to the end of the pick-up period.  However, the people coming in the last 30 minutes to the pick-up might not have the same number of items to choose from.  In other words, we will not save all the bruised tomatoes for the end, nor substitute turnips where the early-comers got carrots.  But if the people who show up at the beginning get to choose either strawberries or mushrooms, the people at the end might choose between strawberries and sugarsnap peas--same amount, quality and desirability, but not exactly the same choices.   

What remains unchanged:

  • You do not need to tell us in advance if you plan to skip or double your share that week.  
  • You may send anyone you'd like to pick up your share.  The person should simply tell us that they are picking up for you, and we'll take it from there.  We know you're not trying to fool us.  It just simplifies our check-off list if the entire family and friend network is not included on the list for each member.  
  • You may U-pick any day, any time during those 6 months. (Watch the weekly email and check the white board to see what's available on U-pick that week.) It does not matter if you've taken a CSA share that week..
  • Every week we donate nearly half of what we harvest to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food pantries, and other social service agencies in our area that serve people in need.  Any vegetables that you don't take will be part of that donation.  
  • We will list the items in your share on a dry erase board at the pick-up site.  So that you may select the items that you like the most, we ask you to weigh out your own share.  We do not pre-bag it for you.  

How do we calculate the amount of food in a share each week?

It's tricky!  First, we add the number of CSA members we expect to show up that week (90% of 270 paying members = 243) to the number of worksharers we anticipate (usually about 20).  Then, if we know we want to donate a mimimum of 40% of our harvest to social service agencies, then we divide the total I just gave you (263) by 60%, which gives us 438 as the number of shares.  (It's worth noting that we do not weigh out 175 individual shares for donation.  Rather, we donate a total weight that, by the end of the season, is at least 40% of what we have harvested.  So we do not try to make sure the selection of food in our donation matches precisely what was in the CSA shares.  The agencies might get more squash and fewer sugarsnap peas, for example.) 

Once we've weighed all of our harvest on a Wednesday (usually around 1:00pm), we calculate how many pounds total of each item we expect to harvest the following Saturday.  This can be tricky!  What if it's cloudy for the next 3 days?  What if it rains?  Are the tomatoes at their peak or are they on a decline?  At any rate, we take our best guess, and we've gotten pretty good at guessing over the years.  For each item we harvested, we divide the total pounds for the week by the total shares, and that gives us the weight of each item that our members should take.  (For example, if we expect to pick 876 pounds of squash, then we can put 2 pounds of squash in the share that week.)

But we're not done!  We also consider how many pounds we could put in the share if we only offer it to paying CSA members, and do not donate it.  Are beets in high demand?  Maybe we choose to offer extra beets in the share and donate more turnips, instead.  We also consider what we can group together as choices.  If we have Easter Egg radishes and Hakurei turnips, maybe we can offer 1/2 pound total of those two items.  It would be easier for us to make the choice for you, but not as nice for you.  (Some of you have strong preferences!  I, for one, love Hakurei, but can't be bothered with tiny radishes.  But little kids love those colorful radishes.)    So whenever possible, we put items together in groups, so you can choose the things you like.  But we have to choose wisely.  If we do it wrong, you're left with awkward amounts (one ear of corn, for example, is not half as useful as two),  or we run out of the favorite items before the pick-up ends.  

Hopefully, by 2:00pm, we hemmed and hawed and made a decision about what's in the share, which items we put out first, and which we hold for later, which items we send to Dupont this week versus leaving at the farm.  And then we send the list to our marvelous volunteers, Clay and Zach, who post the week's share on our blog (as well as photos, recipes and announcements), and send it out to you as an email.  There's even a careful consideration about which items we mention to you in the e-mail.  If we only have enough peas for half the members this week, and the other half next week, do we mention it, or just leave it as a happy surprise?

It's a complicated system, as you can see.  We're always trying to adapt to make the most positive experience possible for our CSA members.  Let us know if you have any questions.

Haven't purchased your CSA share yet, or know someone who wants to buy one? Sign up now!

Mark your calendars:

  • Saturday April 29, 2017, 12:00-4:00pm - Spring Open House.  All are welcome for this free opportunity to meet the farmers, take a hayride tour to visit the cows and sheep, and check out the place where you'll be picking up your share this season.  Know anyone who might like to join the CSA?  Bring them along!  
  • Wednesday May 10th & Saturday May 13th:  Your first CSA pick-ups (tentative).  We'll confirm as the date is closer, so we make sure we give you the vegetables as soon as they are ready to be picked.
  • Sunday May 14:  Our medicinal herbalist, Holly Poole-Kavana is planning medicinal herb garden party.  This is a new idea for us, so stay tuned...

We're planting our first seeds and transplants outside this week.  We're excited!

Your farmer,

Carrie 

FHCASA field day Lindsay Smith

[Photos by Diane Williams (top) and Lindsay Smith.]