Wednesday, September 5  


Week Twelve   

Mixed Cherry Toms, Heirloom Toms, Potatoes, Spicy Lettuce Mix, Baby Kale, Shishito Peppers, Eggplant, Sweet Green Peppers, Jalapeños, & One Dozen Eggs 

If you haven't already, let know if you're interested in tomato seconds (tomatoes with blemishes or cracks, etc. that can but cut away with the rest available for processing). If I can't get them to you immediately, I'll make a list and make sure everyone who wants seconds gets them. :) 

Don't forget to leave your cooler out with your bag and any clean egg cartons!
Feel free to browse any past issues for additional recipe ideas! 

Pictured above:
We met up with the previous farm owner for a char, and discovered the above picture of the farm. I'm not trying to get you in the mood for dreary winter weather, but it was really fun seeing s couple older photos of the farm. So much is different. Pictured below are the shishito peppers on the vine--loaded! That's just one branch!
Farm Note
We had a delightful time chatting with the previous farm owner of our farm, what we're calling Pink Elephant Farm. I don't think Scottie (the previous owner) had an official farm name, but we're told one iteration at one time was "The Beeches" named after the large beech trees once on the property. Folks around here mainly know it first as the "Wilson Farm" and more recently as "Scottie's Farm."

When we first arrived and were exploring the county and meeting people, we'd often fumble bumble over exact road names or generally receive puzzled looks when we said our exact address. Eventually, after giving up the normal rules geography, we'd say we were at Scottie's old place. At that moment everyone knew exactly where we were, and would them how Scottie was doing. 

If chatting with Scottie was a delight, discovering this old picture hanging in a guest bedroom was just the icing on the cake. We've managed to talk with a number of folks about this old farm and have even seen a number of pictures, but this one stands out as particularly special. I presume it was taken by Scottie's son, who is pilot and would often fly over the farm. It shows pieces of the farm that are no longer around--the tobacco stripping room on the large tobacco barn in the foreground, the very large dairy barn behind the house, fences, old farm roads, and older trees that succumbed to the strong winds we can get on the ridge land.

In its own, the picture tells a small part of the agricultural story of Henry County--a small diversified farm consisting mainly of dairy and tobacco. Now the story is mainly one of farm consolidation and the planting of corn and soy beans on what used to be pasture, or was at least considered "too steep to plow." And as for the dairy, most of them have sold out after being dropped milk truck routes or have stopped operation as owners age out of the work.      

Our farm is over 200 years old. It's a wild responsibility to carry it on, and for lovers of old things such as Jenny and I, participating in this history is say the least. It's little morsels like this picture, or the unearthing of bricks or milk pails in a barn or even arrowheads in the fields that remind us of this history and actually help remind us of our place. We're reminded we are very small to the universe and to Time, and that we are simply stewards to a place that has been here before us and is likely to be here after us. 

Tomato paste or "Tomato Conserva" if you're feeling fancy. 

If you're trying to preserve tomato season for those deep winter months, you might try Joshua McFadden's "Tomato Conserva" aka tomato paste. McFadden notes "because you're making [tomato paste] with fresh tomatoes at their peak, good olive oil, and care and attention, the result is like no canned tomato paste you've ever had."

He calles for 8 pounds of tomatoes, which will yield about 2 cups of paste. 

Here's the recipe (slightly condensed) 

Core the tomatoes and roughly chop them. Pile into a large pot with a wide surface and add 1/4 cup olive oil. Bring to a simmer. 

Reduce your heat to whatever temperature keeps the tomatoes simmering (but don't scorch them on the bottom!) and cook until you have the consistency of a tomato sauce--30-50 minutes. Work the tomatoes through a food mill, or if you don't have a food mill, use of fine mesh strainer. You're looking to remove the skin and seeds. 

Heat your oven to 300 and oil a baking sheet or whatever vessel you use in the oven--13 x 18 sheet pan, 9 x 13 baking dish, etc. 

Add your tomato sauce and bake until the consistency goes from liquid to a thick puree, about 3 hours. Tend to it regularly to not let the edges brown or caramelize. Use a spatula to move the outer edges to the middle, and the middle to the outer edge. You're aiming for even cooking throughout the 3 hours, so move it around a fair amount. 

Reduce the heat to 200 and bake for a long as you can, up to over night. It won't need much attention by now, but you should still check it every now and then. 

It will freeze great, or it can even be canned. 

Monday/Tuesday: A newsletter for the week's CSA share should arrive in your email inbox. It will have details of what's in the share, a note about something going on at the farm, any announcements, and some recipe ideas for items in the share. 

Wednesday/Thursday: We'll harvest, wash and pack all veggies, and get organized for delivery. We wash off the "field dirt" of the veggies, and even though we don't use any chemicals on the farm, you still may feel more comfortable giving the veggies a second, more thorough washing. :)  

Thursday: Delivery day! Your share should arrive at your door sometime between 3-7pm. Leaving a cooler our for us is the most important aspect of deliveries going smoothly. With temps getting hotter and hotter, the cooler will ensure the veggies stay crisp and the eggs stay cool. Ideally, the cooler would be easily accessible AND in a shady spot. Your share will come in an up-cycled, reusable "grocery" bag. You can leave your empty bag from the previous week in your cooler, along with any clean egg cartons, and we will pick these up to reuse the following week.   

All Week: Enjoy your veggies and eggs! Please reach out at anytime with questions, comments, concerns. We love hearing how folks are using their veggies, and sometimes will share member recipes and photos with all the other members. 

*For On-Farm Pick-up Folks: You can swing by the farm anytime Thursday after 2 pm to pick up your share. It will be located in our walk-in cooler located at the end of the driveway next to the barn/shed. Inside the cooler your bag will be on the table. You are likely to see a Full Diet CSA share located on the same table, but these will be packed in either wax boxes or black harvest crates--it should be easily distinguishable from your reusable grocery bag. Please just make sure to close the cooler when leaving! :) 
Follow us on Instagram for more farm photos!
Your Valley Spirit Farmers! 
Caleb, Kelly, Judah & Rebekah Fiechter on the left. Joseph, Abbie, Ruth and Angus Monroe on the right.
And from Pink Elephant Farm & Kitchen, Jenny Vaughn and Justin Owings.
As a reminder, this is all new to all of us. Please feel free to reach out at any time with any and all questions or concerns. We want this to be a highly positive experience for all of us, and a big part of ensuring this is keeping the communication and feedback lines always open. Let us know what's going on--what you liked, what you cooked, how veggies are storing and holding up for you, etc.. 
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