Newsletter 7/18/18 – Ode to the Farmstand
Everyone’s day at the farm begins differently. Some of the crew heads out into the fields, destined for the long irrigation pipes that we rotate each morning to water our crops. Some of us jump into the farm trucks and sip piping hot coffee as the old engines begrudgingly awaken and splutter out to the fields. And I, weaving through the bustle of people and equipment, slip into the Farmstand.
If you haven’t yet visited the farm, our Farmstand is located just off the drive in a neat little yellow building. There are a few parking spots in front, a little covered awning for our plant starts in the spring, and a few windows to let fresh air in. Inside, you find a row of glass-windowed coolers filled with our current offerings of fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and preserved items. We even have hats for sale! The Farmstand serves as the only public place on the farm, where curious visitors or longtime customers can come, peruse our produce, and enjoy the quiet shopping experience in a genuine atmosphere.
One of my responsibilities on the farm is to keep the Farmstand stocked and organized throughout the day and the week. The Farmstand is quiet in the morning, before our customers begin to stop by. The rumble of tractors and trucks heading out for morning projects and music pumping out of the barn fades away. I am alone with my vegetables. I get to see what has sold overnight, or in the last hour, or over the course of the day. I rejoice when I see that a particularly enticing bag of cauliflower has been appreciated by a customer. I feel pride and a sense of closure. I know that these vegetables have gone to a good home where they will be lovingly prepared, seasoned, and savored.
I go through the coolers, examining each bag or bunch to ensure that they are fresh and clean. I peruse our carrot bunches, noticing the gorgeous contrast of leafy, soft green and shiny, crisp orange. I admire the cabbages, milky morning green in the centers and richer, darker outside leaves. The long stalks of rainbow chard, ribboned with pinks and purples, oranges and peaches, and lush, soft leaves on top. I marvel at our salad mix bags, lined up in rows in the cooler, contrasts of spicy mizuna, buttery salanova lettuce leaves, peppery mustard greens, and sweet, burgundy radicchio. As our summer crops come into the Farmstand, my mouth waters at the rows and rows of raspberry half-pints, plump red and perfuming the whole room. I marvel at the tight, floral heads of broccoli, cool and smooth cucumbers, and buttery green beans.
We have so many crops on this farm, and so much demand for our vegetables that we rarely take time in the fields to truly look at and appreciate our products. We see them, we notice their size, their quality, and their numbers, but we are usually so focused on our work and getting our crops to our customers that we forget how strikingly beautiful vegetables are.
I hope that when you receive your CSA share, or the next time you stop into our Farmstand, you take a moment to really look at your food. Because even for me, immersed in this work, I still find myself absolutely overcome with the wonder upon seeing a perfectly crisp head of romaine lettuce.
Fridge? Counter? In water? Brown bag? Plastic bag?
How should you store basil to keep it fresh and green?
As putting basil directly into the fridge tends to brown the leaves, people often prefer to store the basil at room temperature. Placing the stems in a cup of water and storing on the counter away from the sun is a great option to keep basil fresh for up to a week. Another option is to pack the basil (clean and dry) in olive oil, then store it in the fridge which both preserves the basil (long term) and infuses the oil. If you do choose to put fresh basil in the fridge it is best to rinse and pat dry, then loosely wrap in a paper towel and pack into a plastic zip bag or a storage container.