Dear Plow and Stars CSA shareholders,
This is the time of year when you can almost see and hear things growing. The vegetable garden is sun and rain transformed into tomato plants and corn stalks, cucumbers and cover crops. The broiler chickens are enjoying their pasture with none of the struggles of the cold, wet spring. The goats and kids are doing some brush clearing in an old section of woods at the far corner of the farm while the sheep work their way through the near pasture again. I swear the lambs and kids look bigger every day.
We're so excited to bring you a selection of our very first pork products this week. We've been sampling them since we brought them back from the butcher last week and we think they are quite good; we can't wait to hear what you think. These sweet piggies first came to the farm in October of last year at four weeks old, and grew beautifully on a diet of non-GMO grain, pasture, vegetables, and leftover food from Bullis School and Nourish Now, a hunger relief agency in Rockville. They had a peaceful and happy life, free to root in the ground and explore with a pig's natural curiosity. They greeted everyone who visited the greenhouses or loafing shed with friendly grunts and kind eyes, and were always ready for a scratch behind the ears. They would brace themselves and stand in blissful silence with eyes closed while Mark rubbed them down after dinner. Even loading them onto the trailer for the ride to the butcher, Stoney Point in Pennsylvania, was relatively calm and easy, and they came off the trailer as interested in their surroundings as ever. We are all so appreciative of these good and gentle piggies and we hope that you enjoy them as well, maybe with a thought for them before you eat.
Meanwhile, we added ten new hens to our laying flock over the weekend; they are young, just starting to lay, and we should see a gradual increase in eggs over the next two months as they come into their own and our other younger chickens begin to lay as well. There are eggplants and peppers and green tomatoes and tiny okras out there in the field! We may even have a few ears of 'Espresso' sweet corn this week -- it's a small bicolor corn with good flavor but a mini-size ear, but it's a good start to our sweet corn harvest for the summer. Because we don't spray the corn, you will likely find a worm or two in the ears, so keep that in mind as you are shucking.
On Thursday afternoon, weather permitting, we'll be harvesting our garlic during CSA pickup. This is a great time for you to join in with doing a little work in the field if you want to; kids are welcome (as always) and you can come for as long or as short a time as you'd like. We'll probably be starting around 2 and finishing up whenever we're done with the harvest. Feel free to bring a blanket and a picnic dinner if you'd like to relax with some food on the grass after the garlic harvest is done. We'll have some fresh garlic in the CSA barn right away, but we'll cure most of it in the barn for a few weeks until it's dry and will last for most of the winter.
This is the last week that we'll have kale, broccoli and other crops in the brassica family in the share until September. We'll be mowing these crops July 1 to try to break the life cycle of the harlequin bug, a beautiful but devastating pest that caused a lot of damage to our fall brassicas last year. We're hoping that by removing their host family from the garden for the next month we can reduce the population instead of watching it snowball like it did last season, when we tried to nurse our kale along through the summer. This is also the last week we'll have spinach until the fall, though we should have Swiss chard through the whole summer.
Whew, another lengthy and wordy newsletter with lots of information for you! I'll go move the sheep now. Hope you are all enjoying this lovely summer and eating well. We look forward to seeing you all on Thursday.
Enjoy the harvest,
Amanda, Mark, Jonah and Sadie
The Plow and Stars family