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It's Been 'Ishy Lately!

Wow!  We've really put the 'ish into Weeklyish lately!  It's not for lack of news to discuss.  We've just been so crazy busy, I haven't had time to even start a newsletter. But missing a third week in a row just isn't good enough, even for weeklyISH.  So, what's goin' on?

First, we've been hearing a lot of fun food deas from our customers of late.  One particularly exciting option comes from Alec, who made a chimichuri sauce with the tops of our carrots!  I've made pesto and veggie stock with carrot tops many times, but this is an exciting twist I need to try.  Alas, while the last four weeks have had wonderful carrot harvests, we're about to enter a "carrot gap."  It will be a couple of weeks before carrots make their triumphant return to our selections.  Maybe you should start collecting recipes now!

Meanwhile, please feel free to share your recipes!  This time of year, most of our eating is salads or grazing as we work in the garden, so I don't always have the time to create and test new recipes for the weeklyish.  But we can crowd-source this - it's what a community is for!  And, who knows, if we use your recipe in the 'ish, you may become famousish!

We also recognize that, traditionally, yesterday would have been our annual open-farm/pitch-in/anniversary/Chad's Birthday celebration, Hole in the Woodstock.  Last year, we cancelled due to the pandemic.  This year, we really can't afford the lost revenue that would come from skipping a farmers' market.  We did host the Marshall County Master Gardeners on a tour last Monday.  We'll also likely have several volunteer opportunities as part of our invasive species removal project, and hope to have a harvest celebration/meal after the Mishawaka Farmers' Market season ends in October.  So stay tuned for farm visit opportunities!

Meanwhile, this 'ish:

Order Deadlines

Delivery Option     Deadline
Pickup @ Culver Farmers' Market | Saturday     Monday, 10pm*
Home delivery | Thursday     Tuesday, 10pm*
Pickup @ Culver Farmers' Market | Saturday     Thursday, 10pm
Pickup @ Mishawaka Farmers' Market | Sunday     Thursday, 10pm
*Sourdough orders for delivery require an additional 24 hours
Shop Now

Come Grow With Us!

Would you, or someone you know, like to get outside a couple of mornings a week this summer, and earn a little spending money while you're at it?  Or looking to learn about food production, and get paid while doing it?  We're looking to grow our team, by adding another farm hand.

To start, this will be a very part time job: two four hour shifts a week during the main growing season (mid-spring through fall).  It might be an ideal situation for a stay at home parent needing a little escape, or for the right teenager seeking a summer job.  And there is growth potential: we're already working our existing team at full capacity, with lots more to do!  It's a position you can really grow into!

Field hands are responsible for a wide variety of tasks on the farm, from weed control using both modern and ancient tools and techniques, to bed preparation, to planting, to harvesting.  They're the agricultural equivalent of a utility infielder (in the field, even :) ).  We work mornings in the summer, before it gets too hot, for the sake of both workers and the crops, but we work in all weather: hot, cold, sunny, rainy (but no lightning).  Frequent bending, squatting, walking, and lifting loads over 25 pounds, with occasional lifting of loads up to 50 pounds. Extensive use of advanced hand tools, including cultivators, different types of hoes, wire weeders, rakes, transplanters, and knives. along with home garden type tools.  Employees over 18 may use light power tools frequently as well.

So, if you're task- and detail-oriented, love the outdoors, love delicious food and supporting local community, send Chad an email with a resume!  It is challenging work, both physically and mentally.  But it is rewarding, physically and spiritually.  And you can get some free produce, too!

Yes, Peas!

Two of the most anticipated crops of the season are coming in now: snow peas and sugar snap peas.  They're always high in demand, so you surely will want to pre-order and/or get to the markets early!

Our sugar snap peas are truly remarkable.  Best eaten raw, they are crispy, crunchy, juicy, and so sweet we once had a small child return a giant cookie she had purchased from a market baker colleague so she could spend her limited allowance funds on sugar snap peas!  And f you missed them this weekend, you should stop by Lucretia Trattoria.  New chef Mike picked up a heap at the market, and there's no telling what kind of yummies he created with them (he also got some mulberries for desert!).

Meanwhile, snow peas are a bit more plentiful.  While also great raw, they are very popular in stir fries and on the grill (a perforated grill pan is great!).  Cook them very briefly over some high heat: no mushy pea pods for us!

Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush

Last year's weather left us a summer with no mulberries.  This year, we're making up for it!

Mulberries are a fascinating plant.  Much maligned in "civilized" areas because birds love to eat the berries, then poop purple all over cars and boats and sidewalks, they are also spread by them, in hedgerows, fence lines, and forest edges all over the countryside.  I spent a good deal of my childhood IN a mulberry tree, with a ring of day lilies all around its base.

There are three types of mulberries.  Red mulberries are native to the eastern United States.  Black mulberries are native to western Asia, and were spread all over Europe by the Romans as a medicinal plant.  White mulberries are native to eastern and central China, though it was also spread throughout Europe by various cultures as well.  All were cultivated for their delicious, nutritious berries, but also served other uses.

Most of our mulberries are black.  Why are we so rife with black mulberries, if the red are native in the area?  Politics, of course.  King James I was envious of the French domination of the silk trade, and mulberry leaves are the preferred forage of silk worms.  He brought 10,000 mulberry trees in to disseminate throughout the empire, including a large mulberry garden near Buckingham Palace.  Later, he decreed that all British landholders plant mulberries.  Alas, the project failed, as he imported black mulberries, and the silkworms prefer white mulberries.  Many New World colonists had come to this continent for the opportunity to become land owners, and so they followed suit.  General Oglethorpe in Georgia did a little better, importing white mulberries at Fort Frederica.  But, in the end, the better flavor of the black mulberries won colonists' hearts.

We prefer mulberries as a snack, but they are often used for wines, teas, juice, jam, or dried for mulberasins.  Mulberries are high in vitamins C, E, and K1, potassium, iron, and fiber.  They are also rich in many antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, cyanidin, chlorogenic acid, rutin, and myricetin, lending to their anti-cancer and anti-heart-disease properties, as well as helping build bone and blood health.   

In addition to helping lower LDL cholesterol and reducing the risk of cancer, mulberries are great for blood sugar control!  Though they taste very sweet, they are much lower in sugars than most other berries.  They also contain DNJ, a compound which helps inhibit a digestive enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates.  Though more studies are needed, there is evidence that they may help reduce the blood sugar spikes that frequently follow meals for type two diabetics.

So, if you wonder why our hands are stained purple, and little boxes of what appear to be tiny blackberries are appearing on our online store and at our market booth, you know it's because we're bringing  you a special treat.  Have a mulberry tree of your own?  Take advantage of the bounty (though they are quite tedious and time consuming to pick, so you may not have as many as you think!).

A Prickly Situation

When we first moved to our farm, the soil was suffering.  We had an average of .02% organic matter (3% being considered a minimum goal for organic agriculture, with many farms setting goals of 7-10%).  The characteristic plants in many areas were prickly pear cactus and yucca, which still are commonly found in the areas we have not done extensive soil improvement work on.

But, as is so often the case, even in the most difficult spaces, nature provides something yummy.  Prickly pear, aka opuncia, provides both nopales and their namesake fruit.  We haven't ever eaten the nopales, and don't often eat the fruit, as removing the spines and seeds is quite a challenge.  However, a couple of years ago, chief forager Xenia harvested about 15 quarts of fruit.  I then spent about a day and half making the most difficult to produce jam ever.  The texture of the jam is not stellar - it is about the same texture as aloe vera gel, viscous and somewhat stringy.  But it is the most delicious flavored jam ever!

I missed photographing the peak of their bloom by a couple of days (it goes by quick!), but we have thousands of little fruit setting now, that should be ready for harvest late summer/early fall.  I'd love to find a way to take full advantage what promises to be a bountiful supply this year.  So, another crowdsourcing plea: any tips on speeding up processing, fun things to do with them, ways to improve the texture of their flesh/juice?  Note they are a different species of the prickly pear cactus commonly made into jam and sold in all of the tourist traps throughout the desert southwest.  The flavor is similar, but I believe that texture issue is endemic to our particular specie

Order Deadlines

Delivery Option     Deadline
Pickup @ Culver Farmers' Market | Saturday     Monday, 10pm*
Home delivery | Thursday     Tuesday, 10pm*
Pickup @ Culver Farmers' Market | Saturday     Thursday, 10pm
Pickup @ Mishawaka Farmers' Market | Sunday     Thursday, 10pm
*Sourdough orders for delivery require an additional 24 hours
Shop Now
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