Steve’s Weekly Update for 4-22-10

Dear members,

Mesa Top’s newly minted staff is moving into gear, filling greenhouse trays and beds and garden beds with plants and seeds.  The soil moisture conditions are perfect for the old Belarus tractor and Sigma (Italian) spader.  We are working in our biodynamic compost and building more compost piles.

Last we harvested about 50 lbs of spinach from our overwintered plants, and then a few hours later we got hailed pretty hard.  I have seen this happen before and seen that healthy plants respond favorably to hail: the adage applies here that if it does not kill you it makes you stronger.  Hopefully, after a 2-3 week gap, we will have another wonderful winter spinach harvest.  The flavor of the over wintered spinach is beyond compare.

This week we will take a crack at harvesting some wild mustard greens that are and annual spring feature at Mesa Top.  They are mild and tasty.  We have no idea how much we will be able to come up with, and will have to find a clever way to add them in with the other greens that are being distributed this week.  As of the time of this writing, it is hard to see how much we will find.  We have eaten these in salads and we have cooked them.  They could be steamed or sautéed with your chard or chopped and mixed with the salad mix and sunny seeds in a salad.  We welcome some feedback on this “wild crafted” local weed!  Try as I might I have never been able out figure out how to save this seed or to cause this plant to grow where I want it to be.  But it is a tasty treat.

This week’s update on cheese value chain and Jim Miller Ayrshire projects:

The ayrhsires are eating and the calves are growing.  More of our cows are out on Mesa Top pasture.  No new calves this week.  There is a need for quite a bit more investment in fencing to make all of the land available for pasture.

We are including another local cheese in this week’s share:  Asadero cheese from organic milk from a medium sized dairy in Portales, made into cheese at Tucumcari Mountain Cheese.  We hope that the samples of cheese that we are sharing during these weeks of “diminished availability” of fresh produce help members see the possibility of taking up a cheese share.  This will be important in a month or so when the produce volumes pick up and the regular share is composed only of fruit and veggies.  By design, the weekly share will be two packages of cheese a week:  likely one will be a soft, fresh cheese, and the other will be a hard, aged cheese.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:

This week we have an interesting balance of greens:  Sunny Sprouts from Sungreen, Salad mix from Gard-n-hers, and Chard from Graves family farm.  There will also be some special wild mustard greens from the fields at Mesa Top.

We have another new item this week: Atole (pronounced Ah-TO-le, 3 syllables, the middle syllable is accented and the O is long) is a toasted blue corn cereal.  Native New Mexico Blue Corn, organically grown in San Jon New Mexico, east of Tucumcari and roasted and milled at Santa Ana Pueblo north of Albuquerque.  Try this as a hot cereal, with a little honey and maybe some milk.  The flavor is very unique.  There are few ways to get the true flavor of blue corn and this is one if the best.

The Equal Exchange, bananas are in!  We will be receiving some of the very first Ecuadorian, fair trade bananas in New Mexico.  I had a chance to sample them a couple of months back when we were working out the details of this value chain and I have never tasted banana’s quite like these.  The flavor and texture was awesome.  And they are quite a bargain in price for an organic and fair trade product.  For more info go to www.beyondthepeel.com Please give us some feedback on whether we might offer them as a fresh fruit item while we wait with our fingers crossed to see if the local fruit comes survives the dangers of spring.

Rounding out the share we include Heidi’s Raspberry Jam again.

No new update on the fair trade avocados. Meanwhile patience and persistence are the watchword as we slowly resume local food production and volume. Along with gratitude, I am grateful to the growers who do support the CSA at a time of year when there is such a clamor for local food that they have many high paying choices.

Membership news:

The transition to the “member farm account” system, and Farmigo as the membership management and accounting system seems to be going along smoothly.  PLEASE ask for help if anything is not working or for clarification if anything does not make sense.  We have loaded up the system with quite a range of new possibilities and it will take time to fully flesh out and explain them all.  Meanwhile we continue to design and implement new opportunities for our members and farmers to exchange good local and regional food through the Beneficial Farms CSA

All my best and thank you for your support,

Steve Warshawer

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