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    2017 Denison Farms Newsletters


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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017: Week 4 (June 27)

In this box: 1 Lettuce, ½# Spinach, 1 head Garlic, 1 Sweet Onion, 2# Fava Beans, 1# Romano Beans, 1 bskt Cherry Tomatoes, 2 bskts. Raspberries—remember to put berries into the fridge ASAP (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic!


On the farm this week         

I noticed a strange scene Sunday morning on the farm…. Our farm crew had full rainsuits on, and they were filling large tubs with water in the bed of our dump truck. I’ve been part of the farm for 20 years, and this was a new sight for me. Later in the day, I noticed that a number of our green houses had become shade houses, and suddenly it made perfect sense…. Last weekend’s heat wave was causing some overheating in the green houses that protect our berries and tomatoes from rain and cold weather. Tom says the pickers were noticing sunburning in the raspberries. So the crew made a mud slurry in giant plastic tubs, and sprayed this mud on the hoop houses (with a garden hose and gasoline-powered pump), driving the dump truck around the farm to get near the crops that most need the shade. A very effective, low-tech solution to the heat wave. And another opportunity for me to be grateful that our farm crew is creative, cooperative, and dedicated to the quality of your produce.


            This is the perfect time to remind you that we have a RECIPE BLOG—find a link to it on our web site home page. We just launched our recipe blog a few months ago, with a lot of help from long-time employee Rose Holdorf (Thanks, Rose!). There are several fava bean recipes on the blog, which saves newsletter space for some additional information about this great bean.

            Fava beans are grown all over the world, and can be eaten in their fresh, green stage (like the ones in your box today), or left on the plant to mature, and eaten as a dry bean. Most recipes for fresh favas tell you to remove the beans from their pods, cook the beans, and discard the pods. However, when the pods are fresh & green like the ones in your box today, you might enjoy using your favas like a green bean. We grow a variety that has a pleasant-tasting pod, and is completely edible except for the stringy bits that run down the seams on the sides of the pod. Here’s our favorite way to prepare whole pod favas:

Mediterranean Fava Bean Sauté 

Sauté some garlic and onion in a generous amount of olive oil until soft. Snap off the stem end of the fava pod, and pull off the strings along the sides of the pod. Then cut the pods (with beans inside) into 1-inch lengths, and add to the sautéed garlic. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, then add some fresh tomatoes, or a couple Tbs. of tomato paste thinned with ¼ cup water. (Optional: add a handful of fresh, chopped, parsley if you have any). Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, cooking until the tomatoes/tomato paste melts into a thick sauce on the beans. Add salt to taste.



            The long, flat beans in your box are a variety of Green Romano Beans that we just love to grow. Though they are extra-large, they are surprisingly tender, and we think they have a superior flavor to the more common, pencil-sized green beans. Since these beans are more tender than a common green bean, you need to be careful not to overcook them. We like to steam them for just 3-5 minutes, or until they turn bright green but retain just a little crunch.

These beans get sweeter and tastier as they grow larger, but will get leathery if they get too large.  Our pickers try to pick them as large as possible without being tough.  The best way to prepare these beans for cooking is to break off the stem, then snap the bean into 4 or 5 pieces.  If a bean won’t snap, it is probably over mature, and should be discarded.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017: Week 3 (June 20)

In this box:
1 Lettuce, ½# Salad Mix, ½# Spinach, 2 cucumbers, 1 bunch Radish, 3 zucchini, 1 bskt Cherry Tomatoes, 1 bskt Raspberries  (weights are approx.)  Everything is Organic!

I assume you are familiar with the produce in your box today, so I can spend less newsletter space introducing new vegetables, and more space writing about other things.

Produce storagesome like cold, some like dry, some like room temperature!
In order to get the most out of your weekly box, it may be helpful to understand a few basic principles of produce storage.

Berries like it very cold:
Berries are notoriously perishable. One of the benefits of Organic Berries is that you are certain they haven’t been sprayed with fungicides. However, the down side of organic berries is that they have a tendency to develop mold if they are left at room temperature.
    On warm days like today, it’s important to get your berries into the fridge as soon as possible. Better yet, bring a cooler and ice with you when you pick up your box! If you are late to pick up your box, you should be especially quick to get your berries in the fridge or cooler, and eat them as soon as possible, checking for moldy bits as you prepare them. If you are going to rinse your berries, do it right before you plan to eat them, or they will become waterlogged.

Salad greens & lettuce like it cold:
Rinse, drain well, and store in a cold refrigerator. Gently dunk lettuce, salad mixes, or other greens in a large bowl of cold water to remove any debris. Then drain well before storing in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or sealed tub. I like to put a paper towel in the bottom of a plastic tub so the leaves on the bottom don’t sit in water. Salad mix should be eaten within a few days, whereas a head of lettuce will keep longer.

Cukes & Zucch’s prefer cool, not cold
: cucumbers and zucchini are happiest if not too cold. The ideal storage temperature for these items is about 50 degrees. Cukes and zucchs are OK in the refrigerator for a few days, but after a while, they will develop “pitting”. If you refrigerate, put them in the warmest part of the fridge. We tend to leave cukes & zucchs on our kitchen counter, so we don’t forget about them. Left on the counter, they will slowly lose moisture and become limp after several days, but they’re still fine to eat that way. Don’t close them up in a plastic bag on the counter, or they will develop mold.

Tomatoes need room temperatures:
Keep tomatoes on your kitchen counter until you eat them. Tomatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator.

Roots should be cold and moist. Your radishes will keep best if you cut the roots off the leaves first, then store the roots in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge.

Plastic clam reuse/recycling
There are many trade-offs in life. Ideally, we would like to pack everything in reusable or recyclable packaging. However, we also want your produce to arrive home in good condition. We use plastic “clamshell” packaging for cherry tomatoes and berries so they don’t spill and turn to sauce or jam en route to your house.
Reuse: If your clams are clean, we can reuse them, but please wash them before returning to us, as we are not set up to wash them here on the farm.
Recycle: For our Salem and Albany members, the plastic containers are recyclable in your curbside bin. Unfortunately, Republic Services in Corvallis does not accept clams at this time.

Holidays and Vacation dates: July 4th falls on a Tuesday this year, but your farmers won’t take the day off. It will be just like a regular Tuesday on the farm. We will pick/pack/and deliver Harvest Boxes as usual on July 4th. If you will be out of town that day, and would like a vacation credit for that box, please email me so we can create a vacation credit instead of packing a box that won’t get picked up. denisonfarms@peak.org arrives on the computer at my desk, so that’s the best address for any messages about your Harvest Box membership.

Farm Party Sunday, September 3
We have set the date for this year’s Farm Party on Sunday of Labor Day weekend, in the afternoon.
Our tradition is to have a farm tour in the mid-afternoon, followed by a potluck.
I will send more details as the date draws nearer.
We hope you can come!

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017: Week 2 (June 12)

In this box:
1 Lettuce, 2 cucumbers, 1 Fresh Garlic, 1 bskt Cherry Tomatoes, 2# Red Gold Potatoes, 1 bu. Baby Turnips*, 1 bu. Beets*, 1 bu Garlic tops, 1 basket Tayberries (Salem & Albany) or Blackberries (Corvallis).  (weights are approx.) Everything is Organic! *Turnips & Beets are from Groundwork Organic Farm in Junction City.


When Tom & I looked around the farm last Friday, trying to plan what would go in this week’s box, we weren’t confident that we could fill everyone’s box with what we have here on the farm. So we checked with our friend Gabe, at Groundwork Organic Farm to see what he had in abundance. When he said he had turnips and beets, we jumped on the chance to put them both in your box this week. We were harvesting beets from our farm in early May, but they are all gone now. And we just didn’t get any turnips planted this year because it has been an unusually wet winter and spring. So far, we’ve had 25 more inches of rain than in an average year! It’s been difficult to prepare ground for planting, and to stay ahead of the weeds when we do get things planted.

Fortunately for you, our tomatoes were planted on time, and our berries are grown in covered hoop-houses so they have been less affected by the rains. Enjoy the first Sungold cherry tomatoes of the season!


White turnips are also known as “salad” turnips, because they are sweet, juicy, and mild enough to eat raw, or slice into a salad. The turnip roots are quite nice tossed into a stir-fry, but I think they are so good just eaten raw that they never seem to make it into the sauté pan in my kitchen. Turnip greens can be cooked as you would spinach—what I mean by this is that turnip greens are relatively tender, and they cook quickly. Turnip greens have a mild flavor when they are cooked, but they can also be used in a salad. Raw, they have a slightly sharp flavor, which reveals their close relationship (in a botanical sense) to mustard greens. I happen to like mustard greens, but it’s not a flavor that every palate appreciates. If they are too strong for you as a raw vegetable, know that they are MUCH milder when cooked.


This week, your box should have a basket of either Tayberries or Blackberries. Blackberries may be easy to recognize, but tayberries may be less familiar. The Tayberry is a cross between a blackberry and raspberry. They are the color of red wine. I like to make a quick fruit sauce with blackberries or tayberries. Berries have a different flavor when cooked. All berries have some balance of sweetness and tartness. With blackberries, cooking seems to mellow the tartness and bring out the sweetness. With tayberries, I find cooking really brings out some flavor complexities that are not there in the fresh, uncooked fruit.

To make fruit sauce: quickly rinse fruit and place in a sauce pan. Add about ¼ cup of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then use a potato-masher to crush the fruit, and sweeten if you wish. Thicken, if needed, with a little cornstarch. Cool, then spread on pancakes, French toast, crackers, yogurt, cheesecake……


Garlic tops—Here’s a lovely vegetable that is truly a seasonal treat. It’s available only in early June, when garlic plants are maturing and sending these edible flower stalks (technically called “scapes”) up from the center of the developing garlic bulb. After we cut off the scapes, the plant continues to mature the garlic bulb, so we get two crops from one plant! Garlic tops are generally cooked, rather than being eaten raw. They can steamed, or cut into bite-sized pieces for a stir-fry. They have a very mild garlic flavor. You can eat the entire scape, but I prefer eat no further than one bite past the bud, as the tip of the stalk gets too fibrous for me. I also suggest “snapping” the bottom ends off to make sure they’re tender. Like asparagus, if the ends won’t snap, they may be too fibrous to eat.

            Recipe of the weekGarlic Tops with Hummus: Steam whole garlic tops for 5 minutes or until tender. Cool, then dip in hummus for a perfect taste and texture combination. I had to hold myself back from eating the last bite so that I could share some with Tom. Because I enjoy finger-food, I just hold the top, and dip the bottom into hummus for each bite, eating my way up the stem and finishing with the bite that includes the bud.

In your box today, you have both a bunch of garlic tops and a head of “fresh” garlic. Your bulb of fresh garlic is still moist. You can cook with it as you would “regular” garlic, but because it’s fresh, it won’t keep in good condition more than a week or so. Typically, garlic in the grocery store has been “cured” in a well-ventilated area until it is fully dry. Store your fresh garlic on the counter, in a well-ventilated area, and use it this week if you can.

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Denison Farms Harvest Box 2017, Week 1 (June 6)

In this box: 1 lettuce, 2 cucumbers, 1 sweet onion, 1# sugar snap peas from Springhill Farm, 3# yellow potatoes, 1 bunch parsley, 2 zucchini, 1 bunch Radish or Chard, 1 bunch Fava Greens (weights are approximate). Everything is Organic!

We are excited to be starting another Harvest Box season with you. If you’ve been part of our membership in the past, we are delighted to have you back. And I want to give a hearty welcome to our new members. Welcome to the farm!
First, some logistics, and then some suggestions about how to use this week’s produce:
•    Tub care—feel free to take the tub home with you. But please bring it back next week. It’s extra nice if you rinse it out after emptying it, so it’s clean. If you prefer, you can transfer your produce to your own bags or cooler and leave the box at your pick-up site.
•    If you forget to pick up your box some week, check your confirmation letter for late pick-up options at your site.
•    We haven’t yet planned a date for our Farm Party. I will post a notice in the newsletter as soon as we get that date on the calendar.
•    If you have any questions or concerns, email me at denisonfarms@peak.org. Our office is small—usually it’s just me & Tom sitting at our respective computers, surrounded by seed packets, papers, & file folders full of farm records. I like to joke that Tom is “the farmer”, and I am “the farm wife”. We have separate responsibilities; I am in charge of the office, and he’s in charge of the planting & harvesting. We’re a good team, and we’ve been doing it for a long time—this is our 20th season of offering Harvest Boxes. Again, we thank you all for your membership with us.

Here are some ideas for using today’s produce:

Sugar Snap Peas – from Springhill Farm. I don’t expect Sugar Snap Peas to need much introduction—except to confirm that these are the kind of peas that you eat pod & all. There is a bit of a “string” along the side that you can remove when you snap off the stem end. Then you can eat the peas & pod raw or cooked. Two of my favorite ways to eat Snap Peas are to serve raw peas to dip into hummus, or to steam them lightly. They don’t need anything more fancy than that.
    We planted sugar snap peas on our farm in early February, but the bulk of our peas ripened a few weeks ago, and there aren’t many left to pick. So, we are grateful that our friend Jamie at Springhill Farm (in North Albany) has a variety of peas that ripens a few weeks later, and we could get some from him. It takes a lot of peas to fill 300 boxes! Thanks, Jamie.

Parsley—I love making a sort of “Greek” salad, of parsley, cucumbers & sweet onion, dressed with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. To be a classic Greek salad, I should add olives and feta cheese, but I never seem to have them on hand. Instead, I add cooked garbanzo beans, and that is one of my standard summertime lunches.
Parsley is also nice in a potato salad….
Need more ideas, check out our NEW RECIPE BLOG. On our web site, choose “recipe blog” to find many of my favorite farm-based recipes. No longer will you need to search through back issues of the newsletter!

Fava Greens—Perhaps the least familiar item in the box today is the bunch of Fava Greens. We’ve grown fava beans for years, but didn’t know the leaves were edible until we saw an article in Sunset Magazine with recipes, and now we’re hooked. The Sunset Magazine article suggests they have a grassier flavor when raw, and a nuttier flavor when cooked. I think they taste faintly of peas, but the flavor is hard to describe. You just have to try them!
    As a salad, raw fava greens go well with a citrus dressing, like a lemon-poppyseed dressing.
As a cooked green, treat them like spinach. They are nice with onions and zucchini stuffed in an omelet.
Important note: we picked the fava greens in a bunch because they’re easier to handle & pack that way.
However, the stems, though sweet and pea-flavored, may be fibrous, except at the tip. If the stem snaps easily, it’s probably tender enough to eat. If not, I suggest picking the leaves off the stems before making a salad or cooking them.
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