Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
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First veggie pickup is this week

Good Morning Shareholders,

This week is the first vegetable pickup day of the 2009 season!  Yippee.  We have kale, bok choi, red globe radishes, and head lettuce.  It won’t be a large pile of food, but it will get us started on what I think is going to be an abundant season.  We have so much nice food in the gardens.  I urge you to take a look around when you are here this week, or come for a garden tour next week.  Our first movie night will be Wednesday, June 24, with a garden tour at 7:30 and the movie at dusk.  I think we are going to show “The Final Season”.  It’s free, with popcorn sales going to benefit the Southeast Linn Community Center food pantry.  Bring a friend.

I think we’ll have more of the same vegetables, plus kohlrabi, snap peas, and maybe some spinach next week, as long as everything can keep growing this week.  Broccoli isn’t too far in the future, either.

Bok choi is an Asian vegetable.  It’s like mild cabbage.  It’s great stir fried, or chopped up and tossed into any kind of soup or stew.  You’ll notice small holes on some of the leaves.  These were caused by flea beetles.  Flea beetle is a very small beetle that eats the leaves of certain young plants.  There are only two ways I know to get rid of them in an open field, either spraying with an insecticide or waiting for a big rain to wash them off.  We chose to wait, so you’ll see some evidence of feeding.  It’s just cosmetic damage and doesn’t hurt the taste or nutrition in any way.

The big news around here is that the big (in my world, it is big) tractor is in the shop.  It’s either bad, or really bad.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get much planting done last Friday without it, and we missed having more seeds in the ground for the best rain we’ve had all growing season.  We had about 1.2” here, which was perfect.  It came slowly and all soaked in without running off.  Although it has seemed like a wet spring, the rains up until now have been actually a little short of what we have needed.  I’m glad we got this good soaker now.  There’s a little mud around the yard which you will have to negotiate, but it’s a small price to pay for a million dollar rain.

The implement dealer loaned me a tractor so I could get some mowing of the parking and play areas done in preparation for this week.  It’s about 4 times more tractor than I am used to, so my mowing job isn’t the greatest.  But I think you can see the layout.  I tried to make a big enough parking area so that we will have plenty of space, stay out of the mud, stay off the road, and keep the kids safe all at the same time.  When you arrive this week, please enter the farm at the farm gate.  I’ll have it marked with a sign.  The road is one-way with the exit through my house driveway.  Please drive only the one direction.  We have a handful of parking spots for the elderly and disabled near the open-front shed, but everybody who is young and healthy, please keep driving and park along the house driveway.  I’ll have it marked where I’d like to put your cars.  It is a bit of a walk back to the building, but there is gravel and grass to keep you out of the mud.  Please, never park on the road or right at the entrance on pickup nights.  I’m hoping this new plan with help reduce congestion and improve safety (and make my insurance man happy).

Please remember to wash all your vegetables before you eat them.  We wash with pond water, and you probably don’t want it in your kids’ bellies.  Please keep children 5 and under by your side or within sight at all times.  I generally discourage kids from passing through the big shed where the vegetables are because there is lots of clutter, some of it dangerous, near the back of the building.  There is a line on the floor that is the border between safe and unsafe.  I’ll show them where it is.  We’ve got five perfectly adorable kittens for the kids to enjoy.

We still need to plant the second tomato crop and I’ve run out of milk jugs to cover them.  We need about 200 more gallon plastic jugs, so if you’ve got some in your recycling and you can bring them this week, we will put them to use.  The jug helps to prevent dirt from splashing onto the lower leaves of the small plant, which helps to delay the onset of the fungal diseases that usually kill tomatoes later in the season.

Want to do a price comparison for me this season?  I’m looking for a handful of people who will keep track of the prices of the vegetables that we have each week at the grocery stores and farmers markets.  I can send you the items and quantities each week, and you find out if they can be purchased and how they are priced.  At the end, we’ll compare the total value of a share with the same items from the stores and the markets.

Remember to check the website ( and the blog ( to get the latest news from the farm.  I’m only going to send you this newsletter by email one more week.  It’s too much for my computer to send to everybody like I used to.  On the blog site, there is an icon you can click that will cause my blogs to be automatically emailed to you, I think.  We’re still trying to figure out how to get the blog directly on the farm website.  When we do, I’ll let you know. 

I’m looking forward to seeing you this week.


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