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Waverly Farms CSA 8/10/17 Weekly Member Only

Posted 8/10/2017 8:10am by Patti Rosenberg.

Waverly Farms, LC

Dear Weekly Members,

Wade Bagley's tomatoes are the best tasting we've ever grown, and we are proud of him! Wade would appreciate the compliment, but also be the first blame the weather.  As difficult as heat and drought can be on other crops, it creates the perfect environment for flavor-packed tomatoes. This year, more than others, we are canning tomatoes like crazy in an effort to preserve this fresh summer flavor. 

I'm often asked why grocery store tomatoes are hard and tasteless. The reasons are crystal clear: First, commercial growers choose a few tomato varieties that are easy and quick to grow and capable of traveling long distances without becoming mushy. They grow them fast with artificial "muriates" of fertilizers, trump them up on water to maximize poundage, and harvest them before they are ripe. A science lab of chemicals protects them from weeds, bugs, and other threats. I experienced this first-hand.

During our trip to South Africa this year, we visited a commercial farm owned by a close friend of our hosts. The owner was out of town so allowed us to just go see it. "Just go", he said. He would notify the farm manager that we'd be around. This farmer and the community were proud of what he had accomplished, which was 150 of beautiful vegetables, all irrigated by a complex pipeline of water that originated at three large ponds and employed wells for back-up water. He exported large volumes of corn, peppers, tomatoes, and cabbage to other countries and was profitable. In the pump house where the irrigation originated were large plastic barrels of muriates that were mixed into the water to provide nutrients needed to grow the vegetables. Muriate of calcium, muriate of potassium, muriate of nitrogen, muriate of phosphorous, muriate of copper... everything was a muriate. I did not even know that there were so many muriates. Muriate means chloride and this chloride concoction is a quick and reliable way to send nutrients to plants. Chloride, sadly, kills essential soil life and is therefore not used by sustainable or organic growers, so I had never seen such an operation since almost all of my farm tours have been of organic farms.

I kept looking at those beautiful vegetables and the hundreds of local jobs that were created by this farm. It was an amazing site and I imagined my Business School classmates judging me with disapproval for not achieving such a grand scale on my own 230 acres. I was thinking of all the personal wealth sunk into our farm, without such an impressive result, and feeling like I missed the boat somewhere along the line. I wondered if Stuart, our children and grandchildren might have enjoyed easier lives had we retired to a golf community instead. My punches at myself were flying fast and furiously, and I was envious, especially at the jobs this successful South African farmer had created.

Finally, I was distracted by yellow "sticky traps" that were hung on one of about every 100 rows. I asked the farm manager about it and he taught me that the traps identified flying insect that might enter the farm. As soon as a bug was identified, large spray booms of pesticides were deployed every one to two weeks until that pest was eliminated. He explained that this was a critical part of growing commercially. Obviously, bug damage can reduce yield. But, for exporters, bugs can also cause an entire container shipment to be rejected at ports-of-call, like the US, who have strict laws against the arrival of foreign insects. If a bug was found by a receiving inspector, the entire container could be rejected. Obviously an expensive event.

Later in the trip, we heard concerns about a huge decline in fish in the Indian Ocean near these large, commercial South African farms. Perhaps China was overfishing the waters, but I had to believe that all that chloride running into the ocean certainly could not be good for delicate sea life, either. I was feeling better about the compromises we had rejected at our farm. 

Waverly Farms' tomatoes stay close to home, so we grow a nice variety of heirlooms and others that are bred for flavor, not transportation. In rainy years, our tomatoes might get too much water and are not as flavorful as they are this year, but that's life. When water is too abundant for tomatoes, other crops grow better, so we enjoy those instead. It matters that our vegetables are grown in rich, sustainable soil that is full of organic life and free of herbicides, pesticides, and DNA altering technologies. Despite the constant pressure "to get big or get out", it makes no sense to compromise life. Not our soil life, not nature, and certainly not the lives of the people who consume our food, although like pests and disease, perhaps humans evolve to withstand more and more chemicals. 

My Entraprenurial professor, Dr. John Ellstrot, who founded Celestial Seasons Tea and other natural food companies, and who went on to become the Chairman of the Board of Whole Foods, would have given my small farm venture an easy "F" for lack of profitability, scalability, or an exit strategy that produced a high ROI (Return on Investment). So, I know better. Oh well... we sure eat well.

CSA Share - Weekly Members Only

Red Noodle Beans -  This Chinese ethnic variety is fun to grow and super nutritious. With plenty of calcium, magnesium, potassium and a whole host of B Vitamins, these are truly a health food. For a main dish, try Shrimp and Ginger with Red Noodle Beans  Or, if you just want to make a simple side-dish, Chinese Long Beans with Cracked Pepper is easy and delicious. 

Cherry Tomatoes - Kids everywhere are asking for more of these tiny fruits that are so sweet and healthy to eat. They are packed with Vitamin C and other nutrients. I still love them with cucumbers marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or piled onto Mini Eggplant Pizzas, or cooked as a topping for spaghetti. My sister makes Tomato Jam with them and it's all the rage with her friends. If you'd like plenty of these, let us know and we'll send you plenty next week. 

Eggplant - Maybe your family is ready for Eggplant Parmesan this week. 

Slicing Tomatoes - We've been making a lot of Roasted Tomato Sauce and Salsa using Mrs. Wage's Salsa Mix (available anywhere canning supplies are sold, such as Walmart or Amazon). I was skeptical when my young neighbor brought over the mix and reminded her that we don't like to use anything that includes preservatives or other potentially harmful chemicals. Then I looked at the box and it includes only dehydrated onions, peppers and spices. Even her medium spicy mix is pretty hot, but it is delicious! Otherwise, slice away. Protein share members received bacon this week for that classic BLT, with or without avocado. 

Sweet Peppers - These would be a great addition to your salsa mix or to the cherry tomato spaghetti sauce above.

Cucumbers - So refreshing in Cucumber Water, a fine detox or just rehydration. Of course cucumbers are amazing when marinated with tomatoes as in Marinated Cucumber Tomato Salad

Garlic - This is a great addition to all of the recipes above. 

Protein Shares - Weekly Members Only 

Beef Filet - These steaks are nice, especially if you love to grill. I like How to Barbecue Perfect Medium Rare Filet Mignon, but then there is the very delectable Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon, which I remember being all the rage in my parent's generation. 

Beef Burger - Make Roasted Spaghetti Sauce and add hamburger. It's actually easy, and once you do it, you'll prefer it over purchased sauces. 

Smoked Pork Bacon - This is delicious just pan fried or baked until crispy and put on BLT or on salads, or just eaten for breakfast. You have two types. Let us know which one you like best - the meaty one or the fatty one. These are different breeds of pigs. 

Uh oh! Curtis did not make it to work this morning so I'm rushing out to care for our animals. Please forgive any typos! 

Enjoy!

Stuart and Patti Rosenberg and all of your friends at
Waverly Farms, LC
2345 Lewiston Plank Rd.
Burkeville, VA 23922
www.waverlyfarmsvirginia.com
214-914-0323 (Patti's cell)
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