We moved to the farm to teach our kids about sustainability, where their food comes from and how simplifying life is important, especially in our fast paced society. Someday we hope to merge this experience into re-creating ourselves and what we do for a living. Last year we took a few friends on as "guinea pigs" and began to experiment with making our own mini CSA farm baskets. We had some amazing eager friends and as the season went on, we had a waiting list for the future. It was a great experience and we learned a ton. One of our challenges was trying to get everything out and delivered in the crazy heat we had last summer, and me scrambling to make each box special in some way while working and shuttling the kids. Oh, and we so need to buy another refrigerator to put all of the farm box produce in!
Now, we're spending our cold weather time trying to brainstorm how to improve upon our initial efforts and expand to touch more families. As I look through catalogs and previous years' history, I am struck with a sense of excitement and anxiety at the same time. Our seasons can be so unpredictable. Last year was beautiful and extra warm which led to a longer season and amazing produce. But in our area of the North, it isn't unusual to need a sweater in July (not great for tomato or pepper growth)! I feel a tremendous responsibility to those who sign on for the season and since I know that I can't control the weather, I'm trying to come up ideas to make each box special. This week I started making cards with produce tips and recipes to include and am getting them printed and set aside now.
I need your help....do any of you receive weekly farm boxes? What makes them special?
we do receive a weekly organic box and have now for a good five years. here in denmark, it's a successful business for a company called aarstiderne (which means seasons) and they deliver anywhere in denmark. (that was one of the first things i checked on the houses we were considering, whether aarstiderne would deliver).
aarstiderne has a lot of different boxes you can chooose from, from basic veggies, to danish-produced only (gets a little heavy on the root veg in the winter) to fruit boxes to meal boxes of different sizes - that contain all you need for from 2-4 meals.
over the years i've tried quite a few of the different ones and some of the things i like best are: they always include recipes - they do a really nice printed flyer that comes in all of the boxes and it has 8-10 recipes featuring some of the ingredients and always a cool story about something on their farms - recently it's that 150 business students have done their thesis on the aarstiderne business model in recent years. the meal boxes have recipes featuring the ingredients that are in the box - i've learned a lot of new ways to prepare vegetables, especially veggies i wasn't familiar with. but they also pull me out of my go-to dish ruts.
another of the ways in which the boxes are special is that they contain, for example, a bottle of pureed tomatoes or a portion of risotto rice. sometimes they even have eggs or goat cheese.
you're on the right track with produce tips - i'd also say, plant a few "weird" things (curly kale comes to mind - as it lasts well into the winter, so it will prolong your boxes into the autumn) to introduce the families to new produce. when the berry season comes, make jam in little jars so that it's possible to include one of those on a week when the lettuce wilts or the bugs eat the broccoli - think a little beyond just garden produce and think products which originated in the garden.
i'm excited to hear more about what you're planning! also what's on the list from all those seed catalogs.
oh dear, my comment was longer than your post..
We are absolutely looking into unique/cool types of produce to include. Last year I also would add a canned good or two that we had processed. Good thoughts! I'll look into the curly Kale...I've got a great recipe for kale chips too! I'll post more as we figure it out. Thanks for the info from your deliveries! It's another reason we'd like goats, so we could include cheese or soaps...Ah so many thoughts!!
there's also a fancy tuscan kale (not curly) that i've seen on the BBC cooking shows, but the curly kale stays green all winter and you can also feed it to your chickens (makes the egg yolks SUPER yellow) and bunnies love it.
Have you thought about nuts to add to the box. Walnuts or hazelnuts might be a welcome addition to use in a salad.
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