Community Supported Agriculture

My how time flies! Our CSA orientation is this Wednesday, 5:30–7:30 p.m. at the Farm. We’re counting on a beautiful, rain free evening — as it has been for the past 20 years on orientation night. (Yes, this is the 21st year of the Persephone Farm CSA!)

We are very excited to see the program starting for another glorious season and anxious to share what’s new at Persephone Farm. CSA subscribers are encouraged to bring their family and join us for an evening at the farm. See our summer vegetables growing! Learn about add-on shares, these are delicious ways to support other local producers, and an opportunity to collect an even more abundant basket each week. Meet our awesome, hard-working 2016 interns, enjoy hors d’oeuvres, tour the garden, and of course, pick up your produce. (Subscribers received an email from Rebecca with additional details.) See photos from a past orientation.

If you know of others who might be interested in joining us, please spread the word. There are still shares available, and, if you refer someone who subscribes, we’ll thank you with a free box of veggies, and, of course a huge hug and many thanks. We look forward to meeting all our new subscribers and seeing the familiar faces of friends and neighbors. Contact Rebecca if you have questions.


Farm flowers in the field.


It’s been beautiful blue skies here in Indianola and we’ve been busy planting and getting ready for the CSA season – be sure to sign up for your share soon! You can also come visit us at the Bainbridge Farmer’s Market, now open Saturdays 9am-1pm. All our new interns have settled in and are getting dirty. We’re looking forward to an abundant summer.

Persephone Farm Corn

CORN in everyone’s CSA boxes this week—the variety is known as “bodacious”! Some of you may wonder, why does locally grown corn cost more? You’ve probably seen it—this time of year the market is flooded with cheap corn. Much of it comes from large, far-away farms, raised on cheap land with subsidized water and transportation costs. The production of this corn relies on heavy inputs of artificial nitrogen fertilizer, much of which ends up in streams and rivers. In some cases, these large farms contaminate aquifers with nitrate pollution. Large tractors cause erosion and compaction to produce those 10/$1 ears in the supermarket. There is a loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat associated with hundred- and thousand-acre commercial corn production. We are just beginning to understand the real cost of industrialized corn.

Of all the crops we grow, corn is by far the heaviest nutrient feeder, really taking a toll on our fragile soil. It requires many loads of compost before and after planting. The sheer square footage required to grow sweet corn, which only produces two ears per plant (with only one of them full-sized and marketable) takes up a sizable portion of our limited irrigation water.

All this said, we love fresh corn as much as you do! We even love to grow it. Walking through the leafy rows, squeezing each ear for fullness, is one of the pleasures of farming. The miracle of pollination is nowhere more evident than in each individual corn silk attached to a single kernel, which, in order to swell and sweeten, must be touched by pollen grains falling from the pointed tassels above. Incredible! And the taste of a just-picked mouthful of golden sweet corn… we all know that joy. CORN. It’s what’s for dinner.

— Apprentice Rachel (excerpted from our weekly CSA subscriber email)

Photo: Leslie Newman


Persephone Farm Pears

Beautiful, but not perfect (looking) pears grown at Persephone Farm.

(Excerpted from our weekly CSA subscriber email written by apprentice Rachel)

What’s been on my mind lately…food waste. Not the most glamorous subject, but an important one. As subscribers to the CSA of a local farm that practices sustainable agriculture, well, you’re the choir about to receive a sermon. But for those interested in going a little deeper into issues related to the mega-industrialization of agriculture, and those of us (like you) doing our small part to seek out food that’s both more delicious and healthier (for everyone), there’s always more to learn.

One of my favorite recents reads is The Third Plate, by chef and farmer Dan Barber of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture outside New York City. Barber pushes us to rethink the way we eat, to work towards practices that are healthier for us and our (current and future) environment. It’s a fascinating book, and a lot of interesting things are coming out of Stone Barns, too. One I recently ran across on the Stone Barns website is an essay on food waste, “The Good and the Bad of Saving the Ugly.”  Author Jane Black writes about a legendary peach farmer (if there can said to be such a thing) Mas Masumoto:

“With water scarce in California, peach farmer Mas Masumoto decided to try something different. This summer, he used between 20 percent and 30 percent less water to grow his Gold Dust peaches. The tactic produced an intensely flavored fruit, but one that was about 20 percent smaller than normal. His loyal retail outlets — stores like the progressive Berkeley Bowl — took them. But customers weren’t buying. After years accustomed to buying peaches as big as softballs, shoppers saw the smaller fruit as flawed or somehow unworthy.”

See the rest of the article, and have a look through the Stone Barns website. Would you dare to eat a smaller peach?

As CSA subscribers, you’re already doing so much help fix what’s ailing our broken food system. As you know, at Persephone, we don’t use chemical inputs, rely heavily on manual tools and the sweat of our brows, and eat all the vegetable seconds ourselves! Very little goes to waste on this farm; it’s one of our most fundamental principles, in practice from reusing berry baskets (thanks for returning them!) to building our own compost from farm food scraps and crop residues. It’s not easy, and as you know, it’s not necessarily cheaper — in fact, sometimes it’s just the opposite. Our irregular-shaped fruits and vegetables sometimes sustain a bruise in those square boxes we put them in; and if you find a worm or bug once in a while in your food… well, we do our absolute best to wash and scrub out all the crawlies, but at least you know we’re not using poison!

What else can we all do? Think about our food choices, rethink what’s beautiful: the perfect, round, huge peach?  Or food that has an optimal balance of taste, nutrients, and responsibility to the earth? We’re glad you’re helping us do what we do. Thanks as always for your support!!

Photo: Leslie Newman


Persephone Farm Tomatoes

You can see why we’re thinking of gazpacho this week! My Spanish grandmother (okay okay she was German)(okay okay it’s me) makes gazpacho without a recipe, and it’s still the best way to do it. Finely chop up the peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers you haven’t already finished on the way home from the CSA pickup site; add a finely chopped small onion, a few tablespoons of olive oil and a couple cloves of minced garlic; and salt and pepper, lemon juice, and vinegar to taste—cumin, cilantro, or parsley if you’re fancy—and chill for an hour. Some people like to blend it up—or blend half the mix, leaving the other half in small chopped bits—before chilling, but some prefer to leave the vegetables finely chopped. Other interesting options: finely ground bread crumbs or toasted almonds, Worcestershire sauce, jalapenos, gin (kidding about the gin*)…There are almost as many variations of this recipe as there are tomatoes, so use what you’ve got and go with your gut! Perfect with a hearty bread for dinner on a hot summer’s day. — Apprentice Rachel

For those who prefer a little more direction, the New York Times recently (and timely) published a collection of recipes under the apt headline “30 Ways to Do Justice to Summer Tomatoes.”

*vodka would definitely work better

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