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CSA #17

Dear CSA-ers,

This week’s Preassembled Bag will contain Lovelock, Fennel, Malabar Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, Mixed Cucumbers, Green Onions, Dill and Basil. Orders may now be placed on the online market at:

Yesterday’s Summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year and the official beginning of Summer. From this point onward, daylight hours will grow shorter. This signals the time to produce abundantly for many of our vegetables, particularly eggplants and peppers (which will start gracing the online market in a couple of weeks). As this email is being written some much-needed rain is falling on the farm. Though we utilize water efficient irrigation techniques, there is no substitute for the fresh water that falls from the sky. This time of year, it settles the dust in the air, and everything seems to green up with such vibrance after a good rain. We are thankful.

The beginning of Summer also marks the beginning of planning for Fall and Winter, a task the team will embark upon Monday. It takes a lot of planning to keep an abundant and diverse mixture of vegetables growing, harvested, and available for you through the online market. This process is always some combination of tedious, stressful, and fun. We will dwell on the fun aspect of it though. There are a number of plants we didn’t have the opportunity to grow this Spring that we’re excited to bring back for the Fall, as well as some new ones we want to try. In particular, we’ve heard a lot of feedback lamenting the absence of Bok Choy and Tatsoi from Spring baskets; these are definitely coming back. We’re also going to try for more significant plantings of Cauliflower, Romanesco, and Celery. If you’ve got any suggestions or requests for Fall and Winter vegetables, this is the time to reach out! Seeding begins soon, and believe it or not, these crops will go in the ground at the peak of summer heat in July and August.

You’ve known it was coming, and now it’s here! This week’s featured vegetable is the tomato! You’ve probably heard that the tomato is a fruit, and while that is true, it’s not a very interesting fact because any crop with seeds is technically a fruit (cucumbers, zucchini, peppers- all fruits). What is interesting about tomatoes is their history. Tomatoes come from a very tiny desert region of Central America where the wild plant grows as an unassuming sprawling vine with tiny pea sized berries. At some point prior to recorded history someone walked a handful of these tiny berries to South America, planted the seeds, and began the domestication of one of the world’s most popular vegetables. In the early 1500s, the Spanish conquistadors encountered the Mesoamerican empires growing tomatoes, liked the vegetable, and disseminated the seeds throughout Europe and all the Spanish colonies. Now tomatoes are grown all over the world.

Their history has two important implications on the modern-day cultivation of this crop. The first is that, at heart, the tomato is a desert plant; and the second is that the plant was domesticated from relatively few wild individuals, so it is severely inbred. Summarily, this is why tomatoes are difficult to grow. They have little deep genetic diversity to impart disease resistance, and the humid and rainy conditions of Eastern North America are less than ideal. For this reason all our tomatoes are grown in high tunnels, where we can protect the foliage from overhead water. This simulates their desert climate and helps prevent the maladies they are susceptible to. Eating tomatoes is delicious and healthy. They have lots of Vitamin C and lycopene, which may improve one’s immune system and reduce cardiovascular risks. They are also the basis for tons of recipes. This year, we’re growing two varieties of cherry tomatoes, ‘Sakura’ (round red), and ‘Starlight’ (elongated yellow). We’ve also got a significant planting of ‘Speckled Roman’ (a red and yellow striped, heirloom paste tomato), and trialing 3 heirloom slicers which may be offered sporadically. We hope you enjoy all of them!

As always, we want to thank you for being a part of our farm. It brings us joy to be involved with our community’s growth in both sustainability and food security. Your support makes growing food organically in West Kentucky possible. Thank you.

The Magney Legacy Ridge Farm Team