We’ve almost arrived at the end of June, summer has officially begun, fireworks are just around the corner, and we are finally giving this season every bit of our hearts.
We started this seventh farming season with some pretty exciting goals. Obviously we wanted to scale our CSA and wholesale accounts successfully, but that was nothing particularly new or shocking for us– we’ve grown the business every year since we started farming and the fact that we made some major investments in the farm last year means we’ll continue scaling for a little while. But this year we wanted to do it in different ways and for different reasons.
We wanted to scale our CSA and wholesale accounts without having to spend every waking minute of June and 70+ hours a week in July, August and September on farm. We dreamed of completing our pack shed project so we could begin to set up systems that make our farm more efficient. We wanted to hire enough labor so that we didn’t have to live at the farm from sun up to sun down every single day, and so that we had a buffer when folks wanted to go on vacations or got sick. We wanted to plan outings and fun for our amazing farm team instead of being too tired at the end of the day to add anything to our plate.
And most importantly, we dreamed of taking full Sundays off every week (at a minimum!) and hopefully also most of the day on Saturdays beginning in July so that we could enjoy both the beautiful work of summer as a farmer and also some of our activities from back before we starting farming.
And I’m so happy to say we’ve been mostly successful in meeting these goals. We’ve had to pull some very long weeks this June, but they didn’t feel too long because we balanced them with dinners out with friends, picnics at our favorite local park, and movie nights. Our home has remained (mostly) clean through the spring, a feat we’ve never mastered since beginning farming, and we celebrated our first summer solstice in a way that felt joyful, stress-free, and true to how we appreciate the land.
We started our solstice weekend with a 14-hour day on the farm, but it was beautiful because we chose it. Without a crew, we got caught up on all our transplanting. We put 900 cucurbits into the ground, laid sheets of landscape fabric, row covered them all, weeded all the peppers, all the carrots, and the third brassica planting. We cleaned things up. We created a sense of order. And then under a candy colored sky, we sunk the last 250 plum tomatoes into the ground (our third and last tomato planting of the season) until 9:15 p.m. We sipped on field beers and listened to the birds as they sang until dark.
And then, we slept in. We recharged. We had a decadent breakfast, moved slowly through our morning and afternoon, ending our solstice Saturday in a canoe with snacks, two pups and a fishing pole. I watched my Carrot fish for the first time in our ten-year relationship. I watched my hardworking, often exhausted man melt rekindling a hobby he’s loved since childhood but that got neglected in the whirlwind of starting a farm.
On Sunday, we found ourselves back at the farm, but it was done quickly and with a lightness I loved. It isn’t a perfect science. Sometimes things go the way you planned and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it takes three years to get out on the water regularly in that canoe you bought, or seven to celebrate the summer solstice in a way that feels right, but we keep dreaming of what our perfect day, perfect week, and perfect life looks like and moving towards it. And I’m ever so grateful for that.
Sincerely from the bottom of my sun-filled heart,
NOODLE LETTUCE WRAPS WITH PORK MEATBALLS & CRUNCHY GARLIC CHILI OIL
Takes 1 hour
1 bunch scallions, divided
2 garlic scapes, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped into 1 to 2-inch pieces
1-1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons crunchy garlic chile oil (recipe below), plus more for serving
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
6-8 ounces vermicelli, rice or ramen noodles (I used these!)
1 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 head lettuce, washed and leaves separated
Crunchy Garlic Chile Oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 garlic scapes, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Begin by preparing the garlic chile oil by pouring oil into a small saucepan and heating over medium heat until glistening (but not smoking). Add garlic scapes and stir. Things will sizzle for a little bit. Let them do that for a minute or so and then add the red pepper flakes and salt into the pot. Reduce heat to medium low and let sizzle for 5-10 minutes until the garlic has gotten a little browned and crispy. You don’t need to watch this too carefully so feel free to start your meatballs while this is going.
- In a food processor, combine half of the scallions (cut into 1 or 2-inch pieces), scapes, and parsley. Process until finely chopped. Add pork, ginger, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, lime zest, and salt. Process until the mixture comes together (it doesn’t need to be especially smooth, just uniform). Roll the mixture into 20-30 meatballs and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil.
- In a large bowl, combine maple syrup, crunchy garlic chile oil, lime juice, toasted sesame oil and 2 tablespoons fish sauce. Whisk to combine. Add kohlrabi and remaining scallions (thinly sliced) to the bowl. Toss to coat.
- Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water when finished. Add to bowl with kohlrabi and scallions.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Cook half of the meatballs for 10-12 minutes until well-browned on all sides and cooked through. Repeat with the second half of the oil and second half of the meatballs.
- Serve noodles and meatballs over several lettuce leaves. Drizzle the whole thing with a bunch of crunchy garlic chile oil.