July 1, 2021
The Lettuce Rejoice!
Firmly Rooted Farm's Newsletter for their Veggie Loving Farm-ily
On the Farm: Say Peas!
Hello again my veggie loving friends,
Ask a farmer what their opinion is of the weather, and I’m sure you’ll receive a passionate response. We are enjoying the cooler temperatures while we can and are bracing for the heat of July now that summer has officially arrived. Of course, we still need more rain, but the little rainfall we have gotten has been extremely helpful. We are lucky in comparison to many regions of North America this year; the prairies and much of the American Midwest are experiencing extreme droughts. Even throughout southern Ontario rainfall amounts have varied wildly, with some farmers hardly receiving an inch of rain all spring. It has been a dry year, to say the very least.
I can go on and on about the weather, and how impactful it is on everything we do in farming. One aspect the weather has an impact on is the availability of produce. Have you ever wondered how the options and abundance are dictated on Harvie? Tamara walks the fields at the end of each week and guesses how much will be available. This is a bit of a risk; if she guesses too high, then people will be disappointed when their choosings cannot be filled, if she guesses too low then we have an abundance of produce we don’t know what to do with. Sometimes the zucchini doesn’t size up as fast as expected, and sometimes you find yourself drowning in giant kohlrabi (two very recent experiences). The weather, as well as insect pressure, germination success, and weed pressure are all often unpredictable factors that affect availability. Luckily the nature of a CSA is to provide the farmer with some flexibility with their offerings, allowing some compromise between the needs of the customer and the cornucopia of the farm.
This week’s cornucopia comes overflowed with peas, as summer sugar snaps are ready in abundance. Peas have been an important crop for humans for thousands of years, with evidence dating back 23,000 years demonstrating the consumption of wild peas. It's even possible that as long ago as 46,000 years our Neanderthal cousins consumed wild peas as well. The earliest evidence of the cultivation of peas lies in Syria, dating back roughly 11,300 years ago. There are some key differences between wild peas and domesticated peas; wild peas are much smaller and have pods that shatter on maturity, scattering the seeds around to reproduce.
The most common pea, Pisum sativum, has many varieties, and within those varieties many cultivars as well. At Firmly Rooted we only grow an edible pod pea, sugar snaps, for sale. This is because of its high yield when compared to a shelling pea. The sugar snap has an interesting history. In 1979, US plant breeder Clavin Lamborn crossed a snow pea with a garden pea that had especially thick walls. Sugar snaps then became a sensation, once dubbed the vegetable of the century. At the time, snow peas (also with an edible pod) had been adopted but not yet popularized in the common western diet. The popularity of sugar snaps changed how humans viewed the consumption of peas, going against the deeply ingrained urge to shell your peas. I also imagine it liberated countless women and children from the time-consuming task of shelling peas. I remember spending countless hours of my precious summers as a child, shelling peas on the porch for my mother, and always being a little disappointed with the fruits of my labour compared to the size of my compost pile.
Sugar snap peas are of course deliciously enjoyed raw, by themselves or with a dip such as hummus. But they are also deliciously stir-fried with a plethora of seasonings. Try quickly frying them with garlic, green onion, and tossed with fresh mint leaves, a take on the traditional English dish of minty peas. Or try the same method with fresh ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil for an Asian-inspired dish. Roasted, fresh in salads, in pasta dishes, or steamed, it’s hard to go wrong when cooking with sugar snap peas. Although I will warn, they are easy to overcook, so be cautious of how much cooking time you allot to them.
Harvie now has a feature where an email is sent to you 2 hours before the customization deadline. This means that at 8 pm on Mondays, you will receive a reminder from Harvie to customize your share. You will receive this email even if you have already customized your share, so be careful not to create duplicate shares!
That’s all for now folks, happy eating until next time!