The Official Bay Ridge CSA Blog

Take me to the CSA ballgame

Ah, the balmy days of summer, when there is nothing more glorious to do of a Friday evening than to head to the ballgame, grab a beer, and put the world to rights. It’s a little known fact though that the stats that govern the baseball have long been used to govern the world of CSAs. Fortunately, the Big Bosses at the Bay Ridge CSA have given me special dispensation to share with you the secret shadowy statistics that form the backbone of our esteemed organization. Read them well and learn, my friends.

  1. GS – Grand Slam (or in CSA speak, “average number of Garlic Scapes served up to members over the first six weeks of the CSA season. Long-time members will remember the glorious summer of 1955, when GS reached an all-time high of 41.)
  2. LOB – Left On Base (in CSA-speak, Left Over Beets. The number of beets found rotting in the bottom of your fridge once you reach the end of the season. Just fyi, any LOB over eight can cause permanent discoloration of your vegetable drawer).
  3. OBP – On Base Percentage (in CSA-speak, Overwhelmed by Berries & Peaches. In high OBP weeks, CSA members can suffer from a particularly high OBP that can lead to a DP (distraught partner) when you return home having eaten all the BP on the way back).
  4. FC – Fielder’s Choice (in CSA-speak, Fetcher’s Choice. The person who carries back the heavy bags gets first option on any produce within that week’s harvest. Tomatoes and raspberries have a particularly high FC quotient.)
  5. RBI – Runs Batted In (in CSA-speak, Recipe Bafflement Inquiry. High RBI’s usually occur at the pickup site with vegetables not often seen commercially such as Japanese Turnips, but can occasionally be heard with more common produce such as kale (“that’s an unexpected RBI for leeks there, Dan.”)
  6. TB – Total Bases (in CSA-speak, Totally Bummed. The feeling you get when you have had a heavy night out on a Friday, and then don’t wake up until 15 minutes after the CSA pickup ended).
  7. SB – Stolen Bases (in CSA-speak, Stolen Broccoli. Generally, members who turn up at about 10.15am can suffer from high SB, when unscrupulous members have taken more than their fair share earlier that morning. Note that those people who take more than their dues can suffer from occasional OPS (Optimal Piqued Staring) from volunteers who notice what’s going on).
  8. ERA – Earned Run Average (in CSA-speak, Eggplant Recipe Alternative. There does seem a point in the season after you’ve grilled eighty three eggplants that you can’t even buy an ERA. Then you remember babaghanoush, and all is well with the world.)
  9. SO – Strikeout (in CSA-speak, Squash Optimization. There’s always a choice of squashes, and any member with a good SO average is able to size up the crate in a matter of seconds, and spot the bright yellow squash that will be the sweetest, and narrowly avoid the green zucchini that looks like it’s done ten rounds with Mike Tyson.)
  10. WHIP – Walks & Hits Per Innings Pitched (in CSA-speak, Well Hidden In Potatoes. It’s a little known fact that Farmer BR hides one glorious bonus vegetable in among one of the crates. Like the secret menu at Tanoreen (what, you didn’t know about that either??), the lucky member who forages through the crates to find the bonus unheralded vegetable must always hold it above his or her head, and shout ‘I am the WHIP, and I come to claim my vegetable fortune!’ in a falsetto at the top of their voice in order to claim it.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in this week’s CSA share:


Sweet Corn







Saturday, July 19th, 2014 No Comments

Different strokes

Growing older is a strange thing. I’m not talking about the strange single long hairs that suddenly start to spurt out of your eyebrows (or worse still, your nostril) at a much greater rate than any other. Or the odd grunts that you find yourself emitting at particularly strenuous moments, such as – you know – standing up. Or even the fact that you start to wax lyrical about things that you never used to like, just because they were around when you were younger. Like ‘Kate & Allie’, or ‘Max Headroom’.

No, I’m just talking about how your attitude changes in general, the older we get. And in particular, our desire to be different seems to change with time.

When you’re a young child, the last thing in the world that you want to do is stand out from the crowd. After all, it was always the slightly different kid whose parent made him wear a cardigan rather than a coat that got picked on at school. Or the girl who had Rola Cola instead of Coke or Pepsi, obviously.

As you grow up though, the more you want to express yourself individually. Admittedly, that matching tie-dye bandana/underwear set that you made for yourself in your freshman year may have been a mistake in hindsight, but at least you were telling the world that you stood for something different. Even if that difference resulted in you spending Friday nights alone in your dorm room, watching ‘Falcon Crest’ and eating Baskin Robbins kahlua and cream flavored ice cream.

The fact is that different is good. And particularly when it comes to the food we eat. Most of us are members of a CSA because we want to see some kind of change in the way that produce is grown and distributed, and we’re not content with the status quo. Indeed, a study out of the UK published today suggests that organic food – as grown by farms such as our own Hearty Roots – has more of the antioxidant compounds linked to better health than regular (non-organic) food, as well as markedly lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides. Now THAT’S a difference that we can all go for.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in tomorrow’s CSA share:

Garlic Scapes
Tomatoes (These are the very very first of the tomatoes, just a few are ripe so
there are only two per share, but there will be more to come! Please make sure you only take your allotted share!)

Friday, July 11th, 2014 1 Comment

Happy sausage on a stick day!

Ah, the 4th of July. It’s always been a difficult one for me to be honest. After all, when I was a kid growing up in the UK, we just used to call it Friday. If, you know, it was a Friday. Apart from when we spoke to Americans, when we used to have to pretend that we were in mourning for the loss of our colony south of Canada.

Fast forward a few years, and I suddenly found myself living in the self-styled Greatest Country On Earth (TM), and suddenly July 4th had a great deal more meaning. By which I mean that it was now a Friday that we didn’t have to go to work. If, you know, it was a Friday. Suddenly July 4th was the greatest thing on earth, and a fitting commemoration of my homeland’s graceful and fully amicable return of this country to its rightful owners.

Move on to the present day, and I’m now an American marking my second Independence Day in the United States. And, as is fitting for such a celebration of what it means to be an American , I today found myself walking the aisles of a major grocery store chain that can’t quite break into the New York City market despite their better efforts. And frankly, it’s pretty astonishing what you can find in there. From 800 types of grated cheese to breakfast cereal with more sugar in it than can be conceivably lifted by the average four year old, it’s a temple to food-gone-bad.

But one thing stands out more than any other.

Step forward the Jimmy Dean’s Blueberry Pancakes and Sausage. On A Stick. After all, let’s not imagine the chaos that would ensue if somebody actually had to pick up a fork to eat this (use of knives to eat food having apparently been outlawed by the founding fathers in the US following the British retreat). The tragedy is that somebody in the Jimmy Dean organization came out of a brainstorm for new products one day thinking, ‘I’ve done it! I’ve invented the next big thing – fast cars and big bonuses here I come!’ He likely had a coronary after one too many Blueberry Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick, but those three minutes of dreaming were pretty damn glorious.

All of this got me to thinking about food in America, and the perils of getting what you wish for. After all, Britain may (wrongly) not be renowned for its food culture, but we don’t have sausage pancakes on a stick, last time I looked. You’ve got the founding fathers to thank for this, you know.

For those of you with kids, there’s a book by Toni Morrison called ‘The Big Box’ which philosophizes about the process of kids growing up and becoming independent. When you think about blueberry pancakes and sausages on a stick, you can’t help but wonder whether the words were maybe written about the United States after all?

“I know you are smart and I know that you think
You are doing what is best for me
But if freedom is handled just your way
Then it’s not my freedom or free.”

Ah, you kids can’t handle your freedom. Luckily we’ve got fresh fruit and vegetables, picked only a few hours ago, coming our way tomorrow morning. Oh, and by the way, I still spent almost a hundred dollars in that unnamed store. I’m an American these days, after all.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in tomorrow’s CSA share. And Happy Independence Day to all our members!

Baby Lettuce
Cauliflower or Broccoli
Summer Squash
Garlic Scapes

This is also the first week of the fruit share!

Note from the farm:

When we collect eggs every day, it’s always striking how different ours look than what you see at the grocery store. Buy a dozen commercial eggs and they all look identical; but ours are different colors, shapes and sizes, depending on the breed of the hen, the time of year, the age of the hen. etc. You might notice that our eggs are on average quite big; I think it’s because our hens have free-choice feed available, whereas caged hens are given limited rations. But right now, you will probably notice some smaller eggs in the mix. That’s because we have a big group of young hens who are just beginning to lay. These first eggs are called “pullet” eggs, and they are a nice reminder that chickens aren’t just a uniform commodity, but living creatures that change over the seasons.

Friday, July 4th, 2014 1 Comment

Sleeping on the job

The great thing about the Bay Ridge CSA is that the community is so eclectic. Whether you’re Democratic or Republican, rich or poor, a food lover or just a food eater, there’s room for everybody within the confines of the group. And the fact is that from the toddler who helps pick her mother or father select the vegetables at the pick-up, through to the more elderly member who joined the CSA because the vegetables taste more like they did when he was a kid, the CSA is open to everybody of all ages.

All of this got me to wondering about the average Friday night of the CSA member who waits eagerly under their inbox waiting patiently – nay, desperately – for this email to fall into their loving arms from on high. I’ve always wondered what you’re getting up to as I’m sitting here, desperately coming up with enough words to persuade the big bosses at the Bay Ridge CSA to keep me on the books.

It’s this latent curiosity that led me to invent the Bay Ridgualizer™, a groundbreaking machine made from bits of scrap metal and a couple of tons of garlic scapes. I keep it in my mother-in-law’s garage, if you must know. Each week this glorious machine enables me to see right into the murky and hitherto private world of the members of this saintly parish. And frankly, it’s not a pretty sight

Powered only by cooking oil derived from deep frying falafel, the Bay Ridgualizer™ has already shown me exactly why there’s a cucumber shortage on 79th Street (you don’t want to know), and why one of our members is always the last person through the gates for the pickup (let’s just say that the tumble dryer at the laundry is ridiculously slow). It’s given me a fascinating insight into one man’s peculiar obsession with Betty White, and the less said about the 101 uses that one member has found for beets, the better.

Of course, the irony would be that if you could turn the Bay Ridgualizer™ on my good self this evening, you’d find a poor beaten soul who – already overwhelmingly conquered by jetlag – was unwittingly given a drowsy anti-histamine by his loving wife only moments before settling down to write this esteemed journal. Still, it’ll take more than a few pharmaceutical drugs to bring down this wri….zzzzzzzzzz.

Apologies, I just fell asleep on my computer and now I have a QWERTY imprint on my forehead. Probably best I head off before somebody complains.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in this week’s share:

Red Beets
Garlic Scapes
Summer Squash

Message from the farm:
We are not always so diligent about sending newsletters during the busy season, but this summer we have tasked some of our farm crew members with updating farm images on Instagram. Head over to our page to see what’s happening at Hearty Roots!

Fruit shares
Fruit shares will begin next week!

We are in an egg lull right now, as our new hens haven’t started laying much yet, so some of this week’s eggs come from our wonderful neighbors at Sparrowbush Farm, where they use the same GMO-free feed and pasture-raised practices that we do.

Thanks so much for your membership in the farm!

–Ben + Lindsey + family, and the Hearty Roots Crew

Friday, June 27th, 2014 No Comments

The best things come to those who wait

They say that the best things come to those who wait. To be brutally honest, I have no idea who ‘they’ are (though my money’s on the big bosses from the Bay Ridge CSA), or indeed why ‘they’ always have to speak in such alarmingly clichéd ways. But say it they do.

Personally I am not sure they are even right. After all, I waited for four years for Veronica Dribblethwaite from third grade, and then moments after she told me that I could share her PB&J, I watched her run off to play tag with some kid with a minor hygiene problem and a penchant for eating mud.

I’ve been waiting 40 years now for England to survive past the semi-final of a major football tournament, and while the World Cup has now kicked off, I fear I’ll be waiting a few more years yet. For those of you reading this on Sunday morning, I hope you all saw the team’s glorious 7-1 mauling of Italy, and that you’re looking forward to watching the Three Lions inevitably grasp defeat from the jaws of victory in the games to come.

But to be fair, ‘they’ may still have a point. After all, it’s now just before midnight, and you’re only now getting news of what’s in tomorrow’s second CSA share of the year. You can’t rush perfection. Or even mediocrity, in the case of this email. Anyway, enjoy your vegetables, and if you see Veronica Dribblethwaite, can you ask her to give me my marbles back?

Here’s what’s in tomorrow’s CSA share:

Japanese Sweet Turnips
Summer squash (zucchini and/or yellow squash)
Swiss Chard
Garlic Scapes*

* Garlic Scapes are the immature flower of the garlic plant. These curly-cues show up in June and we snap them off of the plants as a spring treat. Nice garlic flavor, when substituted for garlic in recipes the strength is a bit milder.

News from the farm:

Although the share is always greens-heavy in early June, we are excited that the summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash) are ripening up quickly and we have a good amount to send in this week’s share. As we near the longest days of sunlight of the year, the plants are growing so quickly, and of course so are the weeds! We couldn’t be busier at the farm, but we are having a great time, and enjoying a week of mild temperatures and some rain showers.

Thanks for your membership this season! Our number one priority on this farm is providing good, affordable food to all of you, the CSA members who make it possible for our farm to flourish. We will be working hard all season to ensure that your family has the best quality, freshest, healthiest food possible on your tables.

With gratitude,

Ben, Lindsey, Piper + Eleanor, along with Jeff, Wes, Jordan, Tim, Christopher, Kate, Brian, Lia and Audrey

Friday, June 13th, 2014 No Comments

Guess who’s back?

You can’t beat a good break. Unless we’re talking about legs or arms, that is. But frankly you can have too much of a good thing, and so seven or so months after the end of the 2013 season, the Bay Ridge CSA is quite literally – and not to put too fine a point on it – BACK. So, for all of those who have missed your late Friday night email about vegetables and vague inanity, it’s time to rejoice. For the rest of you, it’s time to remind yourself where the ‘report spam’ button is located on your email system.

For all those newcomers to this esteemed community (voted 14th best community group in the tri-state area by readers of Vegetable Weekly), the Bay Ridge CSA pickup takes place every Saturday between 8:30am – 10:30am at the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church (on Fourth Avenue between 68th & Senator Streets). Please make sure that you arrive during this time, as the pickup ends promptly at 10.30am, and all vegetables spontaneously combust precisely thirty seconds later. If you’re going to be away, or if you think you might be a little bit late, do try to ask a family member or friend to attend the pickup for you to make sure you’re not disappointed. You can also use our bright shiny new Facebook page to organize swaps with fellow members if you’re particularly stuck.

When you get to the pick-up, you’ll need to sign the sign-in sheet (lovingly created by one of the Bay Ridge CSA big bosses) for each of the shares you’re picking up (vegetables, eggs and fruit). Unless you’ve got ridiculously large pockets, make sure that you bring some bags to take your produce away in, as we don’t have any of our own.

It’s written into the rules created by the founding fathers of the United States that each Bay Ridge CSA member has to volunteer to work one pickup during the season. If you haven’t yet signed up for your date, you can contact signmaker extraordinaire Rana at email hidden; JavaScript is required to select your week.

As long-suffering Bay Ridge CSA members will tell you, every Friday night you’ll receive an email from us, giving you details of what you’ll be receiving in the next day’s share. The big bosses at the Bay Ridge CSA keep a giant scoreboard at the pick-up location, tallying annual complaints vs compliments about the newsletter. Last year the naysayers won 26-3, but we’re hoping to narrow the gap this year. As a result, emails about politics and garlic scapes may be limited in 2014, though you can still look forward to the annual excoriation of beets.

We’d love to get your recipes to put on the website on the blog – just email us email hidden; JavaScript is required. Make sure that they’re original recipes of your own as we won’t be able to publish recipes from other sites.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in this week’s farm share:

Bok Choy
Red Radishes
Green garlic (use both white and green parts, like you would regular garlic)
Kale (“Scotch” kale, a new variety for the CSA that is very tender)

Notes from the farm:
Do you have friends in the neighborhoods of Riverdale or Washington Heights? Hearty Roots has CSA locations there that start pickup next Wednesday, and we still have shares available. Please spread the word to help us sell our last shares so we can meet the farm’s budget goal for this season! All the details are at **

Things are growing great in the fields! As always, the first few week of the share will feature lots of fresh greens; the heavier crops don’t ripen for a few more weeks so let’s enjoy the best of spring.

At long last, we are nearly done building our new vegetable washing and cold storage building, we will pour the last part of the concrete floor on Friday. It will be a huge relief to have an efficient, permanent wash area, after ten years of a make-shift wash setup on our various rented pieces of land.

The crew has almost all arrived for the season, with a couple more folks scheduled to join us in the next two weeks. We feel lucky to have a great group once again this season, who are really giving it their all in the fields.

Thanks for your membership this season! Our number one priority on this farm is providing good, affordable food to all of you, the CSA members who make it possible for our farm to flourish. We will be working hard all season to ensure that your family has the best quality, freshest, healthiest food possible on your tables.

With gratitude,

Ben, Lindsey, Piper + Eleanor, along with Jeff, Wes, Jordan, Tim, Christopher, Kate, Brian, Lia and Audrey

Friday, June 6th, 2014 No Comments

Getting ready for the year ahead

Ah, it’s that time of year again. No, not the slightly embarrassing one in the doctor’s office that neither he nor I look forward to. No, it’s the Bay Ridge CSA – and we’re back for 2014! Yes, the new season is almost upon us. The garlic scapes are readying themselves, and David at our pick-up location is already working on his top-drawer vegetable chat for the year ahead.

Of course, before we can get going, we have to have our orientation meeting for new and existing members. ALL MEMBERS (new & returning) who have signed up, are invited – and highly encouraged – to attend the meeting. This is your chance to meet Hearty Roots farm’s owner, Benjamin Shute, to hear everything you need to know about the farm, and to ask any questions about the produce you will be receiving this year.

It’s also a dubious chance to meet our core group of Bay Ridge CSA organizers. A more motley bunch of characters you are unlikely ever to see, outside of incarceration programmes the length and breadth of the United States.

So when is this event, I hear you all cry with gay abandon? I’m glad you asked me that:

When: Saturday, March 22, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Where: Fourth Ave Presbyterian Church, 6753 4th Avenue (between 68th & Senator Streets)

In addition to the discussion with Benjamin, the following topics will be discussed:

* An overview of how the CSA works
* Information regarding the new online membership system
* How you will pick up your share every week, and what to expect
* Your work shift obligations
* Any other unanswered questions regarding the Bay Ridge CSA
* 258 illegal uses for Japanese turnips

This is your chance to ask anything you might not be clear about! Children of all ages are always welcome, and light refreshments will be served. So please make every effort to attend and we look forward to seeing you all on Saturday, March 22nd!

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 No Comments

The end of the road

So like all good things, the Bay Ridge CSA 2013 season has come to a close. In the immortal words of Boyz II Men, we’ve come to the End of the Road. It’s actually a little known fact that Babyface and LA Reid wrote ‘End of the Road’ to speak of the pain that comes when CSA seasons finish after six months of joyously fresh vegetables. In fact, I even managed to purloin a copy of the original lyrics, just to prove it:

“Although we’ve come to the End Of The Road
Still I can’t let yam go
It’s unnatural, kale belongs to me, beets belong to you.”

For some people, the pain of the end of the season never quite goes away. Each year, the big bosses at the Bay Ridge CSA set up a telephone hotline to counsel distraught members on how to cope without their weekly supply of broccoli and apples. Some people just make weekly pilgrimages to the side of the church each Saturday morning, hoping to glimpse a rogue sweet potato, or a chance sighting of the site leader’s infamous hat. Others scan their inbox each Friday evening in the hope of seeing a hilariously offbeat blog posting (those people can collect their cash payment from me shortly, by the way).

Fortunately, you need not fear. There’s only six months until we start the whole thing all over again. And in the meantime, the kind people at Hearty Roots are about to launch their Thanksgiving share – we’ll be sending you more details soon. So hang tight, keep the faith, and know that it’s only a matter of time before you’re all complaining about what to do with twelve garlic scapes each week.

Thanks for a great season everyone – here’s to 2014, and in the meantime, here’s what you can expect to receive in tomorrow’s (sniff, sniff) final CSA share of the season:

Butternut squash

Fruit share:


Friday, November 1st, 2013 1 Comment

The great egg crisis of 2013

As all immigrants to this city know, there are only approximately four weeks in every year when New York is actually habitable – two weeks in the spring, and two weeks in the fall. That’s four whole weeks out of 52 when the temperature of the city is at a level where it’s just comfortable, rather than nose hair freezingly cold or skin meltingly hot. It’s a little known fact that in January 1933, July 1965, August 1981 and March 2006, aliens visited New York City with a view to staging a hostile takeover. They left ten minutes later declaring that the city was incapable of sustaining life.

Fortunately for us all, we’re currently in the two weeks of the fall that feel pleasant. Sure, we’re starting to feel that eery cool descending as if to remind us that we will soon not to be able to cough outside without the saliva in our mouths instantly freezing solid. But for the most part, we can enjoy the blue skies and crisp days as the last hurrah of the warm weather.

Sadly, as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, the hens who deliver eggs for our fried, poached and scrambled delights get, frankly, lazy. As you have probably heard, that means that this week there’s no eggs at the Bay Ridge CSA. Unless they go on egg strike, you’ll fortunately be able to get eggs at the Thanksgiving share instead. I’ve got a killer recipe for egg and turkey muffins if you need it…the less said about my egg gravy, the better.

Here’s what you can expect to receive at the Bay Ridge CSA pickup tomorrow:

Butternut squash
Scarlet turnips
Daikon radish

Friday, October 25th, 2013 1 Comment

All good things come to an end

All good things have to come to an end, it would seem. My thirties end in less than ten days, picking a random example. John Boehner’s credibility finally disappeared into thin air this week. And after just four more deliveries, the Bay Ridge CSA 2013 season will come to an end. It seems like only yesterday that I was blithering on about the number of garlic scapes we were going to be getting, and yet here we are talking about squashes. Time flies when you’re almost 40, apparently.

Anyway, there’s still time for you to send me recipes to share with fellow members. I sit here day after day waiting for interesting uses for kale or turnips, and all I get is a very heartfelt offer to help a poor guy in Belgium who has been liberated of his wallet and will be safe as long as I transfer $200 to him by the end of tomorrow. Frankly, I’d rather eat beets.

So, if you’ve got any interesting (and original) recipes for winter squash or radishes, I’m all ears. To be fair, my hearing could be gone in a few weeks, so you should probably take advantage.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in tomorrow’s Bay Ridge CSA share:

Sweet peppers
“Autumn Crown” winter squash*

*Autumn Crown is a new variety for Hearty Roots this year. It looks similar to the Long Island Cheese squash they have grown in the past, but it is smaller and has even better flavor and texture. It is comparable to butternut in its sweetness and smooth texture. It will store very well in your kitchen for many weeks. Enjoy!

Friday, October 18th, 2013 No Comments

Sweet Corn


Order Pickup: July 31st
Deadline to Order: July 28th

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