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Posted 5/27/2009 6:59pm by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

Arugula’s Star Farm

CSA Basket Journal #3 ,  May 27th


What Genus Specie Varieties your basket contains:


1.) Baby Purple Top White Globe Turnip Greens with edible dainty Root

2.)Rudolf, French Breakfast, and Pink Beauty Radish Mix

3.)Sweet Ann Sugar Snap Peas

4.)Golden and Orange Fantasia Young Swiss Chard Bunches

5.) Chioggia and Golden Touchtone Baby Beets and Greens Bunches  

     (roots, stems, and greens. All edible)

6.) Triticale Grain and Vetch Arrangement                       



What a great representation of the Chenopodiaceae family you will find in this weeks basket.  Both Swiss Chard and Beets belong to this family.  Spinach does as well, which you have had the pleasure of having for the past two weeks.  As you could imagine, with the greens and the pigments in the stalks, all of these vegetables in this family are really great for you.

My new excitement lately has been a gifted book exchange from one of our interns, Roben Mounger, otherwise known as Ms. Cook.  Over her years of life she has developed quite a collection of cook/food books and she volunteered to bring me a couple new books every other week that I can look through in my few moments of spare time.  As I generally put all of our meals together by feel and by what is in season, I generally do not follow recipes specifically, but I do enjoy getting inspirations from looking through a new cookbook.  I really enjoy European Food Culture or American writers that really practice and understand their region of seasonally available organic vegetables and fruits. 

The past few books that Roben has brought me have all been vegetarian based books, funny enough, even though for the first two listed below you would really not even notice as they mainly just do not use meat.  After looking through Deborah Madison’s book, Savory, Annie Sommerville’s book, Fields of Greens, and Jae Steele’s book, Get it Ripe, I saw a lot of similarities in between their recipes and the way I put dishes together.

I am bringing all of this about because even if you are not a vegetarian, as Matthew and I are not either, I think you would be inspired or at lease would benefit from getting a new cookbook that focuses on in-season vegetables and fruits.  The Get it Ripe book by Jea Steel, is a very hardcore vegetarian book, but that is not a bother at all, as I found it to be a wonderful book for those of you who might want to start learning about vegetables, grains, and fruits from square one.  She also charts out all the nutrients of any available vegetable, fruit, grain, nut, or oil. 

One of my favorite recipes I put together just the other night was what I might call a Root and Stem Crunchy Beet and Apple Slaw, which was quick and easy and very good.  I spoke of it some today to everyone and I will be adding a written recipe for it in the Arugula’s Star Recipe Bank.

Enjoy your baskets and we will be seeing you next week.

Oh and please can everyone try to remember bringing your baskets back to the pick-up/drop off next week.

Allison and Matthew

Posted 5/24/2009 5:32pm by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

Thanks to all of our CSA member's support for the 2009 season, as we have reached our maximum prodution level and are no longer accepting new members for the 2009 season. 

If you would like to be put on a waiting list for the coming seasons then please let us know so we can add your contact information to the waiting list. 

Allison and Matthew Neal


Posted 5/20/2009 9:37pm by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

2009 CSA Basket Journal #2; Volume #2

May 20th

Good evening to you all after a most beautiful sunny day.  We are pleased that the grounds have finally dried out enough for us to achieve our vine crop planting tomorrow and Friday. We will also be able to start the first round of hilling the potatoes.  I did love hearing some of your stories on how you chose to eat and prepare all of your vegetables last week, so I will look forward to more throughout the season.

This weeks basket has such a wonderful variety of some really unusual and great greens, that are not just a paradise for making large bowl salad meals and other prepared recipes,  but are really good for you.  The best way to look at vegetables from a nutritional/health stand point in my opinion is not to try to remember exactly what the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals are for each vegetable, but to know for certain that every raw vegetable has many of these healthy nutritional aspects… so YES every time you eat one of our organic vegetable you are putting great components into your body.  Beet Greens for example are higher in nutritional value than their roots, as they are richer in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.  The greens also contain magnesium, phosphorus, and B6.  Beet stems and roots have the pigment that gives beets their rich, purple-crimson color, betacyanin, which is one of those great phytochemicals. 

As far as recipes go I have already added about four new recipes to the Arugula’s Star Recipe Bank that utilizes your Arugula, Catalogna Emerald Endive “Dandelion Greens”, French Sorrel, and Leeks just to name a few.  I would highly recommend the Brothy Spring Stew Recipe as it utilizes those Turnips and Turnip Greens, Leeks, and Rosemary.

I would also recommend looking at the following CSA Basket Journal Archives from last year in particular, as they highlight the French Sorrel and other uses for the Endive, and Beet Greens…

CSA Basket Journal #3

CSA Basket Journal #5

CSA Basket Journal #11


What Genus Specie Varieties your basket contains:

1.Mesclun Mix of Orach, Spinach, and Frisee Endive

2. French Sorrel

3. Baby Rouquette Arugula

4. Chioggia and Early Tall Top Beet Greens Bunch

5. Sweet Ann Sugar Snap Peas

6. Spring “Lyon” Leeks Bunch

7. Catalogna Emerald Endive “Dandelion Greens”

8. Purple Globe White Top Turnip Roots and Greens

9. Caribe Cilantro, Rosemary, and Wild Garlic Scapes

Posted 5/13/2009 9:31pm by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

Arugula's Star Farm '09 CSA Basket Journal #1; Volume 2


Sweet Ann Sugar Snap Pea Plants


What Genus Specie Varieties your Basket Contains:

1. White Globe Purple Top Turnip Greens with Baby Root Bunch

2. Broccoli Raab Greens Bunch

3. Green Pointed Starburst and Red Tide Leaf Lettuce

4. 1/2 lb Longstanding Bloomsdale and Tyee Spinach

5. 1/2 lb Darki Triple Purple and Aurora Orach

6. Golden Globe Young Beet Greens with Dainty Edible Root

7. Sweet Ann Sugar Snap Peas

8. Cherry Belle Radish Bunch

9. Caribe Cilantro, Bergamot (bee balm), and Lemon Balm Herb Bundle



Good Evening to everyone as we enjoyed delivering and offering over our first of the season pickings.  I can only hope that you all have already found something great to do with your basket vegetables for the evening dinner meal. 

Remember for great ideas beyond your creative put togethers there are some great and simple recipe ideas for every item in your basket if you will go to the webpage and scroll down under Recipes and then click on Arugula's Star Recipe Bank.  It is here where you will find basic ideas on how to prepare the Broccoli Raab and Turnip greens,  by clicking on the Broccoli Raab Recipe, for example, or what to do with your beautiful Orach and unusual herbs like the Bergamot.   I will try my best to put up new recipes every week that should complement your weekly basket. 

Every week I am always putting together new dishes as I do not think we ever eat the same dish twice,  and this is really the way you will learn to prepare dishes once you learn to utilize what is seasonally put in front of you.  This concept can be quite fun I think, and it helps give you great skills on putting together meals by using only what you have to work with.  As long as you keep some oils, nuts, fruits, eggs, salt & pepper, and grains on hand, you should really be able to follow about any of the simple recipes that I have put together as I let the the vegetables do the talking.

In fact, just when we got home today from the morning drop off we had a simple lunch meal of an Orach, Sweet Pea, Boiled Egg, and Cilantro Salad.  I tossed the Orach leaves with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, Salt and Pepper.  I thinly sliced an apple, I chopped cilantro, and tossed these in as well.  As I had my Windy Acres fresh eggs a boiling, when they were hard boiled I peeled and sliced them on placed them on top of the greens. Then I through some sugar snap peas, walnuts, and raw cheddar cheese in for the final addition.  This was a delicious salad and despite its tastyness I will say for certain I will more than likely never make it again, as I will move on to the next inspiration for dinner.  I hope that this act will and can become common for all of you through this CSA season.

Again thanks for being apart and I hope you all enjoy your first weeks basket.  If you have any simple questions please feel free to send an e-mail or call and I will try to get back with you by a couple of days as I do not check e-mail every day.  Also, be on the look-out for the Windy Acres Farm e-mail as Debbie will be sending out the next week options for order and all you will have to do is respond to place and order.  Their egg yolks were just brilliantly golden colored in hard boiled sliced presentation on the lunch salad and oh ever so tasty.  This really will be wonderful because now you will be able to get organic vegetables, meat, eggs, and cheese all in one location, which does not leave much more to pick up elsewhere other than some of the staples I mention above!

I will be seeing you next week and until then happy vegetable basketing.






Posted 4/19/2009 5:40pm by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

 If you are one that likes countdowns then you can start an approximate three week countdown this Wednesday the 22nd, as the goal first time CSA drop-off/pickup will be Wednesday May 13th.  All of the vegetables, fruits, and herbs are coming along, slowly but surly.  This early spring has brought many hard rains, and cooler weather than normal, as I am sure you have noticed.  The cold has not necessarily been extreme damaging colds just over-all coolness that has slowed all newly planted growth just a bit.  Plants grow slower when springs are cooler/cloudy because of the overly wet cooler soils, lessened microbial life activity within the soil because of the lower temperatures, and less sun energy for the plants to undergo photosynthesis.  Nonetheless, I feel as if the spring crops will be about ready just on-time for your first CSA delivery.  We have planted so many wonderful crops already this year and are on the tips of our toes walking around checking on and awaiting the start of the season’s harvest of all of our little crops a growing.  I will say though it sure has been a tricky early year for planting, as the rains have given us very few moments of dry soils to work in, especially when throwing in the factor that we plant the seed in the appropriate moon phase and/or sign.  Produce farming in the open space of the skies and fields for sure has its challenges, but in the end it all plays out for much beauty and enjoyment I will have to say.


VEGETABLES FOR SALE…..Spring Lettuce Heads

I have had a current idea that I would like to offer over and here it is.

We currently have an array of Lettuces, Spinach, and Kale that overwintered and are quite nice. What I would like to propose is an on-farm Wednesday the 22nd (by order only) pick-up, at  normal CSA time 4:30-5:30 (or later if you are coming from work), for those of you who respond to this with an order. 

This will only be for an on-farm pick-up, so those of you who live in Nashville town might just have to pass, but for the closer members you and your friends might enjoy taking opportunity of some early fresh vegetables.  


Vegetable                                                                                      Price

A mix of 3 heads of Medium sized lettuce                                   $6.75 /per 3 Heads

heads…Rouge d’Hiver Romaine, Green Pointed Starburst,

Winter Density, Red Tide Leaf, Optima Butterhead

(these lettuces are beautiful and very tasty, the mix will give

you a wonderful fresh and beautiful spring salad)


½ pound of a mix of Longstanding Bloomsdale,                    $4.25 /1/2 pound

and Giant Winter Bloomsdale Spinach 

(very sweet and wonderful

     savoy to semi-savoy texture)


Siberian Kale Bunch                                                                    $2.50/ Bunch


If you would like to place an order just send an e-mail specifying how much of any of the above items that you would like and if you have any questions then just let us know.  I will send you a quick OK saying I got your order and then we will just see on Wednesday anywhere between 4:30-5:30. You can share this e-mail with friends as well, as the offering does not exclusively have to be for CSA members.  Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.

Here are some pictures that show some of what is already growing…Peas and Bamboo stakes; spring plantings in which interns are participating in the Brassica Crop’s Strip row; cover crops of rye grain, etc.. interns planting brassicas

 rye grain cover croppeas and bamboo stakes

Oat Straw and Strawberries

We are keeping our doors open for more members, as I feel we have planned to still be able to produce for a few more 2009 members, so if you want to send any customers our way please do. 

I would also recommend looking at our web-page off and on to see new pictures or postings under WHAT’s NEW, as for example, I have added an Arugula’s Star In the News section just recently that you might enjoy looking at.

A new procedure for us this year is to use a refractometer, which is a simple optical instrument for measuring dissolved solids for fruits, grasses, and vegetables during all stages of growth.  The solids in the juice of the plant tissue will blend light rays in proportion to:  (very scientific sounding, but really is very simple…)

  1. The quantity of all the atoms
  2. The atomic Weight of elements
  3. the number of covalent bonds in the combination of atoms such as sugars

The end result of the reading measures the % sucrose by weight, which is referred to as the BRIX.  There is a chart that I will be adding to our website that will show what healthy crops BRIX readings should be and then we will start adding figures to a chart that will show our crops BRIX.  As it is an up-most priority here at the farm to keep our soils very healthy so we will be providing extremely healthy crops, this will be a wonderful project to keep track of mineral balances in all of our field production areas, and it will let you see how the health of the soil translates into the nutritional content of your CSA basket produce. 

Matthew and I do want to thank all of you that are supporting our organic farm by joining out CSA for the 2009 season and we will be seeing you here in a few weeks, as that time will be here before we know it.  If you have not signed up yet, please let us hear from you if you have been thinking about it and just have not signed up yet.



Matthew and Allison

Arugula's Star of Neal Family Farms, L.P.

6624 Leipers Creek Road

Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 2/13/2009 12:51pm by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

Hello to all from Matthew and Allison here at Arugula’s Star of Neal Family Farms,


As it has been about a month from our 2009 New Year’s informational CSA farm letter, we thought it would be a good time to send another hello during this spell of warm spring-like weather that might have you thinking of the tender, sweet, and fresh vegetables that will be growing here before you know it in the up and coming early spring!


We welcome all of you, both new and our great returning members that have already joined and registered for our 2009 Community Supported Agriculture “CSA”.  As we are already having new members join for their first time, and our 2009 openings are filling up, we want to encourage members and your interested friends from last year that had voiced an interest in joining again for 2009 to try to register as soon as possible so you and your friends will not miss out on your seven months of high quality = high value certified organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs.  March is generally when even more interested CSA customers start looking into local CSA’s and is also when I like to say our farm’s full time season begins.  Therefore, now would be a great time to support your chosen farm and join us in our 2009 Community Supported Agriculture, if you have not done so already. As we are mainly only focusing on growing for our CSA members this 2009 season a lot of our pre-season planning is based upon how many members we have and how many member openings we choose to offer, so the sooner we can hear about your interest and commitment the better it is for both you and us.  I am going to include here below four links that will allow you to see and understand what an incredible experience it can be to be apart of our CSA and will also walk you through any questions that you might have about becoming a member…….

What We will be Growing For 2009 and the approximate Harvest Times  


What our CSA embodies

How to Become a Member

The CSA registration form 

What to Expect in Your CSA Basket


Also, if you missed the first 2009 informational CSA announcement, you can find that at our website under What’s New and this  will fill you in a little more on our Farm’s 2009 Growing Season.


From when I wrote last time we did successfully get our fruit trees, canes, and blueberries planted by the end of January. We sure appreciated the few interns from last year-- Mary, April, Tim, and Jamie, that were able to come out and pitch in some hands on those cold days back in January.  Matthew and I will be looking forward to having interested interns start coming out to the farm again here at the first of March, and we have already signed up a few new interns for the 2009 season that are eager and willing to experience what it is like to be apart of a working organic farm.  Matthew has just completed some great new planting tables that are just waiting to hold a many a new germinating seed trays.


Also, a new goal for the 2009 season will be to start collecting and saving our own open pollinated organic seeds.  This will be a great opportunity and task for learning interns as this is an complete other step or I guess on could say process to a vegetable grower’s daily works that often is not carried out when a farmer is growing food for larger numbers of people, as generally certified organic farmers purchase seed from certified organic seed producing farms, cooperatives, and businesses that only farm for the seeds and not for the edible vegetables or fruits.   Seed collection does not occur generally for market farmers, because all the crops are harvested for customers and therefore never allowed to mature to the seed producing stage of the plants biological life.  This next step is more time consuming, takes more available land, and often takes many years to be able to save large enough quantities of seed to preserve and to be able to start planting and harvesting the crops for food and not for seed.   Nevertheless, we will start working at it and see where it takes us!


Finally, as I am one that always loves a good surprise I will have to say that we will have a couple of surprises for our 2009 CSA members that we will be letting you know of as the season gets nearer, but it will only be members that will get to know of what could be in store. Oh what a great season and year we have to look forward to.


Nonetheless, I would like to go ahead and mention a great web blog done by local Chef Nancy Vienneau called Good Food Matters that I would recommend as to be a great inspiration for cooking with high quality, fresh, local, and in season items.  I would also say this will be another great spot, other than our farm posted journal basket recipes, to get a weekly seasonal recipe once you are receiving your weekly CSA basket.  You can even look back to her mid-December weekly entry, and see a recipe in which she was able to use our farm’s Winter Russian Kale.


Matthew and I do hope to be hearing from you and till next time,


Arugula's Star of Neal Family Farms, L.P.

6624 Leipers Creek Road

Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 1/9/2009 11:12pm by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

Hello Friends and Customers,


   As we left off last year from our Fall Farm Hoedown, final newsletters, and last CSA drop-offs, here we are again letting you know of what will be in store for Arugula’s Star of Neal Family Farms for the 2009 growing season.  Matthew and I have spent much time over the last month in planning and thought of what would be to come.  We started off the New Year under the stars laying in our frost covered sleeping bags, as we tossed wishes on brilliant stars flying by overhead.  As the crisp night air and vastness of space provoked great sense of clarity and inspiration mixed with a bit of gratitude and hope; we then could only wish that we should and could continue to help local folk make the choice to participate in local organic agriculture by offering non-commercially available vegetables, greens, fruits, and herbs to our loyal CSA customers of the past, and all the new ones to come for 2009.

   We are very excited about the 2009 season as we will be adding, as always, new genus species of produce like popping corn, pumpkins, cauliflower, celery, tomatillos, celeriac, rutabagas, peas, and onions; not to mention all the different varieties of produce that will be different than maybe you received last year, like different varieties of sweet summer melons, watermelons, lettuce, squash, chard, peppers, herbs, and tomatoes, just to name a few.   Also, here in a couple of weeks we will be planting 70 different varieties of fruit trees mainly consisting of heirloom organic apple, with some pear, fig, plum, and peach, 40 blueberry bushes, and a grove of cane berry plants like blackberry, raspberry, and gooseberry, and on top of all of that strawberries too.  All of these will be in great anticipation for the coming years as the fruits will not start being harvested till 2010 in order for all the plants’ energies to be applied to their root systems.

    Speaking of energy, Matthew and I have decided to put all of the cyclic energies here at the farm into the Community Supported Agriculture “CSA” this year, as we will not be selling at the Franklin Farmer’s Market.  This decision will allow us to allocate more open spaces for this year’s 2009 CSA, and to accomplish an even more diverse and productive environment here on the farm. With this being said, 2008 CSA members and 2009 CSA awaiting members, please pass the word around to your friends and family and sign-up as soon as possible to ensure your spot as a 2009 Arugula’s Star Farm CSA member. We will love seeing as many as possible of our past members back to pick up your weekly Wednesday basket.  Of course we will continue to strive to offer a wonderful array of unique vegetables, fruits, and herbs year after year, with the unique nature and natural cycle of the season’s year giving uncontrolled individuality for 2009. We have decided to offer the ever popular ½ Bushel Plan and have added a Bushel Plan, which is a little different than last year as we offered peck and ½ bushel plans.  The reason for this change is that the peck plan just seemed so small of a size to continue to offer, as it was not as accommodating to fill with as much variety as the ½ bushel merely because of the size.  The ½ bushel should still be a great size for a couple of two or up to a family of three or four depending on how much you want to eat at home, as I know Matthew and I would have no problem going through a ½ bushel in a week. We have had a few requests to offer an even larger plan for those families whom consume a lot of their meals at home, so that is why we have introduced the new Bushel Plan.  To read full details on our 2009 CSA please go to our web-page and click on Organic Produce & CSA where then you can read all about Community Supported Agriculture, How to Become a Member, and the CSA Registration Form. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us by e-mail or phone.

     We will also still be opening our doors to those of you seeking to have your hands in the dirt, being in the out of doors, and working hard, as to experience and learn perspective and knowledge of a working organic farm. Along with growing delightfully delicious and healthy food for our local members, Matthew and I continue to desire to keep ourselves up by living off the land as well as trying to be one with the land, by letting the cycles of the earth remain viable, optimal, verdant, and non-interrupted as best our abilities.  We are hoping to eventually incorporate animals and a work mule to help bring even more biodiversity to the farm’s cycles and ecosystem, as to also help in the education of future hands-on internship opportunities, and to eventually hope to add eggs into our CSA members’ baskets in the coming years! If you have an interest in being an intern for the 2009 season please visit our web-page at and click on The Experience and scroll down to Farm Internship Opportunities.   

     Matthew and I look very forward to another wonderful and yet joyfully hard year, as the life of farming goes, and will pass on that the up and coming Full Moon on the 10th of January will be quite spectacular as it occurs at Perigee, when it is nearest to the earth, so please everyone make a note to notice the Full Moon’s night sky.  


We hope to be hearing from you soon,


Allie and Matthew

Posted 1/9/2009 10:10am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Arugula's Star Farm... updating site for 2009 season... hopefully to be completed by January please come back and see us soon!
Posted 11/4/2008 7:44pm by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

Hello Folks…CSA Members, Franklin Farmer’s Market Customers, Interns, and Friends:


Come one and come all! Here at Arugula’s Star Farm, we have finalized our Fall Farm hoedown date for Sunday November the 9th, starting at 4:00 pm. We do hope that this date we have chosen accommodates most and all.   We have a fiddle and a banjo a coming, so if you too can play some down-home folky hoedown tunes then feel more than welcome to bring your pickin fingers and an instrument of choice.  We will have a warm fire a glowing when the sky starts darkening, the stars start appearing, and when the coldness starts a nearing!  Nonetheless, please dress for a cool Fall Day, as the whole occasion will be outside.  We are most excited to have as many friends, and soon to be friends, here as possible, and if you have gotten this invitation then of course you are more than welcome to bring your family and some friends that might enjoy some good company and some good ole time a dancing.

We will have some chairs, but if you want to know for certain that you can have a chair for a period of the evening then please bring one, or a blanket.   Also, as this will be a place to get some good eats as well we are asking that everyone try their best to bring an all organic dish/treat (sweet or savory), to share with the crowd.  Also, BYOB…anything goes (take in mind it will be a cool evening)!

We are really hoping for a grand ole time with lots of people, and so we can kind of know how many guests to expect could you please send us a quick…yes we will be there at, or a call (931-682-3314).

I have attached a page that should give some very clear directions, but I am not sure if it will open up properly.  If it does not then our address is 6624 Leipers Creek Road, Columbia (really not near Columbia, but only 9 miles south past Leipers Fork),  TN 38401, in which you should be able to find map directions for.

Real quick to give you an idea of where we are located, basically our farm is very easy to find.  If you are coming from the Green Hills area in Nashville, you will just head South on Hillsboro Pike till you come to Old Hillsboro Road, in which you will take a right onto heading towards Leipers Fork.  You will cross over HWY 96 eventually passing Leipers Fork.  You will then just stay straight and the road changes name to Leipers Creek Road.  We are located ~9 miles outside of Leipers Fork in Maury Co., heading southwestward, and our driveway is on the Left .2 of a mile after passing the small Bethal Community Sign.  Often people miss our driveway because it comes up really quick, try to keep you eyes open for a shiny windmill in a big field and a wooden mailbox.  After knowing these few highlights of directions you should be able to make your way here from any point.

After you turn into the driveway, you will follow the lane over the bridge, by the barn, and on up a really steep hill.  You will pass a house, but do not stop there, keep on going over the cattle guard and onto a field lane.  Eventually, you should see some cars and a sign that will direct you where to park.

Well, we are just delighted and very excited to bring all you folks together for a hoedown of an evening and who knows maybe even a few surprises!

Matthew and I look very forward to seeing you all.  

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