Grace and generosity

We spent all day Monday researching the kinds of produce to be planted in 2015. Whew! We now have a list and a basic idea where to buy good seeds after a few years of mishaps. Having a terrific selection of high quality good eats to give all of us ‘the strength to get up and do what needs to be done’ is taken seriously.

CSA members may feel overwhelmed with the amount of produce that they walk away with on market day, though we try very hard to make it a joyous event. It is a fickle calendar we follow – my constant fear is to come up short on market day even considering all of our plans. In 2015, we will attempt to: not have enormous mountains of greens, trial parsnips, continue the basics and drop the exotics such as scarlet turnips and some other mysteries soon to arrive in your box! Your suggestions are always welcomed.

I have had two visitors – one berated me for our watermelon prices compared to Walmart and the other left us a tip after purchasing 8 butternut squash! I often ponder those two individuals, the first one should know better and the latter – his aim is to get rich! I want to walk on that path, where grace and generosity meet in the cool of the day, and greed is not to be found.

Farm shares should include: cabbage, Chinese cabbage, pac choi, mesclun mix, mizuna, Tokyo bekana, beets, sweet peppers, egg plant, broccoli, potatoes, winter squash and tomatoes. Sorry, it is another rather large selection…..

My response to the above produce would be to store what can wait: potatoes, cabbage, winter squash and beets. Broccoli can be blanched and frozen. Sweet peppers can be cut in half and their seeds removed and directly frozen. The greens: Chinese cabbage, pac choi, mizuna, and Tokyo bekana can be added to salads, soup, stir-fry, sauteed with oil, onions and a bit of garlic.

I threw everything together in a roaster tonight: chicken, potatoes, zeppelin squash, Brussels sprouts, pac choi at different times depending on the amount they needed to be cooked. The broth had white wine, balsamic vinegar, sumac, curry powder and salt. I forgot to put in the thyme – whoops! It was a tasty timeless dish.

 

 

Final Lap

I am not swift of foot in my elder years though I doubt it was any different in my youth. A daily jog around town gets me started for the day after the glow of the sun brightens the sky. I have to run away from home, and then of course, return somehow rather than running laps since I would quit when passing my driveway.

We are into our final month of weekly harvests! Isn’t that amazing? Half a year has produced all sorts of life-sustaining meals and memories. We have been impressed with your courageous spirit to experience new foods. We enjoy the challenge!

Now that we farm as a threesome, we have weekly meetings and are currently going through “Building a Sustainable Business” http://www.misa.umn.edu/Publications/BuildingaSustainableBusiness/ developed by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) and published by Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education (SARE), both very important resources for our business. Dreams need to be anchored firmly in reality so that is the web we are actively spinning. As members, you are welcome to join the lively discussion, especially if you have some insight.

This past Thursday and Friday a ninth grade class came to experience the concept of local foods. What did I learn? Youth enjoy getting involved, are open to trying new things but……Ranch Dressing is a MUST for salads! Haha. I’ll try to keep that in mind next time. I do want to sharpen my skills and figure out a way to connect to the community with sessions that address environmental issues that involve getting dirty as well as enjoying the company of folks around the harvest table.

Your harvest this week should include: Brussels sprouts, leeks, salad greens, potatoes, onions, peppers, winter squash, cilantro, parsley, Asian greens, chard and carrots. Many items are also for sale.

Some of you have asked about our season next year. We are zeroing in on a decision and should have it ready for you before the end of November. We are toying with the idea of having early Spring shares which would alter the landscape.

High Horse Assessment

Here’s the question….Am I a farmer or a gardener? Actually, I am both. I am one of three farmers in the occupation of cultivating our acres of vegetables and fruits and I have flower gardens as a hobby, though this year that went by the wayside. This hrumph comes from a fairly important conversation trying to convince someone we were farmers. The individual is taking a week to confer with others in order to make the official decision. I calm myself down by repeating (to myself) that this way of thinking is exactly what we are trying to change one carrot or cucumber at a time. In other words, it is an important conversation to be having and it will not be the last!

“Coming Up Squash” fiesta this past Saturday was a lot of fun, I forget the hilarity that can be had around a table! Thanks to everyone who took time to come! We hope to continue having celebrations that bring us together as a community. The various squash recipes are attached under “Files” since I did not have them ready at the time. We do have a winner for the 28.18# Boston Marrow …she missed the weight by .18#.

This week’s pickup should include: red onions, meatloaf sized sweet potato, kale, collards, carrots, pac choi, mizuna, Tokyo Bekana, head lettuce, leaf lettuce and spinach, potatoes, leeks, green peppers, tomato and broccoli.

 

Passing the baton

A golden tree outside my window shines as a torch aflame on this blue-sky day. I am thankful that each twig holds onto the color even though it has not had the sustenance of rain in 2 months. It is a miracle actually. Various plantings of flowers around the yard look pitiful since they only receive a passing slush of dishwater. I have been known to save washing machine water for plants but that can be messy. We irrigate our vegetables every other day with a drip tape method using city water, which as you know, has chlorine in it to kill the bacteria and in general is not a wise way to grow living things. We hope to come up with something else sustainable over time.

We feel real proud of our compost windrows! A lot of manure has been hauled in which is mixed up with tons of our produce, plants and prairie cuttings as well as old produce from Maynard’s grocery store which I pick up every day. The compost temperature is checked daily with a huge thermometer to make sure all is cooking well. When the temperature drops and it has a good feel it is basically ready to use. Composting puts the nutrients back to the soil instead of into a dead landfill. We add compost to each bed before planting something new. Some beds are planted out three times a year.

We are working hard to be ready for our Field Day on October 13 from 1-3 p.m. with Rural Advantage. You are all welcome to come for a walkabout. I can’t imagine where we would be if our son Nathan had not been with us this past month. Oh my goodness!

Harvest today should include: carrots, potatoes, onions, pears, peppers, buttercup squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cilantro and maybe some Asian greens. As you probably have noticed, I’m trying to figure out something other than buying more plastic bags to litter the earth. Bringing your own helps immensely!

This is a baton passing moment, please remember to bring your market boxes so we can change things around. For those disembarking: thanks for your support and hope to see you again, soon!

Don’t quit now!

It is a false assumption that our farming is coming to a close. With the fall season, tactics are changed, but we continue to prepare beds, seed them and harvest the produce. Our goal is to delight and satisfy customers by providing produce that is grown locally using sustainable agricultural methods from April through November.

We aim for awesome flavor, color, and nutrition in our fruits and veggies which does not compute to cheap in price. One farmer can maybe manage 1 acre of organic veggies; we have about 3 acres. If it was not for passion in our very souls the story would have concluded long ago. Community building also under girds much that we do; share members pick out their veggies instead of our packing up boxes and delivering them to some drop-off spot. Members have a chance to meet others, children sense the deeper understanding of where food actually comes from and we farmers love the connections and words of encouragement.

It is a contract of sorts, with the farmer, that it is for the duration. I toy with the idea of having share options for a full year to strengthen that concept. Oodles of farmers have wonderful produce at farm markets, and they are to be supported. Ours is a different slant: we aim to farm year around. Jubilee Cruise begins in April with greens sheltered under quick hoops, progresses into the burst of spring and summer palates of colors and tastes and ebbs into fall’s hearty flavors spiced with sweetened roots and shoots. It would be an annual trip to repeat year upon year with mealtime festivities to mark each season’s harbor harvest.

Members who are taking leave at the end of September….I hope to see you back in 2012! Please leave your market boxes with us either this week or next. Full share members who are continuing on will need to switch market boxes. Thanks for your support in all that we do. We would be very interested in learning how to improve, meet your produce needs, or talk about environmental issues that affect all of us on this planet.

This week’s harvest should include…watermelons (extras for those who didn’t get any last week!), carrots, cilantro, baby and large red and white potatoes, onions, acorn squash, and sweet peppers. We will have garlic, ancho and serrano peppers, potatoes, onions, raspberries, winter squash, melons, and watermelons for sale.