We Dig Vegetables
Sign Up Now for the 2015 Season!
What do your farmers do in the winter time? What do those lazy farmers do in the winter time? Inquiring minds want to know! Do they drink hot chocolate all day while warming their toes by the fire? Do they get fat on their stashed nuts? Do they catch a jet plane to the sunny Caribbean coast? Do they sleep in until noon dreaming of juicy tomato and sweet corn harvests?
Let the truth be unveiled! We DO drink hot chocolate (but not all day). We DO eat our stashed nuts (but we can’t seem to get fat). We DO catch airplanes to the sunny Caribbean coast (well, we used to do that before we had small children). And we DO sleep in, until like 7:30 sometimes (if our children let us)! We have the bad habit of still checking the weather at least three times a day on our favorite weather websites.
We’re really catching some slack around here. No the truth is, we’re hard-wired to a certain beat, a tempo, a pace. We’ve been busy selling off the rest of our storage vegetables that keep a trickle of income coming in for the farm. Adam worked his last full week of work for Organic Valley last week and, it’s official folks, he is now a full-time farmer! Yee Haw! We’re very excited about this and all of his girls are happy to have him home. We feel so blessed. So blessed.
Our new daughter who was born on November 12th is now a healthy and plump 2-month old. Winter is an important time for a farm family to nurture their bond. When the days are shorter and colder, we cozy together in the house over library books, chicken noodle soup and new baby coos and gurgles.
Recent days have been keeping us busy solidifying new Pick-Up Locations (Dubuque and Madison members will notice that we have a few new dropsites with more in the works). We’ve been repairing and improving our existing farm equipment and dreaming of future equipment that will improve efficiency on the farm. Farmer Adam still talks of ways to improve irrigation on the farm while I sit back and be thankful he’s so interested in subjects such as these. Irrigation is an expensive and sophisticated subject that I’m glad that he ‘mans’.
At present, the living room is filling up with seed catalogs and tupperware containers with our seeds. We are talking about seed varieties that have worked well for us and thinking of trying new varieties on many of our crops. Soon we will have our 2015 marketing materials in print and will begin distributing fliers and spreading the really awesome word about the Small Family Farm CSA. Our website is now updated with 2015 Share Options and Prices which means that Sign-Up Season is here!
Comparatively, winter is restful, restorative and renewing for farmers. We are reflective of what we have learned in our past experiences as farmers and we excited to take our experience and knowledge in farming and apply it to our 10th season in CSA farming. We want to invite you to join us again and renew your membership in our farm. Spring is only a few short months away and we’ll all be stuffing our bellies with Strawberries and sweet peas before we know it. Sign Up Today!
Week 20, 2014
A farmer needs a winter. Needs one like a day needs a night, like a bird needs a nest, like a plant needs rain or a seed needs soil. A farmer needs a rest, a period of time-if even just a short period where she can go inward and downward and deep and move slower. So much of the summer months are spent sending our energies forward and outward and onward at a quickening pace. For a farmer’s mind, Winter is a time for reflection and restoration. For her farm, it offers a grace period for improvements and maintenance on the tools and infrastructure that serve and support the farm.
Winter offers the farmer a time of year to focus on family. Because the summer months consume so much of our energy and put some of our family life on hold, we are given a cozy few months to spend intimately together tightening our bond, showing our love and restoring our foundation for why this life is important to us.
Winter time is not entirely spent cozied up on the couch watching movies, drinking hot cocoa and eating popcorn. An encourageable amount of relaxation occurs, but there is much work to be done to prepare for another season upcoming. After the Holidays are over and the days start getting longer again and a new year dawns, it is time to start planning. A new year means seed orders, marketing, field plans, budgeting and bookwork, marketing, off-season storage crop sales, machinery research, continued education, and did I mention marketing?
I am thankful to be a Wisconsin farmer with a sure, solid, harsh and cold winter. If it wasn’t absolutely intolerable outside, I would be out in it trying to build, restore or grow something. I am thankful for the style of farm that we are, an organic vegetable CSA farm with an interactive, growing and supportive group of people who keep it alive. The people involved in this farm not only keep it alive by sending in their Sign-Ups year after year so we can keep our bills paid, but the worker shares and the employees keep the community spirit of the farm alive too with their fresh sense of enthusiasm for taking an active part in knowing where their food comes from.
Here we all are, keepin’ it alive. Soon the ground will be frozen and the vegetable deliveries will be over and these farm fresh reflections will stop appearing in your inbox on a weekly basis. But if farming teaches us nothing, it teaches us about death and rebirth, about cycles and seasons, about beginnings and ends and growth and maturity. This is only the end of but one short cycle in our lives. One little trip around the sun. Soon another will begin and the opportunity to revive this CSA farm with your belief in supporting a local, Small Family Farm with your local food dollars and time commitments will resurface. All too soon the 2015 growing season will be here and it will be time to get the greenhouse fires started again. We’ll be keepin’ it alive here on the farm, and we hope you’ll come back to us.
Sooo…What’s in the Box????
Pie Pumpkins- Each Pie Pumpkin when cooked should yield at least 2 cups of pumpkin flesh that is about the amount that most recipes call for when cooking a pie or bars.
Sweet Dumplings- These are the squash in your box that are shaped a little like an acorn squash but are colored like a delicata with the green stripes on them. They’re a delicious, sweet squash.
Brussels Sprouts- The stalks this week were a little shorter than the ones we picked last week. Each year we struggle a little with the lower Brussels on the plants getting a little black on the outer peelings. We’re working on learning why this is happening. Next year we’re going to experiment with planting our Brussels Sprouts farther away from our other brassicas and plant them a little later than we usually do in an effort to avoid the black outer peelings. Just snap these Brussels of the stalk, clean off a couple of the outer layers and steam them or roast them and be sure to coat them in plenty of butter with salt!
Sweet Potatoes- We’re hoping that the sweet potatoes are cured a little more this week than they were last week. Possibly they’ll be a little sweeter now that a bit more time has passed. If you’re not in a big, excited hurry to eat your sweet potatoes, let them sit out at room temperature a little while longer to cure longer. More of their starches will turn to sugar and they will be sweeter. Do not put your sweet potatoes in the refrigerator! They do not store well below 45 degrees!
Rutabaga- These funky roots are in the same family as cabbage, broccoli, kale and other brassicas. They are surprisingly wonderful when chunked in with a roast or mashed in with regular potatoes and butter. Or simply cook it and mash it with butter and you’ll love it!
Parsnips- Parsnips are in the same family as carrots. They’re a little more fibrous than carrots and take a bit longer to cook. Make a roasted root vegetable dish or puree into a creamy potato soup.
Fennel- Another wonderful vegetable to add to your roasted root veggies. Fennel offers a pleasant licorice flavor that dissipates as it is cooked.
Kohlrabi or Red Beets- We didn’t have quite enough kohlrabi’s to go around this week so we filled in with red beets for those who didn’t receive a kohlrabi.
Daikon Radish- Daikon radish is great shaved into salads, chunked into kim-chi, or chopped into an Asian salad. They hold their crisp texture even when cooked. The flavor is mild and quite nice.
Green Red and Yellow Bell Peppers- This is the last of the peppers. We harvested many of these peppers still green or turning color before the last frost.
Hot Peppers- The last of the jalepeno’s and hungarian hot wax peppers to add some spice to your meals.
Garlic- Another bulb of garlic for your everyday needs.
Eggplant- The eggplants were also clear cut before the last frost. You may have received either one or two smaller eggplants in your box this week. Enjoy the last remnants of summer while they are still around!
Leeks- A leek or two for everyone. Use leeks in your recipes like you would use an onion. Usually the whiter part of the leek is most desirable for cooking but every part is edible!
Spinach- A generous .70 lbs per member this week. Rockin’! Cilantro- A fresh bunch of cilantro for everyone this week! Yum!
Week 19, 2014
Adam Comes Home
It’s every back-to-the-landers dream to be able to someday live and work on their land and earn their living from their land. After 8 years of dreaming of this idea, wondering if the farm could support our family, wondering if we had what it took to earn our living off of the farm, wondering if we would ever have the guts for Adam to quit his off-farm job, we will soon be making the plunge. While farmer Adam has been working at the Organic Valley Cooperative currently as a Produce Coordinator and with the Produce department for over 7 years, he put in his notice last month that he is planning to leave the coop in early January.
It’s not an easy decision to make-to quit your job. To quit a job with benefits, fair pay and plenty of perks. A job you like doing while working with people you like being around at a company that some people apply for years to try to get into. There needs to be a pretty good reason to quit your job and ample security of knowing that you’ll be able to make it out there on your own as a self-employed farmer with a wife and children who need you. We’re not the risk-taking type of folks and we’ve always played it on the safe of the fence with our financial responsibilities. It has taken this Small Family 8 years of building up the farm to where it is now for us to make this decision-certainly not one that we made easily.
Adam has been something of a Super Man these last few years, ever since our first child was born. Quickly, after Ayla was born, Adam started taking over more and more of the farm responsibilities on his own accord. He was now doing the animal chores, the seed ordering, the member Sign-Ups and communication, the cultivating, and managing the crop successions. He would work his off-farm job and literally come home at the end of the day, change his clothes (or to my endless frustration, not change out of his nice clothes) and then walk back out the door with barely minutes to say hello. He would be on his Farmall 140 cultivating carrot and broccoli beds until dusk. He spent his summer evenings spraying for flea beetles, cabbage moths and powdery mildew. He was even willing to wake up at 5:30am with me if need be to load chickens before Ayla woke up in the morning and his work phone started ringing.
Now, with baby #2 on the way, and me thinking about how I was going to be able to run the farm in 2015 and the crews with a 3year-old and a 6-month old in arms, we knew something needed to shift. Adam was feeling over-extended with his work needing more of him and this farm asking more of him ever still. We saw that we had too many irons in the fire, that the farm was able to financially support our family now, and that in this life of ours that feels as fast-paced as a speeding car, we needed to slow down in one small way.
Ironically, I do think of this decision as a ‘slowing down’. It’s funny because truly no-one is actually planning to slow down just yet. We’ll still be working from dusk until dawn and giving this farm 200% of ourselves, but at least we will be giving this farm 200% and not dividing our energy and focus for an off-farm job. Adam will soon be home all day, within range of his wife and children, doing work that he is most passionate and knowledgeable for. Ultimately our family life will strengthen, our marriage will (because there is no other option) strengthen, and this farm will probably become the coolest CSA farm that there ever was. We’re really lucky to have him, y’all! Adam is one of the most focused, patient and driven people I know. His ability to work hard until a job is done, study and research on subjects related to farming that we need to improve on, and problem solve are all strengths of his that will help our farm grow and improve with his attention and focus at home. I am excited for the future of this farm now with Adam on our side. One more young, U.S, organic farm family earning their living entirely from the farm. Thank you for your support!
Soooo….What’s in the box????
Sweet Potatoes (2 lbs.)- This variety of sweet potato is called Beauregard (French for beautiful). We had many different sizes so you may have received either a large one or several smaller ones. We cure them by placing them in a room with the heat turned up to 80 degrees and high humidity (to help heal any wounds). Store at room temperature. Yummy!
Brussels Sprouts- We’ve left all the trimming work up to you! We’ve been nursing them along since their birth in May as tiny little seedlings! Snap the sprouts off of their stalk and remove any blackened outer layers. Once the sprouts are removed from the stalk- you can store them in a plastic bag in the fridge. If you're new to eating and cooking with Brussels Sprouts, my best advice is to not overcook them and eat them as fresh as possible once cooked. They become too mushy and bitter if overcooked and allowed to sit for too long. Serve with lotts of butter! Mmmmmm, a Fall Delight!
Green, Red or Savoy Cabbage- Our cabbage plantings are nearing their final days, but we were happy to find some beautiful, dense heads of cabbage to share.
Butternut Squash- This hard squash is a favorite amongst squash lovers. Hard squash should keep on your counter for months. Want to eat it now? Cut your butternut in half lengthwise, scoop the seeds out, place it face down in a pan with a little water, and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. When it’s done, add plenty of butter and enjoy!
Beets- Keep your beets refrigerated and in a plastic bag to help retain moisture. They should store for over a month.
Broccoli, Cauliflower or Romanesco- Enjoy these treats while they are still in season… the cold is coming!
Bell Peppers- Four or five peppers for everyone this week. Colors range from green to red and everything in between. We clear cut all of our peppers on Friday and rushed them to the cooler in anticipation of the weekend frost. The plants are sadly now done for the season, but we are happy to have plenty to give this week and next!
Leek- One or two, depending on the size. Leeks add such a unique flavor to your fall recipes. We started our leeks from seed in the greenhouse on March 1st. It’s been a long haul, but they’ve finally made it into the box!
Swiss Chard- The chard has been through a lot this year. Repeated heavy rains in the spring left it shredded- pickings were slim. But this crop bounced back mid-summer and has been bountiful ever since!
Parsnips- These white roots resemble carrots and can be used in similar ways but have a sweeter taste when cooked. A nice addition to a roasted root vegetable recipe or a home made shepards pie!
Cilantro- Beautiful bunches of cilantro this week. Aroma Therapy.
Hot Peppers- A handful of jalepeno and hot wax peppers for a bit of spice.
Garlic- Another bulb of garlic to keep your immunity strong as we enter the fall season.
Week 18, 2014
For me, the farm began as a romantic, back-to-the-land dream. It began as a vision in my head where we would work for ourselves, we would work outside in the fresh air with only the open sky over our heads. I dreamt of raising children on a farm where they could run around barefoot chasing chickens, where we would grow our own food and eat from our fields year-round and where we would get to do work that felt purposeful, fulfilling and non-violent. This was a vision that felt spiritually, socially and economically sustainable to me. While still well rooted and founded in these ideals, the realities of the hard work that come into earning our livlihood are a little less romantic. We knew we were going to have to work hard to make it happen, so we did.
In many ways the vision has come true. All of those things that we manifested and dreamt of and worked hard for, we now have. While I would not call our farm “sustainable” (because I’m still too much of a literalist to honestly claim that) I would say that we continually strive towards sustainability. At times we make decisions that make the best economic sense for running our farm smoothly and efficiently while balancing these decisions with ones that make social and spiritual sense and that feel ‘sustainable’ and nourishing to our mission.
This year we made a really big decision that felt like more a nourishing and wholesome one than it did economic and conservative. We decided to invest in Solar Panels on our farm. We took a good look at the numbers and decided if we could make it happen and then we thought about our long-term usage and dependency on coal. We thought about our sustainability vision on this farm and what kinds of things we would like to invest in as we build our lives and our farm and actualize our dreams.
This week the solar panels are going up. The lift, the guys, the hardware, the panels, they’re all here. It’s happening right now. I imagine this as one of many different ways in which we strive towards sustainability and independence. Reducing our dependency on coal and fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy felt like a smart move. We thought you, the CSA members who invest in our farm, would also like to know that your food dollars are going to support a farm that is fueled by the sun in more ways than one. Just as the plants turn sunlight into food energy, we are now turning sunlight into energy that fuels the farm. From the greenhouse to the well pump, to the coolers, to the fans and the lights in the barn, we are solar powered.
Installing solar panels is expensive. While we did receive a USDA grant that covered about 20% of the panels for Farm usage, and a $2500 reabate from our electric company, 30% system cost tax credits that we’ll slowly get back over some years and a 2.5% group-buy discount that all made the investment more affordable. We’re still spending a lot of money on these things, but the money was only part of the decision for us. We sometimes make decision with our hearts instead of our heads, ones that some people congratulate and ones that some people shake their heads or raise their brows at. We like to think that we made this decision with a little of both. We remain faithful and hopeful each day that we peel away the covers and roll ourselves out of bed that the sun will continue to shine, the investment will pay itself off in a short number of years, and that the CSA boxes are packed to the brim with fabulous looking produce each week so that you wish to continue supporting this small family farm.
Sooo….What’s in the Box????
Impressive Line-up this week!
Delicata Winter Squash- Delicatas are one of the sweetest winter squashes out there. Of course this fact seems to vary from squash to squash based on size and color. You can slice these lengthwise, scoop the seeds out and then bake them face down in a pan with water at 350 for about 45 min. Scoop the flesh out and eat with lots of butter. Some people even like to eat the skins on the delicatas because they’re so tender.
Red Norland Potatoes- Another week of potatoes. Lots of loving hands and fun conversation went into picking these guys up out of the moistened earth just a few days ago.
Carrots- Yummy, sweet carrots. Carrots keep well in a plastic bag in the fridge for months when freshly dug like these. Not that you need storage info on these carrots because you’ll probably demolish them by the end of the week because they’re so good! The flavor and texture of these carrots beats any bunny luv carrot from California blindfolded every time. We believe our carrots are among the best in the world;)
Celeriac Root- Yep, another one of those funky, brainy looking roots. Remove the tops from the celeriac and they will keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for months as well. The tops can be used in cooking like you would use celery in a soup or stew. They have a nice celery flavor.
Kohlrabi- (or Fennel) We came up about 25 kohlrabi short, so we harvested some fennel to fill in. You can eat the greens on your kohlrabi and use them like kale. Kohlrabis in the fall are so crunchy and sweet. So much fun!
Red Onion- A sweet, red onion for slicing thinly onto your salads this week.
Broccoli, Cauliflower or Romanesco- Another giving of sweet broc, cauli or romanesco. I hope you got one that you haven’t had before or the one that you wanted most. We’ve been loving the cauliflower this year, it’s looking really nice!
Sweet Peppers- At least 2 sweet peppers per box this week. A little better than last week with the warmer week that we had. We’re still escaping frost for a bit longer now, let’s hope for more ripe peppers next week!
Eggplant- Very likely the final week of eggplant for everyone. There are still a few more eggplants out there that we will pack in, but this warm-season plant won’t continue producing enough to go around.
Lettuce- More lettuce! We really missed lettuce while it was gone for those last few weeks. The wonderful spinach has been great to have while the lettuce has been gone. Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Arugula- Who would have thought that this skunky smelling green would smell so delicious and taste so good on pizza? Arugula is also wonderful mixed into salads and pairs well with cheeses.
Radicchio- Radicchio is a bitter green that is also nice thinly* shaved into salads to add flavor and color. It’s an Italian green that is a member of the chicory family. It goes well roasted and tossed with pasta.
Hot Peppers- A Hungarian hot wax, a jalapeno and a cayenne.
Tomatoes- Just a “handful” of tomatoes for everyone again this week. We debated on wether or not we would even give them. The quality is down now that we’re just picking fruits off of completely dead plants. But I figured you would rather have them than not have them at all. I know I would!
Spinach- A generous .55lbs of spinach for everyone again this week. What a nice green to have in the box!
I think I love Martha Stewart's Recipe search: http://www.marthastewart.com/343561/garganelli-con-proscuitto-radicchio-e-pa
Week 17, 2014
The journey of eating from a CSA box for one complete season is truly an experience to be had. Not only from a CSA box, but within the seasons while honoring our regional offerings. I find the experience to be emotional and spiritual and ethical. I’ve become a hopeless locavore, devoutly loyal to seasonal foods. Food isn’t just calories and starches and sugars and proteins, it’s a place and a season too.
Perhaps this reflection is most moving for me as I watch tomatoes go out of season. They leave me like an old friend who came for a visit. I want the sweet peppers to last forever. And finally as I have just learned to love and appreciate eggplant for the first time, it is saying goodbye to me. I work hard to put my old tomatoes friends in jars for our winter sauce knowing it won’t be the same as eating fresh tomatoes in August. I watch Apples come into season and I want to eat squash at every meal. I’m excited for the new arrivals like the seasonal celeriac root and the cool season spinach that has come back to us after a summer’s rest.
In a time where we have huge grocery stores with every possible fruit and vegetable available to us in all seasons of the year, it can be desensitizing. We’ve all forgotten when the season of the cucumber is and we don’t understand why there can’t be sweet corn and spinach every week of the year all year long. We’re not used to not getting what we want when we want it. In fact it is a deep comfort to us to know that we can have whatever we want whenever we want it. But increasingly, I grow dis-comforted by the grocery store shelves and aisles with endless options and choices. Perhaps I need more boundaries in my life to make me feel safe and whole.
I am hopeful that your CSA box has encouraged you to buy less food from the grocery store this year. I’m hopeful that the food dollars you spent locally this summer on your CSA box strengthened your seasonal identification for each vegetable and that you have learned and are learning to appreciate the rotation of crops that mature within their appropriate term. And that by learning to go without our perishable, beloved strawberries makes them all the more precious and delicate and scrumptious for when we do get to indulge in their season.
I feel sadness to watch some of my favorite summer vegetables leave for an excruciating 9 more months. I feel excitement to watch my old friends like leeks and sweet potatoes coming down the road. I even feel somewhat bored with swiss chard after being so loyal and consistent to me all summer long. I feel appreciative of other farmers who grow crops that I don’t grow in this area like apples, pears, milk, beef and nuts. I feel happy to know these farmer’s names and to give them some of my money for their crops.
The season, local food eating experience is an enriching and empowering one for me. I feel like I’m doing my family, my body and my community an honorable service. I feel blessed to have you, all of our community of CSA members, as part of this experience and who make this entire farming operation possible. Because the CSA makes up over 90% of our farm business, you are every as bit important to the sustainability of this farm as my passion is for it. So thank you for eating local food and loving it.
Sooo…What’s in the Box???
Buttercup Squash- These are a blueish colored squash with a thick, orange flesh. This squash can bake up on the dry side if you don’t use plenty of water at the bottom of the pan when baking it. We also like to add plenty of butter once it’s cooked. Since the buttercup squash is so thick, it seems to pair well with some good butter and cream recipes.
Carrots- More of these meaty, sweet carrots for snacking and cooking.
Yukon Gold or Red Norland Potatoes- Most members received Golds until we ran out of what we had harvested for them, we supplemented Red Potaotes when we ran out of those. You’ll notice again that we don’t wash our potatoes. This is for a few reasons. 1) We don’t have any kind of mechanization for washing them. 2) Because we don’t have any mechanization for washing them they would get more damaged during washing and it would take more labor hours to wash them than what we have. 3) We’re happy to just wash them as we eat them and they keep better in storage unwashed.
Celeriac Root- These are the huge, ugly roots in your box that look a little like a brain or some kind of monster. We left the greens on top of them because you can use the greens to flavor and add greenery to your soups or stews. The greens and stalks are edible, somewhat like our summer celery was. We like to peel the Celeriac Roots and boil and mash them with potatoes and eat ‘Celeriac Mashed Potatoes’. You can also peel them, dice them up small and add Celeriac to Chicken Noodle soup (or any kind of soup really) in place of celery and/or potatoes. The Celeriacs are exceptionally large this year!
Broccoli or Cauliflower or Romanesco- A nice head of broccoli or cauliflower or Romanesco for everyone again this week.
White Kohlrabi- Our Fall Kohlrabis look amazing! They’re so crunchy and succulent with all of the rain that we’ve been getting. We’re happy to have them back for the Fall! Just peel your kohlrabi and snack! Remember that you can use the greens like kale in your cooking!
Sweet Pepper- Sadly, our sweet pepper production is down from the shorter days and the cooler nights. They’re not turning colors as quickly as we had hoped. We will pick the peppers that are left on the plants green and give you green peppers towards the end of the season if a threat of frost arrives. We’re hoping to leave them on the plants to sweeten up as long as we can because we think sweet, colored peppers are more fun and delicious than green ones!
Hot Peppers- A jalapeno and a cayenne for everyone again this week.
Yellow Onion- A great onion year! Looking forward to Leeks for next week!
Arugula- This is the bunch of greens with the red rubber band around it. Arugula is a bitter green that adds a fun flavor to salads or wilted on top of pizza, sautéed with bacon or wilted and tossed with pasta. So many really fun recipes out there for Arugula, have fun with this green! More for next week as well!
Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach- A nice giving of .62lbs of Spinach per member this week. This ended up being a nice bag for everyone. We did wash the Spinach, but we picked it on Monday after some heavy rains over the weekend. Heavy rains mean more soil splashed up and into the cracks of the savoyed (crinkly) leaves. We recommend washing your spinach again this week.