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Below are current issues of The Weekly Dig Newsletter, from Jillian Varney, owner of the Small Family Farm. Stay up to date on what's happening on the farm!

July Fifth

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I want to congratulate you on your decision to eat fresh, local, organically grown produce this summer!  You opened up your checkbook and you voted for a kind of change that I believe in the depths of my being to be one of the most transformative social, economical, and even spiritual ways that we can achieve a healthier future for our families and communities.  You paid for it with your hard-earned dollars and now you’re literally eating it up.  Finding ways to use those salad turnips, kohlrabi and dill bunches is nothing short of a challenge for most folks.  And you’re doing it! 

I feel a little extra inspired right now by a book I’m reading called “Deep Nutrition” by Catherine Shanahan.  She digs deep and talks extensively about why healthy fats and organ meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, bone broth, and fermented foods are paramount to health.  She looks at “blue zones” around the world (people who live in the healthiest, happiest cultures around the globe) and discovers what they all have in common.  If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, no worries, we foodies who care deeply about plants and animals and how they are raised have much more in common than whether we eat meat or do not eat meat.  All meat is NOT created equal. 

Even more interestingly, she talks about epigenetics which is how our genes express themselves based on the health of the genes themselves.  She says that our genes do not determine our destiny and what we eat and how we live can help our genes ‘remember’ to express themselves in their fullest, most beautiful potential.  Catherine says our genes are literally forgetting how to function because they’re so nutritionally starved.  A lacking in good nutrition causes clogged arteries, asthma, abnormal bone formation, infertility, and arthritis to name a few.  If we aren’t careful about what we eat and how we live, (avoiding canola oil and sugars at the top of the list) the damage that we do to our genes will not only affect our own health, but the health of our off-spring if we are healthy enough of a culture to continue to reproduce. 

I know these subjects are heavy, and emotional and can trigger a strong response for some people.  Food and the culture we build around it is something that is very, very hard to change unless we are deeply intentional.  I thought twice and thrice about sharing all of this with you because broaching political subjects is not good business.  I’m not thinking like a business person now, I’m thinking like I’m your community member and friend who cares about your health and not like someone who is selling you something.  Food is strangely political in the desert of convenience foods we live in.  Healthy, wholesome food does not come wrapped in plastic, it does not have an ambassador, a good marketing agent, and it is not cheap. 

What I love hearing and what gives me hope is that healthy food makes beautiful, strong, fertile, happy people.  The connection to beauty and health was interesting.  We are attracted to beautiful people because they exemplify healthy genetics.  Our eyes and intuition tell us that a person is healthy and health is attractive.  And you, my beautiful friend, are already upholding one of the pillars of health that Catherine declares leads to optimal health-eating your veggies!  Keep it up! 

Writing the newsletter on this subject was more a distraction for myself from talking about the drought. The farm is in a ‘severe drought’ zone now.  We have received a few small amounts of rain in the last two months amounting to 6/10, 4/10, and 4/10 inch which fell on the surface of the ground and quickly evaporated in this hot weather we have been having.  None since last week. 

Congratulations are due to Farmer Adam for keeping the farm and crops alive with the wonderful, amazing, magical powers of drip line irrigation, a little honda pump, and our trusty well.  And Congratulations to you, again and again for sourcing your food from a small-scale organic vegetable CSA farm and for eating your veggies!  The returns on your investment are immeasurable! 

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What’s in the Box?

Kohlrabi x 2-  Two kohlrabi per member this week.  Kohlrabi leaves are edible and can be used like kale.  Peel them and enjoy their apple-like crunchy and crispy texture with veggie dip, lightly salted or match-sticked onto salads.  They can even be fried up like a potato if you like!

Swiss Chard-  We were very excited to offer swiss chard this week.  Chard is in the same family as beets and spinach.  Chard has some of the earthy flavor that beets have with much of the same texture and smoothness that spinach has. 

Green Top Beets-  Fresh beets with their leaves left on them.  The greens on the beets can be used like swiss chard as a cooking green.  A bonus green in your box this week! 

Broccoli x 2-  Two gorgeous heads of broccoli per member.  Broccoli likes to be kept very cold, so get your broccoli home and in the fridge as soon as possible this week! 

Lettue x 2-  Red oakleaf lettuce this week.  The heads were smaller and more compact.  I love the color and shape of these leaves, such a rare treat!  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Garlic Scapes-  Garlic scapes are actually the garlic plant’s effort at producing a seed head.  They sprout out of the base of the plant and we snap these guys off so the garlic plants put more of their effort into growing a larger blub of garlic rather than putting their effort into make a seed head.  Lucky for us all, garlic scapes are delicious to eat!  Best edible part of the scape is from the base of the scape up to the little nodule.  Past the little nodule, it is technically still edible, but much chewier.  Garlic scapes can be used anywhere you would cook with garlic, but with less intensity than actual garlic cloves.

Bunching Onions- Our frist giving of green onions is always very exciting.  Also called ‘scallions’, ‘bunching onions’ or ‘green onions’.  They can be used from the base of the white onion all the way to the green tips.  Wonderful on fresh salads of all kinds!

Zucchini or Summer Squash-  This week was our first harvest of the summer squash and zucchini plants.  Much more summer squash and zucchini to come!  Summer squashes like these prefer storage at 50 degrees temperature.  The counter is a little too warm and the fridge is a little too cold, so pick your preference and plan to use them up because more are on the way! 

Basil-  The basil plants were looking so good that we had to grab it while it was looking so perfect!  Basil does NOT like refrigeration.  Basil will turn black in the fridge and prefers to be kept like cut flowers in a glass of water on your countertop.  Un-bunch your basil and allow them to sit in a shallow glass of water and plan to use up this precious herb soon! 

Next Week’s Best Guess:  Kale or collards, green cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, summer squash and zucchini, bunching onions, garlic scapes, fennel, parsley, romaine lettuce

Recipes:

Beet Greens Fritatta

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Swiss Chard Stir Fry with Noodles

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Tuscan White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard

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Basil Olive Oil Cake with Whipped Cream

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Garlic Scape Pesto with Basil!

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June Twenty-Eighth

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The farm in in full swing.  We are finally caught up on all of our summer plantings and we have a couple week break before we will begin transplanting some of our fall brassicas.  We seeded our first succession of Fall carrots before what we thought was going to be rain on Saturday night.  Another 3/10 inch of rain fell which was just enough to wet the surface of the ground but not provide anything substantial or satisfactory to the plants or new seedings.  Farmer Adam continues to irrigate day after day keeping everything in a rotation now which is a time consuming and a laborious effort. 

As summer is now in full swing and the demands of the farm are picking up now, I am also conscious of the needs of our small family.  We have three small to middle-sized children and I, as the mother and primary care-taker of our developing humans consider the childhood experiences of our children.  I see other families going to the pool, the beach, the river, the campgrounds, vacations, camps and summertime outings of all kinds and I wonder if I should long for these things for our own family?  We did find a little time this weekend to go with my family to Apple Canyon Lake in Illinois so we could spend time with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.  It felt good to give them some time at the lake, playing in the water and being off the farm. 

The farm is an environment of endless work, tasks, projects, chores and potential.  There is always something here that needs doing and while we have a crew of helpers here Monday through Friday and mom and dad work more than full time, it never, never ends.  At Apple Canyon I saw the sharp contrast of our lives from those families with second homes on a Lake.  I don’t envy the second-home idea because it looks complicated and in-practical.  I am pragmatic and rational woman and know that that such a lifestyle would never work for our family.  It’s just interesting how when you step into another world, it causes you to re-examine your own. 

We have built a nourishing life for our children on this farm and they like it here.  They aren’t even asking for anything more than what we have.  It’s my own modern-day mothering mind questioning if I’m doing a good enough job.  They’re still small and playdates with the neighbors and occasional outings are exciting and deeply gratifying for them.  But I know too many people who grew up on farms wanting nothing more than to grow up and get as far away from their farms as possible.  It’s tricky.  The farm fosters their health in terms of an honest and hearty experience of childhood play using their bodies in a wide-open space.  Our kids are strong, healthy, capable, hardworking, well-mannered and practical.  They’re good kids and I want to keep it that way as they grow, while I also consider whether their need for experiences other than this farm expand.  I am merely processing with you aloud the mind-play of a farm wife and inexperienced, yet attentive mother with no resolution or answer to my thoughts. 

This week I contemplate balance.  Balance is a daily measurement.  It also needs to be measured seasonally and yearly on the farm.  It just so happens that the farm needs us most in the summer months when it looks like the rest of the world is on vacation.  It just looks that way, I know it’s not actually that way.  Farmers balance out their family’s needs in the winter months with winter vacations and winter slow-ness.  I become acutely aware of how fast our lives feel when I observe the slow, relaxed vacation-mentality of summer-time in others.  I feel the need to re-assure myself that the childhood of picking fresh peas, strawberries, melons, sweet corn, carrots and tomatoes right off the vine and being surrounded by abundance on an organic vegetable farm is a good childhood.  The grass is not greener on the other side.  Right?  A childhood of being a hollar’s distance away from mom and dad at all times is a good childhood.  A childhood of 40 acres to explore, farm animals to ride, milk, handle, and interact with is enriching.  A childhood of minimal time on screens, adults to know and interact with (our awesome crew of helpers who they LOVE) and a rotation of friends who come to play here is natural and wholesome.  We don’t leave home nearly as often as most families, but we’re not like most families.  We’re a farm family and there aren’t a lot of farm families out there anymore to resonate with.  We’re a rare breed now-a-days.  Ahh, balance, such a curious thing. 

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What’s in the Box?

Kohlrabi x 2-  Two kohlrabi per member this week.  Kohlrabi leaves are edible and can be used like kale.  Peel them and enjoy their apple-like crunchy and crispy texture with veggie dip, lightly salted or match-sticked onto salads.  They can even be fried up like a potato if you like!

Hakurai Salad Turnips-  These are the white colored radish-esque looking roots in your box with greens attached.  Hakurai Salad turnips are sweet and mild and crunchy and smooth!  No need to peel them, just shave them onto your salads or cut them up and eat them raw with hummus, veggie dip or however you like to snack on them!  They can also be cooked into a stir fry or however you can get them into your belly!

Radish- The final giving of radishes for the early part of the season.  Smaller bunches this week with more imperfections.  Peel away any unsightly spots and enjoy shaved onto salads. 

Peas-  .39 lb of peas per member.  Pea picking is always a time-consuming task and this year’s peas didn’t do too well.  They suffered from the long season with very little water, a little cultivation damage and a transplant shock that took a while to recover from.  We’re thinking this year’s peas may not be as abundant as some years. 

Green Onions-  Our frist giving of green onions is always very exciting.  Also called ‘scallions’, ‘bunching onions’ or ‘green onions’.  They can be used from the base of the white onion all the way to the green tips.  Wonderful on fresh salads of all kinds! 

Green Curly Kale-  Kale is a quick harvest and abundant this time of year!  The curly green variety has a lot of texture and volume and makes great kale chips! 

Lettuce x 2-  Red buttercup lettuce this week.  Some of the heads needed to be peeled back a bit, but most of the heads looked really nice!  We’re lucky that we’re still able to enjoy these tender, buttercup varieties even through the heat of the early summer months! 

Garlic Scapes-  Garlic scapes are actually the garlic plant’s effort at producing a seed head.  They sprout out of the base of the plant and we snap these guys off so the garlic plants put more of their effort into growing a larger blub of garlic rather than putting their effort into make a seed head.  Lucky for us all, garlic scapes are delicious to eat!  Best edible part of the scape is from the base of the scape up to the little nodule.  Past the little nodule, it is technically still edible, but much chewier.  Garlic scapes can be used anywhere you would cook with garlic, but with less intensity than actual garlic cloves. 

Next Week's Best Guess:  garlic scapes, kohlrabi, red oakleaf lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, green onions, peas?, swiss chard, basil?

Recipes

Maple-Glazed Hakurei Turnip and Shiitake on Soba Noodles

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Garlicy Baked Kale Chips

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Kohlrabi and Apple Salad (with fresh dill if you still have some from last week!)

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June Twenty-First

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Happy Summer Solstice!  On these long, warm, sunny days on the farm we are enjoying the full length of a summer day.  The heat has felt enjoyable thus far although I may feel differently by the end of this week.  We’re drinking bottle after bottle of water and I notice sweat on the brows of the crew as we work now even when movement is minimal.  This last Sunday we received 3/10 inch rain which was almost nothing in terms of the full inch of rain we could use to satisfy the needs of the plants to get us through another week.  Farmer Adam is still irrigating like a magician.  It’s amazing to see the water dripping out of those little black lines all over the farm that are now on almost every crop planted including fresh lettuce plantings and short-season crops. 

We are excited to be offering rhubarb this week as rhubarb is a plant that we have had difficulty establishing on the farm.  We have it planted in an area with landscaping fabric around the plants to control the weed pressure.  Some of the plants are quite mature and some are still establishing themselves as younger, smaller plants that will need more years to catch up.  We’re excited to continue to watch the rhubarb patch grow and thrive.  As primarily annual vegetable farmers, it’s fun to have a patch of a perennial plant that comes back year after year cheerily emerging after surviving a long winter, ready to grow and thrive and expand its root system. 

We’re also excited to be offering the hakurei salad turnips this week.  These salad turnips are a Spring (or now it’s summer!) treat.  Their flesh is sweet, fruity and mild and their texture is smooth yet crispy.  I almost wouldn’t even want to tell you they’re actually a turnip for fear that I may turn you off from trying them.  They’re so good that our children pick and eat them raw all day long.  Even as they size up they don’t develop any woody texture while maintaining their crispy, smooth sweet deliciousness.  They can be enjoyed cooked into stir-fries or shaved raw onto salads.  Their greens are edible as well and can be wilted and snuck into just about any dish!  Don’t miss out on enjoying these rare delicacies! 

We are at the height of greens-season now with lettuce and kale galore.  Amazingly we have been able to bring these tender, crunchy, watery bunches of crispy greens to fruition even in this droughty year.  The greens are nature’s offerings this time of year to remind us to eat light, fresh and cleanse the body of all the carb-heavy foods that we at all winter long when greens were scarce and much less appetizing to us than they are now.  Feast on salads loaded up with olives, feta, parmesan, bacon, toasted chicpeas, sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, and all your favorite reduced, flavored and infused vinegars and highest quality oils.

I feel it’s my job, other than farming and sharing the joys and hardships of that experience, to help inspire you to be as excited about all of these unique vegetables as I am.  I feel a responsibility to share my enthusiasm, love of good food and the heightened quality of life and family that comes with sharing and eating really, really good food with you.  Allow yourself to be creative in the kitchen this summer.  Try new recipes and make time for preparing food and have fun while you’re doing it.  Put on some music and pour yourself a glass of wine and get into a cooking groove.  If you enjoy eating some of these a-typical vegetables, that means that I get to continue growing them and we all get to live healthier, happier lives.  Happy Solstice and Cheers to trying new recipes! 

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What’s in the Box?

Gold Potatoes-  These potatoes are overwintered potatoes that have been in cold storage since last Fall.  We recommend keeping them in your fridge until you have the chance to use them up.  Overwintered Potatoes will want to sprout if left out on the counter in a warm place. 

Hakurai Salad Turnips-  These are the white colored radish-esque looking roots in your box with greens attached.  Hakurai Salad turnips are sweet and mild and crunchy and smooth!  No need to peel them, just shave them onto your salads or cut them up and eat them raw with hummus, veggie dip or however you like to snack on them!  They can also be cooked into a stir fry or however you can get them into your belly! 

Rhubarb-  .62 lbs rhubarb per member.  We had to cut them up a bit to get them into evenly weighed bunches and to fit them into the box.  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Purple Kohlrabi x 2-  Even though they’re purple on the outside they’re still crispy and white on the inside.  Peel them and enjoy their apple-like crunchy and crispy texture with veggie dip, lightly salted or match-sticked onto salads.  They can even be fried up like a potato if you like! 

Lacinato Kale-  Lacinato Kale is also known as Tuscan Kale, dinosaur kale, or black kale.  It has a darker green color than other kale varieties with a smooth leaf texture.  This is the most popular variety of kale at present day.  Wonderful pan fried with a little coconut oil and tamari, mixed into a soup or cook with eggs or on pizza!

Red Leaf Lettuce x 2-  A double giving of lettuce per member this week.  Tis the season for salads and eating fresh with all of the salad ingredients in your box!  Keeps best in a plastic bag in your fridge.  We like to trim the base of the head of lettuce off and let the leaves fall apart and wash lettuce leaf by leaf under running water to make sure there is no dirt stuck down in the ruffles of the leaves.  Be sure to spin it dry.   Dry greens keep MUCH longer than wet greens. 

Dill-  Fresh dill is a rare treat.  Dill is wonderful just chopped up and sprinkled onto your salad.  Try adding it to a potato salad recipe.  Dill can also be dried if it’s just too much to use up.  To dry it, un-bunch your dill and dry it in a dehydrator until it’s fully dry and store in a jar with a tight lid.  Could also be dried on trays in a very low heat warm oven. 

Next Week’s Best Guess: Bunching onions, lettuce, green curly kale, hakurei salad turnips, garlic scapes, kohlrabi x 2, radish?, zucchini?, summer squash?

Recipes

Creamy Dill Pickle Potato Salad

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Tuscan Kale Salad

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Sesame Roasted Turnip Salad with Quinoa

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Kohlrabi and Apple Salad with Fresh Dill

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Creamy Dill Sauce (to be used on everything!  And I do mean everything!  Rice, salmon, grilled veggies, anything you eat!)

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June Fourteenth

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In our second full week of June your farmers have been having a hard time thinking of much else other than the very, very concerning drought conditions we are experiencing.  We are in a moderate drought zone here in Southwest Wisconsin.  We did get a little teaser of 2/10 inch on Saturday night which didn’t even make it to the root zone of our shallow-rooted veggie plants.  The last rain we received was two weeks ago when we got 6/10 inch.  So less than an inch of rain in the last month which is our heaviest planting season of the year when the plants are young and trying to establish themselves as healthy transplants.

Our farm copes with drought using a product called “drip-tape” which is a single-use plastic tape or hose with 6 inch drip emitters.  The good news is we are equipped to lay drip tape anywhere on our 13 acres of vegetables and get water to any and all plants that have drip-tape on them.  The bad news is that the drip tape is expensive, is a single-use plastic product, and takes a lot of human time and labor to lay out and pick up.  More good news is that our farm has survived drought years in the past and they have historically been good growing seasons with less weed competition for the crops and we have always been able to fill the CSA boxes wonderfully full even in drought years.  And a tiny bit more of good news is that the drip tape is a highly efficient use of water which is also a precious resource in drought years.

Really big farms dig “High Capacity” wells which require special permission from the DNR to dig and cost tens of thousands of dollars.  They can pump up to 100 gallons of water from the ground per minute and can literally ‘make it rain’ on a farm with large rain guns.  Sounds dreamy to an over-worked farmer on a small-scale vegetable farm like ours who has been busy switching out header lines, managing the pump, pressure tanks and irrigation lines running in every direction on the farm.  Dreamy maybe, but we haven’t quite been able to justify the cost of such a massive undertaking and no plans to take such a leap-even in dream-land.  Currently on our farm we can pump 20 gallons a minute into at 1500 gallon tank and from that tank, we use another pump to move the water to our fields through 2” lay flat hose which feeds the drip tape.

But today I count my blessings.  My father called on Monday morning to see if we got frost.  He woke on Monday morning, June 12th to FROST which killed his 12 pepper and tomato plants in his little garden on a ridge in Platteville, WI, a whole zone and 2 hours driving SOUTH of us!  Yikes!  What if we had gotten frost?  Frost would have killed all of our pepper and tomato plants.  What would a farming season be like with no tomatoes or peppers?  In my 20 years of working on farms, I have never seen frost after June 1st.  Never.  May 29th, yes.  May 30th, yes.  But never after June 1st!  It’s worrying to think that I will have to adjust my farm scope to the windows of time that we will need to be concerned about frost potentials on our ridgetop farm. 

By the end of this week we will be back into temperatures in the upper 80’s deepening our drought conditions.  The ten-day forecast shows temps steadily rising for the foreseeable future into the 90’s.  Drought may be one thing we have to deal with, but prolonged heat stress on the plants is not something we’re quite as well equipped to handle.  The “spring” broccoli, peas, strawberries, lettuce, radish and turnips do not love the heat stress and their fruiting and production could suffer. 

Normally I’m a very cheery and optimistic person, and forgive me if I sound grumpy, but it helps to share with you the realities of our production struggles.  We’re in this together, right?  No matter what, we do have community and compassion and understanding!  We also have 13 acres of young, beautiful, healthy, well-tended-to organic vegetables planted with a lot more time for things to turn around.  Let’s pray for rain, moderate temps and summer evenings filled with friends gathered around tables full of delicious meals prepared in love! 

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What’s in the Box?

Pac Choi-  Also called Bok Choy or Pak Choi.  These are the greenhouse grown pac choi that we love to put in the first couple CSA boxes of the season.  They are a treasured gem of the Springtime boxes that we only offer in the Spring.  Wonderful in a raw salad, stir fry, Asian brothy soup or whatever you fancy!

Cherry Belle radish-  These were prime about a week ago, but we’re still loving their bright red color, spicy flavor and crunchy texture.  Wonderful shaved onto all of those spring salads you’ll be eating or eaten with a veggie dip or hummus!

Shallot-  About a half pound per member.  These are overwintered from last season and preserve beautifully in the cooler for the winter months.  They will want to sprout if left out on your countertop, so please keep them in your fridge until you’re ready to use them up.  They are perfect for sauces, dressings or marinades, but can also just be used like an onion anywhere you might like to cook with onions! 

Overwintered Potatoes-  2 pounds per member.  Most folks received the red norland potatoes, but you may have received the Yukon gold as we were running out of reds we moved into the golds.  These may also want to sprout if left on the counter as they were also overwintered.  Keep them in the fridge unti you get the chance to use them up! 

Cilantro-  One generous bunch per member this week.  We love cilantro with pad thai, tacos, or Asian or south-western dish you love!  We find cilantro to be a popular item!  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge! 

Herb Packs-  A little four-pack with basil, thyme, rosemary and oregano.  Plant these little fellas as close to your kitchen as possible so you can run out and take snips of fresh herbs while cooking this summer!  They will also thrive in a pot with plenty of fertile soil and sunlight if you don’t have any outside space for them. 

Romaine Lettuce x 2-  Wow!  What beauties!  Romain is wonderful in cesar salads, like a wrap in place of a tortilla or taco shell, or simply in salads of your choice!  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Spinach-  about half pound bags per member.  Another spring treat that we are happy to offer that we may not see again until the cooler months return in the fall.  Wonerful in salads, on pizza, lasagna, with eggs or however you can get your greens into yo body! 

Recipes

Pac Choi Stir Fry

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Cesar Salad

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Nicoise Salad

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Spinach Artichoke Pizza

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June Sixth, 2023

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And we’re off!  The Small Family Farm is beginning its 18th growing season as a CSA farm and we’re so thrilled to begin sharing with you the bounty from yet another fruitful growing season on the farm!  An impressive 70% of you are returning CSA members who have been with us for several years returning to the table like faithful family members who journey together through another unpredictable Midwest growing season on our little small family farm!  For the 30% of you who are new to our farm, welcome to the family!  Welcome to a community of locavores who value fresh, local, organic produce and the incomparable difference between grocery store vegetables and sticker-free produce grown on a local, small family farm. 

I like to devote the first newsletter of the season to introduce ourselves.  I, Jill, am the one who has been writing the weekly newsletters for all 18 years.  Many of you have become familiar with my voice and story.  I apologize for the 70% of you who have heard this story-bear with me while we welcome our new friends!  I feel background is foundational to everyone’s experience here.  One upon a time I was a young lady spending her summers working on small scale organic vegetable farms slowly falling in love with life in the countryside much different than my city-girl up-bringing in Dubuque, IA.  I loved being surrounded by the bounty that farms inherently provide, the inspiring community of people hemmed into these farms and the people who operated, supported and breathed life into these farm-anomalies that I was feeling so exhilarated by.  After a handful of years working on other people’s farms, including a couple CSA farms that transformed my vision of farming, I met my husband Adam when we both came to work on his brother’s farm for two seasons in his produce fields and pizza-farm certified kitchen.  We started our own little CSA in 2006 on his brother’s farm trying out the CSA model leaning on brother Dave’s infrastructure and tremendous moral support. 

In the Spring of 2007 we finally bought our own farm.  At that time we weren’t married yet and the farm was still in my name alone.  We had sold 63 CSA Shares and we broke new ground on our own farm and decided we would work our little tushies off to make the dream work.  And work it did.  The CSA grew little by little with each passing year.  In 2010 we finally married, and our first child was born in 2011.  I continued to run the CSA operation with baby strapped onto my back while Adam kept his off-farm job at Organic Valley in the produce department.  When our second child was born in 2014 the farm was viable enough that Adam was able to quit his off-farm job. Me still being a major player in production, Adam slowly took on more and more of the farmer-roles as motherhood demanded more and more of my time.  Baby number three came along in 2014 and now I’m feeling tired telling this story just thinking about how hard it is to run a CSA farm and raise three little ones at the same time. 

Doing hard things is like that.  You think it’s hard or impossible or un-doable, but all you really need to do is just keep doing it, keep trying, keep going, keep working at it.  Persevere.  Eventually you get better at it, systems run smoother, you acquire more tools, more help, more experience, more knowledge, and the next thing you know, you did it.  You’re doing it.  We’ve been repeating for 18 years now, and while farming itself never really gets easier because you’re dealing with unpredictable variables that you cannot plan around like rain, temperature fluctuations, plant diseases, and the fact that farming is composed of mostly just plain hard work.  But our capacity to handle the stress and manage the work load gets a little easier.  We have more help, more infrastructure, and the kids are getting a wee-bit older which helps a-lot-a-bit.  The children are still small-ish at the ages of 5, 8, 11, but mommy now gets to sleep through the night and I finally do not have at least one child crying, on my hip all day or needing to be put down for a nap.  It finally feels like the happy little organic farm we dreamed about two decades ago.  

This CSA farm was born as a romantic ideal in the glimmer of an impressionable girl’s eye.  After all these years it continues to nourish our little family spiritually, emotionally, and physically while the romantic idealism still hasn’t faded away.  No matter if you’ve been with us for 1 year or all 18, I’m SO glad you’re here!  Thank you for coming to the table! 

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What's in the Box????

Asparagus-  1 pound bunches of Asparagus.  This is the one vegetable that we actually purchase each year for the CSA boxes that comes from a certified organic farm out of Adams, Wisconsin.  We could not possibly grow enough asparagus to supply for our CSA.  It's a worth-while investment because everyone loves Aspargus in the Spring as it is delicacy that can be enjoyed in so many ways!  

2 Green Oakleaf Lettuce-  These very, very tender heads of lettuce were greenhouse grown this Spring to help us get a jump start on the season.  It's difficult to find lettuce varieties like this at a grocery store.  There is an extra special tenderness to Spring lettuce that is unlike lettuce growing througout the heat of the season.  We gave two heads per box this week.  Salads for dinner!  

Pac Choi-  One large head of pac choi per member this week.  Also greenhouse grown.  Pac Choi is an asian green that loves to be grown in the cool weather of the Spring and Fall.  We typically offer it once each season in the Spring.  Chop up the crunchy stalks and greens in a pac choi salad or stir fry!  

Shallots-  .5 lb of shallots per member this week.  These were overwintered shallots from last year that hold wonderfully in the cooler until Spring.  Since they were overwintered, they will want to sprout if left out on the counter.  Keep in your fridge until you are able to use them up.  Shallots are typically used in sauces, dressings and marrinades, but you're also welcome to use them anywhere you would use an onion.  They have much the same flavor as an onion, just condensed into a smaller package.  

Herb Packs-  This week's herb packs have tyme, oregano, sage and flat leaf parsley.  All of these herbs would be thrilled to be planted outdoors with plenty of sun near your kitchen for easy access when you're cooking and need to run out and grab a sprig of thyme, oregano, sage or parsley.  If you don't have a good outdoor garden space, you could grow them in pots outside or inside with plenty of sunlight and water!  

Spinach-  .55 lb bag of spinach per member.  Spinach is a very special springtime treat!  Can be eaten raw in salads, blanched and used in lasagne or put on top of your pizza!  

Cherry Belle Radishes-  The long awaited radish!  All winter I dream of first Spring radishes!  They are quickly forgotten and unappreciated once the more popular items like broccoli and zucchini enter the stage, but let us all enjoy the simple, modest, humble radish while it is here!  If you're wanting more greens this week, don't forget that radish greens are edible!  They can be cooked down and mixed into a fritatta, snuck onto a pizza, or sauteed into a hash of your choice.  

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Recipes

Asparagus Guacamole Recipe

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Pac Choi Asian Salad with Toasted Ramen and Almond Crunchies

(this website is using napa cabbage, but just sub the napa for the pac choi and you'll be SO happy)

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Cream Cheese Radish Dip Recipe

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