CSA Season Extension Week 3

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This Week’s Harvest

Kossak Kohlrabi

Potatoes

Butternut Squash

January King Cabbage

Red Cabbage

Sweet Potatoes

Onions

Kale

Purple Daikon Radish

Purple Top Turnips

Beets

Rainbow Carrots

Hakurei Salad Turnips

Apple Shares

Golden Delicious and Winesap

Farm News

In the last blog I wrote about the ways we learn from other farmers- farm visits, conferences, etc. We like to give as well as receive and have lead several workshops over the years at Ohio’s largest sustainable farming conference. This year is no different and we’ll each present at OEFFA’s 40th Annual Conference, here in Dayton Feb 15-16. I’ll be presenting with The Young Farmers Coalition on my experience getting the the farm GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certified, a certification that farms earn if they are food safety compliant. The workshop will also discuss how we’ve built up our packing shed over the years with budget, increased efficiency, and food safety in mind as well as improvements we are still looking to make.

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Ben will be presenting with our fertilizer supplier, Sustane. We ran a trail this past season with compost tea from Sustane on one of our summer squash plantings.  Some beds did not receive any compost tea, some got a weekly dose of regular compost tea, and some got a weekly dose of enriched compost tea. We weighed the yields off these beds nearly daily for nearly a month. Ben and Brain will be discussing the results of the study and our experience with using compost tea as a fertilizer for the first time.  For those of you interested, the study results can be found here: SustaneCompostTeaResearchMileCreek2018 (1)

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The nutrients are brewed over night

 

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Using the forklift, the compost tea is brought out to the field and hooked up to the fertigation system. This allows the tea to be sucked up through the irrigation, getting applied directly to the plants roots
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Checking on the squash plant’s growth
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A single day’s harvest

By the way, picking all that summer squash was one of the many tiring things we did this season. We are looking forward to resting up in January and doing it all over again next year! Thanks for your support this season!

Recipes

Vegan Potato, Bean, Kale Soup 

Roasted Veggie Chips (beets, potatoes, daikon radish, kohlrabi, turnips, sweet potatoes, and any other roots work great)

Turnip and Sweet Potato Gratin

Roasted Beets, Carrots and Turnips

Winter Veggie Slaw

 

 

 

12/4/18 Extended Season Week 2

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Purple top turnips

Purple and white potatoes

Red cabbage

Green cabbage

Carrots

Spinach

Purple daikon radish

Garlic

Sweet potatoes

Butternut squash

Beets

Apple Share

Gold Rush and Fuji

Farm News

Winter is the season of data entry, financial and crop planning, maintenance and deep cleaning, and my favorite, learning!

Last week Ben and a fellow farmer took a trip to the upper midwest to visit a couple organic farms. The purpose of the trip was to see other operations and gather information on growing, marketing, and the general state of organics in that area. They visited PrairiErth Farm in central Illinois and Driftless Organics in Wisconsin. There is a thriving community of organic farms in that region and it was generous of these 2 farms to open their doors. Talking with fellow farmers is a great way to learn and Ben came back from his trip with several takeaways.

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In PrairiErth’s packing house checking out a root washer
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Driftless Organics fleet of cultivating tractors

We also glean knowledge by attending conferences. Right after our CSA delivery this week, Ben heads to Michigan for the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market two day Expo. Meanwhile, I just got back from a great Scaling Up Intensive with pioneer organic farmer, Linda Halley. She brought to the workshop 29 years experience, most of which came on 2 of the most influential midwestern organic farms, so the cost of the conference more than paid for itself even though family obligations had me miss a day.

It’s good to pack these learning opportunities in this time of year when we have the time but while the growing season is still fresh in our minds. We are physically and mentally tired from the year— our bodies a bit achy and the disappointments of the season still raw— but being in the company of other farmers gives us the inspiration and desire to do it all over again next year! Conferences and meetings are the perfect boost to end the growing season on and the perfect starting block to begin the winter planning season!

Recipes

Radish and cabbage stir fry

Root vegetable gratin

Spinach and butternut squash lasagna

Extended CSA Season- Week 1

This Week’s Harvest

Spinach

Kale

Purple Daikon Radishes

Hakurei Salad Turnips

Brussels Sprouts

Rutabaga

Butternut Squash

Carrots

Sweet Potatoes

Kennebec Potatoes

Shallots

Garlic

Apple Shares

Downing Land and Gold Rush

Farm News

Welcome to the extended season! This is the season for roasted veggies, comfort casseroles, and warm bowls of soup. Not to mention Thanksgiving of course!

This year the cold snuck up on us fast and we had to harvest everyday to get our remaining cold sensitive crops out of the ground before deep freezes and ice storms! One day it was beets in the morning and turnips in the afternoon, the next day was carrots and rutabaga, and so on and so forth. We even had to send some of our produce off farm because we ran out of cooler space!

Despite the early cold snap, extended season boxes will be full of long lasting storage crops and a few fresh goodies from our hoop houses.  Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Much of this field needed to be harvested and put in storage
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Ben brings in a round of freshly harvested veggies
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This pallet of cabbage had to move off site
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No more vegetables left, just icy fields of winter rye

Recipes

Winter Root Puree 1

Winter Root Puree 2

Lemon Roasted Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts (instead of fingerlings, cut the Kennebecs into thick wedge slices)

Sweet Potato Pie

Butternut Squash and Sage Biscuits

 

11/5/18 CSA Week 24

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Carrots

Arugula or Radicchio

Sweet Potatoes

Butternut Squash

Shallots

Beets

Red Cabbage

Braising Greens or Mustard Greens

Beauty Heart Radish

Brussels Sprouts

Apple Share

Gold Rush (tart, yellow), Ida Red (mellow flavor), Downing Land (sweet, red and pink, smaller)

Farm News

IMG_4165This week marks the end of our regular CSA season. We hope you enjoyed this culinary adventure of seasonal CSA eating! Our hope is that you discovered and enjoyed new vegetables,  expanded your skills in the kitchen, feed yourself and loved ones some delicious and nutritious meals, tasted some of the best vegetables you’ve ever had, and maybe even had a chance to put some vegetables up for the winter.

This season marks our 10th year offering a CSA! We started the CSA component of the farm in 2008 with 30 members and promised them vegetables for 20 weeks. We struggled through that first year and I remember at the time wishing we had only taken 20 members and promised 15 weeks of produce. Over the years we’ve learned, invested in equipment and infrastructure, and tweaked our systems. Now with 9 seasons under our belts, we have 250 members and delivered on our promise of 24 weeks of produce. Additionally, we are able to offer our extended season for the 3 straight year!IMG_2990

Even has we have improved the farm over the years, I feel far from a seasoned farmer. We have struggles every year and they always seem to be different! A new pest or disease shows up or a variety that did wonderfully for us in the past is suddenly the worst. And the weather is becoming increasing difficult for us to navigate and we feel the effects of climate change in a very real way.  Between Sept 1st and Nov 1st we got 11 inches of rain in just 3 rain events at 2 inches, 5 inches and 4 inches. This means that this fall our soil has either been too dry or too wet!  It also means disease spread like we’ve never seen most notably effecting our fall carrots, beets, chard and broccoli. Additionally, in the spring the time frame of optimal temperature for spring crops to mature seems to be shrinking into an ever narrowing window. Likewise, the fall window is shrinking resulting in disappointing broccoli and cauliflower yields. The uncertainly that the weather brings and possibility of crop failures makes the CSA partnership between farmer and consumer all the more essential.

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We appreciate your season long support and hope the rewards far out weighed the risks! Some of the highlights of the year for me were the multiple successful sweet corn plantings, growing Salt and Pepper cucumbers, a most delicious and new-to-us variety of cucumber, the variety and yields of the winter squash planting, planting every single planned planting (that’s 25 weeks worth of weekly greenhouse seeding that made it into the ground!), and a successful 4 ton sweet potato harvest!

We hope that you believe from garlic to cabbage to potatoes our produce tastes great! We hope you discovered you actually like something you previously thought inedible. We hope you increased your vegetable intake in a way that was easy and enjoyable. And we certainly hope to have you back, if not for the extended season, for next year!

Thank you!

Your Farmers, Emily and Ben

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Recipes

Roasted Beet and Carrot Risotto

Butternut Soup with Apple

Brussel Sprout Hash with Caramelized Shallots

 

 

 

 

 

 

10/29/18 CSA Week 23

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This Week’s Harvest

Radicchio

Rutabaga

Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes

Kossak Kohlrabi

Brussels Sprouts

Kale

Carrots

Purple Daikon Radish

Garlic

Apple Share

Winesap, Melrose and Downing Land

Farm News

This week marks the end of our CSA for some of our biweekly members. We hope you enjoyed this culinary adventure of seasonal CSA eating! Our hope is that you discovered and enjoyed new vegetables,  expanded your skills in the kitchen, feed yourself and perhaps loved ones some delicious and nutritious meals, and maybe even tasted some of the best vegetables you’ve ever had.

Growing your vegetables has been a complete joy! We love cultivating the land and regenerating the soil, all while providing our community with healthy food. We can’t do it alone. We’ve had a great team this season.

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Ricky, Audrey and Dan bring in the Brussels Sprouts

Ricky and Audrey came back for a second season with us which is fantastic! Before their time at Mile Creek, they worked with Happy Box, another Dayton based CSA that operated for several years.  This year their responsibilities expanded to tractor operating. By the end of the season, they ran the planting days on the Farmall without Ben or myself present. Now Audrey is getting comfortable on the John Deere and has mowed, subsoiled and used the forks!

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Audrey and Courtney plant celery on the waterwheel while Ricky drives
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Courtney and Ricky plant potatoes while Audrey drives

Dan came to us with tons of experience on organic farms on the east coast. Before moving to Dayton he was the farm manager of Hutchins Farm, one of the oldest and largest organic farms in Massachusetts. (Fun fact: Ben and I meet in Boston and would shop Hutchins Farm’s Central Square Market stand on Mondays for our weekly veggies. These were pre-Dan days, put still). Right away, we could turn Dan loose and he was able to do all the work that only Ben has been able to do in the past. Dan’s awareness of everything going on on the farm was incredible and it was great to have another person to bounce ideas off of.

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Dan cultivates and hills the sweet corn
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Sophia picks zucchini for the umpteenth time

I wrote about Courtney a couple week’s ago so check out this post to learn about Courtney and her new farm. This is Courtney’s last week with us. We are sad to see her go but excited to watch her grow her own farm. We also had part time help this year. A CSA member helped pack CSA boxes in the summer months and we welcomed back Sophia after her first year at OU for a 2nd summer. And Ben’s parents essentially help us everyday with either childcare or market or CSA pack!

Thanks to our staff and our customers, we are able to grow our farm into the 30 acre successful organic farm it is today!

Recipes

Carrot and Rutabaga Ginger Soup

Creamy Baked Kohlrabi and Kale

Shredded Brussels Sprouts, Apple and Kohlrabi Salad

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Radish and Cauliflower (substitute kohlrabi or turnips for the cauliflower)

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess…….) Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, Beauty Heart Radishes, Braising Mix and more!

 

10/22/18 CSA Week 22

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French Breakfast Radishes

Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes

Head Lettuce

Rutabaga

Cabbage

Mustard Greens

Garlic

Kohlrabi

Broccoli

Farm News

The cold weather has settled in and it sure is welcome. We are in the final stretch of the season; bundling up to stay warm as we put the farm to rest. About half of these final few CSA boxes will come from storage crops and half are still growing outside. The cold weather sweetens the greens (we are still waiting for it to sweeten the carrots. We tried them last week and the flavor just isn’t as good as it could be) and much of our brassica field can survive into November. These days we wait until the frost has passed and then harvest for the rest of morning. In the afternoons we clean up the fields we are done with.

This year brings a Mile Creek Farm first of having all of our plastic mulch and t-posts and twine and wooden stakes and drip tape all cleaned up and out of the fields before Nov. 1. This is great news because it means we can spread cover crop over much of the farm. Now we are waiting on a little more rain to really germinate some of the rye we got in last week. The fields we sowed earlier in the fall are coming up great though. The farm is so beautiful to me now. Probably because it is so clean and organized!

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Frost hits the braising mix but this cold hardy green can survive a few frosts
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All bundled up for the CSA pack on these chilly mornings
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We have 3 beds of purple daikon radishes, most of which are slated for wholesale to our co-op. Pictured is one bed cleared out…2 more to go
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Our beds are ready for the garlic to be planted!
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Much of the farm is covered in cover crop
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Nitrogen fixing Austrian Winter Peas mixed with Oats

With just the task of garlic to planted left, our field work is really wrapping up for the year. With a dry week forecasted, it will not be a problem to get the garlic in this week. Next week we will focus on getting root crops harvested and into the coolers. We have turnips, rutabaga, radishes, and storage cabbage that can handle temperatures in the 30s but not extended periods of lows in the 20s, so we’ll want to make sure we get them harvested before some deep freezes hit us.

Recipes

Potato and Rutabaga Cakes

Pan Roasted Radishes and Italian Style Greens (use mustard greens in place of spinach)

Chick Peas with Sweet Potatoes and Mustard Greens

Cabbage, Potatoes, Rutabaga and Kielbasa 

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess…….) Rutabaga, Sweet Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Escarole, Potatoes, Kossak Kohlrabi, Garlic, and more! 

 

 

 

10/15/18 CSA Week 21

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Napa Cabbage

Beauty Heart Radish

Beets

Arugula

Salad Mix

Purple Top Turnips with greens or Scarlet Turnips

Pie Pumpkin

Red Onions

Braising Mix

Potatoes

Butternut Squash

Apple Share

Fuji, Golden Delicious, Winesap

Farm News

Earlier in the season I wrote about how most of our staff this year is coming to us through a Begin Farming Program for people interested in a career in farming. You can read my post about that OEFFA program here: https://milecreekfarm.com/2018/06/11/csa-week-3-6/ 

 

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Pictured above: One of our apprentices, Courtney, learns to rake and prepare beds for direct seeding and seeds them to late season spinach. Pictured below: Courtney and Dan bulk harvest our storage kohlrabi

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This week marks the 29th week that Courtney has been working with us. She and her husband have 5 acres outside of Tipp City that they are going to grow and market vegetables on. Here to tell you about her season with us and her vision for her farm, Wild Farm, is Courtney herself!

How did you come to realize you wanted to be a vegetable farmer?

I grew up on a farm, and through the years had a perpetual longing to be back on the farm. There is a quote in Wendell Berry’s book, A Place On Earth “He is at peace with himself, his labor has been his necessity and his desire” and I could not say it better myself.

What is something that you learned from Mile Creek Farm that you plan to use on your own operation?

I have learned so much from Mile Creek Farm it is hard to choose just one, but I would say the most important thing I have learned is that I truly love farming and am sure this is all I want to do with the rest of my life. I have gotten to not only learn things like pest management and quality control, but I got to see pure happiness and love, in what they do, in how they are with their family, and with the delicious food they get to eat every day. I truly believe thats what life is about.

Was there anything especially surprising about your time at Mile Creek Farm?

I was surprised that you could actually fill 8 hours hand weeding. I went into it thinking “oh this will only take a couple hours” in reality it takes a couple days. SO my perception on time management was off.

Where there any other helpful aspects of The Begin Farming Program?

Meeting other farmers has been the most helpful part of The Begin Farming Program. Every farmer is so different– from their farms, stories, successes and setbacks.

What are your plans for Wild Farm in 2019?

I hope to sell some good food to some good people.

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Wild Farm, Tipp City Ohio

Recipes

Napa Cabbage and Pork Soup

Roasted Veggies (Good candidates for roasting this week are purple top turnips, beauty heart radish, beets, butternut squash and potatoes. I love roasting 3 pans worth of assorted veggies at once and then using them in meals though out the week.)

Arugula and Radish Salad

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess……) Garlic, Kohlrabi, Potatoes, Mustard Greens, Sweet Potatoes, Rutabaga, Head Lettuce, Broccoli and more!