Extended CSA Season Week 3

CD0773BF-E719-4279-A657-215283AC9D8EThis Week’s Harvest

Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Spinach

Onions

Beauty Heart Radish

Purple Top Turnips

Rainbow Carrots

Butternut Squash

Cabbage

Kohlrabi

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Farm News

When I walk around the farm these days, the scene that greets me is field upon field covered in a blanket of cover crop. I love seeing the all green against the gray winter sky and feel proud that our fields have been put to rest for the winter in a way that will build the soil, hold moisture, prevent erosion, and increase organic matter. I’ve mentioned covering cropping several times before as it one of the main farming practices we implement in our organic system, but what I have new to report is that more and more farms are covering off season fields in cover crop!

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winter-kill oats interplanted with clover
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close-up winter-kill oats interplanted with clover and fetch

According to the NCR-SARE (Program, cover crop acreage increased 49.7% between 2012 and 2017.  While the total crop land in cover crop is still only at 4%, state initiatives are proving to be effective means to encourage farmers to cover crop. Take Maryland, for example, where the crop land now in cover crop is a whopping 43%! This is because of a decades long effort to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and watershed which ultimately led to “a mandate to manage nutrient runoff on farms with money to compensate farmers for adopting certain practices such as growing cover crops — a practice that dramatically cuts down on nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.” More about the national movement towards adopting “climate-smart” agriculture practices can be found in an article published this week in Politico and linked  here. Coming off the heels of yet another impactful weather year (20 million acres of crop land did not get planted due to excessive rain) it is good news that everyone, including bigger players like the American Farm Bureau Federation, seem to be on the same page about climate change and solutions.

If this topic is of interest to you, climate change happens to be the theme of  OEFFA’s Annual Sustainable Farming Conference coming up here in Dayton in February! Special early bird pricing for the event ends Dec. 12 by the way!

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Recipes

Kohlrabi Carrot Fritters

Butternut and Chickpea Stew

Grilled Cheese with Shredded Veggies

Sweet Potato Scones

Turnip and Carrot Soup

Extended Season Week 2

This Week’s Harvest86E14676-3B41-4B61-940F-3305EB5737CC

Rutabaga

Potatoes

Butternut Squash

Pie Pumpkin

Onions

Sweet Potatoes

Carrots

Kale

Brussels Sprouts

Fennel

Farm News

We really enjoy providing food for families for their Thanksgiving table! We’ve not always been able to do so. Understandably, the few first years of our farm featured shorter seasons while we were still learning how to farm on our own.  The CSA started as an 18 week season and we stopped going to market around October. Since 2011 we’ve been going to market at least up to the Saturday before Thanksgiving. And since 2016 we’ve been able to offer the extended fall season on top of a 24 week regular season. This year we’ve grown the most food yet! We are so very thankful for our family, community, employees and customers to be able to continue to grow our business and nourish more people than ever! We hope you have a restful and reflective Thanksgiving holiday full of delicious food! Your farmers will!

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Washing sweet potatoes for CSA, market and our co-op
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We increased our fall carrot crop this year and fortunately they grew beautifully
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Half of our butternut squash harvest before being moved into the storage barn
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Rutabaga for Thanksgiving and beyond!

 

Recipes

Apple Fennel Stuffing

Slow-Cooker Glazed Root Vegetables (use any root veggie combo you’d like)

Scalloped Potato and Kale Casserole

Rutabaga Pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extended Season Week 1

This Week’s HarvestB7CFACA9-F4DD-42A4-BBE9-8A6CF7F69BF3

Cilantro

Parsley

Spinach

Potatoes

Carrots

Brussels Sprouts

Kale

Red and Yellow Onions

Garlic

Hakurei Salad Turnips

Braising Greens

Farm News

Winter came early this year! Fortunately we got all our storage crops out before the cold. This year we barely managed to get things harvested in the knick of time. We finished our sweet potatoes before the first night under 40 degrees, we pulled all the carrots before rain settled in and with it muddy conditions that would have hindered an efficient harvest, we picked the exposed crops like cabbage before 20 degree nights, and this Monday we wrapped it all up finishing with rutabaga and turnip harvest.  Currently all three coolers are pretty full of vegetables!

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harvesting carrots with the under-cutter which rides under the carrot and lifts them up for easy pulling
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gorgeous!

We did have some crop loss. In a different, milder fall we could have arugula, kale, Brussels sprouts, chard, spinach, and even lettuce up to Thanksgiving.  And even cold hardy brassicas like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower could still be growing in the field. Our entire final planting of broccoli died with the cold temperatures before we got to cut a single stalk. Jury is still out on Brussel Sprouts, spinach and Kale but I’m not holding my breath.  Last year we also got hit with nights in the teens early on. I’m hoping next year we get spared unseasonable cold weather! But I’m also grateful for all the storage crops we do have and all the help we had to bring them in. It was a successful fall harvest season! And staying inside all day this past Tuesday was certainly a welcome break from the nonstop hustle of the year!

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thousands of pounds of various root vegetables made their way from the field to the cooler
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Harvesting purple top turnips in the sun
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Bulk bin rutabaga harvest

 

Recipes

Chimichurri (make this! we tossed it with roasted veggies and couscous and also put dollops on pizza)

Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup

Carrot and Turnip Hash with fresh herbs and fried eggs

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CSA Week 24

236E31CF-F416-4FA9-A966-D2E6D0B070C8This Week’s Harvest

Sweet Potatoes

Butternut Squash

Cilantro

Swiss Chard

Head Lettuce

Carrots

Golden Beets

Red Onions

Beauty Heart Radishes

Rutabaga

Spinach

Brussels Sprouts

Apple Share

Fuji and Gold Rush

Farm News

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Phew, we can put another CSA season in books! We continue to learn and grow (in multiple ways– veggies, the business, our pool of knowledge!) making the CSA a great way for folks to get their veggies. This year we were able to invest in the farm with several pack shed upgrades. A new cooler housed all of summer squash in the summer and is now nearly at capacity with potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage, and onions. The rinse conveyer has sped up the washing process and saved us hundreds of hours (which, by the way, somehow get filled elsewhere on the farm) Even the simple fact of adding lights to the barn (which was still complicated enough that it took over 10 years to install!) has been an enormous improvement to the space and process.

We continue to struggle with equipment, which isn’t all that surprising when you are dealing with old equipment. Here are just a few of the things that broke this season: the well pump, the harvest truck’s brake lines, the undercutter while in the middle of a onion bed, the market truck’s catalytic converter AND fuel pump, one G’s transmission and another G’s clutch, the key switch on the Farmall, and the water pump on the John Deere. Don’t think that covers it all but you get the picture!

At this point equipment malfunctions come with the territory, just like variable weather. We have come to realize that there are unknowns to every season and we are often at the mercy of things out of our control. So we focus on the things we can control–crop planning, soil health, irrigation, cultivation. We and the crew work hard at these things! Despite the hiccups, the hard work pays off. For me this year’s highlight was the sweet corn! After a rough start with birds coming in and feasting on the tips of the 1st planting, the 2nd and 3rd plantings were perfect! I also liked all the new pepper varieties we tried. Remember the scallions from the start of the season? Those were the prettiest we’ve ever grown!

We hope you, too,  have enjoyed the literal fruits of our labor! Thank you for your season long support!619EB045-97F0-463C-80A4-F12500EA5458

Recipes

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Swiss chard

Roasted Sweet Potato and Picked Beet Sandwich

Ginger Curry with Rutabaga and Brussels Sprouts

Coming up 1st week of extended season (our best guess)……Carrots, Purple Potatoes, Kale, Onions, Red Cabbage, Braising Greens, Brussels sprouts, Gold Ball Turnips, Spinach, Parsley

 

 

 

 

CSA Week 23

This Week’s HarvestB6C25A95-007A-4655-B151-E44EDD3F7098

cabbage

sweet potatoes

carrots

acorn squash

potatoes

radish (daikon or red round)

spinach

purple cauliflower OR romanesco

red onion

salad turnips

braising greens

Apple Share

Gold Rush and Fuji

Farm News

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First day of planting 2019

We can’t do what we do without our crew! This year we enjoyed the return of Audrey, Dan, Courtney, Kelly and Sophia to the farm and welcomed Nate full time. Nate first learned of our farm 10 years ago when his parents participated in the first years of our CSA program! We also had several part-time workers throughout the summer, welcoming a college student, aspiring farmer, and massage therapist. At the height of the season, on the busiest days of the week, we’d have 7 staff in addition to ourselves. Most people on the farm have to be well versed in all aspects of the farm, but we do have staff specialize in certain tasks. Dan focuses on tractor work and can do anything we throw at him. This year was Audrey’s second one on the tractor and she added additional tractor tasks to her repertoire, such as mowing and bed shaping. She can also handle anything we throw at her! Nate and Courtney hold down the fort in the packing shed and pack CSA boxes, wash veggies and do the wholesale pack.

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Dan cultivates beets with the finger weeders
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Audrey drives on potato planting day
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Nate and Audrey plant summer squash

Recently we’ve called on Mile Creek alum, Brittany,  to help us see the season through. We are grateful that Brittany — who last helped us make beautiful market bouquets back when we grew flowers– is able to help us a couple days a week to bring in the fall harvest! And just today we found ourselves unexpectedly short 2 crew members with a jam packed day and had to call on a friend (think harvesting, washing, and bagging for CSA, washing 950 lbs of radishes for wholesale, and picking 300 lbs of kohlrabi also for wholesale).  Taking advantage of the fact that I know our fellow market gardener and neighbor, Stephen Cook, typically takes Mondays off, I frantically texted him this morning. Fortunately he is a saint (he would down play and just say “good friend” ), and left his own to-do list to come help us harvest.`

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Stephen Cook, of Cook’s Garden, helps us out in a pinch!

Needless to say we are grateful to everyone who has had a hand in helping our farm hum along, some days more conventionally than other days. And we are grateful to our customers! For those of you whose biweekly season comes to an end this week, thank you and we hope you enjoyed it! One more week for our weekly and other set of biweekly members left before our regular season comes to an end and our extended season begins.

Recipes

Turnip and Potato Soup

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Garlicky Beans and Greens (Use braising greens, turnip greens, and/or spinach in place of collards)

Roasted Roots with Tumeric-Tahini Sauce (good choices for roasting this week are carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, turnips, daikon or regular radish, cabbage, and acorn squash)

Hippie Bowls with Secret Sauce (substitute green cabbage for red. Substitute cauliflower for broccoli)

Coming up next week (our best guess…..) Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Rutabaga, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Broccoli, Beets, Potatoes, Purple Top Turnips

CSA Week 22

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This Week’s Harvest

Bok Choi

Daikon Radish

Potatoes

Garlic

Sweet Onions

Honeynut Squash

Carrots

Parsley

Tomatoes (last of the year!)

Purple Cauliflower

Salad Mix OR Head Lettuce

Apple Share

Winesap and Gold Rush

Farm News

In addition to our CSA and 2nd Street Market stand we have a third outlet for our produce- wholesale through our Co-Op, Great River Organics. I’ve mentioned our Co-op here before but now I’ll talk about our main contribution to the Co-op. Each of the farms that makes up the Co-op has agreed to grow certain crops so individual farms can grow a lot of just a few vegetables but as a collective we can pull all the different vegetables we grow together and send a nice lengthy list of available produce to grocery stores, restaurants, institutions, etc. Our main crop for the co-op was summer squash. We grew over 20,000 lbs of it for the Co-op!

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Planting the first round of summer squash before a rain storm
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Third round of squash was very productive
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Harvesting the third round in foreground while planting the 4th round in the background

To do this we planted 4 rounds of around 2,500 plants each and picked daily from the end of June to end of September!

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Harvesting squash while the sun begins to set

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Lots of squash to pick!

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weeding the plastic edges with the cultivating tractor

Looking at the fields today you wouldn’t know they produced thousands upon thousands of pounds of squash. We were diligent about mowing the old plants as soon as we were done harvesting to help keep the cucumber beetle and squash bug populations down. We also managed to stay on top of lifting the plastic out.  On Friday we chisel plowed the fields and on Sunday Ben spent all day seeding cover crop and discing to cover the seed, finishing just in time for Monday’s light rain!

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Audrey mows the old zucchini and hopefully kills 1 billion cucumber beetles in the process
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After seeding the fields in cover crop, we run the discs through to smooth the fields and  incorporate the seed

 

Recipes

Garlic Parsley Potatoes

Cantonese Chicken and Bok Choi Fried Rice

Butternut Squash Waffles

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess….) cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, acorn squash, potatoes, black Spanish radish, rutabaga, spinach, purple cauliflower and more!

 

CSA Week 21

22F58778-7045-4B45-8587-6771FA399822This Week’s Harvest

Fennel

Salad Mix

Napa Cabbage

Purple Kohlrabi with tops

Potatoes

Beets

Garlic

Red Onions

Butter Lettuce

Tomatoes

Assorted Peppers (the only hot pepper is 1 jalapeño and the rest are sweet peppers)

Apple Share

Winesap (red and tart) and Fuji (red and sweet)

Farm News

We had great weather, a nice turnout, and a delicious spread of food for our CSA member farm tour and potluck! I sadly forgot to take pictures, which is something I actually forget to do every year. Thanks to everyone for coming!

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We were so ready for the change in weather and have been loving these past few sunny and mild days. On Friday, before the cold front moved through, we finished up our sweet potato harvest. We got the final sweet potatoes out just before the rain settled in which was nice, but unfortunately for us, we still had things to pick. With a frost advisory in effect for the weekend, we wanted to pick some peppers for CSA and basil and beans for market before the crops got toasted. We scouted for any remaining peppers while rain dripped from our hat brims and lugged our crates of peppers through the increasingly muddy fields. While I’m grateful for the rain, I’m a farmer and can’t help but complain that it could have waited a couple hours! The crew got dry and headed home and Ben and I remained out in the field. Tomatoes were also on the list but we ran out of daylight. Fortunately for us, on Monday the tomatoes were still alive! So we pulled another 350 lbs of maters off the plants for CSA. Hard to believe we’ll have tomatoes in both week 21 and week 22 of the CSA! Savor these last few tomatoes!

Recipes

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Sauce

Beet Pesto Pizza (use kohlrabi leaves in place of kale)

Asian Chicken Cabbage Salad

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess….) purple cauliflower, potatoes, garlic, parsley, carrots, honeynut squash, head lettuce, radishes and tomatoes