CSA Week 13

IMG_6936This Week’s Harvest

Garlic

Tomatoes

Edamame Beans

Beets

Basil

Yellow Watermelon

Zucchini

Okra (Thursday only)

Mini sweet “lunch box” bell peppers

Sweet Onion

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Red Potatoes

Farm News

As both a farmer and as a student of history (it was my major in college), I was pretty ashamed I did not know about the topic of African American land loss that took place in the twentieth century in the south until I read “The Great Land Robbery” in the current issue of The Atlantic. The article lays out arguments why the number of African American farmers decreased from 1 million during WW1 to just 18,000 in 1992. It points to discriminatory lending practices both within government agencies and banks. For example, the 1997 lawsuit against the USDA, Pigford v. Glickman, awarded thousands of black farmers settlements of over $6 million for discrimination that had occurred in the agency between 1981 and 1996.  I cannot attempt to summarize the vast information contained within the article so I just recommend you read it. And if you are strapped for time, PBS NewsHour interviewed the author and that 8 minute video is found here: how-southern-black-farmers-were-forced-from-their-land-and-their-heritage

Another informative article covering land loss within the African American population in the south that also came out this summer is in ProPublica. This article focuses on “heirs’ property” and explains how this confusing and risky type of land ownership contributed to African Americans losing about 90% of their farmland from 1910 to 1970.

It is August and the farm to-do list hasn’t been complete since March. Yet it was important for me to find time to read these 2 articles this weekend. It is crucial that as I try to contribute in my small way to a more sustainable food and farming system full of thriving small family farms, I know the history of African American family farms- from the promise of “40 acres and a mule” after the Civil War to the present situation laid out in the articles.  I’ve always enjoyed that organic vegetable farming touches on so many important issues from soil health to human health. Now I have one more lens with which to view my work.

Recipes

Edamame with Cranberries, Basil and Feta (use your fresh edamame. you can boil the pods whole in salted water for 5 to 7 minutes. Once cooled, simply pop the beans our of the pod)

Zucchini Noodles with Beets and Lemon Tahini

Tomato Pie

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…..) sweet corn, watermelon, kale, green beans, edamame, tomatoes, eggplant

 

CSA Week 12

This Week’s HarvestIMG_6851

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Beefsteak Tomatoes

Okra (Tuesday only. Thursday will get it next week)

Sweet Corn

Sweet Italian Peppers

Red Bell Peppers

Cantaloupe OR Yellow Watermelon

Basil

Red Potatoes

Sweet Onions

Garlic

Zucchini

Farm News

This spring I was asked to join the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s  (OEFFA) Policy Council.  OEFFA promotes a more sustainable food system and the Policy Council helps guide the organization’s priorities. The Policy Council is made up of farmers, food makers, advocates and consumers that advise and evaluate the policy work that OEFFA takes up.

Back in July we had our first conference call and were briefed on OEFFA’s main policy goals. These include “invest[ing] in the regional food economy, support[ing] agriculture practices that pay ecosystem dividends, and facilitat[ing] agriculture for the next generation.” OEFFA has done much to support all of these areas including promoting the work of the Ohio Food Policy Network,  providing resources for farmers who want to transition to organic, and connecting landowners with aspiring but landless young farmers.  OEFFA’s work is working. Results from the most recent Agriculture Census that was just conducted this past year show that Ohio ranks second for the number of acres being transitioned to organic production systems. Ohio farmland acreage also saw an increase by nearly 5,000 acres.

There has been much progress towards creating a more sustainable food system but there is so much more work to be done! For example, I learned that Ohio only has one certified organic meat processing facility for the entire state. That prohibitive reality most likely deters meat farmers from becoming certified organic.  I’m looking forward to my continued discussions with the policy council and hope to contribute to the conversation! I’ll keep you posted on OEFFA’s progress on these important issues!

IMG_6897Recipes

Sweet Corn Wheat Berry Salad

Potatoes with Tomatoes and Basil

Fresh Tomato Soup

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess…….) Edamame Beans, Acorn Squash, Basil, Onions, Garlic, Potatoes, Okra, Watermelon, Tomatoes, Peppers

 

 

 

CSA Week 11

IMG_6776This Week’s Harvest

Sweet Corn

Salad Mix

Cantaloupe

Sweet Peppers (both red bells and orange Italian)

Poblano Peppers

Fairytale Eggplant

Zucchini

Tomatoes

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Sweet Onion

Farm News

The highlight of our week has been our sweet corn success! Birds mutilated the first round despite our setting up the trick that worked last year– a propane powered noise cannon that makes a really loud bang throughout the day.

IMG_2939So we went the old scare balloon route for this next round. Setting the balloons up was a great activity to involve the kids with. Isla was in charge of sticking the reflective “eye” stickers on the balloons and Evan used our air compressor to quickly inflate the balloons. We all went out to the patch and strategically placed the 6 balloons throughout the beds. We zip-tied the balloons to long PVC pipes we had lying around from past projects. Next we drove rebar into the ground to set our posts. We slipped the PVC pipe over the rebar and –voila!– scare balloons hovering above the corn acting as protectors of the patch!

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We were ecstatic with the effectiveness of the balloons and reflective tape– and the sudden quiet that fell over the farm without the noise cannon running! Of course nothing goes perfectly on the farm and yesterday morning I noticed a 10 ft section of corn that had been visited by a raccoon. They can do some serious damage! Last night I set up a radio in the patch to play all night in hopes that the human voices would keep any nocturnal animals away. My quick assessment this morning tells me it worked!

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Recipes

Corn and Poblano Soup

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Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess……..) Salad Mix, Basil, Watermelon, Sweet Peppers, Sweet Corn, Garlic, Potatoes (I promise!!), Tomatoes

CSA Week 10

This Week’s Harvest

Heirloom Tomatoes

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Slicer Tomatoes

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Red and Gold Beets

Shishito Peppers 

Cabbage

Sweet Onions

Poblano Peppers

Italian Eggplant

Fairy Tale Eggplant

Tomatillos (last of the season!)

 

Farm News

Hello! This is Ben writing the blog this week. I haven’t written a blog post in a couple of years (!?!), but Emily drafted me to do so this week because she wanted to write about equipment and that’s really my role on the farm. It probably comes as no surprise that we are very dependent upon equipment – from coolers, to greenhouses, tractors, trucks, etc. – to make the farm work. We’ve spent years acquiring, building, modifying and repairing the things that make it possible for us to grow, harvest, wash and distribute produce to you. Not surprisingly sometimes things go more smoothly than others, but for 12 years now we’ve made it work!

I’ve come to like the ebb and flow of problem solving that comes with acquiring and maintaining a diverse set of tools to match our growing operation. There are always things that we do to improve operations on the farm and there are always things to fix. So if, or rather when, things break on the farm it gives us a chance to evaluate our systems and figure out if we need to upgrade our tools or scale back what we are trying to do with them.

For example we use Allis Chalmers model G tractors to cultivate all of the crops that we grow on the farm. If you aren’t familiar with these tractors just take a look at these images and you can see that these tractors are strange little machines. They work great for an organic farm of our size, the only downside is that they are old! They are literally 70 year old technology that we use and depend on daily.

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At the beginning of the season the engine went out on our G that we had been using for 10 years. Without time to rebuild the engine we went out and bought another tractor. This tractor had been updated with a modern engine. This modification was somewhat of a prototype, and it turns out that the design needs some work because this updated set up has destroyed two transmissions! So, the saga continues and today we are purchasing another G with the original engine to hopefully get us through the rest of this year.

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The plan right now is to hopefully make it through next year with our fleet of old cultivating tractors while saving enough money to invest in something more modern and reliable. In the meantime if you should happen to have any questions about fixing/maintaining an Allis Chalmers G don’t hesitate to ask!

Recipes

Chicken with Tomatillos and Poblanos (use some shishito peppers in place of bell pepper)

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake) you can use grated sweet onions in place of scallions and you can also add any other grated vegetable such as carrot, peppers, kohlrabi, zucchini)

Beet and Cabbage Borscht

Eggplant Parmigiana

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess…..) Sweet Italian Peppers, Fairytale Eggplant, Cantaloupe, Tomatoes, Salad Mix, Potatoes, Poblano Peppers and more!

CSA Week 9

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This Week’s Harvest

Tomato (first of the season!)

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Sweet Corn

Shishito Peppers 

Carrots

Red Onions

Zucchini

Bell Peppers

Green Beans

Purple Kohlrabi

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Farm News

We are grateful for our crew always, but particularly during holidays and heat waves. You see, farmers don’t stop for summer holidays like July 4 and Labor Day and we work through heat and rain.  On Thursday and Friday we shifted our start time earlier and were able to quit by 3. In addition to the usual harvest this week, we had a lot of greenhouse seeding for fall crops scheduled and the first big round fall crops ready for planting. It is certainly not ideal to plant tender seedlings in 95 degree heat, for both the plants and humans’ sake, but we didn’t really have any other options. Actually we are lucky we got a planting window in between a couple inches of rainfall this week. It’s always fun to plant for fall–it reminds me that while we are in the midst of the daily July grind, we are continuing the overarching rhythm of the farm and setting us up for a productive fall. IMG_6712

And while we manage the farm’s fall preparation, we harvest the summer offerings and stuff our faces with the tastes of summer– sweet corn, green beans, sungolds.  We hope you all enjoy it all as much as we do!

Recipes

Summer Succotash

Kohlrabi, Carrot and Zucchini Fritters

Shishito Peppers and Parmesan Lime Corn

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess……..) Shishito Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Beets, Tomatillos, Kohlrabi, Cabbage 

 

 

 

 

CSA Week 8

This Week’s HarvestIMG_6655

Green Beans

Fairytale Eggplant

Salad Mix

Sweet Onions

Cucumber

Garlic

Jalapeno Peppers

Tomatillos

Kale

Celery

Zucchini

Garlic

Farm News

We have made the transition from spring crops to summer ones. This is the last week of cooking greens until fall (I thought the Swiss chard was going to hang on but it looks pretty fried so we went with kale, which had a really good run this year). Head lettuce, spinach and arugula are through as well, so any salad greens in our summer boxes will take the form of our lettuce mix.  With the end of the cooler crops comes the beginnings of the summer crops. We are happy to include fairytale eggplant and green beans this week!

Tomatoes would have been in the box too, but our field planted ones aren’t ready yet and our hoophouse planted ones had a complete meltdown. Our crop rotation in the hoop houses is limited because we only have 2 of them.  So every other year we are growing tomatoes in the same ground. I think disease in the soil might be a problem. The other issue is that we installed our hoophouses before we really knew the lay of the land and they are in in a low spot that stays pretty wet in the spring. A few years back, when we had drainage tile installed, we put some tile lines in near the hoophouses, but we really need drainage directly under the houses as well.  This, of course, isn’t free and yet another investment we need to make to improve the farm.

Farmer friends of ours had issues with hoophouse tomatoes and had the soil tested. Turns out their water source is slightly acidic and years and years of use brought the pH of the soil way up and the tomatoes reacted poorly to the basic soil. So now they simply lower the water pH by filtering an acidic additive in when they water and have had great results. We don’t really know what’s going on until we get the soil tested and can game plan from there. Doesn’t really help us out for this year but soon enough we’ll be rolling in tomatoes! Our field tomatoes look fantastic! On Friday, we planted our final round of tomatoes, which meant we got all three planned plantings in the ground and should have a supply until frost (knock on wood!)

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Staking and tying round 2 of tomatoes

Recipes

Green Bean and Celery Casserole

Celery And Cucumber Salad 

Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini Wraps

Tacos with Green Beans and Tomatillo Salsa

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…..) Fairytale Eggplant, Green Beans, Radishes, Bell Peppers, Shishito Peppers, Red Onions, Zucchini, Carrots, Sweet Corn

 

CSA Week 7

This Week’s HarvestIMG_6582

Carrots

Cucumber

Zucchini and/or Summer Squash

Sweet Onions

Garlic

Salad Mix

Tendersweet Cabbage

Celery

Basil 

Tomatillos

Jalapeño Peppers

Farm News

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Oh July, you are a shock every year, even though we’ve been doing this 12 years. Vegetable farming is a marathon that you have to sprint! There is so much that needs to be done and not enough hours in the day or days in the week to complete it all!

We currently have 7 acres of vegetables planted, 3 coolers full of produce, and a greenhouse that is quickly filling back up with seedlings for fall. Weed pressure is high, bug pressure is higher, and the crops don’t stop needing our attention wether it be picking, tomato staking, irrigating, or fertilizing.

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This weekend we just wanted to nap (Ben) or watch the World Cup (Emily), but winter is for resting and relaxing, maybe a day or two in the fall, but certainly not in July. We sat over our morning coffee and tried to prioritize the to do list and come up with a game plan. It’s very stressful knowing that you can’t get to everything. The fact that it had dried out quick a bit, coupled with the heat and no rain in the forecast, made irrigating the entire farm a necessity that felt very daunting. We started our Sunday with no prospects of rain–both weather sites we use had a 10% chance of rain. So it was decided Ben would have to spend time getting water set up on the squash during the day and sweet corn during the night.

Fast forward to early afternoon and we were nearly done with our squash harvest for the day.  It had cooled off considerably and the cloud cover that had been with us all harvest started to thicken. Even so, rain was not on our radar so our pick pace reminded the same–fast but not frantic. When we got to the final row, though, we realized that it was in fact going to rain. Ben ran to get the tractor that sits in the middle of the field and houses all our picked crates as I speed down the final bed harvesting like a maniac (nothing like the threat of rain to kick you into high gear). We got the field picked and crates loaded, but not before getting SOAKED. The release of pressure to irrigate the entire farm right away far outweighed any feeling of discomfort. We happily road in (did I mention the squash field is the farthest field from the barn?), so amazed that this surprise storm hit us and actually produced enough rain to take a couple days off irrigating. Not only that, it meant that half the things on our to do list we could no longer do, so our decision making was decided for us and the day’s tasks suddenly became much more manageable.

However, now it’s 1 day later and dry enough to do all the things! Fortunately it’s no longer the weekend and we have a hard working dedicated crew to help us have a productive week!

 

Recipes

Celery Tomatillo Chutney

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Pesto

Cabbage Soup

Chicken and Zucchini Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess….) Fairytale Eggplant, Zucchini, Sweet Onions, Swiss Chard, Bell Peppers, Radishes, Salad Mix, Celery, Carrots