CSA Week 17

IMG_7118This Week’s Harvest

Salad Mix

Arugula

Radish Bunches

Delicata Winter Squash

Kale

Tomatoes

Eggplant

Mini Sweet Bell Peppers

Romano Green Beans

Red Onions

Golden Zucchini

Garlic

Apple Share

Honeycrisp (greener, tart and crisp) and Gala (sweet, small red)

Farm News

This week on the farm has been all about keeping the crew and plants hydrated and cool.    Unfortunately it hasn’t rained in 3 weeks and with it also being so warm, it is hard to keep everything properly watered. As soon as we run the irrigation on something it feels like the next day it needs water again! Our irrigation gun that runs on an automatic reel is only 300 ft long. This is the length of most of our fields, but we are currently growing in 2 fields that are over 400 ft long. This means we have to do 2 passes with the water reel to get the entire length of the field. That coupled with the fact that we are running the reel very slowly to give a good solid soaking just means getting water to everything is a slow process. When its dry like this, we run the irrigation 24/7 and have to set up water in the dark to run overnight. Hopefully by the end of the week, we’ve hit everything and we just repeat the process the next week. Oh and I didn’t even mention that some days we run the irrigation gun are super windy and we just cross our fingers everything gets hit.

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The back half of this field ran overnight and the front half gets watered during the day
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Dusty and hot potato harvests fill our days

We are pretty tried of late night water set-up dates and hot sticky days. The only saving grace is the time year this dry spell is hitting us. We have less crops we are actively watering and the sun sets earlier giving us some respite from the heat.

Also we’ve made some adjustments to our crop plan that are really panning out. In years past we’ve started our fall brassicas a couple weeks earlier than we did this year. But the last couple of years we’ve had the first round of broccoli and cauliflower succumb to disease as September seems to remain hot and humid (the perfect weather for breeding fungal diseases). So we nixed a handful brassicas entirely from the first round of brassicas and pushed everything back 2 weeks. July 4th was my old target planting date for fall brassica planting to begin and now we are looking at July 20th as our new first planting date.  I am so glad we aren’t trying to harvest broccoli in 90 degree heat!

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First round of fall brassicas now only includes kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts and is planted 2 weeks later than it used to be. 

I’m glad we are able to adjust and continue to grow a wide variety of vegetables for our customers! And I know that come November,  I’ll be missing this warm weather!

Recipes

Kashkeh Bademjan (this eggplant recipe was shared on our Facebook CSA group page)

Italian Breaded and Baked Vegetables 

Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomatoes with Arugula

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess……) Swiss Chard, Radishes, Salad Mix, Honeynut Squash, Bok Choi, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Onions, Poblano Peppers

 

 

 

CSA Week 16

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Tomatoes

Kale

Sweet Onions

Potatoes

Garlic

Green Bell Peppers or Sweet Italian Peppers

Carrots

Romano Beans

Zucchini 

Apple Shares

Mollie’s Delicious ( large, red, sweet and soft texture) and Big Bronze (cross between Golden and Red Delicious developed by our provider, Downing Fruit Farm. Crisp, large green, sweet and tart flavor)

Farm News (In Pictures)

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Found our farm mascot while picking Romanos
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Some how pulling out massive bell peppers amongst the morning glory and cockleburrs
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Seeding more cover crop into pre bedded fields. The little flecks in the picture are rye seed. You can also see the little cultivating tractor in the background weeding radishes
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Fertilizing crops through the irrigation with compost tea
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Potato Harvest underway. 4 of 15 beds harvested
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Fall brassica field nicely weeded and growing well
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Audrey mows the old zucchini and hopefully kills 1 billion cucumber beetles in the process
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First sign of fall! Also hoping this spider kills 1 billion cucumber beetles

Recipes

Kale Quiche with Potato Crust

Creamy Potato Kale Soup

Shepard’s Pie with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Green Beans

Coming Up Next Week (Our Best Guess)… Salad Mix, Arugula,  Kale, Tomatoes, Honeynut Squash, Garlic, Mini Bell Peppers, Romano Beans

 

CSA Week 15

67C21A9A-4DD9-4001-98FC-409CFDD7E54CThis Week’s Harvest

Tomatoes

Basil

Red Bell Peppers

Jalapeno Peppers

Delicata Squash and Carnival Squash

Sweet Corn (last of the season!)

Melons (Watermelon and/or Cantaloupe) (Last of the season!)

Carrots

Kennebec Potatoes

Green Beans

Apple Share

Gala (red and sweet) and Honeycrisp (greener and sweet and tart)

Farm News (in pictures)

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Ben teaches Evan how to drive the tractor!
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Another great haul of sweet corn!
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Weekly planting continues, but the number of flats to be planted each week is decreasing
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The latest broken thing on the farm: the harvest truck’s brakes
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Successful round of summer carrots! Does not happen often
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cover crop starting to pop!
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Butternuts are in and the winter squash harvest is complete!

 

Recipes

Green Beans Braised in Tomatoes with Basil

Thai Yellow Curry with Potatoes, Green Beans, and Carrots

Creamy Corn Grits with Butternut Squash and Fresh Corn (use either the delicate squash or carnival squash or both in place of butternut)

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Potatoes, Garlic, Romano Beans, Carrots, Tomatoes, Kale, Zucchini, Bell Peppers, Sweet Onions  

CSA Week 14


IMG_6907This Week’s Harvest

Watermelon (yellow or red)

Cantaloupe

Edamame Beans

Kale

Winter Squash (Delicata and Carnival)

Red Onions

Tomatoes

Red Bell Peppers

Sweet Italian Peppers

Japanese Eggplant

Basil

Sweet Corn

Farm News

Ben and I have a work ethic that’s probably borderline insane and this is particular true when significant rainfall creeps into the forecast. From Monday to Sunday we’ve been working nonstop getting the farm in good shape before yesterday’s rain.

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Our winter squash crop is ready to harvest and so far we’ve got everything but the butternuts in and curing in the dry barn. This includes acorn, delicata, carnival, pie pumpkins and a new mini butternut variety called Honeynut. Cucumber beetles and squash bugs will nibble on the fruits and powdery mildew can cause them to not store well. We were beginning to see evidence of both in the field. Butternuts are much more hardy so we are okay with them still being out in the field, but very glad everything else got harvested. Winter Squash is a fun crop to harvest as you can see in this video!

 

 

Next up was planting our final round of brassica transplants, including bok choi, kohlrabi and broccoli, as well as seeding our direct seeded brassicas including radishes, turnips, and greens. We had beautiful soil to plant into thanks to it being in rye and vetch cover crop over the winter and spring AND buckwheat in the early summer! Three rounds of planting and a few direct seeded beds give us 2 acres of various brassicas for the fall boxes. Actually we started picking from the field this week with the kale!

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The fall brassica field
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Taking care of weeds
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Final round of plants hit the dirt

The final push came this weekend when we were hoping to plant all of our finished fields to cover crop. This is a multi step process that involves discing, making beds, spreading the seed and then lightly raking the seed in to cover it. With the cooler and wetter forecast coming, we knew we had a perfect window. We had our employee Dan come in Sunday to help spread the seed (1,500 lbs!) over about 12 acres! The delicata squash picture above (at the start of the farm news) shows the fields that we put in cover crop. While Dan was busy with that project, Ben was hustling to cultivate everything in sight before he lost sight! Dan went home after all the seed was spread and Ben still had to drive over the 12 acres with the tractor and rake to cover the seed. This is an easy enough job to do by headlamp so he waited till it was dark and continued his cultivating in the meantime.

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Cultivating the plastic edges of our final squash planting

We had a quick bite to eat at 9:30 pm (didn’t mention that I was busy all day putting together a special order of  over 500 lbs of vegetables) and went back out to finish our jobs. Ben finished covering the cover crop seed around 3 in the morning and I turned off the pack barn light at 2 am. Needless to say we were so thankful for yesterday’s rain that forces us to actually stop and rest. At least for a little bit!

Recipes

Roasted Delicata Squash and Kale Salad

Ratatouille and Polenta Bowls

Ladera (Eggplant and Peppers with Basil) 

Coming up next week (our best guess……) Sweet corn, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, winter squash, red onions, watermelon, peppers

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

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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