Farm Newsletter October 2, 2017


Farm Newsletter October 2, 2017

Farm News        Crop Forecast

 U-Pick       Recipes       Nuts and Bolts



Join us again next year with a farm share!

Details coming this week in a separate email — an easy online order form and payment method, and a couple news items about changes for next year.

Sogn Valley Craft Fair this Coming Weekend, Storage Share open for sign up,

A Farm Tour and Climate Conversation at Main Street Project Farm on 315th St,

and a Fermentations Class Here on the Farm —

All in Nuts and Bolts, below.

Hello Friends!

Holy Squash , its October!!!

Last weekend was fun with its heat, and gave a lot of veggies a last push, which we always appreciate; but it was a little disorienting.  Now we’re back to these more average temperatures, and several veggies falling off the wagon — which sometimes happens but in this case I mean they’re done for the season — and the vegetable selection is catching up with the calendar.  We think this is the longest we’ve ever had good cucumbers, and they were actually productive until last week, not just a dwindling amount of funky-looking ones.

We hope you notice and appreciate how green the farm is now, and the next couple months heading into winter.  It is in part due to the fact that we grow a lot of fall crops, which are still living in the fields and waiting to be harvested.  But over 2/3 of the farm is already in soil-building cover crops — some has been since spring or summer, and some was planted this month or this past weekend.  The shiny emerald of the carpets of grasses and clovers coming up in the fall light — this is one of the stop-us-in-our tracks spectacular sights of fall, a reminder of what has been this summer and of how short a time til the carpet is white.

And, truly, it is the reminder of the bigger cycle, of next year’s veggies coming along, and of keeping the soil healthy for those who come after us.  That carpet of green winter wheat, or the tall waving stalks of sorghum-sudangrass — these are only the “tip of the iceberg”, the indicator of all the awesome life and activity happening in the soil.  Having living plants in the soil helps keep the soil bacterial and fungal communities active and diverse through fall and winter, and ready to go in the spring.  And the cycles of microbes eating plant matter and eating other microbes, digesting them and excreting the waste — this is what feeds the veggies that feed all of us.  We add various nutrients and compost to help the process along, but that is useless without the tiniest of the tiny, living in the soil and by far outnumbering us humans who walk around like we own the place.

So we go on, a little too busy and distracted by machines, piles of veggies or other “priorities,” but sometimes stopped in our tracks, and trying to keep all that in mind.

We hope that future years will be as good to farmers everywhere as this year has been to us on this farm — it is a rare year when there is not a week we have to worry about how much is in the share, in quantity or variety.   By this time of fall we’re usually looking around for whatever veggies we can put in the share to give you enough choice to keep the selection interesting and a good mix to cook with.   This September we’ve had so much summer stuff so late that we’ve been holding off with some fall veggies like celeriac and the cool radishes.  This week we’ll start in on those.

Thanks for sharing in the bounty with us!


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Crop Forecast

The rain is good for all those little buggers underground, and the cover crops, perennials and forests, but, for the record, in case you were wondering, we’d like the next four weeks to be dry.  It makes getting root crops out of the ground, and then washing them off, ten times easier, when we’re working in loose dry soil, not sticky mud.

Winter squash — Butternut, Buttercup, Ambercup, Acorn and Carnival are all ready now.  The acorn and carnival are more ready than the rest, but all have developed some very good flavors.  In a week or so they’ll be even better, but they’re good now, and everyone in our house can’t stop stuffing our mouths full of them.  You’ll have your choice of 2 squash this week again, and probably each week going forward.

Remember — the easiest way to cook winter squash — cut in half with a big knife, scoop out the seeds with a big spoon, oil a pan lightly or just wipe some on the skin touching the pan, and roast at 350-400 degrees for 1 – 1.5 hours.   Once you remember in advance and then take 5-10 minutes to get them in the oven, most of the work is done.  Once they’re soft, remove from oven.  Scoop out the flesh, and serve as is, or flourished with butter, syrup, hot peppers or whatever you like.  We like to roast several on the weekend, eat some warm, and the rest keeps the whole week in the fridge.  From the fridge they are great in, on top of or next to salad (spinach!), pasta with cheese or tomato sauce, soup, curries or nearly any meal at all.

Tomatoes tomatoes–  We do wish we had tomatoes to go along with all that squash, but late blight has spoken, and our late planting has bit the dust.  In fact, it’s already been mowed and cover cropped, so those beneficial microbes can outcompete (ie eat) the late blight fungus before it gets to multiply any more.  The earlier plantings have run their course, and the hoophouse yields aren’t enough to have even one per share.  Normally without fr-st we would have a few tomatoes for the next week or two ; this is our one crop shortage so far this fall.  We wish it weren’t so, but when life gives you squash, make squash!

Peppers — Still going, and should be in the share next week too, maybe longer.  We may get less fussy about shape and coloring, but we try to only put ones out that are good eating quality.   If a pepper isn’t fully red, but you would like it to be — keep it on your counter for a day or two and it should turn more red.  But watch for rot!

Lettuce and spinach continue to stay healthy and grow well.  Spinach looks on track to be good for at least two more weeks, again, maybe longer.  Lettuce we normally have til the end.  Greens too are looking good for the remainder.

The list of veggies that have bit the dust for 2017 :     Summer squash, zucchini and cucumbers — after a long, bountiful season they have finally given up.  Broccoli and cauliflowergrew so vigorous with the hot weather that they all matured early and at once.  Usually we try to meter them out into October, but since each plant only gives one head and they’ve already come in, they have no more to give.  While Erin has been picking them, they keep telling her what Allia was taught in daycare — “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

Watermelon Radish, Purple Daikon Radish, Celeriac and Leeks will join in.  The radishes are gorgeous inside, and mild, and are excellent for dipping, grating or just snacking.  And they’re good in kim chi or sauekraut, if you’re game for a little fermentation — check out the Fermentations Workshop on the 12th!

Celeriac is great with potatoes or in soups.  Leeks are a mild, subtle and more complex cousin of onions, worth using on their own or combine with onions as they add a subtle depth to many dishes where just onions are usually used.  Our website recipe page has several recipes for celeriac and leeks.

Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts we prefer to pick after a decent frost improves their flavor, but lacking that we’d pick them for the last week of pickups.   Sweet Potatoes should be in your share next week –we got them picked last week but they need to cure to get sweeter.  They are looking fabulous!

CabbageKohlrabi and Onions will continue.

Whew!  That’s a lot of veggies!

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What’s for U-Pick?

Raspberries — Not much out there, but they do taste great.

Beans will be done soon, if not already.  Feel free to glean what is left!

Cherry tomatoes and Tomatillos are still holding their own.  Get them before it fr-sts!

Cilantro, mint and lemon balm, and parsley, thyme and oregano –are all doing well.  Basil is unlimited still.  There’s not a whole lot out there, but take what you want and don’t worry about pinching high since it is the end of its season.

Please always check the U-pick board when you’re here to see what’s available and picking amounts.

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Nuts and Bolts

 Thanks to everyone who came to the fundraiser for Harvest for the Hungry!  We haven’t heard the final amount we raised, but we know it was worth it and a great way to share with our neighbors in need.

STORAGE SHARE Version 2 — After about 10 years of doing the storage share as a pre-set amount of each vegetable, our new online order form makes it possible for you to custom order what you want of any, all or none of the fall storage veggies.

You also have the option to order the same standard storage share by clicking one box.  We’ve tried to make it all as easy as possible; it’s in a similar Google format as the Change Pick-up Day Form (and no password required).

Here is the link to the sign-up / order form for the storage share.   The full description and more details are at the beginning of the form.  Please sign up by Friday Oct 20th.

Last Share Pickups are the Week of Oct 16 — this year’s last share pickups will be the week of October 16, and that week you’ll pick up a “double share,” ie two weeks worth of share veggies.  We used to do a pickup the last full week of October, but for our workload it is an almost identical repeat of the week before; we save ourselves many hours of labor by doing the same jobs in bigger chunks, and being “open” one less week.  You can still come U-pick after that week, for kale and herbs and/or whatever else is u-pickable.

Fun with Food Fermentation Workshop with Kirstin Simon — Thursday Oct 12th

Lacto-Ferementing vegetables is both delicious and nutrient packed way to enrich your meals. Essential for gut health and immunity, lacto-fermented goodies are fun to make, kid approved, and a creative way to connect with natures bounty. If you’ve ever wondered how in the world to make this stuff, then this workshop is for you!

You can ferment all year long, but fall at the farm is perfect timing! In this workshop you will be hand guided on how to make your own sauerkraut and ‘crunchy carrots’. You will walk away with 2 (or more!) jars of ready to go ferments to adorn your counter, in addition to some key FAQ handouts. Additionally, there will be many different ferments for you to sample and get inspired by. Hopefully we will all walk away as fast fermenting friends and start to build a local community of inspired laco-foodies!

Cost is $30-35 sliding scale. Bring a friend! Jars and vegetables provided. Must supply your own very large bowl and chosen ‘pounder’ of choice. Space is limited to 15.Workshop questions can be answered by contacting Kirstin at Register with Erin at Open Hands Farm at

Bio–Kirstin has been nerding out about fermented foods for years now, and enjoys the yummy mix of art and science that she has discovered fermenting to be. Her kitchen mirrors an apothecary of mysterious delicious looking jars, of which her family has been very patient with trying things over the years! She believes fermentation to be a way to connect with our ancestral right for healing, nourishing, and simply delicious food.

SOGN VALLEY CRAFT FAIR is this COMING WEEKEND , Saturday and Sunday Oct 7-8.  Awesome art, location and way to spend part of a fall day.  Something for everyone!  We’re there selling veggies on Saturday, stop by and say hi. has directions and more info. 

Farm Tour and Climate Conversation —Can Regenerative Farming stop Climate Chaos?

Join MN350 and Main Street Project for an evening of climate conversation, local food and a farm tour of Main Street Project’s new 100-acre R&D farm.
A farm that puts climate justice into action by revitalizing soil, sequestering carbon, producing delicious food and providing a livelihood
for a great community.
The MN350 “Let’s Talk climate” conversation is an engaging, participatory; fact based program we will talk about how to head off catastrophic global warming while making the world more fair. All our stories matter when talking about climate change.  Conversations will focus on the many possibilities for working together for climate justice and supporting regenerative farming.

Join us at Main Street Project Farm –Thursday October 12th

4909 315th Street

Northfield, MN

5:00-6:30 pm

Tour the Farm

Food & Beverage Potluck

(Main Street Project will be providing chicken and would like to open it up to the community to bring a side dish to share.)

6:30- 8:00pm

Climate Conversation

RSVP Brian@MN350.ORG

Bulk Produce for You — Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.

This week’s selection is : Carrots, Beets for $1 / lb.  Red Peppers for $2 / lb.  Lettuce Mix for $5 / lb, Spinach for $4 / lb.  Cabbage for 60 cents/lb.  Kale (new young planting) for $3 / lb.  Garlic is for sale in the barn from now on during share pickup hours, for $1 / head, no need to order ahead.  Thanks!

Share Pickup Hours Monday, Wednesday Friday 2:00-6:00pm. You can U-Pick any time (when U-pick crops are in season.)

Change Pick-Up Day Form — Click here.

Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.

Thank you so much for enjoying the farm!!

Your farmers,

Erin and Ben, with Allia, Fatima, Jaime, Paul, Sahara and Zach



Caramelized Carrots and Shallots with Spinach and Citrus Brown Butter

(Serves 3 or 4)


From Fresh from the Farm by Susie Middleton


Ingredients needed:

-1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

-1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

-½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

-1 pound carrots

-4 shallots (6 to 7 ounces total)

-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

-4 to 5 fresh thyme sprigs

-kosher salt

-2 cups (loosely packed) fresh baby spinach leaves (about 1½ ounces)

-2 tablespoons unsalted butter


In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Peel and trim the carrots and cut them into pieces that are 2 to 3 inches long and ⅜ to ½  inch wide. Peel the shallots, cut them in half, and trim just the hairy part off of the root end (keeping the root end mostly intact will help hold wedges together). Put the shallot halves cut side down on a cutting board and slice them into wedges about ¾ inch wide.

Ina large (12 inch) nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the carrots, shallots, thyme sprigs, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Toss well. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are limp and have lost their opacity, and a few of the carrots are just starting to brown, 8 to 9 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring more frequently, until all the carrots are shrunken and tender and most are browned (the shallots will be very brown), 10 to 12 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and toss with tongs just until wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the thyme sprigs.

In a small skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the milk solids in the butter turn a nutty brown color, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Add the citrus juice mixture to it.

Scrape and pour the citrus brown butter over the carrot mixture. Toss well and taste for salt, adding more if necessary. Transfer to a serving platter or plates and serve right away.


Stuffed Winter Squash

From The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila


Serves 4


2 acorn, delicate, dumpling, or carnival squash, cut in half through the stem and seeded

2 tsp. olive oil, plus more for rubbing the squash and oiling the dish

¾ tsp. kosher salt

6 ounces chorizo or sweet sausage, crumbled or cut into small pieces

1 cup chopped leeks (1 small leek)

1 cup chopped apple (1 to 2 apples)

Freshly ground pepper

2 cups sliced tender greens (spinach, tatsoi, kale, swiss chard), cut into ribbons

4 fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped

2 cups cooked millet, rice, or quinoa

½ cup grated Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rub the flesh of each squash half with olive oil, and oil an ovenproof dish or baking sheet. Sprinkle the whole baking dish with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Lay the squash flesh side down in the dish and bake until it is very tender when pricked with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 425°F.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the leeks to the hot oil and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the apple, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper, and cook for another minute. Add the greens, sage, cooked grains, and reserved chorizo. Cook for another minute, stirring to combine, and remove from heat. Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.
  3. Turn the cooked squash over in the baking dish so it is flesh side up. (Be careful, as steam will escape when you turn it.) Scoop the filling into the cavity of each squash half, piling it into a mountain so that it holds as much as possible. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes.

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