Farm Newsletter October 16, 2017

IMG_0448Farm Newsletter October 16, 2017

Farm News        Crop Forecast

 U-Pick       Recipes       Nuts and Bolts


Join us again next year with a farm share!

Click here to sign up for 2018, or ask one Erin for help with it in the barn.  We hope to hear from everyone by this Friday, Oct. 20th — that’s the deadline to save your spot.  We hope to see you here again next year!

And Sign Up Here for the Storage Share — Pre-set or Customizable, or Both —

Storage Share Pick-Up is Thursday, Nov. 16th.

Winter Store Dates are Second Tuesdays of the month,

Dec 12, January 9, Feb 13.  We will send email reminders the day before.

Final share pickups of 2017 are this week — October 16, 18 and 20.



If we don’t see you at the storage share or around town,

we hope you have a super duper winter.


Hello Friends!

What a beautiful fall, to cap a beautiful summer and harvest!  We hope you’ve enjoyed the farm in your life this year; the food, the place, the people.   We’ve enjoyed the chance to do this work for you, and seeing you here picking in the fields, making new friends and keeping up with old ones, and seeing the kids so comfortable here, and excited about veggies.

We’re glad to hear several of you enjoyed the previous newsletter about cover crops and soil microbiology.  We think about those things every day so we’re excited when others are intrigued, more knowledgeable than us, and/or excited about the wonders of how food gets onto the tables for you.

We realized after sending that newsletter that we forgot to mention that cover cropping and its benefits are getting some detailed and exciting attention from our ag institutions.  Thanks to the hard work of many dozens of farmers, researchers and advocates, the U, with USDA and others, has a program called the “Forever Green Initiative.”  You likely have not heard of it, but it has the potential to change the MN farm landscape in many ways in the coming decades — to help the many acres of MN corn and bean land be green more months of the year (and therefore better for soil biology, water quality, carbon sequestration and more) while making it more profitable, diverse and resilient to climate and economic changes.   They’re also looking at how marginal lands can be planted and managed to be profitable contributors to the environment and to fuel and food economies.  This is a group of very smart people working on cover crops, new grain and oilseed crops, and much much more, with the resources of the U and USDA behind them.  It is very exciting for the future of humans thriving on this planet!  For more info visit  

We aren’t involved with the program; we’re just simple organic veggie farmers, planting and tending and feeding folks as best we can.  They’ve got some exciting new crops and methods they’re researching; we cover crop and feed the soil with compost and minerals because that’s how we learned to farm, and it’s what we keep hearing research recommending and promoting, and we keep seeing better and better results in our own fields and in the fields of friends who farm similarly.  The single biggest improvement our methods would benefit from is to be able to grow veggies at our scale without tilling the soil — that too will take many creative and intelligent minds, and a few good ideas, to figure out.  It’s tricky, because we grow so many different types of crops with different needs, and veggies are bred in and for loose fluffy soil, which is hard to achieve (beyond a large hand-worked garden) with even our 1970s level of mechanization to reduce the heavy workload.  We keep our ears to the ground for progress!

We’re glad there are so many smart folks doing the work of moving farming forward.   We’re all in it together!

We’ve cleaned out the root cellar and started putting a few bins of carrots in there — hopefully later this week and next it will be dry enough to start packing it full with bins and bins of roots to feed folks all winter.   If you come by to U-pick in the next couple of weeks you might see us driving tractors in circles getting it out of the ground, or on our hands and knees pulling by hand, or starting to wash some of it in the barn.  The forecast is looking dry and sunny so far; we and a lot of farmers of all stripes are hopeful the forecast holds!

Thanks so much for being in this farm together with us this year.   Here’s to many more!

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Crop Forecast

The frost was uneventful for us, mainly because we didn’t have to cover anything to keep it alive — the tomatoes were already dead from diseases, the peppers we could pick the next day if they got hit hard (which they didn’t), basil is so tender it takes so much cover to protect it that it’s not worth doing this late, and beans and cherry tomatoes were nearing their ends too, after a good long run.  And because it’s so late everything else is either safely in the greenhouse or frost hardy.  When we have to cover we do, because we love having those crops and don’t want to see them go; but to be relived of that duty some years is A-ok.  We just had to make sure the greenhouse heater was working, and that the pumpkins had blankets over them.  A very relaxing first frost.

Winter squash — Butternut, Buttercup, Ambercup, Acorn and Carnival are all ready now.  Yum!  This week full shares will get 4 squash — if you think you’ll need more just order or ask, we have plenty of squash on the wholesale side of what we do.

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.

Peppers — Still going!  What an awesome fall treat, to have them so late alongside spinach and squash.  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 is staying mostly healthy and we have plenty.  Spinach will be U-Pick only (please read and follow all signs on the way); there are great leaves out there but for us to take the time to glean the several bushels it takes to serve each pickup day, is a losing proposition.  Greens are looking good for the remainder.

Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts are here!  The frost sweetened the Brussels Sprouts well, but being underground the parsnips will take some deeper cold to perfect their flavor.  For now the parsnips add good flavor to soups or other dishes, but are not so great on their own.

Sweet Potatoes, Watermelon Radish, Purple Daikon Radish, Celeriac and Leeks too.  We will have dirty and clean sweet potatoes available, the dirty ones keep at least a few weeks longer.  The clean ones should last 2-3 weeks, but they are tricky for us to cure and clean perfectly to get them to last any longer.

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.

Cabbage and Onions will continue.

A lot of color and flavor for late fall.  Start your ovens!

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What’s for U-Pick?

Spinach and Kale — See “Nuts and Bolts.”  Lettuce will be open next week.

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


Mint and lemon balm, and parsley, thyme and oregano –are all doing well.  

A few Flowers made it through the frost, feel free to rummage around out there.

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

To Top of Page

Nuts and Bolts

Spinach and Kale are open this week — Please stay in designated U-pick areas.  There will be strings marking off kale, carrots and other crops reserved for wholesale customers.    The kale (and a chunk of the carrots and radishes) is for the Minneapolis Public Schools and their farm-to-school program has food safety protocols that we follow –one is to keep people out of areas that will be harvested for them.  Thank you for helping us with this!

Spinach — is east of the driveway.  Get there by going on the main farm road past the herbs and beans, almost all the way to Hwy 3.  Pluck and choose leaves without yellow spots; Scissors may be useful.  Spinach (and Lettuce) will be open next week but probably not into Nov., depending on weather and growth.  If it’s not yielding it may just be best to get a cover crop planted in there.

Kale — there are 3 plantings of kale but the U- pick kale is west of the driveway, in front of the greenhouse.  Please do not pick the roped-off kale that’s near the spinach or Hwy 3.  Snap whole leaves off by the stem.  This variety can be picked while it’s frozen and we should have it open until a few days before the snow flies.  (What are snow flies?  Those little black ones that show up on snow sometimes?) We apologize it is a weedy mess but we’ll try to get in there this week, at least mowing around the edges.

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 this Week! — this 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.

Bulk Produce for You  : This week’s selection is : Winter Squash for 85 cents/lb.  Carrots, Beets for $1 / lb.   Lettuce Mix for $5 / lb,  Cabbage for 60 cents/lb.  Kale 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



Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate Dressing, Dried Cherries & Toasted Walnuts (Serves 4)


From Fresh from the Farm by Susie Middleton


Ingredients needed:

-1¼ pounds brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut into halves lengthwise

-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

-kosher salt

-3 tablespoons pomegranate juice

-1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

-1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey

-2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, plus 4 small lime wedges for serving

-¼ cups coarsely chopped dried cherries

-1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

-¼ cup toasted walnuts

-2 tablespoons very roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus a few sprigs for garnish

-2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint


Heat the oven to 475 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, toss the brussels sprouts with the oil and ¾ teaspoon salt. Arrange the sprouts in a 9”x13” baking dish (they will be very snug). Roast, stirring once or twice during cooking, until nicely browned and tender, 25 to 27 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Combine the pomegranate juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, and lime juice in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by about one third. (It will be a bit more vicious but still loose). Remove the pan from the heat, add the dried cherries and the butter, and stir until the butter is just melted and creamy. (Don’t reheat the mixture).

Pour the sauce over the roasted sprouts and stir gently but thoroughly. Add most of the walnuts and herbs and stir well again. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with the remaining nuts and herbs (and the herb sprigs), serve right away with lime wedges for seasoning at the table. (A gentle squeeze is enough).


Christmas Slaw with Slivered Pears, Cranberries & Pecans (Serves 8-10)


From Fresh from the Farm by Susie Middleton


Ingredients needed:

-8 cups (about 1 pound 6 ounces) very finely sliced green cabbage

-⅓ cup fresh lime juice

-2 tablespoons sugar

-1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger

-1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

-kosher salt

-2 large firm-ripe Bartlett pears (8-9 ounces each)

-⅓ cup sour cream

-⅓ cup thinly sliced scallions (light and dark green parts only)

-⅓ cup very finely chopped dried cranberries

-¼ cup roughly chopped f\resh flat-leaf parsley

-⅓ cup very finely chopped toasted pecans


In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, lime juice, sugar, ginger, lime zest, and 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit, tossing occasionally, until softened but still somewhat crunchy, 30 to 40 minutes.

Peel the pears, cut them in half, and scoop out the cores and stems. Lay the halves cut side down on a cutting board and slice them very thinly lengthwise. Cut the slices lengthwise again into thin sticks.

Add the sour cream to the cabbage mixture and toss. Add the pears, scallions, cranberries, most of the chopped parsley, and most of the chopped pecans. Toss again. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining parsley and chopped pecans. Serve right away.


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