Farm Newsletter June 9, 2020
Well… a few things have changed in the world since we last wrote you a newsletter or gave you veggies….
There are a lot things that are uncertain, but we know for certain we stand with people of color and the serious change needed to undo the racism embedded in the fabric of this country. We were so hurt to see yet another video of police using excessive force and killing a black person, and hurt again when the protests seem to get partially hijacked and violence increased by people who aren’t in it to create justice for all, and the police crackdown had what looked like more violence than necessary on so many peaceful protesters. Now we are heartened to see the protests continue, and especially the long game start to take shape — real proposals and hints of real motion on the part of white leaders. We hope we go far together!
Of course Covid-19 has disrupted our life and business like many others, and yours. Huge thanks to all of you who came out to buy a 25 lb bag of carrots in March, or spread the word — over 250 people partook in that “bag sale”.
That interest dovetailed into a high demand for CSA shares. Of course with the uncertainty about fall school schedules and restaurant openings, and over 1/3 of our produce going to schools and restaurants in recent years, we have been nervous about being able to sell all of the 2020 harvest — to keep our employees paid and keep up with our debts especially. The PPP came through for us and is providing some stability while the fall is still so uncertain. So with our need to sell produce and earn money, and 3-4 times the amount of people looking for shares this spring, we added 40 shares for this year, about a 20% increase over recent years. We’ve been planting accordingly — which means more of a few things, but also redirecting some of our wholesale harvest to shares, which is a great option to have given the uncertainty of our wholesale markets. It was exciting to see that half of the additional 40 households are actually past members — many who have had a share but kids moved out, were traveling more, etc. Since you and your kids are all stuck here we’re glad you’re choosing to eat with us again!!!!!
It’s been a pretty mellow spring, weather -wise, which has been wonderful. The 3″ pounding rain set back the cukes we had just planted, and these hot windy days require lots of irrigation to make sure new plantings don’t die or get stressed right off the bat. But it was just 1 harsh rain, and the “heat waves” so far have been short-lived — good for both plants and people. After last year’s cool start, and last summer’s heavy rains, so far this spring has been a relief.
The weeds keep us running though! We’ve been cultivating, hoeing and hand weeding, and that’s our main focus for the next few weeks. We’re wrapping up our bigger plantings of summer crops; we keep planting new fall crops, but the pace of getting those in is less hectic than the last couple weeks. And then there’s mowing! Keeping the weeds down around the edges is a task that’s always waiting for us. When it looks unkempt we remember that some of the beneficial bugs, garter snakes etc often benefit from a little temporary habitat.
We hope you taste, see, and feel all the care and work that has gone into growing food for you. Your excitement, any given day and over the years, is deeply gratifying to us, helping us know we’re doing our job. As a farm family and crew we’ll do our best every step of the way this year to make sure you’ve got the best fresh eating experience possible. So thank you for joining us in this CSA relationship! It’s a great thing, a farm this diverse supported and enjoyed by its community and supplying lots of healthy food. You’re part of a modern reinvention of the old-time traditions of getting food from your farm, yard or neighbor. We hope you love it every step of the way.
Leaf and head lettuce, scallions, radishes, salad turnips, boc choi, kale and spring garlic will be the stars the first couple of weeks, along with arugula and Asian salad greens (next week), and some spinach. Spring garlic is the stalk of the garlic plant, harvested prematurely. It’s delicious and mild, use freely anywhere you’d use mature cloves of garlic. We’ll switch to garlic scapes next week — the flower stalk which can be used the same as the main stalk, or made into awesome garlic scape pesto. Spring spinach remains a challenge we keep trying to understand, but the yield might be modest again , we’ll see. The heat stresses it out, but we’ve been watering and feeding it and trying to figure out what it needs…
Asparagus will make a small appearance as it exits the stage , and broccoli and kohlrabi will come in gradually the next couple weeks.
Overall it’s looking like a beautiful harvest! Our favorites in the kitchen this past week have been kale, boc choi, and scallions (and soy sauce!!!) It’s just so darn good to have fresh hearty greens again!
After a few weeks of salad, sandwich and stir-fry fixings, we’ll start having beets, carrots, broccoli, summer squash, cucumbers, and cabbage. Though the squash could trickle in next week and the cukes will start flowering soon, most of those crops look aeons away, but fortunately plants move fast at solstice time. Sometime in later July the tomatoes start trickling in, along with peppers and eggplant. By August we hope to be swimming in the unbeatable mix of juicy and delicious warm-weather fruits and veggies. We often wish it would start right now, but spring and early summer eating is simply lighter and just as satisfying!
What’s for U-Pick?
Strawberries should start coming in next week. They could start with a trickle, or with a bang, we’ll see. We have four varieties in two different plantings, as we try to find a good balance of flavor and berry size, and productivity in an organic system.
This year we’ll again use the flag system for bean and strawberry picking. Start pikcing at a red flag, and work your way south, heading away from the barn. Thoroughly pick the ripe strawberries on each plant as you go, and then put the red flag where you stop. If there are more than one of you working on the same row, you can pick “near” each other and talk with each other so that the red flag gets placed appropriately when you are done picking.
We often have bushy plants with lots of berries hiding underneath — The trick to picking strawberries in such crowded plants is to wave your hands around to find the berries, brushing the leaves aside to see the berries.
We should also have Cilantro next week. Snap peas aren’t flowering yet and should be ready by the end of June.
This spot in the newsletter will keep you informed, and always check the U-pick board when you’re here to see what’s available and picking amounts. This year we’re also thinking we’ll send an email on Sunday or Monday (of non-newsletter weeks) with a quick U-pick update, in case there’s something new coming in etc.
When you’re picking if one or all of us are around, we might not be able to stop and talk, but you are always welcome here.
Nuts and Bolts
This first newsletter always gets long, we know, thanks for reading! This is in addition to all the Covid info you’ve been receiving. There’s a lot to cover to start the season.
A special welcome to new members We’re so glad to have you on board! If you have questions about how the share works, please ask one of us. Normally you can come anytime to U-pick and enjoy the farm; this year you’ll have to stick with your U-pick slot, to avoid crowding — but still — Get to know and enjoy the place. Check in on the crops as they grow, pick herbs to add flourishes and depth to your meals, etc — we hope your visits here are a peaceful and health-giving part of your routine. Feel free to sit, rest, and/or play a little. You will be getting this newsletter every other week for the rest of the season. Please look for it on Monday nights–in it you will find lots of great information to guide you through the season.
CSA Handbook for You — Many years ago we assembled a CSA Member Handbook to answer common questions and help make being a part of the farm as great an experience as possible for you and the rest of your household. It contains info about logistics on the farm, and lots of tips for U-Picking, storing and preserving the farm’s bounty. It is available online on our “Information for CSA Members” page (click here), but we have hard copies too. We’ll be handing them out this week to new shareholders to take home and read; if you’ve gotten one before but would like another, we’d be happy to get you one next week after all the new shareholders have gotten one.
Push Pin Sign-In When you come to pick up your share, please “sign in” with the push pin by your name, inside the barn door. This helps us know how many people came each day, so we can be sure to pick/have more than enough for everybody.
For split shares — instead of leaving notes on the sign in sheet, you will email or text your share partner to communicate “Who gets what this time”.
Food Shelf Donations With your support of the farm, each year we are able to donate 4-5,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Northfield Food Shelf. These veggies are simply the leftovers from the share pickups, the same fresh, high quality food that you get in your share. With the help of a few very dedicated volunteer drivers, it gets delivered to the food shelf the next day. So if at any time you do not want to take all that is yours in the share pickup, you can leave it and it will go to the food shelf to help feed those in need, a number of people in our community which was growing even before Covid and the precautions hit. Separate from these donations we also are pleased to sell produce to The Food Group, through their unique Harvest for the Hungry program. We look forward to being able to continue supplying more great food into the hunger relief supply chain for the metro area. It is a solid win-win. Harvest for the Hungry purchases from local farms are all funded by donations, if you are so inclined your donation makes a direct difference for both local farmers and folks who struggle to put meals on the table.
Share Pickup Hours TUESDAY and THURSDAY 1:30-6:30 pm. Please note — later in June (and after) the barn may be unstaffed from 6-6:30 so we can start dinner and evening time as a family — we’ll try to leave it well-stocked and all set up for easy self-service, but if there is a vegetable we’ve run out of or if you have any other question, please text Erin at the number posted in the barn and we’ll be happy to come down and help.
Change Pick-Up Day Form — Click here. Please fill out this form instead of emailing us. Thanks!
Where is the farm? 4151 320th Street West, Northfield. 2 miles north of Northfield off of Highway 3. From Highway 3, go west on 320th Street West, and pull in the 1st driveway on the right.
Parking Please park on the right (east) side of the driveway. Try to pull in perpendicular to the driveway so you can turn around as you back out. Or back in, perpendicular to the driveway, so you can pull straight out. We ask that you not use the turnarounds near the barn or the house during the share pickup, to help keep kids safe around the barn.
Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.
On the note of children, please know where yours are at all times. ESPECIALLY All buildings, except the shareroom area of the barn, are off-limits to children. This includes the barn and the machine shed (hiding in the woods up the hill). There are sharp tools in many places, of all shapes and sizes. Please keep them near you when U-picking.
Be aware that farm trucks and tractors may be going up and down the driveway, near your cars and/or near the barn. We all drive carefully but please pay attention to small children especially in those areas, and back up carefully.
Another hazard you should know about is a small drainage pond / mud pit west of the barn— we have it fenced off for safety and it is completely off limits. It catches, and drains, excess rain water from parts of the hill, along with water and soil from washing veggies in the barn, and keeps it all from eroding into the fields. We’re glad to finally have a decent solution to that problem but need your help in making sure kids know it is not a place to play.
Covid Recap — Hopefully you read the emails and watched the video (s) (you’ve got time on your hands, right?) Please do not come o the farm if you feel sick in any way. When you arrive — wait in line standing 6′ apart on the driveway, put your mask on, wash your hands, enter the barn when you’ll be person number 5 (or lower) in the barn, sign in with you push pin on the right and continue through the barn to pick up your veggies.
If it’s raining buckets when you get here, you can wait in your car, and when you see someone leave the barn you/the next person who arrived can head in. In heavy rain, bread shares, cheese shares and maple syrup orders will be in the greenhouse.
If you requested a pre-bagged share, pick it up off the table under the tent, and stick your head in the “question” door if you need Erin / one of us. We may put the bags in the greenhouse in the event of heavy rain … look there if you don’t see them under the tent.
We love having all of you come to the farm and hope it can be safe and fun for all! Thank you for making it such a great place to be! Thank you so much for your support!!
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Alissa, Amelia, Emily, Erika, and Harper
Garlicky Boc Choy from Bon Appetit
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 pound baby bok choy, rinsed, cut into quarters, with core intact
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bok choy, soy sauce, and 2 Tbsp. water and cover immediately. Cook 1 minute. Uncover and toss, then cover and cook until bok choy is tender at the core, about 3 more minutes.
Spicy Radish Dip from Allrecipes.com
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 6 radishes, quartered
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- Step 1
Place garlic in the container of a food processor, and pulse until finely minced. Add radishes, and mince. Add cream cheese, and mix until well blended. Transfer to a serving dish, and chill until serving.