Welcome to the farm for 2022!!!!
We had a good laugh about the short version of this newsletter:
Some things got planted late and nothing really grew for a while, but now things are finally growing fast. We’ve been weeding and cultivating but there’s always more of that to do. We made some messes and haven’t cleaned them all up yet. We’re having fun.
Here’s the longer version :
As you can imagine, the chilly April and May got the crops off to a slow start. Overall the weather in June-September affects the year’s yields the most, but June harvests start sooner when May is warm. Last week a share harvest would have been pretty small, but they’ve finally grown and the farm has gorgeous food for us this week!
As usual in our climate we start with salad and stir fry fixings and have to wait a month or so more for the full juicy fruits and veggies of summer — but the freshness and flavors of these June crops are so nourishing! If you’re not sure what to do with some of it, see the recipes page on our website, or just type the veggie’s name in your search bar, and try something out. We love simple salads, sandwiches with radishes or turnips plus mustard and lettuce, and the heartier greens cooked down in soy sauce or any variation of a stir fry sauce — especially in this heat, the light salads and the salty greens get into places in our bodies where water and other foods just can’t get.
The messes we made were sort of construction -related — no new buildings, but we re-sided and insulated the barn, for hopefully no more cold toes and fingers while washing carrots all winter, since for years you could see through the wood siding we put on 15 years ago (oops). And then we installed more underground irrigation lines. This will get rid of most of the blue hose laying all over the place, hopefully get rid of all the leaks and mud puddles, save us a ton of labor fixing that old system, and it also should allow us to water more at any one time. Most of us worked a few or several evenings / extra long days to get these projects finished; we’re all excited for the labor to be saved and the comfort gained. And we’re excited for the final touches to be put on soon, and the tools to be cleaned up so we can “just farm.” Sounds so simple.
On the sentiment of “just farming ” — One day in May Erin stood in the middle of the project piles and said “I’m looking forward to more years without these kinds of projects.” “What kinds of projects?” “The kind with sh-t everywhere.”
And you might have noticed, or might notice this week, we got solar panels! We’ll give more detail in a future newsletter , but here’s the main points: our electricity usage shot up when we built our big coolers, which run 10 months out of the year. We took out a loan with payments pretty close to our annual electricity bill, which will be paid off while the panels still have many productive years left. And since we heat all the buildings with wood, now the farm’s only direct fossil fuel usage (aside from plastics) is tractors and trucks. More on that later.
Our crew is mostly all back from last year, or entering their 4th or 5th year with us, which has been fun and satisfying. They’re simply wonderful, and each year we all get better at what we do. We’re having a good time, including singing christmas carols at 8 pm on one especially long day, jumping in a muddy trench to dig it out, sending bagels up the rope/vice grip “elevator” to the third level of scaffolding (the rope usually hauls tools etc but bagels fit great on the big vice grip!), marveling at cool rocks, bugs and plant parts, learning new things and simply being happy to have the chance to work outside with plants and soil growing food for all of us.
Looking forward to seeing you, and to all of us eating this week’s harvest!
Leaf and head lettuce, scallions, radishes, salad turnips, boc choi, and spring garlic will be the stars the first couple of weeks, along with arugula and Asian salad greens, and some spinach. We should have a little bit of asparagus as part of the share this week too. Kohlrabi this week or next. Kale maybe next week – it’s still growing slowly.
Spring garlic is the stalk and leaves (top) and immature bulb (bottom) 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 , probably next week — garlic scapes are the flower stalks 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 and do a better job growing, but the yield might be modest yet 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…
Broccoli and summer squash, then cucumbers, will come in gradually in a couple weeks.
Overall it’s looking like a beautiful harvest! Our favorites in the kitchen this past week have been lettuce, 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?
NEXT WEEK: Cilantro
You can U-pick anytime again, it does not have to be on your share pickup day or a specific time slot like 2020. Weekends and evenings work for some people, that’s totally fine for us.
Strawberries should be ready to open up for harvest next week or the week after. They could start with a trickle, or with a bang, we’ll see. We saw a couple blushing today. We have three varieties in two different plantings, as we try to find a good balance of flavor and berry size, and productivity in an organic system. Would you guess that 10 days ago we had to water them overnight to protect them from a 34 degree night / near frost?!?! MN weather keeps us on our toes.
This year we’ll again use the flag system for bean and strawberry picking. Start picking at a red flag, and work your way 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 put some extra time into weeding the strawberries this year, so one planting is very “clean” and the other is … better than it sometimes is 🙂
Snap peas aren’t flowering yet and should be ready by the end of June, green beans by early July.
This spot in the newsletter will keep you informed about U-pick, and always check the U-pick board when you’re here to see what’s available and picking amounts.
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.
If anyone needs help picking their U-pick crops, please let us know. We can ask folks to help and we can match you up with a volunteer. If you are interested in helping please email us!
Nuts and Bolts
This first newsletter always gets long, we know, thanks for reading! 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. We hope you come and upick and get to know and enjoy the place. Check in on the crops as they grow, pick lots of strawberries, and 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.
Video link should be attached to the email — for new folks and when you are sending someone to pick up your share.
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, if you want one please ask.
Kid’s Play Spaces — Outdoor and Indoor — We love having kids here and we have 2 great places for them to play while you get your share. There is a kid’s corner back in the barn, and a fun space cleared under the trees outside for play and rest.
Information about Add-ons!
For Add-ons, we have a bread CSA, a cheese CSA, a Hard Cider CSA, grass-fed beef and eggs available. For more details because this newsletter is too long, please read the add-on email that we sent out recently. Bread and cheese need to be pre-ordered with the River Rock or Shepherd’s Way. Eggs can be purchased on the spot. Bread, cheese and eggs will be available for pickup outside under the awning.
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, please 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, sometimes CSA members and sometimes CAC volunteers or staff, it gets delivered to the food shelf that same week. 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.
Share Pickup Hours TUESDAY and THURSDAY 1:30-6:30 pm.
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.
KID SAFETY —Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.
Please know where your children 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 kids 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 Protocol this year — Masks are optional. There is lots of fresh air flow in the barn.
Please do not come to the farm if you have Covid symptoms.
Please wash your hands before coming in the barn – handwash sink is outside the main door. (This is good practice , covid or not. We here wash our hands as often as anyone would in a restaurant or commercial kitchen.)
We are sticking with “popcorn style, ie if you see a table open, get your veggies and then pop to another table that has an opening.
If you requested a pre-bagged share, pick it up off the table under the awning, and stick your head in the “question” door if you need Erin / one of us.
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, Alexandra, Emily, and Maddie
Garlicy Boc Choi
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 5 cloves garlic (or 1 spring garlic)
- 2 shallots
- 2 pounds baby bok choy
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
- We want to keep our baby bok choy somewhat intact, so the first thing we want to do is either halve or quarter each stalk (depending on the size of the bok choy) and wash under cold running water.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add the oil. Swirl to coat the entire surface of the pan. As soon as the oil is hot, add the garlic and the shallots, and sautè for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Add the bok choy, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Toss and cover. Cook for approximately 2 minutes before uncovering, tossing, and covering. Continue to cook the bok choy until white parts reach desired doneness (I have found that this varies from person to person as some people prefer crunchier bok choy, while others prefer a more well-done stir-fry).
- Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if using, and drizzle with additional sesame oil, if desired.
Sautéed Bok Choy & Hakurei (salad) Turnips
|1 tablespoon||Coconut Oil|
|2 tablespoons||Fresh Ginger (minced)|
|1 tablespoon||Garlic (minced)|
|1 ½ pounds||Baby Bok Choy (trimmed and halved lengthwise)|
|8 ounces||Hakurei Turnips (trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges)|
|1||Chile Pepper (such as Fresno or bird’s eye, thinly sliced)|
|¾ teaspoon||Kosher Salt|
|½ teaspoon||Toasted Sesame Oil|
Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until soft and just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add bok choy (in batches if necessary), turnips and chile. Add water and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bok choy and turnips are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drizzle with sesame oil before serving.