Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In the Share: Week 16


SWEET POTATOES  Bonita variety are creamy yellow






The year has flown by and here we are already at the last week of the CSA season.  We hope you all enjoyed our offerings from the fields.  We sure have enjoyed growing them for you.

Some may recall that a year ago we announced that 2017 was to be a sabbatical year.  After 14 years of building the farm up, we wanted a year to allow us to experiment and take a breath.  Overall, we are happy with what we accomplished.  We reduced our growing area by more than half and managed to improve the productivity of our fields.  Certain crops were dropped altogether (beans and peas), others were grown on a much smaller scale (tomatoes, zucchini).  The CSA was shifted to an every-other week, one share size system.  Tom had time to make lots of yummy ferments and market them to area grocery stores and farmers markets.  Luckily, we had pretty decent weather - not too hot and dry in the summer, and at least in our little area, no massive rain events.  It is hard to extrapolate the successes of one season to future seasons, but at this point, we would like to use 2017 as the starting point for 2018.

We really would like to know how this experimental year was for you.  Look for an invitation from the farm in the coming weeks for a survey of the membership.  We would love to hear from everyone who participated in the CSA this year and learn your thoughts and any suggestions for improvement.

Thank you for your support of our family farm during the sabbatical.  We were unsure of what would come of it and it meant alot to us that so many of you stuck with us.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 16

Last blog of our sabbatical season. And while we use that term loosely, we were able to rest a bit and learn a lot at the same time. Thanks for going along for the ride this year, we hope next season will be even better. Coming out the other side of the season with an enthusiastic membership and a cooler full of vegetables and ferments is a nice trend to be riding.

The last share has a nice selection of field grown and high tunnel items. The fennel this year tastes great, as the cold outside temps lately helped sweeten it up. It is great chopped and added to a lettuce salad.

The sweet potatoes live up to their name. A go to recipe for us is to cut them into small chunks, steam them, then mash with butter and milk or cream. You get a rich, creamy, sweet and comforting dish whose leftovers can double as potato pancakes. Just add about 1/3 as much flour as potatoes, form into patties, and fry up.

Thanks again for supporting the farm this 2017 season!

PS. sorry no picture today, computer issues

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

In the Share: Week 15

TURNIPS AND RADISHES  Sweet and juicy roots!

BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE  Our most delicious buttery heads are back

RED LEAF LETTUCE  Big ruffly goodness

SWEET POTATOES  Bonita variety have creamy yellow centers.

KALE OR SPROUTING BROCCOLI  Sweet brassica from the frost-kissed fields.

SWEET PEPPERS  The last of the season.

SPINACH  Big dark green leaves full of nutrients.

LEEKS  The most refined of the onion family.

IN TWO WEEKS:  The last of the 16 week CSA:  carrots, lettuce, garlic, sweet potatoes, beets, bulb fennel and greens.

It is Halloween eve as I write this.  There's no flurry of doorbells and candy as our farm is too far out in the sticks for trick-or-treaters.  When we were young, my parents would drive us to my grandparent's neighborhood in Excelsior Springs for the occasion.  Here all is quiet and cozy.  We lit our first fire of the season in the wood stove tonight.  Our cats, Momma and Sandy keep me company on the couch as I type away at the laptop.

The last few days have been a flurry of work preparing the farm for cold weather.  A freeze came Saturday morning and took out the peppers, but the cabbages, broccolis and kales were unfazed.  Our fall kale patch is especially glorious and is at it's best after a few cold nights.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 15

The high tunnel harvest has begun in earnest, and some of the most tender veggies of the season are coming your way this week. The turnips are almost creamy, the spinach plumb with flavor, and the butterhead lettuces live up to their name.

One delicious option with this week's share is spinach balls. The recipe is from our May 5, 2015 blog and is served over an endive salad. We suggest instead simply pairing it with any salad greens and root vegetables you may have at hand. A nice warm and hot combination.

Last Saturday I spent some time at the Green Dirt Farm Creamery sampling our ferments. They are one of the first stores to carry our products and we were glad to have the opportunity to give their customers a tasting of our ferments.

We will be headed to Green Dirt Farm this Sunday for the KC Food Circle Harvest Hootenanny. Join us for a tour, tasting, yard games and local food.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

In the Share: Week 14

ARUGULA or ROSEMARY  The first harvest from the fall high tunnel.  Spinach, lettuce, greens and roots will soon follow.

SWEET PEPPERS  We picked alot this week in case it frosted.  Everyone gets a bag of assorted colors.

LETTUCE  Two heads from the patch.  One will be red leaf lettuce, the other either a green romaine or a crisphead from Italy we are trialing.

CARROTS  Orange sweeties.

GREENS CHOICE  Kale, sprouting broccoli or bok choy/tat soi

GARLIC  silverskin

IN TWO WEEKS:  sweet potatoes, leeks, lettuce, radishes, spinach, greens.

This morning we awoke to the first frost of the season.

strawberry plants kissed by Jack Frost.

Luckily it was a light one and damaged little.  We had spent most of Sunday picking peppers and covering the tender lettuces just in case.  Frost is actually beneficial for the strawberry plants as it signals that it is time for the plant to begin to go dormant for the winter.  After a few more frosty mornings we will cover the plants with straw to protect them from the cold.

The farmers are also preparing for winter.  The push to clear the fields began last week with the dismantling of the tomato trellises.  We have lots of irrigation tape to wind up and store and there is another 300 + ft. of sweet potatoes yet to dig.  Our seasonal workers are done for the year so it is just Tom and I scurrying around the fields trying to wrap things up.  There is plenty of space on the Saturday CSA schedule, so for those of you who haven't completed your one shift of the year, please do so soon. We look forward to welcoming you to the beautiful fall fields!

What to Do With Your Share---Week 14

The cool down that has been October has started my cravings for cold weather comfort food. Soups and stews are back on the menu, and there is a bounty on the farm this fall. It has been a good season to preserve, and hope you can take advantage of the opportunities this year has presented. Check out the bulk list for recipes for pickled beets and green pepper relish.

The ripe sweet peppers that are still filling the harvest crates are a great compliment to the other vegetables in the share. A stir-fry with this week's greens is always enhanced by colorful, fresh peppers. Add some broth, stock, ferment juice, or other cooking liquid and you can have a wonderfully hearty soup.

Stir-fry ingredients

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

In the Share: Week 13

LETTUCE  The first heads from the fall patch.  Forellenshluss, the Austrian speckled romaine starts the season.

BEETS  We were going to offer a choice with salad turnips, but alas the turnips are not that great.  We'll supply some to the swap boxes for any extreme turnip lovers.

GREENS CHOICE  Kale, chard or sprouting broccoli.

SWEET PEPPERS  Good harvest of ripe sweeties!

POTATOES  Desiree variety:  pink outside, creamy yellow inside.

ONIONS  Red ones

HERB CHOICE  thyme or parsley.

IN TWO WEEKS:  lettuce, greens, peppers, carrots, garlic and sweet potatoes.

Fall is my favorite time of year.  The pressures of planting schedules are behind us and the weather is still warm enough to ripen peppers but cool enough for leafy greens.

A new fall tradition began last week with the first ever harvest of native grass seed on the Graff farm.  While Tom and I manage the 20 acres of the vegetable farm, buildings and ponds, my father manages the other 260 acres. Back in 2012, he had the farm seeded with a mixture of native grasses and forbs.  Unfortunately, 2012 was a drought year and much of the seed did not sprout.  We followed the advice of conservationists, and over the last five years we have burned the grasses every Spring.  Much of what was bare ground in 2012 is now covered by a beautiful blanket of Indian grass along with lots of wildflowers and other grasses.  Not only do these prairie plants prevent soil erosion and provide habitat to wildlife, but the seed can be combined and sold to others who want to plant native grasses on their land.  Our first harvest was over 10,000 lbs. of seed.  Not too shabby!

Our newest member of the farm family, Sandy, has been adjusting to his new life on the farm.  He went in to Lawson Animal Hospital for his first checkup and received his first round of vaccinations.  They reckon he is about 5 months old and in good health.  He joins us in the fields when the weather is nice but spends his night indoors for now.  There is still much for him to learn about being a good farm cat and we hope that Mommakitty will provide him a mentor.