Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In the Share: Week 21

hakureis waiting to be harvested

TOMATOES (F/P) The last week of ripe tomatoes. Next week you'll get green ones.
JADE BEANS (F/P) The last week of these too. What a great harvest it was - 354 lbs. so far! Partial shares get a choice with okra.
BEETS OR KOHLRABI (F/P) Partials get a choice of turnips too.
HAKUREI TURNIPS (F) A beautiful crop of the raw treat.
SWISS CHARD (F/P) The chard has grown back gloriously from its summer cutting.
LETTUCE (F/P) One head for all. We're letting the rest grow until next week.
PARSLEY OR ARUGULA (F/P) Partials also have the choice of garlic.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery delivery

NEXT WEEK: More lettuces, greens, turnips, broccoli and cauliflower. Sweet potatoes and more leeks. It might be time to harvest all the green summer fruits. We're watching the forecasts to see if a frost is coming. If so, we'll have green peppers, green tomatoes and baby eggplant. If not, they'll at least be green tomatoes and ripe peppers and eggplant.
THE FIELDS: Ah, autumn. Have I mentioned that I love fall. Yes, while all of you dear members are lamenting the end of the season, your farmers are thrilled! While, of course, we hate to see the fields empty we are looking forward to time to rest and replenish ourselves. To kick off the restful season we are looking forward to celebrating the harvest at the ...

FAIR SHARE FARM CSA END OF SEASON DINNER Saturday,October 24th, 5-7 pm

Mark your calendars now for the best potluck in town, awesome door prizes, activities for the kiddos and the chance to converse with your favorite farmers (ahem.) FSF CSA Social Coordinators Ann and Mark Flynn are getting the party started with an invite which will soon appear in your inboxes. They will be assigning potluck dishes, looking for door rizes and recruiting volunteers to help with set-up and break-down. Hope to see you all there!

But before we can celebrate, we've got a month of work to do. Right now our time is split between harvest and clean-up. We've begun dismantling the tomato trellising. Most of the cages are stacked back at the barn. As are the t-posts that supported the trellises for the paste and hybrid varieties. The heirlooms are all that remain, leaving their hybrid compadres in the dust.
This year we are really seeing the effects of our fertility management systems. Areas where we used the no-till method or turned under a lush cover crop before planting are really thriving. Here's our healthiest squash ever in a no-till bed:

What to Do With Your Share---Week 21

The harvest continues, and our best year of green beans is coming to an end. If you are wondering what to do with some of the ones you may not have eaten yet, or that you get in this week's share, we recommend the recipe below. Many years ago I went to a small restaurant in Webster, New York that had a chef there who was a master at sauces. He was good with simple veggies too, and I had a dish of green beans with Asian five spice powder. The combination was superb, and I've used it often. We had the recipe below the other night.

Sweet Potato Greens
There will be a handful of samples of sweet potato greens at the end of the line this week. Ted Carey of KSU, who we buy our sweet potato starts from, has been working to re-introduce the many benefits of this delicious tuber to the area. Among the benefits is that you can eat the leaves of the plant, not just the root. Cooked, the greens are quite mild, but very healthy and full of antioxidants. Rebecca made a wonderful dish the other night based on this recipe. She modifed it quite a bit, using only a couple tablespoons of oil, subsituting fish sauce for the fish, and adding ginger. Google "sweet potato recipes" and see what you like. There is a simple recipe here. If people like them we will make them a regular share item in the fall.

Green Beans with Asian Five Spice Powder
1 lb fresh green beans
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 tsp Asian Five Spice Powder
1 to 2 tbsp butter
pinch of salt
3 tbsp sunflower seeds

Clean the green beans by snapping off and discarding the stem end, and then snapping the beans in two.
Steam beans for 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender but still crunchy
Transfer to a bowl and mix with remaining ingredients
Serve hot

You can also cook the beans by sauteing them in a skillet for 5 to 10 minutes over medium high heat until they start to carmelize a bit and then tossing with the remaining ingredients.

Bulk Order Week of 9/28/09
Garlic $8.00/lb
Chard $3.00/bunch
Eggplant $3.00/lb
Beets $3.oo/bunch (specify Chiogga (stripped), or red beets)
Jalapenos $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Pepperoncinis $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Tomato seconds (as available heirloom and hybrids) - $2.50/lb; $2.00/lb over 10 lbs
Basil $2.oo/bunch
Dried herbs $2.00/tin (thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano, rosemary)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day Off

Several people have asked us to post some pictures from our weekday vacation last Wed/Thurs. We took a leisurly drive through rural Missouri to Arrow Rock, MO for our first trip off the farm since Spring. It is the site of one of the first major settlements in Missouri. At one time it was at the head of the Sante Fe trail, serving as a major jumping off point for western settlers. Below is a running photo shoot w/some links if you want more info.

Jim the Wonder Dog, Marshall, Missouri. The plaque speaks for itself.

The Down Over bed and breakfast. So named because from Arrow Rock you can go down to New Orleans, or over to Sante Fe.

In the 1830's the Missouri River took a very different course than where it is today. It swung a mile or so further west to Arrow Rock landing, at the base of the arrow rock where flint could be procured, and just down the bluff from the town of Arrow Rock. The photo on the left is Arrow Rock landing today, dry unless the river is flooding. The photo on the right is the river bank today, much as it might have looked back then.

Spring where travelers filled their water barrels before heading out on the Sante Fe trail. The trail was used more as a commercial trade route than as a path for settlers.

Arrow rock, with flint layer in the bluff.

Tavern in the town of Arrow Rock.

From the Arrow Rock museum. Back then it was possible to feed a 100 member CSA with a lot less plants.

DuPont experimental farm for corn and soybeans. The sign called it the "corn pipeline." Other signs we say along the road exhorted how a certain brand of seed would yield "More Ethanol Per Acre." Doesn't sound like very appetizing crops.

Grain bins in Malta Bend, MO.

Space age water tower near Waverly, MO.

On the veteran's memorial in Lexington, MO.

Lafayette County Courthouse with cannonball stuck in it's column from the Civil War battle of September 1861.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In the Share - Week 20

TOMATOES (F/P) A few more from the dwindling patch
BROCCOLI (F/P) A bountiful crop (hooray!)
JADE BEANS (F/P) Another big week for the beans from this last planting.
SWEET POTATOES (F/P) This week they are the specialty Japanese type with the white flesh. Extra sweet and creamy.
LEEKS (F/P) The first fall harvest of the most buttery allium.
ASIAN GREENS (F) An assortment of tat soi, bok choy, etc. from the patch.
SWEET PEPPERS (F/P) Despite their image as a heat lover, they really thrive in the cool weather of early fall.
OKRA, SUMMER SQUASH OR EGGPLANT (F) Summer crops that are still kicking it into the fall.
ARUGULA (F) Partials have a choice of arugula with their herb choices.
HAKUREI TURNIPS OR RADISHES (F/P) The Hakureis are just melt-in-your-mouth good right now. They are tasty cooked, but they usually go right in our mouths raw.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms delivery

NEXT WEEK: Fewer tomatoes and beans. Lots more broccoli, turnips, greens and peppers. The summer squash, eggplant and okra continue. Lettuce returns along with beets, kohlrabi and garlic. The beginnings of the cauliflower.

THE FIELDS: As I write this the sun is setting on the first day of fall. It is a happy time of year at the farm. The season for planting has passed and our responsibilities now rest with tending to the crops we have. Whatever we have has to be good enough, no more can be squeezed in before the approaching frost. In our case, this year, we are pretty content with the state of the crops. The cauliflower appears to be smaller than we would like and there's spots on the leeks, but overall the harvest is good, even perhaps great. This week you may notice that your shares are pretty hefty. Full shares are getting 11 items this week, partials 8. The fields are yielding a bounty and we are very pleased to be able to share it with you.

Besides harvesting the bounty this week we found some time to turn the compost pile. We have a three-bin system. Raw materials go in the first bin and accumulate, then we shovel them into the second, and by the time we get to the third it's beautiful black gold. The finished product is destined for next February's first seedlings in the greenhouse.

As Tom mentioned we are going on a short overnight trip after the harvest tomorrow. We are excited about our first overnight away from the farm since, well, February? We have planned nothing yet and will be largely making it up as we go. Destinations may include Arrow Rock and/or Powell Gardens new Heartland Harvest Garden. Many thanks to farm apprentice, the lovely Lori Watley for keeping track of the animals during our short absence.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 20

There is so much in the share this week that we are referring you to past recipes for your meal suggestions. Also, we are taking a short day trip tomorrow and are skimping on our blog time tonight.

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lemon Sage Brown-Butter
Mashed Hakurei Turnip and Potatoes
Variations on Fried Peppers and Onions
Sweet Potato Latkes
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sage
Radish and Arugula Salad
Ruggieri Zucchini Fritters

Japanese Sweet Potatoes
While we didn't have quite the harvest we hoped for (the voles ate a portion of the crops), we are able to give everyone some sweet potatoes. The Japanese variety have a beautiful purple skin with cream white flesh, so don't be alarmed that these aren't like your normal sweet potatoes. Be aware though that the flesh will darken after being cut and exposed to air, so use them immediately upon cutting. Cook them like you would any sweet or regular potato. The orange sweet potoatoes will be dug this Saturday and handed out in two weeks.

Bulk Order Week of 9/21/09
Green beans $2.50/lb
Garlic $8.00/lb
Broccoli $3.00/bunch
Sweet Peppers $5/lb
Chard $3.00/bunch
Eggplant $3.00/lb
Jalapenos $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Pepperoncinis $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Tomato seconds (as available heirloom and hybrids) - $2.50/lb; $2.00/lb over 10 lbs
Basil $2.oo/bunch
Dried herbs $2.00/tin (thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano, rosemary)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In the Share - Week 19

Bean picking

TOMATOES (F/P) A quick flush from the summer planting of hybrids
KOHLRABI OR BEETS (F/P) Mostly beets, Chiogga and Cylindra. Not a beet fan? Give the Chioggas a try with Tom's hash recipe.
RADISHES (F) Partial shares get a choice with the kohlrabi and beets.
LETTUCE (F) Two heads
GARLIC (F) A choice for the partials with the herbs.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) The full shares get the choice of okra or basil, parsley or thyme.
CHINESE CABBAGE (F) The perfect stirfry or Asian slaw green. Check Tom's blog for more.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery delivery

NEXT WEEK: A few more tomatoes, okra and squash. Peppers and eggplant return. More broccoli, radishes, green beans and kohlrabi. The first of the fall Hakurei turnips, sweet potatoes and leeks.

THE FIELDS: The fall harvest is in full swing. The green beans are especially exuberant at the moment. Those who answered my plea for help with the picking tomorrow are much appreciated. We realize most of you can't drop everything to pick beans, but we encourage as many of you who can to do so. Today we spent the entire day harvesting for tomorrow's shares to reduce the amount that needs to be done. Still, we've got herbs, lettuce, chinese cabbage and yes, beans to pick. A super size crew did a bang up job on Saturday.

We also managed to harvest the first crop of sweet potatoes on Saturday. We have three rows, 2 are the standard orange-fleshed type, Beauregard. We dug the third row which is a Japanese variety with white flesh with a jewel-like purple skin. Very pretty. They will be in your shares next week.

Tom and I are often asked what we do when we are not farming. The question always stumps us as for the most part we spend all our waking hours either physically working on the farm, writing about working on the farm or planning for our work on the farm. But every now and again we actually leave the farm to do something entirely different. Such was the case this past Sunday when Tom and I and our pals from the Bad Seed, Brooke and Dan went to work on a vineyard. I know, quite the 'busman's holiday', as someone pointed out to us in the vineyard. Ah vel. Last season we started the tradition of picking at our friend's vineyard and making wine from the grapes. We've been drinking last year's product for a couple of weeks now and it is pretty decent table wine already. Here's the process in nutshell with some steps omitted (there is a 'racking off' process at some point, and we let the wine age for a year before it is bottled. Ask farmer Ruggieri for the real dealio on making your own vino).
grape harvest
crushing the grapes

Then, the pressing
and bottling

What to Do With Your Share---Week 19

Chiogga Beets
An heirloom Italian beet, they are growing as well as they ever have for us right now. After sowing the seeds and letting them come up, we thinned them a little farther apart than normal. That, along with the mild weather of August/September, and the oats/vetch cover crop that preceeded the planting probably all contributed to the success.

The white and red banding of this beet makes it half as red, and much milder than the deep red beets most of you are probably used to. The greens are also quite tender and delicious, both raw and cooked.

Chinese Cabbage
Also know as Napa cabbage, this is the first time in over a year that we have had a good crop. Rather than repeat myself, check out our October 7, 2008 blog for a kim chee recipe and more info on Chinese cabbage.

Beet Hash
A month ago our good friends from Bad Seed, Brooke and Dan, came by for a Sunday brunch. Their contribution was a delicious beet hash that they often make. Here is our stab at it, it turned out great. This works well with any beets. You can also add some chopped beet greens for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

1 bunch of beets
1 onion
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano, marjoram, summer savory or thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Cut the tops and root end off the beets. Cut them into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Stack the rounds and cut them into matchsticks. Chop the onions and garlic.

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil for 2 minutes on medium high heat. Add the beets, salt, and oregano. Mix. Cook for 5 minutes more.

Stir and turn heat to medium low. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Add butter during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Hash is ready when beets are tender and slightly browned.

Bulk Order Week of 9/14/09
Green beans $2.50/lb
Garlic $8.00/lb
Broccoli $3.00/bunch
Chard $3.00/bunch
Eggplant $3.00/lb
Jalapenos $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Pepperoncinis $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Tomato seconds (as available heirloom and hybrids) - $2.50/lb; $2.00/lb over 10 lbs
Basil $2.oo/bunch
Dried herbs $2.00/tin (thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano, rosemary)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What to Do With Your Share---Week 18

German Potato Salad
We all have our comfort food. For me, potato salad is high on the list. I grew up in Cincinnati, a city steeped in Germania. The potato salad of choice there is the German variety, served hot, warm or cold and dressed with bacon grease and vinegar.

I also like a good mayonaise based dressing on my potato salad, but have learned that our farmhands are not so inclined. So the last time we fried up some Parker Farms bacon, I saved the bacon grease to make some potato salad the German way. It was more warmly recieved. Sorry that I don't know of a way to convert this recipe for those vegans and vegetarians in the CSA. If you have any suggestions please add a comment to this blog.

I used the recipe below as a starting point, adding some chopped sweet pepper. Also, I only used the leftover bacon grease we had, sans bacon bits.

Ingredients (from AllRecipes.com)
3 cups diced peeled potatoes
4 slices bacon
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool.
2. Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Add onion to the bacon grease, and cook over medium heat until browned. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley. Crumble in half of the bacon. Heat through, then transfer to a serving dish. Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, and serve warm.

Bulk Order Week of 9/7/09
Jalapenos $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Pepperoncinis $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Tomato seconds (as available heirloom and hybrids) - $2.50/lb; $2.00/lb over 10 lbs
Basil $2.oo/bunch
Dried herbs $2.00/tin (thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano, rosemary)

In the Share: Week 18

No-till French Fingerling potatoes

TOMATOES (F/P) After this week, expect not so much.
FRENCH FINGERLING POTATOES (F/P) From our awesome no-till bed shown in the photo above.
REDWING ONIONS (F/P) A new red storage type we are trialing.
MELONS (F) More luscious watermelons and a few cantaloupe.
LETTUCE (F/P) The 4 inches of rain that fell a few weeks ago is causing some of them to bolt prematurely. We're picking the best from the patch and sending them in.
BROCCOLI (P) The first of much more to come. The patch looks very promising.
CHOICE OF GREENS (F) Arugula, kale, Asian greens or more broccoli raab.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Jalapenos, thai basil, Genovese basil, parsley or a dried herb.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms delivery

NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans and okra. The salsa fixins and the melons are dwindling. More fall crops like broccoli, greens, lettuce and perhaps some kohlrabi. The first of the fall beets and more garlic.

The irrigation pond on a foggy morning

THE FIELDS: How quickly summer has faded. It seems it never fully arrived and now its already gone. Lucky for us the summer fruits are still around. This is truly the time of season to celebrate the harvest. During the transition from summer to fall you get the best of both seasons: tomatoes and broccoli, melons and lettuce.
We've been finishing up the last of the fall plantings. This week we planted cilantro, dill and more arugula. Today we were going to plant the spinach and the last radishes but an isolated cell popped up and dumped an inch of rain on us in about an hour's time. Seems to be the story with the spinach this fall. Every time we prepare to plant it, it rains. If we don't get it planted soon, it will not mature in time for a fall harvest. Instead we can cover the young plants for the winter and harvest it in the spring. That is if we can ever get it in the ground!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What to Do With Your Share --- Week 17

Broccoli Raab
As it seems that most everybody likes broccoli, it should follow that they also like broccoli raab. Also know as rapini, this tasty Italian green is nothing more than a non-heading relative of the broccoli asked for on every member survey. We highly recommend the recipe in our Week 3 blog, one we feel should be a hit with young and old alike.

While we hand out a lot of tomatoes, we don't necessarily give you a lot of tomato recipes, as we figure most folks know what to do with them. Today's recipe is a bit out of necessity (eg, limited time). Quick and simple, this dish's success is all in the ingredients. We used Bread of Life Multi Grain bread, some Sicilian sea salt from Bad Seed, organic extra virgin olive oil, FSF tomatoes and basil, and some Parmesan cheese. Quicker, better and cheaper than ordering out pizza.

Open Face Roasted Tomato Sandwich
One large tomato, cut into 4 thick slices
4 slices of Bread of Life bread
8 basil leaves
1 tsp sea salt
3 to 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place the bread on an oven proof rack and brush with olive oil
Place ingredients on the bread as follows-2 basil leaves, tomato slice, salt, cheese
You can add any extra ingredients you want, such as olives or anchovies
Bake at 375 F for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned
Eat with a fork

The toast recipe above is a bit different than this manly sandwich recommend by Betty Crocker in 1954.

Bulk Order Week of 8/31/09
Jalapenos $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Pepperoncinis $2.50/pint, $4.00/quart
Tomato seconds (as available heirloom and hybrids) - $2.50/lb; $2.00/lb over 10 lbs
Basil $2.oo/bunch
Dried herbs $2.00/tin (thyme, marjoram, dried hot peppers, lovage, lavendar flowers, coriander, oregano, rosemary)

In the Share - Week 17

TOMATOES (F/P) more juicy jewels from the tomato patch that just keeps on giving
GREEN BEANS (F) more oh-so-tender Rattlesnake pole beans
MELONS (P) Predominately 'Peace' watermelons, a yellow-flesh variety (handle with care - they pop open easily) along with a few of the red Sangria and Sugar Baby
SWEET PEPPERS (F) Two each this week as the patch starts to finally ripen
BROCCOLI RAAB (RAPINI) (F) A super-tasty Italian cooking green, check out Tom's blog for info.
LETTUCE (F) what was supposed to be enough for everyone of the summer lettuce varieties got swamped last week with the 4 inches of rain and is now barely enough for the full shares. So sorry, partials, we'll get you next time. There's much more lettuce coming soon.
CARROTS (F) ditto as with the lettuce above - half of this planting rotted in the ground.
GARLIC (F/P) according to the survey folks want more garlic, so here you go.
HERB CHOICE: Basil, Garlic Chives or Thyme (F)
ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery

NEXT WEEK: More melons, beans, tomatoes, salsa packs and eggplant. Potatoes and onions.

THE FIELDS: This week's farm report is going to be brief as I want to save time to give you all a heads-up on the travails of our dear friends and fellow farmers at the Bad Seed. Actually we had a pretty interesting week here. The Saturday crew dug our best potato crop ever in one of our no-till experimental plots. No-till is the method where you pile on the hay and/or other organic matter and plant into it. The soil stays loose and no tilling is necessary. Some crops (like the potatoes) seem to really enjoy the environment that results. Other crops, not so much. Here's a photo of our little home garden next to our house which has been no-till for a few years. The gargantuan chard seems to be taunting the diminutive carrots. Carrots, it appears, prefer to be left alone to struggle through the hard, crusty soil. There must be some truth in that as our carrot harvests over the years have always done well with no coddling. Ah, if only we all could be so hardy.

Alright, enough about the darn carrots. There's real trouble afoot in our local food community.

The good folks at BADSEED FARM are under attack for growing food in their backyard at Bannister Road and State Line in KCMO. Due to complaints from the absentee homeowner next door, they have been forced to remove their goats and relocate their chickens. Additional citations threaten to force the shutdown of their farming operation completely. The KC Star magazine Ink covered their plight this week. I attended the hearing a few weeks ago where the farmers appealed the removal of their goats and it seemed to me that there is alot of education needed amongst the KCMO government on the importance of local food production. BADSEED FARM is a model sustainable farm practicing no-till, companion planting and integrated pest management. They provide an oasis of life amongst the suburban monocrop of Kentucky Bluegrass. And I can attest from personal experience, the farm is immaculate, beautifully manicured, without a weed in sight. The goats were healthy creatures that along with the chickens provided fertility and pest management to their operation.

Tom and I are grateful to be farming in the countryside on family land, but not everyone can be so lucky. Urban farms are a great alternative. Urban and suburban lawns should be re-purposed for a future where food and oil will be more precious. Please consider supporting the BADSEED in their efforts to create a new vision for suburban living.

Here's how you can help:

1. 6th District Residents (anywhere south of 85th St., KCMO) Contact your District 6 Representatives: Cathy Jolly, City Hall, 24th Floor, 414 E. 12th St. KCMO 64106; John Sharp, City Hall, 22nd Floor, 414 E. 12th St. KCMO 64106

2. Others. Brooke and Dan are really focusing on their district representatives, but it wouldn't hurt to contact others that you know or who represent you in the KCMO government. To find out who represents your district go here

3. Come down to the Friday nite BADSEED Market this Friday. Tom has written some great lyrics regarding the BadSeed plight to the tune of the Ballad of John and Yoko . Ernest James will be on hand to perform the song along with our own Lori Watley on percussion. We are currently working on getting the performance filmed so that we can post it on YouTube and spread the word. At this point we are looking a some time between 6 and 8 pm. We'll post when we have a more definite time. The more, the merrier. Tell your friends. Let's show our beleagured farmers some love with music from the heart.