Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In the Share -Week Six

BASIL (F/P) Welcome summer in with the flavor of the season.

CARROTS (F/P) This first week we give them to you freshly-pulled with their tops. Cut off the tops, leaving an inch green stub if you want to store them for later use.

LETTUCE (F) Summer lettuces are smaller and crunchier, that’s how they survive the heat.

KOHLRABI (F/P) Peel it well, steam lightly and season with fresh herbs, salt and oil. Yum!

SUGARSNAP PEAS (F/P) Last week of these babies. They are less sweet now and hold up well to a little cooking.

SUMMER SQUASH (F) It is the first harvest and we just have one or two for the full shares. There will be much more to come.

SWEET PEPPERS (F/P) There is an assortment of colors to choose from but they are all green, i.e. unripe, peppers. It is good for the plants to be pruned of some of their fruit when they are young. This encourages the plant to grow bigger with more leaves to shade the fruit.

CHARD OR KALE (F/P) May be the last time we will have it for awhile, so enjoy its many benefits.

BUNCHING ONIONS (F) Tiny bugs called thrips have been nibbling our onions, hence their pale color.

NEXT WEEK: More squash, beets and cabbage. Cucumbers hopefully and maybe the first little tomatoes.

FARM REPORT: As of tonight we are still trying to decide what row of carrots to harvest. We grow several varieties in the Spring, some of which sweeten in storage. We may pick some of the smaller carrots that are more tender. Here’s a photo we took over a week ago of our choices.

 A family of barn swallows has lived in the shed across the road since Tom and I returned to the farm ten years ago. They used to live in our barn, but we must have scared them off with the commotion of the clean-up efforts. Our nearest neighbors, the swallows were close by enough to continue to hunt bugs in our fields on summer evenings. They are especially drawn to the sound of the tractor and will swoop and dive around Tom’s head as he mows the fields – picking up bugs as they scatter out of the tractor’s path. I counted eight swallows today perched together waiting to do another run.

I think I’d rather by a barn swallow and make my nest (1,000 mouthfuls of mud, according to our Birds of Missouri book) under a roof rather than the bird that made her nest directly on the ground in the squash patch. We rarely see a good result from a nest on the ground in our fields, but it sure is sweet.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 6

Tonight is being spent prepping for a talk tomorrow that I get to give on the cover cropping and soil management systems we use on the farm. Lincoln University and MU have asked me to present as a part of a Train the Trainer workshop on conservation agriculture and sustainable production.

I enjoy having the opportunity to talk about biological farming, its many benefits, and its inherent difference from chemical agriculture. Over ten years it has become very apparent that the cover cropping, compost application, tillage methods, mineral additions, crop rotations and other practices have continually improved the farm's fertility. It is fun to watch...and eat.

For this week's share I suggest that you link to our September 11, 2012 blog and learn alittle from our friend Cole about kohlrabi. Or try the pickled hakurei turnip and lemon recipe and in a week you will have, to quote Rebecca,  "lemonade turnips."

Great copy by Dani Hurst in the Greenability, and this spring's hakurei pickles

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In the Share - Week Five

Spring cabbage

BEETS (F) My favorite vegetable is ready for harvest – what could be better? When they are young like these, chop the whole plant – root to leaf – and sautee with some garlic and olive oil. Yumm!

CABBAGE (F/P) Spring cabbages are smaller than those in the fall – perfect for a bowl of cole slaw.

SUGARSNAP PEAS (F/P) Wow, do we have a lot of peas out there. I hope we have lots of pickers this week! Come on out if you need to get in a shift.

LETTUCE (F2/P1) the lettuces are hanging in there, but they’ll be gone soon. Enjoy those salads while you can!

STRAWBERRIES (F/P) A pint for everyone. There are still lots of berries in the patch, but fewer perfect ones for the shares.

SPRING TURNIPS (F) Our second spring planting of turnips is ripe for harvest and they are big beauties!

BROCCOLI (F) The broccoli has continued to produce side shoots, so here’s one more round for the full shares.

ONIONS (P) The onions are starting to bulb up. There will be many more to come.

HERBS (F/P) Mint, herb fennel, Thai basil or a dried herb.

NEXT WEEK: More turnips, lettuce, peas and herbs. Carrots and summer squash.

FARM REPORT: Summer begins on Friday, June 21st and we welcome its arrival. This cool, wet Spring has been a real challenge and we are hoping that Summer brings some warmth and drier weather. Since the first seeds were planted in the fields back in March we have been dodging the rain to get any planting done. Just as the fields begin to dry out rain enters the forecast. Sometimes the ground is still a touch too wet and we plant anyway, slogging through the mud. Other times it is so wet there is no way to work it and we wait. 

If we are lucky we can adjust our planting maps and find a drier piece of ground to plant. Such was the case last week when the area slated for the sweet potatoes remained boggy and full of partially-digested rye/vetch cover crop. We love to grow a massive cover crop before the sweet potatoes and the timing usually works out great. Not so this year as the cool, wet soil slowed decomposition and we had no choice but to look for other ground. We found some space that was empty due to the same wet weather that prevented us from planting a cover crop earlier this Spring.

Lucky for us that field was empty or we would have been stuck with 1,000+ sweet potato slips with nowhere to plant them. Instead we fired up the transplanter and in a period of 24 hours we planted all of the sweet potatoes and 750 melon plants.  Later that night over an inch of rain fell as the farmers slept peacefully.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 5

This week's share is a well rounded selection that includes fruits, roots and greens. The peas are in that fruit category, and their sweetness tells you so. The fresh hakurei turnips make a return appearance as our second planting starts sizing up. And our newest green, cabbage, serves to "round" things out.

Another few newbies are Thai basil and herb fennel. They both have the same subtle licorice essence, but they are very different herbs. The basil is a key ingredient inThai cuisine. Use it fresh in lettuce wraps or spring rolls (yum). Both of these dishes are from natural born cook Heather Hands. Most any ingredient in your share can be substituted into each of these recipes.

Spring roll (from csachef.blogspot)

Lettuce wraps (from csachef.blogspot)
As of right now we have lost 1 phone, 1 desktop computer, and 1 digital camera in a very short time period. And while we are able to function fine without them temporarily, it complicates life. But when Rebecca says "it sure is quieter in here without the computer fan going constantly," you realize what we give up for modern technology.

That is also why we enjoy a job that is dictated by Nature instead of technology. Even when the fields, once again are too wet to work in, there is plenty to keep us occupied, like building the Fair Share Farm shade structure (say that fast a couple times). The farm crew did their usual great job of getting the greenhouse ready for seeding the fall transplants and drying herbs. Spring summer and fall all converge on us this time of year.
Just planted melons high and wet

Attaching the shade cloth

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In the Share - Week Four

Broccoli side-shoots

SUGARSNAP PEAS (F/P) These are edible-podded peas. Just snap the top, pull any strings that may come with it and pop it in your mouth.

KOHLRABI (F/P) Introducing the kohlrabi – We have enough for everyone to get one. More are on their way.   Peel it well and eat raw or cook lightly.

LETTUCE (F2/P1) Too much lettuce in your fridge? Check Tom’s recipe for wilted lettuce salad. 

STRAWBERRIES (F/P) A quart for all. What a great crop this year! We are glad so many of you came out for u-pick and ordered bulk. Who can say n"No" to a fresh, local, no-spray strawberry? Non-organic berries, as a picker on Saturday said, are “chemical sponges”.

GARLIC SCAPES (F/P) The hardneck garlic’s flower stalk. Very edible and tasty. Great with the creamy garlic dressing we make at the farm with our fresh eggs. A different version than last week’s yogurt-based recipe, Tom's got a link this week.

BROCCOLI (P) We are happy to get the partial shares their “fair share” of broccoli. It has been a disappointing harvest and this is the last of it.  Luckily the plants made one last dash and made lots of side-shoots after the main head was picked.

HERB CHOICE (F) Rosemary, taragon, garlic chives or a dried herb

SPRING ONIONS (F)  A bit of a bulb on these, but still with fresh tops.

KALE OR CHARD (F) The greens love all of this moisture. Expect more in the weeks to come.

NEXT WEEK: More peas, lettuce, strawberries and kohlrabi. Cabbage and spring turnips.

FARM REPORT: The fields were filled this past weekend thanks to an amazing strawberry harvest. The weather was perfectly pleasant and lots of you came out with family and friends in tow.


As the berry harvest winds down, our CSA harvest mornings will be given over to the pea patch, which is looking great. Peas have a short season here in the southern Midwest, but our healthy plants this year remind me of our beginnings back at Peacework Organic Farm in Newark, New York. Tom and I met in the spring on the farm.  Western New York has beautiful farmland, well-drained soil and good people.  Congrats to all the farmers there and the Genessee Valley CSA - 25 years and still going strong: www.gvocsa.org  .

pea patch

What to Do With Your Share---Week 4

Week 4 already. We are nearing the blending of the spring and summer seasons. We are continuing our harvest of the spring crops and tending to the growing and flowering summer veggies. Right now is when we have a convergence of the pea, strawberry, lettuce and garlic scape harvests. It is an amazing combination to enjoy while it lasts. Summer can wait.

In the Fair Share Farm 2013 calendar the photo for June is of several recipes that may just have their ingredients in your fridge. The sugar snap pea salad, broccoli pasta salad, and Asian cole slaw are all good choices.

Another suggestion is an oft-used home-made dressing of ours, creamy garlic. So good and even tastier with a few strawberries thrown in.

To help you alleviate the lettuce bonanza you are experiencing we have a final suggestion, wilted lettuce salad. Like any green, lettuce can be cooked. It is actually one of the easier greens to cook, as it is difficult to under-cook, and it cooks quickly.

Wilted Lettuce Salad
1 large head of lettuce (we used a romaine)
3 green garlic or garlic scapes
3 hakurei turnips or 1/2 cup julienned kohlrabi
1 tbsp olive oil or butter

1 tbsp of honey or 2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive or other salad oil
1 tsp salt
  1. Trim the top off the lettuce if needed. Trim off the bottom and fan the leaves under water to rinse out any dirt.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the chopped garlic and hakureis. Stir and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Coarsley chop the lettuce head (you only need 4 or 5 slices to chop it up) and add to the pan. Add the salt, stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Take the skillet off the heat, add the dressing and toss.
  5. Serve with crushed nuts or dried fruit as a garnish.
Cover Cropping
Feeding the soil is a full-time job, and this week more work was done in that department. The plastic of the high tunnel was removed to give the soil a breath of fresh air, and some rain on its face. We think that the sorghum sudan grass and cowpeas we seeded will germinate well, and add some much needed organic matter to the soil.

Taking off the high tunnel plastic

Meanwhile, we took a few last looks at our yellow clover patches before flail mowing them today, in advance of spading them in. A legume, yellow clover provides nitrogen to the soil, and takes in other nutrients and minerals.

Lorne strolling through the clover

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What to Do With Your Share---Week 3

We are rolling now. The harvest has begun in earnest. There has been a real growth spurt of late, and whatever is harvestable is being taken from the field and put in the shares. Predicting a share is as hard as predicting the weather.

Such unpredicatble behavior can be fun, as you find yourself in unique situations, like having a surplus of lettuce and strawberries at the same time. We enjoy such short-lived instances and figure out ways to bring the two together.

The first pickings of 2013
Our go-to recipe is salad with creamy strawberry and garlic dressing. The recipe from Week 4 of 2010 details this recipe. If you have some green garlic left from a previous share use it, otherwise, skip the garlic and add an extra strawberry or two to this delicious salad dressing.

For your salad, any of the lettuces that you get will go well. Add some broccoli florets, hakurei turnips or bok choi leaves and you have half a meal. Enjoy these tender greens now, as Summer will soon take lettuce out of the shares.

We also recommend a hearty stir fry. Depending on the type share you get and what you might have left over, the type of stir fry you cook can be different. I suggest going to the top-left hand corner of this page and searching the blog for stir fry. Several great suggestions are there, including a favorite of mine-Stir Fry Soup.

High tunnel just before mowing

In the Share - Week Three

STRAWBERRIES (F2/P1) Oh boy! We spent over 20 “man hours” in the berry patch just today! Luckily there were 5 of us picking. When the berries come on, it is an everyday task that has it’s rewards. If you have some extra time this week or you haven’t yet signed up for your work shifts now is a tasty time to do so.

LETTUCE (F3/P2) The lettuce patch is also pumping out the poundage. Several succession plantings are ripening at once, so everyone gets an additional head this week. There are still a few butterheads and lots of romaine this week.

BROCCOLI (F) Can’t say the same for the dismal broccoli harvest. Broccoli’s time to shine is in autumn.

HAKUREI TURNIPS (F/P) Eat ‘em like an apple!

BOK CHOY (F/P) bunches of baby bok choy this week – tender and juicy for your next stir fry.

HERB CHOICE (F/P) cilantro, oregano, dill or a dried herb

NEXT WEEK: More lettuce, strawberries, green onions, turnips and herbs.  Sugarsnap peas!

FARM REPORT: In between picking strawberries and trying to get the last of the summer crops in the ground, the farm crew gave the high tunnel a makeover this week. What was left of the spring extended season crops were mowed and spaded in.

It is a bit tricky maneuvering "Grandpa" the tractor in and out of the high tunnel, but Farmer Tom has the knack and made short work of preparing a nice seedbed for the cover crops.

Next we sowed sorghum sudan grass and cowpeas with our little broadcast seeder that swings over the shoulder. A little raking and we are ready to take the roof off and for the rain to water it in. Removing the high tunnel roof is a bit un-heard of, but we feel very strongly that the soil needs the benefit of rain and pure sunshine. We plan to re-install the plastic roof before we plant for the fall extended season. In the meantime, we hope for a lush cover crop to feed the soil.