Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What to Do With Your Share---Extended Season Week 2

This Spring has been extra-ordinary, to say the least. In doing our 10 year history we thought we had seen everything. But them comes along the latest yet Spring for us, and one that hasn't been equaled in a long time.

For us, we see where we stand based on our asparagus harvest. So, instead of a lot of photos, this week you get a table. It shows the year and the date of our first asparagus harvest of each year. Last year was the earlist ever, and this year the latest. Crazy.

2005   4/10
2006   4/7
2007   4/23
2008   4/26
2009   4/24
2010   4/19
2011   4/23
2012   3/28
2013   4/30

Rebecca, Ryan and Lorne planting leeks 4/30/13
The crunch of planting had not given time to prepare and present an original meal, but have some general suggestions. First off, make lots of dressing. The herbs and green onions are a wonderful accent to a salad dressing, whether in a yogurt or  oil & vinegar mix.

Second, make a big salad and take advantage of the freshness of the lettuce. Sometimes it is good to increase portion size. We get out our biggest bowls this time of year so we can fill them with plenty of greens and goodies, before topping it with a fresh dressing. Yum.

Lastly, use up every drop of your share. This time of year, especially, your body appreciates the goodness of these earliest of garden greens. It is their season.

Long-time members Bill and Fran Gillespe with Rebecca

In the Share - Week 2

LETTUCE (2): One of our favorite French heirloom butterheads and one red looseleaf.

SPINACH: A smaller portion than last week’s big bag from last fall’s planting. The February planting isn’t nearly as lush.

GREEN ONIONS: These are out of the field from an over-wintered patch.

ENDIVE: Also called frisee, it is lovely in mixed salads or lightly sauteed

SWISS CHARD: The plants are enormous and hogging the sunlight, so they gotta go!

SPRING TURNIPS: More Japanese delicacies. We should have planted more of these (next year!).

STIR-FRY GREENS: Many of our brassica family, including the bok choy and Napa cabbage have started bolting. They are still tasty and you get a little pretty flower too!

RADISHES: Wish we had lots more of these babies, everyone will get a few.

HERBS: From the perennial herb beds, tarragon and chives.

NEXT WEEK: More lettuce, spinach, herbs and green onions. Finally Hopefully asparagus!

 FARM REPORT: My goodness, have you all looked at the forecast? Freezing temperatures are on the way, maybe even some snow. This is coming after 2 days in the 80s. We are as prepared as we possibly can be since all the row cover we put out last week is still out there, but row cover only helps so much. We are happy that we have not put out any of the warm weather crops yet. The tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cukes and squashes are safely stored for a hopefully soon transplanting. But even the cool-loving crops don’t like freezing and this see-saw of weather can lead to premature bolting. We are currently experiencing the results of this in the high tunnel with the flowering bok choys and napas.

On a related note, at this point we feel that we will delay the start of the 24-week season by one week. That would make the first week May 22/25. Our plan is to add a week at the end of October to make it up. It is funny because last year we started a week early, which was unusual, and ended earlier in the fall. Anyway, the asparagus is really slow to start and the lettuces and other greens and roots are also slow and won’t be big enough to hand out. We’ll look at it again next week and give you all an update but that’s what we are thinking at the moment.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rural Missouri Article on Fair Share Farm

Our electric coop's state-wide publication Rural Missouri did an article on the farm for the May issue. We are pleased to see the words "biological farming, community supported agriculture, Fair Share Farm and true stewards of the land" in the pages of the magazine. Thanks too for the nice words from member and neighbor Crystal Leaman ..."It's about investing in my community and the growth of something that is really wonderful." It may load a little slow so be patient.

They sent us a box of copies, let us know if you want one.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In the Share - Week 1

LETTUCE (2)  a butterhead and a red leaf
BOK CHOY   some are green-stemmed, some are white - either way they make the best stir fry.
SPINACH  we are still picking off the fall planting and the leaves are still sweet and getting quite large.
SWISS CHARD see tom's post for his yummy Cacciatore recipe
GREEN ONIONS AND GARLIC use the green garlic as you would green onions.  
PARSLEY AND DILL both appear to be thriving
ARUGULA  we do not grow baby greens here at Fair Share, so be prepared for big bunches of big-leafed and full-flavored arugula
HAKUREI TURNIPS  some say they taste like they have ice cream in the center, you be the judge.
CARROTS  this was our first winter with the high tunnel and we hope you all are ready for the experiment!  The carrots taste great but are a bit misshapen due to uneven watering, we believe.  We just have enough for everyone to get a 1/2 pound.

NEXT WEEK:  lettuce, leeks, spinach, herbs, endive, radish, turnips, maybe (hopefully!) asparagus

What a way to kick off the first week of our new extended season - a brutal cold snap that had us racing across our fields today doubling-up on row cover! We put a second layer on 3800 feet worth of beds doing squats every 20 feet to pin it down. Perhaps we are running on adrenaline, but it went quickly and no frostbite was reported.  

This was after a very pleasant day on Saturday with the first crew of CSA member workers.  With lots of extra hands we cleaned-up the asparagus patch, dug dandelions, painted the picnic tables and filled in the trench for the new drain line from the wash area.

The washing and packing area of the barn got a big retrofit this winter and is ready for business.

And here's a sneak peak at the crops going in the shares tomorrow before we covered them up too.

We were hoping to have asparagus in the shares this week, but the stalks are barely poking out of the ground and for good reason, they'll most likely be frozen in the morning.

Forecasts range from mid-20s to 21 degrees in the morning.  We have cancelled the work shifts for tomorrow.  Our farm crew of four will be able to handle the harvest once the crops thaw.  CSA distribution should continue as planned.  We were able to cover our most sensitive crops, but the fruit trees and the direct-seeded crops are uncovered.  We'll let you know how it turns out.

What to Do With Your Share--- Extended Season Week 1

Welcome to the start of the 2013 Fair Share Farm CSA Season. We welcome a host of new and "seasoned" members and look forward to a tasty year. We will try not to complain about the weather this Spring and will only say that the status of the harvest is a function of it. And while we had hoped that the crops would be farther along by now, they are nonetheless ready for harvest.

One vegetable the high tunnel is well matched for is spinach, as it will grow well February through April. So we are happy to be able to have fresh spinach for you. We will be working to learn more and more about the idiosyncracies of growing this lucious green. Good fresh or cooked, these leaves are quite savory and full-bodied.

Their relative, chard, is the recipe for the week. We had to pick the plants two weeks ago as they were shading out everything around them. A regular meal for us became Chicken and Chard Cacciatore. The chard is also good simply as a tomato sauce ingredient, helping to fill the pot with the greens we all need. Tomatoes and peppers frozen from the previous summer are always a good addition and a perfect use for them.

Chicken and Chard Cacciatore over Spinach

1 whole chicken, cut into parts
1 qt tomato sauce
One bunch chard
2 cups or one can peeled tomatoes
2 cups chopped sweet or green peppers
One onion/green garlic bunch or 2 medium onions
Salt and pepper to taste

To easily cut the stem from chard fold the leaf, lay it on its side, and trim off the stem
Cut white parts of onion/garlic into 1/2 inch rounds
Cut stems from chard and chop into large dice
Fry the chicken parts until browned (10 to 15 minutes), remove from pan and keep warm
Add 1 tsp olive oil to pan and saute onions, garlic and chard stems
Return chicken to the pan
Add peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce and chopped chard leaves
Stir so sauce coats everything in the pot and cover
Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer covered for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is tender
Serve over chopped fresh spinach, pasta, rice, or by itself

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Harvest Starts Next Week

The time is fast approaching to start the harvest. The Fair Share Farm CSA Extended Season begins next week. Check your emails for more info if you have signed up (sorry the extended season is sold out.  We do still have openings for the 24-week season, so contact us ASAP if you want to join).

The crops are willing, but the cold wet weather of 2013 is holding them back. Nevertheless, there is plenty to harvest in the high tunnel and we are anticipating a full 9 items in the share for Week 1. Salads, stir-frys, dressings, side dishes and many more menu choices await. We expect the following:
lettuce (2), arugula, green onions, spinach, chard, green garlic, herbs, bok choi.

Farm Report
This time of year we anticipate the life in the soil returning, in the form of earthworms, centipedes and ground beetles. Still warming, it is yet to reach its peak of activity. We are looking forward to the end of this cold start of 2013, so things can kick into gear biologically.

Earthworms disturbed by weeding
The last week or so has been a productive one for the farm crew. Many mornings start in the greenhouse, potting up peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. Mulching the crops and putting up the pea trellising has also kept us warm.

Peppers in the greenhouse
Mulching cabbage
Rocky enjoying a bed of hay

The few days this year it has been dry enough to plant we have geared up and gone at it. Today we planted the last of our seed potatoes using a no-till method. As it is too wet to cut a trench and bury the seed potatoes as we might normally, we searched for an alternative bed. We found some mulched beds that had broccoli in them last Fall, planted them in the hole of the old plant, and covered them back up with hay.

Potatoes, ready to be mulched and mulched again
This planting method is the type of thing that was discussed at the Growing Growers Building and Managing Healthy Soils Workshop last Saturday. I was invited to discuss our growing practices and we later gave a tour of the farm. We want to thank MU and K-State Extension for including us in the lineup and promoting organic agriculture.

Growing Growers class 4/13/13

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Growing on the Farm

Well, Spring has sprung it seems, as the grass has greened, the perennials have started to pop out of the ground, and the planting has begun in earnest.

One nice sight has been the emergence of the sugar snap peas. Planted way back on March 15th, we have been patiently awaiting their appearance, not knowing if the snow, rain and freezing temperatures of March had done them in. But they are up and looking great, thanks in part to the quality of the soil and good drainage we have been able to put in place.
A good stand of sugar snap peas 04/08/13
In addition many hundered row feet of carrots, beets, spinach, arugula and hakurei turnips are in the ground and germinating. Our transplanting has included about 10,000 onion plants, almost 3,000 row feet of potatoes, 700 broccoli plants, 600 cabbage plants,700 lettuce plants (planting no. 1), herbs, and a bed each of kale and chard. Yesterday we found some beds that had dried out and planted even more, putting in the Asian greens, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage and radishes.

Transplanting potatoes on 4/2
Broccoli and cabbage, irrigated and row covered

Late afternoon planting before the rains
And we are just getting going as the greenhouse and cold frame are full of another 700 broccoli plants, Asian greens, kohlrabi, more lettuce, herbs, and the beginnings of the Summer crops (tomatoes, eggplant and peppers).

Cold frame plants
Peppers in the greenhouse
All in all things look good, though it is not true of everything. The garlic planting has come up rather weakly. As you may remember, the garlic matured a full month early last year and was a poor crop with lots of problems because of this. The seed we saved from that crop has not proven to be very strong. We will be doing all we can to get the most out of what is in the field and still have a good crop of seed for next year's planting.

Garlic coming up thin
The high tunnel looks good with the beginning of the extended season just around the corner. This is our first Spring growing in the controlled environment of a steel and plastic bubble and we are still learning the craft. Some crops look great, others show a bit of yellowing that we are working to correct. At this point we anticipate the extended season beginning on April 24.

Harvesting some greens for the farm crew
Rounding out the crop update we have uncovered the strawberry plants and amended them and look forward to fruit for all at the end of May/beginning of June. Our third year asparagus planting will get a short picking this Spring, with the plan that by next year it will be in the first week or two of the regular CSA season.

The farm crew of Luke, Lorne, Ryan and us are working hard to make this a productive year and are looking forward to the start of the harvest.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Northland Lifestyles Magazine article on Fair Share Farm

The latest edition of Northland Lifestyle Magazine has an article on us. You can see the on-line version of it here. We appreciate the wonderful description of the farm and CSA and recognition of our tenth anniversary.

We still have openings for 2013, so tell your friends and send them to our website.