Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In the Share: Week 28

lacewing on the lettuce

LETTUCE  blushed butter oaks.  Lacewings eat aphids which can sometimes be a pest in protected environments like the high tunnel.  It is nice to see our beneficial friends.

ARUGULA  big leaves from the high tunnel.

RADISHES  sweet red ones from the high tunnel

BROCCOLI/GAI LAN  the bunches will include both - stems, leaves, buds are all edible.

SPINACH the first pick from the high tunnel

CILANTRO  big plants are thriving in the high tunnel

TOKYO BEKANA  This is a new one for all of us.  Similar to Napa cabbage but more open.  It grew pretty large, so plan on some stir fry or coleslaw soon in your future. 

BULB FENNEL  from the field.

POTATOES choice of Desiree or Fingerling varieties

NEXT WEEK:  lettuce, carrots, greens, herbs, garlic


Once again post-season baseball for our hometown team, the Kansas City Royals, coincides with our post-season.  The extended season for 53 shares starts this week with greens from the high tunnel, fennel and broccoli from the field and potatoes from storage. 

The farm has been a quiet place these past few days.  The employees and apprentices finished their season on Saturday. Before they left, we built a big raised bed with old stones from the barn.  After the deluge we experienced this summer, raised beds seem like a safe bet. 

Royal blue skies

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

This week we start harvesting from the high tunnel. It is very difficult to schedule peak harvest times for the vegetables we grow, and sometimes we let things keep growing if they are happy. The Tokoyo Bekana is listed in the seed catalog as a miniature Chinese cabbage but will be about the biggest thing in your share. It's great when things thrive.

We've been using it up in the stir fries.  We have made it two ways recently.  One is with Parker Farms pork sausage rolled into mini-meatballs that have been browned and added to the dish. The other uses their sirloin strip. Marinate the strip in sesame seed oil, rice wine vinegar and garlic before broiling for about 20 minutes (turning once). Let it rest, cut into strips and add to the stir fry.

Stir fry with pork sausage

Out in the fields we have been preparing the ground for next year. We started putting down cover crops wherever we could once the rains stopped this summer, and they have done quite well, growing into a significant plant mass. Yesterday I started chopping them down in preparation for the rain and some subsequent tilling.

mowed cover crops

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In the Share - Week 24

SWEET PEPPERS F/P  Everyone gets a bag from the last haul out of the fields.

LETTUCE F/P  butterhead or red leaf

ESCAROLE F  See Tom's post about it and it's starring role in the Outstanding in the Field dinner.

GREENS CHOICE F/P  Gai lan or bok choy.  The choice for the partial shares include escarole.

ROOT MIX F  A bag of beets, carrots, turnips and whatever else we can glean from the fields tomorrow.

HERB CHOICE F/P  hot peppers, chives, thyme, sage or dill.

GARLIC F  We had more garlic than we thought, so here's an extra dose.  It should keep well into winter if kept cool and dry.

TOMATOES F  A mixture of ripe, ripening and green tomatoes.  The last of the season.

BROCCOLI P  We have a small harvest this week, just enough for the partial shares.

SWEET POTATOES F/P   choice of white or orange.

NEXT WEEK:  The fall extended season begins with harvests from the high tunnel: lettuce, greens and roots plus some items held over like potatoes and onions.

This week your farmers got a off-farm break for the first time since March.  The Outstanding in the Field dinner started the fun on Wednesday. 

Linda Hezel, from Prairie Birthday farm, began with a toast.

By Saturday afternoon, we were driving south to Fort Scott, one of our nation's military outposts on  "the permanent Indian frontier" as it was considered to be back in 1842.

Heading home on Monday we hiked through the tallgrass prairie at the Mine Creek Civil War battle site near Pleasanton, Kansas. 

Now here it is Tuesday and we are faced with the last week of the 24-week CSA season.  For many this is goodbye for the year.  A hearty hug of appreciation is sent to all of you who weathered 2015 with us!  Community Supported Agriculture kept our farm afloat through pretty tough weather conditions this year and we cannot thank you all enough.

Despite a year's worth of rain in two months and then no rain for two months, we have somehow managed to continue to find crops to harvest each week.  From our varied crop list (about 40 in total) we lost many but were surprised by others that survived and even thrived.  The carrots rotted but we had one of our best harvests of white potatoes ever - over a ton in total.  The peppers, eggplant and okra rebounded from the rains and produced a bounty of fruits.

A special thanks go to Megan McQueen and Semra Fetahovic who apprenticed at the farm this season.  They started back at the end of March and seven months later, 44 hours a week, they have successfully completed a job well done.  Best wishes to them both!

And thank you to all who participated in the success of another season.  To steal a phrase, it takes a community to raise a farm!!!

Saturday morning CSA members dismantling the cherry tomatoes

What to Do With Your Share---Week 24

Here it is, the last week of the regular season. Thanks for having the farm and its partner vendors be one of the main sources of  your food this year. We do what we do because we know that the nutritional value of food is fundamentally important. We appreciate the opportunity to live and work in the middle of it all.

The sweet potatoes are being used up fast, and we want to make sure the membership gets all we have left. So this week you will be seeing some No. 2's in the share. Trimmed up from damage in the field, we let these tubers cure and heal over. Enjoy this resilient and tasty vegetable.

Another thing with the sweet potatoes is that some of them are jumbos. They look intimidating, but if you just think of them as a winter squash you can find plenty of uses for them.

The escarole has grown as good as anything lately, and is a hearty part of a good salad. Chef Ted Habiger and his crew from Room 39 featured these greens in the first course at last week's Outstanding in the Field dinner. Poached FSF eggs were a nice touch.

Our day off the farm at Ft. Scott, Kansas was a quite enjoyable one. Learning more about our area's flora, fauna, food and history is always fun. The poor eating habits of the US Army in the 1840's was news to me, but shows the real effect of vitamin deficiency. The reconstructed dragoon barrack's kitchen showed the past dependency on barrels, crocks and sacks. It is a beautiful room reminiscent of a Shaker building.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

In the Share - Week 23

CARROTS F/P  Finally we have carrots to harvest after an unusually long hiatus throughout the summer. Most of the spring crop rotted in the ground, making these darling roots really a pleasant sight.

SWEET POTATOES F/P  Orange ones this week.

TOMATO F  Just a few left.  Frost may come on Saturday.

BROCCOLI P The last of the crop except a few side shoots

SWEET PEPPERS F/P  Mostly green peppers for you as we prepare to bring them all in before frost.

EGGPLANT F Just one small one for the full shares.

LETTUCE F/P  Butterhead or red leaf

GREENS CHOICE F  Bok choy, Swiss chard or Gai lan.

HERB CHOICE F/P  Cilantro, dill, rosemary, thyme or hot peppers

FENNEL OR KOHLRABI F Anise or broccoli flavored bulbs

GARLIC F/P  The last garlic for the 24-week CSA shares.

NEXT WEEK:  Sweet potatoes, greens, peppers, green tomatoes, carrots and beets

The weather has turned exceptionally dry these past weeks.  No rain is good for the Outstanding in the Field dinner tomorrow night and good for the farm crew.  The irrigation pond has plenty of water so we continue to irrigate the few crops that remain in the fields. 

The 2-month old chicks are enjoying the warm weather and their expanded area in which to forage.  On Monday, we took away their "run" that had confined them to a chicken wire-enclosed area and set them free in the yard surrounded by electro-netting. As soon as the door opened they started exploring their new range and learning about electrified fencing. 

Each chick in turn would walk through the fence with a jolt and then rush back in a few seconds later.  This was a moment where we benefited from not having a dog around while each of the 60 chicks had an educational moment.  Two days later they seem to have learned the limits of their new space and are happily hunting for bugs and chasing each other, wings flapping.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 23

As the harvest season winds down we enjoy the mix of vegetables the fall brings us. We have been eating up the sweet potatoes like candy. We are lucky to be able to enjoy the small ones that are too tiny to put in the shares that roast up as little sweet potato fingers. Looking at our Facebook page, it appears that sweet potato fries are happening in many of our CSA member households. Hopefully we will see the recipe mentioned for sweet potato chips in a future post.

The brassicas are a nice compliment to the roots in the shares. We love to stir fry this time of year---greens, broccoli, gai lan, peppers, hot peppers, turnips, they all bring so much flavor to a meal. Take member Emily Akins advice and try some bok choy soup. Her many efforts and local food experiences landed her on the radio last week talking about how our CSA and local farming in general is one of the steps we can all take to shape a more sustainable future.

And as the frost potential heightens, we look to emptying the fields of the hot peppers. They remain on the bulk list and we suggest getting them while you can. It is so simple to broil them for 15 minutes or so (turning once) and enjoy them whole. The Hungarian hot wax and jalapenos pack some punch while the NuMex are a bit milder. Their flavor is great.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In the Share - Week 22

O'HENRY SWEET POTATOES F/P  We love these sweet buttery beauties.

BROCCOLI F  A short harvest this time around.  We will get some to the partials next week. 

LETTUCE P  So, we had a little break-in with a deer last week, hence the paltry supply of lettuce.  We have the area they didn't find well-covered now and hope to have more lettuce for you all before the end of the season. 

SMALL CABBAGE F  Read all about our stellar fall cabbage crop below.

BOK CHOY  F  I recommend stir-fry with the hakureis.

SWEET PEPPER F/P  Cooler temperatures means less ripening, so expect more green and purple ones from now on.

EGGPLANT or BEETS F/P The first of the fall beets (no tops, just roots) and nearing the end of the eggplant.

HAKUREI TURNIPS F/P  Salad turnips that we rarely cook and instead prefer straight out of the field.  Exception:  stir-fry with bok choy.

TOMATOES F/P The end of tomato season is coming soon, but here's a few more.

HERB CHOICE F Sage, cilantro, dill or hot peppers

NEXT WEEK:  Sweet potatoes, carrots (finally!), tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, garlic, broccoli, lettuce, greens and herbs.


The small cabbages that are in the full shares this week are the best of the fall crop.  Our favorite fall vegetable, the one we hope to depend on for income in our old age, failed.  At the time that we planted them we knew we were taking a risk.  We had waited as long as we could before preparing the soil for planting.  After the seemingly never-ending rain, we didn't know if we would have another chance.  We ended up with cloddy soil, but we were able to get the plants in and thought the transplants would be able to handle it.  Two months later it is clear that no such handling took place.  A good half-acre of crop including cauliflower, broccoli, turnips and radishes- is a bust.  Luckily we planted in other areas after the soil conditions had improved so that we have enough of other crops to get us through the end of the CSA season. 

On a brighter note, we put the roof back on the high tunnel this week.  It was a team effort and a success.  See Tom's post for a view from the top. 

What to Do With Your Share---Week 22

It's been a nice start to sweet potato season. The orange Beauregard's are out of the ground and hit the shares last week. This week we hand out the cream-colored O'Henry's. They are one of the three varieties of organic sweet potato starts that Kansas State grows each year for sale. They are truly delicious baked, mashed or fried. A favorite of mine is white sweet potato soup.

I got a chance to have an elevated view of the home field this week while attaching plastic to the high tunnel peak. We are glad to be able to see a view with cover crops and chickens in it. These areas are getting prepped for the coming year and revived after a tough season.