Tuesday, September 27, 2016

In the Share: Week 21

SWEET POTATOES F/P  A sweetheart of a potato harvest is cheering up your farmers. See Tom's post for a recipe.

TOMATOES F/P  Tomatoes and cilantro at the same time is a treat!

LETTUCE x2 F/P  There is no stopping the lettuce.  We must pick it all this week and will hold it in our coolers for this week and next. Enjoy them while they last.

GREENS CHOICE F  kale, chard or gailan.

EGGPLANT F  This is always the best time of year for the 'plant.

OKRA OR CUCUMBERS F  Both are winding down but there's just enough to make a choice of the two.


ROMA BEANS P  Tom wrote about them last week

HERB CHOICE F  Cilantro or sage, both great with sweet potatoes.

NEXT WEEK:  Peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, greens, and leeks.

Fall is finally here and the lovely weather is much appreciated at the farm.  The work day starts cool and crisp.

Our tasks take us across the fields harvesting lettuce in the early morning, weeding in the high tunnel and then out for an afternoon of sweet potato digging.  If you haven't yet made it to the farm for your shifts, come on out and help us bring in the sweet potatoes this week or next.  We are getting closer to our average first frost date and all the "sweets" will need to be safely indoors by then.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 21

We welcome the fall with the first harvest of sweet potatoes. It is always nice to eat seasonally and welcome a vegetable that you have not had in awhile.

We enjoyed some tonight using the method of steam then brown. Cut the sweet potatoes into on 2-inch chunks, steam for 10 to 12 minutes, drain, and return the potatoes back to the same pan. Add some butter or oil to the pan and brown them.

We then spiced ours with a spice blend called tagine (curry is good too) and some salt.  A garnish of yogurt and chopped cilantro can't be beat.

Out in the field we are chopping down some summer cover crops and getting ready to turn them in. It is nice to be able to look down after mowing and not be able to see the soil, knowing there is a lot of good organic matter to chew into the soil

The frogs hear the tractor coming and leap out of the way. This one landed nearby and I got a pic. A frog in the field is an indication of diversity and health.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In the Share: Week 20

LETTUCE F/P As soon as I said that the lettuce didn't need another gully washer, guess what happened?!  This photo is after the four inches of rain that fell Tuesday night into Wednesday last week.  More water encouraged the already bolting lettuce all the more.  So far we are keeping up with harvesting the ones that are most threatening to bolt while they are still nice, but expect some emergent stalks in your heads.

TOMATOES F/P  Today sure felt like tomato season with a heat index at 100 deg. F.  What a weird weather year.  The heat and humidity has been unreal and our organic tomato patch has suffered as a result.

GARLIC F/P  From storage.  We are finishing up the artichoke variety and are moving on to the silverskin.

SWEET PEPPERS F  There are lots of peppers on the plants, but fewer are ripening so only the full shares get them this week.  Partial shares get them next week.

POTATOES OR ONIONS F  The last of both for the year.

EGGPLANT OR OKRA P  Both are doing well right now. You've got to savor the summer while it lasts!

ROMA BEANS F  It has been a very weird year with the bean crop.  All season long we have not been able to get our bean seed to sprout.  Finally we got half of a planting to come up.  After much cajoling we have a bit of a bean harvest.  See Tom's blog for more info. on this Italian-type bean.

CUCUMBERS F  Last hurrah of these for the year.

GREENS CHOICE P  Kale, chard or gailan

HERBS OR HOT PEPPERS F/P  Numex (green or red), Hot wax (yellow), and jalapenos (dark green or red) or cutting celery.

NEXT WEEK:  lettuce, greens, peppers, eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes


At least this time, the rain actually fit in our rain gauge.  Large rain events have become common enough that we should probably buy a bigger rain gauge.  No joke!   See Tom's post for a soggy photo.  Crops like the radishes, turnips, and arugula that were already stressed from the last rain are worse now.  After each rain event we have re-planted in the hopes of things turning in our favor, so far no such luck.

At the moment, the shares are full thanks to the summer crops that will be done soon and storage crops that we have pretty much gone through.  Expect lighter shares for the last few weeks of the season.  On a bright note, the sweet potato harvest has begun and it looks fairly respectable.  They will start appearing in the shares next week and for most of the rest of the season.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 20

In an old episode of Cheers, Norm and Cliff were discussing what the sweatiest movie was-Cool Hand Luke or Body Heat. Around here, the title of most humid season so far is descriptive of 2016. 

These warm sunny days have helped some plants, like okra and peppers, to thrive of late. We are also going to finally see a few beans in the share. A spell of poor germination means that the harvest will be smaller than desired, but these Roma beans serve well as an accent as much as a main ingredient.

One way we like to use green beans this time of year is in a hash. Our recipe from July of 2007 for potato, onion and bean hash fits well with the recent shares. These beans can also be steamed, cooled, and added to a cold salad.

This recipe is in one of our old newsletters. This summary of the week from 9 years ago notes that we were featured in the first issue of Greenability. It also shows our old gas powered irrigation pump (spewing fumes not pictured.) Give it a read.

In the fields the 4 inch rain a week ago put a hit on our latest attempt to re-seed everything we can before it is too late in the season. This picture is a good visual of our challenge.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In the Share: Week 19

LETTUCE F/P  Dainty Forellenschluss heads first from the lettuce patch, which is looking good as long as we don't get another gully washer.

GREENS CHOICE F The first picking on the fall kale, chard and gailan will be light to start.

SWEET PEPPERS F/P  The peppers don't want to stop growing.  Expect lots of ripe peppers, and once the frost threatens, lots of green peppers in your future.


POTATOES F  More of the Desiree variety with pink skin, yellow flesh.

EGGPLANT F  The plants are making nice fruit now.

CUCUMBERS P  Not many more cucumbers left. A sign of the end of summer.

TOMATOES F/P  A last little flush is slowly ripening.

HERBS F/P  Chives and thyme

NEXT WEEK:  Peppers, sweet potatoes, garlic, eggplant, lettuce

We had a beautiful day for the CSA harvest dinner.  The community came together and put on a great party with lots of fun for the kids, homebrew and good conversation for the adults and no injuries have been reported.

Since we spilled the beans last week (see here if you missed it), Tom and I had to take a few minutes from the festivities to talk about our plans for next year.  Sustainability is sometimes described as a three-legged stool comprised of social, environmental, and economic components.  We think the CSA is rocking the social component with the sliding scale, coordination with food pantries, distribution sites and so much more.  Our environment benefits from the farm's commitment to organic practices, the purchase of wind power from our electric co-op, and a myriad of other things that are done to conserve resources on the farm.  The economics of the farm are strong thanks to the support of the membership.  With the commercial kitchen almost complete, the farm hopes to complement the CSA income with sales from fermented foods.  We are excited to begin the next chapter of building our farm business with the community and the land. 

What to Do With Your Share---Week 19

It was great on Sunday to be able to have such a wonderful gathering here at the farm. It seems the kids might have outnumbered the adults this year meaning we must have achieved some type of critical mass. We are hoping we can keep that going as we head into the future.

While the summer harvest is starting to slow down, we still seem to have one of our more productive okra patches out in the field. There are plenty of recipes for the okra lover on the web, but if you are new to okra or not crazy about its texture, we suggest reading our August 2010 blog. This wok dish is a great way to keep the okra crispy.

beautiful okra
Out in the field we are beginning the process of mowing down the summer cover crops so we can feed them to the soil. Annually watching these great mass of greenery grow tall, get shredded, and then disappear into the soil really helps one understand that the soil is literally eating all of it. After all, the soil is the stomach of the plant.

mowing down the sorghum-sudan grass/cow pea cover crop

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What to Do With Your Share---Week 18

We appreciate everyone listening to our plans and the changes ahead. The buoying of the farm by the CSA has helped to keep the farm sustainable since 2004. As my high schools motto says "Onward."

You never know what vegetable will do well in conditions like we have been having. We are happy the pickling cucumbers have done well. They are naturally flavorful and crunchy. All they really need is a little salt.

We have been trialing putting perennial herbs in the corners of the high tunnel to take up space and allow us to grow plants that wouldn't otherwise survive a NW Missouri winter. We have one success in a rosemary plant. One bush will hopefully give everyone a sprig. A real community shrub.

We added a teaspoon of chopped rosemary to some peppers and garlic we were frying and caramelizing. It was delicious and it added that extra savory flavor to the dish.

In the Share: Week 18








HERBS F/P  thyme/rosemary or thyme/parsley bunches

NEXT WEEK:  lettuce, onions, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes

Okay, hold on tight!  We have an announcement:  Fair Share Farm, as it is currently configured, will be taking a rest in 2017.  Call it a farmer sabbatical.  And if you can believe wiki, the sabbatical year for farmers should be every seventh year.  Tom and I started farming here in 2003, making this year our 14th growing season, so we are long overdue.

Honestly, 2015 and 2016 exposed the limits of our land to recover from big rain events.  The problem is drainage.  There are things that can be done including longer fallow periods, chisel plowing and/or more mulching.  Thing is we need some time to rest the land, rest ourselves, research the options and do the work.  None of this is likely to happen with the weekly schedule of providing 7-9 produce items for 130 families.

Also on the list in 2017 is to work in our (soon-to-be-newly-certified) commercial kitchen fermenting krauts and pickles. We also plan to remodel the pack/wash area which includes replacing a load-bearing wall and roof.  And we also need to rebuild our perimeter fencing to exclude the cattle who will soon be our neighbors on my family's acreage.

As we look past 2017, we are hoping that a year off will make us better farmers and growers of produce for the CSA.  We hope that the CSA can continue during the sabbatical with some produce from us.  The strawberry patch is well-weeded and mulched.  We will have u-pick for sure, and maybe we can pick for everyone too.  We may grow some staple crops and keep a bulk list going.

What we don't want to do is lose the network of farmers and eaters that has grown up around us.  The Partner Vendors:  Parker Farms, Goatsbeard Farm, Skyview Farm and Creamery, Companionship Breads, Tiny Whole Farm, and Urbavore make up our most fantastic food hub.  We are so well-fed by these amazing food artisans and farmers.  We are equally grateful for their dedication to organic, natural foods that are good for their animals and the planet.

How this will all work is still to be figured out.  Right now Tom and I have more questions than answers and are open to suggestions.  Our one suggestion is that at our next Core Group meeting which is scheduled for November 13 at 1 pm we open the meeting up to all members who want to dream and plan for 2017 and beyond.

And surely this will be a conversation-starter at the CSA picnic on Sunday.

Here's the details in case you missed them:

Harvest Dinner at Fair Share Farm 
Come join the fun with great food, hayrides, music and fun activities!
We’re looking forward to seeing YOU at our annual Harvest Dinner!
Date: Sunday, September 11th
(rain date: September 18th)
Time: 2:00 pm to evening
Location: Fair Share Farm
18613 Downing Road
Kearney, MO 64060
Please RSVP as soon as possible to let us know if you will be able to attend 
and the number of people in your party.
What to bring:
 Your own dining set
Picnic chairs or blanket
Potluck dish (see details below)
Frisbees, kites, badminton, croquet, bocce . . .
anything else to enjoy with family and friends
Musical instruments
We are happy to serve up the main dish (burgers, brats, soup and chili) plus various drinks.
Please bring a dish to serve 12 people according to your last name:
A-G: salad or appetizer
H-O: side dish
P-Z: dessert
The event starts at 2:00 and we won't eat until 5:00, so please keep this in mind for perishable foods.  We have space for dishes in our walk-in.

See you there!