Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In the Share: Week 16


SWEET POTATOES  Bonita variety are creamy yellow






The year has flown by and here we are already at the last week of the CSA season.  We hope you all enjoyed our offerings from the fields.  We sure have enjoyed growing them for you.

Some may recall that a year ago we announced that 2017 was to be a sabbatical year.  After 14 years of building the farm up, we wanted a year to allow us to experiment and take a breath.  Overall, we are happy with what we accomplished.  We reduced our growing area by more than half and managed to improve the productivity of our fields.  Certain crops were dropped altogether (beans and peas), others were grown on a much smaller scale (tomatoes, zucchini).  The CSA was shifted to an every-other week, one share size system.  Tom had time to make lots of yummy ferments and market them to area grocery stores and farmers markets.  Luckily, we had pretty decent weather - not too hot and dry in the summer, and at least in our little area, no massive rain events.  It is hard to extrapolate the successes of one season to future seasons, but at this point, we would like to use 2017 as the starting point for 2018.

We really would like to know how this experimental year was for you.  Look for an invitation from the farm in the coming weeks for a survey of the membership.  We would love to hear from everyone who participated in the CSA this year and learn your thoughts and any suggestions for improvement.

Thank you for your support of our family farm during the sabbatical.  We were unsure of what would come of it and it meant alot to us that so many of you stuck with us.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 16

Last blog of our sabbatical season. And while we use that term loosely, we were able to rest a bit and learn a lot at the same time. Thanks for going along for the ride this year, we hope next season will be even better. Coming out the other side of the season with an enthusiastic membership and a cooler full of vegetables and ferments is a nice trend to be riding.

The last share has a nice selection of field grown and high tunnel items. The fennel this year tastes great, as the cold outside temps lately helped sweeten it up. It is great chopped and added to a lettuce salad.

The sweet potatoes live up to their name. A go to recipe for us is to cut them into small chunks, steam them, then mash with butter and milk or cream. You get a rich, creamy, sweet and comforting dish whose leftovers can double as potato pancakes. Just add about 1/3 as much flour as potatoes, form into patties, and fry up.

Thanks again for supporting the farm this 2017 season!

PS. sorry no picture today, computer issues

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

In the Share: Week 15

TURNIPS AND RADISHES  Sweet and juicy roots!

BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE  Our most delicious buttery heads are back

RED LEAF LETTUCE  Big ruffly goodness

SWEET POTATOES  Bonita variety have creamy yellow centers.

KALE OR SPROUTING BROCCOLI  Sweet brassica from the frost-kissed fields.

SWEET PEPPERS  The last of the season.

SPINACH  Big dark green leaves full of nutrients.

LEEKS  The most refined of the onion family.

IN TWO WEEKS:  The last of the 16 week CSA:  carrots, lettuce, garlic, sweet potatoes, beets, bulb fennel and greens.

It is Halloween eve as I write this.  There's no flurry of doorbells and candy as our farm is too far out in the sticks for trick-or-treaters.  When we were young, my parents would drive us to my grandparent's neighborhood in Excelsior Springs for the occasion.  Here all is quiet and cozy.  We lit our first fire of the season in the wood stove tonight.  Our cats, Momma and Sandy keep me company on the couch as I type away at the laptop.

The last few days have been a flurry of work preparing the farm for cold weather.  A freeze came Saturday morning and took out the peppers, but the cabbages, broccolis and kales were unfazed.  Our fall kale patch is especially glorious and is at it's best after a few cold nights.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 15

The high tunnel harvest has begun in earnest, and some of the most tender veggies of the season are coming your way this week. The turnips are almost creamy, the spinach plumb with flavor, and the butterhead lettuces live up to their name.

One delicious option with this week's share is spinach balls. The recipe is from our May 5, 2015 blog and is served over an endive salad. We suggest instead simply pairing it with any salad greens and root vegetables you may have at hand. A nice warm and hot combination.

Last Saturday I spent some time at the Green Dirt Farm Creamery sampling our ferments. They are one of the first stores to carry our products and we were glad to have the opportunity to give their customers a tasting of our ferments.

We will be headed to Green Dirt Farm this Sunday for the KC Food Circle Harvest Hootenanny. Join us for a tour, tasting, yard games and local food.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

In the Share: Week 14

ARUGULA or ROSEMARY  The first harvest from the fall high tunnel.  Spinach, lettuce, greens and roots will soon follow.

SWEET PEPPERS  We picked alot this week in case it frosted.  Everyone gets a bag of assorted colors.

LETTUCE  Two heads from the patch.  One will be red leaf lettuce, the other either a green romaine or a crisphead from Italy we are trialing.

CARROTS  Orange sweeties.

GREENS CHOICE  Kale, sprouting broccoli or bok choy/tat soi

GARLIC  silverskin

IN TWO WEEKS:  sweet potatoes, leeks, lettuce, radishes, spinach, greens.

This morning we awoke to the first frost of the season.

strawberry plants kissed by Jack Frost.

Luckily it was a light one and damaged little.  We had spent most of Sunday picking peppers and covering the tender lettuces just in case.  Frost is actually beneficial for the strawberry plants as it signals that it is time for the plant to begin to go dormant for the winter.  After a few more frosty mornings we will cover the plants with straw to protect them from the cold.

The farmers are also preparing for winter.  The push to clear the fields began last week with the dismantling of the tomato trellises.  We have lots of irrigation tape to wind up and store and there is another 300 + ft. of sweet potatoes yet to dig.  Our seasonal workers are done for the year so it is just Tom and I scurrying around the fields trying to wrap things up.  There is plenty of space on the Saturday CSA schedule, so for those of you who haven't completed your one shift of the year, please do so soon. We look forward to welcoming you to the beautiful fall fields!

What to Do With Your Share---Week 14

The cool down that has been October has started my cravings for cold weather comfort food. Soups and stews are back on the menu, and there is a bounty on the farm this fall. It has been a good season to preserve, and hope you can take advantage of the opportunities this year has presented. Check out the bulk list for recipes for pickled beets and green pepper relish.

The ripe sweet peppers that are still filling the harvest crates are a great compliment to the other vegetables in the share. A stir-fry with this week's greens is always enhanced by colorful, fresh peppers. Add some broth, stock, ferment juice, or other cooking liquid and you can have a wonderfully hearty soup.

Stir-fry ingredients

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

In the Share: Week 13

LETTUCE  The first heads from the fall patch.  Forellenshluss, the Austrian speckled romaine starts the season.

BEETS  We were going to offer a choice with salad turnips, but alas the turnips are not that great.  We'll supply some to the swap boxes for any extreme turnip lovers.

GREENS CHOICE  Kale, chard or sprouting broccoli.

SWEET PEPPERS  Good harvest of ripe sweeties!

POTATOES  Desiree variety:  pink outside, creamy yellow inside.

ONIONS  Red ones

HERB CHOICE  thyme or parsley.

IN TWO WEEKS:  lettuce, greens, peppers, carrots, garlic and sweet potatoes.

Fall is my favorite time of year.  The pressures of planting schedules are behind us and the weather is still warm enough to ripen peppers but cool enough for leafy greens.

A new fall tradition began last week with the first ever harvest of native grass seed on the Graff farm.  While Tom and I manage the 20 acres of the vegetable farm, buildings and ponds, my father manages the other 260 acres. Back in 2012, he had the farm seeded with a mixture of native grasses and forbs.  Unfortunately, 2012 was a drought year and much of the seed did not sprout.  We followed the advice of conservationists, and over the last five years we have burned the grasses every Spring.  Much of what was bare ground in 2012 is now covered by a beautiful blanket of Indian grass along with lots of wildflowers and other grasses.  Not only do these prairie plants prevent soil erosion and provide habitat to wildlife, but the seed can be combined and sold to others who want to plant native grasses on their land.  Our first harvest was over 10,000 lbs. of seed.  Not too shabby!

Our newest member of the farm family, Sandy, has been adjusting to his new life on the farm.  He went in to Lawson Animal Hospital for his first checkup and received his first round of vaccinations.  They reckon he is about 5 months old and in good health.  He joins us in the fields when the weather is nice but spends his night indoors for now.  There is still much for him to learn about being a good farm cat and we hope that Mommakitty will provide him a mentor.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 13

The weather remains beautiful this year. Lots of sun, rain in showers not buckets, comfortable chickens, and a great bounty. As we head deeper into fall the meals change to comfort food, with lots of hearty root vegetables and savory greens.

It's beets for all this week, as we pull them at their prime. While we know they are not for everyone, we hope that our September 2009 suggestion of Beet Hash will become a favorite. Either thyme or parsley goes well with this dish. You can add a little honey and vinegar to give this recipe a sweet/sour edge.
August 8th

October 3rd

The last view of our sabbatical fields was in our August 8th blog post.  At this point in the season all of our 2017 cover crops are planted and we are tilling in the last of the sorghum sudan grass. This feeding ends a good rest for this field, one we hope helps with future production.

The grasses in the chicken yard have grown almost high enough the hide the movable coop. It is a nice feature for some cover crops, to regrow after mowing or tilling, giving us a second crop of biomass before the winter sets in. All of this composting in place is your meal's meal.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

In the Share: Week 12

KALE  The kale is the prettiest plant on the farm, lush and blue-green, full of nutrients.

CARROTS  big and sweet out of cold storage.

GARLIC hardneck

SPROUTING BROCCOLI  the first fall heads.

SWEET PEPPERS a few more continue to ripen until frost.

RADISHES  fresh from the muddy earth.

ARUGULA  the prelude to the lettuces that should be ready in two weeks.

TOMATOES  a few continue to ripen.

IN TWO WEEKS:  potatoes, onions, peppers, chard, kale, sprouting broccoli and lettuce.

Your farmers took a vacation last week and left the farm for the sand hills of Nebraska.  We had a great time camping, seeing the sights and exploring the natural world to our northwest.

A big bear hug of a thank you to Todd, Jody and Brendan who held down the fort while we were away.   It's not just anyone who can keep the farm running smoothly with the crops, chickens, high tunnel and greenhouse.  A big part of the daily chores is caring for the 100+ hens.  Half of the flock is working on the Spring cabbage beds; the other is working on turning in the sorghum Sudan grass cover crop.

Our first day back, we welcomed a traveler from part's unknown.  Sandy we are calling him at the moment is a clown and a snuggler.  We are hoping Mommakitty warms to him in time and maybe can teach him how to be a good farm cat.

Yesterday we planted lettuces, bok choy and tat soi, cilantro, chard and sprouting broccoli in the high tunnel. 

These plants will be in the shares in November, but for now we enjoy the harvest out in the fields where the wild creatures share the rows with us.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 12

Setting up camp, cooking and dining was the order for three nights of our vacation. State park fire rings are great places to cook. We have a nice dutch oven that can cook enough roasted vegetables to last a few days. Parker Farm brauts and some Fair Share Ferments round out a favorite meal.

On our way back from the Sand Hills of Nebraska we stopped at several parks with restored sites along the Oregon Trail. At Rock Creek the restored wagons are lined up right on the trail. The path ahead is worn down, and you can get a sense of just how busy the area once was.

On Saturday we went to Dunn Ranch to learn more about native grasslands in Missouri. Yet another way that carbon is sequestered biologically. It's a beautiful and diverse sight, too many plants and animals and fungus to know, and understand their interactions.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What to Do With Your Share---Week 11

I cannot recall when I have lived through a milder August. A month in the 80's did wonders for the farmers and the plants. We planted the kale on 8/1 and they have grown into robust plants that we hope will produce until Thanksgiving and beyond.

These greens go well with the other items in your share, in particular the potatoes and rosemary. They say when things are in season they naturally go together, and this week's recipe is an example of that.

Potatoes and Kale with Rosemary
2 pounds of potatoes, cut into chunks and
1 bunch kale, destemmed and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the kale, salt and pepper. Cook on high heat for 2 minutes.
2. Add the cooked potatoes, reduce heat to medium, cover. Cook for 4 minutes.
3. Stir in rosemary and oil. Cook for 5 more minutes or until desired tenderness.

In the Share: Week 11

GREENS CHOICE  The greens are back!  A mixed kale bunch or Swiss chard.

PURPLE VIKING POTATOES  Expect a good amount of potatoes for awhile.  Thanks to the CSA we got the last of them out Labor Day weekend.  Here's to Labor!

RED ONIONS  A nice mix of varieties.

SWEET PEPPERS  They are ripening slower now with the cool temperatures.  46 degrees F is the forecast for tonight.  Brrr!

CUCUMBER OR SQUASH  Last of the season we think.

ROSEMARY  One beautiful bush in the corner of the high tunnel is growing gangbusters!

IN TWO WEEKS:  Potatoes, garlic, carrots, greens, maybe radishes.

The natural world has been center stage on the farm for the better part of the summer.  The double rainbow/solar eclipse juggernaut continues.  Everywhere we turn there is some creature that is beautifully unique and intricately working on it's task at hand.  Gathering food from the fields is our work whether winged or on foot.

a blue-winged digger wasp on the garlic chives

The wild patch of sunflowers provide a tall offering of pollen and nectar.

Meanwhile on land others hunt live prey.

Praying mantis

This is not even including the large pileated woodpecker who has been in the trees surrounding our field for the past few weeks.  It's the size of a crow and just as loud.  Back on land the Monarch caterpillars are on the vining milkweed and growing nicely.   Hopefully cold weather holds off long enough for all of the farm's harvesters to finish their work.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

In the Share: Week 10

SWEET PEPPERS  the plants are loaded with red and yellow fruits.


GARLIC  hardneck

TOMATOES the peak has passed, so maybe this is the last week for awhile.

SQUASH a zucchini or yellow squash

CARROTS orange sweeties


IN TWO WEEKS:  more peppers, squash, potatoes and onions with maybe some greens.


This week was incredible.  I really have lost the words, so I'll mostly let the photos speak for themselves.

We cannot complain about this year's harvest.  One highlight are the purple potatoes.

On Friday the farm was covered in a full double rainbow.

And then on Monday we had a magnificent view of the solar eclipse.  The skies seemed to part just for our ragtag group of 100 members, friends and family.  See Tom's post for photos of the incredible eclipse.

What to Do WIth Your Share---Week 10

Hard to talk about anything but the eclipse watch party this week. Drama filled the day for the attendees. Rain, clouds, lightening and discouraging weather apps lowered expectations for the day. But then, just as the moon started its transit, the clouds cleared. It was the clearest of skies for totality, as the moon's shadow ran across Fair Share Farm.

Here are a few highlights:
Lots of rain

Pre-eclipse potluck
Here come the moon

Instant photo of totality

Videographer Paul Shirley from Austin took this video of the eclipse at our farm. Thanks for this wonderful record of this event @paullikescameras. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In the Share: Week 9

SWEET PEPPERS  our pepper plants are growing gang-busters.  These waist-high plants are loaded with ripening fruits.  Our favorite, Carmen, has a slender sweet red fruit.

TOMATOES  Another nice round from our little tomato patch.  We have now picked over a ton (that's 2,000 lbs. folks off of 200' plants)


WALLA WALLA ONIONS  Sweet ones should be used soon.


SQUASH either 1 zucchini or yellow squash.


IN TWO WEEKS:  more peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and garlic.

With half of the harvest behind us and half left to go, 2017 is the running for the best season yet.  Add to it this beautiful mid-70s temperatures and you've got the frosting on the cake.  It is a good time to be a farmer, for sure!  The favorite vantage point to capture the beauty of the season is in front of the peppers with the sunflowers towering overhead.

While we tend the home field of crops, the far field continues to grow chickens and cover crops.  We moved both hen houses to new spots in the field this week.  When we move them it is a good chance to count as each chicken comes out of the coop.  We had been worried that we had lost some to predators, but nope we still have about 100 between the two flocks.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 9

The mildness of August so far has been refreshing. I think the plants and chickens have enjoyed it too. It's been a good time to harvest, as the potatoes are ready to be dug, and the peppers continue to ripen.

A standard dish around here with the type of ingredients in this week's share is fried potatoes with sweet peppers and onions. Our recipe from 2009 has a few extra ingredients in it, so you can do the same and add whatever else suits your hunger and taste.

Another nice thing to add to a fried potato dish is Fair Share Farm sauerkraut. The two are a great combination.

The first jars of this year's kraut are destined for the Ferment Share members, and all of you who use the bulk list. The cabbage is from our spring harvest, and the salt is from an ancient sea deposit in Redmond, Utah. Good stuff.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

In the Share: Week 8

**I wanted to make sure people had seen the Facebook event for the Solar Eclipse August 21st.  CSA members past and present, friends of the farm:  you are all invited but BYOG (bring your own glasses). We bought a package of 20 but figure to use them for those who forget.  We will have over 2 minutes of totality here. Plus come at 11 am, bring a dish and we'll have a picnic.  It would be great if you could RSVP on Facebook so we know how many to expect.  We are keeping it pretty simple, since it is a workday for many of us.  Bring camping chairs, blankets, whatever other picnicy things.  Feel free to make it as fun as you have time.  We will provide drinks, farm veggies, and plenty of sky for viewing.  Finger crossed for sunny skies.

COLORFUL CARROTS  a mix of yellows and orange varieties.

TOMATOES  we have been pleasantly surprised by the productivity of our little patch.  Cherokee Chocolate (big and brown) is our new favorite, although it's sister, Cherokee Purple (big and purple) is pretty hard to beat.

SWEET PEPPERS  All of this heat has sped up the ripening of our sweet peppers.  And they say every cloud has a silver lining.

CUCUMBERS  The cucumbers from the pickling patch that grow too big for our pint jars are the perfect for slicing,

JALAPENOS The plants are loaded with fruit.

GARLIC Musik, a hardneck type.

BASIL Just what you need for your tomatoes

IN TWO WEEKS:  tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, onions, and cucumbers

Late July on our farm is about as busy as we get.  The tomato and cucumber harvest happens three days a week and in between we are digging carrots and potatoes, weeding the late summer crops of sweet potatoes and cucumbers while we attempt to get the fall seeds and plants in the ground.  Meanwhile, this happened:

We try to save mellower jobs for the late afternoon when it is the hottest, like seeding flats for the fall, working in the air-conditioned kitchen making kraut or sorting tomatoes, but you can't avoid working in the heat entirely.  Crops need to be weeded and watered, fruits picked and beds prepped. The last task of the day is to check on the chickens.  We often bring them special treats.  Discarded cabbage leaves, tomatoes and cucumbers are common these days, but their favorite treat are the Japanese beetles.  We collect them with a trap and empty them in the chicken yards.

There's nothing like the end of July on the farm.  When the crops are happy, lush and green all appears right with the world   We invite all CSA members to join us on the farm for the harvest on any Saturday morning (8-12).  If you need me to re-send your invite to signup genius, let me know.  Carrots and potatoes could use a quick exit from the fields, so any hands are appreciated.  Thanks!

What to Do With Your Share---Week 8

We have been eating a lot of cold dishes of late, to keep hydrated and fueled up. A running task of Rebecca's has been to start a fresh cucumber salad every couple days, so they have some time to marinate. A sweet/sour dressing mixing honey, vinegar, salt and pepper always tastes good.

We've been making heartier fare lately too, as a bowl of gazpacho can fill you up and makes a great farmer lunch. Our blog from seven years ago this week, gives a comprehensive gazpacho recipe. The bread really makes the dish.

You can substitute for any of the vegetables with what you have. I also like to add some of our pickle brine to add to the soups broth.

Speaking of cucumber pickles, we have plenty to sell and hope you take advantage of your membership. We just filled a pallet of 1,000 jars with our ferments and we need to get them eaten. We just took delivery of another 1,000 jars today and hope we can develop a flow of jars out the door.

We are currently in the Crossroads at The Sundry and Howard's, on the east side at Terra Health and Wellness Market, in Weston and Green Dirt Farm Creamery, and in Briarcliff at Green Acres Market. Check out our website for more info on the ferments.

And don't forget the bulk list for those extra tomatoes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

In the Share: Week 7

TOMATOES  We reduced our tomato patch from 900 plants to just 200 and are seeing the benefits of the extra attention we have been able to give.  300 pounds in the first week of picking isn't too shabby.  Heirloom and hybrid slicers will be in the shares and sauce-making Romas will be on the bulk list in two weeks.

SWEET PEPPERS  Pretty purple peppers

LETTUCE OR CUCUMBERS  We are harvesting the last of the lettuce tomorrow morning.  Cucumbers will replace lettuce later in the week.

NEW POTATOES  First digging of the potato crop, Red Pontiac.  Tender new potatoes should be kept cool and eaten within a week.

WALLA WALLA SWEET ONIONS  Thanks to the Saturday CSA crew for bringing in the harvest of 1200 feet of these babies.  These are not for storage, but are sweet and mild.

BASIL Can't have fresh tomatoes without it!

IN TWO WEEKS:  tomatoes, peppers, carrots, garlic and beets

I have never been happier to see someone in my life than when I picked up Farmer Tom at the airport today.  A week of running the farm without him has been challenging for sure.  Luckily I had a great team of people that helped keep the farm on schedule.  Special thanks to Marlene, Jody, Brendan, Maria and Todd.  And man, the CSA crew on Saturday killed it by bringing in all of the Walla Walla onions plus the last 300 feet of garlic.

We are in full on harvest mode right now, with little time for much else.  In this heat, no crop lasts for very long once it reaches maturity in the field, so the pressure is on to bring it in, cool it down and get it stored properly.

We are thankful for all of the hay mulch we put down this Spring.  The mulched tomatoes and basil are looking pretty darn good.