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.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 7

This afternoon I arrived back on the farm after a 6-day trip to the east coast to visit family. A summer vacation has been a thing of the past for Rebecca and me these last 14 years. The best we can do is for only one of us to leave the farm at a time, and my time arrived.

The trip was filled with family-time, support, suggestions, love, sights, lobster and public transportation. The eastern seaboard is a wonderful place, filled with diversity and beauty. It was the perfect place to travel as part of our sabbatical year, providing both rest and energy.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit at the MOMA
While I don't have any particular suggestions for how to use this week's wonderful summer share, I would like to update the membership on our fermenting operation. While we are in uncharted waters, it appears that we are hitting our peak production period. We continue to have cabbage, carrots and onions stored for use, and are needing to keep up almost daily on the cucumber and jalapeno harvest.

We have begun contacting retail stores and are working on getting our inventory on their shelves. We appreciate any help and support the membership can give us. Let us know if there is a store you think we should be in, and start asking if they carry Fair Share Farm Ferments.

We hope you take advantage of the bulk list and the member price on our ferments. Order on-line by following the instructions in the most recent email. I have now test marketed our pickles back east and they are given a thumbs up.

Monday, June 26, 2017

In the Share: Week 6

CARROTS  The first digging of carrots - so tender with tops on.

LETTUCE  We have nursed these babies through a heat wave with shade cloth and lots of water.  Enjoy the last lettuce until fall.

GARLIC  Freshly dug and juicy

CUCUMBERS OR SQUASH  It's a hard choice, but we are not growing much of either this sabbatical year.

HERB CHOICE  Basil, parsley, summer savory or cutting celery in mixed bunches

IN TWO WEEKS:  new potatoes, sweet onions, green peppers, and herbs.


We are loving the beautiful weather the past few days.  The rain has softened the soil and the late summer and early fall beds are in good shape for planting.

The summer crop of peppers is looking great.  Next door is a bed of flowers (mainly zinnias) which is now open for u-pick for the membership.  Pick all you want - they are free and our way of saying thank you for your support!  So if you are on the farm to pick up your share or for your work shift, or just happen to be in the neighborhood go ahead and pick yourself a bouquet.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 6

We are looking for a good harvest this year from the spring carrot patch, and it is time to commence. We have over 2,000 row feet of carrots in the ground. Future visits to the farm will entail the digging of these beauties for storage, sweetening, eating, and fermenting.

We hope you enjoy this first round and consider this week's recipe. It is not often enough that we cook carrots as a dish of their own. We have a lot of ginger on the farm right now for the kimchi making, and it is a complimentary flavor for carrots.

The carrots don't need to be peeled as they are fresh out of the ground. Just trim the tops and bottoms and they are ready for use. Parsley or other fresh green herb is a nice garnish to this dish.

Gingered Carrots

1 bunch carrots, topped, cleaned and cut into 1/2inch pieces
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. grated ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the carrots, 1/2 tsp salt, and cook on high heat for 5 minutes
Add honey and ginger. Add a little water if needed to prevent burning.
Cook on high heat for 5 minutes.
Turn heat down and simmer until desired tenderness.

While we have used the word sabbatical to describe what we farmers are doing different this year, the true sabbatical refers to a resting of the land. We are doing what we can in our far fields to make this a year of rest and recovery.

One of the main things we are doing is taking time work on controlling weeds. One biological method is to cultivate the small weeds out every couple weeks, to reduce the number of weed seeds in the soil. In addition, we have gone on various weeding patrols with the farm crew to physically remove tap rooted weeds and their seed heads from the fields.

Cover crops with pastured chickens in the distance

We are following up the "stale seed bed" weeding with a cover crop. This keeps us busy. We are also looking this fall at having this area chisel plowed to help improve drainage.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What to Do With Your Share---Week 5

The chard and sprouting broccoli are peaking right now. It is a pleasure to work with vegetables like these when they are at their best. And with the Walla Walla sweet onions bulbing up, it is a great time of year to be a farmer and eater.

With the hens laying well, we have many a meal where eggs and vegetables go together. A nice addition to such a dish is a whole grain. We were gifted some grunkern by our 2015 apprentice Semra. It is a gluten-free way to have a hearty meal. Use whatever veggies you have.

Vegetables, Grunkern and Eggs

5 large chard leaves
2 medium onions
2 garlic scapes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsalmic vinegar
1/4 cup liuid (water, stock, wine or brine)
2 to 3 cups cooked grunkern or grain of choice
3 eggs

Chop chard stems, onions and garlic scapes. Saute in olive oil for 5 minutes
Chop chard leaves, add vinegar and liquid. Saute until leaves begin to wilt, push to outside of pan.
Add grunkern, heat to add light crispiness, push to outside
Add 3 eggs, let harden to fried egg consistency, mix all contents of pan

We suggest garnishing the dish with some Fair Share Farm ferments. Speaking of ferments, I will be teaching a class for the Kansas City Food Circle this Saturday at the farm. Last I heard there were still openings.

In the Share: Week 5

SWISS CHARD  This blow dryer weather is no friend to leafy greens, so we are picking them down while they are still lush and beautiful.

RED LEAF LETTUCE  Big red ruffly ones!

ROMAINE LETTUCE  Big green juicy ones!

BASIL  Welcome summer with a batch of pesto.

WALLA WALLA ONIONS  Sweet bulbs with green tops.

SPROUTING BROCCOLI  sweet and tender

SALAD TURNIPS  The last of the bumper crop.

IN TWO WEEKS:  Carrots, last of the lettuce (fingers crossed!), beets, fresh garlic.


This Spring was beautiful.  The right amount of rain, sunlight and soil kept the plants and animals on the farm happy.  The soil was soft, the air was damp and the birds sang in the trees.  All that is over now that we are in full-on summer heat wave.  On the plus side, dry conditions make for great hoeing and weed-pulling.  Onions are notorious for weeds, but thanks to the dry weather we have had time to keep them tidy.

Saturday mornings are spent with the membership.  Finally after 3 out of 4 of our first CSA mornings in the rain, we got a dry one.  Kale picking is so much more fun in the sunshine!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

In the Share: Week 4

FORELLENSCHLUSS LETTUCE  We love this Austrian heirloom which is a romaine but also tender and, as someone said, "appears to have spattered with a good red wine."

BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE  glorious softballs of butter!

STRAWBERRIES  precious little pints this week.  Concentrated flavor.


GARLIC SCAPES  This week only.  Get your scape on!


IN TWO WEEKS:  lettuce, green onions, greens,herbs.

It is starting to feel like summer.  Our little sabbatical tomato patch (200 plants vs. 900 for the last many years) is growing well and just got it's second string.

The farm is definitely more on schedule than ever before.  In the background are the cucumbers under insect barrier to keep away the pesky beetles.  We've missed alot of the storms that have been just south of us at times.  It was dry enough today we were able to hoe around the leeks.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 4

We've been making a lot of strawberry and garlic dressing during this butterhead season. I always look forward to the combination of these three farm products. We have shared it a bit lately and I have been asked about the recipe.

The dressing is best made in a food processor. You can add as little or as much as you want of the garlic and strawberries.

3 to 4 garlic scapes, topped
about 6 medium strawberries
1/3 cup vinegar
1 egg
1 cup oil (we used half EV olive and half safflower)
salt to taste

1. Chop the scapes into 2 inch pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse until well chopped.
2. Add strawberries, vinegar, salt, egg, and a little of the oil.
3. While processing add oil in a steady stream.
4. Process until well mixed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In the Share: Week 3






HINONA TURNIPS  See Tom's post for more on these guys.


IN TWO WEEKS:  strawberries, lettuce, greens, garlic scapes, herbs.


Spring is flying by.  Worries of frost have been replaced by worries of hail storms.  On Wednesday, severe hail was supposedly on its way.  So we rushed around pulling the covers back over the beds of our tenderest crops.

Luckily no hail came, just strong winds and rain.  By Saturday's CSA morning we were back in the fields weeding onions.  We also managed to wash more crates.  We like to give the hundreds of crates we use a good scrub and sanitizing every Spring and periodically throughout the season.  It is just a small part of our farm-wide food safety plan that keeps our produce fresh and healthy.  Washing crates isn't a glamorous job but it is essential.  Thanks to all who pitched in!

What to Do With Your Share---Week 3

It's a hefty share this week, with an extra item. The peaking of so many veggies at once is a wonderful thing that can keep one busy in a good way. While crawling through the strawberry patch get a little old by the third hour, it gives us the opportunity to experience that brief annual time when the strawberries at their best.

We are growing a new item for our fermentation, a Japanese style salad turnip. It keeps a firm texture when fermented and is a good carrot substitute. The flavor is radish, turnip and sweetness all at the same time. We are only handing out a few, so straight into a salad with some lettuce, strawberries and dressing is a great way to go.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What to Do With Your Share---Week 2

It's been an inside/outside kind of day. Much of the morning was spent in the high tunnel, harvesting in its controlled environment. Conditions like that help us grow crops like salad turnips, with a texture that has been described as having an ice cream center. Eat these fresh with your favorite dip or dressing to take advantage of them at their best.

Later it was out to the field, where the kale has been subjected to more natural conditions. This early crop is doing great, well mulched and enjoying the wind and direct sunlight. One great way to enjoy the kale is with some pasta, as in our Kale, Green Onion, Bow Tie Pasta and Goat Cheese recipe from 2014. Use any green onions you may have left from the last share, or use the freshly pulled green garlic.

green garlic
Out in the fallowing fields we have been focusing on weed eradication. This work has caused us to slow down our regular cover cropping plans to work on cultivating the freshly germinated weeds out of the fields every few weeks. Killing weeds when they are in the "thread stage" is a lot easier than when they are full grown.

Thread stage weeds after cultivation
This is called creating a stale seed bed, and helps us reduce the "weed seed bank" in our soil. All part of our sabbatical plans to manage our soil to create the most fertile soils we can.

Freshly cultivated fields

In the Share - Week 2







IN TWO WEEKS:  lettuce, greens, strawberries and herbs.

Last week was our first off-week of our alternating week CSA distribution.  While not a typical sabbatical, getting a week's break from the harvest/delivery schedule opened up our days for other projects.  With our extra time we managed to complete some repair to the outside of the farm house and get all of the cabbages mulched before the rains came.

We are lucky that only 2.5 inches of rain fell the last few days.  We know other farmers with flooded fields just a few hours south of us.  The Spring plantings are all in and growing nicely.  We hope with a little warm and dry weather we should be able to start planting the summer crops of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers by later this week.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

In the Share - Week 1

salad turnip tops

SALAD TURNIPS  I like crops that are tasty top to bottom.

LETTUCE  butterhead and red leaf lettuce from the high tunnel.



GREEN ONIONS the over-wintered patch is looking nice.

CHIVES X2  common chives and garlic chives

IN TWO WEEKS:  lettuce, kale, tat soi, green garlic, herbs.


What a nice week:  tomorrow, Wednesday, starts the CSA season followed by Earth Day at the weekend.  As farmers we fear the consequences of inaction on climate change.  What is needed is a higher rate of adoption of sustainable methods that are known to work.  Our goal is to show that food can be produced in a healthy way and we have already shown that it can be done while sequestering carbon.

Earlier this month we sped-up some carbon loss at the annual controlled burn of the native grasses on the Graff family farmland that surrounds our fields.   Burning encourages the switch grass and blue stem and knocks back cool season weeds.  Native prairies act as carbon sinks with their deep roots and high organic matter.

The home field is filling up with onions, potatoes, cabbage, greens and herbs.  The strawberries are flowering and the garlic is growing.  The far field is on sabbatical this season with only chicken grazing and cover cropping to occupy itself.

The laying hens are in peak production.  All egg share members are getting a double dose of eggs this week to help us catch up.  These ladies will slow down once Summer hits, so its best to enjoy this egg-tabulous season while it lasts.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 1

Welcome to the first week of the 2017 CSA season. Looking forward to sharing another year of farming with you. We are glad you have returned as we re-shape the CSA for a year.

One thing that isn't changing is that we will put out these blog posts on Tuesday night to help you better enjoy the share. If you are looking for a recipe suggestion you can start a search right here on our blog, as we have posted recipes for every share since 2008.

If you want to cook fresh, you can chop up just about everything in the share, dress it, toss it, and eat it. For a spicy dressing try a sesame oil based Asian dressing, or a creamy one using some Fair Share Farm eggs.

If you want to cook the veggies check out our stir fry primer and Spring Stir Fry recipe. That includes the gailan or sprouting broccoli. It is one of our favorite vegetables and we plan to grow more this spring.

Ferment Share:
This week's ferment share is what we call a sauerkraut slaw. Made with our best storage vegetables, it is great as a condiment, or as a side slaw. Put it in a soup, on top of a fresh salad, on a grilled cheese sandwich, or to accompany some fish.

We are happy to be starting our ferment sales. We may have a lag as we wait for this year's first harvests. We hope it will be a year filled with variety for you.

tree frog in the marjoram transplant

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Getting the Ball Rolling

The 2017 Fair Share Farm CSA is officially set into motion. Here we go for yet another unique season of farming and eating. We hope it is a good ride this year as we work to improve the farm, the CSA, and our fermenting skills.

Not sure why we keep calling this a sabbatical year, but we do spend time studying and taking time to focus on things. We have gone to several conferences, taken a short trip to Jeff City to discuss organic farming concerns with our State Rep., worked on farm landscaping, and have implemented an on-line system for member signup.

2016 members can expect an email with signup info. We are scaling back to 100 members and a smaller share size for this season.

Meanwhile on the farm we have been tending the chickens and our newest flock has begun laying. We have plenty of eggs for sale. Pick up at the farm anytime. The hens are happy and healthy and a treat to see.

We have been penning them in areas that were mulched last year with hay. Their constant scratching of the ground really fluffs up the soil. The beds in the picture above have been the chicken winter quarters for several years. The organic matter in this area has reached 5.2% and is steadily increasing. Our soil sampling demonstrates the improvements that biological farming can provide.
Next to the hens we are trying a method pioneered by Jean-Martin Fortier. This silage wrap is black on top and white on the bottom. Conditions are created where weed seeds germinate and sprout, but then die due to lack of sunlight. It's a 50' x 100' piece of sail that can be tricky to manage.

The greenhouse is up and filling. The number of flats is less than in the past and that makes us nervous, but things are growing well. Thanks again to Purple Cow Organics for the high quality potting soil.

And the high tunnel requires lots of tending also. Manage the row covers, clean up and amend the beds, irrigate, seed, and keep it warm and well ventilated. Covered growing is a method all unto itself.