Whew, what a winter! Onion seeds are already up, and the greenhouse is tucked in a cozy blanket of snow, but we’re definitely ready to see the banks recede. The first broccoli plants are scheduled to go in the field in just six weeks so we’re getting a little bit antsy! Ellis pretty much summed up our feelings right here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/bhbWAt1VpbyWUFyq8
We are still hiring, so please have folks reach out if they’re looking for some good work this summer.
For the farm crew,
In your share today:
Beets — Green Cabbage — Orange and Purple Carrots — Onions — Parsnips Baby Red, Fingerling, and Yellow Potatoes – Rutabagas
Indian spiced pasties
1 cup boiling water
1 cup shortening
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
Stir shortening and water in a large bowl until the shortening is melted. Slowly add flour and salt while stirring. When the dough is soft, cover and refrigerate for 1.5 hours.
2 lbs potatoes, peeled
1 lb rutabaga, peeled
1/2 lb carrot, peeled
2 cups cabbage, finely chopped
1 finely minced onion
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups frozen peas
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Cube potatoes, rutabagas, and carrots (1/4″ cubes- all veggies to similar size to ensure even cooking). Mix all filling ingredients in a large bowl and stir.
On a floured surface, cut the dough into 10 equal portions. Roll one portion into a 8-10″ (appx) circle. Heap 1-1.5 cups of filling onto one half the dough. Fold the dough over (to make a half-moon shape) and crimp edges with fingers or a fork.
Arrange samosa/pasty on ungreased baking sheets. Freeze or bake.
What a difference a month makes! We know that there’s a lot more of winter left, but it feels like spring is just around the corner. Annie and the kids and I are getting away for a family trip to Washington, DC this week to visit friends and family. We’re really looking forward to having a little time away before we open up the greenhouse for onion planting in just two weeks!
Share signups are going well, we’re about 90% full for the summer season, but there’s still a chance to get a spot if you haven’t done it yet.
We are looking for a couple of seasonal farm crew members for the upcoming season, if you know of someone who is interested in good, meaningful work with a team of great people, have them reach out, I’d love to talk with them! https://foodfarmcsa.com/employment/
Unfortunately, it looks like the weather won’t be cooperating for curling on Wednesday, but we’re still planning to bring in a bunch of rutabagas to give away at Wild State Cider on Wednesday evening, and we’d love to see you! If you have friends or family who are interested in the farm, send them down to meet us and answer any questions they might have about being a member.
Enjoy the sunshine! For the farm crew,
In your share today:
Beets — Green Cabbage — Orange and Purple Carrots — Garlic — Onions — Parsnips Red and Russet Potatoes –Delicata Squash
Valentine’s Casserole (or Hotdish for you true Minnesotans)
5 cups cream or 1/2-n-1/2 (see Tips)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Parmesan cheese (see tips)
1 tsp cornstarch
1 lb dark leafy greens (kale, collards, or finely chopped green cabbage)
3 cups chopped potatoes and squash (total)
2 cups chopped yellow onion
8 slices bacon, diced (omit if vegetarian)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bring first two ingredients to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in 1 cup of cheese.
2. Stirred together corn starch and 1 tablespoon of water. Whisk into cream mixture until thickened.
3. Wash and dry greens. If using collards, cook in boiling water until tender (5minutes).
4. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium high heat, stirring often When crisp, add onion, cook five minutes or until tender. Add the diced vegetables and saute for another 5 minutes. Stir in the greens and cook for three more minutes.
5. Mix the cream mixture with the vegetables and pour into a lightly greased 11 x 7 baking dish. Stir the breadcrumbs, remaining cheese, and olive oil together and sprinkle over the casserole.
6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the diced vegetables are cooked thoroughly and the breadcrumbs on top are golden brown. Let stand for five minutes before serving.
Try fat free 1/2-n-1/2 rather than milk or the sauce can curdle.
Sharp cheddar also works well but use some Parmesan for the topping.
This is the time of the year when our farm seasons begin to overlap. We are still packing up the last of our veggies from this past growing season and sending them to our wholesale customers and your CSA shares. In addition, the crew also started planting onions and greens for this upcoming season. Onions are the first to be seeded into flats, and one of the first be transplanted into the fields each year. This year we planted over 40,000 onion seeds! Greens mix is relatively quick, but it’s always touch and go whether they’ll be ready in time for the April Winter Shares, so bring on the sun! It’s exciting every year to get the new season rolling while we’re still sending out produce from last year.
This growing season we will have some new faces here on the farm as well as some seasoned veterans. Personally, I am excited to meet new crew members and learn their life stories and what brought them to work at the Food Farm. Everyone’s story is different but our goals are all relatively the same: getting our hands dirty and growing good organic veggies for our community. I feel like I learn new things almost every day at the farm, so I am also looking forward to that this year too.
2 tbsp vinegar (white wine or champagne best, white is OK)
1/2-1 tsp sugar or honey
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Trim and wash the beets and wrap them in foil. Put them in the oven and roast for 45-60 minutes, until tender. Let cool.
Slice the peels and pith off the citrus. Thinly slice (1/4″ or less) or section the oranges over a bowl to catch the juices.
Slice or dice the beets and layer them on a platter. Place the thinly sliced fennel, orange sections, and shallots on top of the beets.
Make the vinaigrette by combining the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper (to taste) in a bowl. Whisk until emulsified and pour over the salad.
This salad is also very good with the addition of sliced avocado, but the leftovers are less attractive. 🙂
Carrot-Parsnip Soup (New York Times)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
3 cups coarsely chopped parsnip (about 1 lb)
3 cups water
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrot (about 1 lb)
2 cans (28oz total) vegetable broth
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp chives (garnish)
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add chopped parsnip, water, carrot and broth: bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 50 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
Place 1/2 of parsnip mixture in a blender: process until smooth. Pour pureed carrot mixture into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining veggies. Stir in salt and pepper.
Welcome to the first winter share of the season! There is no better time to receive your first dose of winter veggies than right after daylight savings time. Personally, after a long season here at the farm an extra hour of sleep is more than needed, even though we have to put up with Janaki complaining that his kids now wake up at 4:30 in the morning. This is also the final week of the season for many of our farm hands, some of whom have their own winter adventures ahead of them. Lucky for me, I get to stick around the farm this winter to help pack your winter shares and local wholesale orders.
If this is your first share with us, thank you for choosing local and organic. If you have been a member here for years, thank you for continuing to support our mission. Although we farm hands don’t interact with members very much, we definitely keep all of you in mind when doing various tasks on the farm. As we ventured through the great carrot and potato harvests of 2021, I considered how many mouths these crops will feed through the winter and it made the work more fulfilling.
The last few weeks have been really busy here at the farm to get us set up for the winter. We have cleared many fields of the crops they have been growing all season long. We harvested so many tons of carrots, potatoes, parsnips, cabbage, and Dave’s favorite crop: rutabagas. Among these harvests, Janaki has a plan for exactly which crop is going where this winter. Many carrots will end up in your winter shares. Others will be on the shelves at local grocery stores. The odd shaped and broken carrots even get sold to local businesses to make things such as kimchi. If it’s in the root cellar, it has a plan.
Also, be sure not to forget that it’s officially SOUP SEASON! I know I said that right at the turn of the first leaf this fall, but now it’s more relevant as we have finally experienced cooler temperatures. As a disclaimer, you’ll probably see many soup recipes in these newsletters this winter. A staple in the diets of many Minnesotans, soup may be the defining soup of the winter season. Luckily for you all, many (if not all) of our winter crops are perfect for soup makin’.
Your local soup enthusiast,
In your shares this month:
Beets, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Celery, Onions, Russet and Red Potatoes, Rosemary, Spinach, and Delicata and Kabocha Winter Squash
Indonesian Carrot Soup (from New England Soup Factory Cookbook, Druker and Silverstein)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1.5 lbs carrots (we also use winter squash), peeled and sliced
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup honey
16 oz coconut milk (one can)
2 tbsp cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Heat stockpot over medium high heat. Add olive oil, garlic, ginger, onion, celery and carrots/squash. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add curry, coriander, cumin, pepper flakes, stock and sherry. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med and simmer 30-40 minutes (until carrots and/or squash are tender). Remove from heat and add honey, coconut milk, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Puree the soup using immersion or conventional blender. Makes 5-6 servings.
Spanish Tortilla (New York Times, Mark Bittman)
1.25 lbs potatoes (3-4 medium)
1 medium onion
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
6 extra large eggs
Peel and thinly slice potatoes and onions. Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. After 3-4 minutes, drop in a potato slice. When tiny bubbles appear around its edges, add potatoes, onions, salt and pepper. Gently turn mixture in oil with a wooden spoon and adjust heat so oil bubbles lazily. Cook, turning potatoes every few minutes, until they are tender when pierced with a knife. Adjust the heat. If potatoes begin to break, they are overdone. As potatoes cook, beat eggs with salt and pepper in a large bowl. Turn oven on to 350 degrees F. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Wipe out skillet and heat over medium heat for one minute. Add 2 tbsp. of oil. Gently mix warm potatoes with eggs and add to skillet. As soon as edges firm up, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes. Finish cooking in the oven. Bake until firm (appx 10-15 minutes). Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature.
Welcome to our 28th season! It’s time to reserve your shares for the upcoming year. If you were a member last year, please use this link to sign up. Last year’s signups went fast so I encourage you to reserve your share soon. If you’ll be new to the farm this year add your name to our mailing list and I’ll contact you in a couple weeks when we open things up for new members.
In lieu of our typical annual Food Farm social hour at Zeitgeist Arts, we’re doing a safer drive-through Rutabaga Giveaway in the parking lot between Wussow’s Concert Cafe and the Zenith Bookstore on Wednesday, February 3rd from 4-6 pm. It is a chance to see your farmers before the start of the season and, of course, get a rutabaga! Jason is crafting a special dish that you can order from their drive-through window, and Zenith is searching their inventory for rutabaga-themed books. (Perhaps they’ll find something in the Romance section.) Drive on out to West Duluth to support these two great businesses and say hello to your farmers! Note: Zenith does curbside delivery until 6 pm but is not open for browsing after 3. Wussow’s drive-through is open until 6:30.
2020 in review
This year saw a few big changes and a lot of steady improvement. Just like the rest of the world the global pandemic rocked our systems and there were particular weather challenges but on the whole we feel incredibly fortunate to come out of the year in pretty good shape.
We are so proud of our crew this year. We went into the season with a lot of apprehension about how to keep each other and our members safe. Despite our best-laid plans we didn’t know how the pandemic would affect our work. We had crew members out from time to time awaiting tests for minor symptoms or quarantining from possible exposure, but everyone picked up the slack and we were able to call in enough extra help when needed. Thankfully, no one contracted the virus during the growing season. Unfortunately, just after everything was out of the ground, I came down with COVID after running into town for a part for the skid steer. Thankfully, I didn’t pass the illness on to any members of the family or winter crew and was able to quarantine with moderate symptoms in a small cabin on the farm.
Without you, our eaters, we wouldn’t be able to do this work we are so passionate about. It was so wonderful to read your survey comments, your letters and your social media posts. Your feedback is really valuable to us as we plan the for future (we’re glad you loved the melons, and we’re putting more onions and garlic in the winter share!) We’re honored to be your farmers, and appreciate your participation as we continue to support and improve this beautiful place we call the Food Farm.
I’ll leave you with a slideshow for some images of the year past.
Greetings on this sunny winter day! Karin was off newsletter duty today, so you’re stuck with the last minute ramblings Truman and I came up with. Here are his thoughts:
I would like to wish all the farm kids a very happy, jolly, merry Christmas and that you all get what you’re looking for this holiday. I am looking forward to special food in my stocking, especially candy canes because we only get those at Christmastime. My favorite foods for dinner are mashed potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and beets. I like making and eating gingerbread cookies. I also like being in my pjs all day, especially my footy firetruck pajamas. I call them my matchies because Ellis has the same ones.
Even–or I suppose especially–in a turbulent year like this, I am just so humbled by my position in this world, so thankful to have family and friends nearby, so honored to have hundreds of families trusting this farm for their food supply. The older I get the more I realize how essential it is to have these networks of support in place to allow me the energy to in turn do my part in what I hope is an effort to make the world a little better. Our family is incredibly grateful to this place, the people, and the planet we call home.
For the farm crew,
In your share today: Beets, Red Cabbage, Orange and Purple Carrots, Onions, Yellow and Russet Potatoes, Sunshine and Delicata Squash
Sorry, I didn’t have time to type in recipes today, so I’m just going to take a picture of two of my favorites–hopefully you can read the handwriting!. I was skeptical of the fresh beet/carrot salad at first, but it has become a staple in our house. And warm biscuits are hard to pass up any time of the year.
It’s been a wild ride since Summer Shares ended just 12 days ago! This spring we debated whether to start the 18-week season on June 8th or wait until the 15th, which would have been more normal. Boy are we glad we started the season sooner! We are so fortunate to have made some timely investments in harvesting equipment over the past few years. This enabled us to harvest both the carrot and potato crops in just two days apiece. After a summer of harvesting crops by the cartload, it was quite a change for the crew to be bringing in bin after 1,000 pound bin to quickly fill the cellar. I personally love the rush of the final harvest but it’s not for everyone, and folks who are new to the farm get a little wide-eyed as the tone and pace of the farm cranks into high gear. This year’s crew got to experience that rush in an even more compressed version than usual, and we’re incredibly appreciative of their willingness to provide the big push that was necessary to get it all done.
After all of the drama, the only crop we won’t have enough of to supply what we normally do for the Winter Shares are parsnips. We haven’t done a final tally yet, but we know from a preliminary look that we’re way behind last year’s totals, especially on carrots and potatoes. It’s not a huge surprise–a summer of heat and drought mixed with a few extreme events in the form of rain and hail combined to make a tough year for growing plants. Taking all this into account, we consider it good fortune to have a mediocre harvest vs. a disastrous one. While there’s still a lot of work to be done around the farm–so many projects are often set aside when fall triage mode sets in–at least the food is safe and protected for a winter of good eating. We’re glad to be able to fill up the boxes with goodness for your family.
One true note of sadness on the farm this week: our old farm dog Dobby passed away on Monday. It was not unexpected–we knew he wouldn’t make it through another winter–but we’re all pretty sad to have lost a trusty companion and good friend. We adopted him as a two year old former stray, and his gentle nature quickly became an important fixture on the farm–a wag and lean from Dobby was a great way for everyone on the farm to start their day. Chester now bears the burden of sole member of the welcoming committee! Thanks for all of your support and participation through this most interesting of farm seasons.
Well, I slept like a baby last night–in other words, I woke up half a dozen times screaming. After weeks of rain missing the farm, we finally got a solid two inches. Unfortunately, it came in a very short period of time and was accompanied by high winds and hail. It’s been about 20 years since we’ve had a significant hail event so I suppose we should be thankful about that, but it’s still sad to see plants that have been cared for so meticulously looking beat up and bedraggled.
A beautiful crop of snap peas looking rather pockmarked.
The early beet crop looking shredded.
Sad onion field.
It remains to be seen how much of this damage will be permanent and which plants can grow out of it. Thankfully, no crop will be a total loss. I expect that early potatoes, beets, and those precious carrots will be delayed by a couple of weeks, and yield will be reduced. I think the snap peas that were not mature enough to be harvested today will turn brown or scab over as they age, but we have another planting that should come on soon. Whether the onions size up at all after that much damage is a big concern. We were just about to begin harvesting zucchini and those plants are also going to take awhile to look right.
Small seedlings of storage crops, such as fall beets and carrots, really took a beating and some percentage are actually broken off, but we’ll know better in a week if they can pick themselves back up and keep growing. We have an additional acre of fall carrots that were just seeded and soil compaction and crusting is a concern for emergence but I’m hopeful that they’ll be okay.
The other real concern is disease. Any time plants like the potatoes above are beaten up this way it gives disease an opportunity to bypass the plant’s natural defenses and cause serious harm. Many of these diseases are soil-borne, so driving that much dirt into the plant’s pores is a recipe for bad things to come.
On a brighter note, some things are looking great, like the fall cabbage crop. Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower in earlier plantings also appear to be okay, although the green cabbage definitely has some holes in it. Preserving share tomatoes and 2/3 of the winter squash are in a field that was protected by the wind so they fared much better than others. Another great thing is that the crew has really been on top of the weeding and field work, so we can afford to miss a few days in the field to give plants a chance to stand up and dry out.
Also, I am incredibly relieved to have a pause in what has been a grueling nighttime irrigation schedule. We really did need a good soaking rain, but could have done with a little less drama.
Thanks for your understanding and support, and we’re looking forward to more beautiful, bountiful boxes heading to your kitchen soon.
Well Food Farmers, another year’s in the books! 2019 was a great year here at the farm, with a few big changes and a lot of steady improvement. It was the third year of production for our new land across the road, and we got deer fencing up just in time to protect a record carrot crop over there. That crop is tucked safely in the “new” root cellar which, after five years, we wish was a little bigger. Speaking of bigger, our two farm kids are growing like crazy and, while not particularly helpful yet, are tons of fun to have around. Crew leader Karin and her husband Joel had a baby in July, and Truman and Ellis are excited to have a little one around a bit this summer so they can show him the ropes.
The thing that makes this farm the best it can be is the crew, and they were simply amazing. Everyone was a little nervous going into the season knowing that Karin was going to be gone for a few months, but we all stepped up our communication a bit and managed to be pretty efficient even without her keeping us on the same page.
Of course without you, our eaters, we wouldn’t be able to do this work we are so passionate about. It was so wonderful to read your comments when we went over the Summer Share survey a few weeks ago. Your feedback is really valuable to us as we plan the future. We’re honored to be your farmers, and appreciate your help as we continue to support and improve this beautiful place we call the Food Farm.
I’ll leave you with a little slideshow with some images of the year past.