Friday, June 23, 2017

First Harvest of 2017 at Lida Farm

Life can throw people curveballs, and so can Minnesota weather. Weren't we all just sweating in a dry heat about a week ago? This morning I put on a sweatshirt to pick radishes in a light rain because it's 50 degrees out. 

Our wild weather ride provides me intersting growing challenges. So far I've really been striking out getting carrrots to germinate well. With the sun beating down day after day through May (when we typically seed carrots), the top of the ground just dries out too quickly and carrot seed is planted very shallow. On the other hand, hot and dry weather also keeps weed seeds from germinating, so we were able to get a fair amount of cultivating and hoeing done in May and early June. I suppose it balances itself out. 

Kohlrabi Harvest at Lida Farm

Yesterday, pulling kohrabi for the box, I hit a wonderful 'harvest flow.' Brand new harvest knife, LCD Soundsystem on my iPod and a beautiful evening...all was right with the world and harvesting was coming easy. This time of year I get excited about pulling veggies out of the ground and getting a new season rolling. There's nothing finer than getting something in your hand which took months of work. Let's just hope it's not just a flash in the pan and I can keep the energy up for the whole season. 

In the box:

  • Napa Cabbage: Big item on bottom of box. See reciple below.
  • Green Onions aka Scallions
  • Westlander Kale
  • Small Bunch of Arugula: Oakleaf-shaped green with rubber band 
  • Kohlrabi 
  • Lettuce: This is a mix of types coming in, so people received green butterhead, greenleaf, or red butterhead. We doubled up small heads. 
  • Two Bunches of Radishes: Everybody received standard red radishes and some french breakfast radishes. 
  • Snap Peas
  • Fresh Mint

Napa Cabbage Salad from All Recipes


  • 1 head napa cabbage
  • 1 bunch minced green onions
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 (3 ounce) package ramen noodles, broken
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce


  1. Finely shred the head of cabbage; do not chop. Combine the green onions and cabbage in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Make the crunchies: Melt the butter in a pot. Mix the ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds into the pot with the melted butter. Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake the crunchies in the preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven, turning often to make sure they do not burn. When they are browned remove them from the oven.
  4. Make the dressing: In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, let boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and let cool.
  5. Combine dressing, crunchies, and cabbage immediately before serving. Serve right away or the crunchies will get soggy.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Getting Ready for CSA Season

Late night produce washing (fall, 2016)
What does it take to get another CSA season off the ground? Energy, money, and the right frame of mind.

Let's start with energy. Now that I'm 40 I'm pretty sure that I don't have the same amount of energy as when I started our CSA at the ripe age of 27. And I certainly don't have the grand sense of adventure of 24-year-old Ryan, who, as an apprentice at Foxtail Farm, looked forward to his second season like a new rock band firing up the van for their second world tour. Lately, all this heat and dry conditions have been testing my energy as we dash to keep ahead of weeds and weepy plants.

Next, money. Ah, yes, the dreaded thing we Midwesterners often shy away from. I think for folks from the outside, a produce farm looks pretty simple, you know, a bigger version of anybody's home garden. In many respects, it's highly complicated and certainly one the highest input or expensive farms per acre you can find, especially when certified organic.  So far this season I guesstimate that about $23,000 has gone out the door.  The big checks were for a new greenhouse (which I've yet to finish) at nearly $10,000 and a new tiller at $5,000, but a bunch of others are pretty common no matter the season:

  • $3,500: organic seeds - crazy when you think that we only plant 4 acres
  • $1,700: organic fertilizer
  • $770: organic certification fees
  • $600: propane 
  • $600: waxed CSA boxes
  • And the list goes get the idea
Lastly, and probably the most important, is getting in the right frame of mind. I think anybody can relate, whether you're running 5k or expecting 20 guests for a big holiday dinner, the ability to get your head in the game is critical to success. 

Only in the past week, over 3 months since we planted our first seeds for the summer season, have I been getting there. I almost need a little panic to give me the adrenaline I need to go 'all in'  on the season. I received my warning shot this past week as pretty much every inch of ground has begun sprouting weeds and the plants are almost screaming for water in the hot, 20 mph wind. Game on, Ryan!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Do you want to buy from corporations or neighbors?

Where you buy your food matters. Twenty years ago, if you bought organic, you were buying from family operators. Today, organic has gone corporate. Organic retailers and manufacturers are publically traded and stock market traders want their financial return.

In the shadow of well-known organic brands owned by multinational behemoths like General Mills and ConAgra stands a thin phalanx of local farms building an alternative supply chain. When you choose to buy from these families and neighbors, you feed not just your stomach but really the businesses which will grow around you. It's not only money in the pocket of the farmer himself, but how those dollars flow to other local farmers and small businesses in your backyard. 
Hugh Dufner, Hugh's Gardens
A simple example is my potato seed. Last week I drove to Halstad Minnesota to pick up 500 lbs of seed potatoes from Hugh Dufner of Hugh's Gardens. Hugh has worked the trenches of organic production and marketing for a long time, and, like many I've known in organic farming, he is more motivated by healthy foods and farming than a dream of some potato empire.

When I visited his warehouse, I was impressed by the activity. Five people were employed working the wash and packing line, a real buzz of activity in a seemingly sleepy town.   

An even more inspiring part of Hugh's story is how he is actively transitioning his business. Instead of liquidating or selling out to some of the many new large operators jumping into the organic market, he instead is training in two young farm operators to take over. They are buying a home and moving up to Halstad. This is what a true organic food movement looks like. We not only grow without pesticides, but we deliver on the promise of organics to contribute to the wealth of rural communities. 

Too often as corporations enter into organic food, they employ their same old tried and true tactics: drive down price by squeezing suppliers and cutting labor and wages. Their replacement of family-based businesses may save you 10 cents on your next food purchase, but I assure you that your rural communities becomes all the poorer for it. Instead, please seek out local producers like ourselves who are committed a local food system that benefits our Main Streets, not Wall Street.  

Fergus dropsite is filled, but we still have room in Pelican Rapids, Detroit Lakes, and Perham on Friday afternoon. See or contact for details.  

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Taking on Memberships for 2017

Crossing over the  line into February, we're just weeks away from starting summer transplants like peppers and tomatoes.  Yes, summer will come sooner than you think!  
Now is the time to make plans for your summer produce needs.  We offer two kinds of CSA shares: a full share where you receive a 3/4 bushel box of what's in season every week for 16 weeks and an every-other-week share where you receive a box, well, every other week over the same time.  

Full-Weekly Share (3/4 bushel box each week, 16 boxes):
  • Pick up at drop site or farm - $495

Every-other-week Share (3/4 bushel box every other week, 8 boxes):

  • Pick up at drop site or farm - $255
1.     MANNA Food Co-op in Detroit Lakes (Fridays)

2.     Clean Plate Grocery in Perham (Fridays)

Riverview Place  in Pelican Rapids (Fridays)

4.     Keller Williams Realty in Fergus Falls (Tuesdays)

5.     On site at Lida Farm (Fridays)

Please fill our our 2017 order form below to join for the year.  We ask for half the payment when you sign up with the remainder due half way through the summer.  

Friday, September 30, 2016

Preparations for Autumn

Hey, we've come to the end of another summer CSA season and I'm tired.  Mar and I are motoring over to Duluth on Sunday after the farmers market on Satuday and we're taking the kids to the Black Hills next week for vacation.  We're been harvesting, washing, and packing produce 6 of every 7 days for the last four will be nice to take a break.

When we return there's still preparations before freeze up.  We'll need to take out tomato trellis, disk the fields, and plant our rye cover crop.  Wood needs to be stacked, a cabins needs winterizing, and I have a plan to build a sauna this fall.  We still even planting late season greens since we're going into our third year of the winter CSA.

So, as you look to preparing for the cold weather yourself, let me get a couple things on your radar:
  1. Buy Some Meat: Our members, the Nordgrens, farm west of Pelican and have beef and pork available for sale this fall.  Contact them at 218-340-2423 or if interested.
  2. Fall CSA Share: We're planning on delivering "Halloween" and "Thanksgiving" boxes of good fall crops and some greens.  I'll be sending out an email to give you a chance to sign up.  
Thank you, CSA members, for joining us for the ride this year and thank all others who read this blog.  I hope my words give you some insights into our farm life, provide a few things to ponder, and maybe provide a little humor.  -Ryan.  

In the box:
  • Celariac: Yes, this is a crazy looking vegetable, I know.  It's the ugly bulb on the end of a skinny celery stalk.  You use the bulb in cooking anywhere you'd use celery.  
  • Autumn Greens: These greens in the bag are young and mild, so you could use as you would salad mix/lettuce or use to finish off a dish where you'd cook down some greens. 
  • Chiogga Beets 
  • Sunshine Kaboca Squash 
  • Acorn or Carnival Buttercup Squash
  • Red Onion
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips: The white carrot-looking things
  • Pie Pumpkins 
  • Cabbage: Not the prettiest cabbage I've grown...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Party Preparations

Maree was greeted yesterday by a pig being butchered in her front yard.  She took it pretty well. 

Here at the farm we've been doing our best to get ready for the harvest party.  This is the one time each year when we invite a bunch of people over to celebrate the season.  We've been mowing (this only happens about 4 times a year), weedwhipping, and generally putting things away so it looks a little less chaotic.  Hopefully when you come, you will still see the real Lida Farm behind all this order :) 
Harvest Party in the Barn, 2014 or 2013

We do have a little rain in the forecast - still only 30% chance this evening - but please come prepared just in case.  We'll go on a little walking tour at 5 pm so we'll trounce through some wet grass at the very least.  Just in case of bad weather, we are setting up the barn for dining.  Ideally, we'll be outside, but, should we need to go inside, it does make for an authentic barn event experience.  Lots of hay bales and bad lighting...

Please note that this weekend at Maplewood State Park is Leaf Days, a great opportunity to check out leaves in their autumnal glory.  If you're making the trek to the party, you could make a day of it.  

In the Box;: 
Salad Mix
Parsnips: Those loose white things which look like carrots. 
Butternut Squash: The tan one
Sunshine Kabocha Squash: The red one
Russet Potatoes

Friday, September 16, 2016

Big Vegetables

Some crops we plant, weed once, and forget about until fall.  Once such crop is rutabagas.  Only last week we said, "Man, we should go and check on those...maybe they're ready to go into the box."  Well, we went to rutabaga corner in the front field, and, wow, they got huge!  About a quarter of them got so big that they were weirdly misshapen and we kept out of the CSA boxes. This one was bigger than my head:

In the box:

  • Rutabaga
  • Butternut Squash: The long tan one.  Butternuts lend themselves well to a bisque or soup.  Check this one out:
  • Buttercup or Kabocha Squash: These two really look a lot alike.  A kabocha is rounder than a buttercup and more yellow on the inside than the orange-fleshed buttercup. 
  • Russet Potatoes
  • Carrots 
  • A Couple Onions
  • Spinach: Some is red and some is green.  Both kinds really got messed up by the hail last week, so it doesn't look the best, but the holes won't make it taste badly. 
  • Cilantro: The green bunch with the red band
  • Garlic 
  • Eggplant