Friday, June 24, 2016

Spring to Summer at Lida Farm

Officially we hit summer this week (the 20th on my calendar).  It's exciting to leave one season behind and start a new one, but, on a vegetable farm, this transition gets pretty wild.

The big challenge is that this section of time through June and a bit into July is when we have to simultaneously harvest and weed while squeezing in new plantings.  Weeds just explode this time of year as you all probably well know.  Think about battling weeds over four acres...crazy.  

At the same time we're really excited to see summer crops get growing.  I just saw blossoms on cucumber and zucchini plants a few days ago, so I know they are just around the corner.  cherry tomatoes are blossoming too.  I also get the feel that members also can't wait for these summer crops to appear.  Sure, a spring box full is greens is OK, but a summer box with some substantial heft is much appreciated.  

In the box: 
  • Green Onions
  • Parsley 
  • Basil 
  • Green Leaf Lettuce 
  • Red Lettuce
  • Radishes 
  • Bok Choy: See video below for recipe
  • Spinach: Definitely not as pretty as I'd like after last week's hail.
  • Garlic Scapes: Green curled things...these are the tops of the hardneck garlic.  Chop or mince and use where ever you'd use garlic.  It's a bit more mild than garlic cloves.
  • Westlander Kale: Big bunch with blue band.  This could also be used in a frittata
  • Snap Peas: Yes, you eat the pod. 
Lida Farm Frittata

Finished frittata - cut into slices and serve
Ingredients: 
  • 6 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt/Pepper 
  • About 2 cups of Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Garlic Scapes, Spinach 
Basic Directions: Preheat oven to 350.  Chop veggie or mix of veggies of your choice and saute in frying pan over medium heat until crisp-tender or wilted.  Beat 6 eggs together with Parmesan in bowl.  Add veggies to mix and add to another ovenproof frying pan over medium-low  heat.  Drop temperature to low and let cook undistubed for 5-10 minutes until bottom is firm.   Next, transfer frying pan to oven and bake until top is dry/not runny.  You can garnish with parsley or green onions.


Friday, June 17, 2016

In the Saddle Again

Another CSA season is starting, marking the beginning of our 11th season delivering produce to members' doorsteps.  The passage of time has compressed the interval between the end of the season and the beginning.  When I was a younger man, it seemed like the nine months jn the "off season" between October and June took a long time.  This past nine months since the last box in October, 2015 zoomed past me as quickly as Christmas break in high school.  Instead of lamenting time under the bridge, however, I absolutely celebrate a new beginning and a new season.  It often brings not just new growing experiences, but also a re-connection with CSA members and farmers market customers.  

The season so far is shaping up well.  We have planted crops in good time and cultivated a number of crops 2-3 times already.  We had a challenge with the soil being really dry through May which had us moving irrigation around (a first for us since I rarely irrigate and I've never had to do so in May).  A lot of crops are looking pretty good; I'm especially excited about the peas and potatoes so far.  

I'm sitting in the kitchen writing this blog right now because of the morning's rain.  We were hit with a little hail even which I'm sure put a few holes in the Romaine lettuce.  

In the CSA box: 
  1. Broccoli: A variety called Packman, this came in earlier than we wanted due to the cold temps in May which caused the plants to set a head prematurely, which makes for small heads.
  2. Swiss Chard: This is great with eggs in the morning (saute and include them), but, hey, chard is even better with bacon!  See recipe below. 
  3. Mizuna: A mild Asian green.  This can be eaten in a salad and used as a cooking green in such dishes as pho or many other Asian dishes. 
  4. Radishes
  5. Green Onions 
  6. Arugula: The green with a band with oakleaf-shaped leaves
  7. Romaine Lettuce 
  8. Red Leaf Lettuce
  9. Spinach: Loose greens in the box.  
  10. Parsley Bunch
Sauteed Swiss Shard with Bacon 

Ingredients
Olive oil, for pan
1 cup bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths, leaves cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher salt

Directions
Coat a large saute pan lightly with olive oil and add the diced bacon, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Bring the pan to medium-high heat. When the garlic has turned a lovely golden brown, remove from the pan and discard. At this point the bacon should start to become brown and crispy. Add the Swiss chard stems and the stock and cook until the stock has mostly evaporated. Add the Swiss chard leaves and saute until they are wilted. Season with salt.
Recipe courtesy of Anne Burrell

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/sauteed-swiss-chard-with-bacon-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Friday, May 20, 2016

Build the Local Food Economy: Join a Co-op!

We've been busy trying to get a new season started here at Lida Farm, so much so that I've not updated this blog since February.

We have cole crops, greens, potatoes, and other cool season crops planted.   The cold snap last week was a real scare, but we lost few plants, although twenty-some degrees does damage even cold hardy plants a bit so it takes time for them to recover.  I'm feeling really good about what's in the ground, but there's always a long list to get done to ready the place for a new year.

Besides the farm, I've also been busy with a new initiative to start a food co-op in Detroit Lakes.  As a local organic farmer, I believe a food co-op (owned by its members) would be a huge asset in growing the local food economy and good food movement in our community.  I've seen first-hand how co-ops have helped local farmers and businesses in the Twin Cities when working for Mississippi Market for three years.

As a member of the Manna Co-op board, we have a building identified and a lease on-hand ready to sign.  However, we need at least 300 members to make this a reality (our goal is 500).  As of yesterday we're at 101.  Please consider joining as a founding member at http://www.mannafood.coop/ or come to Lakes Area Farmers Market opening day (May 21) from 10-2 to sign up in person .  The cost is $150 and you will receive a number of benefits, including monthly member discounts.

Please contact me with any questions you may have at 218-770-4398 or lidafarmer@gmail.com

Thursday, February 18, 2016

CSA Sign Up Season

Now that MPR started their winter member drive this week, it's about time for us to sign up new and returning members for our 2016 season.  All details are at the CSA info page on this website.

Is a CSA Right for Me?
All told, the magic of any CSA is eating and cooking with the season.  I have found that CSA does not work for everybody.  In my experience, these are the types of people for whom a CSA arrangement works: 
  1. You cook from scratch:  The number one reason people do not sign up for a second year in a CSA is because 'it's too much food.'  We are constantly thinking about the right portions for any veggie in the box.  For example, we will put in about a pound of beans (enough for a meal or two), but not some crazy amount just because we have a lot. If you aren't in the habit of cooking, look out because it just keeps coming.  A lot of folks on the fence will sign up for every-other-week deliveries, so that would be eight deliveries over four months.  
  2. You are a bit adventurous: We are always thinking about the right mix of crops to fill out the season.  We make sure everybody receives the staples you'd expect like sweet corn, tomatoes, and green beans.  These staples are 80% of the veggies we grow, but we do sprinkle in some items which you may not be familiar with like fresh fennel, herbs, and some greens.  Sure, you will receive standard green leaf head lettuce, but one week you may get a pretty red oakleaf lettuce or red butterhead.  I do want our members to 'live a little' and try some new things...this is part of the fun.  We supply a good mix and we will never send out a box with only 'weird stuff.'
  3. You are committed to making it work: Being a CSA member isn't like joining the army; it's not that much of a commitment.  However, a box is coming every week or every other week no matter what for four months and it needs somebody to take care of it.  We don't want to leave veggies on your doorstep to wilt in the sun for three days because you are out of town.  We simply ask that you pay attention and communicate so things work for everybody.  You will receive an email from us each week and invitations to some events over the season, including the 'rules of the road' about returning your box (keeps some stuff out of a landfill) and other logistical details.  We're pretty flexible and we simply ask that you make it work on you end.  
  4. You are willing to share in the risks:  The philosophy behind CSA is that both the farmer and the eater are sharing the risks of the season together.  We haven't missed a weekly box in over ten years of being CSA operators, but there is always the risk that a tornado will hit the farm and we're out of commission for the season.  This is a risk we take together.  Members are our insurance policy.  If the growing season is good, you receive greater abundance than if the growing season is bad.  We can't control mother nature.  

Sunday, October 04, 2015

End of the Line

It seems but a week ago that I was planting seeds in the greenhouse and now we've just delivered the last box.  Overall, this has been one great summer growing season and we appreciate all of you who have been along for the ride.  We had consistent rains through early August which helped establish  good crops and no crazy weather: no tornadoes, huge winds, or bad hail.  

This time of year, like many, we feel like eating high calorie foods and sleeping.  It's the fall where our bodies ready themselves for winter.  At least for us, after five months of vegetable growing every day, we're spent.    
Even Coffee Doesn't Help Sometimes
Don't worry, Lida Farm's never sleeps for long.  A vacation over MEA weekend, and we're looking towards some winter growing.  After a winter's rest, we get just as excited as ever for spring planting and we'll be be ready to roll for yet another season!

In the box: 
  • Long Pie Pumpkin: Oblong Orange Squash 
  • Regular Pie Pumpkin
  • Acorn or Red Kuri Winter Squash
  • Fresh Sage and Rosemary
  • Yellow Onion
  • A couple Sweet Peppers: These plants just won't die off...
  • Parsnips: No, not funky carrots...you need to cook these.
  • Swiss Chard 
  • Spinach
  • Rutabaga


 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Endless Summer

Typically we've had a light frost by mid-September.   Since I'm in the produce business, one would think that a frost would get me down, but quite the opposite.  A  frost in September marks a definitive transition from summer to fall crops.   Brussel sprouts and other cole crops sweeten up with a little frost, vines die and expose the winter squash, and all those hot-season crops die.  It's quite a relief.

At this point, we're stuck in a summer-fall limbo where I can't fully let go of summer stuff, which is just making me anxious.  Still, there are only two other weeks of the CSA after this week, and I just have to move into all those wonderful fall crops out in the field.  So, I'm trying to turn the corner into fall, frost or no frost.  Enjoy a week of cooking some hearty meals with these roots and squash we included.  

In the box:

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Start Squirreling

I know it's hot, but fall is in in sight.  All those summer crops have already-sadly-reached their peak and are on their way out.  The melon patch has been steadily taken over by yellowjackets, corn is turning brown in the field, and those tomatoes are starting to look a bit haggard.

Now is the time we should all start making like squirrels and start storing all that bounty of the year because, gulp, winter is coming.  Many a customer at the farmers market hems and haws whether the day is perfect to can tomatoes, but, like today, I've had to inform them that "it's now or never."  That's why we invite members to come out and pick tomatoes starting tomorrow (Sept 6) and Monday and runs through the week.

In the box:
Red Tomatoes
Golden Rave Yellow Romas
Melon Medley (Charatais, green/gray in color; Honey Orange, white; Sun Jewel, yellow)
Potatoes: Some received purple viking (best roasted or fried since boiling or mashing makes for a weird color), most others received yukon gold potatoes
Salad Mix
Fairy Tale Eggplant: these guys are little, but you work with them the same as any other eggplant
A Couple Onions
Celery: There have been problems with this celery having a bad core, but you should be able to still strip off the stalks
Green Pepper
Red Bell Pepper
Cucumber
Parsley