Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm taking a break for the off-season

I take time off from blogging in the winter. See you in the spring.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lida Farm Journal: Week 16

Well, this week we’ve come to the end of the line. I don’t know about you, but sometimes the produce season seems like it went by in a blur and other times it seems like a couple years. It was just like yesterday when I was weeding onions and planting potatoes. On the other hand, sometimes when I think about all the stuff which has happened between now and when I started seeds in March, the season seems pretty darn long. Sure, we have a number of chores to put the farm to rest for the winter, but right now I’m looking forward to sitting in a chair, just reading seed catalogs and dreaming of next season. That’s pretty much what growers do in the off season…dream about beautiful, weed-free fields of produce. Still, what I dream up in the off season and what actually happens typically doesn’t match up.

Lately I’ve been dreaming of a rustic little roadside stand at the end of our driveway just overflowing with produce…let’s see if it actually comes to fruition.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Lida Farm Journal: Week 15

I was talking to another vendor at the farmers market the other day about people stocking up on things in the fall. He sells beef at the market and was saying that he makes about ¾ of his sales in the last weeks of September and beginning of October, when people feel the winter coming on and choose to buy a quarter or half of beef. We agreed that’s it’s something like a squirrel complex we all feel, but, instead of burying nuts, we burying food in freezers. We certainly do this ourselves. After deliveries today, I’m going out to scour the tomato patch for the last of the tomatoes which survived the frost and do some extra canning.

So, if you’re feeling squirrly, consider buying a quarter or half of meat. Steve Worms is a full-time beef farmer from Mahnomen who raises Red Angus cattle under the name North Star Premium Beef. I have bought a quarter from him the last two years and I’ve been very happy with the meat. Good flavor and a good mix of stuff. Grant Langerud is a full-time hog farmer from Hawley who sells pork under the name of Grandpa’s Meats. I got a half hog from him last year and I was really impressed with the variety and quality. Both have the Ulen Locker do their processing and this guy does a good job, especially when it comes to smoking hams and bacon. It’s just so nice to go downstairs to do some shopping for dinner instead of going to town.

Both have websites you can check out or just give them a call if interested:

North Star Premium Beef (Steve Worms): or 218-935-2659
Grandpa’s Meats (Grant Langerud): or 218-483-4195

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lida Farm Journal Week 14

Well, the big news over the last week has been the frost. Last Thursday we got a light patchy frost which only hit low-lying areas. But Friday night we got a pretty heavy frost which blanketed the whole garden. Since we knew a good frost was coming, we were able to stockpile as much as possible Friday night, throwing peppers and tomatoes into packing crates like mad. That’s why you will still see tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant in the box this week. Everything else is just a pile of mush out in the fields. It’s kind of sad to see, but everything needs to come to an end. You will also see the beginning of the winter squash in the box too. I always figure people are just not in the mood to prepare squash until those cool fall days come about…I know I never am.

The other big news over the last week was the harvest party at our place on Sunday. We weren’t a huge group, but I think folks enjoyed seeing the farm and meeting some of the other members. I took everybody on the grand tour through all the weeds to check out the plants, the barn, the greenhouse, some of the equipment, and even the compost pile. I’m sure this tour was as boring as tar to the one teenager on the tour, but I think members liked learning about all the parts of the growing process from start to finish.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Lida Farm Journal: Week 12

Summer is giving way to fall. This brings me quite a bit of relief, but a little sadness too. I just love bringing the season to an end, mowing down those plants which look like heck at this time of year. Most organic gardens look like an overgrown weedpatch this time of year—ours included—and it’s just stressful to look at. And I’m looking forward to having a little more time to just play with the kids and take some vacation time. I do worn out this time of year.

Still, it’s sad to see the season start to wind down too. I planted the last couple of crops just last night, trying to squeeze in a little salad mix and spinach into the boxes before the end of the season. I’m glad I finally got it done, but it’s tough when you know that you won’t be planting anything new again until next spring. All the abundance of summer won’t be seen again for some time, but for everything there’s a season.

We haven’t heard from anybody about the harvest party on September 16. We need to know if you’re coming, so give us a call or an e-mail. Just know this is nothing big, just an opportunity to visit the farm and mingle a bit with others. Come for afternoon or just stop by for a bit—it’s your call.

Harvest Party Details: The harvest party will be on Sunday, September 16 from 1-4pm at our farm. It’ll be a real informal pot-luck thing, which will be a good opportunity to see where all this food comes from and mingle with other members. We will supply pork and beef BBQ sandwiches and beverages. As a pot-luck, we would request you bring a salad, side, or dessert to pass. All members and your families are welcome to attend. Please RSVP at our home number (218-342-2619) or my e-mail ( so we get some numbers of attendees. Our farm is about half-way between Vergas and Pelican Rapids right off County Highway 4 at 44593 275th Avenue.

P.S. I am still posting newsletters online at I also put a number of pictures there too, so you can “see” the farm.



A Couple Red Onions

Fresh Sage

A Couple Green Peppers

A Couple Italia Peppers

A few Sweet Colored Peppers

Another Baby Watermelon

A Baby Cateloupe

White Kennebec Potatoes


Summer Squash





Edamame aka Edible Soybeans
Just boil the beans in the pod in salted water, shell, and eat. They are good with beer.


Printed from COOKS.COM

1 sm. eggplant
3/4 c. fine fresh bread crumbs
1/4 c. water
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour for dredging

Cut eggplant in 1/2 inch thick slices; set aside. Combine bread crumbs and cheese. Mix egg, water, salt, and pepper. Dip eggplant in flour; remove excess. Dip in egg mixture. Remove excess; dip in cheese-bread crumb mixture. Pat slices firmly so they are evenly coated. Fry in hot oil until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lida Farm Journal: Week 11

Where are the melons? If you’ve been wondering this since early august, just know that I’ve been wondering the same thing. But, finally, they have started to mature. We grew them using a plastic mulch called IRT this year for the first time. This is pretty typical on produce farms and something we did on Foxtail Farm where I used to work. IRT stands for InfraRed Transmitting, so the mulch allows in light to warm the soil and also stops weeds. This is the perfect recipe for growing melons, which love warm soil temperatures. One problem, on the other hand, is that the melons rely on irrigation lines below the mulch for moisture instead of rain. So, when you’re in charge of supplying “rain” to plants, you walk a real tightrope, balancing size and flavor. For example, if you irrigate a lot, you get big melons, but also flavorless melons. Myself, I was on the conservative side, so we ended up with small melons, but I think they have good flavor. Anyway, I’m just happy they finally made it!

We were thankful for the rain last week. It really made a difference for us. Things were really dry and I just dreaded the idea of setting up and moving drip tape to cover the whole garden. With little rains here and there, we should be fine on moisture as we move into fall…it’s hard to believe, but fall is right around the corner.

Harvest Party Invitation: Please make the trip to attend our harvest party on Sunday, September 16 from 1-4pm at our farm. It’ll be a real informal pot-luck thing, which will be a good opportunity to see where all this food comes from and mingle with other members. Details: We will supply pork and beef BBQ sandwiches and beverages. As a pot-luck, we would request you bring a salad, side, or dessert to pass. All members and your families are welcome to attend. Please RSVP at our home number (218-342-2619) or my e-mail ( so we get some numbers of attendees. Our farm is about half-way between Vergas and Pelican Rapids right off County Highway 4.

P.S. I am still posting newsletters online at I also put a number of pictures there too, so you can “see” the farm.


Tomato Mix

The little green ones are an heirloom called Green Zebra. We’ve grown them for the first time this year. Smaller than I thought they’d be, but they have good flavor.

A Couple Yellow Onions


Fresh Thyme

If you can’t get to using it soon, just let dry in your kitchen. We’re still using the stuff we dried last fall. If dry, you can put into a ziplock bag and knock around so all the leaves fell off the stems.

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes

Italian Beans

You’ll notice these beans are flat. They are a variety called Romano Bush and belong to a family of beans people call Italian beans, which are typical throughout the Mediterranean. When we sold at a farmers market in Northeast Minneapolis, there was always this old Lebanese lady who was crazy for these, saying she just could never find them in the US.

Green Stuffing Peppers

A Couple Colored Peppers

Hot Peppers

The red ones are called cherry bombs—really mild when you remove the seeds and membranes.


The light-colored one is a yellow variety called Sunshine and the other is a red variety called Sugar Baby.

Stuffed Peppers

4 green or red bell peppers
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 1/2 cup of cooked rice
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or parsley
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut top off peppers 1 inch from the stem end, and remove seeds. Add several generous pinches of salt to boiling water, then add peppers and boil, using a spoon to keep peppers completely submerged, until brilliant green (or red if red peppers) and their flesh slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Drain, set aside to cool.

2 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 4 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, add meat, rice, tomatoes, and herb, and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well.

3 Drizzle remaining 1 tbsp. Oil inside peppers, arrange cut side up in a baking dish, then stuff peppers with filling. Combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl, then spoon over filling. Add 1/4 cup of water to the baking dish. Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the internal temperature of the stuffed pepper is 150-160°F.

Serves 4.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lida Farm Journal: Week 10

Last week Maree was telling me that I shouldn’t go off on some tangent in my newsletter all the time. Just stick to the weather and how things are growing…that’s what people want to hear about. So, this week I’m going to do just that.

Basically every season is a mixed bag. There are always crops which do really well and others which do terribly for various reasons. This year is no different. I’ve laid out the three main reasons for problem crops:

Soil Compaction: As you may have noticed, the potatoes are coming in interesting shapes—a sure-fire sign of soil compaction, which is causing the plants to be stunted and the potatoes to be small, misshapen, and few and far between. The whole issue comes back to the wet spring….We have really heavy soil, and, when you plant in less than ideal conditions, you get cement, which we have. Compaction has also made carrots a bit short this year.

Heat Stress: Some plants have been hurt by our dry conditions with lots of heat. Leeks are just barely holding on and our red kale bit the dust because it couldn’t handle the stress. Last year, for example, we had our kale plants produce right through September. Also, remember how short that spring lettuce season was? We typically can spread out a lettuce over 3-4 weeks, but late June heat destroyed that plan.

Damn Bugs: Just like last year, my main enemy is the cucumber beetle. They are small black and yellow striped bugs which love anything in the cucumber family. They crew on things, but the biggest problem is that they spread a disease called bacterial wilt. This has brought the first crop of cucumbers to an end and has taken out 15 percent of the melons. Potato bugs do injure potatoes and eggplant, but not too bad this year.

Hey, don’t let me get pessimistic…like I said, it’s always a mixed bag. I do put a number of crops on this year’s excellent list: beans, corn, tomatoes, and arugula. I also predict a good winter squash crop too, but that’s not a sure thing yet. Tomatoes just loved this summer heat and can do fine without much water. Beans seem to be giving high yields because we have a bunch of bees hives in our pasture for the first time this year. Those bees are doing their job of pollinating every flower they find! Corn I transplanted this year, which really allowed it to get a jump on weeds and produce a good canopy; corn also liked the heat…anytime you can’t sleep because it’s too muggy and hot is good corn-growing weather. The arugula turned out great this spring because we just didn’t have many flea beetles out there—they typically crew a bunch of little holes in everything.

Otherwise, a lot of the other crops are doing alright. Nothing to write home about. We still could use some rain though.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We’re having a harvest party at our farm. Mark you calendars for the afternoon of Sunday, September 16. More details to come next week.



I put in a real slug. I was thinking of this a good time to make sauce.


I put in one sweet (light colored…tear-drop shape), one red, and two yellow storage onions.

A Bunch of Carrots



This is supposed to be a yellow variety called Bodacious, but it sat a bit too close to the bi-color and turned a bit bi-color itself. I tested it…still tastes good.

Dino Kale

Green Beans

Green Peppers

Italia Peppers

This is considered a “frying pepper” although it’s got great sweet taste raw too.

Globe Eggplant

Traditional Italian style. They come in slow, so if you didn’t receive one, you’ll get one next week.

Kennebec Potatoes

An all-white variety. Seems like it’s good for frying, but I like for mashing.

*No flowers this week

Corn Chowder

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 strip of bacon
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 large carrot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 celery stalk, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 bay leaf

3 1/2 cups milk
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs (about 2 cups), cobs reserved

1 In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bacon strip (skip this step for vegetarian option, just add more butter) and fry until the bacon renders its fat, but doesn't begin to brown, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 4 or 5 more minutes.

2 Break the corn cobs in half and add them to the saucepan. Add the milk and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Make sure the heat is as low as can be and still maintain a gentle simmer (on our stove we had to use the "warm" setting) to prevent scalding the milk on the bottom of the pan.

3 Discard the cobs, the bacon strip, and the bay leaf. Raise the heat, add the potatoes, red pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, fresh ground pepper to taste, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost fork tender.

4 Raise the heat, add the corn kernels and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serves 4.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lida Farm Jounal: Week 9

Earlier this week I attended an Extension training for farmers market managers in the twin cities. One of the other “hats” I wear is as president of the Lakes Area Farmers Market in Detroit Lakes, which, since we’re an all-volunteer market, makes me the market manager by default. We were there to learn how to conduct good market surveys, but I really liked talking to others and learning about their markets.

I learned that we all have the same issues, but each market is really different. Some of this comes from the types of vendors or the organization, but, really, the people give a market its personality. We were on-site of the Midtown Farmers Market on Lake Street, which really had an urban feel. Again, this personality sprung the neighborhood: Somali, Latinos, tattooed twenty-somethings, crunchy yuppie-types all mingling together. You also saw folks coming to the market by bike or light rail instead of by car. The scene was quite a bit different from our mix of lakes people, tourists, and small-town families down by the pavilion. But what’s incredible is that Midtown is quite a bit different from Mill City Market nestled amongst all those high-priced condos just a few miles away in downtown or the Kingston Market near all those cool Uptown hipsters at the other end of Lake Street.

As a vendor I often think of a farmers market as just a place people go to get food, but, really folks go there just as much for the people as the produce. If you just want a cheap tomato, go to the supermarket. But, if you want to banter with the vendors about the weather, run into some of your neighbors, and do some serious people-watching, then go to your local farmers market. It’s a place you can really celebrate your neighborhood each week.


Heirloom Tomatoes

These are a variety called Cherokee Purple. They are totally ugly, but don’t let looks fool you, these have great taste. Best for fresh eating…don’t cook with them.


These are our main crop tomatoes called Red Sun.

A few leeks

Check out the recipe below. To clean, cut lengthwise and peel back the leaves and wash.

A few onions

The yellow type is a sweet onion called Alisa Craig and the red is called Red Bull.

A Bunch of Carrots


A white variety called Silver King. First time I’ve grown it…nice size ears.

Summer Squash Mix

Red Norland Potatoes

Potato Leek Soup

4 T unsalted butter

1 large or 2 medium sliced leeks, white part only

4 cups chicken broth

4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk (whole or 2%)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 T chopped parsley, optional

Clean and thinly slice leeks. Melt butter in large, heavy soup pot; add leeks and sauté slowly until glassy-do not brown. Add chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until potatoes are soft, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Mash or puree. Add cream, milk, salt and pepper, and parsley. Reheat and serve-do no boil. Makes 8 servings.

Reprinted from The St. Paul Farmers Market Produce Cookbook, 1999.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lida Farn CSA Journal: Week 8

One thing we really shoot for at our place is to make sure nothing goes to waste. Sometimes we feel like some 19th century pioneer family trying to get the most out of everything. Probably the best example at our farm is what we do with leftover produce. It’s pretty rare for us to sell absolutely everything we bring to the Saturday market in Detroit Lakes, so we will bring home a couple bushels or so of produce. So, Saturday afternoon, we usually get creative cooking whatever we have a lot of. It could be about 25 pounds of summer squash or 10 eggplant. But, still, there are limits to what we can eat too. In this case, it’s off to the goats! These creatures are great disposal units which like nearly everything from carrot peelings to whole canteloupe. We have about 12 goats on loan from our neighbors. They are short on pasture and we are pretty long, so it works out well.

Maree’s cousin was visiting this week and she was asking why we keep sheep and animals. Wool? Meat? “No.” I said, “It’s the manure. The meat and wool are just a bonus.” Produce takes a lot of fertility, and, growing organically, that means compost. It takes about two years to make good compost up behind our barn and it was be impossible without animals “doing what they do.” It’s a great example of how the farm naturally recycles nutrients. Instead of buying and transporting compost, we make it on site, saving a lot of time and money. In doing so, we also rid ourselves of some waste products like unused cabbage and feed a bunch of livestock at the same time, which can be used for both food and fiber.

Roma tomatoes
These are a variety called Juliet, which are really good as salad tomatoes.
A few Regular Tomatoes
Early girl and the beginnings of the big main crop tomatoes.
A couple Green Peppers
A few Jalapeno Peppers
Fresh Oregano
A Bunch of Carrots
A mix. The purple one are a variety called purple haze, just to change it up a bit.
Yellow Beans

Yukon Gold Potatoes
Dino Kale

Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Submitted by: Harry Wetzel
Rated: 4 out of 5 by 168 members

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Ready In: 15 Minutes
Yields: 4 servings

"Carrots are sauteed in olive oil, and then briefly tossed with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in this deceptively simple side dish."


3 cups baby carrots

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar



Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute carrots in oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Stir in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, mix to coat and serve.


Printed from 8/9/2007

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lida Farm Journal: Week 7

Well, high season has finally arrived to Minnesota! It has been a long wait, which is something we are pretty good at around here. And no wait seems longer than the one for tomatoes to ripen. I think it’s so frustrating because we feel like the summer is already slipping away from us and only then do the tomatoes turn red. Heck, it’s already the beginning of august, and, from experience, a mid-september frost is par for the course—sorry, I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade.

Tomatoes are funny though. Today I spent a good amount of time hunting and pecking in the tomato patch to find a couple for each box. Every time I saw another with good color, it was like finding buried treasure. Every year I go from the excitement of the first ones coming in to being completely over-whelmed by a sea of tomatoes in about 2 weeks. By the end of August I am usually completely burnt out on picking and packing tomatoes, I just can’t stand to look out our back door towards the field—I suppose this is just how it is when you have 700 plants. Still, I’m happy now to just bask in that great feeling you from finding the first of the season. And there’s nothing sweeter than that.


Cherry Tomatoes

These are mostly Sungold (an orange variety) with a mix of standard red cherries.

A couple early Tomatoes

The yellow one is named Taxi and the red one is Early Girl.

Red Bull Onions

A couple Summer Squash

Fresh Italian Parsley


I’m throwing you for a loop on this one. I think fennel is really one of those “left-field” vegetables for most people, so I’ve included a recipe. I also know people grill it as well and add it to Italian sauces.

Bunch of Carrots


Green Beans

Fresh Basil



Braised Fennel with Parmesan

From Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

2 to 3 fennel bulbs and halfed or quartered lengthwise
2 to 3 T butter
Salt and pepper
½ cup dry white wine or water
1/3 cup grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Rub a baking dish large enough to hold the fennel in a single layer with butter. Steam the fennel for 10 minutes, then arrange in dish. Dot with butter or drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and add the wine. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, baste the fennel with its juice, then add the cheese and continue baking until the fennel is completely tender, about 10 minutes more. Serve with chopped fennel greens or parsley.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Lida Farm Journal: Week Six

Whether you know it or not, you are part of a movement, the local foods movement. There has been a trend growing over the last decade or so for folks to get their food locally. The whole idea is that people source what they eat from a local farm, and, in return, they receive food which is fresh, get to know their grower, and support their local economy to boot. People have figured out that shipping substandard food covered in fungicides half way around the world doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense. I call it a movement because it really is a strong trend you’ll find across the whole country; it’s not just something you find amongst only crunchy folks in California…you’ll find the same thing in Des Moines. Not too long ago very few farmers markets existed, and those that did were not what we think of them today. Go to the St. Paul Farmers Market today and you’d never guess that twenty years ago it looked pretty sparse with a dozen or so vendor huddled in a barren parking lot. The market we sell at on Saturdays, Lakes Area Farmers Market in Detroit Lakes, didn’t even exist 10 years ago. The very first CSA started in upstate New York in just the early 80’s. By 1990, only a handful existed, until today when we have between 30-50 in Minnesota alone.

Detroit Lakes Farmers Market, September 2006

Things have progressed to the point where a recent Star Tribune headline read “Too Many Markets or Too Few Farmers?” It described a new farmers market in Bloomington and their challenges getting vendors to fill the stalls. Basically no farmers, no farmers market—pretty simple. This being my sixth produce season and second year as our market’s president, I know what this is all about. Local foods used to be on the fringe, like organic foods in the 1970’s. Now it’s definitely taken hold and things have grown to the point where we have no problem finding customers, but a harder and harder time finding growers. And this will be problem for the near future until guys like myself quit their dayjobs and grow full-time, convention farmers get into produce, or more people are convinced to give up their weekends.


Red Cabbage
: A later variety than we had a couple of weeks ago.
Sweet Onions

A couple Summer Squash:
You may already be getting sick of this stuff, so I took it down to two this week.
Fresh Italian Parsley
Lacinato Kale
: A Italian variety of kale which most call “Dino Kale” since it looks like it comes from prehistoric times.
Mini-head of lettuce: There was an area of salad mix uncut from last week which basically produced some mini-heads of lettuce…
Red Potatoes
Chiogga Beets
: An heirloom variety. See recipe below.

Five Minute Beets

From Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

4 beets, about 1 pound

1 T butter

Salt and pepper

Lemon juice or vinegar to taste

2 T chopped parsley, tarragon, dill, or other herb.

Grate beets into coarse shreds. Melt the butter into a skillet, add the beets, and toss with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup water, then cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the beets are tender. Remover the lid and raise the heat to boil off any excess water. Taste for salt, season with a little lemon juice or vinegar—balsamic or red wine is good—and toss with the herb. If you don’t mind the shocking color, you can stir in a tablespoon of yogurt or sour cream, always a good addition to beets.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lida Farm CSA Journal: Week 5

A couple weeks ago I went to a neighbor’s 50th wedding anniversary, and, naturally, everybody wanted to know how the big garden was growing. Usually when we begin talking about growing things (whether we’re talking soybeans or heirloom tomatoes), we typically end up talking about problems. There are so many things which can kill off a crop: hail, drought, fungus, countless viruses, dozens of insect varieties (striped cucumber beetle, squash bugs, Colorado potato beetle, aphids to name a few), but I would argue a child is the greatest danger to any plant. Our 2 year old Sylvia makes it her job to “help” us when we’re out working the fields. She pulls flowers when we pick flowers, she rips out potato plants when we pull out ragweed…I think you get the picture. She is our little Godzilla, but instead on stomping on Japanese people, she has a tendency to crush plants and vegetables.

High season is approaching now. We are getting cukes in, corn is tasseling, and tomato plants have nice green fruit. Another sign is that flowers are coming in as you see from your cut flower delivery. We’re experimenting with delivery by mason jars, so be careful…I don’t want you to have glass all over your garage. We initially thought plastic tonic and club soda bottles would work, but they keep falling over, so we went with something more stable. We will try to put them in secure spots where they won’t fall over. We actually could use some more jars. If you are looking to get rid of some which have been sitting in your basement for a decade or so, we’ll take them off you hands. Please leave by last weeks box if you’d like to help out.



Raspberries: A pint or a half-pint, depending on what you got last week.

Spring Onions: These are an Italian heirloom variety…most call them torpedo onions. They are mild like any red onion.

Mix of Summer Squash : You will see 3 of the 4 types we grow: Yellow Zucchini, Green Zucchini, Sunburst Pattypan Squash, or Yellow Straightneck Squash.

Fresh Basil

Garlic Chives

Salad Mix: This is a first for us. It’s looking really good. I planted it to give folks some lettuce in the heat of the summer…heads of lettuce don’t survive the heat.

Potatoes : Norland reds…your standard early red. I grew up in the Red River Valley and this is the standard.

Gold Beets: Use like you would any beet. I put in different varieties just to change it up.

Summer Squash Fritters

From Ryan Pesch

2 summer squash, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 t basil
2 T olive oil
1 t oregano
2 spring onions, diced
Salt and pepper

This is a pretty loose recipe, so please experiment with seasonings and ingredients (I have added tomatoes in the past and made with thyme instead of basil/oregano). In a single bowl, mix eggs, squash, and seasonings. Heat oil in a skillet and fry like you would an omlette until the fritter is firm (cooked through) and lightly brown on each side. You can make one big fritter or a few small ones…it’s your call.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Lida Farm CSA Journal:Week Three

Yesterday I was thinking about heat. This season was short on it in May and early June, had plenty in late June, and is slated to have a good heat wave this weekend. When it comes to growing produce, it’s both good and bad. Since there’s such a diversity of crops out there, I sometimes pray for some warmth to push the plants along; other times I curse it. A lot of it relates to the three main growing seasons on a produce farm: early, high, and late. The vegetables of each season have differing needs and react differently to the heat.

Early season crops include early greens, brassicas (the family of cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, broccoli) and lettuce. Too much heat makes these guys temperamental. Lettuce wilts and burns, broccoli kernels get loose, and greens bolt like crazy. One day I see I beautiful row of radishes, and, the next, I see a row of yellow flowers about three feet high—it keeps the bees employed. This heat, of course, has a real impact on what you see in your box. There were two Asian greens, tatsoi and mizuna, which never made the first box. There is also the real possibility that those lettuce heads may not withstand another week (last year’s weather was a lot more supportive…we had 4 weeks of lettuce). This is why I’m putting an excessive THREE heads in the box. They have a better chance of survival in a plastic bag in your refrigerator than out in the field.

High season crops include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, corn, melons, summer squash, and onions. These guys love heat! I can’t even keep up on trellising the tomatoes because they are growing by leaps and bounds. So, when I’m all on edge working around all those stressed out broccoli plants, I just have to make a short walk to admire all those pretty tomato plants sprouting thousands of yellow flowers. It’s a pretty sight.

Like early season, we have a “compressed” late season. We basically squeeze both in just before and immediately after our most productive season in Minnesota, snow season. Late season crops include winter squash, pumpkins, late brassicas, and root crops. What these guys need more than anything is time and the heat sure helps push them along the way. Late brassicas and root crops like turnips and rutabagas haven’t even been planted yet, so stay tuned.



These runts are the end of the line.

Green Onions aka Scallions

Swiss chard

1 pint “Sugar Ann” peas

I neglected to say last week that they are snap peas where the pod is edible. If you shelled, you probably didn’t get a lot a pea.

2 Kohlrabis

Many just peel, slice, and eat, but there are recipes where you cook them like stuffed kohlrabi.

3 heads of lettuce:

Everyone gets green oakleaf and red oakleaf plus green butterhead or green leaf

Chinese or Napa Cabbage

This is another one of those vegetables with two names. See recipe below.

Fresh basil


Printed from COOKS.COM

1 lb. Chinese cabbage (napa)
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

With a cleaver or sharp knife, trim the top leaves of the cabbage and the root ends. Separate the stalks and wash them under cold running water. Cut each stalk, leaves, and all, into 1 x 1 1/2 inch pieces.

In a small bowl: combine the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and cayenne pepper and mix thoroughly. Leave the oil within easy reach.

Heat a 12 inch wok right after washing over high heat. When the last drop of water has been evaporated, pour in the oil, swirl it about in the pan and heat for 30 seconds, then turn the heat down to moderate. Immediately add the cabbage and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Make sure all the cabbage is coated with the oil. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the soy sauce, vinegar mixture. Transfer the cabbage to a platter and let it cool to lukewarm before serving. Or, if you prefer, serve it chilled. 4 servings.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CSA memberships still available

Your newest grower: Willem Grant Pesch
Well, the season is well on its way with temperatures almost reaching 90 yesterday and MOST plants in the ground. I'm still being driven crazy by all the rain.

We still have 3 CSA shares available for this year's season. Instead of making the trip to the farmers market, we'll deliver the produce to your door. Give us a call or e-mail if you're interested: 218-342-2619 or

Above you can see we have another set of hands at Lida Farm. Will is now 6 months old, and, although he loves going outside, I can't imagine he'll be pulling weeds anytime soon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Returning from Winter Break

Ah, Spring is coming again! For growers like myself, we begin to wake up from hibernation and get ready to take on another year: planning, planting, weeding, harvesting, and, yes, BLOGGING.

Our big project this year is to grow our CSA from 2 shares to 15. With the birth of our son, Willem, we decided to find more CSA customers and attend fewer markets. I like selling at the farmers market, but it is pretty tough to juggle packing BOTH produce and kids.

CSA share from our farm, July 2006.
One share costs $400 for the season (16 weeks from June-October) and you have the option of adding a cut flower share for an additional $25 (6-8 weeks from July-September). With each share you receive a box each week of whatever is in season each. Think of it as a subscription, but instead of receiving a magazine or newspaper, you get produce. We will deliver to your home or you can pick up at the farm.

You can see from the picture at the left an example of the variety you receive each week: basil, strawberries, red oakleaf and greenleaf lettuce, radishes, spinich, breen onions, broccoli, and kale.