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

Friday, September 09, 2016

Adolph Pesch: Spudman

I remember when I was a teenager, my grandpa had me take a copy of the magazine "Spudman" from a shelf so he could proudly show me a picture of himself hosing down potatoes in some non-descript warehouse in East Grand Fords.  "You see, I'm famous...I made the big time..." he said, teasing.  My grandpa Adolph--a name that went out of style for good reason--worked 3-4 jobs in this prairie town to support a family of 11 kids, one as hired man working the potato fields which surrounded the town and another in the dank warehouses which were East Side's defining feature (besides the 60+ bars back in the day).

You see, unlike other farmers who point back to long lineage of farm owners and operators, my own past is filled primarily with landless peasants and farm laborers.  In a similar way to my grandpa who traveled to EGF from Floodwood in the 30's, my grandma Adele's family brought themselves to the Red River Valley in the midst of the depression.  They came to work the fields because, no matter how tough hoeing potatoes sounds, it sure beat the poverty and shame of the Turtle Mountain Reservation.

Historic picture of East Grand Forks potato warehouse (Source: 
I bring up my family's  farming history because our past always follows us around - it's part of who we are.  Today, as I gathered up the first of the big Pontiac potatoes with those deep-set eyes, I couldn't help but think about my grandpa.  This red potato, together with the Norland variety we also grow, was a mainstay of the Red River Valley potato business.  I'm sure Adolph spent many an hour digging the same variety out of the ground, and, like myself, washing them.  It took three generations, but this younger Spudman can say these potatoes came out of his own ground.  The inspration to work hard and care for his family came from elder.

In the box:

  • Arugula: This was much prettier a few days ago before the monsoon and hail.  
  • Cilantro: Small bunch with red band
  • A Couple Peppers
  • A Couple Tomatoes
  • Bunch of Beets
  • Buttercup Squash: Seemingly everybody's  favorite with a deep orange flesh inside 
  • Acorn Squash: Great for stuffing (think pork stuffing cooking inside in the oven...) with a yellow flesh
  • Red Onion
  • Daikon Radish: I always suggest using in a salad with vinegar and sugar...something like this
  • Pontiac Potatoes


Saturday, September 03, 2016

Bountiful Harvests

This time of year we start to pull in some big harvests.  Earlier this week was the onion harvest, but coming up is still very heavy winter squash and potato harvests.  In the middle of the summer we just pull in the bit of a crop that we need, but, as cold weather and frosts become possible as we move into september, we need to pull in an entire crop to keep it safe and sound.
Onions drying on hayrack

In the box:

  • Edamame: Yes, the big bunch of soybeans stuffed in your box.  Pull the pods or beans off the stalk, boil in saltwater a few minutes, and serve.  You pop the bean out of the pod into your  mouth...think a snack with a beer. 
  • Black Spanish Radishes: Bunch with blue band and greens.  These are radishes that get big like a racketball.  With their rough outside, you need to peel these before using. 
  • A few slicing tomatoes
  • Colored pepper
  • Italia pepper: The long red/green pepper - sweet, not hot. 
  • Cippolini onion: The flat onion...really my favorite.  It's pungent with a good flavor, so use as you would a yellow onion in cooking. 
  • Melon: Some received a yellow canary melon, some a cantaloupe.
  • Delicata winter squash: First squash of the year.  Cut in half, remove seeds, and bake face down on a cookie sheet until soft.
  • Cucumber
  • Swiss Chard or Kale 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Eating in Season: Keeping it Simple

The number one reason members do not stick with a CSA is what I call food guilt - there's too much stuff and they don't get through it all.  I've found that folks feel quite differntly about produce that comes through a CSA than they get at the grocery store.  We always have a portion of produce form the store go bad, but we still keep buying stuff there - for example, we've maybe eaten about 50% of the avocados we've puchased at the store in our lifetime before they went bad.

At the farm, to minimize this sitution where members may find themselves overwhelmed with produce they can't eat in time, we carefully think through the box each week.  We try to give a variety in good-sized proportions - enough of each crop so you can use it in a recipe, but not so much that it's a burden.  On variety we also try to do about 80% of staple crops like onions and tomatoes and only 20% "different" things like fennel or Asian greens.  Part of the excitement of the CSA is receive something you haven't eaten before, but too much bok choy makes somes members think this whole CSA deal is crazy.  It's always hard to know which crops will push people over the edge.  I've had members ask for about ten times the amount of fennel is a season and others give me a look like "are you kidding me...I eat this bulb which smells like licorice?"  A tough balancing act at times.

The real key to making CSA work, however, is getting into the groove of eating in season and being a flexible cook.  Everybody cooks differently, sure, but if you're searching for a magic recipe which uses a bunch of the crops in the box, you could drive yourself nuts.  Instead, I always go off script and think of ways of preparing the veggie as simply as possible.  Especially in the summer, dressing veggies with vinegar and oil to eat raw or grilling/sauteeing veggies with just salt and pepper seasoning makes for great grazing in the evening.

In the box:

  • Melon: Most get a canteloupe, but I had to substitute in a watermelon in some boxes. 
  • Yellow Onions: These are not sweet like we've done in the box to date, but cooking onions.
  • Italian Eggplant: See eggplant stacks recipe below
  • Hakurai Summer Turnips: Yes, they look like racquet-ball sized radishes, but these are turnips.  Really sweet and smooth.  Simply peel and slice these and eat with some salt.  You could shred with carrots or cabbage and make a slaw - add sugar and rice vinegar. 
  • Roma Tomatoes 
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Red and Green Peppers
  • Cucumber 
  • Celery 
  • Red Cherry Tomatoes 
  • A Little Basil: I included this if you want to do the eggplan recipe in the video.
Epplant Stacks

There are a bunch of recipes like this.  We find this a verstatile dish which lends itself to combining the eggplant with a lot of other veggies in season.  
Eggplant: sliced in rounds 
Panko crumbs or breadcrumbs
3 eggs 
Fresh Mozzarella
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Sprinkle both sides of eggplant rounds generously with salt; place on baking sheet for 15 minutes to draw out moisture. Use paper towels to blot moisture from each side of the eggplant slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. Whisk eggs in a shallow bowl. Place panko bread crumbs in a second bowl. Dip each side of the eggplant slices in the whisked eggs, then press into the panko crumbs to coat each side. Place slices on a cooling rack on a baking sheet.
  4. Spray the tops of eggplant generously with cooking spray. Bake 8 minutes in preheated oven. Turn each slice, and spray the other side with cooking spray. Bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  5. Make stacks by putting slice of mozzarella and leaf of basil between eggplant.  You can put a slice of tomato in your stack too, or cover with spaghetti sauce and top with some olive oil...whatever you're in the mood for.  We typically serve a stack with three eggplant slices for each person. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Baby Cows!

I haven't written yet about the new member of the family since she was born about six weeks ago now.  Meet Juneberry the heifer calf.

Years ago this farm saw many a calf born each year when the Kratzke family (who we bought the farm from) ran a dairy operation.  But that was a long time ago now.  To the best of my knowledge this is the first calf born here since the 1970's....that's pretty exciting after such a long stretch.

In the box:

  • Japanese Eggplant 
  • Sweet Corn
  • Leeks '
  • Oranos Pepper and Anaheim: The orange one is sweet, the green anaheim is hot.  
  • Yellow Potatoes
  • Lemon Balm: Yes, this is the weed-looking thing on the top of the box.  Think of using in your lemonade or suntea - also nice laid over a baked chicken or fish.
  • Yellow Summer Sqush 
  • Mix of Tomatoes: The heirlooms are cracked and ugly-looking, but good for fresh eating.  I included a few romas, which are best for a sauce or cooking.  Types included German Pink (pink), Golden Rave (yellow roma), Margold (blush red/yellow), Green Zebra (green with stripes)
  • Watermelon: Some got a yellow variety, some an orange variety. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Veggie Treadmill

It all feels a little out of control this time of year.  Besides the CSA and my full-time dayjob, we just keep running to keep up with thre farm stands (one at Essentia in Detroit Lakes and Falls Baking Co in Fergus Falls plus the 24/7 one at then end our our driveway) and supplying the farmers market on Saturdays.  It's kind of constant harvesting.

From the outside it might seem kind of simple.  After all, many have experience gardening and that's pretty chill.  But once a person gets to packing 55 boxes a week with a whole mix of produce, it takes an investment of time and effort.  For the 47 boxes we packed this Friday, for example, this is how it happened:

  • Thursday evening: Maree, Ryan, and Kelsey picked yellow beans, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and pulled red onions (3 hours)
  • Friday Morning: Maree and Ryan pick corn, tomatoes, eggplant, carrots (4.5 hours).  
  • Friday Afternoon: Mix cherry tomatoes, wash produce and pack boxes (3 hours).  Ryan and Maree deliver boxes to members (2.5 hours each). 
  • After getting home, we start on farmers market (6 pm - 11:30)....wake up and go again.

In the box:
Silver King (white) and Trinity (bi-color) Corn
Red Onion 
Mix of Tomatoes (some heirloom, some slicers)
Cherry Tomatoes
Yellow Wax Beans
Carrots: Wow, this has not been my year on carrots....Maree and I scrounged around the bed for a few hours to get these.
Eggplant: Certainly this time of year ratatouille is great.  It uses eggplant and pretty much anything else you feel like adding in.  This recipe gives you the idea, but feel free to change with the produce you have on hand:

Saturday, August 06, 2016

We're in a Video

Earlier this summer we had one day's experience of reality TV stars when a camera crew followed us around the farm while we went about our business.  West Central Initiative is doing this regional marketing campaign about West Central Minnesota and wanted to have a farm featured which was incolved in local food production.  I think it turned out great.  Check it out:

Live Wide Open - Lida Farm from H2M on Vimeo.

Now that we're in August, we love how nice the fields look in the video.  In June the weeds were under control, whereas, today, you'd find a big mess.  We're also impressed with how these shots done with a drone make the farm look huge.  My overall impression is "Hey, that place is beautiful...I'd like to live there!....Oh, ya, I do."

In the box:
Sweet Corn: A mix of the Trinity bi-color which is coming in and the early yellow Sugarbuns which is going out of season.
Fennel: Green stalk thing on top of the box. Check out this recipe from the Spendid Table  You will have to adjust a bit since there's a single fennel bulb.
Satina Yellow Potatoes
Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
Mix of Regular Tomatoes: There's getting to be a fair amount of ripening out there. Everybody got some red tomatoes plus some yellow romas or orange blossom for some color.
Red Onion
Fresh Garlic 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

An Apprentice's View

I've been privileged to live and work out at Lida Farm for three years and I am still in awe every single day of the landscape, the critters, the veggies, and the family that call this place home. 

Most of our CSA members have had the opportunity to come out to the farm a time or two so you probably have an idea of what I'm taking about. 

With my 7 year old flip-phone, I try to capture some of those quiet moments where a person can feel the simple poetry of every day life.

I'm not able to catch even a quarter of them, but here are a few. - Kelsey Wulf, Lida Farm Apprentice 

Argo Surveying East
Bea's Kiss for Bruce Stringsteer

Misty Morning - Front Field

Pirate Pete the Cat in Milkhouse

Queen Bea

Kid's Treehouse

Kelsey and Bea the Milk Cow

In the box: 
  • Early Sweet Corn: The small yellow variety is Sugar Buns (I hate this name) and the bi-color is Trinity
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sweet Onion
  • Green Beans 
  • Westlander Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Satina Yellow Potatoes
  • Basil: Please don't refrigerate's a sensitive herb and will go black.  Best to treat like a cut flower: trim bottom and put ends into vase with water.   
  • Fresh Oregano: Small bunch with band.  You can let dry on your counter for a 3-4 days to get dried oregano if you don't get to it.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Beating the Heat in the Lakes

Man, it's been hot and stormy lately.  Every night I go to bed, I'm kind of anxious because it's become so common for about a 60 mph wind blow in yet another inch of rain or two or three.  What has the dewpoint been around here lately anyway?  80 degrees?
Thundercloud over Lake Lida
Our one saving grace lately has been the lake.  We're lucky to have a little public beach on Lake Crystal just  4 minutes from our house.  For the last two nights we did a few hours of farmwork just to get good and hot enough so the lake felt that much better.  It's an age-old tradition in farm life (at least around here), which, as I was talking to grain operator yesterday, is maybe becoming a rarity as most production is now done in an air-conditioned cab.  At least of few of us dirt farmer will carry on.
In the box:
Norland Red Potatoes
Arugula: Oakleaf-shaped green with band
Red Torpedo Onion
Two Summer Squash
Two Peppers: Everybody got at least one purple pepper...some got one green and one purple.  The purples are a bit tricky since they taste like a green one.  I suggest using in a salad and not cooking as they loose their color when cooked.
Green Beans

Bunch of arugula, washed, dried, and torn
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a serving bowl, drizzle the arugula with the oil, squeeze in the lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until well mixed and taste for seasoning. Use a vegetable peeler to shave thin pieces of Parmigiano over the top.

Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence
© 2016 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 15, 2016



  1. a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.
    • (of food or drink) made in a traditional or non-mechanized way using high-quality ingredients.
      "local artisan cheeses"

This is now also one of the food industry's most abused marketing terms.  I read not too long ago about Tostitos introducing a line of "artisan" corn chips.  What?  Does Fritolay actually think there is any validity to this claim?  Do people buying them think so?  It all seems kind of silly. 

As one who actually fit the definition a lot of days, I sometimes wish I were a little less artisan.  I do walk out into a field with a broadfork in hand to dig carrots and wheel a Vermont Cart across a field to pull in cucumbers.  Sometimes my kids are by my side helping's all very artisan.  Today, however, digging potatoes by hand, I really hated the whole experience.  With six inches of rain in the last week, this was a dreadful process, kind of like trying to fish heavy rocks out of wet cement.  

All told, however, I understand the desire to buy artisan in this very mass produced, plastic culture we live in.  Scale matters.  We actually do have some basic equipment such as a potato digger and undercutter we use (in much drier conditions) for harvest.  These are powerful implements which help us with the heaviest crops, but are also very small scale in comparison to typical farm equipment to suit our 6-foot wide beds.  

The power of small scale is all about quality.  A mechanized bean picker pulls in all beans of all sizes and snaps some in half in harvest.  It's 100 times faster, but when we pick by hand we can taste and sort out beans as we harvest into half-bushel baskets.  There is a difference in quality because of this attention to detail, so don't let some food conglomerate or big farm operation tell you otherwise and certainly don't let them pawn off their stuff as artisan.  

In the box: 
  • Artisan Norland Potatoes - yes, by hand today :)
  • Green Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Bunch of Beets: Check out recipe below
  • Alisa Craig Sweet Onion
  • Cucumber 
  • Summer Squash: Everybody should have one Zuccchini, but most also got a yellow straightneck summer squash (use the same as you would zucchini).
  • Green Leaf Lettuce or Red Butterhead Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Fresh Mint
Borscht Salad 
From Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matix

Peel and grate 1/2 lb beets.  Make a vinaigrette with minced shallot or onion, 2 t Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup sour cream and some chopped or dry dill.  Add about 2 cups shredded cabbage and a chopped hard-boiled egg.  Toss with the beet, garnish with fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper as you see fit.  

Note: I really like this Bittman book for its veggie recipes.  This book is all about flexible cooking and changing up recipes to use the ingredients you have on hand.  Check it out.  

Friday, July 08, 2016

Rainbows and Peace

I had been moping around the farm for the past two weeks, kicking the dirt and complaining about the lack of rain.  As each day went by my blood pressure and stress went up just a little more.  Then, last night, a whole half inch fell from the sky.  I went and stuck my hand in the soil to find that it had soak inches into the ground, not just the surface.  I could hear a big sigh of relief from the plants as every bit was soaked into the hard, dry ground.  As incredible as the rain was, we were elated as my daughter ran in and told us to come outside and see the double rainbow.

All this happened about an hour before five police officers were killed in Dallas and a day after the fatal shooting in St. Paul.  Combine that with all the other turmoil we've been witnessing and I think we've all had heavy hearts as it feels like the world is on fire. I was taught long ago that the rainbow was God's promise to never flood the earth again, but it's also a symbol of peace and reconciliation.  In this time of growing tension, I think we need to remember that God cares for all his creation, both earth and people alike.  I want to see yesterday's rainbow as a sign of hope.  Just as he brought water to dry land he'll bring a hard rain down onto our troubles.  Our responsibility to remember that we're all brothers and sisters in this kingdom, not enemies.  Sorry for getting's kind of on my mind. 

In the box: 
Napa Cabbage: Usually people aren't using a lot of Napa, so I put a recipe below.  It is also fine to use as a salad like a cole slaw or simply  
Frisee: Frilly small green.  This is good mixed into a salad with lettuce
Small Romaine: Some got green, some red
'Hakurai' Salad Tunips: These look like white radishes, but they are much sweeter and tastier than any radish you'll find.  Slice and marinate as you would radishes to nibble alone or in a salad.  
Green Garlic: Use as you would dry garlic or let dry down on your kitchen counter. 
Fresh Thyme: Small bunch with red band 
Summer Squash: Use yellow summer squash or pattypan squash (flat ones) just as you would zuchhini.  Try zucchini fritter - grate together with some onion and eggs and cook in fry pan. 
Sweet Onion: Hey, it's about time I get an honest to goodness onion in the box. 

Stir-fried Pork and Peanuts
from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix

Put 3 tablespoons neutral oil (like canola) in a large skillet over high heat.  Brown 8 oz ground pork in the oil before adding 1 tablespoon each minced garlic and fresh ginger.  Cook for 15 seconds.  Add about 1/4 - 1/2 of a napa cabbage (shredded).  Cook, stirring, until soft and slightly brown, 5 minutes.  Add a handful of peanuts and cook a few minutes more (until slightly toasted).  Turn off heat and stir in soy sauce to taste.  

Friday, July 01, 2016

Cultivation: Fighting Weeds one Pass of the Tractor at a Time

Lately I've talked to people about getting out to cultivate and they have this look like "I don't know what you're talking about."  Certainly before the popularity of chemical herbicides in agriculture, more people would know exactly what I'm talking because you could drive down many a county road and see a tractor moving slowly through a corn or soybean field tilling the soil between the plants.  In the organic world, cultivating is still our an important practice.

The timing of cultivating is really important.  The trick is to go out when the weeds are still in the white thread stage (just after germination but before popping through the soil) or while still very young.  If you wait too long (or a big rain keeps you out of the field), you will drag a bunch of big weeds through a field and not do a great job.  For us at Lida Farm, I always talk about the hierarchy of weed killing: cultivate, wheel hoe, hand hoe, hand weeding.  As you can imagine with four acres of veggies if we had to take out weeds exclusively by hand, we'd be sunk!

In the box:
'Farao' Cabbage
Kohlrabi: When in doubt, just peel, slice and serve with salt
Dino Kale: Big bunch with blue band.  See recipe from one of our members in Detroit Lakes that he likes to do with kale.  If you have a recipe you'd like to share, please send to makes my life easy and you're probably tired on my recipes :)
Green Leaf Lettuce
Garlic Scapes: Use where ever you use garlic...
Snap Peas: Edible pod so don't shell.  Last week, we just sauteed in butter with salt and pepper - great.
Cilantro bunch

Kale w/Roasted Peppers & Olives 

2 large bunches kale 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
2 teaspoons sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped 
1 4-ounce jar roasted red peppers 
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar 

Cut the kale into bite-size pieces, removing any tough stems. Rinse and shake dry.
Warm the oil and garlic in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Remove the garlic as soon as it browns (don't let it burn). Add the kale and stir-fry 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water, cover, and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Uncover and add the sugar, salt, olives, and peppers. Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has evaporated.
Spoon into a serving dish; scatter the garlic over the top. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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
  • 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 

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

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

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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 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

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.