Vermont…Local Foods Mecca.

Awesome Farmstand in Vermont,

Well, you probably thought I had disappeared…I was “right on” getting an entry into the blog every week until recently. I blame it on my day job. I’ve had to travel quite a bit lately, including a trip to the American Mecca of local foods as evidenced by this picture I’ve posted…boy, I wish I had a place like this one day.

One trip I just made was to Burlington, Vermont for an Extension Tourism conference. If you are at all interested in local foods, organics, and dairy products, Vermont is your place! I ate at a couple of restaurants which feature local foods. One called Flatbread uses all local ingredients for all food as well as the beer produced on site. Wow. It was impressive.

Just think if our own region of Minnesota started to connect as well with local farms…our region benefits from both quality food and the support to local economies. And what’s really holding us back from doing so? Not much…we just need to connect and meet each others needs. Consumers need to think twice about where their food is coming from and give local producers a chance…local producers need to really hear what customers are looking for and grow to meet their needs.

Menu for Saturday’s Market:
Peppers (sweet, colored, hot)
Red and White Potatoes
Red and Sweet Onions
Winter Squash (delicata, acorn, butternut)
Turnips and Rutabagas
Greens (kale, collards, swiss chard)
Tongue of Fire shelling beans
Romanette green beans (flat pod)
A few cateloupe
Fresh herbs

Check it out folks…we dodged a bullet this past week, but I guarantee the frost will be here soon! All those peppers, tomatoes, etc. will be gone. This is your last chance.

Get into summer before it’s too late

Transplanter and Cultivator
Saturday’s Market Menu:
Canteloupe: new
Watermelon: both yellow and red
Turnips: new
Sweet corn: bi-color
Summer Squash
Tomatoes: heirloom, roma, and beefsteak
Cherry Tomatoes: Sungold and grape
Potatoes: Yukon Gold and Norland
Cut Flowers
Onions: red, sweet, and yellow

Summer is just flying by if you havn’t been paying attention.
It seems like just last week I was selling lettuce and early brassicas like kale, but I can already see the end from where I stand. Frost seems to appear by the second week of September…for those of you counting, that’s just three weeks away!

New Pictures

Market menu for Saturday, August 19:
Watermelons: Sunshine (yellow variety) and Sugar Baby (regular)
Tomatoes: cherry tomatoes, romas, heirlooms, and regular beefsteak varieties
Potatoes: Yukon Gold and Norland Red
Corn: Bodacious bi-color variety
Onions: yellow, sweet, red
Some yellow beans…
Flower Bouquets

My Uncle Duane was visiting our farm back in July and he lives for taking pictures! He lives in California and so it was great he could spend a couple of days with us. Some of his shots are below.

Sunset over Greenhouse looking North

Barn with pasture and thistles

Moving drip irrigation lines…my dad helping, my grandmom supervising.

Setting up irrigation…a common sight in July


A absolute nightmare heat descended on Minnesota last week. My father-in-law follows weather like a hawk online and he said Vergas had a temperature of 97 and a dewpoint of 83 last sunday for a heat index of 122 degrees!! Man, it was insane.

As you can imagine this is not good for any crop. Even vegetables like melons and tomatoes which really like heat just shut down and try to survive, especially with such little moisture in the soil. Luckily we got nearly an inch of rain last Friday night, so I think all the plants have made it “over the hump.” So, pray for a solid 80-some degrees with a weekly rain from here until frost.

Saturday’s menu:
Juliet paste or plum tomatoes (new)
Taxi yellow tomatoes (new)
Valley Girl tomatoes (new)
…all these small, early-variety tomatoes are just coming in, so supply won’t be great.
Beets (new)
Mix of Cherry Tomatoes: Grape, Sungold orange variety, and Washington Cherry variety
Summer Squash and Zucchini
Sweet Onions
Red Onions
Garlic and a couple Garlic Braids
Bok Choy
Last of Broccoli
Red Cabbage
Cut Flower Bouquets
Norland Red Potatoes

I’m out of town until Friday night, so let’s hope I have time and energy to pull off harvest!

July is a Trying Time

Staked Tomatoes
Although a field of 900 tomatoes plants all staked and in neat little rows is a beatiful sight…

Mar and I Staking Tomatoes

I think staking tomatoes used to be a medieval torture treatment. Basically you need to string 4 lines of twine along side of every tomato. You do this by extending a line under the foliage of the plants and tighten the line around each stake. And you try to do this without knocking off any little tomatoes or blossoms!

Striped Cucumber Beetle – most hated insect ever!
Enemy number one: Striped Cucumber Beetle. This guy is really making my July tough.

I’ve been battling this bug since early June, but it has really exploded since early July and is really insult to injury in our dry conditions.

They like anything in the cucurbit family which includes all melons, squash, and cucumbers. Right now they are eating all blossoms and crewing on the fruit of the plants, especially the zucchini.

I have been treating the plants with a substance called PyGanic, which is an organically-approved (OMRI) insecticide made out of Pyrethrin, a natural insecticide made from a plant.

Still the battle is not as successful as hoped. I am now tossing out about 1/3 of all summer squash due to insect damage. So, if you see some little pock marks on a zucchini, sqush, or melon throughout the season, you now know the culprit. But don’t worry, it’s only cosmetic.

Saturday’s Market Menu:
Red Potatoes (new)
Cherry Tomatoes
Red and Sweet Onions
More Zinnia Bouquets
Mini Bok Choy (new)
Summer Squash
A few Eggplants

History of Pesch Farm and Produce

It seems kind of strange to write about the history of Pesch Farm and Produce since there is so little of it, but I thought you’d like to know how we got here.

Cast of characters:
Me – Ryan
Mar – Maree, my wife
Sylvie – Sylvia, our daughter

We hightailed out of St. Paul and moved to our farm halfway between Pelican Rapids and Vergas two years ago. I’m originally from East Grand Forks and Mar’s from Lake Elmo, so we lucked out in landing halfway between both our families.

So how did you get into vegetable farming?
Some 6 years ago I was a kid out of college living in St. Paul. After a stint in a law office shuffling papers and realizing just how boring the real world of employment actually is, I decided to make a sharp left turn and find an apprenticeship on one of the many local organic farms in the “vegetable belt” around the twin cities. I ended up working for Paul and Chris Burkhouse of Foxtail Farm for two seasons before Mar and I got married. At Foxtail I learned all there was to managing a produce farm and CSA (community supported agriculture).
In 2002 Mar and I did a “dry run” on our own. We were tenants on her uncle’s land in Lake Elmo and sold at the Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market. Also at the same time I worked at Mississippi Market Food Co-op in St. Paul as a greengrocer, a job I had until we moved up to Otter Tail County.
So, for us, being able to afford a small farm and actually start up our own place is a dream come turn. It’s been a long road, but we’re happy to be here.
OK, Ryan, thanks for the history, but I just want to know what you’re bringing to market on Saturday…
Cucumbers (new)
Eggplant (new)
Pickling cucumbers
Summer squash: zucchini, crocked-neck, sunburst (new)
Green onions (last week for season)
Green beans
Sweet Onions
Maybe potatoes…

Local Foods on the March

I’ve decided that we have really turned a corner with how people view what they eat.

For a long time only a small group of folks were talking about the importance and pleasure of buying fresh and local food. Not only is a local head of lettuce about 100 times fresher than the three-week old head of Iceberg, but you encounter a huge variety of produce, support local farmers, and learn a lot about your local community in the process.

But two articles have changed my view. 1. Wednesday the Star Tribune ran a series of articles on the ethics of buying food 2. Today I read an article on Wal-Mart bringing organic foods to their stores When Wal-Mart joins in, you know all this talk about organic and local foods is no longer relegated to crunchy people who hang around health food stores! This is big.

In our own small way we’ve seen this at the little Lakes Area Farmers Market. The number of people shopping is up from last year as is the number of vendors selling. Sometimes we just think we’re a backwater–a bit behind the times–but, on this, we are right in the mix. We’re growing our own local food system right here.

Coming to Market:
Green Beans
Pickling Cucumbers
Summer Squash
Sweet onions
Green onions
Swiss Chard