Minerals on the Farm

This week as I was harvesting broccoli for the box, I was looking across the brassica field where we have the kohlrabi, cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts and thought just how good the field looked this year.  The good timings I’ve had with cultivating helps, but one thing which I’d like to highlight is the mineral fertilizer I’ve incorporated this year.

Ryan harvesting Napa Cabbage

Plants in the brassica family like broccoli are pretty heavy “feeders” of micronutrients (macro-nutrients are nitrogen, potash, and potassium) like calcium, boron, and manganese.  To better feed the plant, this year we sourced a mineral blend from Midwestern Bio-Ag which the brassicas really responded to.  We’ve never had such healthy-looking cabbages.  People always wonder what we do about insects when raising vegetables without pesticides, but this is part of the secret.  If you have healthy plants with proper nutrition, the bug pressure is always less – kind of like those healthy people you know who never get sick.

In the box:

  • Cilantro
  • Kohlrabi 
  • Napa Cabbage: It seems like not a lot of people cook with Napa, but I absolutely love the stuff!  Follow this recipe below from the Epicurious website for an idea on how to use it.  
  • Radishes 
  • Strawberries
  • Snap Peas: These are edible pod peas, so please don’t try to shell; just eat them.  
  • Spinach 
  • Broccoli 
  • Red lettuce: Most people got a red oakleaf variety called Cocarde, but some did Red Sails red leaf. 
  • Salad Mix  
Spicey Napa Cabbage Slaw with Cilantro Dressing from Epicurious

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 fresh serrano chile, finely chopped, with seeds
  • 1 small head Napa cabbage (1 1/2 pounds), cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

  • Whisk together vinegar, sugar, ginger, oil, chile, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Let stand, tossing occasionally, 10 minutes.
    Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spicy-Napa-Cabbage-Slaw-with-Cilantro-Dressing-243168#ixzz1zDu8T5Ia

    My Farm Philosophy (CSA week 1)

    We’ll this is week number one for our 8th CSA season as Lida Farm!   I’m feeling good about where we’re heading and I think it’ll be a great season.  

    I think individual farms have their own “take” on agriculture and how their farm fits in the world; this is probably even more important for CSA operations where people choose an operation to make “their farm” for the season.  My own farm philosophy is geared towards three things: soil, people, and community.

    We are committed to growing our produce without the use of any synthetic chemicals EVER (we haven’t use a chemical on the place for the 8 years we’ve lived here).  We also do the best we can to build the soil as much as possible each year, incorporating livestock into our operation and interplanting cover crops to fix nitrogen and add organic matter.

    People are the core of our operation.  We do our utmost to make sure our members and farmers market customers get clean, quality food.  I love the feeling of knowing we are helping to feed families and giving them a direct connection to farming.  I love getting to know people who eat our food and learning about what their interested in.  We’re going to have a few events over the season this year to make connecting a bit easier, including an open house and fall feast so stay tuned.  We want our farm to be your farm, so please make a point to attend some events or simply come out and visit!

    Lastly, community is big for us.  Not only our local communities of Pelican Rapids and Vergas, but also our fellow local farmers.  Just as local residents support us in becoming CSA members and customers, we in turn support our local businesses.  Building up a stronger local economy in our little rural part of the state is a core part of our mission and I feel so much more can be accomplished if we all cooperate together.  We also take on a role of educating the community on sustainable agriculture.  For the last 3 years we’ve hosted Pelican Rapids early childhood classes in the fall and the local 4-H club was out just last week.

    In the Box: 

    • Bok Choy 
    • Garlic Scapes – the curly green bunch.  Think of scapes and use them as garlic-y green onions.  You can also use them in place of garlic cloves; they’ll be a bit more mild than garlic cloves.  
    • Arugula – the bunch of greens which look like elongated oak leaves.  This can be eaten fresh or steamed or in a pasta; a traditional Italian green.  I prefer as a simple side salad with parmesan, oil, pepper, and some balsamic vinegar. 
    • Radishes – some got cherry belle (red variety) and others got French breakfast variety (look like long pink/white bobbers).  
    • Red Russian Kale – big bunch of purple greens.  These need to be cooked.  I typically do kale with sauteed bacon and onions and then simmer down the cropped greens for 10 minutes or so.  
    • Green Onions
    • Salad Mix (in the bag) or Romaine Lettuce  
    • Spinach – loose greens with the pink roots 

    Stir-Fired Bok Choy from the Food Network


    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
    • 8 cups chopped fresh bok choy
    • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
    • Salt and ground black pepper


    Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add bok choy and soy sauce cook 3 to 5 minutes, until greens are wilted and stalks are crisp-tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. 
    I suggest you use the garlic scapes in this recipe in place of the garlic cloves – it’ll work fine.  

    Why Raise Livestock on a Produce Farm?

    We mainly raise vegetables, but we have been expanding livestock on the farm.  For the past four years, we have raised broilers (chickens for eating, not laying) along with laying hens and a flock of sheep; last year we even tried our hand at a few pigs.

    Why?  Meat is tasty and allows us something else to offer CSA members and other customers, but one really big reason is manure.  Veggies need a lot of fertility, and, when raising produce organically without high-powered manufactured fertilizers, you almost have to have livestock manure.

    We keep experimenting with ways to create good compost out of manure.  One thing we have been trying is doing a slow composting method where we let the manure pack break down under a roof and out of the rain for 6 months + which keeps more nitrogen in the compost instead of leaching out in the elements.  

    Tools of the trade – a manure fork and a grain shovel

    Last week I shoveled out the chicken shed in preparation for this year’s batch of 200 broilers.  We let last year’s chicken litter break down since last August and we’ll spread in a windrow in a shady spot on our hill to break down some more for fall spreading on the fields.    

    Filling up the manure spreader
    The finished product – half-complete compost
    Shed ready for new birds!

    A few CSA shares available for 2012 season

    Our first CSA delivery of fresh in-season produce will be coming up in a few weeks.  We’re a small operation which is totally family run.  Maree and I both the owner/operators and the entire workforce of Lida Farm (plus three kids under the age of 7, but they are not great contributors yet).  Last year I harvested for and assembled about 30 shares each Friday.  We currently stand at about 27 shares, so it’s not too late to sign up.

    Our season runs for 16 weeks (Mid-June through Mid-October) and we also do every-other-week shares for couples or families which just want to try out a CSA.  The cost is $450 for a full share delivered directly to your home or $250 for every other week.  We also give a $50 discount if you pick up at the farm yourself (at $400/season, this is $25/week).  Besides the produce we will also be hosting a few events on-farm for the 2012 season for our members.  Check out details under “Join our CSA” on this website or get a hold of us at lidafarmer@gmail.com or 218-342-2619.

    early season CSA veggies, lida farm CSA, pelican rapids CSA
    CSA box from June, 2011