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 basil…it’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.  

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.

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 preachy…it’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.  

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…this 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.