Salt of the Earth or Just Inefficient?

This is my life. I misplaced the mail and lost a couple CSA payments. I spent 20 minutes looking for a hammer. I sat for 20 minutes longer in the afternoon just to let the caffeine hit me so I could go back out and harvest.

Lida Farm Files
Filing ‘system’ at the farm

These are some of my personal habits (many of them bad habits related to disorganization) that are out of step of today’s business world. Manufacturing has been lean for decades where all parts are in their place and laborers make use of every movement. Retailers never miss a phone call–outsourcing customer service means somebody will always pick up–and a computer algorithm will direct your call to right person. Heck, go to the store and check out your own groceries! In the face of these expectations given us by uber-efficient corporations, Mar and I fumbling thru all aspects of business from bookkeeping to marketing to production appears less responsive and maybe even too difficult to bother.

This contrast makes me wonder if all small business operators are doomed. Maybe we’re a dying breed as we speed into a sleek future filled with ease where computers read our minds even before we know them. Then I think about my own motivations and it isn’t about consumption, simply cheap and efficient products and creature comforts. I find greater depth in life by staying on a slightly less-worn path, doing business with neighbors and learning about the person making my coffee. An efficient economy only focused on consumer needs feels lonely and not one I want to inhabit. When we reduce everything to a widget, we devalue all people involved in the process too.

And maybe you’ve come to this conclusion yourself or you wouldn’t be reading my words. Our mission at Lida Farm is more than food. You may have to put up with our disorganization to get it, but we hope our little farm helps to provide you a little more connection in a world sorely lacking it. And, even if you like us as a quirky ragtag operation, we continue to find some efficiencies at Lida Farm, implementing a two-tray filing system and organizing tools every so often.

In this week’s box:

  • Kohlrabi: Big bulb thing…peels and eat with a little salt, maybe a little lemon.
  • Swiss Chard
  • Snap Peas: Eat with the pod
  • Mizuna: Try in the Bittman recipe below. You could also use chard in the recipe
  • Green Onions
  • Head Lettuce: Most got a romaine, but you may get a red or green butterhead
  • Cucumber
  • A Couple Zucchini 
  • Garlic Scapes: These are weird if you haven’t seen them before. They are shoots that come out of hardneck garlic. You can mince and use wherever you use garlic, including recipe below.
  • Fresh Basil 

Soup with Poached Eggs and Greens from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express

Bring six cups of vegetable or chicken stock to a slow bubble. Add two cups of any chopped green (spinach, arugula, mizuna, or chard), then four shelled eggs, along with a couple of smashed cloves of garlic (or minced garlic scapes!), some freshly grated Parmesan, and red chile flakes to taste. Cook until the whites of the eggs are set but the yolks still soft, about three minutes. Scoop out the garlic cloves if you care, and serve immediately.

A new season

We have reached a new veggie season. For me, this is year 14 in Otter Tail County as Lida Farm. One growing season will end, and, before I know it, another will begin. My sense of these 14 years runs different than my members and I need to remind myself that some CSA members are experiencing the variety of vegetables throughout a summer for the first time, even if it’s ‘old hat’ to me. This reminder is both exciting and humbling.


I remember back to my first year as an apprentice. I was 23 years old and decided to go ‘all in’ on this farming thing and live and work full-time on an organic vegetable farm. I was out in the field and seeing cauliflower grown for the first time and eating kohrabi for the first time ever! I remember asking Paul, my farm mentor and employer, if people actually ate this stuff called arugula. Well, fast forward 18 years and now I’m the guy saying, “Sure, it’s a good green with nutty taste…why wouldn’t a person eat arugula?” Or I’m surprised when a customer at a farmers market hasn’t even heard of swiss chard. Either way, the point is the same, we’re not all on the same page when it comes to veggies and it’s part of my job to be your guide to the season and gently introduce different crops to CSA members and farm stand customers alike.

So, I’d like to invite you to take on the season in the spirit of discovery. Let’s try some new foods and together learn some things about agriculture and growing. After all, this is the thin green line of life which feeds us both.

In the box:

  • Arugula: The bunch with a blue band and oakleaf-shaped leaves. See recipe below.
  • Snap Peas: As snap peas, you eat the whole pod.
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • Spinach
  • Kale: A variety called Westlander that we get from High Mowing Seeds, this has become a real standby.
  • Basil 
  • A couple radishes: Man, this first set of radishes didn’t fly, but part of the bed came thru, so I thought I’d include a couple. They give the box some color anyway.

Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette 

Adopted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everybody by Deborah Madison

2 T fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

A few green onions, finely diced

5 T olive oil

Bunch of arugula, chopped coarsely and large stems removed.

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese , coarsely grated

1/2 cup walnuts, roasted

Combine zest, green onions, olive oil, and lemon juice together with salt and pepper to taste. Assemble salad in bowl and toss with nuts, cheese, and dressing. I associate arugula with Italy, so find your inner Italian and combine this salad with a nice crusty bread like Falls Baking baguette we carry in the co-op and a red wine.