Lost Tools

I’m certain that I write on this topic each year – lost tools. This is probably because I use this blog as my therapy where I ruminate out loud about my shortcomings and frustrations.

“Mar, have you seen the wheelhoe?”

“Well, I don’t know, where did you last use it?”

“Over by the lettuces we planted in the north field last week….I swear”

I tramp back to the same place I already looked, thinking it will now magically appear.  So I walk around the perimeter of the north field thinking that I would have left it at the end of the bed. Since we haven’t mowed around the garden, if it were there, I would be under grasses and weeds four-feet tall. No dice. 

After going through the packing shed, old high tunnel, barn, milkhouse, and the edge of the front field, I recruit my son, Will. “OK, I’ll walk along this side, you go along the other side of the field.” So, we walk the perimeters of the north field (again.  I’m sure it’s here!), front field, and the back field. Will didn’t find the wheelhoe, but Will came back with a cup, a pair of gloves, and my hand hoe. I also found my 5-lb hammer in the tomatoes. Partial successes.

wheel hoe by corn.jpg
Can you spot the wheel hoe?

I relieve Will of his duties. I’m now over 30 minutes into this goose chase and I give it one last push as I scour the out-of-the-way places. Visibly agitated, I mutter to myself as I stomp around by the winter greenhouse and kick around weeds growing in the backyard. This is when the voice of my dad comes in my mind, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” I wish, dad. I tell myself that after this escapade, I’ll create this organization that will be the envy of the organic community…I’ll write books about my system and give workshops. Forget it, I give up. Mind you that the wheel hoe is 5-feet long and painted red. This place isn’t that big.

I go back to saving some herbs, pulling weeds by hand. Working 10 minutes, and, eureka, I know the location of the wheelhoe! 10 beds over, between a row of corn and onions, there is sits. Alleluia. I finally get down to business and attempt to clear out the bed for a couple hours. I go in for lunch and leave the wheelhoe where I last used it, destined to repeat the process in a couple days.

In the box:

 

CSA Sign-up Season

Another February has rolled around and we are readying the farm for another season.

NOW is the time to sign up for the summer CSA season. We are doing something new and exciting this year by offering ‘farmstand bucks’ with a membership for use at our on-site farm stand or to arrange for bulk purchases (available for pick-up on farm). Our idea is to give member more flexibility with their membership.

  FULL SHARE: $525 (16 boxes plus $30 in farm stand coupons)

  EVERY-OTHER-WEEK SHARE: $275 (8 boxes plus $20 in coupons)

Picture of CSA box in August
August CSA box

In each 3/4 bushel box you will receive a mix of what is in season (between 8-12 different crops each week). The early season boxes will be quite a bit different than late season boxes. We are a certified organic operation, so all our crops are grown without any synthetic pesticide, herbicide, or fertilizer. We concentrate on the staples like lettuce, tomatoes, and sweet corn, but we also mix it up with some interesting crops too.

DROP SITE LOCATIONS

  1. Detroit Lakes – MANNA Food Co-op (Mondays)
  2. Pelican Rapids – Riverview Place (Tuesdays)
  3. Perham-location TBD (Mondays)
  4. Fergus Falls-Keller Williams Realty (Tuesdays)
  5. Lida Farm (Mondays)

HOW TO SIGN UP

Please fill our our 2018 order form below to join for the year.  We ask for half the payment when you sign up with the remainder due half way through the summer.

2018 CSA Order Form (click to download)

We do fill up each year, so please contact either Maree or Ryan to confirm availablity if you’re reading this after April 1 or reach out with any other question you may have. Find us at lidafarmer@gmail.com or 218-342-2619.  We’ll make a note on this website and on Facebook when we do fill up.

2018 CSA Brochure (click to download)

Sign up for CSA by March 15 and receive 2014 price

Now’s the time of year when we all look toward spring.  We’re putting winter behind us and dream of warmth, sunshine, and summer harvests.  I’ve found that this is also the time of year when people start thinking about signing up for CSA shares.

2015 will mark our 10th season operating a CSA and I think we have a long list of reasons why to choose Lida Farm for 2015: 
  • Certified Organic: Last year we certified to assure folks that we’re “doing it right.”  We invest in building soil to produce healthy crops without chemicals and GMOs, 
  • Clean Energy : We power our farm with carbon-free wind and solar power.  Our Ventera wind turbine provides a majority of the farm’s electrical needs and we recently installed solar thermal panels to heat our winter greenhouse. 
  • Small-scale Family Farm:  We’re pretty much the opposite of big ag.  All produce which you receive is grown, cultivated, washed, and packed by Ryan and Maree Pesch with some assistance from our friend and apprentice Kelsey Wulf.  Our three children make up the rest of the workforce, but their contributions are hit and miss. We’re hoping for 50 shares in 2015.
  • Delivered Shares: One feature many of our members enjoy is that their CSA box simply shows up on their doorstep.  We deliver every Friday directly to home or businesses in Pelican Rapids, Detroit Lakes, Vergas, Cormorant, and many lakes in between.  We have limited shares delivered to a dropsite in Fergus Falls on Tuesdays.  
  • On-farm Experiences: The fall harvest party may be reason enough to join.  We also invite members to pick peas, beans, tomatoes, and a jack-o-lantern.  
We offer two kinds of CSA shares: a full/family share where you receive a 3/4 bushel box of what’s in season every week for 16 weeks and an every-other-week share (8 deliveries over 16 weeks).  We also expect to do fall storage shares and some winter shares with details forthcoming. 
Full share (3/4 bushel box each week for 16 weeks):
  • Pick up at farm – $435 (receive 2014 price if sign up by March 15)
  • Delivered – $485 (receive 2014 price if sign up by March 15)
Every-other-week share (3/4 bushel box every other week): 
  • Pick up at farm – $235 (receive 2014 price if sign up by March 15)
  • Delivered – $265 (receive 2014 price if sign up by March 15)
*You will receive a 20% discount if using SNAP benefits to have your assistance go further.  

Sign up: Fill out this order form.  To confirm that you are in our delivery area or whether we have shares still available (especially if you’re reading this in May or later), please contact Ryan or Maree at 218-342-2619 or lidafarmer@gmail.com.  

Haying Season

We’ve finally reached one of my favorite times of the year: haying season.  I was a long time coming because of the rain, which has been messing with everything this year.  This has caused the fields to become overgrown and unruly.  One thing I most appreciate about hay cutting is the feeling I get when all the bales are being driven to the barn loft for stacking.  Looking back over the field, everything look so clean; together with smell of the baled hay, and you really have a rich feast for the senses.  .  I liken it to vacuuming your house or even getting your hair cut.  For just a little while, all is in order and you can sit back and appreciate.

Sylvia’s photo of front hayfield

We actually have a lot going on in the fields and pastures this year.  In our front hayfield we currently have 5 pigs who will be assisting us in working up the field.  If there’s one thing hogs like to do, it’s rutting in the ground.  Since we’re running out of space for produce, we need to utilize that field, which probably hasn’t seen anything other than bromegrass for about 20 years. I’ll first chisel plow the field and later we’ll let the pigs loose on it!  Nice thing is that they fertilize while they work.  Starting this spring we now have a family milk cow in the back pasture plus a calf – exciting because bovines are new to us.  Throw in the bees behind the barn and our small flock of sheep, there’s a whole lot of life going on out there!  Like the pigs working up the front field, the key to all these animals on a vegetable farm is that they integrate well into the operation to support the fertility of the fields so plants are healthy, and, in turn, the crops feed the animals.  It’s a beautiful thing.

In the box:
Basil: Please don’t refrigerate unless you like black basil.  There are two schools of thought to keep basil.    One, treat it like a flower; cut the end and put in a shallow vase.  Two, wrap in a damp paper towel and    keep in an open plastic bag to retain moisture.
French Breakfast Radishes
Snap Peas: These are edible pod peas, so don’t shell them, just eat them
Strawberries: These aren’t the prettiest of berries, but I think the flavor’s there.
Dino Kale: A nice dark green kale…my favorite which Mar will make into kale chips – great.  See recipe  below from Simply in Season
Zucchini Summer Squash
Green Onions
Green Leaf Lettuce
Kohlrabi: Funny looking bulb.  Many simply peel, slice, and eat raw…can be added to salads like a radish.

Savory Kale 
(page 203 for those with cookbook)
1 onion, thinly sliced: In a large frypan saute in 1-2 T olive oil over medium heat until brown and crisp, not just soft.  Remove to a serving dish. 
1 bunch of fresh kale or swiss chard: Stack leaves, roll together and slice about 1/4 inch thick.  Saute in frypan for 1 minute. 
Several tablespoon and 1/4 teaspoon salt to taste: Add, cover, reduce heat and steam until tender.  Add water as needed.  Kale cooks in 10-15 minutes; swiss chard cooks a bit faster.  When greens are tender, drain in colander.  Return onions to pan and heat to sizzling. 
1 T tomato paste: Add and stir.  When this mixture is hot, return the greens to the pan.  Mix, heat through, and serve.  

Starting a new CSA season

I’ve been blogging about our farm since 2006 and today marks the beginning of my weekly blogging for 2014.  I’m really off and on during the off-season, but, since this is the first week of the CSA, I consistently write about farm issues and provide news from Lida Farm every week as well as provide information about what’s in the CSA box with a recipe. 

Like a teacher looking at the new school year, I’m always a bit apprehensive about a new growing season.  Will first box be ready in time?  How do the veggies look?  Will insect pressure overwhelm us?  How about weeds? Weather?  Stress?  Kids?  Oh, boy, no matter what’s thrown at us, the season is started and there’s no turning back for the next four months.  
Putting together the box for today, however, a lot of those beginning of season fears fall away as the lettuce looks really good as we’re harvesting, there’s more broccoli than I thought, and, yes, we actually got a cultivation in with the tractor before this weekend’s rain.  A sign which gave me even greater comfort was the garter snake which surprised me this morning near the lettuce patch.  Like any reptile or amphibian, the snake is a sign of good health and I appreciate their presence even though I’m deathly afraid of them.  It was almost as if he made his appearance today to welcome us to a new season.  
In the Box: 
Green leaf lettuce 
Bok Choi (small stalk with round, green leaves)
Green onions aka scallions
Swiss Chard (bunch of greens with colorful stems)
Mizuna (bunch of light greens with jagged edges )or Tatsoi (dark green bunch of greens with round leaves):      These are both Asian green which are great to add to a stir-fry right at the end or simply saute a bit and        top eggs
Broccoli 
Arugula (bunch of greens with elongated oak-like leaves): I like these in pasta or raw in a Italian-style salad with olive oil, balsamic, and parmesan cheese…you can also make an arugula pesto.
Parsley
Recipe of the Week:
Arugula Pesto from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
2 cups arugula
1 clove garlic crushed
2 T. walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup olive oil, more or less
Place arugula in a food processor or blender with the garlic, nuts, salt and about a 1/4 t. pepper.  Add 1/4 cup olive oil and pulse a few times.  With the motor running, add additional olive oil to make a creamy sauce.  Use within a day.
We like to add cheese and use it as a substitute for traditional basil pesto with pasta. You can also throw in some of the parsley to make the arugula taste more mild.  Bittman suggests using the pesto on grilled chicken or shrimp.

Working between the Rains

The veggies are growing, although not at the rapid clip one would expect this time of year.  We were able to cultivate once with the tractor so far just before a rain about ten days ago – that first rain was much appreciated but it doesn’t seem to want to stop.  Rain keeps out of the fields and we just stand by and watch weeds grow.  

Mulched High Tunnel Planted to Tomatoes
Still, we are making headway.  Last weekend’s heavy rains gave us a nice opportunity to really dive into work in the high tunnel where all our cherry and some specialty tomatoes are planted.  We hoed, weeded, trellised, and mulched all eight rows and things look great.  It’s now just a matter of giving them some time, and, in that environment which plants love (they are kind of like couch potatoes in the high tunnel), they will get as tall as me and just pump out tons of perfect tomatoes. I really can’t wait.   

A Change of Weather

It a wonder what a change in the weather brings.  The difference between this week and last week is remarkable. Last week we had 100+ heat index and a couple days ago I swear I woke up in October!  Canada sending us some cool temps is a nice change, but I’m surprised on how much it effects the growth of produce.

The beans are one example.  Last week I was looking at our second planting and saying to myself, “That planting will be readily easily by next week” as flowers were turning to small beans.  But when Maree and I went out last night to pick beans for the box, the crop was just not there since their growth slowed in the cool temps, so we ended up scouring our first planting of beans for this week.  On the other hand, the slowdown was really nice for cool-loving crops.  We have a third variety of broccoli called Imperial which has been putting on heads and this weather allows them to mature more slowly so you get a better formed head with nice tight kernals.  This is unlike our second variety of broccoli which went form little buds to loose heads in about 2 days of really hot humid weather.

This change in the weather is just a small example of how vegetable farming and CSA is particular is tough beast to plan for.  We have a lot of well-laid plans in the spring, but generally you have to roll with the punches.  Our trick is to raise a crazy variety of things, which, in the end, save us from bringing you a mostly-empty box one week.  Something is bound to come in well no matter the weather.

In the box:
Radishes: Most got French Breakfast variety (look like long fishing bobbers).  Not unlike the French, Mar and I like these things cooked.  Check out this recipe: http://www.tastespotting.com/features/braised-radishes-recipe
Norland Potatoes
Fennel: I always feel like I’m challenging people on this one.  I can just see people say, “What do I do with that?”  Well, below we have a recipe which is really good.  Still, you’ll also see fresh fennel listed in salads and soups.
Fresh Thyme
Green Beans
Beets
A mix of tomatoes: Hey, first of the season, so there aren’t a lot of any single variety.  So there’s a smattering of different kinds.
Sweet onions

Greek Fennel Skillet
from Simply in Season

Serve plain as a side dish or over pasta.  Can also be served over Italian bread that has been brushed with olive oil and toasted.
2 cloves garlic (minced)
In a medium frypan saute in 2 T. olive oil for a minute.

2 fennel bulbs (sliced thin)
1 large onion (sliced)
Add and saute until tender, 5-10 minutes.

1 T. lemon juice
3 medium tomatoes (chopped)
Add and cook over medium heat until part of the liquid evaporates, 10 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

1 1/2 cups feta cheese or mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup black olives (optional)
Stir in.