I hope 2015 finds you and your family in good health and spirits. At Lida Farm, we’re both tired from 2014 and expectant for the year to come.
The big chore and accomplishment in 2014 was the construction of our deep winter greenhouse. We are nearly 90% complete as of the New Years. We just attached the two solar thermal panels on January 2, but still need to hook them up. There is also a ceiling I need to install inside the greenhouse to put a barrier between the humid air in the greenhouse and the cold steel roof. Right now terrible weather is holding us back, but we expect to get the solar panels running in the next couple of weeks.
We’ll need to do some terracing on this steep hill and bury some tiling, but these tasks obviously wait til spring.
I also planted our first seeds in the greenhouse Christmas morning – unbelievable, Christmas morning! Things are germinating well and the temperature is fluctuating between 32 and 80 degrees, even in the coldest weather. Today we are zero degrees, with an overcast sky and 40 mph wind gusts; the temperature is sitting near 50 degrees and the propane heater is not kicking in at all.
We look forward to the first greens harvest toward the end of January and all the off-season growing we can muster between now and May. I am especially excited to grow our own onion starts by seed this year and get those tomato and pepper plants started super early for high tunnel production, not to mention baby arugula in February (I’m getting tired of greens from California going bad in our fridge).
Lida Farm is now embarking on a project to build an efficient and low-energy solar greenhouse to take our CSA to into the depths of winter. Over the next 30 days we’re running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. If you’d like to see clean energy and local foods come together to produce something great, please contribute: http://kck.st/1peQpEg
My semi-lame video tells the story:
|Site for greenhouse and cabin we recently moved for future interns
We at Lida Farm are currently in our 10th year of vegetable production here in Otter Tail County. Like any organization which reaches such a milestone, we began to ask ourselves what’s next. And, like many others who have been part of the local foods movement in the Upper Midwest, we’ve decided to extend our season to the extreme by building a deep winter greenhouse. The idea is to build a structure which will allow us to grow some greens and crops which could do well not only is the cooler temperatures of winter, but the low light intensity as well.
Right now we have a really big hole in our backyard which is making us a bit nervous because it looks like a bigger project than we expected. However, as soon as tomorrow we’ll start framing a structure which will hold 10-inches of insulation in the walls and sit 5-feet below grade to take advantage of the constant moderate temperatures of the earth at that depth. In the five feet below the soil, we’ll have a network of tiling in rock and radiant floor tubing to keep the greenhouse above freezing, even through winters as nasty as the one we left behind in April. Since we’re digging a big hole in the hillside near our house, we also decided to incorporate a small root cellar as well – why not, right? Our major plans are to offer a limited number of winter and fall CSA shares to provide members greens and storage root crops during the time of year we really crave some good produce.
In this week’s CSA box:
Sweet Corn: Hey, we made it! It’s a mix of varieties, including Bodacious (Yellow) and Luscious (a bi-color variety from organic seed)
A mix of tomatoes: These are just starting to turn as well, but boy are we happy they are starting up.
Japanese Eggplant: These guys taste just like a standard Italian one and you prepare the same way.
Pepper: Most received a purple variety called Islander which tastes like a green one. Others got a light-green variety called Biscayne
Summer Squash: Most received green zucchini, but some received a yellow type.
Recipe: Our suggestion is to simply grill everything. Easy. Delicious. You can’t go wrong.