Farm Stand Now Open

Although it gets exhausting to fill every day with picking, packing, and delivering produce every day of the week, I always feel good about opening the farm stand at the end of the driveway, which is did just this morning.  We already have CSA deliveries on Friday and the Farmers Market in Detroit Lakes on Saturday.

Farm Stand with Willem on Bike, 2011

I always like the farm stand because it brings so many people right to our farm and it feels good that we’re feeding our neighbors, which is the majority of people who stop.  I think part of the allure of the farm stand for customers (and it is open to everybody, not only CSA members as some people have thought) is that you’re looking right at the fields where the produce came from.  There’s no wondering “I these guys putting me on…did they really grow all this stuff or are they shipping in some stuff from down the road? (This is something we never do by the way)”  There’s also ample evidence that we don’t use herbicides since you’ll see some weeds taller than me.

Anyway, if you know anybody who isn’t interested into the commitment of a CSA membership, but into picking up some good local produce every so often, please let them know about the farm stand.  It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from today until October.  The stand is self-serve, so simply stop, pick out what you want, and leave payment in the box on the right side of the stand.

In the CSA box for the week:

  • Norvalley White Potatoes
  • A couple Mini Heads of Lettuce 
  • A dozen ears of Sweet Corn – the variety is either Ambrosia or Paydirt
  • Mix of Cherry Tomatoes – If they are a color other than red, they are supposed to be that color:  Sungold (orange), Sweet 100 (red), Black Cherry (purple), White Cherry (white).  
  • A couple Japanese Eggplant 
  • A couple Leeks 
  • Basil – a mix of red and green just to give you some variety.  To give you a little advice on storing basil, do not put in the refrigerator.  Instead, trim the bottoms and leave in a vase with a little water like you would cut flowers or store at room temperature in an open zip lock with a couple damp paper towels.  
  • Scarlet Queen Turnips – The pink/red root vegetable with the long greens. Use as you would any turnip.  
  • Yellow Wax Beans – These came in really heavy this week, so I put in quite a bunch.  
  • A Couple Cukes

Missing the Sweet Corn Craze

There’s probably no other occasion in the Midwest produce season quite like the beginning of the sweet corn crop.  So you can understand my frustration, when, everywhere I turn, I see some guy (or usually kid) at the side of the road selling sweet corn, and I find my own to be a few days short of ripe.  People have been asking me about sweet corn easily for the last 4 weeks even though it would take some kind of magic corn to be ripe at the beginning of July.  I keep thinking these “fake roadside stands” that simply truck in corn from Iowa and Nebraska really early are messing with people’s sense of season and sense of what we can actually grow in Minnesota, especially when they put sweet corn next to some peaches next to cherries in mid-July.  Still, when actual local growers are at the side of the road, I have no excuse.

Sweet Corn on Lida Farm

Raising produce commercially is often a huge juggle where each year one crop or another under or over-performs.  I’m always out in the fields telling myself “That should have gotten in the ground 10 days earlier” or “Man, I should have weeded that patch earlier.”  Throw in some interesting weather-a little hail here and there-and I really should be amazed that any crops come at all.  The trick in what we do is to keep as many of those balls in the air as possible and keep all of them moving forward and growing.  I commonly work through 5-7 different tasks a day in June and July (maybe starting with cultivating on the tractor, hand weeding a few crops, then moving to wheel hoe a couple other beds, etc). If I get stuck too long on any one crop or job, I can easily miss the window to take care of another crop, and, yes, sometimes a crop just gets written off.  So, in the context of all this juggling of 60+ different crops, sweet corn appearing a bit late shouldn’t be the end of the world, but I still feel a bit like a professional musician who missed hitting a C chord on stage.

In the box:
Norland Red Potatoes
Bunch of Carrots
Cucumbers
Green Beans
Fresh Oregano: Tiny fragrant bunch of greens with a red band
Fennel: The frawns (greens) has a pretty strong anise flavor, but the bulb itself is more mild (see recipe below)
Cilantro
Peppers: One Islander (purple) and a couple green

Fennel goes especially well with chicken and fish.  Here’s a simple recipe using chicken: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/dining/313lrex.html

Farm Stand Now Open

We’ve opened the farm stand for the season (open now through October).

The tomatoes are starting to come in as well as the corn.  It’s not as bountiful yet as the picture from last year, but we do have cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet onions, and potatoes with more variety in the weeks to come.

The stand is open 7 days a week and self-serve at the end of our driveway on the farm.

Farm Stand Almost Done

I’m feeling pretty good about where things are at this week after last week’s aggravations. Seems like our electric fence is keeping out raccoons and those high-season crops are actually ripening (thanks to 85+ degree heat). It’s tough when you keep slogging through all that work and the plants don’t holding up their end of the bargain; I’ve cultivated, weeded, and trellised tomatoes, but the tomato plants are just giving me green fruit.

One project we’ve made significant progress on is the farm stand which we plan on setting up later this year at the end of our driveway. My father-in-law is a carpenter and he helped me do the framing this past weekend. Our concept is to make it an honest-to-goodness farm stand which makes for a good customer experience. Sometimes people just set up a card table with a couple of coolers or a Menards-built utility shed and try to pawn that off as a farm stand; it just doesn’t do it for me. What we’re building is a 10×6-foot lean-to structure made of recycled barn wood…something that really looks like a farm stand. I keep picturing it spilling over with fall crops this September, so much produce that extra bushel baskets overflow onto the grass…nice sight, eh?. It’s one of those projects you dream up without any sense that you’d ever get to it, but I’m excited it’s actually becoming reality!

The garden work is also in a good place or going according to schedule. We’ve just planted the last seeds for the year like salad mix and radishes. This should give them enough time to get into the boxes by the end of the season as long as we get some germination in this heat. Last night we set the kids up in the van to play (they really like playing in cars) while Mar and I pulled all the garlic out of the ground til nightfall—it’s always a good feeling to be heading to the house at dusk after finishing a job. Also we almost have all the mulch down in between the tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers.

It feels good to be mostly “on schedule” at this point because we’ll be hitting the high harvest period as the tomatoes, peppers, corn, and such come in. We end up in a blurry non-stop picking routine from now until mid-September, which makes it tough to get to anything else. Still, other big project await, like pulling all the onions to cure and putting tilling ground for this fall’s cover crops.