People, People Everywhere

Farming seems like such a solitary activity. Early morning coffee. Calling in cows to milk. Corn harvest before the heat of the day.

But, in reality, no man is an island and that’s true with even stubborn and anti-social farm operators. Milking is tough if the milk truck guy doesn’t come to pick up. Weeding is hard alone. Done with another person, not too bad; done with a party of 10, it’s downright swift and easy. Even if you think about the supply chain needs, there are a lot of people who help make any single farm operation successful. Seed dealer, equipment supplier, and local banker and accountant.

I’ve been thinking about the efforts of teams lately and know that things only work when a trust can be built between them. If members of a team have only their own interests in mind, the mission just won’t be missed, but others on the team can get hurt as well. You may have seen this in your own line of work, but it’s certainly been a theme in the farm economy. The salesman who will sell not what you need, but what will line their pocket. A banker pushing farm expansion for a bigger loan, even if risky. Or even a fellow farm operator who turns against others out of spite.

In contrast, others can choose to be partners for the long run. This is what we need to keep growing the food movement.

In the box:

  • Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
  • A Few Ears of Sweet Corn: This is very
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Onions
  • Norland Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Zucchini
  • Pattypan Summer Squash

Summer Succotash from Land O Lakes:

https://www.landolakes.com/recipe/20001/summer-succotash/

1 Half Stick (1/4 cup) Land O Lakes® Butter

1 medium (1/2 cup) onion, chopped

1/4 cup sliced green onions

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic

4 medium ears (2 cups) fresh corn,  husks removed, cleaned, kernels cut off cobs

1 small (1 1/4 cups) zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 small (1 1/4 cups) yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 cup grape tomatoes  

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, oregano, thyme, etc.)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground or coarse ground pepper

  1. STEP 1Melt butter in 12-inch skillet until sizzling; add onion, green onions and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat 3-4 minutes or until tender.
  2. STEP 2Add corn, zucchini and squash; continue cooking, stirring frequently, 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. STEP 3Add tomatoes; continue cooking 2 minutes. Add herbs, salt and pepper; stir.
  4. STEP 4Serve hot or at room temperature

Community via Pizza

Today is an ode to UFDA, a non-profit dedicated to making local foods cool. Born of Lost Farm (which used to be off Lost Highway to our north, but is no more), the UFDA crew jumped into action to make our event a success on Saturday.

Andy Hayner of UFDA and the pizza oven on trailer

I’ve known Andy and the Lost Farm guys for a long time at this point. Ever the community-minded group, they have lent us a hand on everything from recreational weeding to shoveling dirt for the greenhouse and any heavy farm project I’ve had that needs a little oomph. I’ve felt so much support over the years and been blessed to have them part of the “agri-hood.” Now in their next iteration, they are helping to build community more widely, featuring local foods at events like ours on Saturday. Music from Darren Quam, usual boring farm tour from me, and pizza out of Andy’s wood-fired oven made for a relaxed evening where friends reconnected and members got to meet other members. It felt good to get together and just talk.

If you missed it, never fear. You have another chance! We’re hosting the Deep Roots Festival on Saturday, September 11. UFDA will bring their wagon and do tacos featuring local foods, plus we’ll have a couple educational workshops, an original play about booya and local foods by Sod House Theater, and music/dancing, all at Milt’s Barn west of Pelican. A time to celebrate the harvest our human connection to the land and one another. Be there or be square. I’ll send out a link to RSVP in a week or so.

In the box:

  • Mixed Cherry Tomatoes: Yes! It feels good to start getting into some high summer crops.
  • Garlic
  • Sweet onion
  • Red torpedo onion
  • Broccoli: I thought this sounded good as something that used both cherry tomatoes an broccoli. IF you feel like turnig on your oven 🙂 https://pamelasalzman.com/balsamic-roasted-broccoli-cherry-tomatoes-recipe/
  • Kohlrabi
  • Summer Squash: A real mix and match of yellow straightneck, pattypan, green zucchini, yellow zucchini. Hard to remember it being their cold, but we lost most of our initial green zucchini plants and first planting of cukes in the May frost. Typically regular zucchini and cucumbers have been in the box a couple times at this point.

Perseverance

My Metis forefathers traveled the ridge road with oxcarts, traded pemmican, and fought the British to protect their little stretches of farmland along the Red River. Just imagine how bad the the mosquitos must have been while enduring the daily hardship of the fur trade! But insects were probably the least of their issues. These were tough people, modest people who lived between two worlds, Native and European.

Metis and Oxcart, 1883 (Source: State Historical Society of North Dakota)

I think about the difficulties of today. They have been on my mind. The West is on fire. We have our drought, yet the West is twenty times worse with a bunch of fires thrown on top of it all. Climate change is in my face each day. Marissa and Maya, who live and work on farm with us, considering themselves some of our country’s first climate refugees. They felt a need to put California behind them and struck out for the Midwest. I’m sure they will not be the last as I learn of the daily struggles there. Despite our own challenges dealing with drought, water still comes out of our well. and every so often we have at least a chance of rain. And, even though the haze from fires in Canada fills our sky, those conflagrations are still many hundreds of miles away.

So, throw in political and personal drama on top, and I often sit here worried and anxious. This foreboding can blot out everything in my mind. So, I find it helpful to reflect back on those that came before me, just as you may reflect on your own family’s history. I imagine the hardships they faced, but I know that they too experienced joy. My Metis relatives worked the land with nothing more than draft animals and hand tools, yet ended their days with fiddles and dancing to a Red River Jig. They built churches and institutions and started governments, all without electicity. It gives me confidence that we can more than persevere.

The challenges we face, the issues I face can and will be met and I’m certain we do so while still delighting in the joy of being human. After all, that’s all we ever done.

In the box:

  • Green cabbage
  • Kohlrabi: peel, slice, and eat with salt.
  • Salad mix
  • Fresh Dill: One use will be to include in your salad mix – it’s a nice touch. I wanted to have cukes in here, but the first planting was a casualty of the May frost – second set is flowering and coming on strong.
  • Summer Squash: I my mind it all works the same, but you may get a yellow zucchini, green zucchini, staightneck sqaush, or patty pan squash. Squash fritters are the way to go and a good use of your garlic scapes or green onions. See video below.
  • Green Onions
  • Swiss Chard: Some ideas at https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/swiss-chard-recipes
  • Garlic Scapes

Small but Mighty

About 4 weeks ago, we germinated our first planting of carrots. If you’ve grown carrots, you know a seedling is just a tiny pair of ‘rabbit ears’ emerging from the soil. After a week, a baby carrot is maybe half an inch tall.

So, as Marissa and I were scouting the fields a couple weeks ago in 90 degree heat, we observed that it was downright amazing that the stand of carrots we found had lived through early June at all! Yet there they stood, little tiny carrots about 14 days old. After a handweeding and a hoeing, they now rank up there with the broccoli bed as one of the shining spots of the farm. As Marissa can attest, if I’m ever getting down on the season, I typically bounce back with “But look at that carrot bed” of “Man, at least the broccoli is killing it!” Subconsciously, this may be my motivtion for growing such a wide mix of crops…there’s always something that will perform well. Certainly, that’s the power of diversity.

The carrot is a hardy crop, one that burrows deep to find reserves of moisture and nutrition as other big Goliaths like winter squash or our beloved corn wither and weep. Because, you see, those big crops simply have more to loose and need that much more water to keep their big bushy limbs hydrated and healthy. Myself, I’m inspired by the small and scrappy crops. They give me hope and reassurance that we all the power and reserves necessary to push through anything.

In the box;

  • Napa cabbage: I’m sorry if I’ve already shared the recipe video below, but using napa to create a crunchy salad is just great, especially in summer weather.
  • Mizuna: This is a Japanesse green that good either fresh in a salad (many salad mixes have baby mizuna in them). For fresh salad, think of a dressing like a seasame ginger. Chop up with the green onions in the box and maybe some kale, and you’re in business. For cooking, you can certainly use to finish any stir fry, but I love this in a Pho soup with rice noodles.
  • Green onions
  • Radishes
  • Curly kale
  • Summer squash (Zucchini and Patty Pan): You’d use the small Sunburst patty pan the same way you would zucchini. I really like to use to make morning fritters with eggs. Simply grate pattypan or zucchini into eggs, mix wit green onions or scapes and fry in pan for breakfast. Other greens can be cooked down and put on top or top with sour cream or salsa. Very versatile.
  • Mini-heads of lettuce: These are really mini – a small romaine, green butterhead lettuce, plus tiny red leaf accent lettuce.

Rain!

I know. I’ve got a one-track mind. But the dryness of the year is the story of the year, or, at least, the story so far.

Last night was one where I was happy to be waken up by a hard, pounding rain. The wind suddenly pushed the curtains over our bedroom window, the wind turbine made a quick ‘flup, flup, flup’ helicopter-like chopping sound as the front announced its arrival.

This morning I had in mind to slowly make my way out into the fields since I expected them to be all mud, but, actually, the ground was very firm as every ounce was soaked into very parched ground. The reason this rain thing is driving me crazy is that it’s stopping crops from developing. We have kohlrabi in suspended animation, doing nothing but trying to survive. Their little bulbs should have well formed by now and sitting in your box. Likewise, the Napa cabbage. I had planned on it giving this light box some real heft, but it’s the same story. When I crop is in survival mode, it just won’t give us humans produce we want.

Still, things are looking up and I swear I saw a Napa start to head out before my eyes when our harvesting kale this morning. When the sky giveth, the produce giveth as well 🙂

In the box

  • Dino Kale: See recipe from this Italian guy from San Francisco. You can use the garlic scapes instead of garlic.
  • Snap Peas
  • Radishes: Yes, these things have been hot with the year we’ve been having. Try marinating! https://cookieandkate.com/spicy-quick-pickled-radishes/
  • Salad Mix
  • Basil
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Flat-leaf Parsley