May 2014


This week has been the defining week between spring and summer. We had our last frost on Friday night; the temperature dropped to 29 degrees in our valley. We knew it was coming so we held back on transplanting many of our summer crops that do not take kindly to frost. This week we hit the ground running. Planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, summer squash, winter squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers. Miles and miles of plants. Transplanting has been keeping 6-7 people busy every day this week. After most of these crops are transplanted they need to be row covered to protect them from insect damage. So then another crew goes out to lay the row cover. In addition, we harvested all of the delicious food for our last Spring Share. The tomatoes that have been coexisting with the greens in the hoophouse and colossal now have lots of space to grow big and tall. Both houses are getting cleaned up and weeded. We are removing the sprinklers we used to irrigate the spring greens and replacing them with drip irrigation that lays close to the base of each tomato plant. And so the week has gone. It’s summer.

Barb

Transplanting eggplant. David drives the tractor, 2 people ride behind the tractor on the ‘water wheel transplanter’ and lay the plants near the wet hole that the water wheel made. Five people crawl behind and tuck the plants into the hole.

Transplanting eggplant. David drives the tractor, 2 people ride behind the tractor on the ‘water wheel transplanter’ and lay the plants near the wet hole that the water wheel made. Five people crawl behind and tuck the plants into the hole.

Transplanting tomatoes. It’s the same process as eggplant, only one person rides the transplanter. You can see Elisabeth laying out the tomato plants. The straw mulch is there to keep the weeds away.

Transplanting tomatoes. It’s the same process as eggplant, only one person rides the transplanter. You can see Elisabeth laying out the tomato plants. The straw mulch is there to keep the weeds away.

Laying row cover over zucchini plants. Sid and Ohn walk with the roll of row cover while Eric, Brian and Dee follow behind putting plastic pins in the ground to hold it down. We will also row cover eggplant, cucumbers, melon and winter squash. It’s a big job laying all of that row cover, miles and miles of it get walked out. And then of course we have to remove it in about a month. It’s summer!

Laying row cover over zucchini plants. Sid and Ohn walk with the roll of row cover while Eric, Brian and Dee follow behind putting plastic pins in the ground to hold it down. We will also row cover eggplant, cucumbers, melon and winter squash. It’s a big job laying all of that row cover, miles and miles of it get walked out. And then of course we have to remove it in about a month. It’s summer!

 

Simple & Seasonal

Weekly Recipes Written by the Farm Cook

Escarole_White Beans_Vermont Valley Community Farm CSA_

Escarole, White Bean and Bacon Salad

6 strips thick cut bacon

1 large onion

1 large head escarole

1 can white beans, cannellini or great northern (or 1/2 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

In a large skillet, over medium heat, fry 6 strips bacon until crisp. Flip the bacon several times to prevent burning. Lay on paper towel to absorb grease and set aside. Dice onion and add to hot bacon grease. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until onion is translucent.

With a large knife cut off base of escarole and discard. Cut leaves into 2 inch pieces. Submerge cut leaves into cold water and swirl to remove any dirt. Pull handfuls of escarole out of water and give them a good shake but allow leaves to stay damp. Add damp leaves to onions and cover for 5-8 minutes, until escarole is wilted. Add beans and black pepper, stir and cook for several more minutes.

Transfer escarole mixture to a bowl. Chop bacon into small pieces and add. Add tamari or soy sauce. Stir well and serve warm or at room temperature.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

www.therealfoodmama.com

This group of people have been an integral part of this farm’s history. It was about 12 years ago that a fellow organic farmer down the road gave us Bin’s phone number when we needed help harvesting strawberries. ‘The Cambodians’ came once a week to help out that season. And the relationship grew from there. A few faces have changed over the years, but a core group has been coming year after year. From April through October they work with us, sometimes on a task by themselves, sometimes we all work together. They speak their language and we ours (a few do speak English, but many don’t). We’ve worked together for so long we understand each other. They understand the farm. We’ve gotten to know their children and have attended a couple of weddings. They came to Jesse and Jonnah’s wedding. And last week we attended a funeral. Bin passed away in his sleep from a heart attack. It was a sad morning when slowly and with solemn faces the crew got out of their car and said “Bin die”. We all stood with our arms around each other and tears on our cheeks. Six of them spent the day cutting seed potatoes. Bin’s wife, Sid. has returned to work because being here makes her happy. They make us happy.

Barb

Harvesting salad mix on Tuesday morning. Ta, Phal and Ching.

Harvesting salad mix on Tuesday morning. Ta, Phal and Ching.

Harvesting salad mix and turnips. Yun, Ching, Weng, Sid, De and Phal.

Harvesting salad mix and turnips. Yun, Ching, Weng, Sid, De and Phal.

 

Simple & Seasonal

Weekly Recipes Written by the Farm Cook

5_15 collage
Watercress & Spinach Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
Ingredients:
a bag of spinach (6-8 oz.)
a handful of watercress
3 oz. feta
1/2 cup walnuts
For the Dressing:
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
Clean and dry spinach. Tear leaves in half and place in a large bowl. Clean watercress and tear off large stems. Roughly chop and add to spinach. Combine all 5 dressing ingredients in a bowl or pint mason jar. Whisk with a fork until well combined.

Toss salad with desired amount of dressing; give it a quick stir before adding. You will most likely have extra. If walnuts are large, break into pieces. Sprinkle walnuts on top along with crumbled feta.
Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

www.therealfoodmama.com

Well maybe not exactly magic, but a really great way to capture the power of the sun when it is much too cold and frozen outside to grow anything. And when we are in a warm, green hoophouse in April and it’s snowing out, it really does feel like magic. So what exactly is a hoophouse? It’s a greenhouse where we grow plants directly in ground and mostly without heat. We do have back up heaters just in case. These hearty spring greens can survive very cold temperatures. I walked into the hoophouse morning after morning in April only to see little plants frozen solid, totally encapsulated in ice.  And then a few hours later they looked as if nothing cold had ever happened to them. Plants are amazing. We have two hoophouses on the farm. One we call ‘the hoophouse’ and the other one is ‘the colossal’ (named by the manufacturer). We plant spring share greens and tomatoes into both houses, simultaneously. Once the tomatoes are in we do use the supplemental heat since tomato plants need to stay above freezing.

Barb

Early March. Jesse is tilling the soil in the colossal. Next it will be raked out by hand and then we can plant. See the snow leaning against the plastic wall? Thank goodness it’s finally gone.

Early March. Jesse is tilling the soil in the colossal. Next it will be raked out by hand and then we can plant. See the snow leaning against the plastic wall? Thank goodness it’s finally gone.

Early March. The soil has been tilled in the hoophouse and it’s time to prepare the beds for planting.  Brian is marking each bed with string and Elisabeth is doing some precision raking.

Early March. The soil has been tilled in the hoophouse and it’s time to prepare the beds for planting. Brian is marking each bed with string and Elisabeth is doing some precision raking.

Eric, Elisabeth and Brian transplanting lettuce heads.  Notice the tape measure running down the center of the bed. We are very exact about the spacing in these houses.  We only have a finite amount of space, everything has to be exact.

Eric, Elisabeth and Brian transplanting lettuce heads. Notice the tape measure running down the center of the bed. We are very exact about the spacing in these houses. We only have a finite amount of space, everything has to be exact.

Barb and Elisabeth planting tomatoes in the colossal. The tomatoes are being planted next to a spring share crop (in this picture next to red Russian kale, one of the sauté mix ingredients). After the spring share is finished we pound in tall stakes and begin to trellis the tomatoes. These tomatoes will begin to yield in mid-late July.

Barb and Elisabeth planting tomatoes in the colossal. The tomatoes are being planted next to a spring share crop (in this picture next to red Russian kale, one of the sauté mix ingredients). After the spring share is finished we pound in tall stakes and begin to trellis the tomatoes. These tomatoes will begin to yield in mid-late July.

Notice the rows of tomato plants towering over the spinach and lettuce. Oh yes, and Brian is harvesting spinach, one leaf at a time. We pinch off the largest leaves and let the smaller ones grow big for the following week’s harvest.

Notice the rows of tomato plants towering over the spinach and lettuce. Oh yes, and Brian is harvesting spinach, one leaf at a time. We pinch off the largest leaves and let the smaller ones grow big for the following week’s harvest.

 

Simple & Seasonal

Weekly Recipes Written by the Farm Cook

I love the fresh taste of garlicky wild ramps with my eggs. This recipe excludes a crust which makes it quick to prepare and friendly to gluten-free folks. I enjoy a good quiche any time of the day. This quiche is great alongside a fresh green salad for dinner or make ahead of time for a quick and delicious breakfast.

5_8 collage

Spinach, Ramp and Cheese Crustless Quiche

Servings: 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

 

10-12 ramps

2 big handfuls spinach

10 eggs

3oz. Chèvre (soft goat cheese)

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut roots off ramps and rinse well. Line up ramps on a cutting board and dice. Use the entire ramp. Clean spinach by submerging in cold water. As you pull spinach out of the water, tear leaves in half. Don’t worry about excess water on the spinach, as this will help steam the spinach.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon butter. Once butter is melted add diced ramps. Sauté for approximately5 minutes,stirring occasionally. Add spinach and cover skillet for 3-5 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

In a bowl, whisk eggs thoroughly. (Tip: try using an immersion blender, this whisks the eggs in seconds) Mix in salt and pepper. With remaining butter grease a glass or ceramic pie plate and add about 1/3 of the eggs. With a slotted spoon, evenly disperse ramp and spinach mixture; then add remaining eggs. Sprinkle with chunks of Chèvre on top. Bake 25-35 minutes, until top and sides are just brown and the middle is firm. While baking, the eggs expand and often create large bubbles along the edges. Once out of the oven for several minutes these bubbles will settle. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

 

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at www.therealfoodmama.com

It may be grey outside, but this first Spring Share will bring a splash of green to your world. When Wisconsin spring comes late, we are still able to enjoy the bounties of the earth with the food grown in our hoophouses.

Tuesday morning, harvesting in the hoophouse. Everything in this hoophouse will be included in the spring shares over the next four deliveries.

Tuesday morning, harvesting in the hoophouse. Everything in this hoophouse will be included in the spring shares over the next four deliveries.

Harvesting spinach. B2 (nickname for the second Brian on our crew), Jeff, Chris, Elisabeth, Brian.

Harvesting spinach. B2 (nickname for the second Brian on our crew), Jeff, Chris, Elisabeth, Brian.

Brian, Barb and Elisabeth harvesting lettuce heads.

Brian, Barb and Elisabeth harvesting lettuce heads.

Eric and B2 banding ramps.

Eric and B2 banding ramps.