Fields


Every morning at 6:30 a crew of about 10 people heads into the fields to begin harvest. We harvest vegetables 4 days a week and spend one day packing the boxes and delivering them to you. We try to spend the afternoons in the packing shed, out of the hot sun, washing and bagging. In between harvest we squeeze in weeding, greenhouse work, planting, trellising and much more. It’s a balancing act dictated by the Thursday deadline and the weather. We don’t leave the packing shed on Wednesday until it’s all done. We work well together and enjoy what we do. Enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor!

Misty morning zucchini harvest. Many of our mornings are very foggy in our valley. Foreground: Abby and Jesse

Cutting the tops off the newly harvested fresh onions. Jon and Matt are Monday morning worker shares. Jesse and Abby are always here.

Washing those onions in the packing shed at the brush washer. Neing, Phalla, Abby, Yun, Ryna.

Swiss Chard harvest on a beautiful morning.

The season is indeed starting out with bounty. Much thanks to all of the rain and hot weather; plants do respond positively to both of these things. Everything looks great in the fields. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons and all of the summer crops are flourishing. Although we did have a dry period last week and needed to irrigate. Crazy how that works, so much rain then none, the plants need consistent water.

Green beans were one of the bounty crops this week. They are as beautiful as can be. We harvest green beans with a mechanical harvester, then bring them into the packing shed and run them over a bean cleaning machine. Many people stand in front of a conveyor to take out any debris (stems, leaves) that may have come in with the beans.  This cleaning process takes about 3 hours. The mechanical harvesting takes about 2 hours. This process allows everyone to work standing up and eliminates crouching over bean plants for an entire day.

We acquired this bean machines about 15 years ago, bought it from a farm near Green Bay. It was winter and I took our old Jeep pickup truck and trailer to get the machine. I had stayed in a hotel the night before and woke to a blizzard, loads of snow had fallen during the night and was still falling heavily. I headed to the farm on a completely snow covered country road. The farmer successfully loaded me up, strapped down the machine and off I went. The interstate was no better.

Now this old pickup truck was a piece of work. The gas gauge didn’t work, the head lights were mediocre at best. I kept track of mileage to estimate when to fill up, but pulling a trailer with a heavy piece of equipment of course uses more gas. The snow covered interstate was as horrible as conditions get (blowing snow, semi trucks, low visibility). I knew I was getting close to needing gas so exited on Hwy 151 and ran out on the off ramp. Was able to coast to the side of the road. Now these were the days before cell phones. I ran up to a car on the off ramp and hitched a ride to a gas station; a mom, two girls and a fresh box of pizza.  I filled a container with gas and started to walk the mile or so back to my truck, not seeing anyone at the gas station I felt comfortable asking for a ride. As I walked in blinding snow and below zero wind chill back to the truck, a man and his son pulled over and gave me a ride. I did what I needed to do and got home pretty late and in the total dark. When I asked David if he was worried, he said ‘No, should I have been?’ I guess not.

Barb

David drives the tractor and skillfully operates the harvest machine while Jesse monitors the beans dropping from the chute. The machine harvests the entire plant. All of the plant matter gets blown out of a chute (between the tractor and the stack of crates) and the beans drop through another chute.

 

Many hands picking through the beans to eliminate leaves, stem and such. The machine sits in the packing shed addition where we get nice air flow and sunlight under the shade of a roof.

Many hands picking through the beans to eliminate leaves, stem and such. The machine sits in the packing shed addition where we get nice air flow and sunlight under the shade of a roof.

 

 

The spring has run its course, and now it is time for the sun and heat of the long summer days to bring us Wisconsin’s bounty season.   The summer and fall (yes fall) crops are growing wonderfully. I cultivate every crop every week, eliminating the weeds we don’t like. This is my time to see up close the development of everything.

  • The winter squash is already flowering with tiny fruit visible.
  • Several of the potato varieties put on a beautiful flower display, which has just begun. This coincides with the first baby potatoes underground.
  • The earliest planted sweet corn is almost too tall to cultivate, meaning it is on schedule for early August harvest and the Corn Boil event.
  • The sweet potato slips, which look like a green stick when planted, have come to life and begun to put on leaves and shoot out roots.
  • The first green bean plantings are looking great; unlike last year when we had lots of germination problems; so lots more beans this year, one of my favorites. Even the edamame germinated perfectly, breaking our 2-year run of crop failure. Deer have been nibbling at the edamame, but not too much damage yet.
  • The pumpkins and gourds have sprouted in uniform rows, meaning another great Pumpkin Pick event is in store for October.
  • Several broccoli plantings are in the ground and have a good start; the evil flee beetle has had little impact this year on all the brassicas.
  • All the crops under row cover are lifting the cover towards the sky, meaning they are doing great and are asking to be uncovered soon; bring on the melons, cucumbers and summer squash.
  • We had a successful hand pick of Colorado Potato Beetles off the eggplant, their favorite target.
  • This is also the time to catch up on the always needed hand weeding; a slow tedious process, but that’s part of organic farming. The first planting of carrots got their final hand weeding today; they are already beginning to size up. Garlic, onions and leeks are looking great, but need hand weeding attention also.
  • There is a lot of work to do with the tomatoes, putting in stakes, getting the plants trellised, and some hand weeding.
  • The rains have been a bit much, but on the bright side, the irrigation chores have been negligible. However, a droughty period always shows up, so there will be lots of work to do to keep the plants watered.
  • The bulk of the greenhouse work and transplanting is over, but some work lingers into August.

There is much yet to do to prepare your first bounty season box of produce in July.  We hope you’ve enjoyed the early spring season delights, and do look forward to more great food from your Farm.

David

Barb planting sweet potatoes

Dandelion harvest for the final Spring Season delivery

Yun tucking in the lettuce before the rain comes

After a week of intense heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, we were all very happy to work these past few days. We had a busy schedule of harvest for the Spring Season shares and early summer planting continues. In weather like this, everyone is eager to be outside and work seems to get done faster. Yesterday morning we had a short thunderstorm that sent us running for the packing shed only to get back out into the field 20 minutes later. It’s hard not to love your work during weeks like this.

Jonnah

Morning spinach harvest before the sun gets high in the sky.

Barb walking crates of spinach out of the field.

A beautiful stand of scallions. Pulling these out of the ground is one of my favorite jobs on the farm!

Jesse counting as Jon harvests.

Jesse and Barb, son and mother, figuring out the best way to remove the row cover.

Fresh garlic harvest. The smell of garlic was so amazing while we were pulling it up!

We, and the plants, all made it through this record breaking May heat wave! We worked outside Monday and Tuesday, sweating like crazy and drinking lots of water. The end of May is the busiest time on the farm so no matter that the temperatures are soaring into the 90’s, there is tons of work to do. We harvested outside and in the hoophouses. We transplanted zucchini, sweet corn, melons and David spent a lot of time on the tractor planting many seeds. We wished we could have spent more time in the packing shed, but this week’s work kept us outside for most of the days. Wednesday was a gift, with cooler temps and rain! We worked outside until the rains came and then harvested in the hoophouse. We knew everything outside was getting well watered. Oh yes, the mosquito population is a bit crazy this year, adding to the fun!

Barb

Monday Morning salad mix harvest.

Followed by spinach harvest. You can almost see the heat hanging in the air.

Tuesday afternoon we headed into the rhubarb jungle.

Wednesday morning was spend in the hoophouse in the fennel jungle. Notice Sophon is wearing mosquito netting. It is pouring rain outside and we are happy inside, although I think all of the mosquitoes decided to get out of the rain, too.

Ryna planting tomatoes in the hoophouse. After a crop is harvested we replace it with tomatoes. Lettuce heads were in this spot on Monday.

Spring is such a beautiful and magical time on the farm. Different hues of green everywhere are soft and varied and brilliant. Rains come hard and the wetland turns into a pond, only to recede the next day. Sandhill cranes are vying for nesting territory. Fog rolls through the valley in the early mornings, muting the colors and bringing with it a mystique. Dew hangs so heavily on the tall grass that you feel as if you are swimming when walking into the fields. Planted crops are thriving, despite all of the crazy weather.

Through it all we work hard. Bodies ache and grow weary. But then we look up at the beauty all around us and are reminded how lucky we are to work in such a magical place. At times we work silently and at other times we chatter and laugh. The days pass and we accomplish much.

Enjoy the spring magic in your box this week!

~Barb

Rhubarb harvest Tuesday morning. If you have never used a rhubarb leaf as a hat, give it a try. It cools your head an looks quite fashionable!

Heavy rains caused our wetland to turn into a pond. Our stream is that straight line of water in the middle. The spring vegetables are planted in far the field. The following day the waters receded and the vegetable fields are in great condition!

Last Friday we were working in the hoophouse during a downpour. The water decided to come under the edge and start flowing like a river. David is doing some water re-directing. All is well with the plants!

Harvesting salad mix Monday morning. Heavy fog and mist outside.

I stepped out through the open side wall of the hoophouse to capture this picture of our leeks, onions and garlic in the mist. They are enjoying the spring and growing well.

The sun sets on the stream behind our big field.

What happens when it is really hot in September? The vegetables just keep growing as if it’s still summer. Planning for a balanced CSA box is a skill that we have been perfecting for many years. We keep accurate records of yields and varieties and weather and use that information as we plan for the next season. We do pretty well. And then we get a September like this one and get results we didn’t plan for. Not that it’s a bad thing, it just isn’t the balance we had planned for, and there’s barely room in the share box for it all. For example, broccoli. We plant all of our fall broccoli in one big broccoli patch. When cool fall weather occurs, as it does most Septembers, the broccoli slowly matures and holds well in the field. When summer weather happens, the broccoli all matures at once and we have to harvest it because it won’t hold in the field in the heat. Last Friday we harvested over 2000 heads of broccoli. And that was after harvesting on Monday and Wednesday also. Hence, you will get lots of broccoli in your box this week. We really didn’t plan for or expect this hot weather. Another example, tomatoes. We are harvesting field tomatoes two weeks past any other year and experiencing a huge yield with very little disease. Tomatoes like hot weather. Disease thrives in wet weather and it has been very dry. So if you like tomatoes, this is your year. Enjoy the bounty of this week’s share. It has been a busy week on the farm!

Barb

Bringing in a load of broccoli, the most prolific crop on the farm this week! In addition to all of the broccoli we put into your CSA boxes, we also donated about 250 heads to Goodman Community Center.

Kale harvest. The crew harvests and bands the kale stems; then Barb packs the bunches into crates in the truck.

Bringing in the Carnival squash. We harvest into bins and Jesse drives the bins to the packing shed.

Next Page »