News and Blog
Heard a portion of an interview on NPR tonight. Richard Horan has written a book (Harvest: An Adventure into the Heart of America's Family Farms) about his travels to various small farms across America where he had the opportunity to visit and work with farmers. I didn't hear the entire interview, nor have I read the book, but the topic is definitely of interest to me.
It seems every year there are several books written about food, culture, farming, organics, etc. This is a hot topic. We enjoy reading these stories. However, by joining with us as a CSA partner you are creating your own story. You are a part of the bigger story. I think that's pretty cool. Thanks.
Our story this week has certainly been a hot topic. Over 90 degrees hot!! Had to delay planting the new strawberries till it cooled off. On Thursday a fine crew of young and old, men and women set out to put 2000 new strawberry plants into the ground. Then they had to be hand watered since there is no irrigation set up yet. That's a lot of hard work for a crop that won't produce any yield till next year. Thank you Beth, Samantha, Sean and Jeremy.
This year's strawberries sure have decided to be prolific. In fact we are going to give you TWO pints this week. Also will be sharing garlic scapes as well as the braising mix of Kale/Collards (ask Beth about a recipe for this--one of our farm helpers is a chef at Jack Fry's and he has fixed these for us using this recipe), Onions, Radishes, Turnips and Lettuce. I am very surprised that the lettuce is still producing. Especially after this week's heat. Not sure we have ever had lettuce for six weeks in a row. I'm happy.
Thankful for the cooler weather today. Sure helps the plants when it is cooler for harvest. At 7:00 this morning it looked like the work crew was going to be sparse. However, everyone pulled together and made it happen. For some it was a sacrifice. Many thanks to Beth, Samantha, Heather and Jeremy.
One thing that stuck with me from that radio interview was the observation by the author that sustainable farming is a young persons game. How well do we know that. Beth and I are extremely grateful for the young people who come out each week and help make Harmony Fields Farm a reality. Without them, we couldn't exist. We also couldn't exist without you and your commitment to local, organic farming. Let's keep the story going. It's a good one.
The "Community" in Community Supported Agriculture is very important to us. In fact, we believe it to be the foundation upon which this whole model rests. By becoming a partner with us in this journey, you have made a commitment not only to us, but to yourself, your family, the environment and our culture. We are your farmer and we have a relationship with you that transcends that of a traditional merchant and customer. Since we are certified organic, we have a transparency and accountability that other farmers don't. You benefit greatly from this, as do we. This is a "good deal" for all of us and I hope that the relationship will continue to grow through the years.
Strawberries this week. I wasn't sure they would ever ripen but now they have and we can all rejoice. Also have spinach for everyone this week. And turnips. Asparagus has slowed considerably. We got more out of our asparagus beds this year than ever before so we are very thankful for that. But, we only have a few bunches--not enough to share with all but a few to sell. We had a thousand new asparagus crowns delivered today. We will try to get them planted this week and then four years from now we will have a another bumper crop to add to what we already have. Asparagus produces for over 20 years if you take care of it.
Also have two thousand new strawberry plants to get in the ground this week. You are welcome to come out and help if you wish. A lot of work to get done. Could add another dimension to the concept of "Community." We welcome you.
Hope the weather cooperates for the market tomorrow. We have had more rainy weather for harvest day and market day than in years past. No matter what the weather we must harvest and market.
Looking forward to seeing everyone this weekend. The "Community" is strong. Let's keep it going.
We needed the rain we got today. Just wish it had waited till tonight to do its thing. We can't let the weather stop us -- but it can slow us down. That's why I am so late with this communication and barely have any strength left to type on this keyboard.
We tried to take advantage of the weather this week to get our first cutting of hay harvested. We bale the small square bales that weigh between 50-70 lbs. since we use this hay not only to feed animals but also as the mulch for many of our plants. All of our garlic and potatoes are mulched exclusively with hay and we have found it to be very effective in controlling weeds. So, our hay crop is very important to us, and since we are certified organic, we don't have the option of buying hay from our neighbors for this purpose. This is one of many challenges that come with choosing to be organic.
A couple of years ago I was asked by a local newspaper to help home gardeners plan an organic garden for an article in the paper. Another fellow was also asked even though he was not certified organic. I have known this fellow for several years and knew that he liked to call himself organic but that he wasn't certified. I had inquired of him once about how he was able to control weeds so effectively in his asparagus. He told me that it was easy. He just sprayed a little Roundup between the rows. When I protested, he informed me that using a little bit didn't hurt anything.
This is why it is important for us to go through all the paperwork and headaches in order to satisfy to requirements for certification. We have accountability and transparency that can be verified. Using a "little bit" of any prohibited substance would be discovered at our annual inspection and we would lose our certification. We want you, our partners in this endeavor, to trust us and know that the food you are getting is guaranteed to be free from any harmful substances and that our farm plan is designed to work with the environment, not against it. We work in harmony with nature.
Even when it rains on our harvesting efforts.
Had a good crew today but most of them had to leave by early afternoon. Spent most of the morning getting the last wagon load of hay (baled last night) in the barn before the rain came. Beth and Nathan and I had put up two loads last night by 11:00 but we were all worn out and couldn't do last load. Each load is about 100 bales and Beth drives the tractor pulling the wagon while I lift the bales from the ground onto the wagon and Nathan (our son) stacks the hay on on the wagon. I love doing hay because it works every muscle in your body and this was my first attempt since my knee replacement surgery thirteen weeks ago and I was anxious to see how I would do. Glad to say that everything worked great and I feel better than ever.
We will continue to share with you the bounty which we have been given. Sometimes we have a few things which have not performed as well as we would have liked and we don't have enough quantity to share with everyone. If that is the case, and you see something for sale at our booth that is not in your bag, then please know that we will be happy to sell it to you at a discount. This week that item would be spinach. One of our workers who is also a chef told me today that there is an extreme shortage of spinach this year and they are having trouble finding any. We do have a little and we sell it for $4.00/bag but will sell to you for $3.00.
We enjoyed seeing our Shelby County friends who picked up today at the farm and we look forward to seeing all the rest of you tomorrow at the market. Let's hope the rain holds off. But if doesn't, we will just have to learn to live and work with it.
For some reason this crazy weather (hot-cold, cold-hot, etc.) seems to be agreeing with many of our plants. In other words, they are doing well. And so will you. I'm not sure when I can remember when we had NINE items in a bag this early in the season. Usually we feel pretty confident if we have four. That is one of the advantages of the traditional CSA model that we follow. When we do well, so do you. You are the beneficiaries of this week's abundance.
The Green Garlic this week is pulled from our current Garlic field and is larger and more flavorful than what we have had the last couple of weeks. This may be the last week for this as we need to let it go ahead and form into bulbs.
We try to rotate lettuce varieties as thy come in. This week we will add Black Seeded Simpson. This is an heirloom variety of a loose leaf lettuce that has excellent flavor for both salads and on sandwiches. Will also give you a bag of Mesclun. I had a bite of one of the mustards in our Mesclun Mix and boy was it hot!! However, the zing I got from did not last long so that helps make it palatable. Plus, it is mixed in with lots of other varieties. You can't buy that kind of flavor from the grocery store.
We will also add a braising mix of Kale and Collards. We call it a braising mix but you can fix them however you wish.
Had another good crew harvesting today including Heather, a former CSA partner, who just moved back to Louisville after three years in New York. While there, she drove four hours (round trip) to work on an organic farm in exchange for food two days a week. We are glad she remembered us and is now back in the fold. We have another CSA partner this year who was with us previously as a graduate student at the U of L. Following graduation he took off for a new job but, fortunately, was able to get another job back here after a few years away.
We like it when people come back home. We especially like it when Harmony Fields Farm is part of what makes it home. We hope that you feel a closer kinship with us than just a business relationship. We don't think of you as customers but as partners. We want to be your "home" for food.
So, come on home this afternoon or tomorrow morning. The food is ready.
It has been a busy week as we tried to take advantage of the dry weather to get the ground ready for the main summer crops. We needed one more dry day that we didn't get. The rains came yesterday before we could get finished. Farmers should never regret getting rain but sometimes the timing can be a little challenging.
Today has been a good day as we got everything harvested before the few sprinkles that came our way a little while ago. In addition to the items in your bag last week, we will be adding a few more goodies. Amazing the difference one week can make.
Asparagus continues to grow well and you will get a bunch of this. Last week one of our farm pick-ups had her first bite of raw asparagus. She didn't know you could eat it raw. Too tough, fibrous, woody, etc. Fresh, local and organic. It's a new world. It's a different world. It's a better world. Welcome.
Another lettuce variety is ready this week. You will get a bag of Gourmet Mix. Also, you will get another bag of Mesclun. I thought last week's Mesclun had too many thick stems. It's the nature of this variety to have these stems but I thought it was a little too much. This week we cut from another row and I think it will be less "stemmy."
Other new items this week will include: Tat Soi (an Asian green that's especially good in stir fry--one bag), one bunch of spring onions and one bunch of radishes. The radishes are primarily the cylindrical variety known as French Breakfast, but you also might get one or two Ping Pong (a small white ball) or Amethyst. We have discovered that radishes are really good on tacos. One of our local Mexican restaurants makes tacos with soft corn tortillas, meat, onions, cilantro and radishes. You will also get Green Garlic and Mint.
In spite of the cooler, wetter spring, everything seems to be doing well. I always worry about what could be around the corner weather-wise. I seem to occupy a space between gratitude and anxiety. I try to lean more toward the gratitude side. Having a CSA made up of people like you make it much easier to lean that way. Actually, you all are more like a force field of goodness that draws us into a community of love and concern for the earth and each other. It's a different world. It's a better world. Thank you.
It's hard to believe that another season is here. Winter is finally over (well, maybe--they are predicting a frost for us on Sunday night) and spring is trying to spring.
It has been a very cool and wet spring. Some plants are happy and others want it a little cooler. The advantage for you is that a crop like asparagus, which is usually an early spring crop, has delayed production resulting in more opportunity for our CSA.
You will get Asparagus this week. It is wonderful and can be eaten raw or cooked. This is an extremely challenging crop to grow organically as you have no shading from the plant canopy to help control weeds. However, it is a very hardy crop and competes well with the weeds..
Also, we are pulling some of our garlic early to offer to you as green garlic. Treat this as you would scallions or leeks. It has a milder garlic taste and is can also be eaten raw (as in a salad) or cooked.
The first lettuce of the season will be a mesclun mix. It was cut this morning before the rain came in and the guys have just now finished bagging it. It should last for a week or two in case you can't get it all eaten this week. We will also be cutting some fresh mint for you.
Distribution will begin today for those who pick up at the farm. Please try to come between 5:00-7:00 if possible. If this will be a problem, please call us at home, 502-738-0510.
For people in Louisville, we will have a different pickup location for tomorrow only. We will not be at the market tomorrow but will be down the street in the parking lot at Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church. Actually, I won't be there at all but Beth will be there between 10:30-12:00 noon. She will be set up in the small parking lot that is right across the street (Churchway) from St. Matthew's Methodist. I will actually be inside Harvey Browne at a church leadership retreat. If you get lost or confused, please call Beth on her cell phone at 502-640-0043. She will be driving a light blue Prius and I will try to remember to park my large white pickup truck over there too.
If you are receiving this email then you are officially in this years CSA and we harvested to meet your needs. Even if you haven't paid. We will be happy to take a check from you today or tomorrow when you pickup. We are are always open to payment plans for those who would like to spread out payments. We really want you to be able to eat fresh, local organic food (especially since it almost nonexistent in our area--at least the local, fresh part) so we will always work with you and you budget to ensure that you won't be deprived of this opportunity.
As always, thank you so much for your support of local, organic farming. Without you we would not be able to do this. Looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting our new friends.
A dash to the finish line today. Rained all morning. Frost two mornings this week. What a way to end a season! I don't remember us having frost this early in the fall in many years. It was thirty-six last Sunday morning and thirty-four on Monday morning. We tried to harvest as much as possible last Saturday after the market in anticipation of the frost. I think we are in pretty good shape for the last CSA distribution and market.
We still haven't been able to harvest all the sweet potatoes (thank you rain--not that I'm complaining) but we did get enough to get you four pounds worth this week. Also going to load you up with some extra garlic to help get you through the winter. Winter squash and potatoes will also be seasonal offerings in your bag this week. I thought we would be able to salvage some basil but the leaves turned black as soon as the frost hit them. I will really, really miss the fresh basil. Can't wait till June of 2013 when it will be back.
We are still trying to count and piece together as much stuff as possible for tomorrow. We just weren't able to harvest in the weather conditions this morning so we are really behind. The garlic you get tomorrow will at least have the stem and roots cut off but we may not take time tonight to peel all the outer layers off. Doesn't affect the quality at all, just the look. Each individual garlic head takes about five minutes to prepare properly for presentation. Very time consuming and labor intensive for what we get out of it. We didn't grow garlic for the last several years for this very reason. But, I think we will keep growing it since it is so good.
As I told you last week, we would be happy to have feedback from you about your experience with our CSA. We are very appreciative of your support of our small, family organic farm and want to continue to meet the needs of our community. If you need to email me directly, my email is email@example.com. Also, my cell phone is 502-640-0042. Call or text me sometime if you are having a boring day and want to talk food and farming. If you have friends who might be interested in joining, please have them contact me as soon as possible and I will put them on the list for next year.
By the time we get to the first fall frosts and the shorter, cooler days, we are ready to slow down and take a break. I will not sugar coat the facts--this is hard work. Over the next few weeks we begin cleaning up the fields, sowing cover crops and testing the soil to see what we need to do to get it ready for next year. We will also be planting garlic in October (always open for help if you want to give it a try) and performing some much needed maintenance on our infrastructure. We will also be doing a considerable amount of fencing as we begin a transition into grass-fed beef as a part of our whole farm plan. We need the nutrient cycling of the livestock as well as the superior quality of this type of protein in our own diet. It will probably be at least two years before we have any beef ready for harvest but we will be sure to let you know when we will be offering it for sale.
So, this is the bittersweet goodbye we all dread. However, the next seven months will past quickly and it won't be long till we are back at the market greeting your smiling faces and empty bags! Continue to eat locally and organically as much as possible over the next few months. Continue to preach the values of organics. Continue to care. The one thing I know about you all is that you do care, and that makes all the difference.
Larry and Beth
Hard to believe that this is the next-to-last week of our CSA and the farmer's market. It seems like only yesterday that we were cutting, washing and spinning that first harvest of lettuce. The spring onions were so fragrant, tender and tasty that I can still feel the sensation in my mouth. And, who can forget those wonderful strawberries!
Well, as the seasons change so does the produce. And, sometimes the seasons change rather abruptly as this week has shown. It has really been cool compared to Septembers of the last several years. In fact, it has stayed warm well into October for many past seasons. When the temperature drops like it has this week, everything almost comes to a standstill. Remember that prolific okra? This week it only needed harvesting every other day. The tomatoes have almost quit (but we are still able to get enough cherries for everyone to have a pint) and the peppers are still producing. If the forecast for next week holds up, it is showing lows in the upper 30's for Shelbyville and it may even be cooler here on the farm. If that happens then we will probably have a light frost and that would mean the end to anything growing above ground. We will have to wait and see what happens.
Fortunately, we have a great crop of sweet potatoes underground. Harvested another row today and we will increase you bounty by 50% over what you got last week. Same instructions I gave last week apply this week also. And--DON'T REFRIGERATE them. Just leave them in a cool, dry place.
Last week Beth and I were in Fresh Market in Louisville and noticed that they had large eggplant for $1.99 and small eggplant (like you are getting) for $3.49. That's because small is better. It is more tender and succulent. Be sure to peel the skin off, it can have a bitter taste.
Looking forward to a nice day at the market tomorrow. Enjoyed visiting with those who came today to pick up here at the farm. As we are beginning to wind down, our thoughts are already turning to next year. Each year we sit down at the end of the season and evaluate our entire operation. We would love to have feedback from you. Please let us know what we did well and what you think we can improve on. We value your opinion.
We are planning on putting up a high tunnel this fall. This would enable us to start the season earlier and perhaps extend it into the fall. Growing year round (certain crops-not everything!) might become a reality. Lots of possibilities but it has to be something that works with our business plan and our quality of life. We will keep you in the loop as we work through this over the next few months.
Again, thanks for your support. Without you, none of this would be possible.
The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler. It's almost time to say goodbye to all the summer bounty. As we are now just a couple weeks away from the end of the market and our CSA season, we are reminded that eating seasonally can be a challenge. The taste of fresh heirloom tomatoes still lingers in our mouth. Fresh beans and squash are now but a memory. Wow, I'm getting depressed just writing this. However, new opportunities arise and this week we will be sharing the first of the sweet potato harvest. Can't have those in July!
We just dug these sweet potatoes today (about a quarter of one row--we have four rows) and they look rather good. Even though we will begin distributing them this week, I suggest you hold on to them for at least a week or more. Ideally, sweet potatoes should "cure" for at least a month before eating them. They need time to shed moisture (evaporate) and dry out. As they dry out the sugars are concentrated and intensified. The longer you wait, the sweeter they will be. Last year some of our CSA members kept them for six months before they ate them.
We don't have time to cure them before distributing them since they are harvested late and our market runs out before they can cure. So, it's up to you. We will start you out with a couple of pounds this week and then increase the amount over the final two weeks.
I enjoy the seasonal change to fall as it tempers the memory of the hot, humid summer. Many farmers are trying to extend the season by growing in high tunnels. We hope to get one up some time this fall so we will be able to get an earlier start next year and then extend some things into the winter. As is usual with us, time and labor will determine if we get this done. Hopefully this year it will happen and it may have positive impact on our CSA offering next year. Stay tuned for more.
See ya tomorrow!
Even though today tipped into the 90's I can tell that fall is right around the corner. The days are getting shorter and I sure am enjoying the lower humidity we have had this week. I really appreciate the help we have here during the week. Jeremy works as a chef at Jack Fry's in the late afternoon and evening yet still finds the energy and enthusiasm to show up by 8:00 at least three days a week. We wouldn't make it without him. Samantha comes every Friday and didn't leave till 8:30 tonight helping us get everything ready for the market. The rest of the time it's me and Beth. Mostly Beth. She grew up on a farm in Breckinridge County and sure knows the meaning of hard work. After teaching all day at Bowen Elementary in Louisville she jumps into her work clothes and doesn't stop till it is too dark to see. She will probably be up past midnight tonight making the beautiful bouquets you see each week at our booth.
The bounty continues this week. And, as I promised, the okra is starting to do it's thing. Did you know that of all the vegetables grown in Kentucky, okra is the easiest. It doesn't require a lot of fertility or water and is not attractive to many pests. Ah, you say, the bugs don't even like this hairy, slimy thing. If you feel like this then I suggest you might want to seek treatment for your okraphobia. Perhaps see an Okranologist for therapy or medication. I actually googled "I Hate Okra" and found some very interesting things. One person dries the entire pod and then paints it to look like a lizard. Even uses some clay to make the head and feet. Others have tried freezing, grilling, sauteeing and pickling. It seems that the uses for this wonderful treat are limited only by your own imagination and sense of American ingenuity. So, be a patriot and embrace the okra experience.
This past week we cut up some of the Garden Peach, Green Zebra and Illini Gold and put them on a plate as an accompaniment to supper and they looked so pretty that I almost didn't want to eat them. I did, though, and they tasted even better than they looked. Enjoy them while we have them. Carry the memory of the look and taste throughout the coming winter and look forward with anticipation to having them again next year. Known as eating seasonally. Also known as eating local and organic. Also known as eating something you won't find at a grocery store.
Thank you for letting us grow for you. It is fun growing for you. It keeps us motivated when the days get shorter but the tasks get longer. See ya soon!