Farming in February starts out as mostly an indoor activity. It primarily involves planning crops, ordering seeds and supplies, fixing equipment, and making long lists of things to be done. This is the month we finish hiring our farm crew, apply finishing touches to the crop plan, create our Food Access plan for the season and decide which new farm endeavors will be implemented. The part about new endeavors is really enjoyable; I think of this as the ‘dreamy’ part of farming.
Between December and February every new idea for the farm is exciting and seems absolutely possible. Pigs? Chickens? Goats? Rabbits? Icelandic horses? Sure! Let’s do it! Okra? Ginger? Peanuts? Winter wheat? Absolutely – let’s grow it all! Ice skating on the pond? Hay rides? Summer farm camp? Sure! What fun! Recipe swaps? Cooking demos? Children’s story time? Farm crafts for everyone? Yes! Yes! Yes! And so many more really great ideas …….
As February progresses, we move away from the desk and dreaming work, and into the physical work that becomes increasingly urgent as the days grow longer. We also spend time shoveling snow, fixing and cleaning things and, finally implementing plans. If we’ve prepared well and remembered all the details needing to be managed, all goes smoothly as the season unfolds: Setting up the greenhouse: Heater works? Check. Soil mix thawed? Check. Seeds on hand? Check. Mouse traps deployed? Check. Tractor removed from the greenhouse? Soon as that wheel’s back on it! Starting seeds: Daily greenhouse labor lined up? Check. Seeding schedule ready to go? Check. Etcetera.
Sometime in February the ‘dreamy’ part of the farming year starts to move toward the back burner. You can imagine how it happens. As the physical work becomes more urgent, the expansive dreams become tinged with anxiety and reined in by the reality of a 24 hour day. Quickly the dreams become centered on the day-to-day: Good dream=all the alliums seeded in a day. Bad dream=mice develop appetite for germinating allium seeds! The work needed to pursue our fantastic dreams – importing an Icelandic horse, finding peanut and ginger seed, selecting children’s books, organizing recipe swaps, farm crafts, hay rides, etc. takes second place to growing the crops we’ve promised our shareholders and other partners.
While the end of February forces our attention on the nuts and bolts of farming, it needn’t stop our dreaming. At Moraine Farm, our on-the-ground reality is not limited by a farmer’s time and preoccupation with growing vegetables. In fact, since day one, CSA shareholders and friends of Moraine Farm have helped to shape and create what happens here, taking us far beyond the basics of growing vegetables. I look around and see evidence of our farm community everywhere: A well-skinned high tunnel, signage, farm walks, fall farm festivals, our first three years captured in photos, a brilliant walk-in cooler design, greenhouse bench tops, shared recipes ….. and so much more.
I believe that by working together, there are no limits to what we can create at here. Might take more than a season, but that’s part of the adventure. Join your farmers, Liz and Gretta, on Thursday, February 20, 9:00-Noon and/or Saturday, March 1, 9:00-11:30 for some greenhouse work and some conversation about what you would like to see at Moraine Farm. Sign up using the links. Bring your dreams!
I’m catching up on my blog reading and found this tasty recipe. I bet a few of you Winter CSA shareholders have some sweet potatoes and Baer’s Best Beans lurking in your pantry! From one of my favorite food bloggers – Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili recipe.
Vacation involved a week in beautiful, friendly, chilly Iceland. I did not see the Northern Lights which was a bit of a disappointment. I did learn about Icelandic farming (landbúnaður), which until fairly recently was a primitive affair. I visited the Agricultural Museum in Hvanneyri at the Ag University of Iceland.
I got a private tour and to talk with the musuem’s director, Bjarni Guðmundsson (wow, what an amazing and unexpected treat!). We talked about the history of Icelandic agriculture, the transformation in agriculture brought about by tractors, and the growing numbers of Icelandic and European women entering agriculture and enrolling in the Ag University. Interesting that this is also the trend in the United States.
Tractors came to Iceland in significant numbers, courtesy of the Marshall Plan, in the 1950′s. The work (harvesting hay, not many veggie farmers in Iceland) was done mostly by hand before that, the soil being too heavy to farm with Icelandic horses. When I write “by hand” I mean, for example, bending over with sickle in hand, cutting hay. I think a scythe was also used, but the unevenness of the ground (caused by ground water pushing clumps of soil up, creating 1-2 foot soil ‘hills’ throughout the fields) surely made the short-handled sickle the tool of choice.
I suppose that the back-breaking work was ameliorated by the breath-taking beauty of the landscape. Almost rivals our beautiful Moraine landscape!
I’ve long been a fan of Mark Bittman (How to Cook Everything) and I like to keep to up to date about what he’s cooking. A recent New York Times piece by him, Apply A Little Pressure, has transformed my winter cooking. I’ve been learning to cook with a pressure cooker! Check out the article and maybe a few of these recipes.
Nutty Carrot Soup This uses carrots and potatoes.
Brisket with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes This recipe also uses carrots, parsnips and onions. I think you you use celeriac in place of the celery (for those of you with celeriac still lurking in your fridges!)
Cottage Pie Recipe uses onion, carrots, potatoes and I throw in parsnips for good measure.
The bitter cold temperatures have proved challenging for our winter storage crops and field kale as well as for the farmers who have been shoveling snow. Never the less, we’ve got a nice farm share lined up for you this Saturday. Pick up is at the farm, between Noon and 3:00. Remember to bring bags and/or a box for your farm share.
Rain gear (boots, jacket, hat) will make your farm visit dry enough to enjoy – 55 degrees and rainy is the weather prediction.
Here’s what we’re expecting to send you home with this Saturday:
2 heads of cabbage
1 pounds of spinach (please rinse this a number of times before you eat it)
5 pounds of potatoes (these spuds were grown at Appleton)
3 pounds carrots
2 pounds of parsnips
1 pound cipolinni onion
1 pound shallots
2 pounds regular onions
3/4 pounds garlic
We’ve some thank you gifts lined up for you, too! Thank you all for being part of this first Winter CSA! We really appreciate your partnership in this new endeavor and we hope you’ve enjoyed it, too!
I hope you are all shoveled out.csa Liz and I spent Thursday and Friday afternoons clearing snow from the three greenhouses at the farm. The snow was light and fluffy, pretty easy to coax off the roofs and plow away from the sides.
We’ve got news about the Moraine Farm 2014 CSA Shares. We experimented with a couple of new veggie distributions schemes last year. We offered a Spring farm share and an alternate week farm share. Both were successful: Those of you who served as guinea pigs gave the shares positive reviews and we farmers liked extending the growing season into May. The administrative aspects of these experiments proved most challenging, but I think we’ve found some good solutions. So, we’ve got some new things planned for 2014.
We are adding 5 more weeks of veggies to our regular, main season CSA share! Almost 6 months of vegetables! We expect weekly distributions to begin the week of May 12 and end the week of October 27. The size and value of each week’s pick up will remain the same. We will continue to offer a share that is just the right size for small households, families with limited time to cook, and those new to CSA who just want to try it out. The value of each week’s share will average out to $25; the full cost is $625 for this 25 week share.
Pick-your-own crops will still be part of the share. About 15% of the share value will be in pick-your-own crops like peas, beans, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, herbs, tomatillos and husk cherries. For those of you who don’t like to pick your own veggies, we plan to have some of the PYO crops available for purchase in our Farm Store.
This season we are offering Alternate Week CSA shares. These shares are picked up every other week for 12 weeks, including the Pick Your Own. Share pick up day choices and hours are the same as the weekly share (Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Fridays, 2:00-7:00). Shareholders select a pick up schedule (either schedule A or schedule B, see below) and stick with it throughout the 12 share distributions. At this time we are not able to accommodate folks who want to switch between pick up schedules. Alternate Week farm shares cost $325.
Alternate Week Farm Share, Schedule A, weeks of May 19, June 2, June 16, June 30, July 14, July 28, August 11, August 25, Sept 8, Sept 22, Oct 6, Oct 20
Alternate Week Farm Share, Schedule B, weeks of: May 26, June 9, June 23, July 7, July 21, August 4, August 18, Sept 1, Sept 15, Sept 29, Oct 13, Oct 27
Vegetables for Fall and Winter CSA shares Ideally, I would like to offer one ‘cold weather’ veggie share, November through February next season, with pick ups every other Saturday during daylight hours. We are thinking through our infrastructure and capacity here and we will keep you posted.
Current year Moraine Farm shareholders have first dibs on 2014 shares until January 31. If you are a current shareholder, please sign up using this Moraine Farm 2014 Subscription Form and mail payment to the farm. Checks are appreciated, and if credit card works best for you, just email me and we will make arrangements. I’m happy to set up a payment plan for returning shareholders who are purchasing the weekly CSA share, just email me.
Not a current shareholder, but eager to sign up for a Moraine Farm share? Leave your name and email address on the waiting list and I will get in touch with in early February. If there are CSA shares available, you can sign up then.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Pictures of you standing next to a big snow drift? Please send them to me! I’d love to hear from you.
We got a whole lot of snow at the farm. There’s a big drift of the white stuff blocking the entrance to the Red Barn. Good thing we don’t need to get in there.
Drifting snow also can be seen in front of the high tunnel doors, and half way up to the hip boards in the picture below. Believe it or not, there’s spinach in that high tunnel!
As always, we are indebted to our farm friend Paula V for these terrific pics!
One of the many things I enjoy about this time of year is that I have lots of veggies AND time to cook. I usually have one, but not the other Shareholder Carol P. shared a couple of recipes with me yesterday that look great and this first one is on my menu for lunch today. I’m calling it a Greens and Potato pie. The recipe calls for Swiss Chard, but Carol says, “ I don’t think I have ever made it with swiss chard, but have multiple times with collards and kale. Just as delicious. I leave the tomatoes out this time of year. It’s a winner, especially for those not so keen on kale or other greens.” Here’s a link to the original recipe, and here’s the seasonal, winter CSA version:
To make it chop 2 cups cooked and very well squeezed kale and in a bowl mix it with 2 cups seasoned mashed potatoes, an egg, 1/2 cup grated cheese (your favorite), salt and pepper and combine well. Transfer to a greased pie dish and smooth top. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Drizzle a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over the top and bake about 45 minutes in a 350F oven. Let cool slightly then cut into wedges to serve.
I hope you all enjoy cooking up your share, I know I’m going to! Happy Holidays!