Week nine, half way there!
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A relatively calm week

Mid summer finds us with less weeds (and less weeding!) and more harvesting. I like this.

We've still been doing some weeding, but with the less rain falling, changes in day length, and different prevailing weed specie niches, there's less weeding to do!

We got our first glimpse of fall weather this week. I even heard some geese (although I'm not sure if these specific geese ever migrated away Northfield, so perhaps this isn't significant). 

We've been working in the hoophouse this week, getting it ready for fall crops. The hoophouse is a passive structure-basically a large piece of plastic over hoops. This will protect the crops inside against the frost, which is slotted to come around the end of September. Growing in the hoophouse allows us to extend our growing season a few weeks, which is nice in a state like Minnesota when we basically have May 20th-Sept 30th to work with... on average. We're planning on planting lettuce heads, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and herbs in there!

The picture above is of our tractor turn arounds at the end of the vegetable fields. We have vetch and two different kinds of clover growing. It's beautiful to see so many of them blooming!

Farmer to Family
I want to let you know of a great program we get to participate in! It's called the Farmer to Family Program, run by two great Carleton College students- Tori Ostenso and Emily Pence. The mission of this project is to share local food resources with the Latino and Somali immigrant populations in Rice County through a mobile vegetable stand, cooking demonstrations, and nutrition lessons for adults and kids. This program seeks to address three major barriers of food access — cost, transportation, and nutrition education — by providing local produce for low-income families at a reduced price in their neighborhoods and providing cooking and nutrition lessons to teach families simple ways to introduce local produce into their meals.

They worked hard to fundraise in the community and get grant funding to purchase 10 CSA shares from us. Every week, we harvest their shares and the lovely Tori and Emily pick them up and bring them to low income neighborhoods in Northfield and Fairbault. When they set up their stand, they allow folks to fill a grocery bag with whatever they'd like for only $5. Tory and Emily are there to field questions on what to do with Kale, and what is Kohlrabi? Kohlrabi, as it turns out, is a wonderful substitute for Jicama, a staple of the Latino diet. Tori and Emily were able to use this example as a tool to chat about cooking seasonally in Minnesota. While we might not be able to grow Jicama, we can grow Kohlrabi. They loved it! Tori and Emily also have a cooking station set up at their stand to demonstrate how to cook the produce and to give out samples, teaching folks how to prepare vegetables in a delicious way. 

Any help we can get to get healthy produce in the homes of our community members is thrilling to us! I wish we could spend more time out in the community advocating for healthy food, but the realities and logistics of farming keep us in the fields during the growing season. We're happy to partner with these lovely gals who are doing great work in our community. 

The vegetable stand uses all produce from Seeds Farm and is set up in collaboration with Growing Up Healthy’s twice-weekly neighborhood gatherings in the park. The cooking lessons occur at these park gatherings, at Summer Blast summer enrichment program in Northfield, and at neighborhood programing in two trailer homes in Faribault. In addition to these weekly cooking lessons, the Farmer to Family program provides one-time cooking lessons for other community organizations such as The Key, Northfield Senior Center, and the Just Food Co-op.

This program is supported by Growing Up Healthy, Seeds Farm, Carleton College Center for Community and Civic Engagement, the Phillips Scholarship, Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Program, 2014 Neig Healthy Activity Grant from Allina Health, and the Just Food Co-op.
The photos above and below are from the Farmer to Family Program:
Check out the fall brassicas on the left! This photo was taken a week ago. They have since doubled in size. On the right is an image of what it is about to turn into. One lucky CSA member will have this exact head of broccoli in their box this week! The rest of you will have an equally delicious head of broccoli, just not this exact one...
A beautiful poem by Mary Oliver. I like to think of each drop of rain that lands on the farm infiltrating and nuriousing the soil, microbes, and plants it encounters. Mary does a wonderful job putting this to words. We had a bit of rain on Sunday/Monday, not much, but I know each drop helps.

This weekend I got away to a family reunion in Idaho and visited some farms there. They rely completely on irrigation for their crops-I am thankful to farm in an area where we get rain!
In your box you'll likely find:

Onions-this is still the sweet Aisla Craig variety. Soon we'll be getting into our storage onions, but for now enjoy these awesome fresh onions!
Cabbage-Tendersweet or red
Carrots/dragon tongue beans
Kale/Collards/Swiss Chard bundle
Fennel Bulb-last one of the season, I promise. Check out the recipe below for a great recipe with it
Zucchini/summer squash
Recipe of the week:
Carmelized onion, fennel, red wine, pork chops

I know this isn't a picture of the recipe. But half of eating is the environment you eat it in, right? We just placed this table on top of the hill overlooking the vegetable fields and brought out our propane burner. Now we can harvest the produce just feet away, trek up the hill and cook it up within minutes and enjoy it with a view! By the time I made this recipe below, it was too dark to take a picture, but I'll tell you it is delicious. The fennel adds a real sweet and unique taste.

In your skillet, throw in some fat. I used the trimmings of the pork chop from last years pigs, but you can use oil, lard, or butter. Throw in a sliced onion and a sliced fennel and carmelize it on medium heat. Don't stop until they're nice and brown! Once they are, I added a healthy portion of butter. Butter makes everything better. For two pork chops, I admit, I probably used 1/3 a stick of butter. I also added about 1/4 balsamic vinegar. I moved them to the side of the skillet and put on my pork chops and seared one side. A few minutes later I flipped them (once the side had also caramelized) and seared the other side. Then I threw in about a cup of red wine and put a lid on top to make sure the insides cooked adequately.

Please come to the farm, 6903 115th St E, Northfield MN from 6:30-8:30 for a fun night.

The crops are at their peak right now and I'm excited to share it with you. Come down and see where your vegetables have been growing and meet other CSA members. Meet the crew, too! Come on a farm tour led by us or walk the fields on your own. Give the pigs a tasty treat from the fields and watch them wallow in their mud. See the chickens expresse the essence of chickens, and the turkeys devour a grasshopper. Check out the community garden plots, the hay fields, and the agripreneur training center. Come have fun at the farm!

Please bring a dish to share, your own plates, silverware, cups, napkins, and beverages of your choice. I'll plan on making a scrumcious kale salad for the group and providing as much fresh farm water as you can guzzle up. I'll have plenty of tables and chairs for everyone.

It isn't necessary to RSVP, but I would appreciate it if you knew you were coming, if you could drop a line in my inbox saying so. That way I can make sure I have enough tables and chairs for everyone :)
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