Author Archives: april

Washing greens!

Washing greens!

Your farm fresh greens (spinach, lettuce, arugula, Asian greens, etc.) will appreciate a good washing. Best practice is to do this right before you use it. Make sure that your greens come from a trusted source like LotFotL Community Farm that uses good food safety practices to ensure veggies are free from contamination.  Use a sink or container that is good and clean and choose clean fresh water.

Fill basin with fresh clean waterSFC_lettuce_labeled

  • Soak greens and agitate the water well with your hand to knock off any dirt or debris (greens are happiest if only soaked for about 1 minute or less).  Some people like to add their veggie wash at this time, others, like us here at the farm, feel fine with just plain clean water.
  • Scoop the greens out of the water into a strainer, leaving any sand or dirt to settle to the bottom of the water basin. (Scooping instead of dumping helps keep the sand in the water and off from your food).
  • If needed, send your greens through a salad spinner to help them dry. 

Farm Fresh Veggie Lentil Salad

 

Ingredients:

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  • 1 3/4 cups green (french) lentils, rinsed and any debris removed
  • juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large tomato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lg Red Bell pepper chopped
  • 1 Cup of chopped arugula
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, add lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. In a fry pan, saute the bell pepper until soft, add arugula at the last minute a stir quickly until wilted. Set aside to cool.
  3. While the lentils cool, in a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, ginger, and honey. On top of dressing, add tomato, feta, parsley, bell pepper, and arugula, and cooled lentils. Stir ingredients to combine and coat with dressing.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Enjoy immediately or keep covered in fridge.

Turnip-Corn Chowder

Turnip-Corn Chowder

  • 3 T butter or lard (did you know that lard is about 50% monounsaturated fat!?….that is the good stuff)
  • 1 onion, chipped
  • 1 bunch of turnips (scarlet, gold ball, purple,and hakurei will all work),  cubed
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 5 cups broth
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 2-3 turnip or kohlrabi, grated
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk (or 1 1/3 cup milk)

 

  1. Heat fat on med-high heat, add onion, turnip, potato. Saute, making sure to cover the vegetables with fat.
  2. When onions are soft, add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low, simmer for about 30 minutes. Puree the onion-turnip-potato mixture in a blender then bring back to the pot and keep simmering.
  3. Add corn and grated veggies and let simmer for 10 minutes more. If the soup is too thick, add 1/4 cup water or broth until the soup is to your liking. At the last minute add your milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Top with fresh arugula if you like.

Potatoes and greens

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch greens, about 1 pound, stemmed and washed well (collards, kale, chard, and mustard all work well)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced very thin
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves sliced thin
  • ¾ pound yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon gold

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the greens. Blanch for 2-4 minutes (hearty greens like collard and kale take longer than chard or mustard), and transfer to the ice water with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Drain and squeeze out extra water. Chop coarsely. Set aside the cooking water.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a wide, lidded skillet or Dutch oven, and add the onion. Cook about three minutes. Add salt and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Stir in the greens and then add 1 cup of the cooking water and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover partially, and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring often and adding more cooking water from time to time, so that the greens are always simmering in a small amount of liquid.
  3. While the greens are cooking, scrub the potatoes and add to the pot with the cooking water. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the cooking water, and allow to cool slightly so that you can peel them if you wish. Cut them into large chunks.
  4. Uncover the greens, and add the potatoes. Using a fork or the back of a wooden spoon, crush the potatoes and stir into the greens. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, and stir over low heat until the greens and potatoes are well combined. Enjoy!

Summer Bounty Peanut Chicken Collard Wraps

Ingredients

  • 5 collard leaves
  • 1/2 Cup creamy nut butter (peanut butter works great)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey(optional)
  • 1/3 cup cooked whole grains (such as quinoa, brown rice, or farro)
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken (from about 8 ounces chicken)
  • 2 carrots peeled then halved and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 kohlrabi sliced and cut into 1/2 pieces (can use radishes if you have them)
  • 1/2 summer squash cut into bite sized strips (use bell peppers when in season)
  • 25 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 green onions sliced paper thin
  • 1 handful roasted salted peanuts (chopped)

Instructions

Fill a pot with an inch of water, insert a steam basket and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Wash the collard leaves and remove the majority (the toughest part) of the center stem from each leaf. When the water is simmering, add the leaves and lower the heat to medium. Steam until the leaves are brighter green and soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and rinse under cold water. Pat each leaf dry before using.

Make the peanut sauce by combining the peanut butter, soy sauce, orange juice, rice wine vinegar, honey, and 1/3 cup hot water and whisk until smooth.

Optional: I like to flash stir fry all of the veggies (minus the mint) for a minute or two before I make these, but you can use them raw too.

To assemble, place a collard leaf on a work surface and overlap the center seam where you cut out the stem. Spread a spoonful of peanut butter sauce on the middle of the collard leaf then sprinkle a spoonful of grains on top. Layer in chicken, veggies and herbs, and peanuts. Roll up into a cylinder then cut crosswise into 2 to 3 pieces. Serve with additional peanut sauce.

Recipe adapted from Peanut Chicken Collard Greens from Salt and Wind.

The Dirt on the Farm: July 2017

Taking a week off from CSA delivery created time for our crew to get caught up on fall plantings, prioritize some weeding projects, and take a moment for big picture planning.  In the last week, we had our organic certifier out for this year’s inspection, we made sure some of the longer season crops like onions got their much needed hand weeding done, and we were able to get caught up on plantings that were still sitting in the greenhouse waiting for us to get them out. In the past, these kinds of projects were difficult to tackle in the midst of the heavy harvest demands of summer.  Often times, we just had to let go of some of our visions for a crop that year. Sometimes that meant losing a crop because we didn’t get to the weeds in time, or couldn’t get it in the field before the planting window closed. Sometimes, it meant the crop would be compromised and yield less.  Although we chose a Holiday to not deliver the CSA boxes, the week is still very much a work weeks for us out here on the farm.

Sweet and Sour Pork with LotFotL Pork

 

  • Pork
    • 1-1.5 lbs cubed LotFotL pork steak pieces or cubed butt roast
    • 2-3 T cooking oil (olive, avocado, coconut, peanut, etc.)
  • Sauce
    • 1-2 T cooking oil
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • 2 tablespoons ketchup
    • 2 tablespoons fresh pineapple juice, or juice from the canned pineapple, or substitute orange juice
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
    • 1 cup fresh or canned bite-size pineapple chunks
    • 1 red bell pepper sliced into bit sized strips

1. Heat a pan with oil to med high. Add the pork cook until nearly cooked through, watch heat and turn down if needed. Remove from heat.

2. Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the water, ketchup, pineapple juice, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

5. Heat the oil in the wok or a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until just aromatic, about 20 seconds. Add the bell pepper, pineapple and the sauce and stir to coat the vegetables. Let the sauce simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the pineapple to become tender (about 1 minute for canned pineapple). Return pork to the wok and toss until well coated with the sauce. Transfer to a plate and serve over rice.

 

LotFotL’s 2017’s “What can I expect in my CSA share” list

Below is a list of what we plan to grow or purchase for this year’s CSA.  The growing year is unpredictable though, so14680702_10153835850016746_2341170397289232917_n items planted do not guaranty that they will be in the CSA shares.  Some crop failure is to be expected every year, but this will give you a good idea of what items you can hope for.

LotFotL’s 2017’s “What can I expect in my CSA share” list

Greens Roots Onions
arugula beets onions-red, yellow, white
chard carrots cippolini
collards radish-fresh and storage leeks
dandelion celeriac* garlic
frisee rutabaga garlic scapes
kale salsify baby leeks
mizuna parsnips* scallions
lettuce turnips-fresh and storage pearlette bunching onions
mustards shallots
radicchio Asian
spinach Gunsho-chinese celery Summertime
beetberry Hon tsai tai cucumbers
salad mix bok choy eggplant
kohlrabi melons
Herbs tatsoi watermelons
Basil yokatta-na bell peppers
french thyme napa cabbage frying peppers
parsley mini sweet peppers
dill Misc.  hot peppers
cilantro celery summer squash
catnip potatoes tomatoes-slicers
mint potatoes-fingerlings tomatoes-cherry
fennel-bulbs sweet potatoes* tomatoes-heirlooms
popcorn winter squash
Cabbage family beans
broccoli sweet corn Other items in CSA shares
broccoli raab snap peas blueberries*
cabbage-red, green, savoy snow peas cherries*
cauliflower peaches*
kalettes(kale/brussell cross) apples*
romanesco other fruit*
brussel sprouts microgreens
mushrooms*
*=bought in

2017: Looking forward, A Whole New CSA World

Changes in CSA across the board

CSA as a movement, a marketing stream, and a way people eat, is in trouble region wide. 2016 saw many local farms (ours included) continue to struggle to meet their membership goals. We have been 15-20% down on our hoped-for CSA memberships the past 2 years. Many friends of ours who farm are giving up on CSA as a marketing model altogether, while others are making large scale revisions to how they will execute their programs in the coming years. Fairshare CSA coalition (a group of farmers out of Madison) is down at least 6 member farms this year, due to farmers giving up on the model.

What’s causing this? Many many things have been pointed at, none of which is likely the main culprit. Shrinking household sizes, non-gmo and “natural” products absorbing some of the organic dollar, more take home money spent on take out, “aggregators,” or companies co-opting (and severely diverting from the original intent) the CSA model in high numbers, the end of home economics as compulsory education, who knows? Maybe it has all just been election year jitters? There have been some of those, I think.  One thing for sure, is that we are seeing a shift in customer commitment to CSA, and we as farmers are needing to listen and respond.

These trends are affecting farmer’s market returns too. Many long standing vendors at your favorite market might not be there in a few years. There has been a great push over the years for more and more and more farmer’s markets. Every neighborhood having a market is convenient for eaters, but doesn’t currently concentrate enough eaters in one place for a farmer to be able to do well enough selling produce at any one market to justify the many expenses of being a market vendor. Many market farmers I’ve spoken with can no longer afford to vend at the farmer’s markets they’ve been at for decades.

LotFotL in 2016

This is the context in which 2016, our 9th season in business began. We knew it would be a challenging financial year, but hoped we could push hard on marketing and get enough folks together to have strong cash flow. Still, 20% down from last year’s 20% down. Then our landlord, Ralph Quinney, passed away. His passing has necessitated the selling of the farm that we currently rent. As renters, you are always a little unsure how the future is going to look. Is your landlord happy? Will they develop different plans? Knowing this, we have always had our ear to the ground for any alternative options that develop, just in case. Still though, having this certainty that we would and will likely have to move again soon, has added much weight to our shoulders, and probably taken a couple of years off my life.
2016 was a hard year.

Our Farm Plans for 2017 and beyond

With all that said, I’m very excited for 2017, our 10th year in business!!!!! April and I have never been the types to stand still very long. We’re always trying to anticipate where this farming thing is going, and increasingly in the last few years, trying to steer the business where we want it to go. We have not solved our cropland situation as of today (though have some interesting prospects nearby), but do have 1 more year on our lease. We’re also in negotiations to try and purchase the 5 acre footprint that the house and primary buildings rest upon. Should everything work itself out there, we will have some time to figure out the cropland side of the package. We feel good about this option. Owning our first home is an exciting prospect for us, and will stabilize and put to rest some of our worst held fears and insecurities.
We are also very excited about some rather sizeable changes we are making to the CSA model for the 2017 season. If our plans work as planned, in time, April will be freed up from the office a bit more, which will give her more time to develop new products (lavender honey and herbal tea blends to name a couple) and gain a bit more of a well rounded experience of the farm. The new systems will simplify everything for us, though changes of course bring with them plenty of new efficiencies to iron out. We are optimistic though, more so than in past winters. We think you will like the changes all and all.

2017 LotFotL CSA Options

So, without further ado, 2 types of CSA shares lay in wait for 2017. The first looks a lot like our main CSA shares from the past. We will have only 1 share size in 2017, kind of a hybrid between the petite and full shares, so 7-10 items/week or so. This main share will be available weekly or bi-weekly. We are shortening our season to 22 weeks and also taking the weeks of July 4th and labor day off from CSA distribution, to allow you to travel and get kids in a school rhythm without having to get to a pick up site or schedule vacation holds. Chicken and Egg shares will still be available. The Bridge share program will be discontinued.
Best of all, what we are calling Traditional CSA shares will now include new items, not seen before, micro-greens and mushrooms being two potentials.  In addition, in-season fruit will be right in the shares; blueberries, cherries, peaches, apples, are some of the items we will be hoping for. Those wanting larger quantities for preserving or heavier eating, we plan to still offer the bulk fruit on our online farm store.
Some sites we have historically delivered to are not in play for a number of reasons. We will be adding some new sites, and also launching a sister drop site program, whereby a motivated individual can set up their own site in their own community by picking up shares at a primary site. We will compensate these folks for their time. So, if you’re motivated to do this, we want to talk to you.
The second CSA option for 2017 is a radical departure from any CSA programs I am aware of in the upper Midwest. We are calling this the Choice CSA program (after days spent pondering names, we gave up and settled on simple, go figure). This is not your usual CSA program at all. Not only does this program provide veggies, mushrooms, and fruit, but also grass fed beef, certified organic eggs and chicken, pork from our farm, fruit of all kinds, cheese, bread, dry goods, maybe even fermented foods, and many other things sourced from businesses with the values we have always upheld; organic and/or sustainable, whole, local, and small scale.
Here’s how this program works. We pilot in 2017 two pick up locations: the Urban Ecology Center in Riverside Park(east side Milwaukee) on Tuesdays from 4-7pm, and Tippecanoe Church in Bayview on Saturdays from 9-noon. You sign up for the full 33 week season (31 distributions, no July 4th or Labor day). Each member of your family signs up. There is different pricing for different age ranges. When you come to the drop site, we will have 14-20 different types of vegetables and herbs, 6-10 different cuts of meat, items such as fruit, bread, mushrooms, etc in bulk bins. You take what and the right amount of what your family needs for the week’s eating ahead. Some items will be monitored a bit, say only 2 pints of blueberries per person, so the last people that pick up have enough left for them too. We will approximate the right amount of meat animals to raise or purchase based on some expected rates of usage (1/3 pig/person/season for example), and communicate what that looks like so that we, as a group, can maintain a meat supply for the entire season.
We envision closer communication with members, before and during the season, to help make sure that we understand your individual needs as eaters, and are better prepared to meet them as your farmer. This will centralize the waste that can happen in a CSA season to being something that only we have to account for. No more crisper guilt for you, better returns on investment, and happier eaters for us. Everybody wins!
Here’s the genius of this model for us. When this takes off, we won’t need to lightly feed 1000 members to make a living, but will instead feed 100 families, to a deeper, possibly more meaningful level. Harvest and training of workers will be easier too, since now bunching beets or bagging salad mix to exactly .3# will be unnecessary. The hopes are to take this program year round as soon as we have good, heated facilities in which to wash, pack, and store products year round. This program will also allow us to develop more of our own specialty production of things on the farm, like krauts, perennial plantings like rhubarb, berries, and fruit and nut trees, and possibly bring more livestock rearing back into our operation. Growing veggies is great, but like many of your visions of the perfect farm, mine includes more than just a field full of vegetable crops and a couple pigs. This model gives us great motivation to develop a well-rounded farm, wherever that ends up being! Details about all of this are available right on the website, lotfotl.com. Check them out.
Lots of changes ahead, but really that’s no different than in any life. Everyone has challenges that are sudden or creeping in their time here on Earth. Our hope is that the way we intend to turn ours into opportunities works well for us and you, and puts us on a trajectory to meet 2020 as 40 something’s with a stronger, more exciting farming model, with deeper relationships to the people we feed, better paid workers and farm financials, and happier days, period. In year 10 of LotFotL Community Farm then, we are not standing still, but massaging this great relationship we have developed between us, working out the kinks, trying to make something great. Hopefully you’ll come along. Don’t listen to what you hear on the news. 2017 is gonna be something special, especially in your kitchens, and on the rolling fields of LotFotL Community Farm.
All the best and with gratitude,

Your Farmer,
Tim
262-951-0794