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.
- 1-1.5 lbs cubed LotFotL pork steak pieces or cubed butt roast
- 2-3 T cooking oil (olive, avocado, coconut, peanut, etc.)
- 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.
|Below is a list of what we plan to grow or purchase for this year’s CSA. The growing year is unpredictable though, so 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
|arugula||beets||onions-red, yellow, white|
|collards||radish-fresh and storage||leeks|
|lettuce||turnips-fresh and storage||pearlette bunching onions|
|beetberry||Hon tsai tai||cucumbers|
|salad mix||bok choy||eggplant|
|french thyme||napa cabbage||frying peppers|
|parsley||mini sweet peppers|
|broccoli||sweet corn||Other items in CSA shares|
|broccoli raab||snap peas||blueberries*|
|cabbage-red, green, savoy||snow peas||cherries*|
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,
Ham Potato and Cauliflower Chowder
1-2 cups chopped cooked ham
1-2 large onion chopped
2 large potatoes cut int small cubes
1 large head of cauliflower cut into small pieces
8-10 cups ham broth or other stock
2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2-1 bunch of chopped parsley
4 cloves crushed garlic
red chili flakes to taste
2 cups cheddar cheese(save some for garnish)
1/4 cup sour cream
salt and black pepper to taste
Step 1: Chop ham, onion, cauliflower and potatoes. I used the ham from my ham bone, but you can buy deli ham and chop if you do not have a ham bone.
Step 2: Saute onions in 1 Tbs of canola oil. Once onions soften, add chopped cauliflower and 4-6 cups of chicken broth or ham broth. Bring to a boil and cook until cauliflower is tender.
Step 3: Use a stick blender or a regular blender to puree the cauliflower. Then add the remaining broth to the pot. Next add the diced potatoes, chopped ham and chopped green onion and season with garlic, thyme, red chili flakes. Cook on medium high heat until potatoes are fork tender.
Step 4: Lower heat to medium and add the shredded cheese. Stir well to melt the cheese. Then lower the heat to medium low and add the sour cream. Stir well. Taste for salt and seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve hot. Enjoy.
To make the Ham Broth:
Place ham bone in a large stock pot with, one coarsely chopped onion and 12 cups of water (enough to cover the ham bone and meat). Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 90 minutes. Allow broth to cool down then place fridge over night or up to 2 days. Once fully chilled, skim the layer of fat off the top of the broth and discard. Strain broth. Pull apart all the pieces of meat from the bone and use in the soup. Discard any pieces of fat.
Fall Greens with Comforting Potatoes
1 pounds potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1/6 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2.5 ounces fresh greens washed and chopped (spinach or komatsuna work well)
1/3 cup parsley, leaves only and loosely packed
1/3 cup other garden herbs like dill or oregano (optional- works fine with fewer herbs depending on what is in season)
1 shallot or small onion, peeled and thinly sliced (you may prefer to saute the onion, or add it raw)
Salt alt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt the water generously. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until they are quite tender and creamy.
In a measuring cup whisk together the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, and sugar. Whisk until well-combined. Pour over the hot potatoes and stir gently until the potatoes are coated with dressing.
Chop the greens leaves (I like to make think ribbons with mine). Mince the parsley leaves (discarding the stems) and any additional herbs. Add the greens, parsley, herbs, and shallot/onion to the potatoes, and toss gently. The greens and herbs will wilt as they are combined with the hot potatoes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve hot, warm, or cold.
Our Winter Meat share can be delivered to your doorstep. We are now working with a delivery service that serves the following zip codes in the Milwaukee area. Just one more thing we do to Make local EASY!
53097,53092, 53046, 53051, 53224, 53223, 53217, 53225, 53218, 53209, 53005, 53007, 53222, 53216, 53211, 53210, 53045, 53226, 53213, 53208, 53205, 53206, 53212, 53202, 53233, 53201, 53295, 53204, 53215, 53219, 53227, 53151, 53146, 53228, 53220, 53221, 53235, 53130, 53129, 53207, 53110, 53172, 53154,53132, 53150
• 1 cup ricotta cheese
• 1 cup sauteed or steamed chopped greens (kale, spinach, chard, Asian greens, or mustard greens)
• Salt and pepper to taste (other seasoning like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, or dried herbs can also be added).
• Bread or crackers to serve
- Mix ricotta with greens, and salt and pepper, and bake at 400 about 10-15 minutes. Serve your dip with crusty bread or crackers.
HERITAGE BREED TURKEY RECIPE
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
How long to cook it: Figure 12-15 minutes per pound for 12-20 lb. turkey and 10-12 minutes per pound for turkeys over 20 pounds. You will notice this may be less time than you are used to with a conventional turkey.
Note: If you have stuffed the turkey, use the longer cooking time. Your turkey should reach an internal temperature in the breast of 165 degrees (some sources even suggest as low as 140-150 degrees).
Place turkey, breast side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Rub with oil or butter to prevent skin from drying and to enhance the color. Cover the pan loosely with foil and then remove the foil for the last ½ hour of baking time for a nice golden color. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven. If you are making a stuffed turkey, stuff just before putting into the oven. To test for doneness, a meat thermometer inserted deep into the thigh should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your turkey is done, it is very important to let it “rest” for at least 10-15 minutes before carving to allow the juices to disperse throughout the entire bird.
*Adapted from Dominion Valley Farm
Another great site with cooking tips for your heritage breed turkey is marysturkeys.com. She takes you through the basic roasting directions and gives great tips.
Local Harvest also has some great advise about cooking your heritage bird. You will notice that they are suggesting an even lower internal temp (140-150 degrees) for heritage breed birds.