Spring CSA Week 3

  1. Asparagus 3/4#
  2. Salad Greens 10oz
  3. Watercress 4oz; 12 Ways to Use Watercress, peppery slightly spicy green
  4. green onions
  5. chives
  6. garlic chives
  7. eggs

The weather is still doing its flip flop dance causing a few extra precautions for the plants this spring. We managed to find enough extra empty pots to use as mini greenhouses for our zucchini and cucumbers already transplanted out in the field. This worked well and helped those plants get through our last chilliest night (we hope!). Next week, the spring radishes may be ready to start adding a splash of color to the CSA boxes.

The forecast looks wet next week so we are pushing to get all things planted and weeded this week. So far, so good! 200# of seed potatoes were all planted yesterday and 400 winter squash plants will be transplanted today. Tomorrow, 200 melon transplants will be placed in our black ground cloth which acts like a weed barrier and heats the soil helping the melons to mature. And now that the temperatures are staying out of the cold zone, the 350 peppers and 150 eggplants will be planted in our last high tunnel.

Thankfully, we have an awesome crew this year on the farm. Returning for her second year on the farm is Mercedes Falk. She is taking what she learned last year and adding a whole other layer of understanding of how to organize the farm, rotate and plan field crops, and learn about sales and marketing. You can find Mercedes at the Winona Farmers Market on Saturday mornings as she has taken the lead on having a farm stand at the market this summer.

Our summer intern is Andrea Rippley who is a local gal from the Waumandee area. Andrea is a college student interested in learning about all the different aspects of agriculture to help round out her understanding of the many different types of farming as she aspires to be an Ag teacher one day.

I feel grateful to have such wonderful people come to the farm each year with positive attitudes and solid work ethic. Our pizza night crew is another great mix of people, many returning from previous seasons which makes things extra smooth as we start the summer. We all work hard, but we have a pretty good time doing it and are sure to share some laughs along the way.

Eat Well. Smile Often.

Your Farmer,

Heather

 

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Spring CSA Week 2

  1. Asparagus: Pan-Fried Asparagus
  2. Rhubarb: 10 Favorite Rhubarb Recipes
  3. Salad Greens: Miso Sesame Dressing
  4. Garlic Chives: Garlic Chive Scrambled Eggs; How to Use Garlic Chives
  5. Onion Chives: Herb and Parmesan Popcorn
  6. Green Onions
  7. Eggs

The rain has provided some wonderful moisture to the fields and all the transplants are looking well established. With the upcoming heat, we anticipate all the plants growing like gangbusters…including the weeds. So, we are trying to get a round of cultivating completed before Friday to help eliminate the tiny threads of weeds that are developing.

A few potato beetles have been found in the dirt of last year’s potato crop area. We have our potato seed curing and ready to be planted next week. Although this is a bit behind the old adage of planting potatoes on Good Friday, we believe that the warmer soil helps the potatoes shoot out of the ground faster and perhaps avoid being the first food source for the overwintered potato beetles. This season, we are closely watching our 5 guinnea hens to see what their appetites are for the emerging adult potato beetles and the potato beetle larvae once the plants are growing.

This spring brought with it 3 newborn lambs from our Katahdin sheep flock. The lambs are growing well and we are learning about all the small adaptations that are needed to handle the sheep. About 3 weeks ago, one of the little lambs kicked a side fence wrong and ended up breaking his leg. Our wonderful vet, Tom Roskos, let us drive the lamb over to his farm and helped wrap up the leg for mending. Ashlan had to hold the lamb on his lap during the car ride and help hold the lamb during the procedure. He had a very up close view of what types of things a vet does and is not so sure if that is something he is interested in.

So we have learned that we would like to build a catch corral with some wooden gates to make the process of catching and sorting the sheep be stress free and calm for everyone. Depending on how this first season of lambs goes, we may be interested in increasing our flock for next year. The lamb with the broken lamb has been doing great and we get to take the cast off this week to see the progress. Our fingers are crossed that the bone mended!

Other critters on the farm include a 2 week old calf named Midnight, as she is all black with long black eyelashes. The children on pizza night have enjoyed watching her get her evening feeding of milk. The runner ducks are living in the raspberry patch this summer and have proven to be like watch dogs, running alongside the fence and trying to peck peope’s boots if they stand to close. Of course, our flock of laying hens is up on the rotational pasture/orchard providing great entertainment along with plenty of free-range eggs.

The last group of animals are the hogs which live in an area in the back of the garden. The pigs are fabulous entertainment running back and forth and munching on the dandelions as we weed and plant near them. The pigs enjoy themselves outside, taking mud baths, rooting in the ground, and simple acting like pigs.

Life is never dull here on the farm. There are over 10 different species of animals that live here at Suncrest Gardens. Come on out to the farm and see if you can find them all during one of our wood-fired pizza nights!

eat well Smile Often.

yourFarmer,

Heather

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Spring CSA Week 1

  1. asparagus: Grilled Asparagus
  2. spinach: Scrambled Eggs with Spinach & Parm
  3. salad greens
  4. green onions
  5. chives: How to Use Chives; Chive Vinaigrette
  6. fresh garlic…for eating or planting!
  7. free range eggs

Quoting our CSA member, “Oh, Sweet Eating…SPRING CSA is here!” This about sums up our excitement about the fresh spring greens and new alliums sprouting from the earth. We are ready for the next season of eating and for all of its cleansing nutrition to help invigorate our bodies after the winter.

A note about the fresh garlic…can you tell which is garlic and which is green onion? Smell is one way and the other I will explain. The garlic still has its roots attached and has some red streaking. If you want to eat the garlic as fresh garlic, simply mince the white and lower tender green parts up and use as you would garlic. If you’d like to plant these sprouting cloves, you can do you by planting them about 6″ apart in the garden. They would develop into small bulbs by July.

This past winter has been a challenging one for me. After really not feeling well from January through April, I finally found out I had lymes disease. It  zapped my energy and stamina and caused several different neurological issues which were all strange and frustrating. After lots of testing and being left with no real answers nor plan of how to get my health back, I finally received a diagnosis of lymes and 2 coinfections from Dr. Lindsley in Bloomer, Wisconsin.

After being on treatment for the month of April, my energy levels are returning and the pain is decreasing. I’m feel like I recognize myself again and have much improved mental energy to tackle this season. So thank you for all of the well wishes and extra assistance from family and friends to keep things going as I got my health back on track.

One really does take their health for granted until they face difficulty. I’m grateful to have such good food around me as I feel my recovery time has increased due to healthy eating, regular exercise, and supplements that helped support my immune system.

Springtime brings with it opportunity for wild foraging. Some of the things we gather include nettles, watercress, burdock root, morels, ramps, wood violets, and dandelions. If your yard or field is free of sprays, the dandelions are easy picking. We’ve made some pretty tasty wine over the years, and some not as tasty wine too. Here’s a link to a site that has all kinds of recipe ideas and info. Dandelions: Hear them Roar!

 

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Spring CSA begins May 6th

Our spring CSA will begin Wednesday, May 6th. We are busy planting and prepping garden spaces for this year’s season. The spring CSA is a weekly delivery of mostly early spring crops and continues for 6 deliveries until mid June when the summer CSA will begin.

We are all sold out of our CSA shares for the year. Thank you for your support!

Here are some links on our website for more CSA info.

Pick up site info

www.suncrestgardensfarm.com/csa/info/

Csa payment info

www.suncrestgardensfarm.com/csa/sign-up/

CSA Calendars

www.suncrestgardensfarm.com/csa/csa-calendars/

 

 

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Winter CSA Week 6

Fresh and Value-Added Items:

  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Watermelon Radishes
  • Onions
  • Fresh Winter Spinach
  • Cabbage Coleslaw Mix
  • Eggs-1 dozen
  • Pickles

Frozen Items:

  • Vegetable Stock 1 Qt: water, onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf, salt & pepper.
  • Soups, or substituted items (Winter CSA Store)
  • Broccoli 1 Qt: Blanched and frozen broccoli
  • Colored Peppers 1/2 Pt: Cubed and frozen sweet peppers
  • Winter Squash: 1quart cubed and frozen
  • Zucchini 1 Qt: shredded zucchini and yellow squash
  • Diced Tomatoes 1 Quart

The weather seems to keep playing these flip-flop games. We had December in November; February in January; and now April in March. So it feels like we’ve been launched into the spring fury of activity. However, no complaints here as it is better this way than such a late spring like last year and a reduced mud season.

This is the last delivery of the winter CSA share. We even included an Irish flair to the boxes by including some mixed shredded cabbage with carrots for fresh slaw, salad topping, or even throwing in your stir fry. One of my latest favorites is a miso-ginger dressing that I use on coleslaw mix or salads, or whatever else I can think of! Here’s the recipe…simply mix well. Stores in fridge for 2 weeks.

  • 3 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T miso
  • 2 T water
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 tsp siracha (hot sauce)
  • 2 tsp minced ginger, or 1 tsp dry
  • 2 tsp honey

Eat Well. Smile Often.

Your Farmer,

Heather

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Winter CSA week 5

Fresh and Value-Added Items:

Carrots
Potatoes
Celery Root: peel outer layer, use like celery in soups, baked dishes, etc; Celeriac Mash
Onions
Fresh Winter Spinach
Eggs-1 dozen
Pickles
Curry Pickled Cauliflower

Frozen Items:

Vegetable Stock 1 Qt: water, onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf, salt & pepper.
2 Soups, or substituted items (Winter CSA Store)
Green Beans 1 Qt: Blanched and frozen green beans
Colored Peppers 1/2 Pt: Cubed and frozen sweet peppers; Paleo Egg Bake
Zucchini 1 Qt: shredded zucchini and yellow squash; Choc. Carrot Zucchini Muffins

The sunshine is such a welcome treat these days, and it looks like the weather is about to start shifting to higher temperatures and even more sunshine. That’s a good sign as we keep planting more seeds each week. However, I prefer to not move the baby plants into the greenhouse until the nighttime temperatures stay above 15-20 if possible to make heating easier. Until then, we use shelving units equipped with lights to keep all the seedlings happy.

The farm is hosting a couple pottery classes this month by Ella Rippley of Milkhouse Pottery. One is working the clay by hand and the other will include some wheel work. We hosted a painting party last fall as well and I find that I enjoy gathering people together for a creative outlet. Our barn space is perfect for those types of smaller group events. If you’re feeling the need to therapeutically work some clay, contact Ella at milkhousepottery@gmail.com to sign up.

It looks like we are going to have extra produce at the end of this winter season, most likely carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and onions. If members or nonmembers would like to order any produce to sustain you in late March or in the month of April (the one month where we do not have any CSA deliveries), let me know.

Eat Well. Smile Often.

Your Farmer,

Heather

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Winter CSA Week 4

Fresh and Value-Added Items:

  1. Carrots
  2. Potatoes
  3. Rutabaga: Couscous Royale
  4. Onions
  5. Garlic
  6. Cabbage: Spicy Cabbage Marsala
  7. Eggs-1 dozen
  8. Pickles
  9. Sauerkraut: 5 things to make wih kraut besides a Reuben Sandwich
  10. Raspberry Jam 1 pint

Frozen Items:

  1. Vegetable Stock 1 Qt: water, onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf, salt & pepper
  2. 2 Soups, or substituted items
  3. Cubed Butternut Squash 1 Qt: thaw and use like raw squash for roasting, steaming, soups
  4. Rhubarb 1 Qt: Chopped and frozen rhubarb; Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
  5. Spaghetti Sauce 1 Quart: tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, olive oil, spices

We returned from Florida on Sunday. What a trip! Disney World is quite the place with its elaborate theming, generally very happy people, and endless food choices. We certainly crossed an experience off the bucket list and we were happy to relax at the beach for a few days of simple fun after 4 long days at Disney parks. Temperatures at the beach were cooler and the water brisk, but we all were kissed by the sun regardless.

Now back to reality. Seed starting will begin later this week after this winter delivery has been delivered. Next week, the MOSES organic conference is in LaCrosse and I’ll spend 3 days there soaking up some new information, inspiration, and good conversations with fellow farmers. Vanessa and Mercedes, 2 of our previous farm interns, will also be attending the conference so I look forward to seeing them.

Mercedes plans to return to the farm this April for a second season position. She will be in charge of a farmers market stand in Winona this year in order to learn the ins and outs of running a Saturday market in addition to the other farm enterprises. We also plan on having two other individuals at the farm this summer.

Enjoy the sunshine despite cooler temperatures. You can revel in the fact that the spinach is starting to grow new leaves in the high tunnel from the returned sunlight.

Eat Well. Smile Often.

Your Farmer,

Heather

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Winter CSA Week 3

Fresh and Value-Added Items:

  1. Carrots
  2. Potatoes: Purple Potato Nutritional Facts
  3. Beets (2#)
  4. Watermelon Radishes (1#)
  5. Onions
  6. Garlic
  7. Fresh Winter Spinach
  8. Eggs-1 dozen
  9. Pickles

Frozen Items:

  • Vegetable Stock 1 Qt: water, onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf, salt & pepper.
  • 2 Soups, or substituted items (Winter CSA Store)
  • Broccoli 1 Qt: Blanched and frozen broccoli
  • Grandma Bessie’s Sweet Corn 1 Pt: sweet corn, butter, salt, sugar
  • Zucchini 1 Qt: Shredded zucchini
  • Raspberries 1 Quart: frozen raspberries

We are more than half done with winter, and February tends to fly by with its short month. This month will go especially fast for our family as we are leaving for our winter vacation this weekend. After saving for a couple years and cheering Ethan on as he finally grew to 48″, we are headed to Disneyland in Florida. We’ll explore each of the four parks in Disney and then retreat to St. Pete Beach for a few days of ocean play, shell searching, and relaxation.

Upon return, the earliest seeds will be planted in the greenhouse as we begin growing for spring. Onions and leeks begin the planting cycle as they take the longest to get established before being planted this spring. If anyone is really itching to get their hands dirty, give me a call and we’ll have dirt to play in. I promise, it’s good for the soul.

Eat Well. Smile Often.

Your Farmer,

Heather

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Winter CSA Week 2

Fresh and Value-Added Items:

  1. Carrots
  2. Potatoes
  3. Celery Root: peel outer layer, use like celery in soups, baked dishes, etc
  4. Onions
  5. Garlic
  6. Fresh Winter Spinach
  7. Cabbage
  8. Eggs-1 dozen
  9. Pickles
  10. Raspberry Jam 1 pint

Frozen Items:

  • Vegetable Stock 1 Qt: water, onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaf, salt & pepper.
  • 2 Soups, or substituted items (Winter CSA Store)
  • Green Beans 1 Qt: Blanched and frozen green beans
  • Colored Peppers 1/2 Pt: Cubed and frozen sweet peppers
  • Rhubarb 1 Qt: Chopped and frozen rhubarb
  • Spaghetti Sauce 1 Quart: tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, olive oil, spices

The weather was warm and sunny enough for our spinach to recover from the chilly temperates a couple of weeks ago. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to go inside the high tunnel this time of year and immerse myself in an oasis of green growing plants, as well as know that no fossil fuels are used to heat that tunnel for our food. As the day length slowly begins to extend, the plants will begin to actively grow again (most likely in February). Until that time, we harvest the leaves that have grown before December that sit in a state of suspension throughout the winter.

Some of you may have noticed a slight modification to the Winter CSA store this week. In order to help curb our prices of the total cost of goods in the winter CSA box, we modified the soup prices in the store to be $7.50 per quart. So the weekly flex account will now equal $15 instead of $20. That means you still get to choose the two soups or use that $15 dollar amount to substitute other items from the farm. What we are trying to do by offering the Winter CSA store is give people more choice and flexibility if they want it. This is a work in progress so minor tweaks may occur along the way. If you have any feedback, always feel to share it so we can make this a system that works for all of us.

It is the time of year to renew your CSA memberships for the next growing season. I did not automatically renew everyone as I felt I’d prefer you to be able to make any adjustments to your membership as you see fit. To renew, go to the CSA sign up page and follow the directives from there. I do prefer that people use our online dwolla system if you choose to make multiple payments over the season as this takes out a lot of bookworm and tracking for me during the busy season.

Our seeds have all been ordered along with a few hand tools for the garden. We are also looking at purchasing a new piece of equipment to help us with potato digging this year. When we now hand dig over 3000 pounds of potatoes each year, an upgrade to some mechanization is quite dreamy. We hope this tool helps save some wear on our bodies.

The commitment between growers and CSA members is one of mutual dependence, appreciation, and confidence. We believe in each other; we believe in good healthy local food; we believe by working together, we can create a stronger local food system where we know our food and our farmers. I appreciate your confidence in me and our team at Suncrest Gardens Farm to be able to grow and provide food for you and your families. By renewing your membership now, your commitment to the CSA model helps me to pay for those seeds, supplies, and tools needed for the upcoming season.

Eat Well. Smile Often.

Your Farmer,

Heather

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Winter CSA Week 1

Fresh and Value-Added Items:

  1. Carrots; Carrot Cake Cupcakes; Carrot Ginger Miso Soup
  2. Potatoes; Baked JoJo Potatoes
  3. Daikon Radish: Roasted Daikon and Carrots
  4. Onions
  5. Garlic
  6. Fresh Winter Spinach
  7. Kale; Simple Sauteed Kale (can’t seem to get enough of this right now!)
  8. Eggs-1 dozen
  9. Pickles
  10. Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (use like a butternut); Stuffed & Roasted Recipe

Frozen Items:

The weather outside is frightful, but my kitchen is so delightful…

We have so many wonderful items to put into the boxes throughout the winter! Many thanks to our crew last season who worked so hard in the field, and in the kitchen putting away all of this food for us to enjoy during the winter. Creating our winter shares takes planning and effort during an already busy summer season, but we think it is well worth it to offer all the different flavors and colors of the summer all year long.

I had a hard time restraining myself with this CSA delivery, so much that the box this week is literally overflowing. The main issue was with the size of the long island cheese pumpkins which have been stored in the root cellar waiting for this very moment. Use them as you would a butternut squash. The texture is very fine once cooked and quite delectable. I have a recipe linked above for a stuffed squash by Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table. This fall, Mercedes and I simply ate one of these pumpkins out of the oven by the handfuls it was so good.

I hope our trial of offering a flexible CSA Soup option was user-friendly. We will have to make some minor adjustments next week to the process, but it seemed to work pretty well on our end. One of our issues is that we are now preserving and offering so many items that the overall value of our winter CSA share has grown beyond what we charge per box, by over 20%. So enjoy the abundance this winter as we try to figure out the best way to proceed for next season. Any feedback or ideas are welcome.

If you are new to our CSA, please be sure to find BOTH of your boxes at the CSA pick-up site. One box is frozen items, and the other box contains non-frozen items. The frozen boxes are set outside, or in a freezing area, of the pick-up site and the nonfrozen box is kept in a warmer or inside location (sometimes under blankets to help keep them from freezing). Be sure to bring a box, crate, or bags to transfer your items into and leave the boxes, neatly unfolded in a pile, at the pick-up site. Because there are deli containers of frozen soups, you may find a box or crate lets you pack these items without tipping them over.

Eat Well. Smile Often.

Your Farmer,

Heather

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