Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Harvest Party 2018—What a Fun Day!

By Farmers Richard & Andrea

Fall is one of our favorite times of the year and we were happy to have been able to share a beautiful fall day with some of our CSA members last Sunday at our Harvest Party.  Saturday night and Sunday morning were on the cool side, but the sun came out and shone bright all day giving us just enough warmth to make for a comfortable, beautiful day for the festivities!  For all of us, this is a special last party of the season.  No, we are not done harvesting for the year, we actually have quite a lot of vegetables still to harvest and we’re still working on our storm clean-up projects.  Nonetheless, it’s always nice to take a pause in the midst of the fall harvest to spend a special day with you, our members.  The energy and encouragement we gain from spending time with you will keep us strong as we finish out the season.

"Jack the Dog" waiting for someone to play "stick" with him.
We want to thank all of the members who took time to attend the party.  It was great to meet new members who were visiting the farm for the first time and we were happy to see some of our longtime members who make an effort to visit the farm every year.  It’s the people that make this party special to us and in many ways it’s like having a homecoming! Their excitement is contagious as they eagerly ask questions such as, “Where are the pumpkins this year?” and “Can we dig sweet potatoes?”    One of our younger members (2 years old) was at our Strawberry Day event back in June and came back for another visit this fall.  She came camping with her mother and they arrived at the farm late Saturday afternoon.  When her mother took her out of the car, she took a look around and it was super-cool for Andrea to see the excitement wash over her face.  Her eyes were twinkling and a smile quickly formed on her face followed by excited chatter when she realized where she was.  She squealed “Farm” and “Jack the Dog.”  We went up to the office where Jack was still taking his afternoon nap.  He woke up quickly and greeted our sweet, young member with kisses while she gave him lots of pets.

We kicked off our party on Sunday with our annual potluck.  Angel, one of our longtime crew members, is responsible for preparing the delicious roasted pork we enjoyed in tacos.  The pork was raised on our pastures and Angel slow-roasted it in our underground brick oven which he lined with cactus leaves.  On Saturday afternoon he prepared the pork by seasoning the pieces with salt, pepper, garlic and onion and then slathering it with a mild guajillo sauce he made.  The pork was then wrapped in packets and lowered into the oven which was tightly covered for the night.  The next morning Angel, with the help of his visiting cousin Francisco, opened up the oven and pulled the packets out.  When we opened them up we were pleased to see tender, juicy meat!  We served the meat with a simple cabbage slaw on tortillas with a choice of three different sauces featuring our tomatillos and Korean peppers (that was the hot one).  The table was filled with so many delicious dishes members brought including some very interesting things like gorgeous raw butternut salad!  It truly was a “Feast for Kings.”  While we ate we enjoyed the gentle, mellow music of Sonic Love Child.  Dave, Shirley & Nicole have been with us for several years, sharing their musical talents with us which really changes the ambiance of the party and has become a signature part of our fall event.  We appreciate their willingness to make the journey to the farm every year to be part of this special day.

Farmer Richard and Manuel M teaching children how to dig
sweet potatoes.
Once our bellies were full, we were off to the fields!  Sweet potatoes were our first stop.  As much as we love seeing our adult friends, the sweet potato field is where the kids take center stage.  They take turns helping us dig clusters of sweet potatoes, which we refer to as “Wisconsin Bananas.”  They love pulling the clusters out of the soil, grasping the moist sweet potatoes and shaking away the dirt to see just how big it really is!  Each potato is different, each finding a welcome hand to pull them from the moist earth.  It looks like a very, very nice crop which we finished harvesting on Monday afternoon.  They are in the greenhouse, also known as the “Sweet Potato Sauna House,” where we’ll “cure” them for the next 7-10 days at 85°F and high humidity.  This helps set their skins and develop the starches into sugar.

Vicente helping some children cut their pumpkins from the vine
Before we left the sweet potato field area we pulled a few celeriac, cut a celery and harvested a little bit of kale.  Then we loaded up the wagons and headed to the carrot and chard fields.  “Dig this one for me!”  “Wow, this carrot is big!”  “This one is crooked!”  “This one is purple!”  “How do you pick chard?  It is so pretty!”  Wait, let us show you how to twist off one stem at a time, don’t pull up the whole plant!  It was so awesome to hear all the questions, see the excitement and watch everyone enjoy being in the fields and being able to harvest things for themselves.  We also had some very observant members who found a few artifacts in the field.  “What is this rock?”  “Farmer Richard says it is a ‘chip’ from a stone tool maker who lived here a thousand years ago!”  This area is now our pumpkin field which was filled with some very nice pumpkins!  There were big Jack-O-Lanterns with fat handles, many warty “Knucklehead” pumpkins and the silky “Winter Luxury” pie pumpkins that many sought out with visions of pie in their heads.  There were plenty for all and we still have a lot remaining!

Butternut Squash Cupcakes with Chai Buttercream frosting
from Bloom Bakeshop
We made our way back to the farm, the kids now tired from lugging their pumpkins out of the fields, pulling sweet potatoes, stomping in mud puddles and running through the soft, muddy parts of the fields.  There’s something special about playing in the mud and the farm is one place it’s ok to do that!  Back at the farm we enjoyed more music while we ate our afternoon treat which was Butternut Squash Cupcakes topped with Chai Buttercream frosting.  These were made special for our party by our friend Annemarie and her crew at Bloom Bakeshop in Madison.  They even used our own HVF butterscotch butternut squash to make them!  We washed them down with iced maple latte featuring Kickapoo Coffee.  We also enjoyed kombucha made with HVF Sweet Sarah melons.  The kids spent more time with Captain Jack playing his favorite game of “stick.”  Some members meandered around the farm, picking Concord grapes, checking out the pile of sweet potatoes in the greenhouse, walking through the bins of winter squash and admiring the gorgeous green cover crop now growing in the cold frame greenhouse.

We also played a little game of “Guess the weight of the Vegetables.”  We made a beautiful display of some of the vegetables we’re harvesting now, but carefully selected either really big ones or really small ones.  We told you we’d announce the winner of the game in this week’s newsletter, so here you go.  Briana Burton from Madison, Wisconsin was the member who got the most answers correct without going over.  For those of you who are wondering, here are the actual weights and counts of the vegetables we had on display:

Listada Eggplant:  2.38#

Red Savoy Cabbage:  5#

Kabocha Squash:  5.92#

Butternut Squash:  5.26#

Burgundy Sweet Potato:  3.6#

There were 183 red grape tomatoes in the one pound jar.

There were 41 Mexican heirloom tomatillos in the one pound jar.

Briana nailed the tomatillo count with an exact match!  Nice job Briana!  Watch the mail for your $10 HVF Gift Certificate!

 Richard & Andrea chatting with members in the pumpkin field
We truly had a great day and enjoyed spending time with some really awesome people.  As we reflected on the day while we ate dinner Sunday evening, we both had to agree that we have some really great members. There were several families who enjoyed our Hammel Lane campsite Saturday night and everyone seemed to have a pretty good night’s rest as they were lulled to sleep by the owls.  Of course, we have a special place in our hearts for the children and time and time again we’re blown away by CSA kids.  They are intelligent, pleasant to talk with and so very insightful!  From the smallest ones exploring the farm and all its wonders for the first time to the older kids who have been coming to the farm for several years, or most of their lives in some cases!  They aren’t afraid to try new things, embrace new experiences with zeal, and are very aware of their surroundings as they take it all in.  Richard had an opportunity to talk with one of our super-awesome CSA kids who’s been eating our vegetables his whole life.  As he reflected on the farm, he made an effort to seek out Richard and share his thoughts.  He thanked me (Richard) sincerely for the opportunity to visit and expressed that the day “put him in a zone,” a good zone that he needed.  In touch with the fields of vegetables, the sky, the trees, a good “zone” to be in.  Healthy, intelligent kids who are alive and aware.  We’re grateful for them as well as their parents who have chosen to make organic food a priority in their households and carve out time in their busy schedules to visit the farm and allow us the opportunity to form long lasting connections.  We truly believe these kids are going to grow up and do great things in this world to change it for the better.  We’re really proud of them and look forward to feeding them and following their journeys for many years to come!

No comments: