Monday, June 9, 2008

Rainy Weekend Update

We wanted to update you on our situation here at Harmony Valley Farm following the storms we experienced this past weekend. We have received several calls from the media and preferred that you hear firsthand from us before reading about it in the newspaper. We received significant rainfall starting Saturday around 11:30 am and continuing through yesterday evening. Total rainfall was about 12.5” by Sunday night. We also experienced high winds and some hail. The rain came hard and fast, and despite an afternoon reprieve yesterday, the rate of rainfall was faster than the ground’s ability to absorb or the capacity of some of the drainage ditches to move the water off the fields.

The water levels in the fields subsided some overnight and today we were able to get a better look at the damage. A field of recently transplanted tomatoes, okra and peppers was hit hard with excess rain. Most of the peppers and all the okra and tomatoes will not be viable. We will need several days to determine the effect the rainfall had on other crops including melons, watermelons, summer squash, sweet potatoes, and cucumbers. These plants were covered with row covers before the rainfall. Today the crew is removing the wet and muddy covers so the plants can get more sunshine and air. We are hopeful that they are still viable and can recover and continue to grow. Three-fourths of the sweet corn field was washed out as well as a portion of the head lettuces in the adjacent field. The onion field had water standing in the wheel tracks yesterday evening, but is draining better today and the onions looked good this morning. There was hail damage on some of the greens, but overall the current planting fared well and we are hoping to harvest them this week. The next 2-3 plantings of salad, arugula and spinach are likely lost.

There was significant erosion by the creek that runs on the home farm. The creek bank was cut back significantly by fast moving water and the new fences that were built in that area for the cattle were washed away. We also have significant erosion in some fields caused by draining water. On the bench fields, we had a significant amount of rocks that were relocated into our fields by water draining out of the adjacent woods. We will have to remove these so we can continue to farm these fields without damaging equipment.

So what is going on today? Well, all employees are back at work today, safe and sound. Many crops still look good and the crew is out harvesting as usual. This morning they harvested radishes, asparagus and pea vine. This afternoon they are picking the first strawberries as well as broccoli. Tomorrow we plan to harvest beautiful baby white turnips and bok choi. Alejandro, Hector and Simon are filling trays in the greenhouse to plant more peppers, okra and tomatillos. We still have some extra sweet potato plants in the cooler that we will use to replace any sweet potato plants that don’t survive.

We are thankful to still have a second planting of tomatoes and melons in the greenhouse along with fall cauliflower, broccoli, romanesco, kale and collards. Pending any further rainfall, we are hoping to plant more salad, arugula and spinach this week. As soon as we are able, we will continue to work ground, lay plastic, transplant the remaining greenhouse plants, direct-seed more crops as planned, rebuild drainage ditches and fences, and cut and bale the rye cover crop.

If you are concerned about our ability to continue delivering CSA boxes, rest assured that we will continue to pack boxes for you. Coming up in the next couple of weeks, you can look forward to cabbages (including Napa, Green Savoy, and a new salad cabbage), kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, fennel, scallions, garlic scapes, and strawberries. There is a nice field of beets as well as carrots and potatoes. As soon as the ground is dry and we are able, we will plant the second plantings of tomatoes, melons, and the new peppers we are starting in the greenhouse. The garlic and celeriac fields look good and we will continue with planting fall crops. We have been about 2 weeks behind this spring due to cooler weather, so you may still see the effects of that as well as an absence of salad mix, arugula, and spinach for about 4 weeks while the next crop is planted and matures.

We appreciate your thoughts and encourage you to read our newsletter later this week for more updates from the farm as well as what it means to “share the risk” as a CSA member, both for you and for us.

Have a good week and we hope you enjoy your vegetables this week!

Richard and the HVF Crew

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

This Week's Box

For the Twin Cities this week, we will send:

Green Garlic; Pea Vine; Arugula, Saute Mix or Spinach; Broccoli; Hon Tsai Tai; Rhubarb; Asparagus; Radishes; Salad Mix & Burdock (the Choice Item).

Our Wisconsin CSA members will get much the same, but I think we'll substitute Green Bok Choi for the Hon Tsai Tai. Either way, you can still use this week's newsletter recipe!

Spicy Stir Fried Chicken and Greens with Peanuts
Serves 4
2 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
2 Tbsp dry Sherry, divided
3 tsp Asian sesame oil, divided
2 tsp honey, divided
1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide strips

3 Tbsp peanut oil, divided

4 green onions or 2 green garlic, white parts and green parts chopped separately

2 tsp chopped dried chiles

1 large bunch greens (such as spinach, hon tsai tai, bok choi, mustard greens, kale), spinach left whole, other greens cut into 1-inch strips

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup asparagus

1/4 cup chopped roasted salted peanuts
--Whisk 1-tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Sherry, 1-teaspoon sesame oil, and 1-teaspoon honey in medium bowl. Add chicken; marinate 20 to 30 minutes.

--Whisk remaining 1-tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Sherry, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and 1-teaspoon honey in small bowl and reserve.

--Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add white parts of onions and garlic and chile flakes; stir 30 seconds. Add chicken; stir-fry just until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken mixture to bowl. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to same skillet; heat over high heat. Add broccoli, asparagus and greens by large handfuls; stir just until beginning to wilt before adding more. Sauté just until tender, 1 to 6 minutes, depending on type of greens.

--Return chicken to skillet. Add reserved soy sauce mixture; stir until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl; sprinkle with green parts of onions and peanuts.