Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Our CSA Boxes This Week!

Two great shares this week with extra delicious packed inside! Take a look at what is in this week's CSA Boxes!

This Week's Veggie Share:
Red Savoy OR Red Sweetheart Cabbage
Spinach or Salad Mix
Red and Yellow Onions
Spaghetti Squash
Honeynut Butternut Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli Romanesco OR Cauliflower
Purple Viking Potatoes
Green Curly Kale

This Week's Fruit Share:

Pippin Apples
Asian Pears
Biodynamic Thompson Grapes
Brown Turkey Figs
Braeburn Apples
Biodynamic Limes
Check out our Vegetable and Fruit Newsletters for information and recipes for this week's shares!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkin Carving Contest

Have you carved your pumpkin from the Harvest Party yet? Only one week left to submit a picture of your pumpkin carving for the "Most Creative Pumpkin Carving" award! The winner gets a $15 gift certificate to Harmony Valley Farm and their pumpkin featured on our Facebook page!  This weekend is the perfect time to start those carvings if you haven't already. 

Email your submissions by October 23rd to be entered!

Happy Carving :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

All Signs Point to Fall

Fall is in full swing here at Harmony Valley Farm! This week's CSA box has a lot of our great fall harvest vegetables. This includes:

Porcelain Garlic, Red Onions, French Fingerling Potatoes, Carrots, Spaghetti Squash, Honeynut Butternut Squash, Salad, Broccoli, Escarole (our feature vegetable), Red or French Breakfast Radishes, Red Mustard and Parsnips.

Our newsletter this week has simple ideas for each of these items and also goes in-depth on our feature vegetable, escarole. Chef Chelsea shares two very simple, yet delicious, recipes for our enjoying the escarole as well.

Photo by Abbey J. Steffen
Photo by Abbey J. Steffen

If you're more of a meat person, we could talk for hours about the quality of our beef and pork here at Harmony Valley Farm.

 Farmer Richard took some time out of his busy days here at the farm to share a little about his experiences that brought him to raise his own beef and pork. He also takes the opportunity to go more in-depth about our 100% grass-fed Angus and pasteurized pork. We feel it is important that you know all there is to know about where your meat is coming from - and we are happy to share that! 

Check out the newsletter for this Pasture Walk Down Memory Lane with Farmer Richard.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Signs of Spring


Assembling Garden Herb Packs
Transplant caravan

Potato planting crew


Broccoli transplant crew
Tim cultivating the rhubarb field
What are the surest signs of spring here at Harmony Valley Farm?  For one thing, there's a huge increase in activity! 

The crew returns, and just in time.  They've been planting, transplanting and cultivating in earnest.  For the field crew, we have two new guys to get to know, and thankfully the 30 other guys passed their work visa interviews and made it back to WI safely.  It's great to have these same guys come back year after year - they can get right back into it and work together like a well oiled machine. 

We've hired some other new folks too & hopefully we'll get a group photo and some interviews out soon!

So much basil!

The greenhouses are bursting at the seams - we run out of trays and table space, until we can get those plants in the ground. 
Large Greenhouse

Coldframe Greenhouse


Besides the valley coming alive and turning green, there's lots of animal life evident again.  The barn swallows have returned, the Angus are enjoying the fresh green grass, and we have 10 new kids (and counting!?!).

Blueberry blossom

  White Mama had triplets just this morning.  We have 3 mamas confined for a couple more days, then they can join the rest of the herd.  We're keeping an eye on at least one more heavily preggers nanny, who could give us another kid or two very soon.

CSA deliveries start next week, May 3/4/5!  We still have room on the truck, so get signed up today!

10 varieties of potato this year!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tropical Crops Update From The Greenhouse

Last year we experimented with growing ginger for the first time. It proved to be a very interesting experience as ginger is unlike any other plant we grow....oh, right--it's a tropical plant! We had a lot of fun watching it grow last year and actually had small-scale success. We are increasing our planting size this year, and we're trying tumeric as well! I thought it might be interesting to share some pictures as the ginger grows so you can see how it changes throughout its growth stages. So about 3 weeks ago we received our shipment of ginger and tumeric "seed." The seed for these crops is actually pieces of ginger and tumeric that look exactly like what you would buy in the store, except it is the most gorgeous product you might ever see!! We do the same thing with garlic--take the best from the crop and put it back into the ground for the next crop. Our seed was produced in Hawaii.

The first thing we did was put the seed pieces in shallow trays of potting soil, watered them, and then put them in our warmest greenhouse (nursery greenhouse). We let the trays get dry and then we give them a good soaking. We've done this for the past 3 weeks. After the second week you really start to wonder if you are ever going to see anything green come out of this brown tray. While you might think nothing is happening under the soil, really this presprouting phase is pretty important.

So earlier this week I finally started to see some movement....soil starting to heave and finally a little sprout started poking through. Yesterday we saw several more sprouts push through. (Look closely in the center of the picture and you can see the little green sprout). I also saw the soil in a lot of trays starting to mound and crack on the surface. I couldn't resist anymore so I dug up a piece of ginger to see what was happening under there. Here's what I found. You can see the swelling and new sprouts coming out of the arms of the ginger pieces. It's a pretty big "sprout" which explains why it starts to push the soil up for several days before it ever pushes through.

So that's where the ginger is right now. I haven't seen any movement or sprouting from the tumeric yet...still waiting for something exciting to happen.

As for our other tropical plants....the Lemongrass is loving the 80-90 degree, sunny days it has been spending in the nursery greenhouse. We planted the lemongrass seed pieces 2 weeks ago. They were already sprouting at the base when we got them, so it didn't take much to get them going. They have more sprouts coming off the bases and new growth is shooting up from the base out of the center of the plant.

We just planted jicama seeds today. We tried jicama last year at the suggestion of Jose Antonio. We didn't plant it early enough, so we never saw the plant form a jicama. We're going to try again this year and see if we can pull it off.

Sweet potatoes are one of our other tropical plants. We won't be seeing those until May.

That's all the updates from Tropical Wisconsin!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Farmer's Market Help Wanted!

We’re in search of friendly faces to work at our stand at the Dane County Farmer’s Market from April-November.  Rain or shine, hot or cold, we attend all the outdoor markets from mid-April through November. 

In this position, you will help set up and take down the stand, restock vegetables, assist customers with sales as well as answer questions about the produce, cooking and recipe ideas, the farm and our crops.  As a representative of the farm, we will train you in basic facts about Harmony Valley and the vegetables we grow and sell.

We are looking for individuals who are physically fit, friendly and able to communicate well with the public.  Sales or customer service experience, good math skills, an interest in organic vegetables, high energy, and a smiling face are required.  Experience in cooking and canning/preservation will be very helpful as well.  We’ll ask you to commit to work 2-3 Saturdays a month so our customers get to know you at the stand.  Hours are usually 5:30 am-2:00 pm.  Compensation includes $85 for the day and $15 in veggies from the stand. 
If you would like more information, contact Andrea at the farm: or 608-483-2143 ext 4

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Favorite Color Is Green....Is It Really Still March?

Our valley landscape is quickly changing from shades of brown to shades of green. The buds on trees are opening, and some of the trees are flowering. I was thrilled to see the hazelnut trees we planted last spring in bloom! The spinach field is full of gorgeous, deep dark spinach leaves that are so full of flavor...I can't get enough! The floor of the woods has exploded with all kinds of green plants and the hillsides in the ramp woods are full of delicate ramp leaves as far as you can see. The garlic continues to amaze me with how quickly it is garlic is not far away. I even harvested some chives and sorrel today!

The peeper frogs have been joined by a whole host of critters that can be heard and sometimes seen at all hours of the day and night. Last night we went to sleep listening to the coyotes howl and yip somewhere on the surrounding hills with owls in the background. Today I spotted two different bees out in the woods and was happy to have a huge bumblebee trail me on my walk. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of a bald eagle since I wasn't far from their nest, but today wasn't the day.

The greenhouses are filling up quickly. Last week Hector and Felipe worked very hard to prep the flower tunnel for planting and by Wednesday the tunnel was planted and the irrigation was running to water the seeds so they will germinate. We still have some violas to transplant in there, but it looks like we should have flowers in time for the first salad mix! As soon as they finished the flower tunnel, they moved on to our cold frame greenhouse. This proved to be a big job getting the soil worked up and grading it for better drainage. They worked very hard and I'm very pleased to report that it is ready to receive plants on Monday. Good thing because the broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and cabbage plants are growing really fast and need to move into a cooler environment where they will have a more moderate rate of growth to form a stronger plant.

We transplanted the first of our celeriac plants last week and will finish those up this week. The lemongrass plants came last week and they are already potted and starting to sprout. The first round of fennel is up and those flats will move to the Big House tomorrow to make room for basil and a second planting of broccoli and cauliflower.

The packing shed crew is pulling double duty right now as both packing shed and field crew. Monday and Tuesday we'll be busy washing and packing overwintered parsnips and sunchokes. By midweek though, we're planning to harvest spinach for the first time. It's time to take our salad area out of winter storage mode and get it cleaned and ready for washing greens! Simon will be busy Monday and Tuesday getting the salad washing equipment cleaned and greased.

Ramps should be ready to harvest in about one more week....and we anxiously await the arrival of our harvest crew. In the meantime, we're watching the fields to take advantage of the opportunity to start planting. We thought we might be able to get in this afternoon to plant some salad, but we had a really heavy fog in the valley this heavy you could see the moisture in the air.

I've been craving green things and hate to say it, but I am done eating turnips until we have those tender, delicate, sweet baby white spring salad turnips! Lunch today....Spinach and sorrel salad with almonds, blue cheese, apples, a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of apple vinegar. Dinner last night....Overwintered spinach salad with a creamy garlic dressing and marinated flank steak. Lunch yesterday......Burgers topped with sauteed shiitakes, ramps and Wisconsin Cheddar. In the works for dinner this week....meatballs with a creamy sorrel mushroom sauce.

Only 4 weeks until the first Farmer's Market and 5 1/2 weeks until the first CSA pack. One more week of's going to be a busy one!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Valley is Waking Up

It's a gorgeous day in Harmony Valley. It's 72 degrees, sunny with just a few clouds in the sky and there is a nice breeze in the air. While we still see a lot of brown in the landscape around us, every day things get a little more green. The birds are chirping in the background. I haven't seen a blue bird yet, but I have seen some purple finches. The peeper frogs are awake and ready for spring. When we drove through the valley last night, it sounded like they were peeping in stereo. In some places it was so loud...what a beautiful sound. There are buds on the trees, the bees are buzzing, and we are thankful for the breath of fresh, spring air.

We're hoping to plant this week...pending rain in the forecast and the field is still a little too wet to work up. We shaped beds in this field last fall to help them dry more quickly this spring so we can get in more quickly. This field doesn't look like much now, but give it a few weeks and it will be multi-colored and lush. The planter is out, the seeds are soon as Richard says go, we'll be rolling. Salad lettuces and greens, baby bok choi, cilantro, dill, mustard greens, spinach, arugula, baby white turnips, radishes.....I can hardly wait to eat it all!!

Jack and I took a walk along the Bad Axe River. Evidently the water isn't too cold, since Jack had no hesitation to jump right in. He had his eye on a long stick which he promptly retrieved and pulled over to the bank. Richard is always trying to clean up the river to keep it flowing within its banks and make it the thing of beauty that it is. Seems that Jack has learned a few lessons through observation. We also spotted some little tufts of wild won't be long before I'll be spreading nettle pesto on a pizza topped with spinach, ramps and morel mushrooms!!

Of course we had to cross the river and tromp out into the woods to check on the status of the ramps. Last week we only found small, purple sprouts. This week we found green leaves!! The biggest plants are only about 3-4" tall, but if they keep growing at this rate, it will be just a few weeks before they are ready to harvest.

The green garlic and overwintered green onions are several inches tall now too. Grilled green garlic on top of grilled salmon......always dreaming of meals to come.

We have a lot to do this week. More sunchokes to dig, ground to work, planting salad in the field and dandelion, broccoli, cauliflower and sage in the greenhouse. We're hoping to put some nasturtium and calendula seeds in the flower tunnel this week too.

The forecast right now is for chances of rain and thunderstorms all week. It's anybody's guess what we'll get. If the temperatures stay warm, we could be harvesting overwintered spinach within a few weeks too!! Game on!

Friday, March 16, 2012

March Madness: Parsnip Harvest & Greenhouse Update


We've had a week of 70 degree temps so not only are we taking advantage of the warm weather to get out in the fields, but it's looking like the green growing things are liking it too!  The greenhouses are filling up and the plants are thriving.
Cabbage pushing through

Trays and seedlings continue to graduate from the Nursery greenhouse into the Big greenhouse, and we're preparing the Cold Frame greenhouse too!

We actually hope to get the first fields prepped for planting next week with the first salad mix, spring spinach, arugula, sauté greens, cilantro, dill, bok choi, mustards, and radishes!

We're also out in the field digging our overwintered items:  planted last year and having spent the winter in the ground, you end up with a frost sweetened delight!  Here's the overwintered parsnip harvest, plus we'll soon have fresh sunchokes, crosnes, and soon enough delicate & delicious overwintered spinach!
Parsnip Harvest: lift, extract, put in buckets

Put full buckets into big bins to be refrigerated and washed only when needed

We're up to 22 bins of parsnips so far this week!

In the office, the CSA sign ups are coming in nice and steady - seems everybody waited until the last minute to get in on the March 15 early bird discount deadline!

We still have lots of shares though, in the Twin Cities, Madison and our local area (LaCrosse, Onalaska, Viroqua).

Gerardo seems awfully happy about the weather & the work!

We're also waiting to hear back from the government (DOJ, Labor, Homeland Security) about our H2A visa approval and then interview appointments.  We'd like to have our crew back soon - we miss them and with this early spring, we need them!

I have a feeling things are going to come together quite nicely this season.  Must be all this sunshine in my eyes.