Thursday, December 15, 2016

Vegetable Feature: Carrots, A Winter Staple

By Laurel Blomquist                                          

As 2016 comes to a close, you can be proud that you, as a CSA member, accomplished something that few Americans can claim: you ate with the seasons. You supported the regional economy. You based your diet on the freshest, most nutritionally-dense vegetables you could find, simply by being a member. And you can continue to do so until the root vegetables that you received in your share run out.

The subject of this week’s feature is the humble carrot. Luckily, carrots will last for months if stored in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.  I have kept Harmony Valley Farm carrots for 2-3 months without a problem. It is best to store carrots away from apples, pears or potatoes, which give off ethylene gas and cause the carrot to deteriorate.

While the carrot may seem a little pedestrian in nature, they are ubiquitous because of their delicious sweet flavor and their versatility. Carrots are one of the ingredients in mirepoix, the flavor base from which many sauces, soups and other dishes get their start. Traditional French mirepoix is 2 parts onions, 1 part carrot and 1 part celery. These vegetables are called aromatics because they impart subtle flavor to a dish. You probably wouldn’t be able to single out that they were used, since they often are cut so small and cooked so long in a dish that they all but disappear. However, they give dishes layers of flavor that can’t be replicated without them.

With this in mind, make sure to grab a carrot or two every time you make anything in the slow cooker: soup, stew, braises, stock or under a piece of chicken, pork or beef. Carrots are also a nice addition to a jar of lacto-fermented vegetables, such as kimchi.  If you would rather see carrots on the plate and enjoy their sweetness, try roasting, braising or glazing them for maximum flavor. Juicing, salads and carrot cake or bread are more options.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t inform you of the health benefits of carrots. One carrot will provide over 200% of the RDA of Vitamin A through the conversion of beta-carotene in your liver, as well as some Vitamin K, C and calcium. Including orange foods in your diet lowers your risk of coronary heart disease and antioxidants such as beta-carotene lower the risk of lung, prostate and colon cancer.

Until the Dutch bred orange carrots in the 17th century, most carrots were purple, yellow or white.  Purple carrots, in addition to having the phytochemicals that orange carrots have, also contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant found in blueberries. (Foley) I would recommend keeping these carrots for roasting, braising, or glazing, so that your guests will notice them and remark on their beautiful color.

Enjoy our bountiful carrot harvest in as many ways as you can. And congratulations on completing another year of eating seasonally!

Foley, Denise. “Surprising Health Benefits of Purple Carrots.” Rodale’s Organic Life, Rodale Inc. 1 April, 2015.
Mercola, Dr. Joseph. “What are the Health Benefits of Carrots?” Mercola, Joseph Mercola. 28 December, 2013. 

Carrot Oatmeal Cookie

Yield: About 2½ dozen cookies

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder scant ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
⅔ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup real maple syrup, room temperature
½ cup unrefined coconut oil, warmed until just melted
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and oats. Add the nuts and carrots. 
  3. In a separate smaller bowl use a whisk to combine the maple syrup, coconut oil, and ginger. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Drop onto prepared baking sheets, one level tablespoonful at a time, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake in the top ⅓ of the oven for 10 - 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden on top and bottom.
Note From Chef Andrea:  This recipe was borrowed from Heidi Swanson’s blog,  Heidi encourages experimenting with making different versions of this cookie.  When I made them, I used ⅓ cup chopped cashews and ⅓ cup shredded coconut in place of the walnuts.  I also added 1 tsp fresh lemon zest….and the results were delicious!  My friend, Steph, uses this recipe quite frequently.  One of her favorite ways to make this is to add mini dark chocolate chips in place of some or all of the nuts.  I think you’ll be pleased with the results any way you choose to make them!

Roasted Root Vegetables with Asian Honey Ginger Glaze

Yield: 7- 8 servings

Root Vegetable Blend
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
9 cups root vegetables and/or winter squash, cut into medium dice (include any vegetables you have available—carrots, turnips, celeriac, potatoes, parsnips, beets)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt

Asian Garlic-Ginger Glaze
1 Tbsp ginger, peeled and grated or minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup soy sauce (reduced sodium recommended)
2 to 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup or honey, to taste
2 tsp red chili sauce (such as sriracha) or ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Put the diced onions and root vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle the vegetables with oil and sprinkle with the Herbs de Provence, chili powder and sea salt.  Use your (clean) hands to toss the vegetables and mix to ensure everything is well-coated.  
  3. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a large baking sheet.  Use two baking sheets if you need to in order to keep the vegetables in a single layer.
  4. Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, turning and stirring once, or until they are tender and golden-brown.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the Asian Garlic-Ginger Glaze. Simply add all of the ingredients to a small skillet and bring to a full (but controlled) boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, while whisking frequently, until the volume is reduced by half.  This should take about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the glaze from the heat and set aside until ready to use (Note: as the glaze sits, it will continue to thicken).
  6. Once the vegetables have finished roasting, remove them from the oven.  Drizzle the garlic-ginger glaze over the vegetables.  Stir to coat the vegetables with the glaze.  Serve warm.  

Recipe adapted from one featured on

Rolling Out 2017 CSA Shares!

2016 Vegetable Share
It’s hard to believe this is our final week of CSA deliveries and Christmas will be here in less than two weeks! As we wrap up another year, we are already looking ahead to another CSA growing season. Regardless of how a year may unfold, we always strive to be prepared each year, with a plan for success in hand. 2017 will be no different and we’re anxious to put our plans in action and see what will unfold.

We’re excited to roll out our 2017 offerings and are already receiving CSA sign-ups for next year! You’ll find our updated CSA sign-up form on our website and there’s a link to it in this week’s email. We are offering an “Early Bird” sign-up offer again this year for members who sign up before February 14, 2017.  You can find more details about this offer on the front page of the sign-up form.

Our share offerings will remain the same for the 2017 season. We are continuing to offer the same vegetable share options, summer & autumn fruit shares and a coffee share in partnership with Kickapoo Coffee Roasters. While the pricing for our fruit shares will remain the same, we did apply a small increase to our vegetable and coffee shares.  As we discussed the 2017 coffee share price with Kickapoo Coffee, they felt it was important to institute a small increase this year as coffee prices are rising.  The good news is that this increase will be passed on to the producers!  As for our decision to increase our vegetable share price, we’d like to offer a little background.

2016 Fruit Share
For the past six years we’ve chosen to hold our vegetable prices at the same rate.  Back in 2010 we reached our peak in CSA membership and were packing 1,100-1,200 boxes per week.  We enjoy growing vegetables for CSA and consider it a very important part of what we do.  Our plan, at that time, was to maximize our CSA membership and decrease our production for wholesale accounts.  Unfortunately, the year we made this decision was the year we started to see a slight decrease in our CSA membership.  It was also about the time we were experiencing the economic recession and we assumed the decrease was associated with a change in consumer priorities and resources.  When we consulted with some of our core, longtime CSA members and shared with them what was happening.  They advised us to hold our prices steady, continue to do a good job and ride out the hard economic times.  Word of mouth advertising has always been our greatest way to sell CSA shares, so we decided to hold our prices to make it affordable for our members and focused on looking for ways to increase efficiency, decrease expenses, etc.

Unfortunately we have continued to see a slight decrease in CSA shares each year and overall the decrease each year has added up to about a 25% decrease in vegetable shares since our peak in 2010.  We’ve queried our membership as well as other growers around the country who are also experiencing the same reality.  Why is this happening?  Perhaps it is related to the fact that organic food has become more available at farmers’ markets as well as in mainstream grocery stores, Wal-mart and even the local Kwik Trips and convenience stores!  While it is good to see growth in the organic market, we believe it has impacted consumers’ choices to shop at other outlets instead of choosing to “eat out of the box.”  We continue to value our direct relationship with our CSA members. We believe sourcing your food through CSA provides a value beyond just the price you pay when purchasing food at Wal-Mart and the like.  We continue to invest resources, time and effort to produce the highest quality vegetables with good taste and nutrient density.  We try to do our part to connect you with “your farm” and provide a transparency that is not always present in our food supply today.  We understand that “eating out of the box” is different than shopping at the grocery store and do our best to provide our members with resources so they can find success in using the vegetables and creating delicious meals.

So, despite the fact that our CSA numbers have decreased, we still value CSA and want it to be part
Weighing strawberries at 2016 Strawberry Days.
of our business.  The reality though is that we cannot continue to absorb the increases in expenses we’ve experienced over the past six years.  The cost of some packaging and field supplies has gone up, at times fuel prices have been high, and the cost of labor has also gone up.  We recognize our crew works hard and we want to continue to support a living wage.  Thus our final decision was to increase our vegetable share price by about 3% on average across the vegetable share options.

Most of our CSA Sites will remain the same for 2017.  In the Twin Cities we are adding a new site in the St. Louis Park area.  We are still looking for a new site location in the North Plymouth area on the west side of Minneapolis.  If you are in this area or have a friend who may be interested in hosting a site, please contact us for more information.  Additionally, we are continuing our partnership with Lunds & Byerlys which allows us to expand our delivery options to the greater Twin Cities area with delivery to any of their 27 store locations.  If you are interested in learning more about this option, please reference the “Lunds and Byerlys CSA Sign-Up Form” on our website.  In the Madison area we will be closing our Marinette Trail site, however we will be adding a site located nearby on Robin Circle.

Before the end of the year you will be invited to participate in an End of the Season Survey.  We appreciate your feedback and this is your chance to offer input about what vegetables you might like to see in the boxes next year (Time to grow jicama again?  Radish seed pods, escarole, lemongrass or cardoons?) or communicate any other ideas or thoughts you may have for the future of our CSA.
In closing, we’d like to thank you for your support of our farm this year.  While we had some weather challenges to deal with and certainly miss having sweet potatoes this fall, knowing our membership was behind us is a huge encouragement for us.  We hope you and your families have a peaceful and restful holiday season and winter.  We look forward to growing for you again in 2017.

Sincerely, Farmers Richard and Andrea

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 2016 - Winter Is Officially Here

     This is our final meat delivery of the 2016 CSA season and our pastures are quieting down.  This week we saw the first dusting of white covering our green, grassy pastures. The animals (and farmers) were grateful for the warm, mild weather we had in October and November.  Our pastures continued to thrive and the cattle were still able to forage enough grass until just recently when we started supplementing their diets with stored hay.  They are still out grazing and snacking on what is still remaining, but we are accepting that winter is here and it’s time to transition them to their winter diet.
     Just before Thanksgiving, we got 11 new Red Angus beef cattle.  They are only about 7-8 months old.  It took them a few days to acclimate to their new home, but they quickly became friends with our other cattle who graciously showed them out to the pasture and made them feel welcome.  All of our cattle made their way around our hillside through the pasture to their “winter camp.”  While they still spend most of their days and time outdoors, they are now close to the barn which we’ve prepared for them to use this winter.  They are cold-hardy animals and can withstand the cold of winter, but we like them to have a dry shelter to retreat to when the winter storms blow through.  We normally feed them their hay outside in their pasture, but on stormy or cold days Richard convinces them to stay inside by feeding them his special “Chocolate Hay.”  This is how we describe the best hay we have….the stuff the cattle would like to eat every day, but we have to make it last until spring so feed it sparingly.
Angel (Left) & Juan Pablo (Right): Our Animal Care Team
     We’d like to thank Juan Pablo and Angel for their help with caring for our animals this year.  These two gentlemen are responsible for feeding the pigs twice a day, maintaining the paddock fences for the cattle, moving the cattle to fresh grass as needed and making sure the mineral feeder got moved with them.  Farmer Richard and Captain Jack “The Dog” will be taking over animal feeding chores in about 2 more weeks when Angel returns to Mexico for the winter.  They don’t mind feeding animals through the winter and enjoy checking in on them once or twice a day.
     As we move into the cold of winter, I can’t help but crave warm comfort food…soups, stews, chili, etc.  I have a stack of about 15 cookbooks that were published by Taste of Home magazine.  My Mom used to give me one of these cookbooks every year for Christmas, long before I ever went to culinary school but enjoyed cooking for my family.   These books are filled with simple, down-home Midwestern recipes.  My brother used to flip through the cookbooks and mark the recipes he wanted me to make.  I haven’t cooked from them for many years, but just recently decided to look through them again to see what I could find.  Lots of simple, filling recipes!  This week’s newsletter features four simple, family friendly recipes using beef and pork.  They’ll guide you in making tasty, nourishing meals for your family this winter…and leave you with a little time to sit and sip some hot chocolate.  We hope you have a relaxing and nourishing winter.  We’ll see you in the spring!
–Your Farmers Richard & Andrea

Chili Casserole

Yield: 6 servings
Photo Borrowed from Taste of Home website

1 pound ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 can (15 ½ oz) kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14 ½ oz) stewed tomatoes
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 cups cooked bow tie pasta

1. In a skillet, brown beef and onion; drain.  Stir in beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Stir in pasta;  heat through.

This recipe was featured in a cookbook entitled The Best of Country Cooking 1999, by Taste of Home.  It was in a section of the book entitled “Meals in Minutes.” Our Midwestern bookkeeper, Kelly, would argue that this is not really a casserole but rather a “hotdish.”
Whatever it’s called, it’s quick, simple and hearty!

Breakfast Patties

Yield: 8 Patties
Photo Borrowed from Taste of Home website

¼ cup water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
⅛ tsp ground ginger
2 pounds ground pork

1. In a bowl, combine water and seasonings. Add pork and mix well.
2. Shape into eight 4-inch patties.
3. In a skillet over medium heat, cook patties for 5-6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in the center.

This recipe was featured in the 1999 Taste of Home Annual Recipes cookbook.  It was submitted by reader Jeannine Stallings from Montana who says “This homemade sausage is terrific because it’s so lean, holds together well and shrinks very little when cooked.  It’s incredibly easy to mix up a batch and make any breakfast special.”

Hungarian Goulash

Yield: 6-8 Servings
Photo Borrowed from Taste of Home website

1 pound stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound lean boneless pork, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups water
2 Tbsp paprika
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried marjoram
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
Hot cooked noodles

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown beef, pork and onions in oil; drain.
2. Add the water, paprika, salt and marjoram; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until meat is tender.
3. Just before serving, combine flour and sour cream until smooth; stir into meat mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Serve over noodles.

Recipe borrowed from the cookbook, 2002 Taste of Home Annual Recipes.

Barbequed Pot Roast

Cookbook Photo Borrowed from
Eat Your Books Website
Yield: 12 servings

1 boneless chuck roast (3 pounds), trimmed
¼ tsp pepper
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup water
3 medium onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup ketchup
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp ground mustard

1. Sprinkle roast with pepper. In a Dutch oven coated with nonstick cooking spray, brown roast on all sides.
2. Add the tomato sauce, water, onions, and garlic. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over meat. Cover and simmer for 3-4 hours or until the meat is tender.

Recipe borrowed from Low-Fat Country Cooking published by Taste of Home.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Adapting To Climate Change

By Andrea Yoder
The Bad Axe River along Harmony Valley Farm

     We realize there are differing opinions about climate change, what is causing it, what should be done about it, etc. As we reflect upon our recent wet September and then an unseasonably warm and beautiful October and November, we (as farmers) would be foolish to ignore the fact that the climate and weather patterns are changing. While we were experiencing excessive rainfall, California and the upper northeast portions of the US experienced a drought. Since 2007 we’ve experienced three substantial “Hundred Year Floods,” but we also had a drought year stuck in there as well. Weather patterns are becoming more extreme and erratic. Despite these changes, we all still need to eat. This  means we need to figure out how to adapt to these changes so we can continue to do our job!
Photo Borrowed from UCS website
    In June of this year, The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) published a document entitled, Toward Climate Resilience:  A Framework and Principles for Science-Based Adaptation. Their framework starts with a concept they call “climate resilience gap,” defined as “the scope and extent of climate change-driven conditions for which people remain unprepared, leaving them open to potentially harmful impacts.”  There will always be times when we are faced with weather-related situations beyond our control. Despite our best efforts we may still suffer losses and major impact. But what can we do to adapt to these changes and do our best to be prepared and decrease the impact we experience from climate-change driven conditions?
     I think this is an important question for all farmers to ask themselves now. As we look at our own situation, we look for places of vulnerability in our operation. In doing so, we made a decision to stop farming one area of land we have leased for several years now. It is very prone to flooding and is not the most resilient soil. Several years ago we started leasing some new land that is “high and dry,” away from rivers and streams. We have transitioned the land to certified organic and are ready to put it into full production next year. In wet years, we value land like this. On the flip side, in a drought year we can have challenges with some of our higher ground that is further away from a water source. In some cases we don’t have a water source to irrigate from and in others we may not have permits to irrigate. We cannot live in fear of rivers and creeks and it isn’t realistic to move our farm out of the valley. There is no perfect situation, rather we value the diversity we have with different areas we farm and do our best to mitigate risk.
New in November 2016: Dike In Field
    Following the excessive rain this fall, Richard and many of the field crew took advantage of the time now available to work on some drainage improvements. In one area they rerouted the drainage ditch to take water around a field and built a nice berm to slow water down and shunt it in the right direction as it exits a culvert. We have another field that is located right along the Bad Axe River. The crew worked in this area to improve the drainage around this field so rain water can run off the field in the wheel tracks and is adequately drained away to avoid washouts and excessive wet spots. They also built a little dike! (Richard tapped into his Dutch heritage).  It will give us two feet of vertical protection to hold back the river if we have another flood type event. We also have a larger field that had some wet spots and areas that just didn’t drain well after it rained. In years like this where we had rainy day after rainy day, the plants didn’t thrive very well in those wet, soggy areas. It took several days of intense work to get the grade of the field worked out and build some drainage ditches around the perimeter of the field, but it looks great right now and we’re anxious to see how these changes work next year!
     We’ve also removed trees, branches and debris from the river as well as dry washes. If we don’t get these things out of the way, they will build up and create dams which obstruct water from flowing where it’s supposed to go and potentially can spill over into field and roadways. Management…it’s constant management and observation. You don’t clean or fix something up one time and assume it’s good for ever. Water is powerful and changes things as it moves. You have to constantly reassess the situation each year and especially after a major event.
Cover Crop: Built-in Soil Protection
     But what if we swing to the other end of the spectrum and have drought? One of our first defenses is to be ready to irrigate. Irrigation equipment is an expensive investment and some years it may be used minimally. In a drought year, it may be the only way we have to get even minimal amounts of water to vulnerable crops. Over the past few years we’ve also started burying drip tape in fields before we plant the crop. In many cases this is a more efficient way to water a crop as you lose less water to evaporation.
     We realize we have a lot to learn and will continue to assess what we can do to adapt as well as what we can do to contribute in positive ways to decreasing factors contributing to climate change. This is a big topic to explore, but we all have to assume responsibility for doing our part to care for our corner of our world.

Vegetable Feature: The Many Colors of Storage Turnips

By Laurel Blomquist
Left: Purple Top Turnip / Right: Sweet Scarlet Turnip

     At Harmony Valley Farm, we grow several different varieties of storage turnips: gold, sweet scarlet and the more common purple top. Each can add a splash of color to your seasonal store of root vegetables this winter.
     Turnips have been cultivated for 4,000 years and probably originated in Middle or East Asia. There is evidence that they were grown for their seeds in India as early as the 15th century BC, and records exist of their cultivation in ancient Greece and Rome. They have served as an abundant winter crop for peasants when no other food was available, and also used as fodder for livestock during the long winter, when hay was scarce. Turnips are actually swollen stems fused with the root, and not just a root, as is commonly thought. The part that we eat is where the plant stores its energy that it would need to later produce seeds, if left to complete the full life cycle.
     Gold turnips can be traced to early 19th century Scotland, and were first patented in the United States in 1855 as “Robert’s Gold Ball.” The Scarlet turnip was introduced to the US in the 1890s by William Henry Maule as an improvement on a variety that originated in India. Purple Top turnips were introduced from France in 1852. The part that sits atop the soil line turns purple as it is exposed to sunlight.
      Storage turnips are dense and crisp with a sometimes spicy and pungent flavor when eaten raw. When they are cooked the flavor mellows and is mild and actually sweet. Gold and sweet scarlet turnips are our favorite turnips to eat as they are more mild than the traditional purple top turnip, which is the variety people are most often familiar with. Turnips harvested later in the fall after a few chilly nights are generally sweeter and have a more balanced flavor than those that are grown and harvested when it is warm or hot.
     Turnips are a very versatile root vegetable and may be eaten raw or cooked, although most often they are cooked. They can be stir-fried, steamed, boiled, braised, glazed, roasted or pickled. They also add a nice background flavor to soups, stews and braised meats. Storage turnips differ from the baby white salad turnips you received earlier in the season. They are meant for long storage and will keep for months if you store them in a cold, moist environment. Keep them in your refrigerator in a plastic bag. Sometimes when they are stored for longer periods of time they will start to get soft from moisture loss, but will firm up again when placed in a bowl of cold water. You can also use softer turnips in soups and you’ll never know the difference!
     Turnips are high in Vitamin C, minerals and dietary fiber, and are also low in calories. As a member of the brassica family, they contain cancer-fighting phytonutrients and antioxidants, an nice benefit to add to a winter diet. So enjoy your turnips and bring some color into your life during the cold, white winter.

Moroccan Turnip and Chickpea Braise

HVF Sweet Scarlet Turnip Harvest

Yield: 4 Servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into ½-inch thick half-moons
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 (14-15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a large, deep saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
2. Add the tomato paste, turnips, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the chickpeas and broth, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
3. Stir in the pepper and cilantro. Serve hot.

Author’s Note:“Serve this wintry braise over rice or couscous or alongside a simple main dish, like roasted chicken thighs... If you like a saucy braise, serve the dish as soon as it is ready. The turnips will absorb the liquid as the dish cools.”

Recipe borrowed from Laura B. Russell’s book 
Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables.

Turnip "Risotto"

This recipe for Turnip “Risotto” was shared with us recently by a CSA member named Kristin.  If you are skeptical about cooking with turnips, consider what Kristin had to say: “I’m just writing to share a fantastic turnip recipe that we discovered. I’ve always had a hard time with turnips, never really finding a recipe that made them palatable to me (excluding salad turnips - those are delicious just as they are!). Then I came across this recipe, and it changed my whole world view on turnips.  We just tried it again last night with the beauty heart radishes that were languishing in our fridge, and it was delicious with those, too. Just sharing in case you are ever on the look out for a recipe to serve as a “turnip ambassador”.

Yield: 4 Servings
Photo Borrowed from

6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, cut into ⅛ inch dice
1 ½ pounds turnips, cut into ⅛ inch dice
2 cup hot chicken stock
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Warm the chicken stock in a sauce pan over medium-low heat.
2. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. Toss in the onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the turnips and cook for 2 minutes. Ladle in some of the hot chicken stock and cook until absorbed. Continue until all of the stock has been added, about 10 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper.  Add the butter and grated cheese stir occasionally for a minute. Remove from the heat, garnish with parsley, and serve.

This recipe was featured on
but Mario Batali is the original chef who created this recipe.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Doing The Right Thing

By Farmer Richard

     “Donald Trump just got a temp job. The rest of us, with all our passions and ideals, have permanent appointments. We’ll always disagree over the political candidates. The trick is to keep moving forward in spite of it: to exercise our rights and responsibilities as citizens, while remaining together as family and community.”—Shannon Hayes (An excerpt from her blog, The Radical Homemaker, posted on 11/15/2016)
     We at Harmony Valley Farm have mostly opted out of the political mainstream. We have chosen to “do the right thing” according to our beliefs and understanding, even when the establishment’s point of view may differ. For example, many years ago county extension agents told me I wouldn’t be able to make a living farming organically. Nonetheless, we pursued our belief that we would farm in the way we thought was best for our land, our employees, our customers, our planet and the economics would work out. It has not always been an easy road and we’ve learned a lot along the way, but over 40 years later it has worked! So as we reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’re going, with a heart of gratitude we remember we are not alone, and the journey is worth it.
     We have chosen to make our life’s work to produce the most nutritious, wholesome food possible and are thankful for you, our many customers who appreciate the tasty, nutritious vegetables we produce for you. We have watched our long term members raise beautiful children who grew up eating our vegetables. They are now growing into adulthood and are healthy, smart young men and women with healthy brains who are going out into the world and doing “the right thing” to contribute to their communities and professions in positive ways. They are making wise and thoughtful decisions and we’re thankful to have had the opportunity to have been and continue to be part of their lives.
José Ramon spreading compost
     It’s important to remember that not one of us alone can change the entire world; however, when we work together collectively, even small individual changes or changes in a community can add up to make a difference. Shannon’s statement reminds us that we each have a responsibility to take care of and contribute in positive ways to change our own little corner of this world. We are by no means perfect, but we try to do our part. We continue to plant extensive cover crops and apply compost to our soil. This system helps to trap large amounts of carbon dioxide and helps mitigate atmospheric greenhouse gases. If done worldwide, the impact would be huge! We try to make the best use of our land by farming the portions that are appropriate for raising crops, grazing the hillside pastures that are prone to erosion, and managing our wooded areas by responsibly removing trees as needed and putting this resource to good use. We know not everyone in our membership chooses to eat meat or even supports our choice to raise animals for food, but regardless of our differences we continue to choose to raise our animals with respect and consider them to be an important part of our entire farm. We appreciate the opportunity to introduce children and members to our animals and allow them to see a healthy animal system. Can we ever have too many examples of respect and kindness to share with our children and each other?
Photo Borrowed from UCS website
     Nationwide there are examples of positive changes happening within communities and regions. In the Fall 2016 publication by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), they published an article about the positive impact climate legislation has had in California over the past 10 years. Since passing the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, there has been a 7.3% cut in global warming emissions and petroleum consumption has dropped by more than 14% in the state. At the same time, they have seen economic growth with a 12.4% increase in gross domestic product and their population and employment have increased by more than 7%.
     In the same UCS publication, we read a story about GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization that is working to bring solar energy to low and moderate income families, an example of social equity as well as environmental change. Solar installations can be costly and the initial investment as well as the fact that many people don’t own their own land or homes can be barriers to using solar energy. Through the work of GRID Alternatives, they have been able to support over 6,000 solar installations including many in neighborhoods where residents have lower incomes or much more fixed budgets. The impacts have been great, both at the individual level as well as the community level. Not only are they using a cleaner source of energy, they are also seeing lower monthly expenses for utilities which has helped decrease their financial stress.
     We find these stories encouraging. We will always have differences of opinions, political and otherwise. Nonetheless we need to move forward and know that our daily choices and involvement in our communities do matter and can produce positive change. What is your passion? Is it related to the environment? Is it related to social equity? Are you in a position to contribute to scientific research or policy change? Are you an educator? Whatever your place may be, thank you for doing your part.

Vegetable Feature: Collard Greens

By Chef Andrea

     Believe it or not, I don’t think I ever ate collard greens until I came to HVF! I remember seeing them in the grocery store back in Indiana, but our “greens” safety zone consisted of iceberg lettuce and spinach. We never ate cooked greens. Now I fear the long winter when we don’t have greens available and look forward to the return of greens in the spring.
     This week’s selection is collards, one of the heartiest greens we grow. Collards are characterized by large, paddle-shaped leaves that are blue-gray in color and slightly wavy around the edges. The leaves are thick and have a mild flavor similar to cabbage. While we grow and harvest collards for much of the summer and into the fall, we typically save this green for your boxes until later in the season. We do this partly because it is more frost tolerant and we can keep it in the field longer than most greens, but also because it is sweeter and has a better flavor after it has been through a few cold nights!
     Collards are eaten throughout different parts of the world including Africa, India, Egypt, Spain and Pakistan. The seasonings and cooking methods may vary slightly, but in general collard greens go well with garlic, ginger, chiles, coconut, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, mustard seeds, potatoes, smoked meats, black-eyed peas, peanuts, corn and potatoes…to name a few. In this country we usually think of collards as a “Southern” food. In the southern states collard greens are often prepared by cooking collard greens along with some kind of a smoked pork product such as hocks, bacon, etc and liquid for quite awhile until the greens are soft and tender. While a longer cooking time and some liquid do help to soften collard greens and make them tender, you don’t have to cook them in this way. You can also slice them very thinly and saute them just until they are wilted. When cooked this way they will retain their green color better and will be tender, but not quite as soft. Collard leaves also make a great wrapper to use in place of a tortilla. If you want to use it to make a wrap, you should either blanch it or lightly steam it before using in order to soften the leaf slightly and make it more pliable.
     Before using collard greens, wash them in a sink of water and then remove the thick, white center stem and rib. Either cut into bite-sized pieces or stack the leaves on top of each other, roll them and then thinly slice the roll. Collard greens may be added to stir-fry, pasta dishes or even use them as the base for a creamy cole slaw in lieu of cabbage. They are also delicious when added to ham and bean soup or incorporated into a fall curry dish.
As our growing season is coming to a close, we hope you enjoy some of these last green indulgences and try a new recipe or two!

Spaghetti with Collard Greens and Lemon

Yield: Serves 4
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced (or more if you
   like garlic!)
¼ tsp red-pepper flakes
1 bunch collard greens (12 ounces),
   ribs removed, thinly sliced
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Grated zest of 1 fresh lemon, plus more
   for serving
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt, to taste
12 oz dried spaghetti
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano,
   for serving

Photo Borrowed from

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes; cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add collard greens and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pine nuts and lemon zest and juice. Season with salt.
2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain pasta.
3. Add pasta and reserved water to skillet, tossing to coat. Serve immediately, garnished with additional lemon zest and sprinkled with cheese.

Recipe sourced from

Collard Greens with Lime & Peanuts

Yield: Serves 4
Photo Borrowed from Emily Nichols post on

1 bunch collard greens, stems
   removed, leaves cut into thin strips
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp coconut oil 
¾ cup chicken stock
⅓ cup peanuts, toasted and roughly
Juice of one lime
Salt, to taste

1. Remove stems, chop and rinse the collard greens;  don’t worry about drying them, the water clinging to the leaves after rinsing will help them cook down.
2. Toast and chop peanuts, set aside.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
4. Add greens and use tongs to toss until well coated, season with a bit of salt.
5. Add stock and reduce heat to simmer.
6. Cook on low, uncovered, allowing liquid to reduce slowly until the stock has nearly all evaporated.  This may take about 20-40 minutes (do not rush this part).
7. Once liquid has reduced, taste the greens to check texture (this part is all about preference;  if you like them softer, add more liquid and continue to cook).
8. When greens are finished cooking, remove from heat and stir in peanuts, lime juice and remaining 1 tsp coconut oil.

HVF Note: When we tested this recipe, we served the collard greens over cooked rice.  This recipe serves 4 if eaten as a side dish or 2 if eaten as the main dish.

Recipe adapted by one posted by Emily Nichols on

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Pasture Walk with Farmer Richard

By Richard de Wilde

     This article was originally printed in our vegetable newsletter in September 2013. After a recent walk through our pastures this fall, Richard and I were reminded just how important it is to continue to manage our land, including our pastures and woods. It’s a big job, and one that is never finished. It takes a diligent effort to keep things “under control,” but the result is healthy pastures that are pleasant and desirable for our animals to live in and graze. We find joy and fulfillment in watching our cattle graze and live peaceful lives on our lush pastures while the pigs keep us entertained with their pig-like behaviors. Thank you for supporting us in our efforts to do the best we can to raise meat in the most respectful manner we can. 
--Farmers Andrea & Richard
     Our farm, like most farms in the Driftless region, has land along creek beds, dry washes and steeper hillsides that is not   suitable for farming and has traditionally grazed animals. Our hillside pastures were cleared and planted to wheat in the late 1800’s and it was an erosion disaster! The scars are now healed and grass covers the hillside, preventing erosion. This month’s Edible Madison magazine (September 2013) has a very well-written article on the birth of soil conservation and contour farming which started in the 1930’s in our own Vernon County, Wisconsin. The present day NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) was started and Aldo Leopoldo was actively working in the field with them to turn around 70 years of disastrous farming, which had destroyed the productive capacity of most of the county’s farmland. Animals, grass, and strips of non-erosive hay between cultivated crops saved the land. Now our county is experiencing a new crisis as animals leave the farms to go to big feedlots and confinement dairies and contour strips and grass waterways are being torn out to accommodate only two crops, corn and soybeans. As a result, erosion is on the rise once again.
     I milked cows on this farm from 1984-1986, but sold the herd to devote my time and resources to full-time vegetable farming. In the years that followed this transition, we saw the results of abandoned pastures. Prickly ash, willows, box elder trees, black locust, honeysuckle, multiflora rose and garlic mustard took over and choked out the hillsides. Our beautiful little Spring Creek disappeared in a tangle of brush and the stream no longer flowed openly. With the grass overtaken and the stream banks eroded, the trout were choked out. In recent years, we have spent considerable time and resources working towards reclaiming our beautiful Spring Creek, as well as learning from our mistakes and working hard to maintain other waterways and river banks on our property. We have removed huge patches of prickly ash, multiflora rose and invasive honeysuckle by pulling them out and then grading and reseeding these areas to establish new grasses and clovers. We built new fences and brought animals back to our hillsides to graze these areas to help us maintain them. We have cleaned the trees and brush out of the creek and fixed stream bank erosion with large limestone rocks lining the banks. Many areas we can now mow once a year to keep down invasive plants and prevent trees from taking over. Despite all our efforts, the single biggest help in maintaining our improvements are now the cows, pigs and goats that graze our pastures. 
     While we realize that not all of our customers choose to eat meat and our focus is on vegetable production, we’ve chosen to include animals on our farm because they have a very important purpose. Unlike feedlot cattle and pigs that exist solely to gain weight and be taken to slaughter, our animals have a greater calling. Their purpose is to graze and fertilize our hillside pastures, thereby maintaining them and improving them for years to come. This is a very different lifestyle for these animals in comparison to industrial animal production.  
     Farmers are stewards of the land, but we can’t forget that part of that calling is honoring and respecting the land and animals we care for. As we walk through our pastures and look out across the hillsides, we see the beauty that is the result of all of our hard work. We are blessed to live in a beautiful, unique location and will continue to strive to maintain our land.

Meatballs in Pineapple Sauce

Yield: 10 as an appetizer or 4 if served as a main entrée
Photo Borrowed from Shannon Hayes' blog
For the Meatballs:
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp finely chopped onions
½ tsp salt
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 pound ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
For the Pineapple Sauce:
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 can (13 ¼ ounces) chunk pineapple, in natural, unsweetened juice 
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 small green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1. Mix all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large bowl.  Shape into 1 ½-inch balls.  
2. Saute meatballs in the olive oil over medium heat, turning occasionally, for about 15 to 20 minutes, until browned.  Pour off the fat, remove the meatballs from the skillet, and set aside.
3. Mix together the brown sugar and cornstarch, and add to the skillet used for the meatballs.  Pour in the pineapple and juice, and add the vinegar, soy sauce, and chopped pepper.  
4. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat immediately, add the meatballs, and simmer 10 minutes longer.

Recipe borrowed from Shannon Hayes’ book, The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook.

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Beef Tacos with Cabbage-Radish Slaw

Yield: 6 Servings
Photo Borrowed from the Real Simple website
2 ½ to 3 pounds stew meat (May also use round steak or chuck roast, cut into 2-inch pieces)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 3 Tbsp chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt
4 cups thinly sliced cabbage
4 radishes, halved and sliced (may use fresh red radishes or beauty heart radishes)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
12 6-inch corn tortillas
Sour cream, pickled jalapeño peppers and hot sauce, for serving

1. In a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, toss together the beef, onion, garlic, chipotles, bay leaves, oregano and 1 tsp salt.  Cover and cook until the beef is very tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 ½ to 4 hours.
2. Twenty minutes before serving, heat oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, radishes, and cilantro with the lime juice and ¼ tsp salt.  Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake until warm, 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Transfer the beef to a medium bowl (reserve the cooking liquid) and shred, using 2 forks. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl and toss with the beef to coat.
4. Fill the warm tortillas with the beef and slaw.  Serve with sour cream, pickled jalapeños, hot sauce and lime wedges.

Recipe borrowed from Easy, Delicious Home Cooking by Real Simple.

The Easiest Ribs You’ll Ever Make

Yield: 2-3 servings

Photo Borrowed from Alexandra's Kitchen 
1½ to 2 pounds pork spare ribs 
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Smoked paprika 
¾-1 cup brown sugar
Heavy Duty Foil

1. Preheat oven to 275°F.
2. Rinse off the ribs and pat dry.  Liberally coat the ribs with the kosher salt, pepper and the paprika.  Pack on the brown sugar.
3. Lay out a piece of heavy duty foil that is large enough to fully wrap the meat in.  If your spare ribs are in more than one piece, you can wrap each piece individually if it’s easier.   Wrap the ribs into a packet and make sure it’s closed on all sides.  Place the ribs on a sheet tray and place in the oven for 2 ½ hours.  
4. Remove the tray from the oven.  Let sit for one hour.  Do not open the pouch during this hour.
5. When ready to serve, reheat the ribs in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 350°F (this is assuming the ribs have not been refrigerated) or open the pouch, baste the ribs with the juices and place them under the broiler for five minutes.
6. Serve immediately with cornbread and a simple salad for a yummy yummy meal!

Chef Andrea Yoder’s Note: This is the easiest method I’ve ever used to cook spare ribs and they come out tender and delicious.  The prep time is very minimal, so I often prepare these the night before or first thing in the morning and put them in the refrigerator.  If I have enough time in the evening after work, I’ll cook them for dinner that night.  If we’re hungry and don’t want to wait, I’ll heat up the oven and cook them anyway while we’re eating dinner.  Then they’re ready to just reheat for the next night’s dinner!

Recipe adapted from the blog, Alexandra’s Kitchen:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Vegetable Feature: Fresh Baby Ginger

By Chef Andrea

     We are very excited to deliver possibly the freshest ginger you may ever have experienced! Given our shorter growing season, the ginger we grow is actually considered “Baby Ginger.”  Ginger has a wide variety of culinary uses and is a common ingredient in the cuisine of many Asian cultures. It is a base ingredient in Chinese stir-fries. It is combined with lemongrass and chiles to make Thai curry pastes and in Japan, it is often served alongside sushi in its pickled form. Ginger has a spicy, warm flavor which also makes it an excellent ingredient to include in baked goods, tea and other beverages. 
     To use your ginger,  cut off a piece from the main chunk and peel it. Remember, this is very fresh ginger and still has a very thin skin so you don’t have to peel very deep, rather just gently scrape away the thin skin. You can store  ginger pieces for several days at room temperature or if you aren’t going to use it right away you can store it in the refrigerator. It can also be preserved for long term storage by freezing it. I like to cut it into smaller pieces before I freeze it so I can just pull out a small portion as I need it. You will find this fresh ginger to be very juicy and crisp with a bright flavor. The long green stems attached to the lower portion contain a mild ginger flavor as well. I cut them into 5-6 inch pieces and use them to infuse a little more ginger flavor into soups, stocks, curries, tea, etc.
     We have more recipes available on our website from past newsletters. A few of my personal favorites include Golden Milk, Chai-Spiced Bread, Ginger-Cardamom Tea and Pickled Ginger. Have fun using and experiencing this tropical Wisconsin treat!

Crystallized Ginger

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network

Photo borrowed from The Food Network Website
8 oz fresh ginger root
4 cups water
½ lb granulated sugar, or as needed

1. Spray a cooling rack with non-stick spray or brush lightly with oil and set it in a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. 
2. Clean and peel the ginger. Because the ginger is so young and fresh, a spoon or knife scraped against the root should work well for peeling. 
3. Slice the ginger into ⅛ inch slices. Place ginger and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 35-50 minutes, or until the ginger is tender. 
4. Drain the ginger, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid. Weigh the ginger and add an equal amount of granulated sugar. Return the ginger, sugar and up to ¼ cup of the reserved liquid back to the pan. You only need to use enough liquid to dissolve the sugar. 
5. Stir over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue stirring and watching as the syrup thickens. Keep stirring and cooking until the syrup has dried and the sugar has recrystallized, about 20 minutes. The transformation will be obvious. Immediately move the ginger to the wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

HVF Note: Use the crystallized ginger in the carrot-ginger soup recipe in this newsletter or add it to banana bread, sugar cookies, ginger snaps, citrus salad, granola bars, cakes, pies, muffins, cupcakes, shortbread, pancakes, waffles, over ice cream, in lemon pound cake, cranberry relish or in pear or apple crisp. Save any gingery sugar crystals to put in your coffee or tea. You can even add the ginger water that you made in the first step to tea, but be careful - it’s spicy!

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Recipe adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen

Yield: 6 servings

HVF Note: This recipe aims to keep it simple by amplifying the sweet flavor of carrots by using a few basic aromatics and lots of carrots, including carrot juice. If you’ve been stockpiling your carrots for the last few weeks, this would be a great recipe to use. The addition of baking soda is to tenderize the carrots and ginger, producing a perfectly creamy soup.

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, ghee or vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped fine
¼ cup minced crystallized ginger (see recipe, opposite) 
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
4 cups water
1 ½ cups carrot juice, divided
2 sprigs fresh thyme
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional Garnishes: chopped chives, sour cream, croutons

1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, crystallized ginger, fresh ginger, garlic, 2 tsp salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened but not browned, 5-7 minutes
2. Stir in carrots, water, ¾ cup carrot juice, thyme sprigs and baking soda. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently until carrots are very tender, 20-25 minutes. 
3. Discard thyme sprigs. Working in batches, process soup in blender until smooth, 1-2 minutes (caution: vent the blender carefully, as steam will be released). Return pureed soup to clean pot and stir in vinegar and remaining ¾ cup carrot juice. 
4. Return soup to brief simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, garnishing individual bowls with chives, sour cream and/or croutons.

Ginger: Spicy, or Anti-Inflammatory?

By Laurel Blomquist

Fresh Baby Ginger
     Welcome to another article in our anti-cancer series. Today’s focus is on the tropical rhizome, ginger. Don’t forget, these anti-cancer foods also combat neurological, immunological, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and metabolic disorders, as well as the process of aging. 
     Ginger has not yet been studied by Richard Beliveau and Denis Gingras, authors of Foods to Fight Cancer. However, they do include it in their appendix as a flavor you should include in your anti-cancer meals, particularly any of an Asian flair. They say, “One of the principal molecules present in this spicy root, known as gingerol, has often been put forward as a powerful potential anticancer agent, for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its inhibiting activity on cancerous cells.” (p. 179)
     David Servan-Schreiber also mentions ginger in Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. He calls out ginger’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and protective effects. He cites three studies that demonstrate this, as well as ginger’s ability to reduce the creation of new blood vessels. He recommends ginger to alleviate nausea brought on by chemotherapy or radiation, and suggests making a simple tea by slicing an inch of ginger and steeping in boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes. (p. 134)
     Ginger has been found effective at inhibiting liver cancer, a particularly fast-growing cancer that spreads rapidly. Researchers in China found that ginger reduced serum liver cancer markers and liver tissue growth factors. Ginger was also found to inhibit inflammation and promote apoptosis (ritual cell death) using three of its compounds: geraniol, pinostrobin and clavatol. 6-shogaol and 6-gingerol, two of ginger’s active ingredients, also prohibited metastasis, or the spread of liver cancer to other parts of the body. (Zhou et al. 2016)
Close-up: ginger in greenhouse
     I found a laundry list of benefits from ginger in the book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, by Jonny Bowden (p. 284-285). For those of you who practice Ayurveda, India’s 5000-year old “Science of Life,” you may already know that ginger is known as the universal remedy. Bowden reiterates ginger’s ability to stave off nausea and vomiting, and adds that since ginger doesn’t have side effects, it may be particularly of interest to pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. He lists several active ingredients, including shogaol and zingerone, which are anti-inflammatory and could be used by those suffering from arthritis or fibromyalgia. He cites a study suggesting that gingerols may inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells. Other studies show that ginger has positive effects on the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system, pain, and fever. 
     In mice and other animal studies, ginger was shown to lower cholesterol, slow the development of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque build-up), boost the immune system, slow the growth of tumors, and work as an antimicrobial and antiviral agent. Ginger can also improve circulation for those with perpetually cold hands and feet. However, precautions should be taken by those who take prescription medications that thin the blood, such as Coumadin or aspirin, since the effects will be amplified by ginger. Ginger also increases bile acid secretion, which is great for those with Fatty Liver Disease, but not so good for people with gallstones or gallbladder disease. An increase in bile helps the body process and absorb fats, which is necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, D, and K. 
Ginger in the greenhouse
     The most exciting article I read about ginger cited a recent study that showed 6-shogaol (a compound found in dried or cooked ginger) is 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy drugs at destroying cancer stem cells! The study was done on breast cancer stem cells, but the research suggests it could be used for any cancer. What is a cancer stem cell? It is the “mother” cell that regenerates to produce new cancer cells, forming tumors and offshoots. Chemotherapy does not kill off these cells, even at very high doses. Chemo also does not differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells, which is why it typically makes the patient feel sicker in the short term. Killing cancer stem cells is very important for the long-term fight of any patient against cancer. Doctors may be able to remove cancerous cells and tumors, but unless they kill off the stem cells, cancer may return in the future. For more information on this study, and a link to the study itself, visit:
     I used to eat ginger a few times a week, but now I think I’m going to try to incorporate it into my meals or drinks every day. With its distinct flavor and potent anti-cancer compounds, ginger can’t be beat!

Beliveau, Richard, and Denis Gingras. Foods to Fight Cancer. 2007. 
Bowden, Jonny, PhD, CNS. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. 2007.
Ji, Sayer. “Ginger: 10,000 times stronger than Chemo in Cancer Research Model”. [Green Med Info], Oct. 19, 2015. 
Servan-Schreiber, David. Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life. 2009. 
Zhou Y, Li Y, Zhou T, Zheng J, Li S, Li H-B. March 10, 2016. Dietary Natural Products for Prevention and Treatment of Liver Cancer. Nutrients. 8(3): 156.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wow, What a Year!

Some of our wonderful crew helping out during Strawberry Days
By Farmer Richard

     We’ve had a roller coaster of challenging weather, but have had mostly successful crops despite the bumps along the road. Good management and good crew have been the key to this year, but there’s only so much you can do when you get the unavoidable 100 year flood! The third of its kind in 8 years!...hmmm. It did help us make the final decision to not farm one of those flood prone farms next year!
     The last couple weeks have been beautiful fall weather! We finished most of our harvest and had plenty of time to plant our 2017 garlic crop. We put a nice layer of mulch on it and are praying for a good crop for next year. We’ve also finished planting our sunchoke and horseradish crops for next year as well as applied compost and planted a rye cover crop on all available acres. Our crew spent quite a bit of time over the last month cleaning up most of the driftwood and rocks from flooded fields. We are ready for spring! We’ve completed all of these fall tasks earlier than usual, so we have also had extra time to clear trees out of the river and cut fallen trees.
     We also have been able to work in the woods! We have 325 acres of woods that have not seen much attention for 50 years until recently. We have a forester working on a management plan for us. He has been walking all our woods, cataloging tree species, designing a network of access roads, and recommending work to be done. It is enormous! The forester has described our woods as typical for most Wisconsin woods, representing 150 years of poor management and over-grazing with livestock. The best trees were removed by a logging company 40-50 years ago and the poor, crooked trees were left to capture the sunlight and dominate. We have many of those old trees, yet many good trees as well. Despite the fact that we have had offers from logging companies to come in and log some trees, we are well aware of their intentions to only take the good ones which will still leave us with a woods full of poor, crooked trees. Their price usually sounds good, but still would never cover the taxes that we have paid and will continue to pay on the woodlands. So we have chosen to decline their offers and take on management of our woods ourselves, which will also help support local jobs and local sales.
Bottle Stopper Top in Cherry Wood
     We have a small bulldozer and a strong desire to connect with our woods. Most woods are moderate to very steep slopes, difficult to walk, hunt, ski or enjoy. So this fall, the last few weeks of mostly warm fall weather, the leaves turning color and then dropping with rain and wind, I have been blessed to spend many hours on our little 80 hp New Holland bulldozer making roads through our woods. Roads that are very challenging to make, requiring a carefully chosen path flagged with yellow ribbons, sometimes weaving a bit to avoid big trees, but having a beginning and an end point. What a fine way to get to know your woods! Admiring the towering old oaks, walnuts, hickory and cherry trees and identifying the smaller trees to make the right decision about what stays and what goes, all the time looking for burls on cherry trees that would make nice bottle stopper tops. Most of our logging energy has gone into salvaging ash trees that have recently been killed by the Emerald ash borer. Ash is a beautiful hard wood. Anyone thinking about a new floor?  Once the logs are sawed, we will have approximately 15,000 board feet of lumber! We could provide you with a beautiful ready to install floor!
     Ah, working in the woods is such a joy. The fall colors, the few remaining birds. Even with the bulldozer running, I saw a beautiful buck deer slowly working his way through the trees below me…and that rabbit that was hiding under the parked bulldozer after lunch was quite the surprise! We love our beautiful woods, and I’ve dreamed about building access roads through it for many years. For the first time we have a road that runs from one end of our farm to the other allowing us an easy-to-walk path to stroll on, enjoying the peace and beauty of our valley and woods. Andrea and I took a little Sunday stroll a few weeks ago, what a fun escape!
     We’ve taken care to immediately seed fescue and clover grass as soon as we finished a section of the road and the fall leaves provided a beautiful mulch. We aren’t doing this just for us, it’s for you too! We hope you will consider a trip to the farm and enjoy hiking or skiing the roads on our farm as well!