Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Changes in the Marketplace: Where Do We Fit?
By Farmer Richard de Wilde

Many of you will have heard by now that Amazon has bid $13.7 billion to buy Whole Foods Market (WFM).  Within the industry and news in general, this deal has put quite the focus on the future of food buying and many are speculating about how this will change the face of grocery retail, specifically related to perishables.  Only time will tell just what is in store for consumers and producers like us.  Some of you may be wondering why we are even writing about this business deal?  Well, Harmony Valley Farm has been growing produce for WFM stores in the Midwest region for over 25 years.  We have a long and mutually beneficial relationship with them, so we are concerned about the impact this buy out will have on our farm. 

WFM purchases large quantities of selected vegetables we agree to grow for them based on preseason commitments and negotiated pricing.  They have had remarkable follow through and they stay true to their commitments throughout the season.  They are reliable, consistent, and they pick-up at our farm twice per week.  The trucks that deliver product from the distribution center outside of Chicago to their stores in the Twin Cities are mostly empty on their return trip, so they stop and pick up produce at our farm and other regional farms as a back haul.  Their consistent volume purchases have allowed us to obtain efficiencies of production we do not have with small volume orders.  If we have a large amount of a crop available in excess of commitments and we need help finding a home for it, they have stepped up to the plate and helped us out so product doesn’t go to waste.  Our CSA members do benefit, unknowingly, from these efficiencies.  For example some crops, such as celeriac, would be very inefficient for us to produce for only a few CSA boxes and a few pounds for farmer’s market and local wholesale accounts.  We are able to plant a larger quantity that will meet our commitments to WFM and leave plenty to supply our CSA boxes and smaller volumes for other accounts.

WFM has eleven regional buying centers across the country.  This allows them to buy and offer local foods in any given region!  That is considered a very inefficient system by the mega players.  If Amazon chooses to establish a national buying center to replace the regional centers, we may not be able to compete with the mega-farms.  If that’s the way things go, what will happen to the local products?  Will anyone ask where things are coming from or how they are being produced?  

One of the strategies we’ve chosen to employ on our farm is building diversified markets.  We grow vegetables for wholesale distributors, retail outlets, restaurants, etc.  A small percentage of what we grow is for our farmer’s market customers.  Of course, we also grow crops for you, our CSA members.  Over the past few years we’ve shared with you our concerns about the trend in declining CSA membership, both within our own membership as well as CSAs across the country.  When we saw our CSA shares trending down, we were able to increase our sales in other parts of our business.  WFM was our largest account to respond to this shift and our sales to them increased significantly, allowing us to maintain our production and keep our business stable.  WFM is not the largest player in the produce ring, but they have been a stable revenue source for our farm for many years!  Yes, we do wonder, will that change with this buy out?  At this point, honestly we don’t know.  What generally happens with similar buy outs, involving big players in a competitive market, is workers and suppliers get squeezed to lower costs and increase profits.  We are not willing to squeeze our good employees and/or compromise the integrity of our business to accommodate a corporate buy out!  Of the many articles circulating in the news, little is being said about the impact this buy out may have on the many mid-sized organic farms WFM has nurtured for so many years. 

Our farm has been doing fine and, despite significant crop losses last fall due to weather, we are back in the game this year.  But we certainly realize the game is changing and knew this even before Amazon’s buy out of WFM.  This situation actually brings a conversation to the forefront that has been brewing for years.  What is the future of food buying?  What do consumers want, and how will these needs and wants be met?  In the case of the WFM buy out, just what will WFM customers get out of this? Maybe they will benefit from a more convenient shopping experience.  They can walk-in with a list, place their order and the groceries will be packed while the customer enjoys lunch at the deli.  Or better yet, order on-line and have your groceries delivered to your door!  What do consumers value and what will they vote for with their food purchases?  Folks, please realize your food choices as consumers directly impact the future of our farm and our food system as a whole.   Ultimately, our future and the future of our food industry is in your hands.  

Back in February, we had the opportunity to meet with most of the produce buyers we do business with, including one I have been working with for over 40 years.  This guy not only knows the ins and outs of the wholesale produce world, but he also desires to do the right thing and does his part through his purchasing to build connections with growers and pay a fair price for the produce he’s sourcing.  In the course of our conversation we discussed some of the elements of the “darker” side of the produce world.  He made a comment that whenever you see a low price in produce, you have to assume that at some point along the supply chain, someone was exploited.  But is that something anyone considers when they just got “a good deal?”  I don’t want to focus on the negative side of the produce industry, rather I’d like to reinforce the idea that there are many models of producing food.  The demand for organic food in the marketplace continues to grow, and along with it the supply must also grow.  In many ways, this is a good thing regardless of the size of the farm or company producing food.  Any land that is managed by certified organic standards is land that is not being treated with harmful chemicals, planted to genetically modified crops, etc.  However, please realize that an organic certificate does not encompass all of the aspects related to producing food in a way that is beneficial for communities, local economies, the environment, workers involved in food production and more.  Yes, these are all factors that play into the bottom line.  Again it is up to the customer to decide what kind of agriculture and distribution systems we want to build and support. 

We know first-hand there is a benefit to forming a connection with those who produce your food.  We appreciate transparency in our own food both as eaters as well as producers!  We place great value on delivering fresh, nutrient dense food that tastes good, but there are so many other parts to this story.  Will convenience and low prices supersede the value and recognition needed to address and care for these other issues?  What about worker welfare, building a healthy ecosystem, supporting pollinator populations, building a strong food safety program, providing a place for your children to learn about and experience first-hand where their food comes from.  Aren’t these things also important? 

We have lost CSA and farmers’ market customers over the past few years for a variety of reasons.  We are confident that we are the best growers in the Midwest and are always striving to make improvements so we can do what we do, just better!  Will this be enough to stay in the game, or will the industrial food system win?  In future newsletters this year, we will go into more detail about some of these issues including the following:
  • Do consumers value local production?  Do they want to know and develop trust with the growers producing their food? 
  • Is their transparency between the producer and the consumer?  For example, is it clear how they pay and treat workers?
  • How important is it to be certified organic, with verification by an independent third party?
  • Will we have to do door-to-door delivery to keep our customers?
  • Where does freshness and nutrition of local produce come into play?  Does it matter?
  • Is it important for consumers to connect with local producers and have an opportunity to actually visit the farm, camp, tour, learn, let kids eat vegetables straight from the field?  This is a unique attribute Amazon probably can’t offer!
  • Is anyone concerned about conservation of water, birds, bats and bees?  WFM tried to include that in a complicated evaluation process for producers to help guide their purchases and support growers who go above and beyond to support some of these other aspects of agriculture.  We scored the “best” rating in their system, but will this rating mean anything once Amazon enters into the picture? 
We welcome your thoughts and would like you to be part of this ongoing conversation as we examine our place and the place of other local producers in the “future of food” that meets your needs and desires.

For another take by a food pioneer we respect and admire greatly, read:

A Box Deconstructed- 6/29/2017

Cooking with This Week’s Box!

“Great cooking is about being inspired by the simple things around you — fresh markets, various spices. It doesn’t necessarily have to look fancy.” – G. Garvin

Despite the fact that summer made its official entrance last week, it has been a bit on the chilly side!  I thought we’d get hit with a wave of cucumbers and zucchini for this week’s box, but these crops need heat to produce and it just hasn’t been warm enough.  So, we’ll set aside all the cucumber recipes I’ve been looking forward to and we’ll focus on some other delicious recipes this week!

This is our last week for salad mix until we resume planting in the fall.  With the pretty little beets in your box this week, I think a beet salad is in order.  Here’s a recipe for a Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts.  The bunches of beets this week include a variety of colors.  If you’d like to keep the color in each variety, cook them separately or roast them.  If you cook the golden and Chioggia beets with the red ones, they’ll all turn red.  This is a great salad to serve alongside the Pizza with Spring Onions and Fennel recipe featured in this week’s newsletter.  You could even chop up some of the fennel fronds and add it to the salad if you like.  Otherwise, save the fronds to make Blended Lemonade with Ginger and Fennel!  

Make sure you save the greens from your beets!  Beet greens are packed with nutrition and can be added to a green smoothie in the morning, lightly sautéed or eaten raw.  Beets and Swiss chard are in the same family and you can actually use these two greens interchangeably.  If you combine the beet greens and the bunch of Swiss chard in this week’s box, you can make this Chard Gratin recipe featured at Food52. If you’d like to turn this into a main dish, add a layer of cooked cannellini beans on the bottom of the gratin. 

I’m feeling like stir-fry this week.  Several weeks ago I was reminded about this recipe for Pork & Kohlrabi Stir-Fry that I created for our June 2013 newsletter. If you make extra rice to serve with the stir-fry, you can use the leftovers to make this recipe for Fried Rice with Ham, Egg and Scallions. This recipe was highlighted by one of our CSA members who shared it with our Facebook group. This recipe calls for frozen peas, but you can certainly use the sugar snap peas in this week’s box instead!  You should still have some sugar snap peas remaining for another use, unless you are like me and eat half the bag raw as a snack!  Sugar snap peas actually make a handy afternoon snack for adults and kids alike.

And last but not least, lets find a good use for the baby arugula.  In this week’s fruit share newsletter we mentioned a recipe for Grape, Avocado and Arugula Salad.  If this doesn’t intrigue you there is also a recipe for Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon & Olive Oil featured on the same blog.  Either salad would go nicely with a lightly breaded chicken breast or pork chop--and a glass of white wine for dinner. 

Ok, that’s a wrap.  I’ll see you back next week for more delicious eating out of the box!—Chef Andrea


Featured Vegetable:  Fennel

Fennel is a unique vegetable easily identified by its feathery tops and distinct aroma.  It has the flavor of anise, or mild licorice, which some people love and others are still learning to like.  If you are in the latter group, please keep an open mind and read on.  Nearly all of the fennel plant is edible and is comprised of three main parts.  The white bulb at the base of the plant is the most commonly used part.  The soft, fine, feathery green portion extending off the stalks is called “fronds.” The fronds are also edible and can be used more as an herb, seasoning or garnish to add a bit of flavor to soups, salads, etc.  The stalks are sometimes too fibrous to eat, however they have a lot of flavor and can be used to make vegetable stock or a soothing tea.   

Fennel has a wide variety of uses and may be found in recipes from a variety of culinary backgrounds.  It’s often used in Italian cuisine, can be found in classical French food, but also finds its way into cuisine from different parts of Asia.  I recently came across a recipe for Indian Spiced Fennel Pickles that I’m anxious to try.  Fennel may be used in gratins, cream soups, seafood dishes, simple salads and antipasto platters.  It pairs well with a whole host of other foods including lemons, oranges, apples, honey, white wine, olives, olive oil, beets, carrots, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, fish, seafood, pork, cured meats, white beans, cream, Parmesan cheese, feta cheese, cucumbers, dill and parsley. 

Fennel should be stored in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in plastic. When you are ready to use it, you may need to peel off the outer layer of the bulb to wash away dirt that may be between the outermost layers.  The outer layer is still usable after it is washed.  Cut the bulb in half and make a V-shaped cut into the core at the base of the fennel bulb.  Remove most of the core, then slice thinly or cut as desired. The bulb is crisp, sweet and can be eaten raw or cooked.  If you enjoy the fresh anise flavor of fennel, you will likely enjoy eating fennel in salads and other raw or lightly cooked preparations.  One important thing to remember is to slice fennel as thinly as you can.  It makes for a more balanced eating experience. 

If you are in the group of people who just really don’t care for the flavor of licorice and are hesitant to embrace this vegetable, I’d encourage you to incorporate fennel into a cooked preparation.  When sautéed, roasted or otherwise cooked, the oils in fennel that give it the distinct flavor volatilize which lessens the intensity of the flavor and develops the natural sugars.  The Pasta with Roasted Fennel Tomato Sauce featured this week may be a dish you’ll enjoy.  There are also two other recipes we’ve featured in previous newsletters that have received the seal of approval from other CSA members who were hesitant to try fennel.  However, they tried these recipes and actually really enjoyed them!  The two recipes I’m referring to are Caramelized Fennel & Beet Pizza featured in our June 2016 newsletter and Pasta with Golden Fennel from our July 2013 newsletter. 

Fennel is a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins C & A.  The volatile oil that gives it the distinct flavor and aroma is called anethole.  It has been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent some cancers.  As an added bonus, it is also a natural digestive and breath freshener!

Pasta with Roasted Fennel Tomato Sauce
Yield:  4 servings

2 fennel bulbs, cored and sliced thinly
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
½ tsp chili flakes
 2 Tbsp whole fennel seeds
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 can (14 oz) whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
½ cups shredded Parmesan
1 pound short pasta

1.     Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Combine the fennel, onion, garlic, oil, chili flakes, fennel seeds, salt,  and pepper in a roasting dish and roast for 15 minutes, tossing once or twice during cooking.
2.     In the meantime, bring a pot of salty water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente.  Reserve  some pasta cooking water.
3.     After 15 minutes of roasting, stir in the crushed tomatoes, combining well.  Roast 5 to 10 minutes more, until the fennel is tender and starting to brown.
4.     Drain the pasta and toss with the roasted vegetables and Parmesan, adding some pasta cooking  water if necessary until the sauce is loosened and coats the pasta.  Serve immediately.

This recipe & photos were featured at and commented on by Blake Royer.  He introduces the recipe with the following commentary: “Due to unhappy experiences with licorice at Grandmother’s as a child, I’ve long been an anisephobic eater.  ….for a long time, even foods that vaguely tasted of the stuff (like tarragon and fennel) sent me running.  That all changed when I tasted roasted fennel.  It’s remarkable stuff.”


Pizza with Spring Onions and Fennel
Yield:  1 12" Pizza
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (scallions or sweet onions)
Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 ¼ pounds trimmed fennel bulbs (2-3 each depending upon size), cored and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp minced fennel fronds
½ recipe whole wheat pizza dough*

1.     Preheat the oven to 450°F, preferably with a baking stone in it.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet, and add the onion and about ½ tsp salt.  Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about five minutes.  Add the fennel and garlic, and stir together.  Cook, stirring often, until the fennel begins to soften, about five minutes.  Turn the heat to low, cover and cook gently, stirring often, until the fennel is very tender and sweet and just beginning to color, about 15 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in the chopped fennel fronds, and remove from the heat.
2.     Roll or press out the pizza dough and line a 12 to 14 inch pan.  Brush the pizza crust with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle on the Parmesan.  Spread the fennel mixture over the crust in an even layer.  Place on top of the pizza stone, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges of the crust are brown and the topping is beginning to brown.  Remove from the heat.  Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

* This recipe was created by Martha Rose Shulman and was borrowed from  The whole wheat pizza dough recipe referenced above may be found at  It’s part of another pizza recipe by Martha Rose Shulman.  Search for “Pizza with Green Garlic, Potato and Herbs” and you’ll find the dough recipe.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Box Deconstructed- 6/22/2017

Cooking with This Week’s Box!

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”  -François de La Rochefoucauld

Welcome to summer…and all the delicious vegetables it brings with it!  As we start cooking from this week’s box, how about making a cake to celebrate the first day of summer this week?  Cake, with vegetables?  Yes—Zucchini Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! You can make this cake and still have plenty of zucchini left to make Hummus and Grilled Zucchini Pizzas.  There are so many things you can do with zucchini, so don’t let them intimidate you this summer.  Rather, put them to use and find interesting ways to use and enjoy them throughout the summer!!

In this week’s newsletter, we’ve included two kohlrabi recipes from Andrea Bemis.  I don’t usually highlight multiple recipes from one source in the same newsletter, but Andrea Bemis knows kohlrabi and these are both good recipes!  You have enough kohlrabi this week to make both BLK Sandwiches for two (bacon, lettuce and kohlrabi) as well as Kohlrabi and Chickpea Salad. If you don’t care for either of these recipes, visit Andrea’s blog, Dishing Up the Dirt where you will find more interesting recipes in her collection utilizing kohlrabi.  Andrea Bemis is not only a recipe developer, but she is also a farmer.  One thing is for sure…she knows vegetables and how to properly use and enjoy them throughout the season!

Sugar snap peas are one of my favorite vegetables, and one of my favorite dishes to make during their season is a simple dish of Sugar Snap Peas and Scallions.  This is a recipe we featured in our June newsletter back in 2008.  It calls for fresh thyme, but it’s also good with other herbs such as dill or parsley.  I like to serve this as a side dish with a variety of meals, but it goes particularly well alongside grilled or sautéed fish or roasted chicken.  I also like to make Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Mint. This is a recipe we featured in our newsletter in June 2007.  It’s a light, refreshing, simple salad to make and travels well.  Take a larger portion of this to enjoy as a main item in your pack-and-go lunch or serve it as a side dish at dinner.

We’re excited to finally have fresh beets!  Notice how beautiful the greens are this week…and don’t forget to use them!  Fresh, green top beets are like two vegetables in one.  It would be a shame to throw away the greens when you could put them to use in so many different ways.  This week, I’m going to use the green top beets to make this interesting Beet Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto.  The pizza crust will turn pink, which will make for an interesting and eye catching pizza!

This is our last week of head lettuces until we harvest our fall plantings.  My mom and grandma used to make a simple creamy dressing to drizzle over fresh leaf lettuce from the garden.  It’s very similar to this recipe for Lettuce with Cream DressingThis is a simple and delicious salad to make with just a few ingredients including the head lettuce and scallions in this week’s box! 

I’ll reserve the baby kale mix and the kohlrabi tops this week for breakfast.  Incorporate these greens into a frittata to eat for Sunday brunch and then enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day, along with a green salad.  Here’s a recipe for Frittata withGreens to guide you. Adding greens to your breakfast is a great way to start your day and increase your daily vegetable consumption. 

Salad Mix will weave its way in and out of meals throughout the week.  If you need a quick snack, meal or side dish, it takes just a moment to put some salad mix in a bowl, toss it with a dressing or vinaigrette and you’re done.  If you have a little more time, you could add olives, other chopped vegetables, diced cooked chicken, nuts, seeds, etc.  The point is…keep it quick, keep it simple and enjoy the convenience!  Visit The Kitchn to find a few simple vinaigrette recipes.  Whip up a jar of one of these and keep it in the refrigerator next to the bag of salad mix!    

That does it for this week’s box.  Looking ahead to next week, I’ll give you a little sneak preview of a few things that might make their way into the box.  Richard brought the cutest little cucumber in from the field earlier this week.  They should be ready to start picking next week!  We’re also keeping our eye on the fennel and broccoli.  Both of those items should be ready soon as well.  Have a great week and welcome to summer! —Chef Andrea 

Featured Vegetable:  Kohlrabi

The name for kohlrabi is derived from “khol” meaning stem or cabbage and “rabi” meaning turnip.  While it is in the cabbage family and resembles a turnip, it grows differently than both.  Many people mistake kohlrabi for being a root vegetable that grows under the ground, but it is actually an enlarged stem that grows above the soil level.  Its stems and leaves shoot up from the bulbous part to give it, as many describe, the appearance of a space ship. 
We grow both green and purple kohlrabi, which are no different from each other once they are peeled.  Kohlrabi is seeded in the greenhouse in early March and transplanted to the field as early as possible in April, along with other vegetables in the same family of cole crops including broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.  Kohlrabi is reliably the first of this family of vegetables to be ready, so it has earned its “niche” in seasonal eating while we wait for broccoli and cauliflower to make heads. 
The fibrous peel should be removed from the bulb prior to eating.  You can do this easily by cutting the kohlrabi into halves or quarters and then peeling away the outer skin with a paring knife.  The flesh is dense and crisp, yet tender and sweet with a hint of a mild cabbage flavor.  The leaves on kohlrabi are edible as well, so don’t just discard them.  They have the texture and characteristics of collard greens, so you could use them in any recipe calling for collards.  They are also good eaten raw.  Just make sure you slice them thinly and toss them with an acidic vinaigrette to soften the leaves.  To store kohlrabi, cut the stems and leaves off.  Store both leaves and the bulbs in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  The leaves will keep for about 1 week, and the bulbs will last up to several weeks if stored properly.
Kohlrabi can be prepared in many different ways, both raw and cooked.  The simplest way to eat it is to peel it and munch on slices plain or with just a touch of salt.  It can also be shredded and used in slaws with a variety of dressings or sliced and added to sandwiches or salads.  Just this week we enjoyed a creamy kohlrabi slaw for dinner when Richard’s mother and brother joined us for a visit.  This is reliably Richard’s favorite way to eat kohlrabi and every year as he puts kohlrabi on the kitchen counter he asks, “Can we have creamy kohlrabi slaw?” 
I always think of kohlrabi as an old-world European vegetable, which it is, but don’t forget that kohlrabi is also eaten in other parts of the world such as China and India.  You can find some interesting ways to prepare kohlrabi in stir-fries and curries if you look to these parts of the world for recipe ideas.  In this week’s newsletter we’ve included two recipes from Andrea Bemis, a recipe developer and farmer who lives in Oregon.  She has more recipes including kohlrabi on her blog, Dishing up the Dirt.  There are also some interesting recipes at  Hopefully you’ll find a recipe that sparks your interest this week as you find ways to use this interesting vegetable! 
Kohlrabi & Chickpea Salad
Yield:  4 servings

2 medium-sized kohlrabies, about 1 ¼ pounds
1 ¼ cups cooked chickpeas (rinsed and drained, if from a can)
¾ cup full-fat plain yogurt
2 ½ Tbsp minced dill
2 ½ Tbsp minced parsley
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 ½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp honey
2 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
A few healthy pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
½ cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained

¼ tsp sumac (optional)
1.      Trim the leaves and stems from the kohlrabies and use a sharp knife to peel the bulbs.  Cut them into 1/4 to ½ inch cubes and place them in a large mixing bowl.  Add the chickpeas and set the mixture aside.
2.       In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the yogurt, dill, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, honey, oil, salt, and pepper.  Taste test and adjust seasonings as needed. 
3.       Pour the dressing into the bowl with the kohlrabi and chickpeas.  Mix until well combined.  Add in the toasted sunflower seeds and raisins. 
4.       Sprinkle with sumac and serve.


What is Sumac?  
Sumac is a common Middle Eastern spice and is one of the main ingredients in the spice blend za’atar.  It has a tangy, lemony flavor.  I like it because it isn’t as tart as lemon juice and it adds a lovely finish to a variety of dishes, from scrambled eggs to roasted veggies and even hummus.  It can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores, spice shops, and online.  

This recipe was borrowed from Andrea Bemis’s book, DishingUp The Dirt.
BLK  (Bacon, Lettuce & Kohlrabi) Sandwich
Yield:  2 servings
Cashew Herb Spread
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
2 ½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 ½ Tbsp minced parsley
2 ½ Tbsp minced basil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 slices of good quality bread
6 slices of good quality bacon (may substitute a vegetarian alternative “bacon”)
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
1 small head of lettuce, washed and individual leaves separated
Flakey salt and fresh ground pepper

1.       Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place all the ingredients for the spread in a high speed blender– along with 1/3 cup of water and whirl away until completely smooth and creamy, adding more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency–it should be smooth and spreadable. Taste test and adjust flavors as necessary.
2.       Fry your bacon in a large cast iron skillet or frying pan until fully cooked and crispy. Drain on paper- towel lined plates. Pour out half of the bacon fat (save for another use) and return the pan to medium­-high heat. Add the sliced kohlrabi in a single layer and cook in the bacon fat until crisp tender and lightly browned on both sides, about 1­2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel lined plates.

3.       Toast your bread in a toaster oven, outdoor grill, or under the broiler until golden brown and crisp.
4.       To assemble the sandwiches spread a tablespoon or two of the spread over each slice of bread. Layer with the bacon, kohlrabi and lettuce. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and enjoy.

This recipe is featured on Andrea Bemis’s blog, DishingUp the Dirt, where she shares this recipe as well as other tasty ones featuring kohlrabi and other season vegetables!  

Strawberry Day 2017…What a Fun Day!

 By Farmers Richard & Andrea

Last Sunday we hosted our 24th annual Strawberry Day event at the farm. While this day is sometimes a scorcher, we were pleased to have a very pleasant day for the party. With just a little rain overnight and a few clouds passing through, we made it through the day with just a few sprinkles of rain. The cloud cover and temperatures in the 70’s was the perfect backdrop for comfortable strawberry picking. We had an estimated 120-130 members in attendance. One member referred to our visitors as members of our “fan club.” Our “fan club” included people ranging in age from the very little ones riding in carriers with their moms to seasoned veterans returning to the farm for another visit to check in on us and make sure we still know what we’re doing!  

We started off the event with our annual potluck. We enjoy seeing our vegetables return to the farm in various forms. Jars of fermented vegetables and salsas preserved from last year’s bounty, pasta tossed with garlic scape pesto garnished with sugar snap peas and baby white turnips, and strawberry-rhubarb lemonade were just a few of the foods that made their way to this year’s potluck. We also enjoyed a delicious and refreshing batch of Strawberry Basil Kombucha made with our strawberries and basil by NessAlla. Of course a farm party isn’t complete without Iced Maple Latte made with cold brew coffee from Kickapoo coffee!

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature
After the potluck, we loaded up the harvest wagons and made our way to the fields to check out some crops.  We enjoy taking members to the fields every year and feel that it makes your CSA experience so much more personal and meaningful when you can see for yourselves what it takes to grow and care for your vegetables.  Field tours have also proven to be a very meaningful and formative experience for children who visit the farm, and this year was no different.  On our first stop, Richard took a group over to check out the onions.  He showed them how to pull the purple scallions, clean them, and then of course you have to eat them!  This year’s purple scallions are pretty pungent, but that didn’t deter some of the kids and adults alike to try eating them raw right there in the field.  Richard was afraid the hot onions might leave a negative impression on one young member, but quite the contrary.  She did acknowledge they were hot, but described it as a “good hot.”  Not the kind of heat you get from hot salsa, but rather a healthy kind of hot.  She didn’t even fall victim to onion crying!  On the other side of the field, Andrea showed a group of members how to pick basil and rainbow chard.  Everyone commented about how fresh the basil smelled when it was picked right there in the field!  A few people who had never tasted fresh basil were able to pick some and get their first taste right there in the field.  Next to the basil we found the rainbow chard.  There were a few children and adults who were not familiar with this vegetable, so we found some big leaves to pick and sample.  Everyone who tried it agreed that it was pretty tasty.  What a sight to see children munching on a chard leaf in the field!  Awesome!

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The next stop on our tour was the potato field.  One member made an observation when we were in the field that when Farmer Richard picks up a carrot fork and starts walking, everyone follows in anticipation of what he might find!  We wanted to stop at this field so we could dig some potato plants and check the progress.  First we had to identify the early variety, Red Norland.  Once we found that variety in the field we looked for plants with blossoms and hopefully some cracking on the ground around the plant which would indicate potatoes swelling and growing underneath.  We dug a few plants, and did find some potatoes, but they were tiny!  We did make the assessment that we need to give them a few more weeks before we start harvesting them, but we observed great potential on the plants we took a look at!  There were as many as 10 potatoes forming on one of the plants. With a few more weeks to grow, we should get pretty good yields on our harvest.  As we walked back to the wagons we took a look at the winter squash crop which looks pretty nice.  At this point we paused to take a vote as to where to go next and the consensus from the group was to move on to STRAWBERRIES!  

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As we approached the field, we could smell the scent of the berries wafting our way.  Even though we were at the tail end of the season, there were still nice berries in the field.  It just took a little more time and patience to find them, but we didn’t have the hot sun beating down on our backs so everyone just settled into picking and took their time.  There was plenty of sampling in the field, but no one declared themselves too hungry for strawberry ice cream!  There were over 200 pounds of strawberries picked on Sunday.  We didn’t weigh any children or adults before and after picking, so this is just an estimate of the berries picked and eaten in the field as well as those that were taken home.  

When the wagons returned to the farm, we all enjoyed a bowl of strawberry ice cream.  This is a highlight of every Strawberry Day as this is one-of-a kind ice cream made for us by Castle Rock Organic Dairy using our very own strawberries in a higher ratio than normal.  It was described as the “best ice cream ever” and many people commented about how creamy it was….as they ate a second serving!

Over the course of the day we enjoyed our conversations with members, both those we have known for years as well as new members visiting the farm for the first time!  We watched children playing together throughout the day.  Some used their imaginations to pretend the wagon was their pirate ship and they showed us handfuls of their “gold,” which we usually just call gravel.  We had some runners in the group too.  When they got off the wagons they started at one end of the field and ran the entire length of the field and back!  What energy!  It must be all the organic vegetables they are eating!  It’s wonderful to see children feeling free to run, play, experience and enjoy their day on the farm.  

We are grateful to everyone who took the time to come and spend the day with us.  We appreciate the opportunity to visit with you, show you our farm, and get to know you more personally.  Your faces and stories stay with us and we think of you throughout the year as we work.  We would also like to thank our crew members who volunteered to help us set up, clean up, assist in the strawberry field, drive the tractors, etc.  We couldn’t do this all by ourselves and we appreciate their willingness to participate in making this a fun and memorable day for everyone.

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If you weren’t able to make it to the farm for Strawberry Day, we hope you’ll consider joining us for the Harvest Party in the fall.  We’ll have field tours, pumpkin picking, live music, games and another delicious potluck!