Today is the first day of March and it looks to be coming in
like a lamb. Sun with temperature in the 30s. Yea!!
Last week we planted tomatoes that are now being warmed by the warming mat and under the grow lights. These will be planted in the
hoop house around April 15th. We look forward to having some early
tomatoes this year. We also cleared snow away from the hoop house and worked to
get the soil prepared for some spinach and lettuce. Yummm…
The Farm Support Team met last week to make decisions about
the 2010 season. We are changing the language of how we refer to shares. We
will have regular and small shares. The regular share will be $325.00 for the
season and the small share will be $175.00 per season.
We are making decisions about distribution and will have more
information coming soon.
On Monday March 8, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. we will have an
informational meeting at Iowa Western Community College, 705 Walnut St.,
Atlantic, Iowa. We will be talking about the 2010 season. Please join us.
Well, this is it, my final writing for the year 2009! As I
have said in previous weeks, it seems truly incredible that time has gone by so
In looking back I remember a rocky start to the season – too
much cloudiness, too much rain and it never seemed to warm up. I remember that
the average temperature for July was 68 degrees, far cooler than most years.
Many of you wondered when the time would come that you felt you were getting
your money’s worth. I believe that time probably arrived right around the end
of June and the first of July. We have been fortunate to have a bounty that
continues to feed our stomachs and our souls.
Just because the formal CSA membership has come to an end it
doesn’t mean the produce has quit growing. The fall planted broccoli is about a
week or two away from being mature. This crop promises to be tasty and
plentiful. The raspberries are still coming on, so are the tomatoes although
both have slowed a bit. There are still oodles of potatoes to dig and the
winter squash is coming to maturity.
What this means is that if you still want fresh produce, it
is still available. I will send out an email once a week to let you know what
there is for purchasing. This will go on until frost. When the email goes out
you can let me know if there is anything you wish to have and we can arrange
for you to come to the farm to pick it up.
Several of you have come out to pick your own – that works
out great for me, no labor on my part! I have been charging $4.00 per quart for
raspberries if I pick them and $3.00 per quart if you pick them. The tomatoes
have been selling for $1.00 per pound you pick, $1.75 per pound if I pick. We
can discuss the other produce as we needed.
I hope that you have liked the white/tan raspberries in your
boxes. They are a new variety and I think they are sweeter than the reds. They
don’t hold up as well as the reds so they need to be eaten right away.
The squash you are getting this week are acorn or butternut
or kabocha. The winter squash started out well but got a powdery mildew and did
not thrive as I thought they would. Many vegetables need the hot dry weather –
something we were short of this year.
The cantaloupe has been somewhat of a disappointment. As I
have said in other newsletters, it has been hard to determine ripeness and once
they get ripe, the bugs are after them. The watermelons have been very
frustrating for me. I hope that all of you have at least had one or two that
have been perfect for you. The yellow watermelon for the most part was very
The deer have grazed the lettuce until it is too short to
share with you. I wish they had not have been so greedy. They have also eaten
the beets I planted. I am glad that we did not have the deer bothering us all
summer or the baskets would have come up very short. Guess we will have to work
on that problem next year.
Thanks to all of you for
allowing me to be your farmer this year. I do hope that you will consider
another go around next year. Already a number of you have told me you will be
members for 2010. You all should be proud that you have been consuming vast
amounts of vegetables this summer. The USDA states that we should be eating five
servings a day of fruits and vegetables a day for a healthy lifestyle. In fact The Dietary
Guidelines for Americans now recommend that Americans double the amount of fruits and
vegetables they currently eat. Doubling fruit and vegetable consumption calls
for changing behavior, which is not easy even when people are aware that it is
something they should do. Given the increase of chronic diseases among all age
groups, eating a diet rich in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is
more important than ever.
keeping a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables from our farm!
I was picking raspberries and listening to the constant buzz of the bees
surrounding me, I again thought about how lucky I am to live on a family farm
and to be able to spend my time outdoors. Raising food for people to eat is a
rewarding occupation for the most part. Of course it helps when the weather has
been near perfect. We started out a little rocky with wet and cold but I
believe you would agree with me that the bounty has been plenty over the months
There are a
number of different types of tomatoes that you are finding in your boxes. In
the August 3rd newsletter there are pictures and descriptions of the
tomatoes. Brandywine, Costuluto, German Striped, Persimmon and Black Krim have all
been rather prolific. I personally have like the taste of the Black Krim
although Larry thinks it is not acidity enough. I take a slice of tomato, a
slice of fresh mozzarella or Swiss cheese, a leaf of basil put them on a slice
of garlic bread and then under the broiler for a couple of minutes for a
delicious sandwich. I have also sliced the tomatoes on a platter, top with a
slice of fresh mozzarella and a leaf of basil and sprinkle basalmic vinegar –
tomatoes, tomatoes - I want to let you
know that if you want extra vegetables to freeze or can, please get in touch
with me. A couple of members have come out and picked their own to take home
and process. Others have had me pick produce for salsa. I have been canning
tomato juice in the evenings. It is always a chore, there is no doubt about
that, but my, in the winter when we can go down to the fruit room and bring up
canned goods, what a wonderful feeling that is. Greg Brown, an Iowa folk/blues
musician has a song called “Summer in a Jar”. What an appropriate name for
preserved produce from the garden.
peppers are the best I have ever grown. When I travel to meetings in the
winter, I am always asking CSA farmers what varieties they plant. This year the
green pepper variety Ace kept surfacing. I planted them and am very pleased. I
also planted Sunray – those that are now turning yellow. The banana peppers are
all sweet, not the hot kind and you will notice that they are now turning red.
Another variety is Apple – they have the shape of an apple and are a beautiful
red color. What fun it is to have such color on our plates! There are a few
Jalapenos, Serranos and some Cayenne. If any of you wish to have any of the hot
ones for salsa making, just let me know. I know that not too many of you are
that fond of hot peppers.
Okay, I must
confess, the zucchini got away from me. They aren't too bad, but they are
large. It is obvious that Catie and Emily were able to keep a better handle on
them than me. Hope you are up for making some zucchini bread or cake.
I am doing
my best to figure out the ripeness of the melons. The experts say you can tell
by several different methods so I am trying them all. You will be getting both
a cantaloupe and a watermelon today. This is a great time of the year for
departure of Catie and Emily, I have been taking the boxes to the Care Center;
this has given me the opportunity to visit with you and to share ideas about
utilizing the overflowing baskets of veggies and fruit. I appreciate hearing how
some of you are freezing or canning produce to use this winter in pots of soup
– the mainstay of winter suppers.
are growing bigger every day. I realize that it is quite far from Thanksgiving,
but I would like to remind you if you are interested in reserving one for your
Thanksgiving table, please get in touch with me. The feed I am feeding them
this year is organic and comes from the Madsen farm in Audubon County. These
birds are very, very local. They will be $3.00 per pound.
The wonderful manicure and pedicure I treated myself to last
week as mother of the bride has started to chip and life is getting back to “normal”.
Our family celebrated the wedding of our youngest daughter Caia to Lance
Shoffner from Colorado Springs, Colorado just a short forty eight hours ago.
The preparation has been going on for months and now everything came together
(or not) for the three o’clock ceremony in our front yard on Saturday. The
sunflowers bloomed, the mulch was laid and the lawn was freshly mown.
We were able to provide the entire menu from our farm expect
for the baked beans, the pork (that came from the Madsens twenty miles away in Audubon
County) and the cake – that came from Nadine King in Lewis. My dear friend
LaVon Eblen was in charge of the kitchen with able help from Margaret Henderson
and the support team of the Brighton 4-H Club. The reception was held at the
Marne Community Center – what a great facility for a small wedding.
The friends and family from Colorado started arriving on Thursday
and made Harrisdale Homestead their headquarters. Everyone fell in love with
Southwest Iowa and the home places of the Harris O’Brien family. Of course it
didn’t hurt that the weather was exceptionally beautiful – no rain and very
little humidity. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect time.
Most of the guests and family left on Monday morning and then
it was time for a reality check – no interns and much work to do in order to
get harvesting done for a Tuesday delivery. Hmmmm…… As I was picking beans on
Monday afternoon (there are once again Roman Flat Beans), it occurred to me
just how lucky I have been this summer to have good weather for the crops and
good help with the CSA. I already miss Catie and Emily. Those two were exceptional
help and great to have around just for the company. They are now off on their
adventures and hopefully we will hear from them occasionally.
Last week I put some cauliflower in some of your boxes. I did
this with trepidation because cauliflower is hard to grow and sometimes has a
bitter taste. I apologize to those of you who got poor tasting cauliflower. I
taste tested much of it as I harvested it but tastes differ and I may not have
the ability to taste the bitterness.
You will be getting
carrots this week once again. You probably have noticed misshapen ones. This is what I learned from the
University of Illinois Extension website -- “Forking
may result from attacks of root-knot nematodes, from stones, from deep and
close cultivation or (more frequently) from planting in a soil that was poorly
prepared. Twisting and intertwining result from seeding too thickly and inadequate
thinning of seedlings.” I believe that we planted in soil that was properly
prepared but may have had some deep and close cultivation. I appreciate having
the internet so I can find the answers to perplexing questions.
will be having lettuce, radishes and spinach for some great fall salad. It is
very apparent that the produce is on the downhill side but there is much yet to
come for the next four weeks.
This is the
final day of August and one would be hard put to say this has been a typical
summer month. As I sit here at the computer this morning the temperature
outside is 46 degrees. Brrrr….Fifty
eight is the average minimum temperature on this date. We have had over five
inches of rain for the month and it sure has made the crops flourish. My friend
Laura in eastern Iowa had over eight inches last week when we had over two.
That kind of rain we don’t need!
last week Rolling Acres Farm had the opportunity to participate in an unusual
and interesting event. Kathy Henningsen, the Wellness Coordinator for the
Atlantic School System and Mary Olnes, Cass County Wellness Director received a
small grant from the Iowa Farm to School Council to hold a farmer’s market for
the Schuler Elementary students. What an exciting hour it was in the gym!
Students were give vouchers to purchase $5.00 worth of produce from ten area
vendors. Students entered the gym, received some popcorn and ice cream and then
struck out to see what the local producers had to offer.
and I spent Wednesday afternoon preparing what we took on Thursday. In trying
to think about what would attract a grade school student to our table, we came
up with the idea of making salsa kits. We put several small tomatoes, a banana
pepper, garlic, an onion and a sprig of parsley in a zip lock bag and Kent
printed out recipe cards. We also offered raspberries in Dixie cups, carrots, and
banana and bell peppers.
believe we sold out of the salsa kits and the raspberries and had very few
carrots and peppers left?! Most vendors sold out of their produce and everyone
was quite pleased with the results. The purpose of this event was to bring kids
in touch with produce that is grown locally. There is a hope that local
producers will be able to sell their crops to the school. Farm to School is a
national movement to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables into
the school cafeteria. Building awareness about the importance of fruits and
vegetables in our diets is one way to counteract the rise in obesity and the
onset of diabetes. National statistics are indicating that adult diseases are
beginning to show up in our youth.
As a part of
this CSA, you members are a part of a national movement to bring more local and
fresh produce, meat and dairy into daily life. I have seen a statistic that
shows Iowa is around 45th or 48th in the nation with our
intake of fruits and vegetables. That clearly is not a statistic we can be
proud of. Hopefully with the growth of farmer’s markets, CSAs and produce into
local institutions, that statistic can head in a positive direction.
Krengle, a CSA member and the Dietician at the Cass County Memorial Hospital,
is doing her part to purchase fresh, local meat and produce. For several years
now Emily has been buying beef and I believe pork from local farmers. She also
purchases potatoes, broccoli, melons, cabbage and raspberries. Thanks to Emily
for her part in keeping our money local.
As we advance towards fall the sun does not come up as early
as it did so I am sitting at my desk this morning at 6:15 rather than heading
out to work in the garden. I am an early morning person and like being out when
the sun is coming up so now my routine changes somewhat while I wait for the
The cool weather has slowed things down somewhat. The
tomatoes don’t seem to be ripening as fast. The next two days are supposed to
be near ninety so that will help speed things along. This summer has been one
of the best growing seasons I can remember. The cool weather has delayed some
things but for the most part it has helped.
There is a recipe in today’s newsletter for Thyme Corn Bread.
We are at the end of the corn so we are only putting a couple of ears of corn
in the baskets today. This recipe seemed like a good one to try with this late
corn. The Harris O’Brien household will probably have it for supper tonight –
it’s Larry’s birthday so we need to make something special.
Today you will get a cabbage and some broccoli. Those are two
crops the cool weather has really helped. Usually in July and August the
brassicas (cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower) wither away in the hot weather.
Not this year!
You will also receive some melons. Some of you will get
watermelon and others cantaloupe. The cantaloupe is Ambrosia and is pretty
tasty. The watermelon is Sugar Baby and is also quite tasty. Not all of the
melons are ripening at the same time so not all of you will get the same type
of melon. We will keep track of what you are getting so you can eventually have
With the help of Catie and Emily this year we have managed to
keep most of the weeds at bay – not a small task during a wet summer. Catie
left last Thursday and is hopefully enjoying a week at the beach with her
family. When Catie came to Iowa she was hoping for sunny and warm. Much of her
time here was wet and cloudy so I am hopeful that she is experiencing sunny,
Emily will be with us for another two weeks thank goodness.
Her leaving will give me a month to continue to deliver your produce. During
that time, my reliance on Kent, Kathy and LaVon will increase substantially.
Fortunately Catie and Emily have worked hard to keep the garden producing and
our transition will not interrupt the quality and quantity of food.
Last week I planted two types of lettuce, radishes, spinach
and onions. With the moisture and coolness those crops are coming along quite
nicely so there should be some good salads for you for September. The plantings
of green beans, beets and some pak choi are growing well – you can expect those
in your baskets in the near future. There are all sorts of winter squash on the
vines as well. Varieties such as acorn, butternut, kabocha and delicate will be
ready during September.
Our household will be busy for the next two weeks with the
upcoming wedding. Caia, our youngest daughter will be coming home next Tuesday
in advance of her September 5th wedding. We have been busy creating
a warm and welcoming atmosphere for those coming to the farm on that special
day. There should be no disruption of food deliveries during this time.
This week the weather is predicted to be hot and humid.
Considering it is the first of August, I guess we are entitled to some normal
summer weather. I have like having the cooler temperatures, but some of the
crops need a little more warmth to be able to grow. I believe I have read where
this past July was the coolest on record with an average temperature of 68.2
degrees. Sure has saved on people’s air conditioning!
You will begin to get tomatoes this week. We are very proud
of the crop we have this year. The tomatoes are huge and delicious. There are
several heirloom varieties that we will be starting with. These tomatoes always
captivate my interest in that so many of them are weird shaped and in a variety
of colors. It was not that long ago that I thought a red tomato was a red
tomato. We will have a good supply so you may want to consider making salsa,
juice or freeze some. Roma tomatoes make the best salsa (and tomato sauce) in
my opinion – we will let you know when they start coming on. Perhaps you have a
favorite salsa recipe. We would love to have you share it with us. Just send it
to Kathy or me.
Our second round of sweet corn is looking very good. If all
goes well, you should have some in your baskets in the next couple of weeks.
We have been planting for the fall season but now we need
some rain. I know, I know, it wasn’t that long ago I was complaining about the
rain! We are putting irrigation on the melons and the broccoli and cabbage in
order for it to make it eventually to your tables. The current green bean crop
is diminishing and the next one will be a little while coming on. There are
lots of little Ambrosia melons and watermelons growing – in a few more weeks
they will be in your baskets.
We are gearing up for our Practical Farmer’s of Iowa Field
Day on Sunday August 16th at 4 p.m. It is our hope that you all will
come to see the farm and gaze upon the fields where your food is grown. Field
days are always a good chance to get together to talk about food and whatever
else is on people’s minds. I am hoping the raspberries will be ready but it
might be just a week too soon. There is a lot of weeding to do so we can have the
farm looking in top shape. Please come and bring a friend.
It is very hard to believe that this is the last week of
July. The weatherman said last week that the temperature has reached 90 only
once during this month. On the one hand,
that is fabulous, at least for the cool weather crops. On the other, the warm
weather loving crops continue to grow but not flourish. Rain is predicted for
the next twenty four hours so I will write this in haste in order to get out to
plant and harvest.
This week the bounty continues to expand with the addition
of leeks, eggplant and shallots. Now those are three veggies that are not
usually on ones plate! So what does one do with them? There is an incredible
recipe for Warm Potato and Green Bean Salad with Summer Savory that you will
find in the following pages. Every vegetable in that recipe can be found in
this week’s basket. I have not made it yet, but will soon. It makes my salivary
glands salivate just to think about this tasty dish.
This year I tried a common but unusually shaped vegetable –
Eight Ball Zucchini. Some of you have already received this last week. You use
it the same as a regular zucchini. This veggie has yet to get away from us –
can you imagine a bowling ball size?
Another vegetable that is new to the farm is the shallot.
Many of you use them already, I have not. I am anxious to use them in my
cooking as I have always thought of them as exotic.
The sweet corn is done for this round. The next started to tassel
last week. According to authorities, it takes 18 to 25 days after tassel to be
ready to eat. The first round of sweet corn was enough to satisfy the desire
for that first bite. The next ripe corn add
to the ambiance of summer.
This morning as I walked around the garden to decide what
will be put in the baskets today, I couldn’t help but pick a few under ripe
tomatoes. They are almost ripe, but I could resist giving you a teaser about
what is to come. The crop looks very good. Last year I was hardly able to grow
any type of tomato. This year is a different story. We have all sorts of
colors, sizes and varieties. The ones you will be getting today are the
standard Celebrity and Beefsteak. These first ones are a little small but the
ones coming have nice size to them.
As I mentioned last week – we are now getting into the “meat
and potatoes” part of the garden bounty. Sometimes gardens get off to a slow
start, this year was one of those years with the continuing cool weather. Your
patience will now pay off with loads of fresh, nutritious, healthy food. Thanks
for being a member.
Preparing and eating the vegetables you get from the farm
will help you meet the “five a day” fruits and vegetables required by USDA to
have a healthy lifestyle.