Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
[ Member listing ]

Incredible sweeet corn this week, could use some rain

Greetings shareholders,

This week, we'll have potatoes, onions, garlic, Incredible sweet corn, beets, beans, eggplant, bell peppers, chard, kale, basil, dill, fennel, and a little bit of okra.  Sadly, this variety of garlic, Chesnock Red, is also small.  Last year's drought really kicked the garlic in the teeth and we're seeing the consequences now.  Unfortunately, we now seem to be headed in the same direction this year.  We need some rain!!!

The Incredible corn is very very nice.  I believe we will have plenty of it, so I imagine I will have some for sale by the end of the week.  Keep an eye on the farm Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/abbehillsfarm , to find out when it will be available.  This would be the time to put some corn in the freezer.

Bell peppers are starting to size up nicely so expect to have them every week from now on.  I saw five red slicer tomatoes when I took my walkaround last night, so we are getting closer.  We are able to irrigate the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, some of the beans, and all of the fall crops.  While it is a TON of work, and I hate doing it, I'm glad we have the infrastructure to make irrigation happen.  It will make it more likely that we'll have something for you to eat each week this fall.  But kale, collards, okra, and chard aren't set up for irrigation so we just have to hope for the best for those crops.  Actually, the heat this week will be a pretty good thing for crop development (we're still about three weeks behind on most crops) but would be even better with a good soaking.

We're planting the fall greens this week; lettuce, cabbage, chois, mustards, turnips, and radishes.  Only 45 days until the first frost!

We had a fun time at the wedding in Wyoming this weekend, and my crew did a great job while I was gone.  I got to see what a real drought looks like, too.  Kind of glad I'm able to do what I do here in green Iowa.

See you this week,
Laura

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raffle tickets, potatoes, onions, beef news

Greetings shareholders,

This week, we should have potatoes, onions, garlic, dill and fennel, beets, kale and collards, chard, cabbage, and a few zukes and cukes that I've been able to scare up from the neighbors.  I know it's not a very long list and there's nothing new here.  Sorry.  The spring crops have bit the dust and the summer crops are just taking their time.  So this is the week to clean out your frig, cook all the veggies that have been getting away from you, and dream about what you're going to do with sweet corn, eggplants, and carrots next week.  Peppers and more beans aren't too far behind.  Tomatoes probably the week after that. 

The little rain this morning is going to be hugely helpful.  Looks like we got about .4 inch.  Last week, we planted LOTS of fall crops like beets, carrots, beans, radishes.   Now we won't have to start irrigating today.

We'll give you a different kind of onion this week, a light yellow one that is famously sweet and famously short lived.  They look silly but taste fabulous.  Don't try to keep them for more than a week or so.  They won't make it.

I've still got SE Linn Community Center raffle tickets for sale and would be happy if you would buy them.  The drawing is this Saturday, so you are running out of chances to get in on the big prizes AND the big opportunity to support our community.

We had a great open house last night with 81 people in attendance.  Good questions, good weather, and good food.  Of course, you can visit the garden any time, but I think the next organized chance will be Sunday, September 8.

The final ten weeks of our CSA season starts next week.   Those of you who signed up for the second half, please put pickup on your calendar.  If you don't remember what night you chose, zap me a note and I'll remind you.

Below this newsletter, I've attached a note with information about beef.  Dan's relatives are cleaning out his meat lockers and are giving you all first chance to get the last of his wonderful beef. 

Remember to look for the latest news from the farm at our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/abbehillsfarm .

See you this week,
Laura

 


Dear Abbe Hills CSA members,

My name is Jonathan Specht, and I'm the nephew of Dan Specht, a longtime friend of Abbe Hills and  supplier of grass-fed beef to members. As you probably know by now, my uncle Dan was killed in a farm accident a few weeks ago. Dan was a strong believer in agriculture that was in harmony with nature, and he devoted his life to supporting conservation, through both his farming and through his leadership in a number of organizations. His legacy lives on in the land he helped to preserve, the cattle he raised on it, and the beef from his cattle.


There is still a large amount of my uncle's beef (in mixed 20 pound boxes, as he delivered before). I will be taking over orders for and delivery of Dan's beef. I am planning to come to the Abbe Hills CSA pickup on Thursday, August 8th, to drop off orders.

As my uncle Dan stated to members in June:


Bundles are priced at $6.00/lb. , and hamburger at $5.50. Bundles are approximately 1/16th of a beef, but do not contain organ meats. Every box contains 3 pks. steaks, 2 minute steaks, 2 roasts, stew meat (no bones), boiling beef (some bones), and at least 4 lbs. of hamburger. You can also pre-order hamburger. I will also bring some extra hamburger to sell, first come, first served.


Please email me at jspecht09@gmail.com to place your orders. The first five previous customers of Dan's to place an order will get a free cooler with their meat delivery.


Thank you very much,

Jonathan

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field day Aug 4, good rain last week

Greetings shareholders,
 
This week, we'll have red and yellow potatoes, garlic, white onions, cabbage, the last broccoli, green beans, fennel, dill, chard, kale and collards.   We'll also have whatever squash and cucumbers I can scrape together just before we put the plants out of their misery later this week.  It won't be pretty.  I'm sorry that we haven't had better luck with the things in the cucumber family so far.  Stupid cucumber beetles have just completely cleaned us.  Over and over and over.
 
Pretty soon, like the next two weeks, expect eggplant, sweet corn, green peppers, carrots, and basil.  The 2" of rain last week really helped get all those deep summer crops moving in the right direction.  (Now for a little heat!)  The nice rain also made it possible to do field work without choking ourselves to death on dust, so this week will be a big week for planting the fall crops.  Today, we start with green beans, carrots, beets, and turnips.
 
The garlic we are giving you is quite puny.  This is result of the drought stress.  The "seed" for this year's crop was grown last year.  One problem last year in the beginning of the drought was a very unusual garlic disease brought here by aphids blown up from Texas on the warm winds of March.  So all last spring, the garlic looked a little sick, but good enough.  We harvested it in July and picked our healthiest, biggest, prettiest garlics and planted their cloves in October into very dry soil for this year's crop.  They got plenty of rain this spring, maybe too much.  But they never really looked very robust, and now we know that all the drought and disease stress from last year is showing in this year's crop.  The kind we have been giving you is Musik, one of our favorites.  Perhaps the next varieties we dig will be a little nicer.  Either way, we save the best heads for seed for next year's crop and hope for the best.
 
The farm open house is this upcoming Sunday, August 4, 4:00 until 7:00.  It is being co-hosted by the Iowa Learning Farm and Practical Farmers of Iowa.  I hope you can come.  Our state urban conservation specialist will be here to talk about strategies urban and suburban homeowners can do to improve our water quality and to answer your questions.  We'll take a farm tour, walk around the gardens, visit and eat a little at the end.  There will be a hayrack for those who need a ride.  Iowa Learning Farm is bringing The Conservation Station, a cool interactive display that the kids will enjoy.  It's kind of a big deal!  Everybody is welcome and the event is free.
 
Remember to get your raffle tickets to support the SE Linn Community Center.   We can't run the place without your support.
 
See you this week, 
Laura
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Send the rain our way. Raffle tickets for SE Linn Community Center

Greetings shareholders,
 
This week, we should have broccoli, cabbage, onions, dill, chard, kale and collards, summer squash, green beans, potatoes, and garlic.  We'll also try to get a few more beets out of the ground for you.   The first sweet corn has tassled so I supposed it will be ready to eat in about three weeks - later than everybody else and probably smaller ears - but amazingly yummy.
 
We need rain.  The harvests the last seven weeks have been over-the-top-abundant.  Perfect temperatures and plenty of rain will do that for you, if you can get the crops planted, which we were able to do quite well this spring.  But now the summer crops have used up most of the moisture that was stored in the upper layer of soil and they are ready for a big old drink.  I expect we will be yanked back to more realistic size harvests starting this week.  We are irrigating tomatoes, peppers, winter squash, melons, and cantaloupes, but most of the other crops are on their own.
 
It's so dry, I can't get the disk in the ground and I don't want any of my workers to run the tiller because it is dangerously dusty.  We won't be planting anything until we get at least a little rain to settle the dust and soften up the surface.  The poor hens have been stuck in the same pasture for the last two weeks - the ground is so hard we can't pull out the fenceposts to move them!  And we can't get the garlic out of the ground - keep bending the forks!  (Seems a little too much like last year.)  So, wash your car, hang out your laundry, don't mow your grass, whatever you have to do to get some rain moving in our direction.
 
Some/most of the summer squash this week will come from my friends at Local Harvest CSA near Solon.  They have too much so they are sharing with us.  Seems like all 100 billion cucumber beetles in the world came here and left everybody else alone.
 
I've got raffle tickets for Southeast Linn Community Center for sale.  Lots of great prizes, but the best part is that you get to help us support our community center, which provides food, coats, school supplies, and lots of other things to children, families, and seniors in the Mt. Vernon and Lisbon school districts.  Money from the raffle sales is used for the basic stuff - light bills, staff salaries (very puny, by the way), and building upkeep.  Raffle tickets are $1 each, but you should really just make yourself feel really good and buy them 20 at a time!
 
See you this week,
Laura

 
 

summer vegetables - potatoes and onions. bugs in the cucumbers

Greetings shareholders,
 
This week, we'll have broccoli, cabbage, fresh white onions, cilantro and dill weed, chard, kale and collards, summer squash, green beans, new red potatoes, and garlic.  Next week should be about the same, although the broccoli will be less.  It is summer, after all.
 
I'm discouraged that we're having very bad luck with the crops in the cucumber family.  They are sick, dying, ugly, and very poor yielding.  The summer squash should be burying us right now, but instead, about 3 plants per day are dropping dead for no apparent reason and 30% of the fruits we get are rotten.  Cucumbers barely exist.  Winter squash are still alive but at risk, I believe. 
 
I think it all has something to do with the 10 million cucumber beetles that attacked the plants back when we transplanted them in June.  We treated several times using the most gentle organic treatments first but eventually after 10 days, pulling out the big guns.  Still we barely made a dent in the number of bugs.  Now they have been joined by their evil friends, the stink bugs, and I think the two of them are either eating the roots or transmitting disease in several different plantings of cucurbits and there's about nothing we can do about it. 
 
I am reluctant to do any more insecticide treatments, even though they are organic products, because I don't want to leave any residues on the fruits, but more importantly, I don't want to do anything that might hurt the bees that live here on the farm.  Anything that kills stink bugs and cucumber beetles will also kill bees.  So, the plan is to plant more seeds this week and hope that by the time our 4th and 5th planting of squash and cucumbers is ready to pick, the bugs will have done their business and moved on.  We will be keeping an eye on the winter squash and treating them as needed, but they are still several weeks away from making flowers that will attract bees or fruits that we would eat.
 
Like the onions, the garlic this week will be fresh.  You might want to keep it in the frig.
 
The potatoes are VERY fresh and they have very very tender skin.  They are not washed becuase we don't want to ding up the skin any more than absolutely necessary to get them out of the ground and into your hands.  Wash them off, don't scrub, and eat the skin on these early potatoes.  It is delicious.  Boiled, the browned in a little butter or oil, they are fantastic. 
 
I still have lots of freezer broccoli in the cooler, $1 per pound.  Looks funny, would be great in the winter.
 
Remember to check out Facebook to keep up with the latest farm info during the week. 
 
See you this week,
Laura

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we're getting a lot of rain today

Greetings shareholders,
This week, we'll have a few more onions, radishes, bok chois, red and green lettuce, Swiss chard, cilantro, Chinese cabbage, kale and collards, kohlrabi, and garlic scapes.  Chard will come from the hoophouse this week, but after this, it will all be from the gardens.  We're hoping the leafy greens like lettuce and Asian greens will last through next week, but heat and humidity are tough on them.  They grow fast, get tall, develop more flavors, and make flowers when they think summer is here.  It seems like that might be NOW!
We're going to be kind of stingy with the onions for a while, letting them get bigger before we dig too many.  Our onion plants come from Texas. This year, they were pulled on April 1, put in  boxes and shipped to Iowa, where they had to sit around for nearly four weeks before we were able to get the fields ready and get them planted.  You might remember, there was still snow on the ground on April 1!  So, they didn't do too well.  In fact, we have only about 20% of the fall storage crop.  So, we'll stretch out the white summer onions as long as possible and do the best we can in the fall. 
Monday people, it is pouring rain as I write this, and there is a possibility that it might continue all day.  My crew can't work if there is lightening, it's very slow getting around on sloppy mud, everything will have to be washed, the heat is going to build up quickly if/when the rain stops (ruins the produce quickly), and I don't like having you here for pickup if there are severe weather warnings.  All leading up to a very tough day.  Please check your email several times today for confirmation that we will start pickup at 4:30.  There is a possibility that we might have to put off the Monday pickup until Tuesday evening.  Never done that before, but today might be the day we try it.  I'll keep you posted by email and on Facebook.
Stay high and dry today,
Laura
 
 

garlic scapes, carrots, cilantro, more leaves

Greetings shareholders,

This week, we'll have lettuce, bok chois, garlic scapes, little onions, two kinds of radishes, cilantro, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, and a handful each of sugar snap peas and carrots.  The cilantro and carrots were planted several weeks ago in the hoophouse; everything else is from the garden.

Garlic scapes are the flower bud and stem that grow out of the center of each garlic plant.  We pull them out to force the garlic plant to put more of it's energy into making bulb, rather than flowers.  What we used to throw on the ground, we now know is a wonderful spring delicacy that can be stir fried, roasted, or eaten raw.  The scapes aren't very big this year, which I think means that the garlic won't be very big.  Likely due to the drought last fall and winter when the garlics were beginning their growth.

We're looking forward to the sugar snaps.  These are the kind of peas where you eat the whole thing, even the pod.  There will be a few this week and maybe a few more next week.  I'm quite surprised that we are having them at all; they were planted four weeks later than they should have been, but they must have liked the conditions, because they look fine now.  But they mature quickly, so enjoy them quickly.

Thursday people, please note on your calendar that we will have regular vegetable pickup on July 4th.  Can't really stop things from growing just because it is a holiday.  If it's going to be a huge problem to get here between 4:30 and 7:00, please let me know on July 2nd or 3rd (not today!  I won't remember) and we'll work something out.

Below is a note from Dan Specht, our grassfed beef guy.  Dan is a longtime friend from McGregor who is one of the best graziers in Iowa.  The beef he grows is a real treat.  Please contact him directly if you'd like to get more information or to order some.

Hi Folks,

It's been a crazy year weather-wise in my part of the world, with a zombie winter that wouldn't end, followed by a rain filled spring that just wouldn't dry out. My crop farming neighbors have had a hard time finishing spring planting, but once the grass started growing, it has been a great year for grazing.

I'm going to make a double delivery on Mon., June 24, with my friend Jack Knight helping out. Anyone interested in buying my grass fed beef 20 lb. bundles or hamburger should place an order to my e-mail address danspech@neitel.net  .

Bundles are priced at $6.00/lb. , and hamburger at $5.50. Bundles are approximately 1/16th of a beef, but do not contain organ meats. Every box contains 3 pks. steaks, 2 minute steaks, 2 roasts, stew meat (no bones), boiling beef (some bones), and at least 4 lbs. of hamburger. You can also pre-order hamburger. I will also bring some extra hamburger to sell, first come, first served.

Looking forward to seeing you all...  
Dan Specht
563-516-1007 cell

We had a great market on Saturday in Cedar Rapids.  Sold out of nearly everything and took the balance to the food pantry where it went out to the public that afternoon.  Thanks to all of you who told your friends about us and who stopped by to visit.  I really appreciate your support.

Remember that you can keep up-to-date with farm events and progress by checking us out at https://www.facebook.com/abbehillsfarm.  It's painless to look.

See you this week,
Laura

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mostly leves this week, all delicious

Greeting shareholders,

This week, we'll have lettuce, Asian greens including bok chois, yukina, and a few Chinese cabbage, and radishes.  I'd hoped to have a bit more crunch for you to balance out the leaves, but the crunchy things are just a little slower.  Expect kohlrabi and cilantro next week.

You can see photos of some of this week's vegetables on the farm Facebook page, along with a few ideas for preparing them.  If you need more ideas, you can always ask Google for some recipe suggestions.  If you are Facebook-resistant, like I have been, don't worry about checking out the farm page.  You can look at the photos and read the comments without signing up to be a member yourself.  I try to post two or three times per week, and that's where I'll put last minute information if there is anything extra you need to know on pickup days.

The rain is sure making things grow.  WOW.  So not like last year.  Even though we can't get in the field much, my workers are keeping up with the weeds pretty well and we have been able to plant most of what we planned, even if we are are month or six weeks behind schedule.  But this week, we MUST get the soil prepared, lay black plastic, mulch, and plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and winter squash.  No more delays.  It's time to get them in if we hope to harvest anything before frost.  So, hope for a few dry days.

Good news. Charlotte got a new oven.  THERE WILL BE BREAD THIS WEEK!!!  Please call or send her a note directly if you'd like to place an order.  513-659-0694.  I'm sure she'll be signing you up for shares very soon, and she expects to be here every Monday and Friday to sell her wonderful bread. 

Parking went well last week.  Please remember that we have a one-way driveway.  I saw a couple of cars going out the in.

If you know somebody who still wants to become a shareholder, have them zap me a note.  We've got plenty of share still available. 

Some of you are getting this newsletter twice, and some of you might expect to be off the list by now.  Sorry, I had trouble getting all my lists updated last week, so I'm sending to everybody just to be sure.  Hope to have it sorted out sometime this week.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

See you this week, 4:30 until 7:00. 

Laura

 
 

we got some rain today, but it's cold!!!

Greetings shareholders,

Even though it's going to be dreary, we'll have a little market here at the farm tomorrow, Saturday, May 4, 10:00 until noon.  I've got lots of lettuce and radishes, smaller quantities of spinach and eggs.  We'll set up a table somewhere near the big shed.  Just remember to keep your car on the gravel driveway!  It's going to be soft everywhere else.

If you want eggs or produce during the week, just zap me a note to make sure I'm around.  I've usually got some of everything on hand in the frig in my garage.  Or shop at the farmers at the Mt. Vernon Farmers Market, 4:00 until 6:00 everything Thursday, at Memorial Park downtown.

The rain has been a good thing.  We planted thousands of small leafy things and onions the first three days this week, and they were literally dying for a drink.  The heat and relentless 72-hours of wind early in the week were tough.  So, we're happy for a little rain, although the cold's not so great!

Thank you to so many of you who have signed up for the CSA this season.  I really appreciate your support.  Still need to register?  Here's the form.  If you have a friend at work or church or a relative or neighbor who has been talking about trying CSA, I sure wish you would encourage them to join Abbe Hills.  We work hard to grow great food that is good for you, produced in a way that is environmentally responsible by fairly paid workers.  If you know someone, or if you would like to join the CSA but can't really afford it, please let me know.  We have scholarship money available I am happy to help anybody who needs a little boost.  Everybody should be able to eat good food.

In response to your financial commitment to me and the farm, one of the principles to which I am commited is operating transparently so that you can know how and where and by whom your food is grown.  Not all CSAs have this philosophy.  If there is something you want to know about how we do things and I haven't explained it to your satisfaction, please ask me again.  You are welcome to come look around any time - although you might have to work if you hang around here too long.  I want Abbe Hills Farm to be a green, diverse, welcoming place where adults and kids can learn, eat, and develop community.

I'm still trying to get good at Facebook, although it is a challenge.  I'm trying to remember to carry the camera with me so I can show you more of the day-to-day goings on here.   Sounds simple enough, but it turns out, you can drive a tractor over a camera quite easily.  And you can do it to more than one camera!  We are on Facebook at Abbe Hills Farm.

See you soon,
Laura

www.abbehills.com

 
 

market at the farm this Saturday, April 27

Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills Farm,

There is no farmers market this week, but we've got nice things so we're going to have a little market here instead.  10:00 until noon.  Use the farm driveway.  We'll have lots of lettuce, eggs, some spinach, arugula, and radishes.   And many kittens that need to be held.  Sadly, Charlotte hasn't yet solved her oven problem, so there won't be any bread.  But soon, very soon, she'll be making bread for us again.

We had about 12 inches of rain this month.  That's great, but really slowed us down.  I'm in the field every waking minute now.  The soil surface is drying, especially today in the wind, so we can get in to do the primary tillage and make the seedbeds.  Then we plant.  Onions, peas, and potatoes are my big projects right now, plus the seeding of hay and cover crops over the rest of the farm.  And killing the current alfalfa in the places where we'll plant field corn and sweet corn in the next couple of weeks.  And pretty soon, transplanting thousands of little plants waiting to get in the ground.  It's busy.

The scholarship account is well funded right now.  If you are hesitating about joining the CSA because of financial worries, please let me know how I can help.  Bad things happen - and they are usually expensive - but you still need good food.  Especially when bad things happen, you need good food!  Thank you to all of you who have contributed so generously to the fund.  Your donation is going to make a difference for somebody.

Here is the registration form for this season's CSA.

Hope to see you Saturday,
Laura

 
 

lots of rain, Dan's bringing beef

Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills Farm CSA,

Market this week is at the Mt. Vernon Community Center at the east end of downtown, 11:00 until 1:00.  Charlotte isn’t able to make it, but I’ll be there will bells on – and with lots of very nice lettuce, plus some arugula and spinach, and eggs.

Sadly for me, this is the last market of the winter.  The regular Mt Vernon Farmers’ Market starts on Thursday, May 2, 4:00 until 6:00 at the park on the west end of downtown.  Of course, the hoophouse is finally full of lovely greens now that the market is ending!  I’ll be in the field (hopefully) and won’t be able to make it to market in the afternoons, so you’re going to have to come to me to get your crunch.

I have to talk about the weather.  It’s awful.  We received 5.25” of rain last week.  The first 3” soaked in completely.  Perfect.   The next 2.25”, not so much.   Pile on about 6” so far this week, and we’ve got a problem.  Then there is the cold.  And wind.  And clouds.  Not such a great spring so far.  Although the subsoil moisture is being replenished, which is a relief.  And the pond and wetland are full to the brim, so that kind of water will actually recharge the aquifer, which also makes me feel better.

My best guess is that we will need about 5 days of sun, warm, and wind to dry out the soil enough to do field preparation.  After that, if it continues to be dry, we commence planting.  I’ve got over 2000 lbs of seed potatoes and 25,000 onion plants ready to go.  Plus thousands of little plants in the germination house and hoophouse that will soon be ready for transplanting.  We’re going to be BUSY when the good weather gets here.

One good thing - I think this might be the year of broccoli. I accidentally started too much in the germination house, which might be a good thing for you.  Of course, I’m not making any promises until I actually see you walking out of here with broccoli sticking out of your bag.  But it looks good so far.

There is grassfed BEEF.  Here is what Dan wrote: 

 I'm excited to be able to deliver 20 lb. boxes of mixed beef cuts to Susan Jutz's CSA delivery site in SE Cedar Rapids on Earth Day, Ap. 22. Thanks to the help from Edgewood Locker, we've been able to divvy up my harvested beef into "snow flake" boxes. (No two boxes are identical, but I try to make them all equivalent.) All boxes have 3 packages of steaks; 2 roasts; minute steaks; stew meat, (no bones); boiling beef, (contains some small bones); and at least 4 lbs. of hamburger. No organ meats. Some boxes may also contain a small package of soup bones or short ribs. The boxes are priced at $120 per box. Place orders by replying to danspech@neitel.net , or 563-516-1007 by noon on Sunday April 21.  Hamburger is also available, priced at $5.50/lb., while supplies last. Liver, heart, and tongue are available at $2.50/lb, and soup bones at $3/lb.

And finally, if you want to learn to burn prairies, there is a free program (and I think there is going to be smoke) tomorrow, Saturday, April 20, 10:00 to 2:00 at the Goose Pond Natural Area near Center Point, sponsored by Linn County and the roadside people.  Please call Mary today at 377-5960 (x3) to register. 

You can join the CSA any time by sending me your registration and a little money. 

Hope to see you at market tomorrow,
Laura

 


 
 

Lettuce!

Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills Farm,
 
There is no market this weekend.  Next Saturday, April 20, the market will be in Mt. Vernon. 
 
Even though there is no market this weekend, I have things to sell, including eggs, tulips, and the long-awaited lettuce!  Give me about two hours after I send this message and I'll have the lettuce cut, bagged, and ready to go.  It's too stinking cold and muddy to be tromping around the farm yard, so everything will be in the frig in my garage.  If the sun comes out tomorrow and some of the mud dries up, I'll move things down to the shed.  You'll be able to tell - if the big doors are open - stop there first to pick up your eggs, flowers, and salad fixings from the Pepsi cooler.
 
There's a lot going on on April 20, the next market day and also the Saturday before Earth Day, including the granddaddy of local Earth Day events, EcoFest in Cedar Rapids.   It's going to be a fun place to take the kids (after you've been to market in Mt. Vernon, of course).  While I'm on the subject, here's a great website you might like to check out to keep yourself posted on all kinds of food and environmental events and conversations, called HomegrownIowan.com .  It's the best resource out there for to stay on top of what's going on in the Cedar Rapids / Iowa City area.
 
Remember that you can join the CSA any time.  Learn the details and get the registration form at the farm website, www.abbehills.com .
 
See you soon,
Laura

 
 

Remember the eggs, no market for 2 weeks

Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills,

Sadly, there is no market tomorrow, March 23, or next Saturday, March 30.  The next market for which I will send you a reminder will be the Saturday after Easter, April 6, in Mt. Vernon.  Hopefully, I'll be harvesting lettuce by then.  Nice sunny days help the things grow in the hoophouse, even if the outside air remains cold.

Even though there is no market, there are still lots of eggs.  You can come by my house and get them nearly any time.  Just zap me a note to make sure that I'll be home when you want to come.  Or take your chances - I'm usually home or the garage door is unlocked.  The eggs are in a frig in the garage for the winter.

We're still trying to figure out Facebook.  The farm does have a working webpage with many of the start-up problems solved.  Please check it out - Abbe Hills Farm is the name.  There is a recent post linking to an article about our grocery shopping habits that you might "like" to read.  Hopefully, by the time our garden season begins, I'll be able to use Facebook to send you articles, photos, late breaking news about what's going on at the farm.

You know I love growing cabbage; we start planting it in the germination house next Monday.  Lots of it.  And you love eating it - for a while - but it just keeps coming.  File these twelve great cabbage recipes somewhere so you know what to do when coleslaw is no longer working for you.

And finally, what to do for your trees to get them through the drought?  Here is some guidance from Trees Forever

Remember that you can join the 2013 CSA season any time.  The registration form and all the information about the upcoming season is on the website, http://www.abbehills.com/ .

Until later,
Laura

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There's water in the pond!

Greetings shareholders and farm friends,
 
Market tomorrow, Saturday, March 16, is at the Community Center at the east end of downtown Mt. Vernon, 11:00 until 1:00.  I'll have eggs; Charlotte will have bread.  It's possible a few early hoophouse vegetables might be there, too - from the smart farmers - not me.
 
It's been slow to get the hoophouse crops to grow here.  Starting in December, I planted spinach and lettuce mostly, plus radishes, chard, raab, and arugula.  But because it has been so cold, there have been many, many days when I should have been watering that I couldn't get the hoses thawed enough to get the water to run through them.  I think we're on a warming trend so it should be easy from now on.  Probably I'll be griping about how busy I am in two weeks when the frost is completely out and the oats are screaming to be seeded.
 
VERY GOOD NEWS!!!!  The pond by my house is full (as is the wetland by the road).  That means we can irrigate this summer.  The water level in the pond dropped five feet !!!!! last summer, and it was difficult to imagine how I'd be able to manage the irrigation in 2013.  The rain last weekend was highly destructive to fields that had been fall tilled or are without cover crops, and the runoff was enormous, but the good news is that the rain and fairly clean runoff from this farm mostly went into one of the water retention structures.  The forecast between now and the end of June is for continued drought, but I think we'll be OK.  Maybe not fabulous, but OK.
 
One family has already joined the 2013 CSA.  If you want to join, the registration form is on the website, http://www.abbehills.com/.  I had hoped to introduce you to the farm's FaceBook page today, but FaceBook and I are having a tussle, and right now, FaceBook is winning.  You might try looking to see if we have a site; it will be called "Abbe Hills Farm", and if you find it, please be my friend.  I think FaceBook will take me more seriously if it appears that I know people.  When my technology expert gets the page up and running correctly, that will be the place where I will post photos, upcoming events, news on short notice.  Hopefully it will give you a better idea of what happens around here, and will help you explain to your friends why they should become shareholders in Abbe Hills Farm CSA.
 
Hope to see you tomorrow,
Laura

 
 

Eggs in the garage. Looking for 4 matching 15" tires.

Greeting shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills,

Market tomorrow morning is 9:00 until 11:00 in the Community Center in lovely downtown Springville.  I'll bring eggs and Charlotte will bring bread.  There will also be plenty of bakery, a few crafts, honey, some vegetables, fresh dry beans and ground cornmeal.

Several times this winter I've seen cars pull into the farm driveway (I can't believe they haven't got stuck) and people go into the big shed.  Either it is robbers, or else some of you are going in there looking for eggs and having bad luck. The eggs are in a refrigerator in my garage in the winter.  MUCH easier to manage when there's not 450 feet of snowdrift between me and them.  If you want eggs, just call or zap me a note to make sure I know you are coming, and I'll either be here, or leave the garage unlocked so you can get them yourselves.  And if it is robbers, I hope they get stuck next time.

Dan Specht has three beef quarters to sell this spring.  If you are interested, contact him directly.  His email is above.  He'll also have more 20 lb boxes when we start the CSA in June.  We are trying to work out a plan where he'll make beef deliveries here on a regular schedule.

I'm looking for a half-good or better set of four 15" tires, 225 or 235 if possible.  I need to take the trailer to Wisconsin to pick up the seed potatoes in about 3 weeks, and it's not very roadworthy in its current condition - four tires of 4 different sizes, whatever I could hustle up at the time I needed one.  So, if you're getting new four new tires on your big car this month and are selling or giving away the old ones, please think of me. 

Still looking for the free or cheap automatic washer to convert to a salad spinner, too.

Trees Forever is hosting a program called "TreeKeepers" for people who want to learn more about urban and suburban tree planting, care, and advocacy.  Sounds like an interesting program.  It wouldn't hurt us to have more people sticking up for the trees.  Look at the link to get the registration information.

Here's something to get you thinking:  "Human Teeth Healthier in Stone Age Than Today".  Bummer.

Hope to see you at market tomorrow,
Laura

 
 
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