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Week 15 Newsletter

September 18, 2018

In your box:


–Bok Choy


–Head Lettuce or salad mix


–Summer squash or cucumber

–Sweet pepper

We’ve been keeping an eye on the weather as we endure a really soggy transition from summer to fall this week. After a couple more days in the 90’s over the weekend it felt like we were back in the middle of fall. But after we pick up 3 inches or more of rain this week, it looks like colder weather will be moving in for good. The rain isn’t really helpful at this point in the season, especially since the days are shorter and cooler and it won’t soak in very well. The crops have essentially grown as large as they will for the year, so getting more moisture doesn’t help them too much. It just leaves a lot of mud to follow me around!

This week we welcome back a couple of crops we haven’t seen since fall: arugula and bok choy. The arugula hasn’t been plagued by the flea beetles that left it in sorry shape this spring, and looks really good. Arugula keeps its spicy bite until frost, so enjoy the sharp flavor of it for the next couple weeks. If the flavor isn’t to your liking, you can always process it into pesto or wilt it before consuming.

Bok choy has done really well with the heat and moisture of late, and this is about as big a crop as we’ve had with it. I do have another variety ready within the next week or two, so I recommend using this as quickly as can so you have room in your fridge. I’ve included the casserole recipe that I mentioned back in the spring, especially since this has become a favorite of our family. The greens in the recipe can be varied, and since the bok choy is so large you can basically chop up the whole thing and not worry about adding the spinach or kale (arugula would also work in this recipe). There are also some good soup recipes with bok choy available online that would work well on these cooler days.

The garden is still quite full of great-looking crops for fall, so at this point it looks like we can still plan on finishing up a 19-week season. This leaves four more weeks of veggie boxes after today, and the season will wrap up the week of October 15th. We hope you enjoy the rest of the season! After that final box I’ll be sending out a survey to get your feedback on the year and look for ways to improve going forward.

A note for Thursday pick-up sites: Our final delivery would fall over the schools’ long MEA weekend, which is one of the few times all year when my schedule lines up with our kids and my wife to get away. We will be up on the North Shore as early as we can on Thursday, so my plan is to deliver your final box on Wednesday the 17th. All of your other deliveries will still be on Thursdays—it’s just week 19 that will be moved up to Wednesday. Please let me know if that doesn’t work for you. I’ll send out a couple of reminders as we get closer.

Don’t forget—we have two opportunities to visit the farm coming up in the next couple weeks. On this Saturday, the 22nd, we’ll be having a farm work day and tour starting at 3pm followed by a potluck at 5pm. Please e-mail me to confirm you can make it so that we can plan out some jobs to do. Bring footwear that can handle some mud—it looks like we’ll be pretty wet all week and there will be no shortage of puddles to jump in.

We’re also looking forward to our year-end Harvest Party the following weekend, on Sunday the 30th. We’ll get started at 3:30 with farm tours, yard games, and socializing with our community members. Around 5:30 we’ll have a potluck, so bring a table setting and a dish to pass. You’ll also want a chair and comfortable clothing. Friends of the farm who aren’t with our CSA are always welcome. Hope to see you on the farm!

Expected next week: Tomatoes, salad mix, cucumber or zucchini, arugula, celery, beets, garlic, radishes, and kale.

Week 14 Newsletter

September 11, 2018

In your box:



–Head Lettuce

–Kale, “Red Russian”

–Potatoes, “Red Gold”

–Summer squash or cucumber

–Sweet pepper

The fall harvest season has a nice nostalgic touch to it. The harvest is bountiful, the hard preparation work of the spring and summer are over, and it’s time to take stock of the season and note changes for next year. But what I’ve learned the past few years is that fall is also about forgetting.

There’s a certain amount of forgetting and ignorance that is necessary to keep going as a farmer. If I remembered what it’s like to thin beets while surrounded with a cloud of mosquitoes, I’d think twice about doing it again next year. If I had a good memory of transplanting kohlrabi well after dark with the light of a headlamp, I would realize that this job is more work than it’s worth. If I could think back to the time I spent carefully weeding the green beans only to get an absolute dud of a harvest all year, I’d be tempted to give up the farm this winter.

But the purpose of September, and the harvest season in general, is to wipe all of that reality and replace it with the sheer ecstasy of running a farm. Of walking out in the morning in a sweatshirt and basking in a pure blue sky and no humidity all day. Working into the evening without even the buzz of a mosquito. And though the work still abounds, it’s the kind of work that paintings capture and children’s books chronicle—hay wagon rides, scouring the pumpkin patch, and bringing in delicious apples.

So long as we have September, I’ll forget about all the anxiety, mud, deerflies, tractor mishaps, weeds, and crop failures of the year. And in January, when I purchase my seeds for the next growing season, it won’t be the ceaseless rain of June or the humidity of July that I’m picturing. It will be a 70 degree day in September with a brilliant sky as I head out to the field to do the work I love.

With the onset of cooler weather, there’s no doubt that fall is beginning to creep into the picture. Cucumbers and summer squash are wrapping up a great year with just a another week or so of meagre harvests, and it looks like this will be the final big week of tomatoes. Enjoy them all while they last!

This week we welcome back Fennel for its last entry in our boxes. If you don’t remember fennel from the spring, it has white stalks, green leafy fronds, and smells strongly of licorice.

The whole crop is edible, with the leafy fronds a common ingredient in soups and baked dishes, and the bulbs used for stir-fries and roasting.  The bulbs can be substituted in any recipe calling for celery.  For a good starter into the world of fennel, try it baked: cut into quarters, drizzle with olive oil, and bake until tender, about 35 min at 350°.

To store: The bulbs will last for two weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge.  The leaves will go limp, and should be wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge.

We are getting close to our open house/fall work day next week, and we’d love to have you out to the farm! We will be gathering on Saturday the 22nd at 3pm and we’ll work and visit until around 5:30, when we’ll have a potluck. Please send me an e-mail or call us if you would like to join us—we need to know how many jobs to set up and we’ll need a contact list in case we need to postpone due to poor weather. Jobs can range from easy (seated) jobs like cleaning onions to hauling compost and removing weed debris from the fields. Hope to see you at the farm! 952-353-1762 or

Note—we will also be having a harvest party the following weekend, on Sunday the 30th at 3:30. More details to come. As far as the rest of the season—I’m still optimistic we can stretch out the season to a full 19 weeks, which will wrap us up the week of October 15th. Then the snow will begin…

Expected next week: Tomatoes, head lettuce, cucumber or zucchini, sweet pepper, carrots, bok choy, sage, and celery


Braised Fennel and Potatoes

September 10, 2018



  • 1 large fennel bulb (sometimes called anise) with fronds
  • 1 large onion, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (2 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb red boiling potatoes
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 2 tablespoons, then cut off and discard stalks from bulb. Quarter bulb lengthwise and core, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  2. Cook fennel, onion, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut potatoes crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  4. Add potatoes and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to fennel mixture and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, 3 minutes. Add water and cook, covered, stirring once, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes more. Stir in fennel fronds before serving.

Week 13 Newsletter

September 4, 2018

In your box:

–Incessant rain



–Head Lettuce


–Red onion

–Summer squash


A few weeks ago President Trump unveiled a green and yellow hat bearing the slogan “MAKE OUR FARMERS GREAT AGAIN.” Let me begin by saying—it’s about time! I myself have been poor to mediocre as a human being for some time now. I can only imagine how incredible it will feel to be GREAT. And not just GREAT—but GREAT “AGAIN.” This will certainly take me back to my early days as a farmer when I plowed under an entire bed of baby carrots when I mistook which row I was in. Great like the time my first tractor caught fire and burned to the ground just moments after I jumped off and ran for my life. Great times indeed….

Unfortunately his plan for making me great doesn’t actually involve me, since I don’t grow any soybeans on our farm. His basic farm policy seems to be making everyone pay money to people who grew soybeans this year because international tariffs have made American soybeans unmarketable. So soybean farmers get $12 billion dollars, or roughly $40 from every American taxpayer (my math: 12 billion divided by 320 million people). And I confess I’m not sure whether we are paying for this now or if it is being added to our deficit, in which case I’ll get to pay them with interest in the uncertain future. Another way to think of this is that Americans can all go hide $133.93 in each of the 89.6 million acres planted to soybeans this year, so that our great farmers can go find it and not go bankrupt all in one year. So this is all very clear now—I am making myself GREAT as a farmer by giving $160 from our household to the neighbors across the street who planted soybeans that no one wants this year. I get to take the income we’ve made by growing actual food for my actual community and give it to my neighbors who drench their 80 acres of soybeans in carcinogenic chemicals to grow soybeans to feed to pigs in China, except that the Chinese pork producers no longer want American soybeans because of an ongoing trade war that has nothing to do with Chinese pigs or American soybeans in the first place. GREAT!

Handouts do not make farmers great. Pity is a poor reward for a season’s worth of labor. What is needed is an agricultural policy that values food (not ethanol), nutrition (not high-fructose corn syrup), small farms and local community (not incentivizing factory farms and huge landowners). Or better yet—just leave us alone. Drop all the subsidies and let a natural farm economy develop. We’ll see what happens to the ethanol market. We’ll see how much of our great nation is covered with corn and beans when our tax money isn’t propping them up. We’ll see what happens to the pesticide industry when farmers stop using their products because it no longer makes financial sense.

What makes farmers great? You do. You do when you support a local CSA farm. When you shop at the farmers market. When you buy tortilla chips made in Minnesota by the Whole Grain Milling Company. When you drink locally brewed beer with locally grown ingredients. When you buy as much of your food as you can from local farmers growing real food. That’s what makes farming work and what makes farmers GREAT.

Now I will stop being political and talk about the GREAT vegetables in your box this week….

All of the beets this week are yellow/orange but are usually known as “golden” beets. These have the same taste as the usual red beets, but this variety grows reliably and gets quite large! You can use them in any recipe calling for beets and just substitute them for the red ones. An added bonus is that they don’t “bleed” like red beets—these don’t stain and color everything like their red siblings which helps a lot with clean-up! I’ve included a couple recipes combining kohlrabi and beets that you’ll see below. The soup recipe is essentially a kind of borscht, but with kohlrabi taking the place of cabbage in the usual recipe. I haven’t tried this yet but I’m looking forward to trying it later this week!

I had hoped to give basil in the box today but it has rained all morning. Wet basil has a shelf life of about five minutes, so I’m holding off on giving it until next week, provided it’s in good shape by then. Thanks for your understanding—I know many of you need at least a little more basil in your life before winter sets in.

With school starting up again, I know many of you have changing schedules and routines. You are always welcome to change your delivery site if that helps out. Even changing between our delivery days (Tuesday or Thursday) is fine. For all of our sites and addresses, please visit our website at Please send me an e-mail or phone call if you would like to make any changes.

Just a couple reminders—please return your boxes! Our backup supply is running low so please bring back any extras you have around the house. Thanks!

Also: don’t forget to mark your calendar for our fall work day/open house on Saturday September 22nd and our fall harvest party on Sunday the 30th. More details to come in the following weeks.

Expected next week: Tomatoes, head lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, sweet pepper, potatoes, chard, garlic and fennel.


Autumn Slaw

September 3, 2018



  • ½ lb carrots, peeled and grated (about 3)
  • ½ lb kohlrabi or turnip (about 1 medium-large), peeled and grated
  • 1-2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, Spitzenberg or Pink Lady, quartered and cored
  • ½ lb beets, peeled and grated (about 3)
  • ¼ cup safflower or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey or agave nectar, warmed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley or celery leaves, torn


  1. Combine carrots, kohlrabi, apple and beets in a salad bowl.
  2. Whisk oils, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over vegetables; toss to coat. Add parsley leaves; toss again.

Serves 8

Beet Kohlrabi Soup

September 3, 2018


  • 4 small-medium beets peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 medium kohlrabi peeled cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 0.5 inch fresh ginger root peeled
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • salt to taste
  • Dash of lime juice to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Put beets, kohlrabi, ginger, and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until beets are fork tender.

  2. Transfer soup to a blender. Add spices and lime juice. Purée on high until creamy and smooth. Return soup back to the pot. Add more water if soup is too thick.

  3. Add olive oil and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste.

  4. Serve hot or cold topped with some chia seeds, and chopped toasted peanuts.

    Serves 4

Week 12 Newsletter

August 28, 2018

In your box:


–Cherry Tomatoes (full shares)



–Head Lettuce

–Summer squash

–Sweet onion

–Sweet pepper


This weekend brought an event I’ve been waiting for since early March—the greenhouse is now empty for the year. When I transplanted out the last head lettuce of the year between rainstorms, I finally left the greenhouse empty and my planting schedule crossed off for the year. It’s an incredible feeling, even as I start to mourn for the green abundance of the growing season. For the past six months I’ve had some seed that needs to go into the field or into potting soil in the greenhouse, each and every week. For the past four months I’ve had some seed or small plant that needs a home in the field. And now it’s all in. The garden is completely planted, and for the rest of the season I’ll have to depend on this prior work to keep us all fed and healthy for our remaining CSA boxes.

The weather is still nice and summery outside, but there’s certainly a change brewing in the garden. The days are much shorter, most of the nights are cooler, and we aren’t getting the long hot days of mid-summer to keep everything growing and producing. This is perfectly normal for this time of year, and in many ways it’s appreciated. But it does mean that cucumbers and squash are starting to slow down, tomatoes are already past their peak, cherry tomatoes are finished for the year, and other crops are close behind them on their way out.

The good news is that we’ll have some more diversity to the boxes coming in the next few weeks. In late summer it’s always a challenge to make one box different from the one before it. But with the gradual change in weather we’ll usher in some cool-season crops, starting with kohlrabi next week and fennel and bok choy soon after that. Spinach, arugula, and leaf lettuce have all had great germination and look to be in fine shape starting in late September.

This week’s box is a little more of the same that we’ve had lately. Beans continue to be my greatest frustration of the year, as I can’t figure out why they aren’t bearing anything. Many of the plants have already shed their leaves, and the rest just aren’t flowering and putting out fresh beans like they nearly always do. This has happened before, but I don’t yet recognize what makes a good bean year versus a bad one. Next week I’ll give the plants one last chance to fork over some beans, and after that they’ll be relegated to the “there’s always next year” pile.

We still have plenty of weeks of harvest still to come, but as the end approaches we do want to pass on a couple of dates for your calendar. We’ve wanted to have a CSA work day on the farm this summer, but our schedule has been hectic and we’ll have to put it off until fall. But our first event will be a day of miscellaneous work coming up on Saturday, September 22nd. We’ll get started around 3pm and have a potluck dinner around 5:30. The work will be fun for all ages—we’ll have a variety of jobs to do and some of them can involve sitting in the shade. We’ll also take some time to tour the farm and hopefully fit in a few yard games as well.

The other event we have planned is the following weekend. On Sunday, September 30th we’ll have our annual year-end potluck and harvest party. Join us for an evening of farm tours, yard games, meeting our farm community, and eating some great food. We’ll get started at 3:30pm and start the potluck at 5:30 that night.

We hope to see you out at the farm! We’d love to meet you at one or both of these events. Our farm is located at 17250 County Road 122 / New Germany. More details to come.

Expected next week: Tomatoes, beans, head lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, red onion, beets, basil and kohlrabi.