There have been big things happening on the farm this spring–some good, some not so good. My mom Jane had a stroke about 3 ½ weeks ago. She just returned home last weekend after a stay in the hospital and a week of rehab at Miller-Dwan. The stroke has mainly affected her vision and spatial awareness, and we’re grateful that there wasn’t an impact on speech or any paralysis. The doctors still don’t know the cause, and think that she’s likely to recover most of her functionality with continued therapy. It’s a frustrating situation, but her spirits are high and she’s happy to be home again. My dad John was just beginning his recovery from rotator cuff surgery, so the last month has been a big adjustment for two normally active and capable people. My parents have been reducing their role slowly over the years, but it looks like we might be going cold turkey this summer which will be a big change for all of us.
On a happier note, we have a great farm crew on board this summer! We’re just waiting for one more person to show up in early June, but the other two new crew members are working out great so far. Look for more info on the crew in a few weeks. We’re excited to announce that Glen Avon Presbyterian has agreed to be our new Woodland pickup site! Other than that, we’re not planning on any significant delivery changes for this season.
We’ve definitely been on a weather roller coaster so far this year, with big swings from wet and cold followed by beautiful warmth. We got almost 3” of rain this week, so things are quite wet in the fields. Plantings are generally on schedule for a start to deliveries the week of June 12th, but we’re hoping that things dry out enough next week to get our third planting of broccoli in the ground. Meanwhile, the greenhouses are filling up and we’re getting a lot of miscellaneous projects done.
Finally, I was honored to be on the Farmer to Farmer podcast about a month ago with host Chris Blanchard, a former CSA farmer in Decorah. The episode I was on provides a good overview of the history of the Food Farm and where we’re at now. Here’s a link to the episode, or subscribe to Farmer to Farmer in iTunes if you’re interested hearing all about market vegetable farming!
2016 was a great year for growing the farm! Signup for next season has begun!
Hello Food Farmers!
Things continue to roll along nicely here at the farm, as your box this week indicates! What a variety of produce! This week we’re sending the first broccoli, cukes, and beets…yummy vegetables, and good signs of the further bounty that is to come. We continue to get ample amounts of rain which is great for growth, both of the veggies and unfortunately, the weeds. As long as the fields have a couple nice drying days in between the wet, we can get out the hoes and the cultivating tractor and knock the ever-present pressure of weeds back, albeit for a moment. This past week we got to break out the Reigi Weeder implement, a fun and sort of wild tool to use. Janaki drives the tractor while two members of the crew are seated behind on the machine. Each person has control of two spinning wheels that twist and turn through the soil, pulling weeds and kicking dirt around, while the tractor rolls down the bed. It’s an effective and fast way to get after a lot of weeds. Here’s a goofy video from another farm showing it in action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_R-fTC7uYk
As promised, we’ll be introducing the 2016 farm crew over the next couple weeks in this newsletter. They’ve been busy working their tails off but Maia and Madeline were kind enough (and are really, just all around super motivated) to write these little bits about themselves. So here they are:
Maia Killerud: Hi, my name is Maia and I am a UMD student interning at the Food Farm. I grew up raising beef cattle in Willow River, MN where I plan to continue farming after I’ve finished school. My internship at the Food Farm has given me a great opportunity to learn about a different part of the agricultural world. The amount of planning, planting, and care that goes into raising vegetables is incredible. I enjoy the camaraderie of daily work with the crew, all of who are amazingly dedicated and enthusiastic folks. The chickens and baby turkeys at the farm are fun to hang out with, too! I look forward to seeing how the season progresses and having more good times along the way. Enjoy the summer and the veggies!
Madeline Bear: Name’s Maddi Bear and this’ll be my second season at Food Farm. I balance two jobs working a couple days a week here and a few days at Positively 3rd Street Bakery. Both jobs cater healthful ingredients and for this, I am grateful. A little bit about me: I hail from Apple Valley. Since leaving suburbia, I’ve bounced around from one venture to the next. Reasons depended on what mission held fast in my mind. School in the North at Vermilion in Ely; worked on a dairy/vegetable farm out in Skowhegan, Maine. I moved to the woods and back to town just to do it all over again. All for a higher education. Along the way, all roads lead me back to the Lake, to Duluth: home. When I’m not working, I mend and sew and read and write and bike on and on and on and run through the woods like there’s no way I’d ever fall down and sometimes I do and I laugh about it. I’m excited to be a part of this world here at the Food Farm again and looking forward to the season ahead.
Hello Food Farmers!
Storms, heat, Grandma’s Marathon…summer is here! We at the farm wish you a happy summer solstice. Enjoy these beautiful bright days while they last. We certainly are.
A couple quick notes on the box: there are lots more greens this week; lettuce, greens mix, more spinach and bok choi. Along with some sweet and delicious white turnips, the first radishes are ready! A great and simple way to snack on these little red jewels is to butter a slice of nice bread, cut the radishes thin on top and sprinkle with sea salt and a crack of black pepper. Yum!
Farming in harmony with nature, while often romantic, is sometimes a difficult endeavor in reality. A couple of weeks ago we planted our winter squash for the season…Delicata and Kabocha, Buttercup and Butternut, among others. It wasn’t long before Janaki noticed the plants beginning to mysteriously disappear, vanished to the void. Disease? We asked ourselves. Nope. Must be ground squirrels. No again. Turns out, the culprit was our wily and elusive friend, the groundhog. Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks and whistlepigs, are rarely seen here on the farm but can be a heck of a pest in the back field, where the dogs don’t often roam. Janaki and John put their heads together, did some digging around, and thankfully we have lost no more plants. Groundhogs, rabbits, the mouse and the mole… we are grateful for these creatures and value the vibrancy they bring to the farm, despite their sometimes inconvenient (for us) presence.
Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be including short bios of the 2016 Food Farm crew so you can all get to know us a little better. So! To start things off, my name is Sam Karns and I’m responsible for the newsletter this season. I grew up in Minneapolis, have worked on farms in western Wisconsin for the past several years and moved north to join the Food Farm in March. I am SO grateful to be working here, surrounded by such wonderful folks on a spectacular farm. The north country is a truly inspiring place, and I’m loving biking around, running through the woods, the community of good-natured folks in and around Duluth, and the ever-present comfort of the lake. I look forward to getting to know the place better, and getting to know you as well! If you have any questions or comments about the content of these weekly writings, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate any thoughts or feedback! Thanks, and have a great week.
Week #1 – 13 June, 2016
Hello Food Farmers!
First and foremost, welcome! To our new members, it’s wonderful to have you join us; to returning members, it’s great to have you back. All of us at the farm are tremendously excited to be sharing this summer season and its bounty with you.
Despite winter’s quiet, farming in the north country is a year round endeavor. Washing and delivering the abundance in the root cellar from the previous season, field plans, seed orders, hiring, logistical and office organization, equipment repair…all of these things and much more happen when the snow is on the ground and the only green things around are the house plants. Come March, we find our hands in the soil again, when we seed the very first onions in the greenhouse. So, after many months of anticipation and hard work, the first harvest is here!
We’ve been busy both in the greenhouses and out in the field, thanks to this past week of gorgeous weather. Tomatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers, cauliflower, carrots (of course!) and tons more are all settling in the soil and ready for heat and sunshine. Things are looking great so far this spring, and what a wonder to have so much food already planted in the ground!
It is a beautiful time of year, full of life and growth, light and green. The Indian Paintbrushes are blooming, the first Monarchs have been sighted fluttering on the breeze, and the Red-Winged Blackbirds have found their way back to the cattails along the farm pond’s edge.
Thanks again for partnering with us, we look forward to the season!
We’re hosting an awesome art and music event at the farm this Saturday, the 19th, from 2-5pm called høle in the skY with Kathy McTavish and Zeitgeist New Music. The full press release and more information is available here, and here’s a brief summary:
“Saint Paul-based music group Zeitgeist and Duluth composer/cellist/environmentalist Kathy McTavish join forces March 19 for a special presentation of McTavish’s chamber work at the Food Farm in Wrenshall, Minn. Featuring electronic and acoustic music, video, and an interactive exhibition,høle in the skY will transform the Food Farm’s expansive root cellar into a pre-apocalyptic world where extinction is imminent and our ecosystem is on the verge of collapse.”
When’s the last time you saw something like that in a root cellar?
Also, we’ll be at the Local CSA Open House this Sunday the 20th from 2-5pm at Clyde Iron. Stop by and say hello if you’re in the neighborhood, drop off your renewal form if you haven’t sent it in yet, or send friends and neighbors down if they’d like to meet their future farmers before signing up.
And for those of you who keep asking, I’ve included a few Truman photos as well…
That’s all for now, time to get back to the greenhouse!
For the farm crew,