agrarian riddims, vol. 4

It’s that time of year again. It’s time for the release of this summer’s agrarian riddims compilation, a farm tradition originally inspired by Grist’s mix-tape love letter to parks. For your listening pleasure, check out previous years’ mix-tapes: Volume one, Volume two and Side C. Special thanks to all the reggae musicians celebrating food and farming, and to Tom Payne and Kid Hops for inspiration.

Big beets and big smiles, t&j

Winston McAnuff – What Man Sow  

Junior Delgado – Effort

Barry Biggs – Work All Day

Ras Muhamad feat. Naptali – Farmerman

Joseph Cotton –  Plant the Vegetables

Count Lasher’s Calypso Quintet – Water the Garden

Bascom X – Farmer Man

Gregory Isaacs – Words of the Farmer

Reya Sunshine – Sista Farmer

Erico Morris – Beautiful Garden

Loyal Flames – Working

Jah Mike – Jack a the Farmer

Yardman and Foundation Crew – Farmer Man

Lopez Walker – Jah Jah New Garden

Boris Gardiner – Elizabethan Reggae, a reggae rendition of Elizabethan Serenade, with agrarian fly-over.

Jeremy finds this one especially… suiting. Teddy Brown – Rose Garden

And, not entirely appropriate for our latitude, but Trish really likes this one… Jah 9 – Avocado

 

celebrating late-bolting lettuce

lettuce bolting and slogun, not bolting.Each year we try out a few new varieties of lettuce to see how they compare to our past favorites.  This year we are smitten with Slogun, a beautiful crisphead that has amazing bolt tolerance.  It has held in the field a good two weeks longer than the other 8 varieties we transplanted at the same time.  But not only is it still looking good, it also is one of our sweetest flavored. Slogun is definitely a variety we will plant next year, the tricky part is that we have a bed full of lettuce needing to be pulled out and replaced, except for lovely Slogun, still holding in the middle.  This will take a little finessing of our succession planting plan. (If you are in the market for good seed, we bought our Slogun seed from Adaptive Seeds, out of Oregon, who also provided us with our other new favorite, Vulcan)field hops cabbage tomatoe rowsA few quick-before-the-sun-sets photos: Renegade sunflowers in the middle of our trellised tomatoes. Freshly weeded tomatoes and basil.  Our most productive hop plant, a mystery variety that appeared at the corner of the house a few years ago.  Cabbages are heading up.summer veg August 4This week’s CSA shares include cucumbers, beets, eggplant, and fennel. The newsletter is online here with a recipe for a fennel, eggplant, garlicy pasta sauce. And for those of you who are still working on developing a love for beets, check out the super simple beet chip recipe online here. We have confidence, you’ll be kvassing soon.week 9 CSACheers! t&j

rain, rain, come and stay.

..at least for a while longer.csa week8We really enjoyed harvesting for this week’s CSA in the rain. Usually we are moving quickly, trying to keep greens cool and happy between harvest and washing before going into the walk-in cooler. The cool, wet morning allowed for coffee breaks and an opportunity to explore camera settings. And revel in golden beets.seding lettuce inside and rain on kaleAfter losing a couple rounds of lettuce successions in our toasty warm greenhouse, we’re now starting seed trays in the living room which is considerably less toasty warm.  july flowersMints, sunflowers, echinacea, and feverfew are blooming. Birds have picked over the last couple chokecherry bushes and are now eyeing up the grapes. We’ve got the front grape rows netted, but will hold off on netting the back grapes until they get closer to harvest. And LOOK! Our first slicer tomato of the season: a 2+ pound Gold Medal. We capresed our hearts out for lunch. And dinner.gold medal for the winWith help from our most competent and reliable (and hugely appreciated) farm sitters/ chicken tractor wranglers/ hen whisperers/ greenhouse tenders, we were able to take a couple days and scoot over to visit J’s grandparents in Montana. We camped out at the kitchen table and heard good stories about growing up on a small dairy farm in the mountains and working on the Milwaukee rail road. We also had a chance to catch up with some good friends in the big cities and visit Rathvinden Farm and get farm-geeky over all the beautiful and tasty things they’re growing. Good farmdog Radish enjoyed the holiday too.Big thanks happy summer feastings, t&j

 

weeding, watering, melting

greenhouse sunset lilyand lettuceIrrigating and weeding. Then irrigating some more. And weeding, always weeding. The vegetable beds are on drip irrigation, which is lovely. Everything else though, the orchard, flower beds and herbs, all require more direct attention and hose shuffling. Jeremy had a chance to attend a pasture management and grazing workshop earlier this week, you can read more about it in this week’s CSA newsletter as well as find a couple parsley-centric recipes: an eggy, cheesy chard and parsley frittata and a versatile fresh green salsa (pesto/ sauce/ dressing…) for those of you with capers and anchovies in your cupboard. onions worms seed and tomatoesOnions are bulbing and tomatoes are fruiting. The worms are making some luscious compost. The last of the grex seed is cleaned. These days it’s been early mornings, and water breaks, and what tasks can we tackle in the shade?

The race against the birds has begun for chokecherries. Tonight we loaded up off of our two earliest bushes, just over 20 lbs. Getting chokecherries into the CSA shares has been important to us ever since our first season on the farm.  And even more so after reading through Jo Robinson’s research on phytonutrients.  CSA friends, get ready – chokecherry syrup, chokecherry shrubs and gin and tonics, chokecherry sorbet.chokecherryWith the proposed re-zoning of one of Spearfish valley’s most iconic working agricultural fields, we’ve been reflecting a lot this week on the contradiction between an area-wide growing enthusiasm for a local food system and the community’s apparent lack of interest in the loss of productive, irrigated farmland. A curious disconnect, lots to think about while weeding onions and shuffling the hose between fruit trees.

-t&j

mid-July, in photos

A quick update from the farm this past week, mainly photos.

Peas are fruiting strong, fall cabbages and kohlrabi and lettuce mix are getting transplanted out, and summer fruits are looking promising.snowpeasfieldeggplantbabycabbageAfter (amid) much conversation, sketching out plans, standing around pointing, consulting the Wholesale Success book and Google (Chris Blanchard,  Atina Diffley, thoughful and experienced farmers who’ve posted tours of their vegetable wash set-ups on you-tube), we’re starting in earnest on our pack shed construction. We harvested garlic this week, a whole heaping mess load of disappointingly tiny heads. And there are pretty blooms on pert near everything.sunlightThere are a few native wildflowers getting established along the property line by the gate to the field. This week we found a couple of assassin bugs patiently lurking in the flowers, one even had her mouth full. Like crab/ flower spiders, the assassin bugs hang out on flowers and snatch prey as they come seeking nectar or pollen. In the photo below, the assassin bug on the blanket flower has its probiscus/ rostrum in a native bee.assassin bugThe little chickens are now out on pasture in our young orchard. We’ve been moving them along through the tall grass every day or two. They’ve transitioned from the brooder to the field well; they are completely jazzed for leaf hoppers.chicks on pastureSeed from our kale breeding project has been drying out on a tarp on the porch for a bit over a week. We’ve threshed and winnowed about half of this pile. A few especially helpful tools/methods employed in this process include tarps, a big trash can, KEXP’s Positive Vibrations streaming show archive, dancing, and a box fan. The seed looks beautiful. And now we know what 2.5 lbs of kale seed looks like.threshing kaleOur CSA newsletter for this past week, week 6, can be found here, as well as a recipe for herbed salmon (or mushroom, if you prefer) and chard. Additional recipes for chard are on the farm community cookbook site, here.  Happy feasting, friends!week 6 pickupBig smiles and thanks, t and j

beets, margaritas, and the KBP

Quite possibly the world’s most photogenic beets are in our CSA shares this week, mostly Chioggia, some Early Wonder Tall Top.  We have been having a hard time getting even germination with our direct seeded crops (beets, carrots, parsnips, peas).  In this beet bed we filled in gaps with a planting of lettuce. The lettuce made for excellent companion planting and a fun beet harvest/hunt, but it’s not the abundant yield of beets we were scheming for back in February. Look here for this week’s CSA newsletter, a list of what’s in the share, and a recipe for parsley chutney.beets july 7Having Trish’s mom around these past couple weeks has been great fun and lots of thoughtful conversation. We’re getting a lot of good work done – especially early morning weeding parties with hot coffee and Miss Marple (Agatha Christie books on tape). We’ve discovered that heart-racing whodunnits are fantastic for cruising through rows of parsnips and peas. Mom has not only helped us out with marathon weeding, but she’s also introduced us to a new farm tradition: margaritas while seeding fall successions. mom and margaritasThe farm stand signs have been getting dusted off and (some) repainted. Things like Gooseberries and Citron are getting painted over to read Garlic Scapes and Arugula. The original signs were painted by the Schuttlers in the 1950’s. Some of the other crops/products they grew/made/sold include sand cherries, horseradish, plums, apple cider, fat hens, rutabagas, beet greens, fresh eggs, sweet corn, pumpkins, strawberries, dill… Many thanks to our number one farm friend Kaija for helping trace letters and cut out stencils and to Mom for her steady hand and smart spelling. farmstand signsThis week we also harvested seed from our kale breeding project.  In 2012, we ordered a breeders mix from Adaptive Seeds. Since then we’ve been planting out, overwintering, and selecting seed from good looking survivors.  We’re excited to cultivate a kale that is not only especially adapted to the soils, climate, and winters of Spearfish Valley, but also tastes delicious and withstands a fair amount of weed pressure and neglect from busy farmers.kale breedingThings are all lined up, greening and blooming. Here is a view inside the field tunnel (left to right: shishitos, eggplant, beets, cucumbers, chard); trellising in the greenhouse looks like the inside of a piano; a photo of the two of us together!; and the eggplants are flowering.tunnel greenhouse j and t and eggplantAnd lastly, most importantly, some love to our parents – without your steadfast encouragement, support, and love we wouldn’t be able to do any of this. We are so very grateful for your wisdom and profound patience. And for your help. And for finding joy in our ridiculousness. We love you heaps. ann and randi beauties and the beets

a wilted salad and Sugar Anns

Eeep! We meant to get this posted on Thursday, but somehow it slipped. It(we) got lost in the weeds. Here we go. A post post, if you will.

This week’s CSA harvest is brought to you by big smiles and both moms! We’re exceptionally lucky to have you two. Here is a link to this week’s newsletter, a list of what’s in the share and some ideas on how to prepare them.csa 4 with momsA new bed is getting established behind the farm stand, we’re planting it with you-pick fresh herbs for CSA members and farm stand customers. The only thing better than cooking with fresh herbs is having the chance to prance around in the plants and cut them yourself. The line-up right now includes sage, oregano, thyme, chives, and lavender.new herb bedThe grape vines look like they will have a good crop this year. Jeremy was gifted some glass gem corn seed (a vogue heirloom flint corn) which is now knee high. And we have twelve different varieties of winter squash planted.grapescornsquash Here are some photos from the back field: Swiss chard and little leeks.cropsA friendly customer at the farm stand this past weekend picked up salad greens just for a wilted salad.  After a brief internal “are you kidding me? it’s 90 million degrees, it hasn’t rained for 3 weeks, do you realize how hard we’ve worked to not wilt these greens?! and you want to go home and wilt them?? I’m sorry, what?”,  we smiled and had to ask for details. Here’s her recommendation: cook up bacon in a skillet, pull out the cooked bacon and break this up into chunks. Add red wine vinegar and a little bit of sugar to the bacon drippings and simmer this just a bit, with chopped scallions too. Season with salt and pepper then drizzle this vinegary, bacon greasy, scallions and sugar on fresh salad greens. Decorate with bacon crumbles, toss and eat immediately. Of course! wilted salad. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Probably wouldn’t hurt to toss some scapes in to simmer with the bacon grease too…

The young chickens are now 4 weeks old and they’re all deep into their extreme spiky punkster phase; sporting Robert Smith eyeliner and an underlying Patti Smith attitude.This week’s CSA shares included the first of our season’s snap peas. We grow two varieties of snap peas, Sugar Ann and Cascadia.  The majority of the what we plant is Cascadia, a beautiful and productive snap pea bred at Oregon State University for Northwest gardeners; we find it does great here. We also grow a couple rows of Sugar Ann peas each year because they mature about ten days earlier than Cascadia and they are also delicious. Snap peas are derived from a cross between a snow pea and a shelling pea. For seed growers, off-type peas can appear during subsequent years of saving seeds.  If these off-types are not removed from the seed stock they can, over time, present a problem for growers trying to have a uniform crop.20160629_085152This year we are finding that our planting of Sugar Ann has a lot of variation.  We are getting about 3/4 snap-pea type plants, about 1/4 shelling-pea plants and a few snow-pea types.  This makes harvest take longer in order to keep them separate and it reduces our expected yield of snap peas. We start everything from seed and we are very deliberate about where we source our seed. We preferentially source open-pollinated and regionally adapted varieties grown using organic practices. If we have an incredible crop or if we have a problem or questions, we know where our seed originated and can directly communicate with our seed producers. This is an advantage over buying seed from large companies where tracing the actual seed grower may be difficult.  In the case of our Sugar Anns, we can contact the source of our seed to let them know what is happening so that the seed can undergo a rogueing and selection process making future seed lots more uniform. We’d be really surprised if the seed company hasn’t already noticed the variability and begun this process, but we will give them a call anyway.

This open-communication is what we strive for with our own customers and community at the farm. Receiving honest feedback offers us the opportunity to learn and improve as farmers. Which is (despite appearances) what we’re constantly working on.

cow shit and strawberries

The CSA shares this week include some exceptionally beautiful lettuce greens, big leaves that we think might make for awful smart lettuce wraps. In light of this, the CSA newsletter includes a recipe for lettuce wraps that we think you’ll enjoy- of course, don’t let this limit you, be creative, have fun, and bon appetit! And while you’re crunching away, here’s a guide to the lettuce varieties in your shares:csa week 3This year we have nearly twenty different varieties of lettuce planted out in the field (Jeremy has a small problem at seed ordering time, Trish abets). The CSA shares this week also include pea shoots(!) and strawberries(!!).  It is our opinion that all lawn should be replaced by strawberry plants. And peas.z dimentionThe farm z-dimension has grown this week with trellising the tomatoes. And we’ve started a biodynamic barrel compost that will be ready to use next spring. barrelcompostOver the past few years we have been learning about biodynamic agriculture, we appreciate how this philosophy aligns well with our thoughts and management goals and we’re super excited to be incorporating this into our farm and practices. After the CSA season, when we make our annual migration south for the Quivira Coalition conference, we’re also looking forward to attending the Biodynamic Association biannual conference. Here is a shot of our farmer friend’s sweet milker who has so graciously shared her manure with us:ericas cowYesterday we disturbed a cloud (bunches!) of these lovelies lurking by the hops. Lacewings are excellent predators. These ones, in particular, looked well fed.And lastly, trish spirit mustache

 

in which we geek out on bugs. again.

2nd week csaGreetings farm friends! Scape season is upon us – hope you enjoy these wily, tender treats as much as we do. This week’s CSA newsletter is here, with a recipe for garlicky bok choy, a few other recipe ideas, and notes from the farm this week. We have just a couple additional quick notes, reminders for CSA members and farm stand patrons: when you bring home your vegetables, slip things into a plastic bag(s) before storing them in your fridge. This will help keep your green things, kale, scallions, etc. crispy-fresh-delicious longer, as refrigerators are notorious dehydrators. By re-using plastic bags, this also helps us in minimizing the amount of garbage we generate, which is important to us too. And secondly, lastly, we’ve started a Bike (and walk!) to Farmstand Lottery for a fresh baked pie at the end of the season. While biking or walking to the farm may not be reasonable for many (we understand!), for those of you who do have this option, this lottery is a little incentive to leave the car parked at home.

Some photos of June in the field and greenhouse:   june veg2CW from top left: scallion successions, freshly de-bindweeded; kale and parsley intercropping; super pretty Vulcan lettuce; young Early Jersey Wakefield cabbagejune veg CW from top left: kohlrabi starting to size up; chamomile in the chicken yard; sugar snap peas setting fruits; kale.greenhouse 6 17 2016 duskThe greenhouse basil looks so tidy and the tomatoes are ready to be trellised.

Much of our time these days is spent weeding, bindweed whispering. Before, during, and after with the onions:weeding scallions compilation…as well as seeding new flats of successions and fall crops…… and coocheecooing our new little chicks. These bitty fluffy poofballs, now two weeks old, are getting their feathers on. We have a straight run, fifty each of Ameraucanas and Black Australorps to replace our aging layers. We ordered chicks this year from a local young gentleman rancher – headed into his senior year of high school – who raises several different breeds of chickens and ducks. It feels especially good to be localizing our inputs and connecting with and supporting other local, young agrarians.

jeremy and parsnipsJeremy’s distraction du jour has been last year’s parsnip row, the remnants of which have since gone to flower. Parsnips are a world class insectary, as it turns out.  We’ve been finding wasps, bees, flies, spiders, beetles, butterflies, moths, ants, true bugs. Pollinators and predators. Of all sorts. All over everything. No kidding. parsnip insectaryEncouraging diversity is a big part of our pest management plan. We practice crop rotation, and on our scale this works well for soil nutrient management, but even a slug can cross our farm in an afternoon. Instead we rely on natural predators to keep our pest populations in balance.  Also, an advantage to our small size is that we can hand-pick pests, which we do primarily for potato and bean beetles. Other pest management techniques we use are companion planting, trap cropping, and adjusting our timing and planting practices to account for specific pest insects and their life cycles – we try to direct seed our arugula and radishes before flea beetles have emerged in the spring, and again mid-summer when the next generation is pupating. We also plan for some loss by over-planting what we think we’ll need for market. And lastly, taking a cue from our friend Eliza’s #eatuglyapples campaign, we celebrate the stress – within reason – that insects impose on our field; stress that helps in eliminating the weaker, vulnerable plants, and leaves us with strong, delicious, and likely more nutritious produce for our customers.

Happy summer, happy feasting, and big thanks from your farmers, Trish and Jeremy

 

CSA, covercrops, and other beneficials

Over the past few years, Jeremy has been seeding flowers (deep rooted plants, legumes, medicinal herbs, wild flowers) seemingly everywhere, this has successively become evident in the orchard and along the borders of the vegetable fields, all around the house and down the driveway. This spring we are finding columbine, dame’s rocket, bee’s friend, bachelor’s buttons, borage, coneflowers, sunflowers and salsify.  Clumps of chamomile are coming up in the chicken yard (dunno. must have come in with some batch of feed?). Phacelia under the crab apple.  Woolly verbena and white campion in the orchard. Dame’s rocket over the lamb skulls. Bees are stoked. Farmers too.We just celebrated our first CSA harvest of the season today. It was a sunrise sauna in the field this morning, our thermometer reaching 95 degrees by the early afternoon. For CSA members: the weekly newsletters will be posted online here, this week’s is here. And don’t forget to peruse our farm community cookbook for additional ideas and inspiration. Thanks for joining us this season – we’re looking forward to spending the summer with you all!

We’ve been learning heaps these past couple months about early greens production, rapidfire succession planting, and how to manage all this early harvest and marketing along with our already brimming spring planting schedule. There are still some wrinkles to work out with timing. farmstand late mayrye vetch covercropLast week we pulled out a rye and vetch cover crop that we had seeded last fall between the garlic beds. We laid the cover crop down in-place as mulch and immediately seeded winter squash into those beds. In about a month, we’ll harvest the garlic, right as the squash needs space to expand. If we get our act together, we’ll seed buckwheat in the open garlic beds hoping it will winter-kill before going to seed. As part of our no-till management, we use straw bales as mulch for most of our beds, but we’re excited about growing our mulch on-site. And in doing so, feeding our soil microbiology for more of the year and reducing an off-farm input by not having to purchase as many straw bales.We just learned about crab (flower) spiders. We’ve seen these around previously, but after witnessing lunchtime featuring a main course of one of our beloved pollinators, we had to look this up. This spider perches on flowers like she’s sunning herself on a beach towel, her front crabby legs wide open in some sort of ultra-still warrior pose. When an unsuspecting native bee/honey bee/butterfly comes by the flower to sip nectar, the spider, ninja-style, seizes the bee or fly and bites into it, paralyzes it and then eats it. *wince* YET. Healthy apex-predator populations are indicative of a healthy ecosystem. They play a vital role. Like bears and wolves and purple sea stars. So we love this little guy. Even though she’s eating our bees… and it feels a little like having an orca on our penguin farm.

Speaking of which… we were getting anxious, noticing aphids on a few of our fruit trees. But then looking down at the understory, below our plums, we found a glorious nursery of ruthless, voracious lady bug larvae. Anxieties quelled.