Week 3

 IMG_2610Full Share (above)

IMG_2607Medium Share (above)

IMG_2606Small Share (above)

Hello friends and members! We hope this newsletter finds you well, and well on your way to enjoying another 4th of July! Happy Birthday, dear country, we love you and are so proud of you!

It has been hot on the farm.  July seems like it came early this year.  The sweet corn and tomatoes are loving the heat and I’m pretty sure you can actually see them growing if you’re watching closely. The weeds are also loving it.  The crew has been on a hoeing frenzy as of late doing their best to stay ahead of the millions of little weed seeds that sprout every day.

IMG_2587 sweet corn growing growing growing-are you ready, Lindsey?!

IMG_2593 crew weeding said sweet corn

IMG_2589 freshly transplanted broccoli for late summer harvest (don’t worry, they perk up after a few days of being in the ground)

IMG_2590

IMG_2598gratuitous baby on the farm photo #1

  IMG_2591gratuitous baby on the farm photo #2: checking on the transplant job

What’s in the box:

  • Spring Greens (1/2 lb smalls & med, 3/4 lb full
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Snap Peas: Sugar Anne (3/4 lb smalls, 1 lb med. & fulls)
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Sorrel
  • Turnips: Hakurei or Carrots: Mokum (medium & full only)
  • Pea shoots (medium and full only)
  • Green onions (full only)
  • Scapes (full only)

Snap Peas

Unlike shelling peas, snap peas are meant to be eaten pod and all.  Some folks are bothered by the “string” spine which can be stripped from the pod, but they are perfectly fine to eat with the string attached if you don’t mind a little extra fibrous texture. Chop them up or eat them whole both fresh in a salad (or just a tasty snack) or cooked in a stir fry.

Sorrel

Sorrel is an interesting little green with a bold flavor.  Often described as lemony, I find it more akin to a tart green apple.  It’s a real surprise the first time you try it either way. Excellent as a raw herb in a greens salad or fruit salad, it is also often made into a creamy or pesto-style sauce to pair with fish, top on flatbreads, or as a nice dip for fresh veggies.

Turnips

Turnips can be used in a lot of ways that a radish can and carry a similar spice. But where a radish may be lauded for having a crisp and light texture, this variety of turnip is particularly notable for how soft, refined and sweet its flesh is. These little gems were bred for fresh eating but are also great cooked.

We don’t like to make a practice of putting items in the box that have a fair amount of cosmetic damage, but every now and then we look past the surface so that you don’t miss out on an otherwise perfectly great crop.  The eating quality of the turnips in this week’s box are exceptional, despite having their fair share of bug attacks both above and below ground.  And although pulling them out of the field as is and putting them in the box made me wince a little, I’m sure there will be nothing but smiles when they are served up on your plate (or snacked right out of the crisper!). You can peel them if you’d like to remove the cosmetic damage on the surface.

 

Recipes

Don’t forget to peruse the recipe page of our website, as you’ll often find recipes there that are not necessarily highlighted here, and we are frequently updating the archive. Remember, we always welcome member submissions!

 

We just can’t let a napa cabbage go by without a nice stir-fry recipe. We know, it’s ubiquitous, but there’s a really good reason for that. This lovely little recipe is fast, easy, and can use a whole host of different vegetables. It’s really not just another stir-fry, it’s really really good! We also have to steer you towards a classic fresh salad with rice noodles and peanuts. It’s easy to make and perfect for summer BBQs! In fact, it will be on our 4th of July picnic table.

As mentioned earlier, sorrel is a match made in heaven as a sauce for fish, but the pesto recipe can be used for lots of other things as well. Tell us what you do with it!

We could never argue with a simple olive oil or butter saute of the snap peas you have in your box, but if you’d like to make something a little more involved, try this warm rice and pea salad.

Swiss Chard is a beautiful, nutritious, versatile vegetable. You can use it in almost any recipe you’d use spinach, kale, or collards in. This pasta is a nice light summery dinner.

 

Next Week Sneak Peek:

  • Head Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Scallions

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week 2

 IMG_2584full share (above)

IMG_2585 medium share

IMG_2582small share

Well, another beautiful week on the farm.  It’s always good to be into the swing of harvesting and delivering shares.  We hope you all enjoyed the first week and are eagerly looking forward to this box. Remember to bring your boxes back to your drop site.  Here again is a link to our in-house production on how to unfold your box.

IMG_2006_2 IMG_2007_2baby in the onion patch

‘Tis the season: Greens greens and more greens

If this is your first time being a CSA member, after the first few weeks you might be saying to yourself: “Jeez, where’s melons and tomatoes? These people only grow greens or what?” Well, we grow melons and tomatoes, but they are just not ready yet.  Growing in the North comes with a limited window for certain crops. Crops ready for harvest this time of year tend to have a short growing season, be able to germinate in cooler temps, and take a light frost (the last frost of the season was only a mere 3 and a 1/2 weeks ago believe it or not).  Modern grocery stores and trans-national trucking have put us at a rare time in history where we can get almost any piece of produce any time of the year we want, and most of us forget how unusual it actually is to eat a “fresh” tomato in the middle of winter.  Being a CSA member re-connects you to the seasonal parameters of your geographical location.  I’m not one to wish we could go back to a “simpler time,” but there is something lost, in my opinion, when season and location are not a major sculptor of our eating habits and culture.

And this year goes to…

Every year we like to declare a vegetable of the year that we either are focusing on growing really well, are growing really well, or wish would grow really well (sorry 2014 year-of-the-melon, better luck next time). I’m going to go ahead and call it for this year: 2015 is the year of the head lettuce!   We have gone all in on growing head lettuce for the CSA this year.  Usually we just have several successions at the beginning of the season, but this year we will be staggering successions all through the summer and fall as well. On top of it, the weather has been fantastic for them all spring and they are looking gorgeous.

To get more lettuce spread out across the season we are trialing a number of different heat tolerant head lettuce varieties that are bred to not turn bitter in the heat (as lettuce tends to do).  The ones we like may make it into future baby lettuce mixes for summer production, but for now we will let them live out their full potential as heads of lettuce.  Head lettuces can also be more interesting and versatile than baby lettuce mixes.  The variety of shapes, textures, colors and head formations are beautiful to experience. Growing to the mature head state really showcases the character of the lettuce and the intentions of the breeding that has gone into creating each variety.  Take green lollo types–king of the deli sandwich–fancy, frilly, and sturdy, it keeps well, adds loft and is nice and soft in the leaf and crunchy in the stem.  Despite losing some of its panache due to its ubiquitousness, it is a stellar specimen and well designed head of lettuce.   I’ll curb my enthusiasm here for now…I’m sure we’ll have more to say about head lettuce as the season goes on.  It is the year of the lettuce after all.

What’s in the box this week:

  • Head lettuce (of course) (2 for medium and full, 1 for small)
  • Pea Shoots (4 oz for full, 3 oz for medium and small)
  • Broccoli (1.25 lbs for mediums and smalls only)
  • Radish (1 bunch for fulls and mediums)
  • Mint (1 bunch each)
  • Pac Choi (1.5 lb for fulls, 1 lb for smalls)
  • Spicy Salad (1/2 lb for smalls and mediums, 3/4 lb for fulls)
  • Green Onions (regular bunch for fulls, small bunch for mediums)
  • Cilantro (fulls only)
  • Collard Greens (fulls only)
  • Chive Salt (1 packet for everyone)

Spicy Salad is back!

IMG_2031_2spicy salad in the field before harvest

Every year we do a blend of several tasty baby mustard greens to make a custom spicy salad mix.  These greens are great fresh or slightly cooked (I love love love them scrambled in eggs or quiche!).  Watch out!  They have a kick to them!  They are in the mustard family which is why they have such a similar flavor condiments made from mustard seeds (like a spicy mustard or wasabi).  They will mellow when cooked and are less intense if mixed with other greens in a raw salad or added with prudence to a sandwich.

IMG_2037_2Know your baby mustards (from left to right): Golden Frills, Suehlihung, Garnet Giant, Ruby Streaks.

Your little surprise…

It’s not much, but we’ve had so many happy comments on our seasoned salt the last few years that we are continuing the tradition. This year, we made chive salt. Way back in April we harvested the first growth of chives from our perennial garden and carefully dehydrated them to preserve their color and flavor. We’ve blended them with coarse kosher salt for a simple little treat. We recommend using the salt on buttered bread toasts with thinly sliced raw vegetables, and many of our members really like to sprinkle the herb salt over a nicely grilled piece of chicken or fish as part of a really awesome summer dinner salad. Tell us how you use yours!

Pea Shoots

The baby pea plant is an excellent little sweet snack that carries the sweet pea flavor in a soft little leafy garnish.  Add to a stir fry at the end to slightly wilt, eat raw in a salad, use as a garnish, or just snack on plain for a foraged treat.

Recipes

Spicy salad mix is awesome eaten raw, but if you’d like to try them cooked check out this recipe for sauteed Mustard Greens and Onions or for a main course try the Pasta with Mustards and Caramelized Onions. Also, collard greens work really well for any of the mustard greens recipes, so feel free to substitute!

We’re thrilled to have such beautiful broccoli again this week, and if you haven’t tried this unusual but fantastic pasta recipe with broccoli pesto, you should!

Next Week’s Sneak Peek:

  • Peas, finally (for real this time)
  • Spring Greens Mix
  • Radish (French Breakfast)
  • Napa Cabbage

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week 1

IMG_2579 full share (above)
IMG_2577 medium share
IMG_2574small share

Welcome to the first box of the season!  And boy is it a good one!

The last few months on the farm have been leading up to this day. Every year come January, we sharpen our pencils, pull out the planning books and start paging through the seed catalogues.  From then on, everything we do is in preparation for these next 18 weeks. We are very excited to share with you what we have been working on!

IMG_2573   Maybelle’s first harvest day! 

IMG_1984_2 IMG_1983 IMG_1994_2

Before we get to what’s in the box and recipes, here are a few quick preliminary things to note about your CSA:

1. Unpacking your share

Getting the most out of your CSA requires good unpacking and storage habits. Some items we give you should be stored in bags or containers to retain their freshness. Prepping items when you unpack your box is a great way to make your meals more convenient. Doing things like removing radishes, beets, or turnips from their greens, or cutting up your head lettuce and then washing, spinning and bagging it right away can make them easier to use when the time comes, increase their storage life, and may inspire ideas for what you want to do with them.  We’ve added this handy chart this year to the website for your reference on best storage techniques.

2. We wash, you wash

We do our best to make sure your produce is clean and safe to eat.  Most everything gets washed before it arrives in your kitchen and steps are taken to ensure food safety and good food handling practices.  However, there are still a number of nooks and crannies that we are not able to fully clean out on some items such as lettuce and pac choi without taking it apart (or removing a lot of otherwise perfectly fine leaves) and encourage you to wash your produce before you put it on the dinner plate.  We pride ourselves on our quality, but as an enlightened eater you know there might be little dirt here and a little hitchhiker bug there because, after all, your food came from the ground and we work hard to protect the biodiversity of our little ecosystem.

3. Return your boxes!

When you’re done with your box, please fold it flat and return them to your drop site the next week. Our boxes are reused throughout the season to cut down on waste and costs. We allot 3 boxes per member so you always have one, we always have one, and there’s always a spare. The boxes are a little tricky to unfold without tearing the bottom tabs, all tabs should be pushed out, not pulled out.  We’ve made this handy box-unfolding video to help out.

Okay, now to the good stuff!

This Week’s Share

  • Radish (1 small bunch for small shares, 1 large bunch for medium and full shares)
  • Head Lettuce (2 heads for small shares, 3 for medium and full)
  • Green Onions (1 bunch each)
  • Kale or Collards (1 bunch each)
  • Oregano (1 bunch each)
  • Garlic Scapes (6 for small shares, 8 for medium and full)
  • Pac Choi (1# medium, 1.5# full)
  • Broccoli (2#, full only)
  • Rhubarb (2#, full only)

So, you’ll see that what everyone gets this week doesn’t exactly match our prediction. We do our very best, but sometimes nature forces a change. For this week, we chose oregano over mint because the oregano is close to flowering and it doesn’t taste quite as good after it flowers. The pea shoots weren’t quite up to size, and we’d rather give you quality than meet the forecast. The boxes are loaded this week, so we’re saving your little surprise for next week!

IMG_2580Know your head lettuce (from left to right): Livigna (green lollo type), Antonet (red lollo type), Mirlo (green bib), Lovelock (red/green batavian)

Recipes

Now that we have a bona fide recipe section on our website, we’re going to save you all a little reading time and provide links to some suggested recipes. You can also go directly to the recipe section of the website and select the item(s) you have in your box to see a list of recipes (with links) that apply. Have fun exploring! Remember, too, we love member submissions, so go ahead and send us Aunt Betty’s broccoli casserole recipe!

For your lettuce, we’d recommend a simple spring salad, with a great quality vinaigrette and a few add-ons. This version has an awesome creamy dressing. Keeping it simple really lets the flavor of the lettuce shine through. The lettuce heads are HUGE and beautiful, so don’t hesitate to make a dinner out of them, with cheese and nuts to add protein and substance, or your favorite type of meat or fish. The wonderful thing about lettuce is how truly versatile it can be.

We never get tired of buttered bread with radishes, a.k.a. the radish canape, especially as the first bunches of the year are so anticipated! Not sure what else to do with your radishes? I had a homemade chicken pot pie over the winter that had roasted radish in it of all things–and it was my favorite part of the dish.  The friend who made it said “people don’t know what do with radishes. You have to roast them, like a little turnip.”  So there you go.  No more I-only-eat-my-radishes-uncooked. Fry them in a pan, stick them in the oven, toss them on the grill and eat them anywhere you might a root vegetable.

Garlic scapes are a real treat, and only available for a very short time period in the spring. We’re so happy that removing them from the plant helps the bulbs grow bigger and better, and serves as a true spring delicacy. Try this recipe for a scape pesto which can be frozen for a winter pick-me-up or devoured fresh! The scape and bean dip is pretty awesome, too.

If you are a full share, you were lucky enough to get rhubarb! Heather loves this spring treat, and here’s a link to one of her favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman, and her great Rhubarb cobbler recipe.

Next Week’s Sneak Peek

  • Head lettuce
  • Spicy Salad Mix
  • Broccoli
  • Mint
  • Peas
  • Pea shoots
  • And that little surprise we’ve been talking about…

All the best from all of us,

Heather, Brandon, Maybelle, and Frank

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The boxes are coming!

Greetings, everyone! We are always amazed at how quickly the first part of spring goes. The past few months have been busy tilling, transplanting, seeding in the ground and the greenhouse, and yes, even weeding! We hope this update finds you well and that you have been enjoying the pleasant, albeit erratic weather.

We are excited to say that first boxes will be delivered, as anticipated, the week of June 16th. Depending on your pick up site, your first CSA delivery will be on Tuesday the 16th or Thursday the 18th.  To double check delivery day for your site look up your sign-up confirmation email from us or peek at the pick up sites page. We still have about a dozen spots open, so if you know any procrastinators out there, give them a friendly nudge!

You will be receiving site-specific emails letting you know details about your pick-up location and times. All boxes will be at the drop sites by 3 p.m., and after the first two weeks of deliveries we’ll be able to better pinpoint specific drop off times.

IMG_1878_2 Weeding lettuce

IMG_1937

unnamedTransplanting sweet corn

We have nearly a full crew working now, (Joe joins us in a week!) and we’re delighted to have this group with us this year. They have been super busy right along with us making the gardens grow. We have transplanted the first three successions of broccoli (that’s nearly 1,000 plants!) and the first three successions of corn. We’ve seeded tons of beautiful green and yellow beans. We’ve got Napa cabbage and pac choi busy getting big and tasty in the ground. We are also in the midst of laying the last of the mulch in order to transplant eggplants, peppers, squash and melons.  Not to mention all the carrots, beets, herbs, greens, radishes and peas popping up!

IMG_1813 Napa Cabbage 4 weeks ago

IMG_1877 Napa Cabbage last week! Yikes!

IMG_1876_2Napa grown under row cover (on right), vs Napa grown without row cover (on left).  The row cover traps heat and moisture while letting in sun and rain and can make a big difference in the early spring.

We received a few requests that we start forecasting box contents a week in advance to help members with meal planning. We’re going to give it a shot this year, just remember that this “what’s coming next” list is an educated guess and may be subject to change. Our greatest priority is providing our members with the highest quality produce that can be found, so we may occasionally need to change the box contents. That being said, we’re looking at the following for your very first Sleepy Root Farm vegetable box:

Heirloom head lettuces

Cherry belle radishes

Pea shoots (?)

Kale

Garlic scapes (?)

Sorrel (?)

Mint

Spring onions

Bok choi

Plus a special surprise…

unnamed-1Can you see our fox snake friend? This helpful creature is a voracious rodent eater. Its great to see so much biodiversity on the farm-one of the many non-edible benefits of organic farming!

All the best from all of us,

Heather, Brandon, and Maybelle

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May update

Hello friends and members!

Greetings from the farm!

unnamed

We’ve been fortunate to have great weather over the past few weeks. It’s allowed us to start our field work and keep close to being on schedule (spring weather is usually a wild card to plan around). On top of that we’ve been able to take some great walks in the area, and have discovered several mysterious burrows:

IMG_1780

Perhaps they belong to a fisher or a badger? Heather and Maybelle spotted two different brownish furry animals recently, and they’re definitely not weasels! There has been an incredible explosion of gophers over the past two seasons, so we’re not surprised that someone higher up the food chain is taking an interest. That’s ok with us, too-gophers can cause quite a bit of damage to our crops.

Critters are not the only busy ones around the farm. We’ve seeded 5 beds of peas and a bunch of cilantro.  Napa Cabbage and the first three successions of broccoli were transplanted yesterday, and the first round of the lettuce, kale and collards will go in tomorrow. Here’s some cool photos of the transplanting process and results:

unnamed-1

IMG_1811

IMG_1814

How exciting! The first transplanting day really feels like the official start of the season.

We’d also like to welcome our employees to the farm and introduce them to you. We’ve got four fantastic people this year: Michele (who saved our hides last season when we suddenly lost our main employee) Maria (a super sharp high school student who lives on a farm down the street from us) her sister Elizabeth (who will join us as soon as college is done for the year), and our friend Erin who will spend two days a week with us and the rest of the time working other jobs in St. Paul where she lives. It looks like a fabulous crew this year!

Have you signed up for your CSA share this year? If you are a returning member, welcome back and thank you for letting us grow your food! Continued support from year to year not only provides stability for our farm but also helps to build this community which we value so highly. Nothing is more rewarding to us than relationships with members that last for years and years. We love hearing about births, job changes, new degrees, and everything else that comes with having an adopted family of local-food-loving vegetable enthusiasts! We’d really love to get about 40 more members, so if you would like to join us and haven’t, it’s not too late. If you would like to tell your friends and co-workers about why they’d enjoy being a member of Sleepy Root Farm, we encourage you to do so!

In other exciting news, we’ve added two new sites for picking up boxes: Mother Earth Gardens in south Minneapolis, which fills a really big gap in our delivery area, and the Norman Pointe II office building in Bloomington. Many thanks to both host sites! Help us spread the word that the freshest, cleanest, tastiest local produce is now available in two new areas of the Twin Cities.

One of the coolest improvements to our farm this season is on our website! Heather has put her 15 years of culinary experience to work and has created a great recipe section that includes her own recipes, submissions from members, and a collection of favorites from some of her most-loved sources. We will still continue to include recipes in every newsletter. Check out this new feature and tell us what you think!

We’ll keep in touch, and are so excited that the first CSA box goes out in about a month and a half!

All the best from all of us,

Heather, Brandon, Maybelle and Frank

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Early Spring Round Up!

Hello friends and members!

IMG_0225Brandon teaching Maybelle how to drive the tractor

It’s already time for our late winter/early spring round-up. We’ve had some REALLY exciting developments over the past month and are excited to share them with you.

WE BOUGHT A FARM!!!!!!!!!!!

We are beyond excited to finally have our very own permanent home. No more leasing, no more uncertainty about whether we’ll have a home or farm land each season, no more making long term investments in soil that we will not be working long term, and best of all a place to put down roots and raise our little Maybelle.

Farm House

The farm is a beautiful 20 acre piece on the eastern side of Amery. It’s even closer to town than our current place, and maybe only another 10 minutes away from the twin cities. There’s a truly charming old farmhouse with a great big kitchen for canning and baking, plenty of guest rooms, and amazing original bird’s eye maple floors. There’s also lots of outbuildings for a pack shed, equipment storage, and more.

Barn and Silos

 

The fields are flat and square! There’s a lovely wall of trees on two sides of the property, and a trail behind the woods that goes all to way into Amery to the southwest, and up to the town of Almena some 18 miles away.

Fields

 

Land ownership is definitely the hardest thing for organic family farms to achieve. Land is expensive, banks are loath to lend to small family farms these days, and there has to be qualities to a property to support both a family lifestyle and a business. We have been blessed to have had the support of our CSA members and the generous folks who have rented us land, equipment and housing over the last four years under favorable arrangements making it possible for us to get to the point where we can purchase our own farm.  We have also been lucky enough work with our local FSA office and local branch of Bremer Bank to secure a low-interest loan to make this possible. And of course many thanks are due to friends and family who have been with us along the way, from our amazing real estate agent who helped us with our year-long search, to our family who supported us when we thought we’d never find a spot, to dear friends who have advised us on the pros and cons of everything from soil to infrastructure on multiple properties.

So, what does this mean for our dear members? Not a whole lot right away.  Over time members will see perennial crops show up in their boxes as we can now invest in permanent plantings of asparagus, berries and fruit trees.  Most of these take between 2-5 years to establish for production. This growing season will still take place on our current leased land, and proceed as usual. We will be working extra hard this season to put up a new greenhouse on the new farm, installing a well, slowly moving over household and farm materials, and prepare the soil and buildings for farming in 2016. We’ll probably have a few member work parties at the new place to help us install things like the greenhouse, an orchard, a berry patch, and maybe a couple thousand asparagus plants. Exciting, isn’t it, to think of the things we can add now that we’re landowners?!?!

The main thing is, we need our member sign-ups now more than ever! We’ve got two farms to set up this spring, essentially, and the more capital we have at the beginning of the season, the better. What can you do? If you are planning on re-joining us, please do. If you like us and what we do, spread the word to friends, family, and co-workers. Most of our new members come via word of mouth, and it’s our happy members that do the best sales for us! If you’d like to, and are able, you can print off CSA_flyer_2015 to post in your work break room, your church bulletin board, your yoga class, your local library, anywhere you can think of that would be well received. We appreciate your help and support as we grow and take on this fantastic new phase of our farming careers and lives.

Thanks so much!

Heather, Brandon and Maybelle!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Late winter update

Greetings, friends and members!

Look who’s here:
IMG_1576
IMG_1536
We welcomed our sweet little Maybelle Lee into the world on November 11, and have been loving our time with her this winter. She’s amazing, and fantastic, and we can’t believe she’s almost three months old now.
IMG_1611 IMG_0137
We are somehow managing to get our crop plans worked out, seed catalogs looked at, and otherwise preparing for what looks to be an awesome 2015 growing season. We are going to pick up our new tractor this week, (a John Deere 5103) and are excited to be slowly adding important mechanization to our farm’s inventory. We are looking for employees for the season, so if you or anyone you know who is interested, they can go here to learn more and to apply.
Heather has been busy working on a new recipe section of the website, and hopes to have it go live soon.  All of you parents out there will probably laugh out loud to hear her say that she had NO IDEA how little time you have for anything else when you’ve got a baby in the house! We welcome any member submissions for the recipe section, too.
Brandon continues to spend a lot of time serving as the President of the board of the Hungry Turtle Farmers Co-op, and it looks like cooperative CSA delivery services will be offered again this year.
We are going to raise our prices a little bit for the 2015 season, in our continuing attempt to keep up with the cost of living and in an attempt to make a living wage for ourselves and our employees. Anyone who signs up prior to March 1st can get in on the old prices.
Our best wishes to you all, please call or email us if you have any questions or comments or concerns. We’d love to talk to you! Otherwise, we look forward to seeing your sign ups roll in. As usual, you can simply visit our website and click on the CSA sign up link to join in support of fresh, local, tasty vegetables and the farmers who grow them!

All the best from all of us,
Brandon, Heather, Maybelle and Frank
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment