Farming in the time of Coronavirus

Just 12 days ago I was cross country skiing with my sister. She asked me “Do you think Mom is worried about getting sick?” I told her our mother hadn’t said anything to me, so she probably wasn’t too worried about it. That was our only mention of coronavirus in the 10+ hours we spent together that day. Now that feels like a lifetime ago.

So much has changed. We are all facing our own unique challenges, but I think it’s safe to say that all our lives are drastically different. Some of you are suddenly out of a job with no idea of when you might see a paycheck again. You could find yourself trying to do your full-time job from home while at the same time being asked to be responsible for your kids’ education–while keeping them from climbing the walls. Maybe you are living alone and facing an unknown period of isolation. Or you are a health care worker suddenly thrown into the fire. I can’t think of anybody who is living the same life they were even just a week ago.

I find myself with my own set of challenges. Wyatt and I are trying to figure out how to continue to feed our community while keeping our farm crew, our customers, and ourselves safe and healthy. And there’s the small challenge of keeping our farm financially afloat during all of this.

Kai checking the germinator

Kai is checking on seedlings in the germinator.

Many years ago, before I was farming, I worked in a lab. Not a medical lab—more of a chemistry lab. Doing lab work is all about cross-contamination. You can get false results if your sample is contaminated. Maybe you got part of one sample into another sample. Or you inadvertently contaminated your sample with something else in your lab. (There was one time when we were told not to breathe in the vicinity of the samples because the mercury in the fillings in our teeth could contaminate the samples.) I often think that this work was not good for me. I am already fastidious by nature and that work made me a bit overly concerned about cross-contamination and hygiene in general. I have to ask myself; does it really matter if I get every single molecule of soap off that pan when I’m washing it in my kitchen sink? (Relax, Amy!) Now I am very grateful for my lab experience. I see many of the areas we could all be exposed to the virus at our farm. And thinking about removing every single molecule when I am washing something seems a lot more relevant.

Some of the questions Wyatt and I are asking ourselves… How much food should we grow? How big should our farm crew be? How many CSA members can we expect to have this year? Should we grow any veggies for our restaurant customers? (Who, by the way, are all in a dire situation right now.) How can we be there for the chefs whenever the restaurants do reopen? How do we keep everyone on our farm safe? Are there any loan payments we can defer? What happens if Colorado orders us all to shelter in place? Are farms considered “essential businesses”? (I think so.) How different will the world look in just one more week? I’ve been working with our Boulder County Agricultural Extension Agent (Adrian!) to explore some of the logistics specific to our county and to Colorado. Adrian has been an invaluable resource in navigating the current situation for farms.

Katie watering

Katie is giving the onion starts a shower.

We’re busy planting and growing plenty here. There are peas, fava beans, garlic, and spinach already in the ground. And lots of things are sprouting in the greenhouse: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, chard, kale, and more than I can remember. Fortunately, a lot of our work is outside in the sunshine (and lots of naturally sanitizing UV radiation) so it makes it a bit easier than trying to keep people safe in an office. We’re doing our best to grow the right amount of food and have the right size farm crew. We’re also thinking ahead to our CSA pickups in May and how that will look. Right now, we’re thinking of pre-boxing shares or maybe having members do a drive-thru pickup. I am grateful that we have a handful of weeks to figure out the safest way to distribute food.

I take my responsibilities seriously—to provide safe food to my community and to provide a safe workplace for my employees. Wyatt and I are doing everything we can to fulfill our commitment.

Be safe.
Amy

Posted in 2020, Newsletter | 8 Comments

End of the Season

I just got back from working at our Wednesday evening CSA pickup with Kai, Lauren, and Kylie. By about 6:30 it was dark and there was swirling snow. We made it to the end of pickup without freezing, but it’s a reminder that the season really is changing. Every spring I think that surely we can push our CSA pickups until the last week of October or the beginning of November. And of course tonight I am very thankful that I didn’t convince myself to make that change! Farming is all about not having control over the weather, but I manage to forget that so often.

This is the 12th season of our CSA. And for you Tuv Ha’Aretz members, this is year 10! We still have a good number of members who have been with us that whole time. I really enjoy seeing all of you as our pickups come to an end.

I can’t say enough how grateful we are for all of our CSA members. You are the reason we are able to have a farm and I feel honored that you let us feed your families year after year. We hope to see you again in the spring!

Amy

Posted in 2019, Farm | 1 Comment

Wash Station

I took my camera to work yesterday. Working at a farm isn’t all field work. Processing the food for distribution and storage for later distribution is a big part of it too.

I wanted to try to show a little of what we do with the food after it comes in from the field.

Yesterday we had to fill one CSA pick up for about 70 people. We also had restaurant orders. We do restaurants on Tuesday and Friday. We have 5 CSA pick ups on 4 days, Monday-Thursday.

This is the wash station (WS) where we wash, bunch, bag, label, date, inventory and prep all the food we grow. All the food is harvested into either coolers or bins and brought to the WS in trucks from the fields.

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At the east side of the WS we line up coolers and bins for CSA that day. Everything in this line has been processed and inventoried and is ready to load into the truck for CSA distribution. This is early in the day, there will be lots more added.

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The west side is where we line up restaurant orders for that day. Every cooler is labeled for each restaurant. The boxes in back are restaurant orders too, they are squash and pumpkins.

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Some of today’s harvest coming in.

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All the root vegetables, beets, potatoes, carrots, parsnips get soaked to hydrate them and get most of the soil off.

Then they go into a barrel washer. Root vegetables go in one end, it is slightly angled and it slowly rolls the vegetables to the other end as it sprays and agitates them to get them clean.

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This is Meg with the leaf crops, she is soaking chard to hydrate and revive it.

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Kai is weighing the revived chard then she will bunch it for CSA, some of the chard will be bagged for restaurants.

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I sorted, sized and weighed these onions for restaurants.

Here is Savanna with some beets for restaurants.

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Some crops don’t get washed, they just get processed and inventoried until needed. This cauliflower came in from the field looking a little droopy and sad.

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I cut off the outer leaves and put them in lined bins to go into the cooler for later this week.

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So pretty now.

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All those coolers and bins need to be washed. Cody will rinse them then wash them with soap and water.

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Sometimes we stop and take pictures of snakes.

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We eat lunch.

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We laugh.

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We load the trucks.

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And we do it all over again tomorrow.

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Thank you all for a fantastic season. Thank you for supporting local organic food and  allowing us to do what we love.

Hope to see you all next year, a couple more pick ups this week then 2019 CSA season is a wrap.

With love and gratitude.

Mo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2019, Farm

CSA Week 23

Hello CSA Members!

Here is what we *hope* to bring you for Week 23 of our CSA:

REGULAR SHARE
CHOICE: Carrots OR Acorn Squash
CHOICE: Onions OR Garlic
Parsnips
Potatoes
CHOICE: Turnips OR Chard
Winter Squash
Arugula

LARGE SHARE ADDITIONS
Leeks
Beets
Winter Radishes
Potatoes

FRUIT SHARE
Apples
Plums

Posted in 2019, Newsletter

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

I have made macaroni and cheese from scratch maybe once or twice in my life, this time probably is my third time.

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I have a really good friend who’s favorite food is mac and cheese and she makes it every chance she gets. She will always order it at restaurants if it’s on the menu . She tries different recipes all the time, adding different cheeses and add-in ingredients. Some are good, some are ok, none have made me want to make any myself, until she made this pumpkin macaroni and cheese a few years ago.

I remember making a mental note to make it then I completely forgot about it. Until today.  I had some leftover roasted pumpkin in the refrigerator and out of the blue I remembered that macaroni and cheese.

This is pretty straightforward to make. If you have pumpkin or squash cooked it goes together really quickly.

I barely adapted this recipe. My recipe notes, things I would change or try will be * at the bottom of the page

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of cooked pumpkin/squash. If you don’t have any cooked pumpkin or squash here is a ‘how to’ post from a few years ago.
  • salt and pepper
  • 16 ounces pasta, your choice gluten free is fine
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sage, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons flour, again, gluten free is fine
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded – I used a combo of smoked Gruyere and mozzarella
  • 4 amaretti cookies, crumbled, weird sounding but delicious, you could use ginger snap crumbs or just bread crumbs.

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Directions

  1. Cook the pasta as directed.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat add the sage and cook until the butter is bubbling and it has turned golden brown.
  3. Mix in the flour and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown.
  4. Add the milk, nutmeg, mustard and cheese and simmer until it thickens and the cheese has melted.
  5. Mix the pumpkin, pasta and cheese sauce and pour into a baking dish topping it with the amaretti cookie crumbs.
  6. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown on the top and bubbling on the sides, about 30-40 minutes.

I handed this to my husband to try and he said he doesn’t really like macaroni and cheese. I said, me either, try it. He ate the whole bowl.

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*Things I would do different, or try.

  • More pumpkin, 1 1/2 to 2 cups of roasted pumpkin
  • Maybe cube some pumpkin and leave it in large chucks
  • Use cauliflower and or broccoli instead of pasta

I am going to make this as a side for Thanksgiving. I will make it ahead and finish it while I make gravy and slice the turkey.

This would be a great pot-luck dish too.

Only two more weeks of CSA. See you at pickup.

Mo

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2019, Recipes, Winter Squash

CSA Week 22

Hello CSA Members!

Here is what we *hope* to bring you for Week 22 of our CSA:

Watermelon Radish

REGULAR SHARE
Winter Radishes
CHOICE: Carrots OR Roasted Chiles
Topped Beets
Turnips
CHOICE: Celery OR Parsley OR Cabbage
CHOICE: Leeks OR Onions
Winter Squash
CHOICE: Collard Greens OR Chard OR Kale OR Baby Red Russian Kale

LARGE SHARE ADDITIONS
Broccoli OR Romanesco
Parsnips
Roasted Chiles
Sunshine Kabocha

FRUIT SHARE
Pears
Plums

Posted in 2019, Newsletter

Cabbage and Carrot Slaw

This is a super simple side dish salad you can make ahead and it will keep for days in your refrigerator.

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I made a simple vinaigrette not a mayonnaise based dressing. I think it keeps nicer. Mayonnaise gets watery after a few hours. I can re-toss the vegetables to freshen this slaw up and redistribute the vinaigrette and it will be nice and crunchy and evenly dressed.

You could add or substitute any crunchy vegetables you have like celery or turnips. Sometimes I make this with only grated carrots.

Gather the vegetables you are using. Wash them, core the cabbage and trim the carrots. I never peel farm carrots. If you have some herbs, throw them in. After I took this picture I went to the garden and got some chives.

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Shred the vegetables either in a food processor or with a mandolin or just with a knife if you  like.

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I had about 6 cups of shredded vegetables, for that amount of vegetables I made a vinaigrette with these amounts. You can easily adjust for the amount of vegetables you have.

The juice of one small lemon
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4-6 tablespoons olive oil

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I mixed it all up in a bowl and tasted it and then decided to add about a teaspoon of honey, not pictured, last minute add-in, that’s why you taste! Toss everything together and enjoy.

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You can add nuts or seeds or grated or crumbled cheese to bulk it up for a more substantial salad. Crumbled blue cheese is great. I like this type of salad in wraps for lunch.

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It was great to see so many of you Sunday at the CSA party enjoying our community and the lovely Colorado Fall weather.

Have a great week.

Mo

 

 

Posted in 2019, Cabbage, Carrots, Recipes | 1 Comment

CSA Week 21

Hello CSA Members!

Here is what we *hope* to bring you for Week 21 of our CSA:

Arugula

fall arugula comin’ to CSA!

REGULAR SHARE
CHOICE: Potatoes OR Bell Peppers
Carrots
Topped Beets
CHOICE: Beans OR Roasted Chiles
CHOICE: Celery OR Parsley OR Onions
CHOICE: Arugula OR Baby Kale
Winter Squash
CHOICE: Collard Greens OR Chard OR Kale

LARGE SHARE ADDITIONS
Leeks
Winter Radish
Sweet Peppers
Garlic

FRUIT SHARE
Apples
Plums

Posted in 2019, Newsletter

CSA Week 20

Hello CSA Members!

Here is what we *hope* to bring you for Week 20 of our CSA:

You can use your pie pumpkin as a decoration until you’re ready to use it.

REGULAR SHARE
Zucchini
Cucumber
Carrots
CHOICE: Topped Beets OR Roasted Chiles
Pie Punkin’
Tomatoes
CHOICE: Celery OR Parsley
CHOICE: Collard Greens OR Chard OR Kale

LARGE SHARE ADDITIONS
DOUBLE Roasted Chiles
Onions
Cabbage
Potatoes

FRUIT SHARE
Apples
Pears

Posted in 2019, Newsletter

Freezing Corn, Peppers and Roasted Chili Peppers

A couple of years ago I did a post on Freezing Summers Bounty. This is pretty much a repost/reminder  to you that you don’t have to eat all your CSA share in one week. You can easily freeze some and enjoy it in the winter when you are wishing for Summer vegetables.

I love freezing a few ears of Red Wagon Corn to pull out in the dead of winter. In years past I have shucked, then blanched the cobs in boiling water, then shocked them in ice water, then cut the kernels off the cob. This year I tried grilling the corn, un-shucked and let them cool in their husk before cutting the corn off the cob. Grilling the corn was much easier and much less messy than blanching and shocking them.

Grilling them added that nice char flavor too. Save those cobs for some corn stock!

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This took no time at all. 6 ears gave me about 2 pints of corn to freeze. Now I have some Summer happiness in my freezer.

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You can freeze the roasted peppers too. You can just chuck them in the freezer in the bags we put them in. Sometimes I like to clean them so they are ready to throw in a pot of beans or stews. Either way it’s always nice to have a little stash of roasted peppers in the freezer.

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You know those HUGE bell peppers we have been getting. You can freeze those too. Just seed them and cut them up.

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Then spread them on a tray so they’re not touching each other and freeze until firm. You don’t want to just throw them in a bag or other container and freeze or you will have a huge pepper ice ball that won’t break apart.

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When they are frozen hard transfer the them to a freezer-safe zip-lock bag or container with as much air pressed out as you can to prevent freezer burn.

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I love having these peppers. I grab a handful to toss in eggs or stir fries. You can freeze celery and onions the same way. It just takes a few minutes and it is so handy to have.

We only have a few more weeks so think about saving some of your CSA for the winter months.

Have a great week.

Mo

 

 

Posted in 2019, Recipes, Storage and Preparation