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Farming throughout a pandemic

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Farming throughout a pandemic
This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Fresh Basil
  • Red Summer Crisp Head Lettuce
  • Green Romaine Head Lettuce
  • Green Kale
  • Salad Mix
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Cornmeal - Hazzard Free Farm, Pecatonica, IL
  • Tomato Puree - Members picking up at neighborhood sites (i.e., Evanston, Northbrook/Highland Park, Wilmette, Lake Forest, Deerfield, Glenview, Libertyville, Vernon Hills, and Buffalo Grove)will receive this week.
This Week's Fruit Harvest:
  • Fresh Strawberries
  • Fresh Red Raspberries
Farm Journal
Good afternoon from the farm!
Today marks the 102nd day of farming during a pandemic. While the pandemic existed much earlier, mid-March is when we quickly began to adjust. We adjusted the farm from what we had planned for the 2020 farming season to a new reality. Beyond the changes you can see visually – i.e., farmers in masks, farm shares in single-use packaging materials, COVID policies posted at the farm stand, to name just a few – we also fundamentally changed our business plans for the season.
We find one the many highlights of farming is bringing people together to share a meal and build community. We originally planned to hold our Pizza Nights on the Farm throughout the summer season, as we have for the past three years. We provide the farm goodies with Pizzeria DeVille creating fresh farm pizzas, local musicians providing fun music and Jeff hosting farm tours. Together with Chef John Durning, we agreed hosting hundreds at the farm would not be feasible for the summer season. Chef John also realized his pizza oven was very needed elsewhere. Pizzeria DeVille quickly pivoted to providing their pizza oven to a fellow Chicago chef who really needed an outdoor pizza cooking presence to continue serve customers. We applaud Chef John's generosity! We also quickly pivoted from our plans for an event-filled farm season towards increasing our farm share program, fast-tracking our farm store build for safe self-service, and focusing on buying products with other farmers to help their farm businesses and diversify our offerings for you.
Local food access continues to remain extremely important to us. Due to increased levels of COVID safety precautions and programmatic needs at the Liberty Prairie Foundation, there were extremely limited volunteering opportunities at the farm this season. So, the farmers are stepping up! We and fellow Farm Business Development Center farmers at the Prairie Crossing Farm are working directly with Liberty Prairie Foundation to get as much food as we can to Lake and Cook County food pantries. Beyond this, our friends and fellow farmers even helped to save thousands of pounds of food from a recent USDA program from heading to landfills.
As phases and guidelines change, we will continue to work hard, collaborate, give, plan, stay flexible and keep a sense of humor (!) while doing our best to provide you with nutrient-rich, safe food. The farm stand remains open to our farm share members and customers to visit. We invite you to say hello to the chickens, too! 
Cheers,
Jeff, Jen and the farm crew
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
This week, each member will receive coarse cornmeal from Hazzard Free Farm Grain & Beans. Our friend, Andy Hazzard, raises heirloom grains and beans on land near Pecatonica that has been in her family since 1847. Her whole grain products are organically grown, unbleached, unbromated and non-GMO. They are always stone milled to preserve taste and quality. Stone-milling avoids the high-heat conditions found in many industrial mills that can alter flavors and nutrients. All of Andy's grains contain the germ, bran and natural oils that nature intended. We recommend that you place your cornmeal in the freezer or refrigerator to maintain freshness.
Its greens season! As spring turned early summer, you’ve received more lettuce and salad mixes than past seasons. This was intentional and we hope you’ve enjoyed! In years past, we heard from several members that they'd welcome more salad greens so we included more successions in our 2020 planting plans. We find the diverse lettuces provide for not only beautiful salads but ingredients for sandwiches, wrapping up chicken salad, and even, serve as a colorful garnish for fruit platters. This week’s summer greens include hearty, crisp lettuces which are wonderful for grilling (see the recipe below).

Basil makes its first appearance of the season in shares this week. As Jeff harvested, he found the start of cherry tomatoes ripening on the vines, too! While we all wait for more tomatoes to ripen, place your basil in a pretty vase of water on your counter and pinch off leaves as you need them for salads, ramen, pizza toppings, pasta and more. 

Seasonal Recipes from the Farm Kitchen

Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Potatoes – We made this for dinner with farm fresh eggs, chorizo from the farm store and a side salad.
 
2 pounds medium potatoes
1 1/2 pounds fresh chorizo
1 large onion, finely chopped – since I didn’t have on hand, I substituted 2 shallots and the whites scallions, using the green tops as a garnish.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 large eggs
 
Preheat the oven to 375°. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 25 minutes; drain and let cool. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 3/4- inch pieces.
 
Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Add the chorizo, break it into chunks with a wooden spoon and cook over moderate heat, turning, until cooked through and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape the chorizo mixture into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
 
Heat the oil in the skillet. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden and crispy, about 6 minutes. Stir in the chorizo mixture. Remove the skillet from the heat. St
 
Using a ladle, make 8 indentations in the potato-chorizo mixture about 1 inch apart; crack an egg into each one. Bake the skillet in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the egg whites are just set but the yolks are still runny. Serve at once with toast and hot sauce.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Almond Tart
Kale and Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta
Grilled Romaine Salad with Herbed White Beans

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