Russet Potatoes- from Igl Farms, Antigo, WI (kept unwashed for best storage)
Frozen Bell Peppers
'Fuji' Apples - from Mick Klug Farm, St. Joseph, MI
Good morning from the farm!
We are receive flurries and blankets of snowfall this February, and we continue our work both outdoors and indoors.
This winter specifically, we're taking our planning processes to a new level. Last March, we were honored to be awarded a two-year Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant to quantify and study the impacts of significant weather events on our farm and crops.
The purpose of this grant is to allow farmers to take on scientific research projects that impact their farms. Farmers act as on-the-ground scientists and then share field-tested, realistic learnings with other farmers. So in early 2019, we began to test a hypothesis and collect data.
We invested in a drone aircraft and installed a farm-based weather station last spring. We placed weather sensors throughout the farm to measure things like soil moisture, air temperatures, rainfall and wind. We collected weather data and aerial imagery in an effort to more scientifically study plant growth, development and yields, and correlations to significant weather events.
After cataloging this information for a year, you can imagine the amount of data that Jeff is pouring through this winter! He's organized the data into huge spreadsheets and he's now comparing the weather data and aerial imagery to do three things. First, he seeks findings that allow us to make wise, data-based decisions about what to do differently in the field. For example, our mechanical weeding process will need to be very strategically timed to ensure that we're catching weeds before they are visible to the eye. We'll need to improve our hand weeding process to be efficient enough to handle large fields when the rain doesn't allow us to get larger equipment into the field.
Second, we needed to better know what we didn't know! We didn't realize how many different ways the data we've collected would help us. For instance, we can now capture the big picture from the sky so we have a better understanding of what parts of our farm are most prone to flooding and which areas drain the slowest. Over time, this data will help us as we reconsidering some of our field layouts and planting plans to best work with nature not against it.
Thirdly, we're meeting another goal of this project which is to share this information with other farmers, and we look forward to learning and sharing even more! Last spring, we opened up our weather station to all for the new farmers we mentor here at the farm. These farmers are a part of theFarm Business Development Center program. We consistently strive to provide newer farmers with a window into our work so they can consider what information would be most useful within their own farming businesses.
In year two of the project, we'll continue to look for trends in weather and how it impacts our fields, learn how to best use these new tools and technologies, and how to best adapt our farming strategies to increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. We also look forward to sharing what we learn with you and our farming community.
Thank you for supporting our work and we're grateful to farm for you!
Your farmers, Jeff, Jen, Owen and Gavin Miller
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Rutabagas are creamy and starchy with a pale yellow flesh. Rutabagas are rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium and antioxidant compounds. They work well for mashing, roasting and braising. We like to use in place of potatoes or combine with potatoes for a mashed rutabaga and potato dish. Rutabagas also store extremely well when wrapped in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
Ginger is a tropical plant that we grow in our hoophouses throughout the summer and its one of the first crops we seed in the greenhouse. The seed ginger comes from the Hawaii and will arrive in the next week or two. As soon as it arrives, we will plant the ginger pieces into flats in our greenhouse. Throughout the summer, we tend to the crop by weeding, adding compost, watering, and we hill the beds to keep the ginger bulbs protected and allow them to continue to grow taller. When the plants are nearly waist-high, we dig an experimental patch to see the size of the treasure beneath. Members will receive frozen fresh ginger this week, which is simple to use as you needn't peel or wash. Simply remove frozen ginger from the package, microplane or grate the ginger to whatever portion you need and then, reseal and freeze the remaining portion for later use. I add ginger to everything from baked goods to hot tea to stir-fries to my morning oatmeal. Enjoy the taste of summer!
Recipes and Ideas from the Farm Kitchen
Carrot, Ginger and Apple Muffins 1 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup all purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 tablespoon cinnamon 2 eggs 1 tablespoon finely minced ginger ½ cup grapeseed oil ½ cup maple syrup + 1 1/2 tablespoon 1 cup Greek yogurt 1 cup shredded carrots 1 cup diced apple (I used honeycrisp) 2 handfuls pepitas
Pre-heat oven to 350F, and set rack to the center of the over. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine oil, eggs, vanilla, ginger, and greek yogurt and mix until smooth, then add in the diced apples and shredded carrots. Be sure to squeeze out excess water from carrots if needed. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a spoon or spatula until just combined. Be sure to not over mix the batter. Then, divide batter evenly amongst 12 cupcake liners. Sprinkle with pepitas to decorate. Leave in tray for a few minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack (adapted from Food52.com)
Parmesan-Roasted Rutabaga & Potatoes 3 pounds rutabaga and potatoes, quartered (I like to use 3/4 potatoes, 1/4 rutabaga) 1 T chopped garlic 1/3 cup olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper 4 ounces grated Parmesan
Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Toss potatoes, garlic and oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Place potatoes and rutabagas on a rimmed baking sheet; reserve bowl. Roast until golden brown and cooked through, 30–35 minutes. Transfer to bowl; toss with Parmesan. Return potatoes and rutabagas to rack and roast until Parmesan is brown and crisp, 10–12 minutes.