Here's to a new year of local, nutrient-filled eating!
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This Week's Produce Harvest:
Carnival Acorn Squash
Russet Potatoes - from Igl Farms, Antigo, WI
Ida Apples - from Mick Klug Farm, St. Joseph, MI
Happy New Year from the farm! We hope enjoyed a restful, peaceful and healthy holiday season.
While the year may be new, the farm's winter cycles feel the comfortably familiar. The farm fields are quietly covered in snow now. The prairies echo with happy screams and laughter from the nearby sledding hill. From dawn to dusk, neighborhood children and adults enjoy being outdoors and viewing the farm from up high before sledding towards carefully protected garlic and spring spinach fields below.
The flock enjoying a delicious green breakfast
Our winter chicken flock and pet goat, Twix, receive farm visitors throughout the winter which keep them happy and active outdoors, too. The door on the hen house opens each morning giving the hens access to sunlight, fresh air, snowfall and any leftover vegetable scraps.
While the workload is lighter in the winter, Jeff still takes daily farm walks to ensure the coolers are staying warm (i.e., not freezing stored produce), water is consistently flowing for the animals, rodents aren't getting into spring seeds/feed/eggs/everything, and the snow is removed to provide access for other winter farmers and visitors.
For many farmers, farming in the winter isn't feasible and it certainly is a mental and physical challenge. Most projects are twice as hard (e.g. it can take an hour to get water running, some vehicles struggle to start, etc.) especially when dressed in snow gear! In fact, this farm was thought to be too difficult for winter growing due to its lack of suitable infrastructure. For years, we provided only frozen produce and eggs during the winter season. But five years ago, we decided to challenge that notion. We wanted to see if we could modify our infrastructure to grow, wash and maintain fresh and stored produce, in addition to frozen produce, and allow for more winter food options. We also really wanted to provide more year-round employment opportunities.
And we've had winter success, even during a pandemic. This year, we're employing a small winter crew and we're calling on our remote learners to pitch in on projects (left to right: Abbey, Arlet, Kim and the Miller family). Rather than building heated spaces, we wear a multitude of layers, strive to work on the warmest days possible, and include multiple people in a job whenever possible to get the job done quickly. Our winter team is essential to help us harvest and wash winter greens, pack winter shares and prepare for spring planting and irrigation. We're glad to have them working with us!
This week, we harvested another round of winter greens and we will share the last of a couple of fall storage crops (e.g., squash, garlic, onions, apples) that won't store as long as others. Enjoy these fall flavors as we have plenty of longer storage crops (carrots!), winter greens and frozen goodies for this winter.
Finally, we'd like to wish farmer Jeff a very happy birthday today! Jeff's trust in the life inside a seed, belief in humane animal care and non-stop desire to give more than he receives inspires us to be better farmers each day.
His passion to do better (for the land, the soil and for you, our community) is the foundation of our farm's beginning 15 years ago. We are celebrating him today with plenty of life, love, singing and carrot cake!
Have a warm and healthy day, Jeff, Jen, Owen, Gavin, Abbey, Arlet, Kim