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Know Your Farmers, Know Your Food

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Know Your Farmers, Know Your Food
This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Fall Salad Mix
  • Parsley
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Celery Root
  • Green Cabbage
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Sweet Potatoes - Amish Community Growers, Platteville, WI
  • Yellow Onion - Amish Community Growers, Platteville, WI
  • Spinach
  • Fennel Root
What's New at the Farm Stand
  • Baby Bok Choy - We grow sweet baby bok choy in fall as this crop loves cooler weather. These small gems add a delicate flavor to sautéed dishes, soups, or are perfect lightly roasted as a side dish. 
  • Hours: Open daily, 7am-7pm 
Farm Journal
Good evening, from your farm!
Last year, around this time, our friends at the Fair Share CSA Coalition held a listening and exchange session for sustainable and organic midwest farmers all about labor. Three sets of farmers told their stories of how they were managing a challenging labor situation (we learned many of our friends in the restaurant industry were having similar conversations). There were nearly 100 farmers on this Zoom meeting and there were several things we had in common. First, we were all struggling to find committed labor and in our case, we needed full-time, full-season labor. Second, we all wanted to do right by our employees (everyone had their own definition of what that meant) and on the whole, we all wanted to pay our employees a good, living wage. Thirdly, we all knew our farms' success depended on passionate people who care about our farm mission and our community. There were no silver bullets to finding people willing to meet all of our criteria, however, we made a commitment to accomplishing positive changes for our team in 2022 that we hoped you would feel when receiving your food.
So, as we shared with CSA members last year at this time, we modestly raised our CSA prices to help us offer our employees a better living wage. As a result of CSA commitments, we made good on our pledge, and this season, we're paying our staff more than 25% higher, living wage.
We're fortunate to have a loyal network of experienced employees and over 50% of our team this summer were returning staff members. With collectively over 25+ years of farming experience, Tyler and Arlet's dedication to our farm and farming experience served as the backbone for our team this season. They trained new employees on our quality standards and controls, harvest processes, record keeping, washing, packing and led the day-to-day work.
As Tyler transitioned to his family pumpkin farm in late summer, Arlet stepped up to develop new skills and showcase her talents. Arlet seamlessly moved between Spanish and English to lead our team and worked closely with Jeff to make decisions on crop management, keeping a bright spirit throughout.
Our "teen team" served as the boost that we needed this summer to keep up with the quick pace of weeding, harvesting and planting needed. In their second season with us, we appreciated Lucas, Silas and Owen's Spanish language skills, as well as their youthful muscles and willingness to take on anything!
While new to our team, Riley was not new to the Prairie Crossing Farm. He worked for several years as a member of the education farm program, the Prairie Farm Corps, and brought a passion for organic farming and learning to our team. We look forward to working with Riley this winter as he'll help us continue to grow within our hoophouses for winter shares.
Our newest team members this season came to us from various states in Mexico and committed to joining us for the full growing season. Cleto, David and Yamany became our neighbors and team members living alongside our family at the farm. As with many of our farm crews, we got to know each other throughout the season, through intense, memorable and of course, funny experiences. While we taught our new crew members about living and farming in Lake County, each member of this new team taught us so much about food, farming, and the similarities and differences between our cultures (even throughout Mexico). 
David hales from Sinaloa. He taught us that basil is not a commonly used Mexican herb, however, almost every family grows a basil plant in front of their home for good luck This good luck brought David to our farm! David's warmth and kindness are evident when you first meet him. David got along with everyone oftentimes serving as the lead in the field when needed. His patience and passion for machinery were assets to Jeff throughout the season especially when our truck door wouldn't open, a tire quickly needed replacing, or when Jeff needed someone to trade creative problem-solving ideas. Another thing that we learned from David was that while our son asks for tacos almost every night for dinner, his son asks for American hot dogs (perros caliente)! 
Yamani taught us about the various types of seafood caught in his native state of Baja California. Yamany can see both the ocean and the US border from his house. He has patiently and kindly taught English speakers pronunciation and grammar, and he's inspired us with his ability to nurture community. Yamany served as a former missionary and dreamed to preach here in the US...and a few weekends ago, his dream came true. He earned this opportunity after taking an active role within a local church in Lake County. He also shared our extra produce with the congregation, all the while preparing for his upcoming nuptials when he returns to Mexico this fall. We're grateful for his patience in teaching us Spanish and we're happy he'll be united with his fiancee again soon. After getting married and spending time with family, Yamany will continue his travels to Guatemala where he will work with churches as well.
Cleto is from Jalisco, just a couple of hours west of Puerto Vallarta. We immediately felt his positive farming spirit that he was taught at a very young age while working his family's farm in the mountains starting at age 4. Cleto is a farm kid at heart, bringing admirable seriousness of purpose and laughter to the field at the same time. We depend on Cleto for tracking numbers, managing the CSA pack and oftentimes, spotting ready crops or pesky animals before we do! His passion for farming, family and all of the intersections of life within the farm was contagious and admirable. We also learned a new technique from Cleto to keep birds from eating our popcorn as it dries in the field, which we're trying for the first time this season, too.
We look forward to celebrating the end of our season as we always do. We talk as a team about what went well and what we'd like to do better. We share a meal together, play "Farmer Minute-to-Win It!" games, and finally, we must (competitively) eat pie! Then with full bellies and hearts, we'll send everyone home for a much-needed rest and time with family before the next farming season begins again.

Thank you for taking the time to better know your farmers to better know your food. Enjoy this week's share of the harvest from us all!

~ Jeff, Jen and the Prairie Wind Family Farm team
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Fall field spinach makes its first appearance in shares this week. Thanks to the freezing temperatures over the past few weeks, the spinach flavor is sweet and delicious. The stems simply need a bit more time to cook but also add nutrients and texture. Keep your spinach refrigerated and within the plastic bag for the best storage.

Fresh Ginger, like fresh turmeric, is a tropical plant that we grow in our hoophouses throughout the summer, which is the most tropical environment on the farm. In last week's newsletter, we shared how we grow this precious medicinal crop. We're still managing the right balance of heat and shade that these plants can tolerate as our hoophouse and greenhouse temperatures truly soared in the hottest days of summer. This season, we added shade to our hoophouse tomatoes and peppers, and next year, we're considering the same for the tropical ginger.

The flavor of fresh ginger is truly different! Enjoy it within a week's time or freeze it in a zip-lock bag. When you are ready to cook with it, simply use a knife or grater to shave the peel away, and then grate to your desired amount. 

The final fennel of the season has a distinct anise flavor and with the fronds trimmed is more apt to fit into your refrigerator! Sautéed or roasted fennel bulb is excellent paired with broiled fish and a touch of butter and lemon. We love a raw fennel salad with citrus to bring brightness to a warm dinner. We also recommend braising and grilling the bulbs. It can be kept for two weeks in the refrigerator.
Seasonal Recipes in the Farm Kitchen

Pasta with Caramelized Fennel and Spicy Sausage

Celery Root Salad with Apples and Parsley

Roasted Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Quinoa and Spinach

Chicken Soup with Ginger

Spicy Chorizo and Cabbage Stew
Winter Share Registration Open

The Winter Produce Share includes a combination of fresh, winter-sweetened greens, stored crops, and our most popular summer vegetables harvested and preserved at the peak of ripeness when they are most nutritious and flavorful. Produce shares include fruit sourced from Mick Klug Farms.

The Winter Egg Share consists of one dozen fresh free-range brown eggs every other week from Joe's Farm. 

Both Winter Shares include six (6) every other week pickups from December through March at our Grayslake Farm location. Sign up today to reserve your share of the harvest!

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