Frozen Strawberries - Mick Klug Farm, St. Joseph, MI
Frozen Tart Cherries - Mick Klug Farm, St. Joseph, MI
Frozen Basil (cubes)
Good evening from your farm!
Since our weather has entered March like a lamb, we're sharing a classic picture of Jeff and a little lamb at Bean Hollow Grassfed in Virginia. Bean Hollow is the family farm of Mike Sands, our longtime friend and mentor.
When we visited Mike and his wife, Betsy's farm years ago, we were struck by research they were doing in grass and grazing systems, specifically their work in collaboration with other research scientists and organizations. While we've completed research projects in the past ourselves, Mike and his farm team inspired us to study and learn more with others about the natural systems and land we steward.
So as we continue to share what's new this season, we thought we'd share what's new in our ongoing research project. As we embark on year two of the SWALCO/Illinois USDA Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction Pilot Project, we're taking on more data collection and analysis in partnership with Soil Scientist, Vytas Pabedinka.
In year one, Vytas sourced locally-made compost, planned compost studies and applications, applied the compost, and monitored several plots throughout Lake County farms. This was done to determine how compost improves soil quality and moisture retention within various agricultural settings, the impacts of local compost on crop yields, and study the costs of local compost.
At Prairie Wind specifically, Vytas and Jeff together planned, applied compost, and began to study two things: 1) the long-term impact of compost on our elderberry crop, a perennial long-term crop, and 2) the shorter-term impact of compost plus cover crops, and their impact (together) on a cash crop, which this year will be tomatoes.
In year two, Jeff and Vytas will be collecting more data on the progress of both of these applications this season. With the help of Vytas and his soil science expertise, we're gaining a better understanding of local compost options, their impact and usage on our farm, and the network of Lake County farmers and gardeners studying local compost options.
So while this project is not entirely "new" this season, we look forward to the new aspects of the research this season. As Mike taught us, these types of in-depth research projects take many seasons and patience. We're proud to continue this partnership and a dedication to developing a "circular economy" of northern Illinois growers, compost makers, and local organizations dedicated to stewarding Illinois soils for the health of our communities.
Enjoy today's calm March weather and the local food grown for you!
Warmly, Jeff, Jen and the Prairie Wind team
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
This week's shares include frozen ginger. This ginger was frozen with little to no skin developed, so you can easily shave off any skin on the ginger with a knife and then chop or grate it into your favorite dish. This winter, we made candied ginger for gifts for our family and we love it as an after-dinner stomach-soothing dessert. We've even chopped up the leftovers and added candied ginger to fish marinades and Asian noodle dishes.
This week's share also included large red potatoes from Igl Farms in Antigo, WI. The Igl brothers grow a variety of potatoes, and we've found several of their varieties store well into the winter. The pretty blossom above is from the smaller "new" red potatoes we grow and harvest in early July. Unlike ours, Igl's red potatoes were in the ground longer to grow larger and allow their skins to set. These potatoes were harvested in late September. They store very well if kept in a cool (50 degrees), dark space. Enjoy them now, or perhaps in an Irish meal later this month.