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Photos and Video of a Wet September on the Farm

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Photos and Video of a Wet September on the Farm
This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Radishes
  • Delicata Squash
  • Thyme
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard
  • Salad Mix
  • Crimini Mushrooms - from River Valley Ranch in Burlington, WI
  • Red Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Yellow Popcorn
  • Zucchini (Neighborhood site members will receive this week)
  • Broccoli (Grayslake farm members will receive this week)
This Week's Fruit Harvest:
  • 'Golden Supreme' Apples
  • Italian Plums
  • Asian Pears
Farm Journal
Last week started with a nice visit from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a calm, sunny afternoon. The journalist interviewed us about what its like farming within the suburbs of Chicago. As "agrihoods" grow in popularity across the nation, we're often asked to share our perspective as farmers who raise vegetables yards away from our Prairie Crossing neighbors. As we always say, we're fortunate to have neighbors who appreciate our work and don't mind the sound of early morning tractors! 
However later that same evening, storms began to roll into our area. The sound of quiet blowing breezes quickly turned into thunder and loud tornado sirens, and we spent the evening listening to disconcerting flash flood alerts.
The next morning, we awoke to a (sadly) familiar scene. Many of our fields were flooded, and we again were thankful for planting into raised beds that saved a number of our crops. We triaged fields quickly deciding which fields we should harvest from to save crops from damage and which fields needed patience to determine next steps.
We addressed our root crops first, pulling radishes that were ready and beautifully colorful once Tyler sprayed the soil off!
Next, we very carefully harvested tomatoes. The team stepped carefully through the vines to avoid splashing water on the tomato plant's leaves and potentially spreading disease between plants. 
Unfortunately, we experienced a second and then a third set of severe storms which continued to worsen the flooding. Even our cover crops, masters at handling water, couldn't handle another 5 inches of water on top of the previous 2 inches we received just a few days before.
Throughout the following days, Jeff created additional paths for the water to flow out of our fields and we practiced patience as the sun and wind moved into the forecast for Friday and Saturday.
The foggy nights and very dewy mornings that followed caused us to worry for our crops' quality amidst weather patterns that breeds plant diseases and deterioration. Despite some disappointments, we strive to be proactive and continue learning throughout the process.
As part of our ongoing SARE research grant to study how extreme weather events impact our soils and crops, we continue to film and analyze videos like the one to gain a different vantage point. These aerial images allows us to gather information that provides us with both a big picture view and shows some of the nuances in our fields that are not visible form the ground. We are already using this knowledge to plan for growing next season.
And after the cloudy skies, the sunshine always returns. From our farm crew members who still smile through difficult harvests, to CSA members who tell us they much they missed their farm shares while on vacation, to customers who bring us copies of their favorite recipes, to fellow farmer friends who text us throughout the night to make sure we're holding up, we thank you all for your support. We're grateful for all of the sunshine and warmth!

Your farmers,
Jeff, Jen and our farm crew
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
As we move closer to fall, we're seeing the first of this season's winter squashes and this week, members will receive delicata squash in vegetable shares. Delicata squash is a family favorite because we find the texture of the inner flesh to be similar to butternut however the flavor to be richer and slightly sweeter. I think the best part about delicata is that its simple and easy to prepare. Simply scrape out the center and slice, as the skin is edible and softens when cooked.  
What's cuter than this classic picture of puppies and pears? Asian pears have a distinct but pear-like taste and a crisp texture, much like a good apple. Their flesh is crisp, somewhat course, and always very sweet. They are wonderful in salads, eaten raw and used for baking. They store well in your refrigerator in the crisper. 
Recipes Ideas from the Farm Kitchen

Sausage, Swiss Chard, and Beans Pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
8 oz spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (or substitute with plant-based sausage)
1-15.5-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed, patted dry
1/4 cup dry white wine
12 oz rigatoni
Kosher salt
8 cups (lightly packed) torn Swiss chard leaves
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Fry rosemary, turning, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Add sausage to same pot and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add beans to pot and cook, tossing occasionally and mashing some beans with spoon, until browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Transfer about half of beans to plate with sausage. Add wine to pot, bring to a boil, and cook until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with beans and add swiss chard and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing often, until swiss chard is wilted, pasta is al dente, and sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Add another ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid, then gradually add ½ cup cheese, tossing until melted and dissolved into a sauce. Thin with more pasta cooking liquid if needed. Season with pepper and more salt if needed. Add butter and toss to combine, then mix in reserved sausage and beans. Divide pasta among plates. Crumble rosemary over top and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese.
Roasted Delicata Squash
1 delicata squash, depending on size
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean the delicata squash by running under warm water and scrubbing away dirt with your hands. If there are any hard spots on the squash, you can scrape them off with a butter knife. With a sharp knife, cut delicata in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard (you can save these and prepare them like pumpkin seeds if you wish). Cut each delicata half into ½-inch segments, creating moon-shaped pieces that have slight bumps around the curve. Add oil, salt and pepper to the pan. Toss squash into oil to coat. Arrange the pieces in a single layer on a baking pan. Place in oven and roast 10 minutes. Turn once and continue roasting, turning every 7-10 minutes until both sides of the squash pieces are golden brown and the texture is creamy to the teeth all the way through, about 25-30 minutes.
Asian Pear Green Salad
2 tsp olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped (¼ cup)
3 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
6 cups salad mix and/or head lettuce
1 medium Asian pear, cored and cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (2 oz)
3 Tbsp shelled, toasted pistachios, chopped
Heat oil in small, non-stick skillet over low heat. Add shallot, and sauté 4 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar and honey. Divide salad among four salad plates. Top each serving with Asian pear matchsticks, cheese and pistachios, and drizzle with dressing.

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... salad mix, apples, broccoli, fresh dill, carrots, ginger, green beans and more!

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