Shopping Cart

Puzzle of Regenerative Farming

Posted by on
Puzzle of Regenerative Farming
This Week's Vegetable Share Harvest:
  • Celery
  • Curly Green Kale
  • Red Radishes
  • Summer Crisp Lettuce
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Poblano Peppers
  • Cilantro
  • Delicata or Carnival Winter Squash - skins are edible on both!
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Celery Root
This Week's Fruit Share Harvest:
  • 'Honeycrisp' Apples
  • 'Mutsu' Apples
  • 'Empire' Apples
  • Fresh Apple Cider
What's New at the Farm Stand
  • Locally-made Soup! - Our friends at Bushel & Peck's make a wide variety of delicious frozen soups that are easy to heat up and enjoy. Soup flavors include Minestrone, Squash Bisque, Cauliflower Curry, Potato Leek, Veggie Lentil, Tomato Basil, Squash Curry, Mushroom Barley and several others. The fresh flavors come from the vegetables they source from local Illinois and Wisconsin farmers. In addition, you can find our very own PWFF tomato puree which also makes a lovely soup base as pictured above.nEat local soup!
  • Masks: We ask that you please wear a mask while inside the farmstand. Thank you!
  • Hours: Open daily, 7am-7pm 
Farm Journal
Good evening from the farm!
Jeff and the team love growing (and sharing) delicious food! Last week, we delivered this lovely bounty to our friends at Real Clean Paleo and we got to talking. As small business owners, we found that we are both trying new approaches and finding new ways of looking at difficult puzzles which recharge our interests in our work. 

For example, in September 2020, Jeff posed a question during our late summer farm planning process: how can we better a) balance growing nutritious food, with even better quality, b) improve how we manage the land, and c) demonstrate best practices in both to our community, other growers and even school-aged kids?
Jeff shared recently with his farmer colleagues group that this year's goal to, "develop and implement a new cover crop plan which gave me a renewed energy. The challenge was to keep as much of our soil protected as I could. Being a lover of puzzles, I find it fun to figure out how to continue to grow lots of great vegetables and fit in as many soil-building practices as I can. Looking forward, we will test in new ways to watch how much what we do improves soil biology, water infiltration and fertility."
Digging into the puzzle took a great deal of work and Jeff's cover crop plan is complex. The plan involves coordinating the timing and needs of 50 vegetable crops with multiple cover crops. The plan also involves finding, purchasing and utilizing appropriate equipment, learning about best practices to plant and maintain all types of crops, and evaluating how each crop impacts the quality of both our soil and produce.  

Solving the puzzling boils down to short and long-term regenerative farming approaches, ongoing learning and results such as:
  • Purchasing a no-till seed drill, we reduced our need for tillage before a cover crop is seeded by over 50% in one year. 
  • Placing 25% of our productive acres in full-season cover crop and 25% in partial-season cover crop we have nearly all of our soil with something growing in it throughout the season (and taking carbon out of the atmosphere!) with 50% of our vegetable growing ground is veggies and 50% in cover crop.
  • Using scale-appropriate equipment is essential to be precise in seeding cover crops and able to get into smaller areas more frequently. As a reward for precision, we are growing crops with fewer weeds, less soil compaction and disruption, and more nutrients going deep into the soil.
Beyond the complexities of balancing vegetable and cover crop growing, many farmers experiment with using cover crops in creative ways. Dan Barber, of Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns, uses some of their oat cover crop in a warm porridge. Other farmers graze their animals on cover crops. Jeff decided to trial using cover crops as natural mulches for vegetables and protecting additional cover crops. 
This experiment is demonstrated in the video above where a standing crop of sudangrass was planted in May. Rather than low-till or mow, Jeff took a no-till approach and planted another cover crop into this grass. Jeff's hypothesis is that the sudangrass will die-off with the first frost, the grasses will lay down, and the dead grasses will serve as a natural mulch protection for the rye, vetch and pea seeds to grow. 
Jeff explained this experiment and approach to Illinois Farm Bureau Extension Agents from throughout the state of Illinois last week. Many of the agents are farmers themselves, too! They were very interested to learn more about Jeff's equipment and approaches to executing the PWFF cover crop plan. The farmers could appreciate that this approach is not only better for the environment by reusing the cover crop but the approach also saves tractor fuel, soil compaction and time. 
Jeff translates our work to our interested 12 year-old by saying, "we want to harness the goodness the cover crop provides to our soil, keep that goodness protected beneath the soil and not released into the atmosphere." While Gavin might not understand the impact of his Dad's regenerative agriculture practices, he knows our farm can make a difference to the environment he loves.
No matter the audience, we've found Jeff's passion and interest in solving this complicated puzzle is contagious. As Jeff shared with the Extension Agents, "It's really fulfilling to know we're demonstrating to school kids, veteran farmers, beginning farmers and our neighbors' ways to keep a farm business viable while doing the right thing for our environment and community." 

~ The Miller Family and the Prairie Wind Team
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
As is tradition in late summer, we are including a favorite in fruit shares this week -- Mick Klug's apple cider. The Klug's cider is nothing but apples, and UV treated for safety. This cider can be enjoyed fresh, heated, mulled, spritzed or spiked as you like! Fruit shares also include a variety of the Klug's apples this week including HoneycrispEmpire and Mutsu varieties. Honeycrisp are, well, most kids' favorite! They are perfect for eating as you carry your shares to your home. Empire and Mutsu are both great for eating and since they hold their shape well, they are great for baking as well.
Celery root, also known as celeriac, is a funny-looking but delicious relative of celery. Use a sharp kitchen knife to trim the outside layer from the bulb before chopping it. Because celery root has a mild celery flavor, we use in place of celery, as a roasted vegetable or shredded and combined with apples to make a delicious slaw. The bulb will store for weeks to months in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. 
Field-grown peppers, both Poblanos and Sweet Frying Peppers, are making one last appearance in shares this season, as we saved them from too much rain this weekend. Members may see a variety of shapes, colorations, and sizes but rest assured, they are all useful! Use the smaller sized peppers for adding heat or color to your dishes, while larger peppers are great for filling using a technique or recipe like pepper eggs with Jacques Pepin.
Reserve Your Local, Pasture-Raised Turkey for Thanksgiving

Reserve a local, pasture-raised, organic-fed heritage turkey for a special Thanksgiving dinner from our friends at All Grass Farms.

Farmer Cliff raises Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys which are moved to pasture at 3 weeks of age.  They are free-range in and around portable shelters with their shelters being moved daily.  They are fed certified organic, non-GMO feed mixture from day one with no antibiotics or growth hormones.  They are processed at 17-19 weeks for maximum flavor and they are humanely processed at local, family-owned USDA inspected facility.

Weights range from 12-25 lbs. We will do everything we can to provide you with a turkey in your desired weight range. Turkeys are frozen and packaged in a vacuum-sealed bag. Heart, liver, neck, and gizzard included inside each turkey.

Reservation: $35 deposit per turkey due at time of order.
Final Price: You will be invoiced with your total at $7/lb (less your deposit) due upon pickup.

Turkeys will be available for pickup from the Grayslake farm on Saturday, November 13 and Sunday, November 14 from 7am to 7pm. 

Place your reservation here. 
Please contact Jen with any questions. Thank you for supporting local farmers!
Seasonal Recipes in the Farm Kitchen

Cream of Celery and Celery Root Soup

Kale and Honeycrisp Apple Salad

Steak Tacos with Cilantro Radish Salsa

Apple Cider Donut Loaf Cake

Older Post Newer Post