As you can see from the picture above, the farm is full and lush right with plenty of green growth. Hooray for spring! The cover crop pictured is a mixture of peas and vetch that are feeding the soil with plenty of nutrients for future food crops.
Even our hoophouses are bursting with color and growth! After harvesting many of our spring crops and putting hundreds of tomato, pepper and ginger plants into the ground, we really began to feel the seasonal transition towards summer.
Due to wet soils, our ability to get tractors in the field is extremely limited right now. So Saturday's warm, dry day was spent with our family planting quickly within a narrow the weather window before the next rain. Luckily, our kids are adapting to being called on more frequently, as they are essential workers at the farm, too.
Our farm crew is working diligently in the field with hand equipment delicately weeding crops (instead of by tractor implement) because we still have areas that are too wet to drive in without causing damage. While these adaptations are tricky and time consuming, they are worth it as we need to be responsible and respectful of our soils so as to not damage the microbial life within them.
We also continue to adjust our safety measures and ways of working to the seasonal changes. For instance, this week's high temperatures and humidity caused us to consider the best ways to work comfortably in masks and high heat, while keeping the team safe. We foresee plenty of refreshing water gun battles in our future!
Though we've been through many of the same processes and practices year after year, this season feels like an evolution on all fronts. For 13 years, our USDA organic certifications process was a one day intensive, in-person inspection pouring over files of records, driving and walking the farm and returning to the table again for Q&A. However, this 14th season's partially virtual inspection was new to us. Our records were being inspected electronically and we're asked specific questions via multi-hour Zoom conference call with our inspector who stayed safe in Viroqua, WI. On Friday, Jeff will walk the fields with our inspector 6 feet apart and discuss what's happening on the ground. Our inspectors willingness to be creative through this process with Jeff makes for a truly collaborative relationship towards ensuring a high level of integrity in our food.
And wow, what a season it's been so far, and it's only the end of May! Every week feels like a new evolution of the farm. In many ways, these new ways of working are difficult and the changing, sometimes erratic weather patterns, make farming even more challenging. But we're all striving to best manage during this pandemic and we're moved by the tenacity, ingenuity and compassion that our crew shows every day. With nearly a full team of returning crew members, these essential team members allow us to farm together effectively despite our masks, distances, gloves, sanitation procedures and new processes galore. The laughter may be muffled, but its still there!
We look forward to sharing a wonderful harvest with you this week. Enjoy!
Your farmers, Jeff, Jen, Tyler, Abbey, Arlet, Kim, Ryan, Cayla, Chrissie, Owen & Gavin
Prairie Wind Farm Stand Open! This winter, we worked to reconstruct our barn to offer additional local foods to supplement our farm shares. We reached out to longtime farming friends and small producers to source a variety of local products including locally made jams, honey, condiments, cheeses, meats, as well as offering a selection of the produce we grow. Our farmstand is open and you're welcomed to visit!
The farmstand is located at our address (560 Harris Road, Grayslake, IL 60030) and within the long white barn pictured here. Products and availability change weekly, so please visit the farm to see what’s available. Currently, the Farm Stand hours are daily from 7am-7pm and the stand is self-serve. We accept cash, check and Venmo (for touch-free payments). More instructions are posted at the farm. We’re observing safety measures including one visitor at a time, social distancing and encouraging masks.
Thank you for your continued support of local farmers and small businesses!
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Green garlic is the immature stage of the garlic plant. We planted our garlic in late October and harvest the bulbs in July. Most of the plants to develop bulbs, but we harvest a small portion in the spring when they look like very large green onions. You can use everything but the tough, dark green tops. We substitute green garlic for garlic cloves in many different recipes since the flavor is similar and it's wonderful to have fresh garlic in the farm kitchen again!
This week, we're again including our white salad turnips, a Japanese variety called hakurei. It is very mild and sweet and is easily mistaken for a white radish. Japanese turnips are delicious eaten raw or sautéed in a little butter and sprinkled with salt. Turnips are a good source of Vitamin C, and rich in the minerals potassium and calcium. As with all roots (e.g., radishes), make sure you remove the green tops from your turnips so the turnips remain crispy and fresh. Use the green tops as you would other cooking greens, for example mixed into a soup or sautéed with your swiss chard.
Babyfennel has a distinct anise flavor and smell, coming from both the base and fronds. We grow baby fennel in the spring for its delicate flavor. Sautéed or roasted fennel bulb is excellent paired with broiled fish and a touch of butter and lemon. My favorite ways to use fennel is to sauté sliced fennel with onion and some Italian sausage. Then add it to hot pasta, mix in some jarred tomatoes, wilted swiss chard or mushrooms, add olive oil on top and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese, fennel fronds and salt to taste. We also recommend braising and grilling the bulbs. You can use the whole plant and once the bulb is separated from the fronds, it can be kept for two weeks in the refrigerator.
Seasonal Recipes from the Farm Kitchen
Simple Fennel and Orange Salad 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced 2 medium oranges, peeled 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries
Place the sliced fennel in a salad bowl. Slice oranges to divide flesh sections and add to bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Toss, top with sweetened cranberries and serve. Serves 4. (FoodNetwork.com)
Turnip Salad with Yogurt, Herbs and Poppy Seeds 1 bunch of Japanese turnips, trimmed so there's just a nice 1/4 inch of green stems left 1 lemon, halved 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not greek yogurt) about 1 cup lightly packed mixed herbs, for example mint, dill, chives, parsley, finely chopped 4 scallions, trimmed (including 1/2 inch of the green tops) sliced on a sharp angle, soaked in ice water for 20 minutes and then drained well extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup poppy seeds
Slice the turnips lengthwise as thin as you can. If you have a mandolin, use it; otherwise a sharp knife and steady hand will do just fine. Soak the sliced turnips in ice water for 15 minutes then drain them very well. Rinse, dry and roughly chop the turnip greens. If the greens seem like their old or not in the best shape you can quickly saute them in olive oil. Put the turnips in a large bowl and squeeze half of the lemon. Add the chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and plenty of black pepper and toss to blend. Add the yogurt and toss again. Add the herbs, scallions, and 1/4 cup olive oil and toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Scatter about half of the poppy seeds on the bottom of the platter or individual serving plates, top with the turnip salad, and finish the the rest of the poppy seeds. Serve right away. (Joshua McFadden's cookbook Six Seasons of Vegetables)