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Stroll the Farm and other Farm News

 

Farm News for the week of September 12   

Reminders & Announcements

  • This week, all Late Summer Vegetable, Fruit and Egg Share members pick-up.
  • Next week, weekly Late Summer Vegetable and Fruit Share members pick-up.

  This Week's Vegetable Harvest

  • Green Beans
  • Red Head Lettuce
  • Green Head Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Yellow Onions
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Zucchini - Off-farm pickup site members will receive this week. Farm pickup members will receive next week.
  • Cucumbers

This Week's Fruit Share

  • Jupiter Grapes
  • Bartlett Pears
  • Stanley Plums

  Upcoming Event: The Lake County Farm Stroll 

This Sunday, September 17th from 10am-5pm, the Prairie Crossing Farm will host stop along the 2017 Lake County Farm Stroll. The stroll is an educational self-guided tour of twelve diversified family farms in Lake County to promote local agriculture and bring awareness to ranches, farms and farm fresh markets.

Here at the Prairie Crossing farm, we welcome visitors to take a farm hayride, visit with our chickens, purchase local organic vegetables and try your hand at gleaning! Kroll's Fall Harvest Farm (Tyler's family farm) is also featured on the stroll. 

The event is free and open to the public. Additional details on farm participants are within the event brochure which is also available at all sites. There is no beginning or end to the stroll, so you can travel at your leisure.  Enjoy the day visiting the diverse farms of Lake County!

 Farm Team Profiles 

Today we'd like to introduce you to three of the leaders on our farm. They help us to plan, organize, manage and grow your food. We'll continue to share our crew members' stories over the course of the next few newsletters. 

 

We've known Tyler for many years, and we've been farming together for the last 7 years. Tyler serves as our Farm Manager providing leadership and oversight on large projects (i.e., recovering our greenhouse walls) and offers a wide range of experience and knowledge on running the farm smoothly throughout the season.  With his determination, creativity and good sense of humor, there's no one Jeff would rather have at his side to help fix tractors, plan complicated construction projects and catch the occasional escapee goat!  Here's a bit about Tyler in his own words:

"My family has been farming most of my life, and in an area where farmers are definitely a minority you eventually do a little work with most of them!  I started working at the Prairie Crossing Farm with Sandhill about 12 or 13 years ago as a part time summer employee on tomato maintenance. [Throughout the transition to Sandhill Family Farms and now Prairie Wind Family Farms], I've always enjoyed the job and have just embraced the evolution of the Prairie Crossing Farm over the years.

When I'm not farming there I am many times farming at my families farm, working on my donut business, or my Christmas tree business. Aside from work I like to spend time with my kids, watch movies and teach them about gardening with the fruit we grow at home. On my own. I enjoy fishing."


When asked what might surprise others to learn about the farm, Tyler shared:

"I think what surprises most people is how many bad days we have. It's not something we dwell on, but more something that makes us recognize the good days.  I think people tend to forget that the vegetables need to be tended to, and harvested rain or shine. Our love of the work (and some times our dark sense of humor!) is what pulls us through." 

 

This is Charlotte's fourth season farming with us.  Charlotte is our Assistant Farm Manager and she's responsible for leading our work in the greenhouse, managing our chicken flock, and serving as a leader for the crew on special projects (amongst other things!). We appreciate her attention to quality, strong work ethic and desire to continue to improve what we do here on the farm each day. Here's a bit more about Charlotte in her own words:

"Initially I was interested in working on the farm because I knew I enjoyed working outside, I wanted to learn more about land management, and I was becoming more interested in knowing where my food was coming from and what inputs it was taking to produce it. After working a season at the farm I was drawn to the lifestyle and hard work that it takes to bring real food to the table, I couldn't go back to shopping for produce at the grocery store. I want to support and be a part of a system that works to better the land and the people who care for it. I appreciate the relationship the Millers and I have grown not only as an employer but as friends. I feel like I am part of a greater community since working on the farm. 

When I'm not farming, I enjoy cooking and practicing food preservation. I garden on my own plot where I have started growing herbs for medicinal and culinary uses and making bouquets from my flowers. I also enjoy outdoor activities like bike riding, hiking, swimming, and traveling whenever I can!"


When asked what would might surprise others to learn about our work:

"I think something that would surprise CSA members are the field walks or roundtable [learning day] we do where we can ask and discuss different farm related topics with the Millers and their experiences. Maybe even knowing the fun we have together at regular lunch time potlucks and a pie eating contest each year!" 

Elaine is our fearless Crew Leader! She leads the team in our daily work including planting, harvesting, weeding and various other projects. We appreciate her organizational skills, love of learning and positive spirit. Here's more about Elaine in her own words:

"I recently left a fulfilling career in marketing research to go back to my first passion – plants!  My biggest interest in working with plants is to grow food sustainably, so I’m both working on a degree in sustainable agriculture and getting hands-on experience working on organic farms.  I was drawn to farming at Prairie Wind because I wanted to broaden my experience in organic farming by working on a farm that has a CSA as its primary focus. I had previously worked for a small, not-for-profit urban farm that sells mostly to local restaurants and a wholesaler.  I was drawn to working for Jen and Jeff because I felt like I could learn a lot from them and enjoy working with them.  They’ve been great about answering our many questions and ensuring that we get the types of experiences we desire in order to get the most out of working at their farm.  
 
Even after working at the farm all day, I actually enjoy gardening at my home.  I’m planting, pruning and weeding!  When I’m not farming or gardening, I also like to listen to live music, bike and spend time with family and friends."
 
When asked what would most surprise others about the farm, she answered:
 
"There’s a lot of time and effort that goes on behind the scenes in order to get the finished product (everyone’s produce) ready each week for the CSA and farmers market e.g., starting seeds in the greenhouse, planting seedlings in the field, irrigating, scouting for pests, weeding, harvesting, washing, packing, etc.  This is going to sound clichéd, but farming really is a labor of love.  We love the work we’re doing and we’re having fun while we’re doing it!"

You'll likely see Tyler, Charlotte and Elaine around the farm, at a CSA pick-up or at our Saturday farmers' market in Oak Park. Don't hesitate to say hello!

Have a great week!
~Jen & Jeff   

Making the most of your share    

As the weather cools, radishes thrive again in the fields. You'll likely find this week's radishes to have a mild pepper flavor and a nice crunch.  I'd recommend removing the green tops and storing the roots in a plastic bag. Radishes are nice on salads, thinly sliced on tacos and a wonderful addition to crusty bread with cultured butter. Here are few great ideas for making use of the radish tops. 

 

This week's bartlett pears on the firm side in order to prevent bruising during harvest. We'd recommend allowing them to ripen at room temperature. Placing pears in a paper bag at this point will speed things up because it traps the ethylene gas that pears naturally emit during the ripening process.   

Farm Kitchen Recipes

Couscous and Feta Stuffed Bell Peppers
Plum Tart
Caramelized Spicy Green Beans
Wilted Spinach and Almond Salad   

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... broccoli, leeks, apples, beets, dill, kale, grapes and more!



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