Thank you, Spring Members! Early Summer Shares Begin Soon
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This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
Potatoes - from Igl Farms, Antigo, WI
Rhubarb - from Mick Klug Farms, St Joseph, MI
Black Radishes - Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, WI
Brown Crimini and White Button Mushrooms - River Valley Ranch and Kitchens, Burlington, WI
Thank you to our Spring Share members for kicking off the 2022 outdoor growing season with us!
Our spring season is typically the busiest and most exciting season here on the farm. In spring, we open the farm up after being buttoned up for winter weather and welcome visitors each day. We begin working with new systems, new team members, new equipment and tools, new research partners, and occasionally, new (and this year, record-setting!) weather patterns.
Spring is also a time filled with planting seeds and seedlings, watching buds and green grass appear, and transitioning baby animals into their summer homes. Generally, there's a feeling of hope and anticipation. At the same time, we can always count on spring to remind us of the importance of going to bed early!
Next week, we launch into the summer season. We split the summer season into two -- Early Summer and Late Summer -- as our crops tend to be very different in June/July vs. August/September/early October. June will bring favorites like broccolini, strawberrries, garlic scapes and cherries, and August and September celebrate the arrival of field tomatoes, peaches, eggplant, grapes, and peppers.
Season changes also bring about changes in the songs of the birds. The sky changes colors as we see changes in the colors of our cover crops and hedgerows. We notice insects we see in the field and the hoophouses change, too.
In fact, we've undertaken a second research project this season, in partnership with researchers and extension professionals from Purdue University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University of New Hampshire. These teams are working together to better understand the impacts of insect pests in high tunnel production across 20 different farms in Illinois, Indiana and New Hampshire. We're working with their specialty crop entomologists to capture insect samples weekly in our hoophouses which they will then track, analyze and compare. This research is particularly interested in the seasonal changes of insects (both beneficial and destructive) that we see in our hoophouses. The researchers even intend to collect samples throughout our winter hoophouse production!
Finally, we noticed seasonal changes within the trees, shrubs, and birds in our far fields. In conjunction with the Liberty Prairie Foundation and the Savanna Institute, we hosted over 40 individuals from across the state to learn about our food forest this past weekend. They noticed our elderberry and seaberry shrubs thriving in wet spring, as well as several patches of the food forest untouched as birds nest in the grasses nearby.
Farming in the midwest means that we celebrate each season as it arrives and embrace the change it brings. We also plan ahead for the seasons to come and reflect on the seasons as they pass. We plan to invite you to the farm again this summer and fall to experience the changes, too. Please watch for more upcoming events in our newsletters.
In the meantime, thank you for joining us for the seasonal journey in eating and enjoy your share of the harvest!
Warmly, ~ The Miller Family and Prairie Wind team
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
This week members will receive a newer crop for us called sprouting broccoli or broccolini. This young broccoli relative is tender, flavorful, and delicious steamed, sautéed, grilled, stir-fried, and eaten fresh. While generally harvested just for stems and florets, we've included the broccolini greens and stem as they are equally as delicious and packed with nutrients -- some consider the greens a superfood!
We suggest storing the florets and greens separately in plastic bags to keep each fresh. Since the stems are pretty thin, broccolini doesn’t take long to cook. Just toss it in a hot skillet with some olive oil and sauté until bright green. Add lots of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, then pour in a splash of water and cover until tender.
We often harvest spring fennel at a baby size to take advantage of its tender, sweet flavor. Members will receive one medium or two small bulbs with fronds attached this week. Raw fennelhas a distinct anise flavor and smell. Our spring fennel is grown in hoophouse soils, making it delicate and tender. Sautéed or roasted fennel is excellent paired with broiled fish and a touch of butter and lemon. My favorite way to use fennel is to slowly (on medium-low heat) sauté sliced fennel with onion, enough to caramelize slightly and then add Italian sausage. Add the mixture to hot pasta with wilted spinach, add extra olive oil on top and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese, diced fronds, and salt to taste.
Members will receive fresh rhubarb from Mick Klug Farm again this week. As one of the few vegetable crops that the Klug's farm grows, they've seen a great crop of rhubarb (with strawberries following closely behind!) due to recent heat waves. We enjoy rhubarb for its versatility in both savory and sweet dishes, and it freezes very well, too! To freeze, simply wash the stalks, chopped into 1/2 inches pieces, and freeze in 2 cup increments so it's ready to use in combination with those upcoming strawberries.
Seasonal Recipes in the Farm Kitchen
Simple Fennel and Orange Salad 2 small or 1 medium fennel bulb, 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)