Don't be fooled by our "warm" cooler! When we built our farm stand in March 2020, we did so to meet the needs of our community and we quickly realized that we needed more refrigeration! To prevent tomatoes from overripening in the farm stand, we needed a 'warm' cooler to keep tomatoes, zucchini , and cucumbers at their ideal temperature. We are not keeping tomatoes in a 'cold' cooler (e.g., 38 degrees), rather we are keeping them in a 'warm cooler' which is kept at a basement temperature (i.e., 50-60 degrees). This cool, not cold, refrigeration to preserves freshness, longevity and most importantly, the tomatoes' fresh farm flavor!
Open Daily, Summer Hours (Memorial Day - Labor Day, 7am-8pm), Normal Hours, 7am-7pm
This week, we've started our harvests at 6am, sending our crew home by 2:30pm. Our crew members travel to the farm from Chicago and various Lake County suburbs, and we appreciate their willingness to wake up extra early.
The vegetables love being harvested in the cool morning, and we all appreciate an early break from the afternoon heat.
In between the morning harvests, Jeff, Tyler and Abbey work together on the daily irrigation plan. The drought continues so each watering day is planned down to the minute.
Here at the Prairie Crossing Farm, we all share one irrigation well so we've worked out a water sharing schedule between eight farmers. In a year like this one, we're all doing our part to make the best use of this valuable (and necessary!) resource.
The "big gun" watering in a cover crop
We simply cannot water everything (or provide all of our crops with enough water) so we're required to prioritize, plan, water and repeat. Thankfully, we have a variety of irrigation tools. We also put our faith in our dense, moisture-holding soils to help us keep crops growing.
In fact, part of our watering plan is to build nutrient-rich soils through the use of deep-rooted cover crops in our hoophouse and fields. Building the soils allows us to hold moisture better and prepare for turbulent weather. Remember that flavor, color and nutrient-filled winter spinach? We thank those hard-working oats and cowpeas for their contributions to the moisture-filled leaves and deliciousness!
Wacky working and watering schedules aside, we still try not to take farming too seriously. Where else would one have an opportunity to see a baby three-pronged eggplant anyway?
Enjoy this week's summer harvest from all of us, ~ Jen, Jeff, Tyler, Abbey, Arlet, Ben, Alex P., Peggy, Alex J., Laura, Jack, Silas and Owen (and Gavin)
P.S. Cross your fingers for rain!
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
We're happy to welcome the start of sweet corn season! The sweet corn in this week's CSA shares comes from a nearby farm, Didier Farm, located in Prairie View, IL. While their sweet corn is not organic, it is local, sweet and delicious
Green Romano Beans (also known as Italian Flat Beans) are within the green bean family. They are broad and flat with a juicy, sweet flavor and great crunch. They can be eaten raw, however, they really shine when they are cooked (e.g., braise, roast, grill, stew). Keep them in plastic until you're ready to enjoy.
This week's Golden Plums are ripe and ready to eat. I'm again sharing my favorite muffins recipe which uses a combination of peaches and plums. I always add extra fruit, cut the sugar in half and eliminate the sugar topping. We also love to grill plums (and peaches!) and add vanilla yogurt for a sweet treat.