Acorn Squash - Big Patch Farm's Amish Community Growers, Platteville, WI
Yellow Onion - Big Patch Farm's Amish Community Growers, Platteville, WI
What's New at the Farm Stand
Farmstand Gift Cards! - As you begin thinking ahead to holidays, you can purchase a gift card for use at the PWFF Farm Stand! Simply visit the link to purchase and receive an email with a Square code. The gift recipient can enter the code at the farm stand's Square credit card checkout terminal and be on their way with farm goodies. If you have any questions, please let us know. Thank you!
Masks: We ask that you please wear a mask while inside the farmstand. Thank you!
Hours: Open daily, 7am-7pm
Good evening from the farm, and welcome to the fall season!
Fall is that time of year when we look back and reflect. We also begin our improvements for the 2022 season. One thing that stood out to us throughout this drought-filled season was the adaption of animals on the farm -- sometimes for good and sometimes causing some problems. We began to brainstorm some of the adaptations we need to make as farmers to better live with animals who are adapting to record-setting weather, too.
For instance, throughout the dry summer months, water sources around the farm changed. As our retention pond dried up, frogs, snakes and turtles (as you might remember from this picture!) headed to the fields to seek water from small leaks in our irrigation equipment. We decided to change our perspective. Jeff and Abbey let the leaky irrigation run a little longer than necessary to provide a resource for these animals.
The mice and voles took to our crops to seek water from the roots. Some of the tops of beets and carrots, a sweet favorite, were nibbled as soon as they grew above the soil. While we couldn't stop every little munching animal, we decided to plant roots farther away from safe hiding and habitat for creatures, and instead place something less desirable near hedgerows and prairie. The roots were planted farther away from hedgerows weren't damaged as the mice determined the risk of traveling across an open field wasn't worth the reward.
We're a part of a larger cycle that depends us fostering habitat and depends on natural predators to help balance small animal populations. Every October, great horned owls spend their mating season on the farm and we hear them hooting to each other across the farm fields each night. We welcomed them back by enjoying their sounds this weekend. We take heart in knowing we have plenty of healthy farm mice that will soon go to feed young owlets that live in the pine trees near our farmhouse!
The greenhouse is another area where we're striving to bring more balance to the small rodent population. Our seedlings are another source of nutrition and water for mice. We've already lost four successions of seeded spinach to the mice, as they dug up and ate every seed planted in the greenhouse in one night! We started outsmarting the mice by moving the seedling trays throughout the farm on wagons, away from mouse habitats again, to ensure that spinach seedlings would remain safe throughout the evenings.
Photo credit: Earnest Earth Farm
We also decided we needed another (lovable) predator to help us. So last weekend, we traveled and visited with farmer friends at Chicago farm, Earnest Earth. Their farm is two city lots within Garfield Park, near the Garfield Conservatory, pictured above. When Farmer Kerem's farm cats had kittens, he offered them up for adoption and we knew that we could give these kittens a farm job and loving home.
These sweet kittens are now living in our greenhouse and they will help us to better control the mice population as we continue to seed winter successions of spinach and lettuce. These city farm cats are quickly adapting to a more suburban farm life, finding hiding spots and places to climb on the greenhouse tables.
We are still in the naming process (suggestions welcomed) and getting the kittens acclimated to their new home, but there are plenty of crew members to help us check in on them throughout the day. This winter, we'll outfit them with warm beds and plenty of attention from our farming family. Little did we know these two little bursts of energy and fun would bring a balance to a busy farming season, too.
Enjoy this week's fall shares!
Warmly, ~ The Miller Family and the Prairie Wind Team
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Fennel has a distinct anise flavor and smell, coming from both the base and fronds. Sautéed or roasted fennel bulb is excellent paired with broiled fish and a touch of butter and lemon. We love a raw fennel salad with citrus to bring brightness to a warm dinner. 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.
We've had a banner cabbage season, so while we wait for the fall spinach to size up, we're stocking your refrigerator for winter! Cabbage stores nicely in its own wrapper for months. Just when you think the outer leaves look unappealing, simply peel back for deliciousness inside. We eat cabbage regularly throughout all seasons, most recently using the recipe below for sautéed cabbage with a kielbasa.
Seasonal Recipes in the Farm Kitchen
Fennel and Orange Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette 1/4 baguette, very thinly sliced 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper Kosher salt 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 navel oranges 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, very thinly sliced, plus 1/4 cup fennel fronds 4 cups salad mix Preheat oven to 375°F. Place baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, 8-10 minutes. Let cool and break into pieces. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, lemon and orange zests, ginger, and pepper in a large bowl; season with salt and whisk in oil. Using a sharp knife, cut all peel and white pith from oranges; discard. Working over bowl with dressing, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl; discard membranes. Add fennel, fennel fronds, mustard greens, and croutons to bowl; toss to combine. (slightly adapted from epicurious.com)