Sweet Potatoes - Amish Community Growers, Platteville, WI
Good afternoon and Happy New Year!
We've missed writing this newsletter and being in touch with you! We hope you've enjoyed a joy-filled, peaceful start to the new year.
Our last newsletter was over a month ago now, and what a month it has been. While we expected a calm and fairly uneventful month, it's actually very eventful, adventure-filled, and more fun than we imagined! We are finding this month was just what we needed this winter, so we thought we'd share more about our adventures.
Before our departure for a family trip, we had a few adventures at the farm. The farm weathered the December "bomb cyclone" mostly unscathed. Arctic cold wind gusts at 50mph caused damage to some of our crops and one of our hoophouses, which we will temporarily repair until we can replace the plastic this spring. We keep an eye on the structures with our hoophouse weather stations, cameras and most importantly consistent winter walks around the farm. Even with consistent monitoring, we know winter weather can be hard on these structures and crops.
Before taking a break for the holidays, we joined fellow farmers and researchers on an advisory committee planning zoom for the high tunnel (hoop house) pest research project. This three-year project spans four states, three universities, eight researchers, and almost 40 farms. While we have participated in many research projects, this is the first time we have been part of setting the research priorities with such a diverse and intelligent group. We're thrilled to take part in this important research that will be increasingly important to growers that use high tunnels to adapt to climate change.
With watchful technology in our hoophouses and farm friends caring for our animals, we felt reassured that we could take some time away from the farm this winter. We brought in the new year in Grayslake, and a few days later, we left for a family road trip to New Orleans. We traveled 2,400 miles in eight days, covering seven states, visiting two universities, and consuming countless calories... we won't tally that number!
To prepare for our trip, we watched one of our favorite TV shows, Somebody Feed Phil, and made reservations at a couple of his recommended restaurants. Adventurous eaters in our family tried blue crab beignets, collard green melts, turtle bolognese, southern fresh salads, shellfish stew, gumbos, sweet beignets and of course, a myriad of fried chicken, catfish and shrimp po' boys.
Luckily, we found plenty of activities to burn calories, too. We checked a few things off our bucket list with an exciting airboat swamp tour and attending a celebration parade for Kings Day (the start of Mardi Gras season) and Joan of Arc's birthday. Our nature lovers strolled the beautiful New Orlean's City Park, NOMA Sculpture Garden, Audubon Park and the Mississippi Gulf Shore, too.
One of the reasons we visited the south was to spend a few days with Jeff's Masterminds cohort. This group is made up of about 15 experienced (growing for 10 years+, not all are pictured), diverse farmers from Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, Vermont, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Washington. They gather together regularly to learn from and support each other.
They covered a myriad of topics like business structures, field best practices, future planning, and self-care. Whether you're farming in rural Wisconsin, the city of New Orleans or suburban Georgia, it is always encouraging to share successes and struggles and realize you're not alone in either. Taking time with other farmers who understand, encourage, creatively challenge and support each other is invaluable to recharging us all for the upcoming season. Plus, a few evenings of laughter and memory-making together in New Orleans sure don't hurt!
After a few days of catch-up and snuggles with our cats, we brought our NOLA road trip playlist, a speaker, fond memories, and extra energy into the pack shed with us to prepare winter shares for our members.
We're glad to be home and farming again. Please enjoy this week's share!
Warmly, The Miller family (Jeff, Jen, Owen and Gavin Miller)
Note from the Farm Kitchen
Celery Root and kohlrabi can look similar, so here are a few pictures and details to share their lovely differences!
Celery root, also known as celeriac, is a funny-looking but delicious relative of celery. Use a sharp kitchen knife to trim the outside layer from the bulb before chopping it. Because celery root has a mild celery flavor, we use in place of celery in soups, stews and roasted vegetable medleys. The bulb will store for weeks to months in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Kohlrabi, like broccoli and cabbage, is a member of the Brassica family and as such has a sweet and peppery flavor -- sweet like cabbage and peppery like a turnip. This week's kohlrabi is a storage variety which means you can place the bulb into a plastic bag where it will store well for months. This variety is the sweetest we grow so we love to slice a piece, add kosher salt and eat for a snack!
Farm Stand Reminder We're harvesting and partnering with local farmers year-round to provide meats, cheeses, produce, preserves and more! Eat and support local food year-round by making a stop at the farm stand. Restocked twice weekly and open daily, 7am-7pm. Thank you for your support!