Do we wash the vegetables? An update!

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At many points, I've written about how much we wash the produce, mostly because that's one of my (Sara's) main duties at the farm, so I take the cleanliness of our produce seriously! (Or as seriously as I can take anything).

So, you may have noticed our peppers, eggplant, zucchini and cucumbers tend to be a bit sandy, and our basil is downright dirty!  Why?  We've started dialing down the washing on some vegetables in order to help their storage life for you.  We've found that leaving the skin unwashed and dry is actually improving the vegetables quality when it comes time to eat it.  And as for the basil, whoa, that stuff goes bad quickly enough as it is, but once it's washed, use it asap because it's going south!

So, sorry there's a little extra washing to do at home now, but it will pay off in yumminess, I know!

Also, while we do spend loving attention washing your produce, please wash and/or keep your eyes on what you're eating - it's all natural, so 100% of dirt, bugs, and grass are impossible to remove.

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!

Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

Our pepper plants are going CRAZY! In a good way.

Our pepper plants are going CRAZY! In a good way.

Feel Good About the Ecological Benefits of Buying Organically Grown!

If anyone tells you that the hippie, dippy farm you buy produce isn't changing the world, tell them that this is a good place to start!  The word is out that feeding the world though small, organic farms is possible.  Here are some things we do at our farm, that you can feel really good about!

1)  We don't use petroleum (synthetic) fertilizers.  We add nutrition to the soil with compost, manure, and planting cover crops.  Synthetic fertilizers are a problem because they often run off fields and pollute waterways.

2) We don't use any herbicides or non-organic pesticides.  We use weeding tools and our hands to get rid of unwanted plants in the field.  To manage pests, we mostly use physical barriers (row cover) to keep pests out, and occasionally use organic approved pesticides.  Again, herbicides and pesticides can pollute water. Both strong herbicides and pesticides can create resistant super weeds and super bugs that are a problem for everyone.

3) We don't use GMOs.  We'll leave the detailed debate for another newsletter article, but in the end, we feel that avoiding GMO crops is better for the environment as well as farmers and consumers.

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!

Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

Week 8, it's so great!

Ok, so I can't get over how amazing our new tomato hoop houses are.  Last week was the first week tomatoes made there appearance for CSA this year.  Can you guess when the first tomato made it to CSA in our 2014 season? 

In 2014 the first tomato made it to CSA on August 20th, a full 3 weeks later than we were able to bring tomatoes this year!  And look at these babies growing:

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I hope you enjoy this time of year as much as I do, because I find these vegetables define the tastes of the season for me.  From cucumber salad to zucchini bread I know that the world around me is in the middle of a beautiful Wisconsin summer, and I like to imagine our produce going to picnics, and potlucks, and being shared with friends and neighbors.  

Did you know?  "Komatsuna", roughly translated from Japanese, means "best Shared Seasons week ever"?  True story.  :D  Either that, or BIG leafy spinach monster!  Our Japanese is soooo rusty from having never learned it.  ;)

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Why am I so tired?

It's July!  This week I looked around, let out a deep sigh, and asked the question I ask every year right around this time, "Why am I so tired?"  Then of course, I remembered, it's July!  Why would July be such a busy month for us at the farm?  It's the time when all things at the farm come together - there is still greenhouse seeding, planting, and lots of weeding in addition to all the harvest, washing, packaging, and markets.  In the spring, there's not the same demands of weeding, harvest, and markets.  In the fall, the seeding, planting, and weeding time has passed.  But now, there's everything do to!  

So, when you see me and I say I'm happy but tired, you'll understand why! :)

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!

Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

Out Standing in Our Field

This photo shows our latest planting in the field, including beets, cabbage, greens, fennel, and broccoli.

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It also shows our small, moveable irrigation system.  It's a set of six sprinkler heads on poles that connect to a hose.  Since we've had so much rain, we haven't had to do much irrigation this year, but when the plants are newly planted, we have to make sure they get watered to thrive in their new home.  And did you know that our irrigation is run from the energy from solar panels!?  And that the irrigation water is from an artesian well!?  Yes, our vegetables are grown in a hippie wonderland!  :)

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!

Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

Another look at the field.

Another look at the field.

Why do we have peppers this week?


This year we've had great success using our greenhouse to get plants started early, and to bring you produce like beets and cabbage earlier than ever before, but what's up with those CRAZY early peppers?  This hot weather and good amount of rain has pushed our pepper plants to start producing, but instead of several small peppers starting on a large plant, we're getting one big pepper on a small plant.  This isn't good for the future of the peppers, so to save them the stress, we harvested these early peppers to give the plants a chance to grow into themselves more before popping out more baby peppers.  

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Basil Tips!

How's your basil plant doing?  Mel's is HUGE!  If you want it to grow nice and tall, remember to "pinch" back the plant when it flowers - just take the section of the leaves below the flowers and cut back! The plant will continue to thrive, and you can grow a whole basil bush out of just one plant!  :)

Bad and Good News

A Bad Year for Berries - A Long Explanation and our Regrets!

This is a week when I've felt particularly lucky to have the short term troubles of the annual vegetable grower instead of the long term struggles of the orchardists and berry growers we know!  

We are so sorry that we will not be able to bring strawberries as part of your CSA share this season, as we have in years past, but there are not enough local berries to make that possible!  The Faust's of the Berry Dairy in Malone have always supplied their berries, and they remained optimistic that their crop would turn around, but unfortunately for us (and even more so, them) the berries didn't come.  Once we started calling other growers to find out if we could get strawberries for y'all, we discovered what a struggle this year has been!  A late frost killed back buds, then the back to back too much rain then 90 degree days rotted and stressed the plants past their ability to rebound.  One grower told us that everyone in the state had lost 60-90% of their crop!

Rock Steady arrives

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For good news, let me introduce you to BeBop's partner in crime, Rock Steady!  Thanks to Dusty K. we have the perfect name for our new walking tractor!  A walking tractor is a two wheeled tractor that you walk behind.  So, it looks similar to a garden rototiller, but it has a PTO which allows you to hook up all types of different impliments, just like a regular tractor.  The impliment in this picture is a power harrow.  Paul just started using it to prepare our planting beds, and he said it's AWESOME!  It tills the soil, but instead of digging down deep and compacting the soil, it rotates lightly on the very top of the soil and doesn't cause compaction (which is very good for the health of the soil and the plants.

Ok, more than you ever wanted to know about strawberries and power harrows!  ;)
 

The field this week...

The field this week...

BeBop arrives...

Hope you enjoyed your first week of CSA Veggies!  
I know it's a huge relief for us when the fresh veggies come into season and we can wait to eat out of the freezer again until next year!  There's just nothing like the first greens of the summer to me!  

As you may have noticed, last week we did purchase a new delivery van!  We are thrilled to have something bigger and boxier to carry the produce in.  It makes loading and unloading so much easier - both because we can use a dolly and we don't have to play Tetris to get everything to fit for the trip.
 

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The new truck's name is BeBop.  We like to name our vehicles, first for added personality and second because it's functional when communicating which vehicle we're talking about.  For instance, our silver van is named Manny Van because we decided it looked like a Sea Manatee, therefore it's a Van-atee.  The name BeBop comes from the the wedding of two ideas - that I thought the truck looked like a turtle, and Paul thought we should name it "Beast".  Somehow melded together in Paul's mind, he rememebered the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' character, BeBop, and the truck was named!  (I promise, we only think about these pressing issues during our lunch breaks!)   :)

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!

Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

Welcome to Summer Veggies '17!

We are so thrilled to be back in the field for another season of growing great veggies for you and your families!  

Our farm in Fredonia is continuing to be a beautiful delight, and  so far we are off to a wonderful summer.  We have a wonderful crew of employees and workershares this year who have gotten us off to a great start in getting planting, weeding, and most impressively our two new hoop houses built and filled with tomatoes!
 

Paul has been longing for hoophouses like this since before we started Shared Seasons, and so it's a it's a dream come true for him!  This will hopefully mean that our tomatoes start producing a little earlier and that they are protected from the frost for longer into the fall.

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We also are investing in a new delivery van for this season, so keep your eyes peeled for the 16 foot box van!  It should be hard to miss!

Our feather babies (aka the chickens) are doing great and clucking right along.  I just wish they all had a name!   If you have any name suggestions for the flock, pass them along, please.

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!

Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

The Holiday Edition

Ahh, it's the most wonderful time of the year!

OK!  Celery Root might LOOK like it should be named Tentacle Fruit, but it's actually REALLY TASTY!  Give it a try as soup or mash!

OK!  Celery Root might LOOK like it should be named Tentacle Fruit, but it's actually REALLY TASTY!  Give it a try as soup or mash!

However you celebrate this time of year, we hope you have a great time slowing down, turning on your oven, and visiting with friends and family.  
Many folks have asked about what we do during the winter months while our fields rest.  Of course, we spend a lot of time reflecting on the year past and planning ahead for the next year.

Paul will continue to work for the Fond du Lac County Transportation Department calling out the plow drivers.  Sara is going to substitute teach in the districts around the farm.  

Beyond that, we hope to be moving into our tiny house by Jan. 1st.  Much news and pictures to come on that! 

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!

Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

Thanksgiving Edition

Let's get some veggies on your Thanksgiving Menu!

Make sure to get some salad turnips this week!  We might have like a million!

Make sure to get some salad turnips this week!  We might have like a million!

Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday!  I'm ever grateful to spend the time with my family and eat my favorite foods all in one sitting!

As we worked on different farms, it became clear to our family that Paul and I had the most bounty to share come Thanksgiving.  Over the years, Paul's mom Suzanne and I have fine tuned our annual Thanksgiving meal, with our produce making the lion's share of the dishes.   All the relatives from far and wide who come to share it always agree that it's among the favorite Thanksgiving meals they've had.   Why?  Folks always report they've loved the flavors, the variety, and most importantly that they don't feel like a ton of bricks after.  :)  

Hopefully the extra veggies this week give you a little extra inspiration to add some more veggies into that Thanksgiving menu of yours!

Fall Foods!

Potluck at Fond du Lac Pick Up, This Thursday night, October 20th.  Plan to join us for a quick snack or a long meal.  Our potlucks are casual, so come and go and eat as you'd like between 4 and 6. We'll set up a dining area next to the regular veggie buffet so you can pick up your produce before or after you eat. Bring a dish to pass if you're able, but still join us if you can't bring a dish. (Potluck karma can be paid forward.) Bring serving utensils and ingredients lists too.  

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Thanks to Our Fellow Farmers!

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As you know, we do our best to grow as many different veggies to the best of our ability, but we can't grow everything, and some things we know our friends grow better, so we're working with a couple other farms this year to fill in.  Springdale Farm, an organic farm in Plymouth have provided the big, sweet onions and the winter squash we'll share with you over the next weeks.  Igl Farm, a certified organic farm in Antigo, WI grew the potatoes we'll be sharing with you in the coming weeks.  Whenever we get produce from other farmers, you can trust that it's farms that we personally know, trust, and can vouch for their practices. 

Look closely:  That is a mountain of potatoes behind the Igl family!  So I guess you could say they really stand behind their potatoes!?

Look closely:  That is a mountain of potatoes behind the Igl family!  So I guess you could say they really stand behind their potatoes!?

Do We Wash Our Produce?

Hey... Wash that Beet, Adam!

Hey... Wash that Beet, Adam!

This is a common question from folks, and it's a fair one that I couldn't help but think of this week when washing our carrots!  They are sooo covered in dirt as we harvest them, you could never eat them in that condition (without a trip to the dentist).  So yes, depending on the vegetable, we use a sprayer, wash tanks, and big professional salad spinner to bring you clean produce.  Should you still wash your produce?  Not right away when you get it home, because produce that's too wet can spoil quickly in the fridge, but I always recommend one more rinse before you eat or cook with our produce.

Not clean enough yet...

Not clean enough yet...

Ready for the pickup now.

Ready for the pickup now.

What An Awesome Week! It's Official - We're Receiving The VAPG!

What's the VAPG you ask?  VAPG stands for Value Added Producer Grant, and we have been FULLY FUNDED by the USDA for a two year, matching fund grant.  We're able to use the grant funds to help pay for advertising, packaging materials, employee's labor, and professional services for the farm.  This is going to be a huge boon!  I of course have to credit the amazing grant writing team that guided us through the maze.  I also have to thank everyone again who wrote letters of support on our behalf.  Yay times a million!!
 

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Hoop house with tomatoes

Hoop house with tomatoes

Farm Open House Party = Success!

Thank you to everyone who was able to come out and party with us last Sunday!  There was so much good food and fun in the sun, the whole day was a blast!  We love being able to share our farm with the people who have given us so much love in return.

Canning Tips and More

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Lots of folks like to know where our extra produce goes, and the short answer is to a good home.

More specifically, as you can see in the picture above, for Fond du Lac members who can't pick up their share Thursday, we make a packaged bag they can pick up 8am - 8pm Friday at 476 Wabash Ave.  If those bags don't get picked up, they are donated to St. Paul's Cathedral's food pantry in Fond du Lac.  I would also like to celebrate our member Jon F. who bought two garden variety shares to be donated directly each week to St. Paul's!  

If produce is too low quality to share with people, but still fresh enough to enjoy by chickens, of course our ladies get plenty of veggie treats.

Beyond that, Paul and I try our best to get lots of extra veggies frozen for ourselves to eat over the winter.

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!
Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

Who's Cooking with Shared Seasons?

Annie's Fountain City  &  Bistro Z use lots of Shared Seasons produce, so go check 'em out for a great meal!

Annie's Fountain City  &  Bistro Z use lots of Shared Seasons produce, so go check 'em out for a great meal!

Who's Cooking With Shared Seasons?
In addition to our wonderful CSAs and Farmer's Market, every week we fill orders for local restaurants.  If you're looking for a restaurant who supports local farms, and uses awesome fresh ingredients, we have to recommend these!

Annie's Fountain City Cafe - Fond du Lac, WI
http://anniesfountaincitycafe.com/

Bistro Z - Sussex, WI
http://www.thebistroz.com/home

La Clare Farms - Malone, WI
http://www.laclarefarm.com/

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!
Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

Let's Delve into Week Twelve!

Paul taking in the chard.  I think he might have been singing it Italian love songs again.


Paul taking in the chard.  I think he might have been singing it Italian love songs again.

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Sun & Water, Using Natural Resources on the Farm:
As many of you know, we have had the great fortune to spend this season growing at a farm I think of as a "farmer incubator" or an established farm that has existing resources to share among the farmers that grow there.  This has been great for so many reason, but there are a couple that I wanted to mention, because it takes our sustainability street credit up a notch!  At the field we farm in, there are solar panels that collect power in batteries that we're then able to use to power our well pump to run our irrigation.  And what kind of irrigation water is it?  Even better than a typical farm well, we are blessed to be using an artesian well!  The water is some of the best tasting I've ever drunk, and it's what the vegetables get to drink too! (Unless it's raining of course).  We try to be the best stewards of the earth we can be, and being on a farm with others who share our goal is a tremendous gift!  We are so thankful for our new home, and we hope you can come visit in a few weeks to see it yourself.

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!
Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

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Thank Heaven for Week Eleven...

"Who's a good little feather baby?"    Sara really loves these chickens just a little too much.

"Who's a good little feather baby?"    Sara really loves these chickens just a little too much.

About Camillias:  Our flock of 46 Gold Star hens is also know as the Camillias, because I decided instead of trying to name each one, that they'd all get the name Camilla - the chicken girlfriend of Gonzo in the Muppets.  They are such a joyful group of ladies!  They have a safe, indoor part of their house in a lower barn, where they get their organic grain feed, they lay their eggs, and they go in to sleep at night.  They also have an outdoor paddock (fenced in barn yard) to roam, eat bugs, clean their feathers in the dirt, and where we feed them all manor of vegetable scraps.  They go crazy for the lettuce and the tomatoes!  And I once saw a fight break out over a golden beet!  These feather babies have been a great addition to our farm and our lives this year.

Enjoy your veggies and have a great week!
Love from your farmers,
Paul & Sara

Camillias out in their paddock eating lettuce scraps.  

Camillias out in their paddock eating lettuce scraps.  

The beautiful washed eggs, laid by our gals.

The beautiful washed eggs, laid by our gals.

Amazing Wisconsin celery

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The Story of Celery.  In the picture, Paul is showing off some of our amazing "Wisconsin Celery"!  It's pretty demanding to grow celery in Wisconsin, which is why you don't see a lot of farms attempting it.  Celery needs long, warm seasons, lots of water, and lots and lots of nutrition.  While our celery is not the big, watery stuff  we're used to from California, I'm pretty darn proud of our flavorful, and bounteous crop of WisCelery! :)

This patchwork quilt is our vegetable field!

This patchwork quilt is our vegetable field!