Farm News (5/5/15)


On behalf of the whole crew at Sandhill Family Farms, we want to extend a warm welcome to all of our new CSA members. We also want to thank those of you who've been with us for years. We look forward to providing you with delicious local foods this season. Thanks for joining us!  --Matt & Peg Sheaffer and Jen & Jeff Miller

Important Reminders & Announcements:

  • This is the first week of the spring season. We will be delivering vegetables, eggs, dairy and meat this week.
  • Next week we will be delivering vegetables only.
  • We recently sent out an email containing information related to pickup site logistics. If you did not receive this email, please let us know.
  • Reusable produce and grocery bags will be available for purchase this week at the Barrington, Lake Forest and Oak Park pickup sites and also at the farm on Tuesday. We'll let you know when they will be available at other sites.

This Week's Vegetable Share:

  • Lettuce Mix
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Chives
  • Tomato Puree
  • Popcorn on the Cob
  • Ramps (Wild Leeks) from Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, WI
  • Baking Potatoes from Igl Farms in Antigo, WI

This Week's Meat Share:

We partner with Jen and Bryce Riemer to provide you with delicious and humanely raised meats each month. The Riemers raise Hereford cattle, Berkshire hogs and meat chickens on their third-generation family farm near Brodhead, WI. Their animals, like ours, are raised humanely and without the use of hormones or antibiotics.

  • Whole Chicken
  • Steaks or Bacon
  • Ground Beef
  • Pork Chops or Beef Fajita Meat
  • Beef Stew Meat

This Week's Dairy Share:

This week's share contains dairy items crafted by Nordic Creamery, Sugar River Dairy, Red Barn Family Farms and Roth Käse, all of whom are located in southern Wisconsin.

  • 'Edun', a New Zealand-Style Cheddar
  • Dill Havarti
  • Harvest Butter
  • Lowfat Plain Yogurt

Producer Profile: Red Barn Family Farms

Red Barn Family Farms is a cooperative of 8 Wisconsin dairy farm families. They are committed not only to crafting excellent cheese, but also to humane treatment of their animals. Their farms are the only dairy farms in Wisconsin to be audited and certified by the American Humane Association. Together they have decided on the criteria for membership in their cooperative. Each farm must be family owned, farming must be each family's primary livelihood, and the majority of the farm labor must be performed by family members. Member farmers milk fewer than 70 cows. This number is smaller than the industry average, and it allows each cow to be known by a name rather than a number.

Paula and Terry Homan, co-founders of Red Barn Family Farms


Farm Photo Journal

It's that time of year again--hundreds of thousands of tiny seedlings await our time and attention. They are everywhere--in the greenhouse, in the hoophouse, in the barn, on hay wagons (like these lettuce plants), and even in the kitchen.

Some of these little seedlings get planted in March in the hoophouses. Here is Jeff in one of the hoophouses checking on head lettuce and bok choy for our spring members.

 Most of the seedlings get planted in the field later in April and May, once the soil has dried out. We use a mechanical transplanter pulled by a tractor. The mechanical transplanter allows us to work from a sitting position rather than on our hands and knees. The other nice thing about the transplanter is that the seedlings are watered as they go into the ground. (Those big yellow tanks are full of water.)

 Even though spring planting doesn't require us to be on our hands and knees, the days are long and our crew is typically pretty tired out by the end of day. In this photo Tyler, Donna, Nicole and Sarah celebrate after finishing the last flat of lettuce.

Notes from the Farm Kitchen: Tips for Making the Most of Your Share

We are very excited to bring you ramps this week. Ramps are like a cross between a fancy green onion and a baby leek. We like to chop the whole plant, including the green leaves, and use them in place of onions. They grow wild in the woods around Harmony Valley Farm in Viroqua, Wisconsin. The farmers at Harmony Valley harvest them judiciously, selecting large bulbs with healthy leaves, leaving behind plenty to replenish the population for future harvests. The season for ramps is quite short--only three to four weeks in late April and early May.

Our tomato puree is made by Contract Comestibles, a small food-processing company in East Troy, Wisconsin using our tomatoes.  As it says on the label, our tomato puree makes a great soup by itself or with the addition of a little cream. You can also use it as a base for heartier soups, chili and pasta sauce. I like to use it as a basting liquid when roasting meats, as a replacement for water or broth when I'm making risotto, or in the crockpot when I'm slow-cooking a beef roast. The puree is shelf-stable, but should be refrigerated after opening.

Each year we harvest our popcorn crop just before Thanksgiving. It has been stored all winter, and the kernels are now dry enough to pop. (You should store the ears in a cupboard or other dry place.) Making popcorn on the stovetop is a little more work than the microwave version, but the results are well worth the effort. Start by removing the kernels from the cob. I like to work over a dish towel, pushing the kernels off with my thumbs. (The towel prevents the kernels from bouncing all over the place!)  Cover the bottom of a pot with vegetable oil. Add one layer of kernels to the bottom of the pot and cover with a lid. Place the pot over medium heat. Be sure to remove from heat as soon as the popping stops. Add salt to taste.

Mark Your Calendars!
Organic Plant Sale
May 16th, 10 am-1 pm

This fun event is a great opportunity to enjoy spring at the Prairie Crossing Farm where Sandhill has been based for over 10 years. There will be a wide range of organic seedlings for sale, as well as eggs, honey and other farm goods. There will be walking tours of the farm at 10:15, 11:15 and 12:15. The event is free and open to the public. Learn more here.

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)...asparagus, mushrooms, head lettuce, spring onions, swiss chard, parnsips and more!

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  • Margaret Sheaffer