Organic farming is not a dog’s life, at least not for the organic farmers
It was miserable weather in the garden this past Sunday. It was 68 degrees F – but rained on us as we worked all afternoon into the dark. By the next morning, it was in the 20s, and the cold did not let up all day. I finished each day trying to cover plants with agri-bond floating row cover and plastic. A lot of it on Monday was frozen with ice from the rain the day before. It finally got too dark to see again this second day, and I quit. Each night, I prayed our vegetables would survive the plunging temperatures and survive to sustain our supporters and our farm. For me at Scotch Hill, however, the strangest, most challenging part of any harvest in any kind of weather is dealing with our Jack Russell. I'm trying to harvest nearly frozen chard, or cover plants against freezing weather, or pick and count purple kohlrabi; I have one hand in a glove, the other free to manipulate; I'm trying to keep the biting wind to my back, trying to keep going despite the bitter cold; racing against shortened days and diminishing daylight. Yet there is always something right behind, under, or on one of my feet; a Frisbee, a stick, some kind of ball; and there she is staring at me, crouched and waiting for me to throw whatever it is she has put there (if I have not fallen down on whatever it is she’s put there). I wish my existence were so easily defined and determined. I wish I were so easily fed, brought into a warm home and bed at night. I wish I could stay so relentlessly focused into my advanced years and age without ever seeming to become tired or discouraged. We know how far we get with this sort of wishful thinking, and if dogs, any animals for that matter, could speak, I’m sure they’d give us an earful about the downside to utter dependency. Yet they don’t seem ever to frown. They don’t ever show signs of having a bad day. They seem always happy to see us, happy to eat what we give them. What can we learn from them? What lessons do they teach? Come visit our farm to find out, or at least to be entertained. You might even see a little dog make me fall down in a garden. Cooking and preserving tips – Our coalition of CSA growers’ From Asparagus to Zucchini food book is still available at a 25 percent discount ($15). Contact me at 608 897-4288 or email@example.com if you want one delivered with your fall share. I’ll also have a box along in the hybrid SUV when I deliver. Winter farmers markets and benefit sales – This past weekend, we sold surplus cool season crops, root crops, preserved foods and our milk soap at a benefit for a new Montessori School in Madison. This coming weekend, we’ll be selling at a farm crisis fund emergency benefit market in Chicago (Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Coppin Memorial AME, 5627 S. Michigan Ave.) and in Milwaukee (Plymouth UCC, 3131 N. Summit Ave., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Other sales will follow into December. For a calendar of some sales in Chicago, check out the Faith in Place website.
This Week’s Vegetables include:
- Russet Potatoes
- Red Norland Potatoes
- Brussels Sprouts
- Mustard Greens
- Spicy Greens
- Pickled Tomatoes
- Tomato Sauce
- Acorn Squash
- Collard Greens
- Bok Choi
Cooking Tips for the Week - From “Simply in Season”
Vegetarian Groundnut Stew (inspired from West African Peular mafe dishes) In large fry pan sauté 2 cups chopped onion and 2 to 3 cloves minced garlic in 1 tablespoon oil until translucent. Add and sauté 3 cups winter squash such as butternut or acorn peeled and chopped, 2 cups cabbage chopped and one dried chili pepper or ground red pepper to taste, until flavors are mixed. Add 3 cups tomato juice, 1 cup apple juice and 1 to 2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger root, cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Add 1 to 2 cups green beans OR other vegetables of your choice and simmer 5 minutes more. Stir in ½ cup peanut butter and simmer at very low heat until ready to serve. Serve on top of brown rice or millet with toppings like chopped green onions, parsley, cilantro, peaches or other fruit, crushed peanuts and flaked coconut.