Feeding passion for good on a farm right through intense, dry heat
A thick wall of waving grass, burned white hot, beats against the side of the tractor along the road to Scotch Hill. I’m moving machinery back from a field that makes me think of the Dust Bowl disaster of the early 1900s. I’m withering in the heat and know our four interns and Dela must be feeling even worse in the home garden. We had a string of dry years that plagued us constantly with drought in the 1990s, but we’ve never seen June look so much more like August. We’re watering plants as much as we can now. Drip tape, hoses, a portable barrel of water. We pray for rain even as we strive to keep heat from spoiling a great early start for the vegetables. As I’ve written in so many past newsletters, these crops need at least 1.5 inches of water per week. We’re getting way less than an inch. Is it climate change? Food and farming in the United States contributes between ¼ and 1/3 of the carbon emissions that thousands of scientists attribute to global warming. Getting your vegetables for almost half of each year from a state-line farm cuts thousands of miles, and thousands of pounds of those carbon emissions out of the prevailing food system in Illinois and Wisconsin. Thanks for supporting our efforts, right through this heat. We must do all that we can for our Earth. Helping farmers in West Africa – Dela and I drove a carload of our well-used garden and field tools to church Sunday morning. We brought them into the summer sanctuary and laid them down next to shiny new tools from Johnny’s Seeds (one of our two main organic seed sources). Our tools helped the Lutheran congregation visualize what the disassembled new tools look like. The new tools are crossing the ocean on July 2 to West Africa. USAID and CLUSA International have called me back to Senegal a 2nd time this year. They want me to try these tools out in at least 3 community gardens, evaluate how they perform in African soil and conditions, compare them with existing tools there. I’m then to take the new tools Johnny’s supplied (at a 10 percent discount for this Farmer to Farmer volunteer project) to small-shop African tool-makers. I’m to advise them how to adapt these tools for the Senegalese to use and hopefully popularize among 400,000 farm families in Senegal. I lived 2 years in that nation as a Peace Corps volunteer. Thirty five years later, I found farmers there still living and working much as they have for centuries. Farms are about 1.5 acres in size. Tools are whatever can be cobbled together from an arid, dusty African bush. Will your Wisconsin farm help spark a mini-revolution of organic garden and farm practices in Africa? Dear Dela, whose passion for helping the tender Senegalese people (even letting her farm partner take 2 weeks to volunteer abroad in a growing season) is kindling the spark. Pastor Eric and his terrific congregation in Orfordville, Wis., who established a fund and helped raise money for buying these tools, are nursing the spark into a flame. Plymouth UCC in Milwaukee, which hosted a Palm Sunday benefit farmers market and bought local foods for mealtime forks to help local farmers donate from proceeds to buy compost and tilling forks for West African farmers, stoked the fire, too. Your support of our farm all these years equips us with experience and knowledge to foster organic production, the world over. Family, neighbors and farm interns are pitching in on-farm in my absence. We’d be especially grateful for any volunteers during that time, July 2 to 14.
This Week’s Vegetables are:
- Sugar snap snow peas
- Oregon Giant snow peas
- Spring Onions
- Lettuce Mix
- Easter Egg Radishes
- Cream cheese from goat milk (a special gift from Dela – spread on your favorite warm bread or bake it with asparagus)
- Hakurai Turnips
- A bunch of oregano and basil
- Garlic Scapes (last early cutting from the plant that helps bulbs get bigger; use as you do cloves)
- Beets – Chioggia and Bulls Blood varieties, with greens that are good to eat (See your Asparagus to Zucchini Foodbook entry)
- Photos of this share help you identify each variety can be found by the website or Facebook.
Cooking Tip for the Week
From 2012 Farm Intern Peter: Fried Rice over Steamed Greens – In a wok or heavy iron skillet, warm a little olive or sesame seed oil on high heat. Add 2 medium chopped onions and two garlic cloves or one garlic scape, chopped. Sauté until just browning. Add two eggs and cook until firm. Add 2 cups cooked rice and cook 5 to 8 minutes. Remove rice. Add more oil to the pan and cook 1 handful of snow peas with ends snipped and 6 to 8 asparagus stalks, chopped (or other firm vegetables 0 turnips, carrots, radishes, broccoli, etc.). Mix in the rice. In a pot with ½ inch water, add 5 cups fresh spinach, 7 cups kale or 6 cups of Asian greens) and steam until tender, about 10 minutes. Serve stir-fry over steamed greens. Yields 4 servings.