September, Really??

September 26th, 2014

The kids loaded the bus today for the first day of school.  Summertime, Summertime, Summertime, summer, summer, summertime……..IT’S OVER!  I think in some ways all parents breath a sigh of relief at this time of year.  Finally we get our houses back, no more kids telling you how bored they are.  And yet we are also faced with the reality of a dwindling summer.

Really though I think this is my favorite time of year.  Spring and Fall I hold in high esteem.  Spring is all about possibility and regrowth, fall is all about taking stock, slowing down, returning to the woods.  I love these crisp mornings, heavy with dew and the cornucopia of food coming off the fields.  This year as we move into fall the staff at Keewaydin will again change gears and become builders and mechanics.  We have a number of projects around the farm that had to be abandoned once the season started because we just didn’t have enough time to do it all.  Soon enough our focus will turn back to those projects.

I think fall also represents the return of the manageable day.  During the summer months days tend to start early and end late, we burn the midnight oil at both ends because that is the nature of our business.  We cram a years worth of work into 140 days and by the end of those days the mind and body need a break.

My first year back I worked for another farm and can remember clearly the feeling I had the morning I woke up to frost.  Finally all the salad mix picking was over!  Or so I thought.  We had been picking salad mix and spinach all summer long at several hundred lbs a day…by hand…..day after day….after day.  I was ready to call it a year.  Turns out some veggies like the frost, even get better.  So it went I found myself back in those fields for at least a couple more weeks picking painfully small bunches of greens. But even if the frost doesn’t kill the veggies and conclude the season just like that it is a sure sigh that the end is near.

 

Meet the Crew

August 27th, 2014

Say hello to Jennifer Rengert.  Jennifer came to work for us three years ago after living in Milwaukee for a number of years.  She returned home to the area she grew up in looking to get her hands back in the dirt.  Jennifer is the one that keeps us organized around the farm, constantly writing things down and making plans.  This year she took charge of running our greenhouse planting schedule.  On top of that she handles orders from our wholesale customers and puts together our packing list when harvest day comes around.  She is a dog lover and a garden aficionado, thanks to Jen for all she does!

 

Meet the Crew

August 20th, 2014

The first two people I would like to introduce to you are Alejandra and Adolfo Rodriguez.  Alejandra and Adolfo are a husband and wife team that have been working at Keewaydin Farms for the last five years.  They are a joy to work with, always ready to put in a good day, knowledgeable about garden crops and fast as only a professional can be.  Both has been actively farming almost their entire lives in Mexico, California and for the last twenty years in Wisconsin.  It is their handy work you see each week when you open your box.  Beyond harvesting and packing they help with planting and weeding.

 

To Proof and Edit

August 20th, 2014

My is it getting dry out here.  Just another example of how challenging it can be growing food.   At one point it is way to wet to plant, now it is way to dry.  We keep getting these storms that will be just to the north of us or just to the south, they leave us with a gentle drizzle but not enough to actually do anything.  That hasn’t really stopped us from sticking plants in the ground though.  One must adapt because every day that goes by takes us closer to the first frost of the year.

This time of year is a good time to remind myself that a proof read by another set of eyes is not such a bad idea.  With two teachers as parents, one an English aficionado and the other a tech guy education is a big part of our lives.  When I was a kid my mother would write articles for the local newspaper, I would describe her style as very matter of fact, grammatically correct with sentences that flow like sentences should.  My father on the other had is more of a stream of thought writer, spells phonically and likes to make up words.  I always enjoyed his writing and sometimes have tried to emulate it in my style.  The truth is though his style only works if you have a good editor that comes behind and makes sense of all the grabble.  It isn’t exciting work and certainly is under appreciated but is so important.  It is the author of the book that gets all the credit but a good editor plays as important of a roll.

Last week it was getting super late when I was putting the finishing touches on the newsletter and so it never made to the editors desk (mom, Danielle, Karma) and hence it was filled with error.  For that I apologize, that can make for choppy reading or unclear meaning.  Honestly though another part of me doesn’t feel all that bad, I mean I’m a farmer not a doctor Jim.  But I am a farmer that wants to be understood and so I say thank you to all the editors out there who keep us in line and understood.

 

 

I Just Want Celebrate

August 20th, 2014

Mark your calendar, Keewaydin is hosting the second farm day on September 13th.  This will be our last hurrah of the season and a chance for you to come spend the day on your CSA farm.  This is a great time of year with the vast abundance of the season bearing fruit, days start becoming a bit more crisp and the smell of fall is in the air.  As usual we will have plenty of space for camping, fun activities for the kids, food, fire, music and more food.

Come make a weekend in the Driftless area of Wisconsin, besides visiting Keewaydin there is ample opportunity to hike, bike, canoe or fish.  The cute little town of Viroqua seems to always have activities going on.  The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is just down the road and of course the Kickapoo River with its bluffs is a sight to behold.

We have been working hard this season like we do every year, so with all this hard work comes the need to kick back and relax.  We all deserve a little time to take in the surrounds, breath deep the rich country air and celebrate what has been a year of enjoyable work.  Keep looking for more details as the date gets closer and we hope to see you on the farm!

 

 

The Crew

August 20th, 2014

It takes many hands to run this farm, from planning to packing and all parts in between there is someone handling the tasks.  Over the years I have had many people who have worked on our farm crew.  Ours is seasonal work so a diversity of employees end up coming and going.  At Keewaydin we are blessed to have some really great people working this year.  Hands down this crew has been one of the best we have had.

During my one stint in the real world working a real job I was promoted to a manager roll.  I found it fascinating.  What drivers us to come to work each day?  Yes of course there is the pay check but there has to be more.  Love of the job or work, social interaction, self motivation, what is it?  You can debate those questions forever and each worker will come to a different answer.  Then to put all those possibilities together add emotion and you have a very interesting concoction that comes together to complete the tasks of the day (you hope).

This year has been particularly fun for me as the business owner.  Over the last winter we made some major changes to our operation, cut cost, made some big moves.  In many ways it was a stressful time and yet we came through it stronger, now the pace of work seems to have reached a smooth cruising speed.  I hope that is coming out in the quality of the work we are putting into your CSA boxes.  I’ve heard from a bunch of you that seem to be enjoying the share this year and that brings me tons of joy.  Over the next couple of weeks I will introduce you to the members that make up this years team.   I want you to know the people behind the food, what jobs they are responsible for and a little bit of the why they have picked farming as a profession.  Stay tuned.

 

Share a Share

August 20th, 2014
Meet Karen Foxgrover, a Partner Shares program participant and an active supporter of FairShare CSA Coa-lition. More than 10 years ago, Karen experienced a change in income due to a disability, and could no longer afford the local, organic produce she loved so much. Eating well was especially important to Karen in dealing with her disability, so although she still made buying healthy food a priority, the cost became a burden. One day while shopping at the Mifflin St. Co-op in Madison, WI, she came across a flyer for FairShare CSA Coalition’s Partner Shares Program, a cost sharing program that helps low income families join CSA farms. She thought, “Oh my goodness! Is this for real?” Karen asked around for more information and soon sent in her application. She has been a CSA member ever since. “The Partner Shares Program was enormous for me. I had a passion for really good healthy food, but I was buying organic only when I could afford it. Partner Shares came out and I could get a subsidy, and I could continue to eat and cook the food I loved. ” In addition to the financial aid she receives from FairShare, Karen is able to use her SNAP benefits towards her CSA box, making her produce even more affordable. Over the years she has been a member of Harmony Valley Farm and Driftless Organics, and has enjoyed the journey of exploring her CSA box throughout the years, with the help of FairShare’s From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook. “I didn’t know what to do with anything, how to cut it up, how to store it. The cookbook was a godsend. When I got a new vegetable and I loved it, I could share it with the whole world.” Whether you’ve been a CSA member for a few months and find yourself fumbling through your box with curiosity,and may be a little fear,or whether you are a seasoned CSA veteran, the desire to share the food you love with others is common ground. This summer, please consider sharing the bounty of the season with those in need by donating to the Partner Shares program. Your support can help bring fresh, healthy, local food to families in your community. Share a Share today! For more information about Partner
Shares and how you can donate please
visit FairShare’s website:
http://www.csacoalition.org/news/partner-shares-donation-drive-july-21-august-8/

Greenhouse Future

August 20th, 2014
I’m back! From one wilderness to the next. It is always nice driving down Haucke Ln after a trip, viewing the changes that have taken place in our absence. The Zinnias are in full bloom and the crops we planted the week
before are starting to peek above the soil. After a relaxing week of fishing, cleaning fish, eating fish and fishing again I feel refreshed and ready to face the second half of the season. This year our second half will be focused on all of our storage crops as well as our first real attempt at Hoophouse gardening. Currently we have two 30’ x 50’ Hoophouses which will be prepped and planted by next week with spinach, swiss chard, kale, all
the hearty greens that will continue to grow deep into the fall and early winter. With nothing more then a covering of fabric called Remay we will create an environment several zones warmer. In addition we will be con-
structuring mini hoops in some of our gardens that will cover other greens such as head lettuce, radish and onions. The mini hoop are made using electrical conduit, greenhouse plastic, and sand bags. I’ve had a profound
respect and love of Greenhouses since I built my first one. Step into one on a sunny late winter day and instantly you are taken to a warmer time of year. In the later fall when the outside air is cold and damp or a crisp breeze nips at your cheeks you can escape to the comfort of a green-house where the air will still be warm. My hope is that some day in the near future I will have acres of greenhouse on this farm. These structures will fit into many landscapes and be used in several different elevations to really take advantage of all the micro climates found here.

Garlicky Sautéed Kale with Kohlrabi

July 10th, 2014

It’s amazing how a splash of citrus and a handful of nuts can transform a pair of humble brassicas—kale and kohlrabi both belong to that genus—into a bright, fresh, and lively dish. This salad is wonderful on its own or served right along with those hot dogs and hamburgers.

 

2 bulbs kohlrabi – peeled *Set your Kohlrabi greens aside and add to your chopped kale!

1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 bunch kale-  stems and center ribs discarded

1 bunch garlic Scapes-  finely chopped (or substitute 4-5 cloves of fresh garlic)

1/3 cup salted roasted pistachios, chopped ( or substitute for any other nut you like or sunflower seeds)

Very thinly slice kohlrabi with a slicer or sharp knife.

Whisk together lime zest and juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss kohlrabi with dressing.

Finely chop kale and kohlrabi leafs. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Sauté garlic scapes, about 30 seconds. Add kale and kohlrabi greens by the handful, turning and stirring with tongs and adding more kale/greens as volume in skillet reduces. When all of the greens are  wilted, sauté with 1/2 teaspoon salt until just tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Toss greens with kohlrabi and nuts.

 

The Chicken or the Egg

July 10th, 2014

On our farm it was the chicken that came first.  Mother Mary, who still plays an active part in Keewaydin was the motivator when it came to starting our egg enterprise.

Today we care for and collect eggs from just under 150 birds, a small flock by industry standards but big enough for us at this point.  When you go to the grocery store there are a bunch of different ways you will see eggs advertised, natural, free range, cage free, organic, humane……whew is that all?  Probably not!  How is a person suppose to keep it straight?  Well I guess one way to do it is get to know the farm that produces the eggs and then ask.  So let me clear the air as it relates to our chickens here at Keewaydin.  On our farm we actually have two different flocks of birds.  One is housed in our chicken coop that has been around since the beginning of time (at least for me).  These girls have a fenced in yard that they access all day every day.  Currently we are working on a second yard for them so that we can switch them between the two.  The new batch of birds, which came to the farm in May are in what is called a chicken tractor.  This is a mobile pen that we built specially for our birds.  The chicken tractor is great, during the night it serves as a house for the birds to roost, in the morning we open the door and allow them access to fresh pasture daily.  Every couple of days we move the chicken tractor to a new location ensuring the birds receive fresh pasture.  It is this fresh pasture that is so important when it comes to the quality and health benefits of the eggs you eat.  Pastured chickens lay eggs with a dark yellow yoke and have a high Omega 3 content.  Our chickens do receive a ration of grain as well, which consists of non -GMO corn, soy, barley, and trace minerals.  So there you have it, enjoy your Keewaydin Farms eggs!