Getting Down to the Earth with Rebel Soil Farm

Farm to Fork,Farmers

Spring always goes by so quickly. But that means a lead into local greens, radishes, onions, and of course our MN favorite…rhubarb.

I have been fortunate to be connected with Aimee and Andy at Rebel Soil Farm in Hutchinson, MN. We chatted in the late winter about what Farm to Fork would like to see grown, and they are growing heirloom beans, purple tomatillos, greens of all kinds, and edible flowers for us!

You can see their story, and how much they are helping our agricultural landscape at www.rebelsoil.com.

Farmer’s Market Etiquette

Farm to Fork,Farmers,Tips

After working at the Mill City Farmer’s Market for 7 years, I have learned a bit about how to navigate the crowd, and keep the flow going for all in the mix.

Here are some tips:

  • Do come with cash in hand, preferably small bills. At some markets, like the Mill City Farmers Market, you can buy tokens in $5 increments, and the vendor will give you cash as change. Easy if you forget cash, and easy for them too!
  • Have a shopping list. Of course, it is all about what looks great, what’s in season, but have a basic game plan.
  • Sign up for market emails! They will let you know what produce is available, and any other fun events you can take in as well!
  • Bring a sturdy bag
  • Be patient! (see note below)
  • Be a proper line maker! Let’s be honest, there is a bit of MN passive-aggressiveness that does not work well for wonky market lines. When you get up front, have your decision made (mostly), but chat kindly with your vendor, make your purchase, and leave happily with your loot. Please, do not budge.
  • I may get in trouble with this one, but SUV strollers and dogs are not a happy combo in a bustling market crowd.  Kids should be involved, and have them eat their veggies right from the bag! But keep your furry friends out of the crowd.
  • Most of all, be a bit flexible! You want broccoli, but only see kale…roll with it! Want romaine lettuce, but see spinach, yeah it can be a challenge, but make it work.

We are so lucky to have so many wonderful Farmer’s Markets, do your grocery shopping there, and be happy you are supporting local farmers and the idea of keeping it local. I mean really, when you know you are supporting Farmer Mike, or Singing Hills Goat Dairy…you made the right choice!

Harvest

Farmers,Recipes

My daughter, Riley, was rearing to go to pick blueberries at Rush River Farm in Maiden Rock, WI. Very few blueberries actually go into that colander of hers, most go directly into her mouth. I’ve told you about Rush River Farm before but I can’t stress enough how serene this place is, sloped along the hills of the River Valley, only an hour from the Cities. They also grow a variety of currants and gooseberries for picking, if that is up your alley too. They have a perfect shaded patch with picnic tables for lunch and other gardens and walking paths to stroll through. Ah, a perfect summer’s day!

Here’s one of my favorite seasonal blueberry desserts; not too sweet and so quick and simple to make!

Blueberry Clafoutis

Serves 4-6

4 Eggs; scant 2/3 cup all-purpose flour; heaping 1/3 cup sugar; 1 cup cream (or whole milk); scant cup whole milk; 2 cups blueberries; confectioner’s sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a shallow ovenproof dish about 10 inches in diameter. Whiz the eggs, flour, sugar, cream (or milk), and milk together in a blender or large food processor, or beat them all together with a handheld whisk. Tip the fruit into the dish, pour over the batter, then bake for about 40-60 minutes, until the batter is lightly risen, golden and just firm to the touch. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Save Cedar Summit!

Advocacy,Farmers

More dairy honors here since my last entry was devoted to that golden beauty, butter.  However, this is an altogether different sort of note.  Cedar Summit Dairy, a local 100% grass-fed certified organic dairy, produces the milk (whole, thank you very much) my family drinks every week, straight from the frosty glass jug.

I just learned in the last week that Cedar Summit, a popular and reputable dairy that has a long history, is in trouble.  The dairy is the path of a new high-voltage power line project called CapX2020 promoted by Xcel energy, among other corporations, that will run 700 miles across Minnesota farmland.  This will mean that Cedar Summit, as well as other small family farms, will need to relocate.

The issue now is that according to a rather unique state law called “buy the farm” the corporation responsible for such a project must compensate a farm for the property, relocation expenses and lost business, but the utility conglomerate involved in this CapX2020 project are fighting against that compensation through intense lobbying.

Not only will Cedar Summit need to move, but because they are a certified organic dairy, once they find another farm they will have to go through the required many-year long organic certification process again.  In the meantime they are vulnerable to losing much of their loyal milk drinkers.

Cedar Summit asks that you sign this petition directed toward the Minnesota Congress that asks their voice to be heard in the matter.  The Land Stewardship Project has other ideas as to how one can help.

Remember folks, however fabulously good and healthy this milk is, this is about more than milk!

Farm to Farm

Advocacy,Farmers

pictures August 2012 005

A few weekends ago my husband, daughter and I visited Gardens of Eagan, a long-time farm in well, Farmington, MN. This is the place of the much-fussed about book Turn Here Sweet Corn by progressive farmers Atina Diffley and her husband, Martin.  I wanted to go because I’d been buying their produce for my family and the families I cook for for over 10 years.  When you do the math, I’ve probably consumed at least a few proper vegetable rows of  their food since I moved to MN 12 years ago.  It was about time I set foot on their soil, so to speak.

Like many farms that sell to the public they opened the farm up for their annual field day.  Vegetable art for the kids, vegetable theater, hay rides (which didn’t pan out because the trailor we were all sitting on collapsed in the first minutes, a few senior citizens toppling over dramatically), and the best part, a free-for-all harvest.  We didn’t find any tomatoes in the hoop house, but picked an arm load of crisp peppers.  Then we headed to the corn field (more of a patch than a field) and had one of those moments in life that will stick.  Picking corn for the first time with my 4-year-old daughter, pulling off the husk and hair, and eating ears raw in the field in the sun–for me, heaven.

There are so many farms to visit this autumn.  Look to the Land Stewardship Project page online to find events or get on some newsletters such as the kid-friendly Gale Woods Farm in Chaska where they have ongoing events for families. I’m a get-out-of-town advocate and what better place to take a day trip than to a local farm where you can take a walk, have a picnic, smell the earth a bit, and relax.

Next Page »