Genuine Faux News of the Farm
Vol 3 Issue 3 - March 2007
It has become interesting to watch how rapidly organic produce has gained popularity in the United States. We agree that organic is a good idea and something that should be pursued. But, we think we can, and should, do better than organic.
For example, there are a number of interesting web sites that exist to help us figure out how to keep our lawns green and growing, some of which promote organic methods. In order to illustrate our point, there are two web sites that give fairly detailed information on lawn care using organic methods.
The first site is located at http://www.organiclawncaretips.com/ . Of the two, I favor the well-balanced approach this site has to offer. There is emphasis on both the how and the why for each item they recommend. In particular, they encourage trust in natural processes, diversity of plant life, conservation of resources and an all-around sustainable approach to lawn care.
The second site encourages practices that could be termed a "heavy maintenance approach" and is found at http://www.extremelygreen.com/lawncareguide.cfm . Of course, if someone must have a golf course green for a lawn, we would rather see this approach. The problem is that there is a great reliance on external inputs to the natural system which is your yard.
Since we have a great deal of ourselves invested in the green and growing at our farm, we understand fully the desire to do what it takes to help them thrive and be strong. But, we temper that desire with the knowledge that we need to work within a sustainable system. We irrigate only at great need with the knowledge that we will lose some of our fruits to end rot and our yields may be lower than they could have been. We choose not to spray organic products on our plants out of habit and we rely more on companion planting, mulch and other methods that use the plant material available to us on the farm.
We have completed forms for certification prior to the deadline and sent them on their way to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. While the majority of you made it clear that certification was unimportant to you, we felt it fit our mission to make the effort to become certified.
The process of filling out the forms was, in itself, educational. The questions asked by the forms encouraged further exploration that may be worth the process on their own.
“[I]n 1910, farmers…gained forty cents for
every dollar consumers spent on food but received less than seven cents
per dollar…in 1982."
Vol 3 Issue 3 - March 2007
At the moment of writing this newsletter, we were sitting at 29 members for the 2007 season - wonderful! This is already an increase over last year's membership levels. But remember: our goal is still 40 members this year - just a little ways to go yet.
For those of you who have joined us and are receiving their first (or perhaps second) email linking you to this newsletter, we extend a hearty welcome. You know, the kind of welcome that sticks to your ribs. We are, after all, focusing on food. We encourage you to explore the site.
If you know of anyone who should receive a mailing from us with a SASE to encourage response, please let us know!
Tammy made an excellent point in a recent conversation over dinner. It would be informative for us to tell you in our newsletters what we are doing on the farm each month. In some cases, it might be educational. In others, it's just a way to stay in touch and let you know how we're spending our time. So, welcome to our first installation of "Life on the Farm."
March typically marks the beginning of the end of the heavy planning season and the beginning of the beginning of planting season. We have traditionally started tomato seed on our wedding anniversary and start peppers two weeks later. Onions and leeks get planted into starter trays in early March and the early brassica crop will be seeded into trays in late March.
Depending on the year, work in the field may be possible. This year, the snow and the ice came late. Fields are either still covered or are very wet. As soon as they dry out sufficiently we will work to clean out some of the remaining plant matter from the previous season.
Warmer weather outdoors makes it possible for us to make equipment and building repairs. It has become crucial to do this sort of work on the fringes of the growing season. This March we hope to clean out and fill up any holes in our chicken coops, finish some storage cabinets and put a new roll up door on one of our outbuildings.
And, of course, March is a key promotional month for the farm and the CSA. We find ourselves doing presentations and distributing literature frequently this time of year. Any further design changes to our web site will happen in this month. There are mini-trips to pick up supplies, seeds and other necessities for the farm. And, of course, there is the chick order. The countdown begins for the little fluffballs to appear again on the farm.
Tossed Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing
3 cups torn leaf lettuce
1/3 cup dairy sour cream
Combine first 4 ingredients in large salad bowl. Stir remaining ingredients together in small mixing bowl. Pour this dressing over the salad and toss lightly to coat. Serves four.
3 Issue 3 - March 2007
Would you like to have an organically raised turkey this coming fall?
We will raise the traditional bronze turkeys again this year. They are smarter birds, leaner and more adaptable to pasture raising.
Contact us and 'reserve' a bird for this fall. No money down. Your reservation now helps us to determine how many chicks we need to order and how much feed we need to acquire. Chick order goes in March 20 - please decide and contact us prior to that time.
Practical Farmers of Iowa holds an annual Summer Camp that could be an interesting and useful way to teach your children about where their food comes from. Or perhaps it will help teaching them where their food SHOULD come from! Details are below and can also be viewed on the PFI website at http://www.practicalfarmers.org/.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007, 2:00 PM - Saturday, June 09, 2007, 4:00 PM
Your Backyard Grocery Store is the theme for this year's camp. Come explore where your food is grown and what grows in Iowa at the 2007 PFI Summer Camp. PFI camp is a family friendly camp for people of all ages. Register by May 1st for a $10 discount, registration deadline is May 18. For a copy of our camp brochure or for a registration form please see our resources page, then youth and student education resources. Scholarships are available. For questions please call Cedar at 515-232-5661.
We have, on our possession, a fifty pound bag of certified organic oat bran. Clearly, we can't manage to use all of that oat bran ourselves.
We will happily sell some of this oat bran to interested parties, please contact us if you have interest. We will sell in 5 pound increments for $3 per increment.
Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods by Gary Paul Nabhan
We both have a number of books and resources we would like to recommend, but this one comes to the top because of an upcoming event at UNI (please see below). This book is a chronicle of one person's attempt to make sure that a significant portion of his diet come from local food sources. It is a reflective piece that includes numerous interesting facts, insights and profiles of the people he meets and places he goes. Definitely a worthy read that will certainly get you thinking. Be prepared to want to discuss it with someone else as your read or once you complete it.
Gary Nabhan, a renowned naturalist, ethnobotanist, and writer will be visiting us here to talk about good food, local foods, native foods. (Sunday March 25, 7 PM at UNI's CEEE building). Dr. Nabhan directs Northern Arizona University's Center for Sustainable Environments. Contact Kamyar Enshayan, UNI Local Food Project with questions at 273-7575.
Did you know?
Beans and potatoes are excellent companions in the garden. Potato beetles do not like beans and bean beetles are not fond of potatoes.
Vol 3 Issue 3 - March 2007
Many of you are aware that we have been maintaining of small flock of 18 chickens for egg production over the winter. One of the hazards of such endeavors is that it doesn't take long for that egg production to cease. For us, it ended in probably under an hour's worth of time.
Minks are known to be able to get into coops and other buildings via very small access holes. They are also known to become unreasoning killing machines when faced with a coop full of chickens that are locked in their room for the night. We went out to find all eighteen birds dead, and some stacked neatly in a corner (another habit of mink). This was not considered a good thing.
Upon further inspection, it was determined that the mink was still IN the coop. Evidently it had too much to eat and couldn't get back out the way it came in. As a result, the mink stole, but paid in full.
We will be ordering chicks to reestablish an egg laying flock and expect to pick them up around April 6. So, if children you know, or the child in you, would like to hold a soft chick before they grow into the less cuddly - but more productive - version of the same bird, please let us know and come visit the farm.
Genuine Faux Farm
319 882 3345
Beets - you either love them, or hate them. At least, that's how it seems when we talk to members of the CSA. We haven't really heard anyone suggest that beets are merely 'okay.'
However, if you believe that you will never like beets, you should give Chioggia at least one try. We simply put these in water, bring them to a boil, peel, add butter and eat. They are ready when a fork readily goes into the bulb. Unlike many beets, these do not bleed red all over the plate (and everything else). They taste less 'earthy' than many varieties. In fact, the picky eater in the family (Rob) claimed he would NEVER learn to like beets, but found these to be just fine. He has graduated to trying other varieties, but would much rather stick with these.
Beet lovers still like this variety very much, making this variety the potential 'grand compromise' for split families (non beet eaters and beet eaters).
Depending on the season, these beets will have red rings in varying degrees. Wetter weather seems to result in beets that are whiter, with faint red rings. Dryer weather seems to make stronger rings and more red. We also suspect that certain soil compositions will change the color as well. In all cases, the taste is consistent.
We will now attempt to resist the urge to mention "beeting a dead horse" or any other such pun. Sorry. Too late.
Avoid suspicion: when you're walking through your neighbor's melon patch, don't tie your shoe