August 2021

Last time I joked about there being 18 months between posts. Ha. Now it’s been almost three years. Which means I have A LOT of “stuff” to share! Where to start and how to organize?

The impetus for needing to organize some thoughts… my friends Kathryn Dickel (see Pollinate Ritual) and Beau Fodor (see Panache)… are teaming up to present a series of the next evolution of Farm-to-Table dinners this fall out here at The Big Oak Barn. I need to distill 15 years of sustainability and (BROAD) agriculture thinking into 3 less than 15 minute segments, while keeping it light and fun. I got this.

Oh, and I need to start updating Prudent Produce‘s menu for next week.

What’s on my mind this week? Land access for new and beginning farmers, for one. We hear much discussion of the challenge of finding (affordable) land. It’s a loaded conversation that needs much perspective brought to it. That’s a whole series of posts in and of itself, and that’s without the criticism I’ve received for criticizing those who talk about it without perspective. All this to remind myself to try really hard not to be hypocritical here — acknowledge all of the unknowns; be certain of things you present as certainties and allow for evolution of thought in areas of uncertainty.

And certainly I am being challenged by uncertainty in this space of late. Since I started working in the local food / ag area in 2013 (though I did my master’s thesis on Community Food Systems in 2007, so was beginning to clue in even before jumping in to full time work)… I have done what is generally good: I’ve become confused at a higher level.

There are so many issues in the food and ag space. Those issues intersect with SO MANY other issues: health, diet, consumerism, capitalism, race, privilege, wealth, environment, justice, equality, equity, gender, innovation, sustainability, monopoly, monopsony… just to name a few.

Chris Newsome of Sylvanaqua Farms (thanks Kathryn!) has some interesting perspectives and experiences that are stretching my thinking… watching the 2020 Chris gave to the NYFC now!

February 8, 2017

2016 was an interesting year for us. We did not do our CSA – rather, we grew potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sweet corn, and a few other things… in addition to keeping our laying flock going, raising a few pigs, and preparing a few dozen turkeys for Thanksgiving tables.

It was also a time for brainstorming. And we believe that the concept we are working on – which takes the best of our locally-grown food, together with Prudent Produce‘s convenience and access to organic foods – will be a win-win-win-win. Yes – 4 wins!! You win because you get to support a local farm and a local business while accessing great, healthy food at fair prices. The environment wins because we are focused on consciously-raised food. New Family Farm wins because we have access to a stable market for the foods we raise. And Prudent Produce wins by providing you the ability to choose each week what you want and then delivering it to your door.

Stay tuned as we work out the details of this emerging partnership!

News from the Farm – March 13, 2015

Newsletter sent to our email list on Mar 13, 2015. See the original newsletter in full format.

Welcome, Spring!!

The great weather over the past week has melted nearly all of the snow around the farm. The soil is starting to warm up, and we’re looking forward to getting some seeds in the ground!

CSA sign-ups are coming along. A BIG thanks to those of you who have already signed up – this REALLY helps us cover costs early in the season. And we’re half-way to our goal for the year! We’ll have a big push with one of our company partners on March 23rd, and another big push with our farm cruise on April 25th. If you want to make sure that you have a spot this year – please sign up soon (info below)!

The nice weather also allowed us to get up a new, bigger greenhouse. With our hopes to expand the number of members in our CSA, we needed a little more space! This year we plan to start over 17,000 plants in the greenhouse, which we will then transplant into the field.
The nice weather also allowed us to get up a new, bigger greenhouse. With our hopes to expand the number of members in our CSA, we needed a little more space! This year we plan to start over 17,000 plants in the greenhouse, which we will then transplant into the field.

Spring Farm Cruise is April 25th!

Spring Farm Cruise April 25th - 10AM to 4 PM Come join us for a fun filled and educational adventure touring some diverse local farms in the central Iowa area. The “cruise” will include both Polk and Story counties just a short drive North of the Des Moines Metro Area. Come look around, talk with your local farmers, see demonstrations,  purchase delicious, decorative and fresh local products, sample some treats, watch  the animals, and learn about where and how your food is produced.
Spring Farm Cruise
April 25th – 10AM to 4 PM
Come join us for a fun filled and educational adventure touring some diverse local farms in the central Iowa area. The “cruise” will include both Polk and Story counties just a short drive North of the Des Moines Metro Area. Come look around, talk with your local farmers, see demonstrations, purchase delicious, decorative and fresh local products, sample some treats, watch the animals, and learn about where and how your food is produced.

 

The hens are also happy that spring is here, and they've been showing it! Our hens have LOTS of space to roam during the day. (It's kind of fun to watch them because every once in a while a hawk will fly over and they will all head for cover. A few minutes later, and they're all back to scavenging. All that to say - we've got lots of eggs ready now. Send me an email me if you want some, and we'll figure out a time for you to come out and pick them up or a way for us to get them to you!  (We'll also put information out about adding eggs with your weekly delivery of vegetables at a later time.)
The hens are also happy that spring is here, and they’ve been showing it! Our hens have LOTS of space to roam during the day. (It’s kind of fun to watch them because every once in a while a hawk will fly over and they will all head for cover. A few minutes later, and they’re all back to scavenging. All that to say – we’ve got lots of eggs ready now. Send me an email me if you want some, and we’ll figure out a time for you to come out and pick them up or a way for us to get them to you! (We’ll also put information out about adding eggs with your weekly delivery of vegetables at a later time.)

 

Would you like to feast on your farm fresh produce all year round?

Learn about the safest methods of
•Freezing   •Dehydrating   •Water-bath canning  •Pressure canning
•Pickling   •Making Jams and Salsas
with your CSA deliveries (or extras from the farm)!

Sign up for the ISU Extension Home Food Preservation Course
Preserve the Taste of Summer
http://www.extension.iastate.edu/registration/events/conferences/preservation/
Only $35 for 8 online lessons and a 4-hour hands-on workshop!

(This is not connected to our farm in any way – just an opportunity we saw and thought might appeal to some of you!)

I’m really looking forward to this year, and fully plan to build on last (our first) year’s success while continuing to learn a lot from a wide range of people. Your support for both our farm, and for local foods more broadly – in whatever form it takes – is much appreciated!

This spring there will be several opportunities to lend a helping hand at the farm. Even though CSA deliveries don’t start until June, we have started getting really busy… preparing equipment, starting seed trays, and soon we’ll need to be building fence, planting, weeding, and several other things that require much hands-on work. If you or someone you know is interested in coming out and volunteering to lend a hand for a few hours, contact me (tony@newfamilyfarm.com) to see if we can get something worked out.

Finally, we would appreciate you passing on this newsletter or information about New Family Farm to anyone who might be interested in joining our CSA next year! We are looking forward to providing you with safe, healthy, yummy food in 2015.

News from the Farm: Jan 20, 2015

Newsletter sent to our email list on Jan 20, 2015. See the original newsletter in full format.

Happy 2015!

While it’s only January, prep for the 2015 is well underway: planting plans are made, seeds are ordered, and equipment is being repaired. The last week of warm weather has made it much easier to get a few things done outside – and we’d welcome more mild winter weather!

The next couple of weeks involve lots of meetings and conferences – the remainder of the winter is about networking and learning from what others do well, and sometimes the mistakes that have been made. We’re actively working to grow our own operation, as well as the broader market for local foods in central Iowa. And there are many others working on this, too! We hope that you will support New Family Farm by joining our CSA. If that does not work, you can also support us by buying some of our extras through the Iowa Food Cooperative (iowafood.coop). We do not have any products listed right now, but we will likely start listing stuff there again in late May/early June, depending upon spring weather. Other farms, however, offer a variety of exciting local foods on the food coop throughout the year.

This spring there will be several opportunities to lend a helping hand at the farm. Even though CSA deliveries don’t start until June, we will start getting really busy by mid-March… starting seed trays, building fence, planting, weeding, and several other things that require much hands-on work. If you or someone you know is interested in coming out and volunteering to lend a hand for a few hours, contact me (Tony – tony@newfamilyfarm.com) to see if we can get something worked out.

Also – we’ll likely be looking for some part-time paid help starting in April. Though details are still being explored, if you know someone that might be interested in working at the farm this summer, please have them contact me. General tasks are likely to include planting, weeding, harvesting, and helping prep for deliveries.

Need a birthday or Valentine’s gift?
Consider gifting a CSA Share! 

Our 10-week Sampler shares are only $225 and come with all the benefits of giving a healthy gift that supports the local economy!

We would appreciate you passing on this newsletter or information about New Family Farm to anyone who might be interested in joining our CSA next year! We are looking forward to providing you with safe, healthy, yummy food in 2015.

 

 

 

 

News from the Farm – Nov 28, 2014

Newsletter sent to our email list on Nov 28, 2014. See the original newsletter in full format.

Greetings!

Where has the fall gone? Every time I sit down at my desk and take a moment to catch my breath I find that question parading through my mind. Our very successful first year of the CSA has just wrapped up: our last delivery was last Tuesday – Nov 25th – just in time for Thanksgiving! We hope the squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, potatoes, onions, kale, and more were all wonderful additions to many Thanksgiving meals.

A very big THANKS goes out to all of you who joined our CSA in this inaugural year. We served 25 families during both our summer and fall shares – spanning 26 weeks in 2014. We also shared our produce with dozens of others via the Iowa Food Coop. While we’ve learned much and know there are some areas where we can do better, overall we’re extremely pleased with how the year has gone and are – again – very thankful for your support.

While the workload has lightened over the last few weeks, there has still been plenty to do. Field clean up and spreading manure to further enhance soil fertility took some time. Now that deliveries are done, the packing shed needs to be organized and prepped for next year. And then planning for next year, including ordering appropriate amounts of the 80+ varieties of seed that we’ll need, must happen in the next several weeks.

cubedveggies
My iron skillet full of “cubed” veggies including beets, sweet potatoes, squash, purple top turnips, and daikon radish – just waiting to be roasted in the oven. Yum!!

 

Need a Christmas gift? Consider gifting a CSA Share! 
Our 10-week Sampler shares are only $225 and come with all the benefits of giving a healthy gift that supports the local economy!
Click on the links in the text above to find out more about our shares.

We would appreciate you passing on this newsletter or information about New Family Farm to anyone who might be interested in joining our CSA next year! Wishing you and yours the best for this holiday season, and looking forward to providing you with safe, healthy, yummy food in 2015.

Summer Squash Casserole

Summer Squash Casserole
(serves 4-6)

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices (about 3 cups) (green or yellow squash)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. basil
  • 3/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into slices
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (your choice)

Heat oven to 400F. Mix seasonings in small bowl or measuring cup. Arrange zucchini in a 2-2/12 quart casserole; sprinkle with 1/3 of seasonings Add tomato slices and more seasonings. Top with onion slices and remaining seasonings. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, add cheese and bake 10 minutes longer.

To prepare in the microwave, cook on high for 4 minutes, rotate casserole half turn then cook for 4 more minutes. Add cheese and microwave until melted.

(from Brenda Dobson)

Cucumber Dill Dip

Cucumber Dill Dip

(makes 3 cups)

  • 2 cups well-drained shredded peeled cucumber
  • 1/2 cup Miracle Whip Light dressing (or your favorite product)
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • Scant 1/4 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with assorted cut up veggies or your favorite crackers.

(From Brenda Dobson)

Renee’s Salsa

Renee’s Salsa
Whenever I eat supper at my sister’s, she has some of these on the table with tortilla chips… and it always gets devoured!

  • peppers – bell, sweet, hot balanced to your liking (or what you have available)
  • 1 small/medium cucumber
  • tomatoes – cherry, regular or whatever you like
  • garlic – we like to add quite a bit
  • 1 tiny/small onion – we prefer red, but any will do

Optional ingredients:

  • corn
  • zucchini
  • lemon juice – my mom adds this, might help to keep it longer, but we usually eat it so fast I don’t bother
  • anything else you want to toss in there

Chop all. Toss together. Stir in pepper and salt as desired.
I use pampered chef chopper, so it leave the salsa a little chunky. You could use food processor, too.

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Directions:

  1. Put the grated zucchini in a colander or strainer over the sink, and add the teaspoon of salt and gently mix. After letting the zucchini sit for 10 minutes, drain the zucchini with a cloth or paper towels.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, flour, feta, dill, garlic, and egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is warm, scoop a tablespoon of batter for each fritter into the oil. Flatten the scoops a bit with a spatula and cook until the underside is golden-brown – about 2 minutes – and then flip the fritter and let it cook until the other side is golden-brown (about 1-2 minutes).
  4. Serve with sour cream, yogurt, another sauce, or simply plain.

Basil Pesto

Basil pesto

  • 2 cups chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)

Place the basil in a blender. Pour in about 1 tablespoon of the oil, and blend basil into a paste. Gradually add nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and remaining oil. Continue to blend until smooth.

Have a picture of this one? Send it to Tony and he’ll post it!