CSA Week 1: 4/30/17

Welcome!

It's time! The first "official" CSA pick-ups are this week, beginning with the Charlotte drop tomorrow evening, on-farm pick-up Tuesday afternoon, and at markets Saturday morning. I'd like to take this first CSA newsletter as an opportunity to thank everyone for their support of Lazy Heron Farm, and stepping up to try to do something good for your health and community. We are excited so many people are becoming friends of the farm!

A note on how these newsletters will generally go: we will give you a list of what we expect to have available that week (subject to minor changes), and some idea of how best to cook and store it. Then we will usually highlight some particular vegetable with a more in-depth recipe and include a bit of news from the farm. The list of vegetables will include what we are reasonably confident that we'll have enough for everyone. There might be a few surprises each week (or not), and it's possible something on the list will end up not being available.

A NOTE ON CHARLOTTE BOXES: especially on the small shares, we will generally have more types of vegetables harvested than what will be in your box, so you will see some items on the newsletter list you won't be getting. However, we will do our best to rotate vegetables in your boxes each week so you get a taste of everything, while keeping the favorites in. At the Charlotte drop, we will have a "take an item/leave an item" table to facilitate some flexibility in what you can bring home. For instance, small shares will generally not get herbs, since they don't exactly fill up your boxes or plates, but we will leave some on the table if you want to switch out. We are open to this system evolving too, once we see how it works.

PAYMENTS:  If you still need to pay for your share or are paying with a deposit, please bring cash or check to your pick-up.  Deposits and first month of payment are due this week.  Thank you! 

 

This week's harvest:

Kale: massage with lemon juice/other acid raw for salad, coat in oil and put in oven at high heat for chips, or saute with butter/oil and garlic
Collards: cook these down in a cast iron, traditionally with some pork
Lettuce mix, arugula, spicy salad mix: mix these up for salad. Our "spicy mix" is a blend of baby mustards, kale, turnip greens, and arugula. Mix these up if you prefer.
Head lettuce: cut it up for your salad
Scallions: use just like a regular onion. You can cut it all the way up the stalk
 

Store these in a reused plastic bag in the fridge. If they are starting to wilt when you take them out, dunk them in water and they will perk up.


Turnips: roast or slice thin and saute. Boil and mash like potatoes. You can cook down the greens too like collards.
Baby beets: as with turnips, or grate raw for salad.
Radishes: slice thin in salad or on sandwiches, or roast.
Kohlrabi: grows above ground, but can be treated similarly to a turnip. My favorite way is cutting into chunks, seasoning with salt and pepper, and grilling in foil.

Roots store best with greens off in the refrigerator.


Cilantro: cut up thin in your salad, add to rice, use generally in asian or latin dishes
Dill: cut up thin in salad, use on fish, pickle with it
Parsley: garnish salads, soups, and meat

We store herbs in a crock or jar with a thin layer of water on the bottom in the fridge (bottom of stems in water but not leaves).

If you have a particular way you like to cook any of these vegetables, let us know! We love to hear how people are using their share, and let other members know.

Farm Talk

We're now at the meeting point of spring crops coming in full-swing and summer crops being planted. We will be putting in some tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and more squash this week. Between harvests for market and now CSA, cultivating between rains to stay on top of the weeds, and finishing our summer crop soil preparations, we have been busy!

The chicks are now not so small, and they are out to pasture. Their "tractor" is moved twice a day currently. Of course I wish I had built it lighter, but we have figured out a decent system involving propping up the back with a hand truck and pulling a rope side-to-side at the front. I'll try to include a picture next week, so if you haven't been to the farm you have some idea of what I'm talking about.

Many folks have approached us at farmers markets or at Norwood's Arbor Day and commented on the most recent Stanly News and Press article on Lazy Heron, usually with some remark on the use of draft horses. I've heard dozens now and the most popular are:

  • that's a lot of work!
  • my family used horses/mules when I was growing up, but they sold the farm before I was really involved
  • I'm proud/excited about this!

We love that folks are interested in what we are doing and have something to say about it, so thanks!

Cousin Harper visiting the farm Easter weekend

Cousin Harper visiting the farm Easter weekend

Cats and pup 'helping' in the greenhouse on a rainy day

Cats and pup 'helping' in the greenhouse on a rainy day

Dusty Jo's morning yawn

Dusty Jo's morning yawn

Cultivating the first planting of corn

Cultivating the first planting of corn

Jo pup eats her kale, do you?

Jo pup eats her kale, do you?

Potato Field

Potato Field

Recipe:

This is about as simple a recipe as you can get, but it really showcases radishes' crunch and spicy sweetness.

Radishes with Bread and Butter
Slice some good quality crusty bread, spread with butter, and top with thinly sliced radishes and a sprinkle of salt.  That's it!  So simple, and so good.

 

Leafing Out

Hi everyone!  I'm Hailey -- I've been on the farm for a little over a month now and behind the scenes since the beginning.  I'll be taking the reigns on the newsletters every now and then. So, here goes! 

Suddenly it's Spring!  It doesn't seem so sudden, of course if you really look back and think about it.  It's no surprise that every year the earth turns, the seasons change, trees flower, the days get warmer.  Every year I know it's going to happen, but that doesn't change the shock when I look up and suddenly the trees are flooded in green.  All of the slow turning of the planet and the quiet invisible work going on all winter through the seemingly sleeping plant world has all of the sudden made itself known.  We see you spring!

Up until now we've kept you up to date with what we've been planting each month.  At this point in the season that practice is starting to get a little unwieldy as we've been planting just about everything!  Right now in the field we've got: head lettuce, salad mix, mesclun mix, arugula, spinach, kohlrabi, radishes, turnips, carrots, beets, chard, three kinds of kale, onions, cabbage, broccolli, cauliflower, peas, potatoes, and corn -- whew!!   In the greenhouse we've got all manners of tomatoes, peppers, squash, cukes, and flowers waiting for their day in the sun.  

What a difference three weeks makes!  The image on the left was taken on the morning of March 12th, and the image on the right was taken on April 4th. 

Just as April has brought the leafing out of many dormant trees, this past month has also brought our farm to life within the community. Through most of the winter the farm has been a quiet place. Don't get me wrong, we've been busy, for sure.  Holt built an unbelievable amount of infrastructure over the winter, and we've been planting, weeding, and preparing fields most every day. But this was a sort of private bustle, a quiet humming along.  This past weekend, the first of April, really brought the farm out into the open.  

Last Friday we had our first big harvest, and last Saturday we attended our first market in Charlotte and sold out of almost everything!  After all of the preparatory work we've been doing throughout the winter and early spring, it's fulfilling to finally take a harvest knife out into the field and fill a crate full of greens.  It's even more fulfilling to have the opportunity share those greens with veggie-loving folks at market!

On Sunday afternoon we hosted a farm tour and open house.  We expected a handful of folks to come out to the farm, but were overjoyed to find that our expectations were totally off.  I was too busy running around giving tours and Holt was too busy leading hayride after hayride to get an exact count on the turnout, but it is safe to say that this past Sunday was Lazy Heron's most populous day.  Friends and neighbors came out and enjoyed walking tours, hayrides to the river, and lemonade.  The kids definitely enjoyed the animals, especially our new pup Dusty Jo!  We love to be able to share what we're doing with our community--thanks to all those that came out and to our landlords Ron and Nancy Bryant for all their help in making it happen!

Alright, off to go transplant before this afternoon's storm! As the old saying goes, April showers bring May kale/collards/chard!  

See ya around,

Hailey and Holt

Can't wait for that sweet corn, already a few inches tall in the field!

John getting ready for potato planting.

  Hailey, Connor, and John transplanting scallions

Our new pup Dusty Jolene aka "Jo" living up to her name (note the red clay on her nose and tag)

Meet our newest animal additions: 4 pigs from The Naked Pig in Oakboro.

Ted, the magnificent and friendly rooster, our newest winged friend.

We met this little guy in the persimmon orchard

Integrating Life

 

I was chatting with a friend last week about Lazy Heron's new barn cats, and told him they were part of the project of "adding life" to the farm. As we come out of winter in the coming months, its our goal to enliven this landscape with harmonious interactions of plants, animals, and microorganisms: the pasture feeds the horses, the horses feed the soil microbes (via the compost pile), the microbes feed the vegetables, and the vegetables feed you - with any waste going to the four feeder pigs we will be getting this spring [if you're interested in half a hog for your freezer, stay tuned...] That's just one of the many cycles, recognized and unrecognized, that its my responsibility as a farmer to help coordinate.

Outdoor kitchen for the farm crew ~ wash station and CSA pick-up area are on the other half of this shed

Outdoor kitchen for the farm crew ~ wash station and CSA pick-up area are on the other half of this shed

Speaking of life, part of January has been devoted to addressing the farm's human living spaces, which I more or less neglected in the fall while rushing to prepare for plants and animals. I've been getting an outdoor kitchen set up, where the farm crew will share meals. Amazing what you learn about plumbing, electricity, and propane when you move onto a farm that has absolutely no infrastructure on it!

                       Installing wood stove                                     Onions emerging in greenhouse

One of the advantages of farming with draft horses (living tractors, if you will) is they don't make tire ruts when you are on wet winter/early spring soil. I've picked up a ton of lime and will be spreading it on one of our plots in the next few days, with Kate, Sunny, and a tandem disc harrow following to work it in. This plot was plowed in the fall, so its in a workable condition, and even has some growth coming through I want to take out before it gets too established. Then comes compost, bed-shaping, and around the time of the next newsletter, we will be thinking about putting in some cool season crops.

Farm life already interacting well! (Jangles cautiously but curiously stands behind, while Kate ignores her)

Farm life already interacting well! (Jangles cautiously but curiously stands behind, while Kate ignores her)

The thing with Community Supported Agriculture of course is the farm's life is made possible through the community. I'd like to close out the newsletter by thanking everyone in Norwood, Stanly County, and the greater area who has reached out with enthusiasm, shared us with friends, or has already bought a CSA share - those early purchases go a long way in bridging the gap between the scarcity of winter and summer farmers market income. Looking forward to meeting more of you and hoping we can make this farm a little part of your life too.


Thank you ~ Holt

 

Greenhouses, Seeds, and Nostalgia

I used to feel on New Years that winter was just beginning.  This year, with a 20’x50’ greenhouse constructed and ready for starts to begin this month, the cooler walls erected, seeds ordered, and the solstice passed, my thoughts have turned to spring. Completing the greenhouse and the major work of the walk-in cooler in December is a weight off my shoulders, and I’m excited for the actual growing to begin. In a couple weeks, I’ll be starting onions and leeks in the greenhouse and inoculating some recently felled oak with shiitake mushroom spawn.

newly constructed greenhouse with roll-up sides

newly constructed greenhouse with roll-up sides

We’ll be planting 138 varieties of 35 different vegetable and herb crops, an exciting mix of farmers market standards like Brandywine tomato and Provider green beans, underrated crops like Kolibri kohlrabi, and heirloom southern treasures like Carolina black peanut and Jackson Wonder butterbean.

Brandywine Tomato and Moon and Stars Watermelon

 

As much as I’m ready for planting to begin, there are still a few more infrastructure and equipment matters to take care of. I picked up a riding cultivator yesterday from an elderly gentleman north of Durham who restores horse and mule drawn equipment. It’s a McCormick-Deering model: though these went out of production 70 years ago, they are still used on thousands of farms in North America. They may seem like anachronisms today, but there was a time when they were state of the art. This gentleman told me that when he was a boy raising 20 acres each of tobacco, cotton, and corn, all of their implements were walk-behind, and the riding cultivators were for “rich folk”. Funny how these tools come full-circle, though. Many of the new tools coming out for market gardens today are just updated replicas of implements from that era gone-by. The cultivators certainly inspire some nostalgia as well. On the way home at a gas station outside Raleigh, a man called out from the store, “hey, what year is that?”. He proceeded to engage me in an impressive soliloquy—which felt like it lasted at least 15 minutes—about mule-drawn equipment, rows of corn, cutting firewood, hens, hogs, and Mrs. Baker’s dogs across the way, all of which used to line the road that now consists of pharmacies and fast food.
 

2017-01-02 08.41.12.jpg

McCormick-Deering horse drawn riding cultivator

A piece of news from the wider world of farming: NPR ran a nice article last week on Natural Roots Farm in western Massachusetts. I can attest from my two day stay there last fall that it truly is an impressive operation and a farm that serves as a model in many ways for Lazy Heron. One of the somber notes of the story was farmer David’s disappointment that two of his former apprentices, now on their own farms, had transitioned from horse power back to tractors. Lucky for me, though, the timing of one of those farmer's transitions coincided with my search for horses.The result was Sunny and Kate’s move to North Carolina.


http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/12/31/505729436/by-returning-to-farmings-roots-he-found-his-american-dream

 

Happy New Year!

 

Breaking Ground at Lazy Heron!

It's hard to believe that it's been a whole month at Lazy Heron Farm! 

After spending the past growing season in Vermont, I’ve enjoyed my ‘second fall’ of mild weather in this North Carolina November. Among the first tasks was moving quickly to prepare for Sunny and Kate’s arrival: stretching fence for a paddock, setting up the barn, bringing in hay.

Hayride on Thanksgiving Day!

Hayride on Thanksgiving Day!

The horses have handled the transition to a new home and climate like the veterans they are. When I first bought them in Vermont, they, especially Sunny, would sometimes test me: can’t we walk a little faster to pasture?? I figure it was more the transition to a new human partner than a new home though, since they have settled in at Lazy Heron with no fuss. Stanly County’s heavy red clay may have come as a bit of a shock, though – maybe the toughest plow job they had done in a while, especially with the brick-like conditions with the lack of rain. 

We’ve left a strip, maybe an acre, roughly plowed where the first spring crops will go. This may be the only time I leave bare ground without a cover crop for the winter: normally a winter-killed cover will be established in late summer for next year’s early vegetables. The freezing and thawing action in the coming months will start to break down the clods until I run a harrow through, compost, amend, and plant in March.

Plowed field.  Look at that red clay!

Plowed field.  Look at that red clay!

Many of my mornings have been filled with the energy of local second graders (I’m currently holding a part time gig teaching swim lessons at the Y), though afternoons now are largely devoted to infrastructure. This past week, landowner Ron and I trenched and laid down water lines from the well to both barn and field. I had some used cooler panels delivered and will begin assembling them into a walk in produce storage space in the coming days.
In addition to enjoying meeting folks Norwood and Stanly County, I was also happy to spend time with family around Thanksgiving. We’re fortunate to back up to the Pee Dee here, and there’s a nice spot to picnic down there.

Happy Holidays from Lazy Heron Farm!

 

A last piece of news: We're going to be at the NODA market! 

Our application to the NODA farmers market was accepted this week, so, in addition to our Stanly County offerings, we look forward to going to market in Charlotte and offering a CSA pick-up there beginning this spring!

Kate and Sunny enjoying a river picnic

Kate and Sunny enjoying a river picnic

Hello, Norwood!

After an 800 mile drive from Vermont, we finally made it!  Kate and Sunny are on their way in a few weeks, and until then, Holt's busy building fences, getting hay in the barn, and planning for the coming season!

On the road to North Carolina!

On the road to North Carolina!

Hay in the barn, ready for Kate and Sunny.

Hay in the barn, ready for Kate and Sunny.

Getting to know the local fauna.  Meet Sonic, a trusty Green Anole lizard.

Getting to know the local fauna.  Meet Sonic, a trusty Green Anole lizard.