Week 17 2016


A FamiltShare receives lemongrass!, chard, kale, potatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, tomatillos, shallots and a kohlrabi.


A CoupleShare receives lemongrass, onions, shallots, garlic, peppers, eggplant, and kale.


Hmmm, lemongrass potatoes!

Farm Wars: Episode IV - A New Hoe

A New Hoe

May the Fourth be with You!

Happy Holidays!

Steve Harvey Final

Chickens are laying…

around the watercooler compactWe have lot ‘o eggs from our free-rangin’ chickens.  $5/dz.  Let me know if you are interested!

A Message from the Boss

Potato planting change

What a difference a Year Makes

Here are two side-by-side pictures of our garlic.  On the left is from March 23, 2012.  On the right March 23, 2013.  I think we are a little behind last season…

Job Opening

Fresh Earth Farms (www.FreshEarthFarms.com) is a Community Supported Agriculture farm located just east of the Twin Cities (south of Afton).  We are seeking an enthusiastic person to assist in the laborious, never-ending task of supplying fresh, wholesome vegetables to our CSA members.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • An overwhelming interest in sustainable agriculture
  • The ability to lift 50 lbs – over and over and over and      over again
  • Experience in farming or farm related work
  • The ability to work independently
  • An enthusiastic attitude
  • Boundless energy
  • The desire to hoe vegetables for hours at a time
  • An interest in crawling around in the dirt
  • A sense of humor
  • Raincoat
  • Mud boots

The position starts in mid-April and ends at the end of October.

We have both part time and full time positions available.  Part time positions are 2 to 4 days per week (Monday – Friday).  Work days during the spring are dependent on the weather.  Once harvesting starts in mid-June you will be expected to work at a minimum Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:30 to 3:30.  Additional days may be added depending on workload.  Full time position is Monday – Friday.

This is a paid position.

We do not provide housing though we are a convenient commute from the Twin Cities (20 minutes east of downtown St. Paul).

This is an excellent opportunity for the right candidate to experience farming while maintaining some level of sanity.  There will be many educational opportunities while hoeing, harvesting and washing produce.

To apply: send a resume or similar document with a cover letter explaining how you would fit into our organization to: chris@freshearthfarms.com

Fresh Earth Farms is an Equal Opportunity Employer and a darn good place to work.

Act now before it is too late!

Just a reminder that the world will end on December 21, 2012. And so will our Early Bird Special! Sign-up before the apocalypse and get this year’s price for next season’s produce.

My Day on the Farm

Below is a firsthand description of a member’s day on the farm.  I was planning on saving it for the next newsletter but I felt it was best delivered on its own.  Perhaps it will encourage others to come out and enjoy a day of fresh air, sunshine and good conversation.

Last week when I was out at the farm picking up my veggies, I started talking to Chris and Rebecca about my dream of becoming more self-sufficient and growing all or most of my own food at some point down the road.  Since I have very limited experience with this, I am starting with small experiments on my balcony, and learning all I can.  Chris suggested that I come out on the 4th, since I wouldn’t be working, and help with the day’s harvest.  Of course I said I would!

When I got there at 7:30, it was raining and not too warm.  I met Simon and Hannah, as Chris and Rebecca discussed what to harvest this week.  It was a surprisingly complex discussion involving a lot of calculations and decisions about what to have for options for some items that there was not enough of for every share to get some.  For example, the peas are winding down, and the eggplant is just starting, but between both of those there still wouldn’t be enough to go around, so they added the option of basil; thus the folks who picked up at the farm today would have a choice of some peas, one eggplant or some basil for each share.

We all piled into the back of the pick-up and rode over to the acres of various plants growing in long rows.  As Simon and Hannah went off to their assigned areas, Rebecca and I headed to the squash.  Rebecca was very helpful, and showed me how to pick the proper size of squash and how to cut it from the plant.  At some point in there, the sun came out and it started to warm up.  Fortunately I had the foresight to bring a couple of bottles of water along!  After the squash, we walked over to the eggplant, where Rebecca showed me what to look for to determine if they are ready, told me that the bugs were potato beetle larva, and left me to pick the eggplant while she went over to the broccoli.  Chris came by to see how it was going, and asked me if I knew what the bugs on the eggplants were.  I did, since Rebecca had told me!  He decided they needed to be taken care of – there were a lot of them – so he went to prepare some special organic potato beetle obliteration spray, which he put on the plants after I was done harvesting the eggplant.

Next, I joined Rebecca in the shade where the broccoli was growing.  She showed me how to choose the ready heads, and how to chop them down and strip the stems.  It looked easy when she did it, but it took me a while to get the technique down.  I also learned about how grocery stores don’t sell broccoli that is really ready, because it doesn’t look as neat and tidy as it does when it’s not quite ready, but that if you wait to harvest it until it’s ready, it has a much milder, almost sweet taste.  Yum!  Simon and Chris carried our bins of broccoli up to the pickup, where it was decided we needed 50 more broccoli.  So back we went, and rounded up another couple of bins full.

We took a shade break, because it was getting pretty hot.  I mean REALLY hot!  Rebecca told me a lot about rotation of crops and cover crops.  Then we went back up to the house and worked on washing the harvest.  Simon washed chard in one large tub, I washed broccoli in a second, and Rebecca washed squash and eggplant in smaller tubs.  As we washed we put them into bins that we labeled and put into the cooler.  While we were washing, Hannah was busy inside working on the flowers for flower shares.

After a while, Chris asked me to go inside and bag up peas and basil for the drop-site boxes.  That kept me busy for a while.  When I finished inside, Simon was washing onions in his big tub and Chris was washing beets in the other.  I helped Chris with the beets while we talked about financial markets and Chris’s past lives (his pre-farming days).  I bunched the beets up and put them into bins to put in the cooler, then turned to help Simon and Rebecca finish washing the onions.  And then, lunch time!  It felt really good to sit down for a while.

After eating, I was assigned the task of filling all of the drop-site boxes.  One couple-share box and one family-share box were designated the picture boxes, so those needed to have particularly photogenic vegetables.  They didn’t get closed up with the other boxes, because the onions and green garlic needed to be bent over to fit, and that would have ruined their photogenicity.  While those 2 boxes were having their photo shoot, Simon & I got all the boxes into the cooler.  That cooler was pretty darn full with everything in it!

We got finished a bit after 2.  Chris and I put up the signs in the tent with the amounts and choices per share, and then he got my choices out of the cooler for me, and I left for home with a smile on my face and dirt all over most of the rest of me.

I had a really good time today!  I got hot, I got sweaty, I got wet, I got dirty, I got a little bit sunburned, I had spiders and other cute little insects walking on me (no ugly ticks!), I got scratched up a bit from the prickly squash plants & from a couple of thistles that were hiding in among the broccoli, I got tired, and most of all, I got VERY HAPPY.  If you’ve never been out to work at the farm, I suggest that you do it sometime.  It’s an excellent way to learn more about where this yummy food we get each week comes from and what Chris and his friendly, passionate staff do to get it ready for us to take home and enjoy.

Big Vegetable News

I don’t know if any of you follow the news these days but I must say there is big, BIG news out there, especially in the vegetable world.  This is news that dwarfs all other vegetable news.  Bigger than a new variety of carrot.  Bigger than GMO corn.  Almost as big as heat-resistant lettuce.  When I first heard it I couldn’t believe my ears.  I thought I was dreaming. I thought maybe I was having a stroke and hallucinating.  At the very least I thought that I simply misheard the report.  But no.  It was all over the news.  I heard it many times on different channels, different newspapers, different news web sites.  I just couldn’t believe it.  And to top it off not only is it big news, but it is good news; great news!  I’m sure by now you are all thinking, “Yeah, Chris.  I know what you mean!  I couldn’t believe it either.”  I’m sorry but I have to sit down.  My knees are weak.

As for those few of you who don’t follow the news let me catch you up.  A few years ago our President proposed and our Congress passed sweeping legislation (is there any other kind of legislation?) to overhaul the healthcare system.  Maybe some of you heard about this?  Anyway, that’s not the important part.  You see as part of this legislation it became mandatory that we all be covered by health insurance either though our employer or by purchasing insurance ourselves.  Again, this isn’t all that important.  Here’s where I get to the good part.  Apparently there is a move afoot to require all living Americans to start eating broccoli or face fines in excess of $10,000/year – or something like that.  Wow!  It is about time!  Just think if we start requiring our fellow citizens to start eating healthy food like broccoli we would not have to spend so much darn money on healthcare.  Then we wouldn’t have such an expensive healthcare system and could afford the health insurance the government is requiring us to have.  What a brilliant plan!

Of course we can’t stop at broccoli.  What about carrots?  Or tomatoes?  Or kohlrabi!  We can’t just force citizens to eat broccoli.  We need them to eat all the nutritious fresh veggies.  But we also must be careful.  Remember who we are dealing with – Congress.  The governmental body elected to represent us and our best interests.  If we aren’t careful they may start classifying things that aren’t vegetables as vegetables.  Things that may not be all that nutritious.  Things like, hmm, say, just off the top of my head here, maybe pizza?  Could you imagine?  I’m sure there are plenty of people in congress who would vote to define pizza as a vegetable.

Many people are thinking that this is a new idea.  I thought so too, until I did a bit of research.  It appears that this was first proposed by President George H. W. Bush.  He said something to the effect, “I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”  OK, so it wasn’t his idea to force people to eat broccoli, but he also didn’t get reelected.  And I don’t think that is a coincidence.  He upset the whole broccoli-eating voting block.  Not smart campaigning on his part.

So no matter what side of the political aisle you sit you have to applaud the democratic process.  What was once an off-the-cuff remark by a Republican President morphed into a negative ad campaign strategy by the Democrats and eventually remorphed into a new proposal by the right – the broccoli mandate.  I bet none of you saw that coming.

Oh, and the farm is doing pretty well.  We planted potatoes and carrots out in the field yesterday.  We have onions, shallots, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, flowers, herbs, sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplants, beets, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, celery, fennel, kale and kohlrabi growing in the greenhouse.  That’s pretty much it.

Other announcements:

Payment for VeggieShares is due by the end of March unless alternative arrangements have been arranged.  Payment for other items is due in May.

If you would like to add FruitShare, CheeseShare, MeatShare, CoffeeShare, WinterShare, EggShare, FlowerShare or herbs please let me know and I can add them to your account.  This is a great way to support similar small, family farms.

We have two Business partners in our online member business directory.  if you need flower design or gardening or electrical work please consider some of your fellow farm members.  And if you’d like to be listed as well send me a logo and a short description of your product and service.  $25 gives you the whole year.

I think that is all for now.  Start eating your broccoli before you are forced to.