Trays, tractors, and turning green, April 2015

We’re looking forward to a busy April. Check out what we’ve been up to and stop by one of the outings we have scheduled this month.

Hoophouse Building
A run of warm weather allowed us to begin constructing our first hoophouse in March. Our hoophouses are a critical component for extending our production season in the early spring and late fall. They give us room to house trays of plants, warm up the soil in the spring, and keep tomato production strong well into September and October.

The three of us were able to construct the frame, set the hoops, and attach the purlins in a few days. We are looking forward to our hoophouse construction days April for a chance to raise a hoophouse in a day alongside friends.

Let us know if you can join us on April 4th, 5th, 11th, or 18th by clicking on our Google Doc or giving us a call! We have all the tools and materials – just bring yourself, sturdy shoes, and a pair of work gloves.

What’s Growing Now
69 trays and 18,164 (approximately) plants are sprouting!

We have seeded onions, shallots, leeks, tomatoes, thyme, sage, oregano and celeriac.
In the coming weeks, we are seeding for the summer abundance ahead:
hot peppers, kale, carrots, beets, cabbage, eggplant, ground cherries, lettuce heads, peas, tomatoes, spinach and more. Our first planting in the soil will be as soon as next week in our first hoophouse.

Want to keep up with our planting? Or takes some notes for your garden? Check out our planting log and planting schedule.

Early greenhouse tomatoes for our CSA

Early greenhouse tomatoes for our CSA

Assemble the tools!
Our BCS 749 walk behind tractor arrived this week. The tractor is just the right scale for our production. Our three implements for the BCS- power harrow, flail mower, and rotary plow – allow us to mow, mulch, turn-in cover crops, prepare raised beds, and prepare for planting. They are all easy to hook up and maneuver.

Our hand tools also arrived: wheel hoes, seeders, rakes, spading forks, shuffle hoes, and the handles to our broadfork (the fork will arrive in a few weeks).

Oren and Hava checking out the new BCS walk-behind tractor and flail mower.

Oren and Hava checking out the new BCS walk-behind tractor and flail mower.

Cover Crops
A cover crop is a crop planted to prevent erosion, enrich the soil with organic matter and nutrients, suppress weeds, and hold moisture in the ground. We recently ordered our cover crop seeds for the season, and are excited to try out a few new varieties along-side the regulars.

Winter Rye – A single rye plant will grow millions of rootlets together running more than 600 miles. Rye provides powerful weed suppression, allopathically inhibits the germination and growth of other grasses, and improves soil tilth and life. We will plant rye in the fall following our greens, coles, annual herbs, and summer squashes. In late spring the rye will be turned in to prepare for legumes.

Winter Triticale – This cross between grain rye and winter wheat is cold hardy. This year we plan to trial triticale along-side our winter rye. The triticale is supposed to produce more biomass than rye but we expect a reduction in weed suppression.

Crimson Clover – This beautiful clover’s bright red blooms are much beloved by bees, plus it is a nitrogen fixer! Crimson clover will be planted during the season as a mid-term green manure between some of our early and late plantings. We will also seed crimson clover mixed with Oats following our onions, shallots, and leeks. The crimson clover and oats will winter-kill before being turned in to prepare for greens in early spring.

Oats – In addition to mixing with clover to follow our alliums, oats will be planted to follow our legumes. The oats will catch and hold nitrogen and other nutrients before readily winter-killing. The oats will be turned in to prepare for hoophouse tomato plantings in the spring.

Yellow Mustard – This member of the brassica family grows quickly and produces compounds that inhibit the growth of soil-borne organisms and diseases, such as fungi and nematodes. This year we will trial yellow mustard as a short-term cover crop in the summer.

Sorghum/Sudangrass – This cover crop can grow up to 6 feet tall, producing lots of biomass in a small area. Sorgum/Sudangrass will grow on smaller plots all season before being harvested to add to our compost.

Tillage Radish – Tillage radishes have deep tap-roots that scavenge micro-nutrients from deep in the soil and bring them closer to the soil surface. The radishes also provide good weed suppression. We plan to trial tillage radish this fall along-side winter rye. The radishes will winter-kill, allowing early spring plantings, but we are interested to see how weed suppression and soil structure improvements compare.

Organic Certification Update
Our organic certification application has been submitted! The final step of the process is the on-site inspection this April. You can check out our Organic System Plan (OSP) here. We will be updating our plans and input lists in preparation for our inspection. We plan to have all of our organic records available on our website.

Evergreen Credit Union Pick Up/Why We Love Credit Unions
We are excited to announce a new pick-up site for our CSA this summer – Evergreen Credit Union in Neenah! We were delighted when they contacted us about our CSA program, and our looking forward to working with Evergreen and their members.

When we started our business we were committed to working with a credit union for a business account. We love that credit unions are member-owned and focused on providing services that really fit the needs of the local community. Our business account at Fox Communities Credit Union doesn’t require a minimum balance of thousands of dollars, and they provide many services without added charges. Plus, they know us by name when we walk in the door!

If you know anyone in Neenah who might be interested in a CSA share, they can now join our CSA program and pick up from Evergreen Credit Union on Tuesdays from 3:00-6:00pm.

Evergreen Credit Union
1500 American Dr.
Neenah, WI 54956

We also have pick-up sites in Appleton, Amherst, and Stevens Point. To join, simply fill out our CSA Sign-Up form or call Hava at 920-723-9301.

Financial Status/CSA Count
Our Budget v. Actual for March is posted.

We have finished our major purchases, ordered all of our seeds, and paid for our organic certification inspection. We fell a little behind our goal for CSA sign-ups in March but we expected to have some uncertainty in CSA sign-up timing this first year. So far we have 17 member signed up for a total of 10.5 boxes/week. We are hoping to reach 32 boxes/week by June.

In conversations with a few other farmers after the Appleton CSA Open House there was consensus that CSA members have been signing up later and later each year for a while. So, we took a look at the impact of CSA on the cash-flow of a small vegetable farm. Here are a few of the reasons: why csa members pay up front.

Field Notes in the Community
Growing at Farmshed Project We are excited to partner with Central Rivers Farmshed and the Grower’s Collective to grow starts and raise money for the Farmshed Greenhouse Project. We plan to grow tomatoes and a few trays of peppers and basil. The plants will be for sale Memorial Day Weekend along-side the Grower’s Collective’s wide array of vegetable and herb starts — specific days, times, varieties and prices will be sent out in May.

The Stevens Point Co-op Hava started working part-time for the co-op at the beginning of March. So far she has had a great time meeting and chatting with all of the food-savvy members and employees. Stop by and see her on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through mid-May.

The Market On Strongs Hava will be here on Saturday, April 4th from 9:00-11:30am promoting our CSA program. Stop by and say hello!

Earth Day @ FREEA The Fox River Environmental Education Association is hosting an sunrise to sundown Earth Day event in Appleton, April 22nd 8:30am – 8:00pm. We will be a part of the festivities, featuring information on small-scale food production.

Prairie Chicken Festival Boomin’ Brewery Bash
We will be an exhibitor at this event on April 11, 3-9pm at Central Waters Brewing Company in Amherst. This FREE event is for anyone 21+, and will include live music, guest speakers, a poetry slam, a brewery tour, and more! Come visit with us and enjoy this celebration of grasslands and the prairie chicken!

We’ve been collecting our favorite recipes all winter.
Check out all of our posted recipes here or use the Recipe Search feature on our Notes page.
Here’s one of our favorite simple spring sides to get your taste buds tingling!

Marinated Radish Salad
The dressing recipe makes more than needed for this recipe alone. Save it in a sealed jar in your fridge for other salads. It is great with mixed greens too!

1 large bunch radishes, thinly sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh dill, minced
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 pinches salt
Combine radishes, green onions, and dill in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. This will make more dressing than you need for one salad. Add 2 tbsp dressing to vegetables and stir to combine. Add more dressing if needed.
Cover bowl and allow vegetables to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. If left longer than 3-4 hours, the salad can get watery. Save extra dressing in a small jar in the fridge for later use.

Media Links

Post Crescent – Field Notes Farm was featured as a new start-up farm in the Post-Crescent Buzz column here.

Radio Interview – Patricia learned about our farm from John Ikerd, a good friend of ours. She has family in Appleton, and while in town on a recent visit, sat down to talk with Oren for her radio program, Lightly on the Ground with the Sunny Gardener.
Click the link and look for Lightly on the Ground – Wednesday, March 25 @ 11:00am.

WHBY – Polly chatted with WHBY 1150 AM about the CSA Open house events and the importance of CSAs in the community.

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