Week #12 Tuesday, September 22 – Friday, September 25

In Your Bag
Yellow Potatoes,
Delicata Squash

Onions
Garlic
Beets
Beet greens –
these are bunched separately so they pack well in your bags
Carrots
(a nice big bag of theses sweet gems  – just the right combo of sweet and carrot flavor!) 
Peppers – a pile of them – last of the season!
We’ll have shishitos, they’re the thin-skinned wrinkly ones (green and red) in a bag.  Poblanos are very deep green and tapered and the long red and yellow ones are sweet.  Look for a green bell pepper and some jalapenos too. 
Cheap Frills greens mix – good for salads or braising. 
Parlsey/Thyme/Sage bunch

Next week
Looks like next week’s bag will have some fall kohlrabi and hopefully a new crop for us – red napa cabbage.  It’s coming along and we’re crossing our fingers there will be enough to have one for everybody.  We’ve got a patch of cilantro just about ready and there will be a green of some sort, maybe arugula, maybe collards, maybe another bunch of cheap frills – and who wouldn’t like that? 

End of the Season Schedule
We have made a change in the schedule for the end of the season.  We had been planning to stretch our 14 week season out by shifting to an every other week schedule in October.  INSTEAD, we are planning to go 14 consecutive weeks this year.  Final deliveries will be Tuesday, October 6th and Friday, October 9th.  If you pick-up your vegetables every other week, you may end the week before that.  Monthly shares, look for an e-mail from Spring Hill with your final vegetable delivery dates for the season.  This change is NOT a change in the number of weeks or in the amount and variety of vegetables, simply a change in the schedule due to considerations around the pandemic.

Farm News
In this season of many challenges, we’ve had a few more curve balls thrown at us. The disease that took out our earlier plantings of broccoli also took our fall broccoli and cauliflower. We were so hoping so have a nice batch of fall broccoli and at least some cauliflower for you. Even though we had had lost about half of the cauliflower to the heavy rains that came just after planting, we were hoping to get at least one head for each of you. Nope. Celeriac too was a victim of the July rains. It just never thrived and while we hoped it would recover and size up, it’s not happening. I know there are both lovers and haters of celeriac. I fall into the love camp so I’m disappointed that this knarly fall root didn’t make it. Finally, we’ve had not just one but FIVE frosts already, all before the average frost date for our area. We covered peppers for the first four but this last one on Saturday morning was unexpected. Many of the peppers survived but, given the state of the plants after this last frost, they won’t make it through another one so we’re sending in a passel of peppers this week!  We’ve been enjoying them a lot!  We’ve been slicing them (a mix of sweets and hots) and sauteing them with onions and garlic and then tossing them on top of beans and rice, mixing them into eggs, pasta, pizza – just about anything.  Delicious!  If it’s too many peppers to eat fresh, try freezing them.  We wash them, slice them up and lay them out to freeze on cookie sheets.  Once frozen, we bag them up and use them throughout the winter.  The frosts also meant it was time to harvest the squash.  Last Wednesday we made it through the patch harvesting any squash that was close to ripe.  We would have liked another week for it, but we weren’t going to get it.  It’s all in the greenhouse now so on cold nights, we can close it up and keep the squash from freezing.     It continues to be a challenging season.  Even so, there’s been so many good meals at our place and we hope yours too!

Week #11 Tuesday, September 15 – Friday, September 18

In Your Bag
Yellow Potatoes,
Sugar Dumpling Winter Squash

Leeks, Onion (XL!) , Garlic
Carrots
(the sweet gems are just the right combo of sweet and carrot!) 
Romano Beans
Peppers – Green bells, Sweet Red and Yellow,
  Anaheims (these are the long green ones), 
  and   Jalapenos
Kalebration Kale Mix
Sage bunch
Tomatoes
Slicers & Salads, last of the season!

End of the Season Schedule
We have made a change in the schedule for the end of the season.  We had been planning to stretch our 14 week season out by shifting to an every other week schedule in October.  INSTEAD, we are planning to go 14 consecutive weeks this year.  Final deliveries will be Tuesday, October 6th and Friday, October 9th.  If you pick-up your vegetables every other week, you may end the week before that.  Monthly shares, look for an e-mail from Spring Hill with your final vegetable delivery dates for the season.   This change is NOT a change in the number of weeks or in the amount and variety of vegetables, simply a change in the schedule due to considerations around the pandemic.

Farm News
One of the first things we do each morning is check the weather, NOT BEFORE COFFEE THOUGH, NOTHING BEFORE COFFEE!)  We have several different sites we visit to see what nature has in the works, but the most frequent sites we use are NOAA, WeatherUndeground, and Paul Huttner’s weather blog on MPR. Collectively, these three sites give us a pretty good idea of what’s going on.  NOAA is the baseline.  We can count on NOAA to be quite accurate and we get the big picture in weather. Additionally, NOAA has more data, history and context than any other site.  WeatherUndeground is where we go when we want an hourly view.  So, if NOAA tells us we have a 70% chance of rain, WeatherUnderground will tell us when and how much rain is coming, and finally Paul Huttner’s blog tells us how weird everything is getting. 

One of the things we have learned over time is that weather is everything for farming.  Every year we craft very detailed plans that outline planting dates, harvest dates, and expected yields. These plans serve merely as a roadmap—we may know where we want to go, but we have no idea what we might happen along the way.  We mentioned in an earlier note that the 15 inches of rain in July completely changed our planting schedule (and subsequent anticipated harvest dates)  For example, this is what we had planned for direct seeding during the first ten days of July : dill, Romano green beans, cilantro, Kale mix, amaranth, greens mix.  As you know, some of this we squeezed in later, and some not at all.  The Romano green beans were about two weeks late getting in the ground, but we did manage to sneak them in and they have been a delightful part of the last couple of deliveries!  We also managed to protect them from last week’s (way too early) frost and as a result got a couple of extra harvest for our efforts. Of all the different types of beans we grow, this is our favorite—fantastic flavor and not readily available in the marketplace.  For us, these have been a really delicious seasonal treat!  

We are watching this week’s weather with a sharp eye.  Even though last week’s frost did in the cucumbers, the melons and the field tomatoes, there are still a couple of vulnerable crops in the field, most importantly, winter squash.  Last week’s frost burned back most of the vines and the fruits are now exposed which means if it gets cold enough to frost again, the fruits could be damaged. We would like to see, however, the squash stay on the vine as long as possible to finish ripening . So, really, this week’s work will be determined by Thursday night’s low temp.  Right now, we are looking at 37—awfully close to freezing!  We will be watching the trend– does this projection start creeping up?  If so, maybe the squash can wait.  Does it move down?  Any colder and we will drop all other plans and harvest this year’s squash.  By the way, the first of this year’s squash is in the bag.  Sugar Dumpling is an early variety that requires no curing and can be eaten right away—we already sampled and it was delicious.  Enjoy!

Week #10 Tuesday, September 8 – Friday, September 11

In Your Bag
Cabbage, Fennel
Onions, Garlic
Melon OR Cucumbers OR Zucchini
(last taste of summer!)
Romano Beans
Peppers – Poblanos, Sweet Red and Yellow,
  Green bells and Jalapenos
Collard Greens
Bright Lights Chard
Parsley bunch
Tomatoes
Romas

Coming soon!
We’re planning on the first of the winter squash next week along with leeks and potatoes.  If weather permits, we’ll try for one more week of tomatoes, maybe some carrots and greens of some sort!

End of the Season Schedule
We have made a change in the schedule for the end of the season.  We had been planning to stretch our 14 week season out by shifting to an every other week schedule in October.  INSTEAD, we are planning to go 14 consecutive weeks this year.  Final deliveries will be Tuesday, October 6th and Friday, October 9th.  If you pick-up your vegetables every other week, you may end the week before that.  Monthly shares, look for an e-mail from Spring Hill with your final vegetable delivery dates for the season.   This change is NOT a change in the number of weeks or in the amount and variety of vegetables, simply a change in the schedule due to considerations around the pandemic.

Farm News
In this first full week of September, here on the farm the signs of fall are subtle but unmistakable.  A sumac here and there, a random maple tree and the prickly ash are beginning to show some of their fall colors.

One of the more stunning sights of late summer and early fall is the massive number of dragon flies!  Every few years, it seems we have the conditions come together that allow for a rather large hatch.  While we are harvesting, we can look across the valley and see these prehistoric-like critters flying everywhere.  We don’t know much about them, but further study is a must!  In any case, we have often considered the presence of these amazing insects to be a sign of a healthy eco-system.

We just had a visit from our Natural Resources Conservation Service biologists inspecting our Monarch planting. They seemed quite pleased with the number of different species that have established themselves in the new plot.  So far, we have identified Butterfly weed; Giant  Hyssop; Partridge Pea; Bee Balm, Black-eyed Susan ; Yellow Coneflower, Lance leaf coreopsis; Yellow Coneflower, Side Oats Grama Grass and of course, lots of Common Milkweed!  We were also delighted to find several Monarch caterpillars.  We are thinking that they better get a move on it, this warm weather won’t last long!  In fact, NOAA is predicting patchy frost on Wednesday night—yikes!  If this comes to pass, it would be the earliest frost in our time on this farm.  (Currently, our earliest frost date is September 11, 1996).  Our average frost date for Vance Creek Township, Barron County is September 21, so this would be a couple weeks early. If the forecast  holds, and frost is likely, we have a plan:  cover the peppers and Romano Beans with floating row cover, pick the ripe tomatoes, and cross our fingers on behalf of the winter squash which could use another week or two of growing weather to finish nicely, but would probably be OK.  Right now, the frost does not appear to be too harsh, so we remain hopeful with an anxious eye on the forecast! 

Meanwhile, enjoy the last fruits of summer—especially the Poblano peppers.  This has come to be one of our favorite peppers!  Sauté strips of Poblano and adorn the top of a rice and tomato casserole (hotdish) for a perfect late summer comfort meal—enjoy!

Week #9 Tuesday, September 1 – Friday, September 4

In Your Bag
Melons
Yellow Onion  a biggie!! Red Onion
Yellow potatoes

Garlic
Carrots

Peppers –bell peppers, Anaheims
    Shishitos (red or green in the bag)
Cucumbers
Zucchini
– green and/or yellow
Arugula
Parsley/Thyme bunch
Tomatoes
another big week of tomatoes with a pint of salad tomatoes and a bag with romas and red slicers

Coming soon!
It’s looking like fennel for next week, probably a cabbage.  We’re thinking it will be Poblano peppers along with sweet red and yellow peppers.  We’ll keep sending tomatoes as long as we can!

A Note about Basil
Sadly the basil we hoped to send this week has basil downy mildew and is not usable.  Even planting a resistant variety – Prospera –  proved to be not enough in the high humidity of the past week.  Basil is now done for the season.

Farm News
Wow!  September.  How did that happen?  We know many of you are heading back to school as students and teachers and in other various roles and in a variety of scenarios.  We wish you all well.  It’s challenging no matter how you cut it.  

On the farm we’re looking at a transitioning of the seasons.  Some of our high temps this week are in the 60’s with lows in the 40’s.  It’s time to bring out the flannel shirts!  These next two weeks, the bags will hold the end of summer and beginning of fall.  Cucumbers and zucchini will be making their last showings of the season.  We’ve got one final planting of Romano beans that we’ll begin picking this week and we’ll keep the tomatoes coming as long as possible as their use shifts from fresh slices and salads to soups and sauces. 

We’re keeping an eye on the winter squash (looks like a good harvest!), checking in on the Brussels sprouts and fall broccoli, and eyeing the celeriac, wondering if it will size up this year.  We shall see!

This past week, my Mom sent me Mary Oliver’s book, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems and in it was this lovely poem.

Beans Green and Yellow
From “
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems”
By Mary Oliver

In fall
it is mushrooms
gathered in dampness
under the pines;
in spring
I have known the taste of the lamb
full of milk
and spring grass;
today
it is beans green and yellow
and lettuce and basil
from my friend’s garden –
how calmly,
as though it were an ordinary thing,
we eat the blessed earth.

Even as we are unable to gather this year and share stories and food, together we “eat from the blessed earth” the gifts from the land that is Spring Hill Community Farm— supported so generously by all of you.  Amidst it all, we are so very grateful.

Week #8 Tuesday, August 25 – Friday, August 28, 2020

In Your Bag

Melons
Yellow Onions
Beets
Carrots

Garlic
Green Beans

Peppers – green bell, sweet red & yellow, jalapenos
Cucumbers
Zucchini
– green and/or yellow
Kalebrationa bunch of tender mixed kale
Tomatoes
a pint of salad tomatoes and a bag with romas and red slicers
Herb bunch – Italian parsley, thyme, basil

Coming soon!
Shishito peppers again next week. Potatoes will likely be back.  It should be another big week for tomatoes and we’ll probably have some leeks as well.  We’re hoping for another week from the melon patch and we’re keeping on eye on a planting of arugula.  Our final planting of beans will be coming in a week or two, this time it will be Romanos.  

Farm News
Every year some of the most important decisions we make are varietal selections.  Disease resistance, flavor, suitability to our valley climate, reliability, and yield are some of the important criteria we use when selecting the years vegetable varieties.  Most often, when we find something that works well, we stay with it.  There are very few things which we have control over in the garden, but what we plant is definitely one of the most important!  We are, of course, always trialing new varieties, either because it has a such a great write up and picture in the seed catalog, or other growers have given it a strong recommendation.  Sometimes, the inspiration comes from unusual places.  The Shishito pepper, for example, first came to our attention a few years ago in a cooking magazine.  (My recollection was Bon Appetit, but I could be just making that up!) In any case, we took notice and it has proven to be a reliable performer every year, and one of our favorite summertime treats Watch for another batch in a week or two.  This week’s melon, although somewhat new to us, has done well in all kinds of conditions, including last year’s near perfect growing season and now this year’s weather extremes.  This is how Johnny’s Selected seeds describes it in their catalog:
Personal-size and widely adapted. Sugar Cube lives up to its name with intensely sweet flavor. Very uniform, heavily netted 2–2 1/2 lb. fruits with deep-orange, aromatic flesh perfect for single servings. A scoop of vanilla bean ice cream dropped in the seed cavity makes a sublime summer treat. Strong disease package and long harvest window. Well-suited for northern and southern regions. Harvest at full-slip (when a gentle tug removes the fruit from the vine). High resistance to Fusarium wilt races 0–2, powdery mildew, and watermelon mosaic virus; intermediate resistance to papaya ringspot virus and zucchini yellow mosaic virus.

After the deluge of July, we didn’t know what to expect, but this week’s harvest looks solid—whew!  Watch for these little gems in this week’s delivery and savor summertime!  We are also excited about a new product this week called Kalebration, also from Johnny’s Seeds. This is less of a variety choice but a rather innovative way to grow and eat kale. The seed is several kale varieties mixed together, grown and harvested as a bunch— perfect for a summer salad. (See this week’s recipes) We planted the seeds—four to five seeds into little fiber pots which were later transplanted. The grower’s guidelines suggested direct seeding in a two inch band, but the wet conditions didn’t permit us to enter in the field in late July, so we thought we could try and transplant it, grow it for a couple of weeks on the hay rack before needing to get it into the ground.  This technique allowed us to get ample growth time for a late August harvest,  This little bunch is then harvested and banded with all the different varieties together and sent to you as is.  Let us know what you think!

Week #7 Tuesday, August 18 – Friday, August 21, 2020

In Your Bag

Melons OR Potatoeswe didn’t have quite enough melons for everyone.  Some will get our favorite potato – Satains.  They will green very quickly—please keep them in the dark.
Cabbage
Yellow Onions
Garlic
Green Beans

Peppers – Anaheims and jalapenos
Cucumbers
Zucchini
– green and/or yellow,
Kale
Tomatoes
a mix of reds and salad tomatoes
Herb bunch – Italian parsley, thyme, sage

Note:
Most produce has been rinsed at the farm, you’ll want to wash it at home. 

Coming soon!
Sweet peppers next week and probably Roma tomatoes too.  We’re hoping for green beans, carrots and melons too.  

Farm News
This week marks the halfway point of the 2020 Spring Hill season, and so perhaps a little crop report is in order.  First of all, this season has been one of weather extremes in our little valley and, as the weather goes, so goes the garden. We started out dry, which with our soils, actually worked to our advantage.  All the way from May through the end of June we were able to hit our planned planting and transplanting dates.  At the end of June, things looked pretty good—crops were in on time, weed control was excellent, and we felt really great about beginning the delivery season.  Then the rains came. For the month of July, the rains never really stopped.   As we have mentioned before, we received just shy of 15 inches during that July stretch, half of it in one single event. (This represents about half of our average annual rainfall!)  The negative impact of that kind of rain is both immediate and longer term.  Right away we lost several plantings due to drowning from crops in standing water or water-logged soil. The second planting of beets, much of the cauliflower, and fall carrots were just some of the immediate casualties.  Additionally, we missed eleven different succession plantings of crops during that time because the soil was too wet to plant.  The longer-term impact of this kind of disruption, however, is just as significant with disease and nutrient deficiencies showing up over time. Unfortunately, the broccoli that looked so good at the end of June, was hit with disease brought on by all the rain and needed to be destroyed—several thousand heads!  Also, many crops simply failed to thrive as the roots struggled for nutrients in the overly wet soil which resulted in decreased yields. Yet somehow, enough of our crops have persevered so that we have been able to pack bags with a reasonable amount of diversity.  We count garlic, cucumbers, zucchini, and early onions among the successes to date. With the drier weather of August, we were able to get some new plantings in the ground that are now thriving.  For example, after the fall carrots (Bolero, a 75 day variety) was pounded with all that July rain and failed to germinate, we ordered different variety (Napoli, 54 days) from our main seed supplier, Johnny’s Selected Seeds out of Albion Maine, and replanted. I am happy to say the carrots are now up, weeded, and looking great!  Because we missed so many July plantings, we still had land available. We rewrote our greens plan and planted more of the quick growing fall greens such as arugula and fall bunching kale.  They too are looking good.  All in all, the gardens are beginning to look normal again.  Weeds are under control, plants are healthy and vigorous, and the crop diversity remains.  There will be certainly be changes from what we have normally delivered in the late summer and fall, yet we are hopeful  that the second half of the season will be solid and the bags will be diverse and abundant.

Week #6 Tuesday, August 11 – Friday, August 14, 2020

In Your Bag
Potatoesthe yellow potatoes will green very quickly—please keep them in the dark.
Carrots
Garlic
Fresh White & Red Onions
Peppers – Shishitos (in the bag) & one sweet pepper
Cucumbers
Zucchini – green and/or yellow,
Eggplant
Bright Lights Chard
Tomatoes
Big Basil Bunch! enough for a batch of pesto

Note:
Most produce has been rinsed at the farm, you’ll want to wash it at home. 

Coming soon!
Next week, we’ll likely send some Anaheim and jalapeno peppers.  We’re hoping for a cabbage and crossing our fingers on the melons.  Another batch of green beans should be ready next week and the Roma tomatoes are starting to ripen so it won’t be long before you’ll start seeing those! 

Farm News
I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but we could use some rain out here!  I know, I know, I’ve been complaining about too much rain for weeks.  I don’t even know how it’s possible that it’s dry, but it is.  Anna arrived here on Monday morning with reports of heavy rain and stormy weather in the city, but we didn’t get any of that here.  Not that we wanted heavy rains.  Please no!  But, we could use some rain, particularly for things we’ve recently planted and transplanted.  Mike planted a bunch of cover crop and a bed of arugula a few days ago.  We also did a lot of transplanting, clearing the hay rack of all those crops that had been waiting for the fields to dry.  They get a good dose of water as they’re being planted but they could use another drink.  Having emptied the hay rack, we promptly filled it again (well, not quite filled) with newly seeded flats.    Those flats hold the final batch of transplants for the year.  One last round of beets, some fall kohlrabi and kale. 

As I write this, Mike and Erin and Anna are out in the onions beginning the harvest of the storage onions.  They’ll dry down for a few days out in the field and soon we’ll bring them up to the greenhouse to continue curing.  First, though we’ll have to get the garlic in crates to make room for those onions!

Finally the peppers are starting!  It’s not a particularly bountiful crop this year, but they’re coming along.  Everything is just a little strange out there this year, in the world and in the garden.  We’re learning to take it in stride.

Tuesday is Anna’s last work day at the farm.  We’ve looked forward to her arrival on Monday mornings and so appreciated the extra hands to help with harvesting and packing on Mondays and Tuesdays.    

As usual, deer pressure begins to increase significantly at this time of year. First of all, there are simply too many deer in our part of the county—there were eleven on our road the other night and then more in and around the gardens.  I believe we counted about 17!  The Whitetail deer has adapted well to this type of mixed land use we have in our area and management of the herd is a challenge for sure!  True to form, this year’s deer are trying out everything.  It seems as if they sample something and if it doesn’t sicken them, then thye have at it–potatoes (the vines) leeks, and onions are all on the menu!  Fortunately, we have an effective fencing system (most times) that we can move around as needed. Crops we are currently protecting are: beets, fennel, carrots, winter squash, broccoli, cabbage, melons, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, and fall greens. So, take that deer!  

Week #5 Tuesday, August 4 – Friday, August 7, 2020

In Your Bag
Red Potatoes,
Carrots
Garlic
Fresh White & Red Onions
Wax beans
Cucumbers
Zucchini – green and/or yellow,
Broccoli
Bright Lights Chard,
Tomatoes
Cilantro
Basil

Note:
Most produce has been rinsed at the farm, you’ll want to wash it at home. 

Coming soon!
I’m pretty sure we’ll have peppers of some kind for you next week.   Shishito peppers, Anaheims and Jalapenos are all looking about ready for harvest.  The bell peppers are lagging behind.  Our best guess is that their blossoms and early fruits dropped in all the rain.  They’re setting fruit now so they’ll be some of those eventually!  We are regularly checking the melons.  They are sizing up but no sign of ripeness yet.   Soon, we hope!  

Farm News
The rain has stopped at last!  What a relief.  We had 15 inches of rain in one month here on the farm.  That’s just under half of what we might expect in a year.  It was too much. 

We are beginning to dig out and that feels good.  We sat down and re-worked our fall planting plans to adjust for the fact that we were unable to get into the fields to plant for most of the last month.  Finally, we got the fields prepped and even transplanted a few of the things that have been sitting on our hayrack begging to be planted, a red napa cabbage, a green cabbage and some leeks for the fall.  Next up is a round of beets, some Bright Lights chard and a kale mix. We mowed down several plantings of broccoli that succumbed to disease in the wet conditions and, having harvested the crops in our spring field, we were able to mow down what had become a weedy mess, getting it ready for a cover crop. We may even be able to tackle some things that have been on the to-do list for weeks, it seems:  fence the winter squash, write thank you cards, wheelhoe in the cabbages, make hay, trellis the raspberries. 

It hasn’t been an easy year. I think most of us can say that.  Even though we’re not seeing some of you each week, we are so cognizant of your support of us and of this farm. We knew this year was going to be different. With the core group’s help and the support of our pick-up site hosts, we put together a plan and logistically, it’s all working. Of course we miss seeing you. Of course we miss the rich conversations and the yummy potlucks and all the work we did together. But, we’re working with what we’ve been given and we know you’re there with us. We feel that strongly and it’s important to us. We love getting your notes and e-mails and seeing the pictures you’re posting on Facebook.   They are what carries us as we head out to the field. 

It has been good eating lately though, hasn’t it? Mike and I take turns cooking and this is the time of year when it’s really fun and easy to cook. I love that.    Refrigerator pickles, roasted vegetables, simple salads, fresh salsas, coleslaw have all been making their way to our table. Kristin’s recipes, Larry & Katy’s cooking videos from the website and Jess’ compilation of recipes on Spring Hill’s website have all been useful. Check them out!

I hope you are all well.  Stay in touch.  We love hearing from you.  

Week #4 Tuesday, July 28 – Friday, July 31, 2020

In Your Bag
Cabbage, Carrots, Garlic, Fresh White & Red Onions, Wax Beans, Cucumbers
Zucchini – green and/or yellow, Eggplant,  Lettuce (Red & Green), Cilantro, Basil
Tomatoes – Reds along with salad tomatoes: Sungolds, Bronze Torch and Green Tiger

Coming soon!
Red potatoes again next week.  We’ll have tomatoes too and maybe some Swiss Chard.  Our peppers lost blossoms and early fruit set in the heavy rains but we’re hoping for some soon!

Farm News  from Anna Kleven
Hi everyone! My name is Anna Kleven. I’m working at the farm two days a week this season. I’m going to share a couple of my memories of going to the farm as a kid, and some reflections on what it’s like to have grown up on the farm, and, as a young adult, return to work here.

As I arrive at the farm on Monday morning,  I recall how my brother Sam and I used to hop out of the car and make a beeline for Sunny (the farm dog’s) hut down the hill. Before we did anything else we would pick the ticks off his ears, wondering how he would survive without our biannual grooming. Now as I get out of my car I’m greeted by Wally, the Chow-Lab mix that has taken Sunny’s place. Wally is a different sort of dog. What he lacks in farm dog instincts he makes up for in prince-like charm. He is most likely to be found waiting to be let inside the house. I should say that last week he impressed us all by chasing a deer out of the field. (Though it was a bit performative. He was looking over his shoulder to make sure we were watching.)

As we head out to the fields, I remember negotiating with my parents for more play time. When they finally released us from fieldwork we would round up the other kids and climb to “The Pines,” a secret spot on the top of the hill behind that flanks the community building. There, we would dig holes in the cold sand and cover them with a thin layer of sticks and pine needles to trap and wound any adult that might follow us and try to return us to work. The path to the pines is overgrown now that the last Wright-Racette kid has left, and I am no longer evading farm work.

Once we finish harvesting, we load the bins of vegetables onto the back of a trailer, pulled by a four-wheeler. I climb onto the trailer with them. Erin waits for my signal that I’m ready to roll before pulling away. She tells me that ATV safety is a required class in the local high school. Facts like this remind me of how much I don’t know about rural life. In some of my communities it is common to be judgmental, insead of curious, about rural lives and livelihoods, and give credence to damaging myths about rural people. Conversations with the farmers are fascinating because they have lived on both sides of the urban/rural divide, and their stories topple my flimsy stereotypes about people out here. Mike is kind enough to recommend articles and podcasts by his favorite rural commentators. I’m learning a lot.

We break at noon. It’s lunchtime when the absence of members is most acutely felt. When members are here, potluck lunch is a precious moment of reciprocity. The farmers have been feeding us; at lunch we return the favor. The instinct to reciprocate is deep in all of us – I remember reading in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass, that it’s common for babies to hold food to their parent’s mouths. Industrial food systems obscure, but do not weaken our reciprocal relationships with the people and the land that feed us. Being members at Spring Hill gives us the chance to be conscious and active in these relationships.

As I prepare to leave the following afternoon, I am struck again by how many seasons they’ve seen through on the farm. Every season, for 30 years, they have renewed their commitment to this project. In a time when our lives have been forcibly slowed, our options narrowed, and the division between work and home blurred or dissolved completely, I can’t help but think that we can all take a lesson from our farmers. I’ve gotten a tiny glimpse of the adaptability, patience, imagination, and long term thinking that it takes to sustain their commitment to this one place and this one community, through all kinds of adversity.

As I leave the farm and drive down 6th street, I remember begging my mom to speed up so I could get the fluttery feeling in my stomach on the downhill. A MN kid thrilled by some minor topography.

I feel so lucky for this chance to learn from the farmers and see Spring Hill in new ways.

Week #3 Tuesday, July 21 – Friday, July 24, 2020

In Your Bag
New Potatoes, Carrots
Garlic, Fresh White & Red Onions
Green Beans, Cucumbers
Zucchini – green and/or yellow
Lettuce (Red & Green), Arugula,
Dill, Parsley/Thyme/Basil bunch
Note:
Most produce has been rinsed at the farm, you’ll want to wash it at home. 

Coming soon!
We’re hoping for a cabbage next week along with carrots and more fresh onions – coleslaw time! Our second planting of beans is a wax bean.  They’re not too far away and it looks like more broccoli is on its way.

Farm News
The garlic crop is in, safely tucked into the greenhouse where it is drying down. We pushed hard on Friday to get it done before more rain came that night and then again Saturday night. It’s been a little tricky trying to get field work done.  Every time the ground starts to dry out, more rain comes. It looks like more of the same this week. We’re trying to play catch up as we can, taking advantage of the small windows to plant and cultivate. It can be frustrating seeing all the plants on the trailer waiting to be planted and watching weeds grow while we’re unable to get in and cultivate. All in good time. All in good time. 

As I made the first round of deliveries with Tyler… pick-up site hosts – Susan and Jim in the Seward neighborhood – kindly gave us a print with a barn and silo, rain clouds hovering overhead, and the title of Wisconsin author, Jerry App’s book, “Never Curse the Rain, A Farm Boy’s Reflections on Water.” I try to remember to not curse the rain. That hasn’t been so easy these past few weeks and I find myself wondering if the rains of Jerry App’s days on the farm looked different than the rains we’re experiencing now.  

Cucumbers! I can’t say that we fully solved the mystery, but we are getting cucumbers! A couple of conversations with nearby neighbors revealed that they had similar issues with their cux leading us to believe that it was weather related as opposed to an issue particular to our farm and fields. It helps to know that.  

We’ve been scheming about how to make some adjustments to our field and planting schedules given the impact of the rain. We took part of one garden out of production and put it into cover crop right after the 7” inch rain. The open beds were to be planted over time with directed seeded greens and it just wasn’t going to work to have those beds open so we’re looking at alternatives.  Perhaps some bok choy for the fall, maybe some late kohlrabi and more kale, all crops that can be transplanted into bio-mulch and potentially mulched rather than direct seeded into open ground. It’s a new puzzle we’re working with and we’re trying to figure out how these new pieces fit together.  

In the wildlife world, Patty’s had a couple of bear sightings this year, a young one sauntering through the onion patch and one older fellow back near the cabin in the woodsWe have a new swallow hanging out at the farm this year, a cliff swallow – cliff swallows actually. They’ve built a really cool mud nest with a circular entrance right at the peak of the Community Building. The barn swallows, manage to build a nest or two in the shed every year, just had “fledgling day” last week. As the babes learned to fly, we found them hanging out with us on the ledges of the hoop house as we picked beans nearby.  Monarchs are happily (it seems so anyway) fluttering their way around the place and we are enjoying watching them. We must have a couple of cranes nesting nearby because they’re flying overhead a couple of times every day with that distinctive honk of theirs. It all keeps us pretty entertained as we go about our work.