Provider Farm

From our fields, for your family

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June 13, 2015

Sometimes people ask, "who writes the newsletters?" So heres the scoop...Max writes the weekly column and I (Kerry) do basically everything else (editing, recipes, etc.) This is why sometimes the first person changes from me (recipe and crop info) to Max(the colunn). Its a real team effort, just like the farm!

This Week's Share

The first ones in and the first ones out, the radishes are coming to an end this week. We will have them until we don't. They are growing so quickly now they probably will go by by the end of the week.

The great news is, the first alliums (the onion family) are ready! In coming--scallions and garlic scapes! What is a garlic scape you say? They are one of my favorite things we grow and a real treat because they only come once a year at this time. The flower buds of our garlic plants, they are a little more mild then garlic and fabulous in everything. Chop them up and use them as you would garlic. Try out this amazing garlic scape pesto. I will be freezing tons for the winter!

Also new to the share this week, the whimsical kohlrabi. This alien like vegetable may be new to many of you but do not be afraid, they are truly tasty. Sweet and crunchy, just peel the bulbous stem and chop it up. It is great raw in salads, or cooked in stir fries and soups.  Want more help?  Just ask us in the share room about it or any of our veteran shareholders.

Do you have questions about how to store your crops or use them? Click on the crop in the shares list for the week and it will take you to storage information and recipes for each crop.

 

Recipe of the Week: 

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients: 
  • 6-7 garlic scapes
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, parsley, arugula or spinach (if desired)
  • 1/4 cup parmesean cheese
  • salt to taste
  • juice from half a lemon
  • olive oil, about 3/4 to 1 cup
Directions: 

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to blend. With processor running, pour olive oil over the mixture. Blend until pesto is spreadable. Serve over pasta. Pesto can also be frozen.

Finding joy and ease

A boy and his onions.
A boy and his onions.

Dear Friends,

Just like that, we’re back to hot and dry and it’s finally starting to feel like summer around here. School is ending for the year and everywhere we look, things are growing like crazy.

While the crops are loving life and doing their thing, so are the weeds. While we try and do as much mechanical cultivation(killing weeds with the tractors) as possible, we can never escape the reality of hand weeding. When we hand weed, we crawl on the ground so we affectionately refer to weeding by hand as ‘crawling’. Well, this week we certainly have had our hands full freeing carrots, beets, leeks and herbs from the clutches of pig weed, lambs quarters and various grasses. Sometimes with so much to do, the hardest part is just deciding where to get started.

Our spring brassicas got off to a rough start way back in April when we put them in the ground, but they have really bounced back and finally caught up. Our first broccoli is looking fabulous and should be ready any day now, with cabbages to follow soon after. Hard to believe, but I almost forgot about the kohlrabi which will be making its way into the share room before we know it.

Elsewhere on the farm, the eggplants and peppers are bursting at their row cover tunnels begging to be freed. I never much cared too much for peppers growing up, but now that we grow them ourselves they are absolutely one of my favorites. Our sweet peppers are so absurdly delicious and beautiful we eat a ton of them every year. We snack on them fresh and raw in the field while we pick and cook with them every chance we get. They won’t be here until August but it sure gives us something to look forward to.

Every year on the farm, we try something new. Maybe it’s a new variety of tomatoes or a new tractor implement, sometimes it’s a different pest management technique. Every year we are actively trying to innovate and improve as growers, to be the best farmers that we can possibly be. This year, we have implemented a radical and honestly somewhat shocking change on the farm. It's not something farmers like to talk about. We have decided to work less.

Since 2012 when Kerry and I started Provider Farm, we have worked 7 days a week straight through from June until November. This had a lot to do with us attending a farmers market on Sunday(which we are no longer doing) and also a lot to do with fear. We were afraid that if we weren’t out there, things would go wrong. As probably anyone with a small business can relate, when you have an endless task list, sometimes the only soothing to do is to just keep working.

Over the past years, we have learned that no matter how much blood, sweat, and tears we put into the farm, things go wrong any way. No matter what, things don’t go as planned, we lose crops to pests, to diseases, to weeds, to whatever. Ultimately though, barring major catastrophy, things usually work out pretty much ok.

Farming isn’t easy and we never expected anything else. There’s nothing more fulfilling than hard work. But, we have been learning the hard way that a 7 day, 90 plus hour work week is not sustainable going into the future. We're in this for the long haul. We want to farm for the rest of our lives and that’s not going to be possible running ourselves into the ground year after year. While some of our days may still start around 4am, those days don’t need to end at 8pm the way they used to.

We have had to let some things go and trust a little bit more. We have a tremendously talented and dedicated crew of folks working for us this year and that has helped immensely. Our crew consistently rises to whatever challenges we present them with and I am constantly impressed with how much they can get done in a day.  I also have the sneaking suspicion that now that we’re getting more rest it may be a bit more pleasant to work at Provider Farm.

So, the plan for the year? Sundays are off, no work (well, maybe just a little bit...) Tweaking our personnel management to get the crew more independent, more sleep, and many, many more home cooked meals. We are striving to enjoy the farm, instead of wishing away July like every past year, and find some joy and ease every day on the farm.

When we first started farming we had to learn how to work hard. Now that we’ve been doing this for close to 10 years and we know how to work hard, it’s time for us to learn how to work less.

On behalf of our farm crew

Hannah, Mary, Marycia, Aaron, Claire, Erica and Larry

Your Farmers,

Max and Kerry

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