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2015 Harvest Fest

 

 

Common questions I get at the Lake Superior Harvest Festival (this Saturday at Bayfront Park in Duluth, 10 am – 4 pm) include “What is celeriac?” “What do you do with eggplant?” “What are poblano peppers?” and so forth. To make things easier this year, I thought I’d post a few recommended recipes here to point folks to.

Creamy Celeriac Soup

Roasted Celery Root, Red Onions, Mushrooms, and Sage

Creamy Baked Leeks

Roasted Poblano Salsa

Roasted Jalapeno Poppers

Baba Ganouj (Eggplant Dip)

Roasted Beet Pesto

Cayenne Pepper Recipe Collection

momcarrotsNormally, my parents would be helping me get ready for the Fest, but my mom is recovering from a recent surgery, so they’re at home in western Iowa. I’m happy to report that she’s doing great.

I have very good help here, but I’ve just been thinking of all the bunching, bagging, and washing my mom has done for me in the past — thanks, Mom!

See the rest of you at the Fest.

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Building SiteSince the beginning of Stone’s Throw Farm, Elden and I have been planning to build a house at the farm, “someday.” What was once a bare hay field is now home to hoophouses, a quonset-style garage/packing shed, a couple of small sheds, gardens, a deer-resistant fence, a bunch of antiquated farm machinery, and, coming soon, a house!

Slab-BackfilledSo far, we have an insulated slab. This is quite thrilling, trust me.

Elden sold our house in Duluth at the end of October and we’re house-sitting at my parents’ Wrenshall home for the winter (makes it sound like we’re doing them a favor, right?).

In reality, my parents not only help me at the farm all summer, they’re also helping us make the house at the farm a reality. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Although progress on this year’s main farm improvement project — a potting shed/seed-starting greenhouse — was slowed by the more pressing concerns of getting a construction loan, selling the old house, and moving all of our stuff, that’s coming along, too. Previously I started seeds in my parents’ basement and devoted a large amount of hoophouse space to pots and trays all spring, so this will be a very welcome change next season. Some of our farm members chipped in a bit to help with this improvement — thanks!

I’ll officially wrap up the season on Wednesday when I deliver the Thanksgiving shares. I’m always thankful to switch gears at the end of the season and come inside for the winter, though this fall has been so warm so far, it’s almost unreal. I’m not complaining!

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Thanks to Eddy Gilmore for visiting Stone’s Throw Farm last Sunday and writing about our little farming community in Wrenshall. On his blog, Ed’s Big Adventure, Eddy explains his services as a profiler of interesting people thusly:

What I bring to you is an innate ability to become intensely impassioned for your subject through the lens of a third party with keen observational skills. I am a great conversationalist, will travel out to your location, and will spend hours chatting with or about your subject. The point of this isn’t to merely glean facts, but to find footholds of interest for myself so I may write an engaging story.”

I found his statement to be true — I am not a good conversationalist but I enjoyed talking to Eddy, who seemed genuinely interested. Without taking notes, he got (almost!) all of the details I shared correct and wrote about his experience skillfully. Eddy was generous enough to share a copy of his memoir, The Emancipation of a Buried Man, which I very much look forward to reading — get your own copy here.

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Plowing in 2009.

The season is wrapping up a bit, and I forgot to mark the fifth anniversary of our groundbreaking at Stone’s Throw Farm, which passed earlier this month. This is actually fitting as I’ve never been much for ceremony! A few people have asked me if it feels like it’s been 5 years, and I say, “Yes, definitely.” It’s very rewarding work but I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that starting a farm involves a lot of sweat, some tears of frustration, and a little blood, too.

We didn’t actually close on our land until December 2009, but the seller (Kathy, a neighbor of ours) let me put in a driveway and plow two acres of land that fall. I couldn’t have done it without help and encouragement from my mentors at Food Farm, where I worked at the time, and, of course, my family.

My parents donated a bunch of old (and some new) farm machinery and loaned me the money to buy this land. They came up from Iowa for the groundbreaking; first we had to stake out the fields and clear the hay bales out of the way, then my dad showed me how to plow and also did a good chunk of the plowing and disking himself while I was at my day job. My parents eventually bought a house near this farm and moved up here to help during growing seasons starting in 2012.

Meanwhile, Elden has put up hoophouses with me, cleared trees, put up our Quonset multi-purpose building with help from our friend Greg Cooper, built an insulated room in the Quonset for me to live in during the growing season, built our walk-in cooler shed (which also has a bathroom in it — a separate room!), put in a small orchard, and has generally made himself handy around the farm in his precious spare time.

Whether you’ve been with our CSA less than one season or all five years (or maybe you’ve been cheering us on from the sidelines), thanks so much for your support of this farm!

Here’s a few photos and videos of recent activity at the farm:

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My sister and her family visited us over the 4th of July weekend!

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DorkyHatCompetitionElden and I (and his mom) just spent a week in Anchorage, Alaska, visiting Elden’s brother and family. One of the highlights was on Saturday, when we walked over to a cross-country ski trail to watch some of the Iditarod teams go by. The dogs seemed very happy to be running, and the weather there was awesome compared to what it’s been like in Duluth. (Who knew, right?) For the record, we saw a moose in the distance while driving one day, but our only up-close sighting was of moose droppings. Not exactly a highlight, but you don’t see moose poo every day, either.

mtnsIt was nice to see a pile of CSA sign-ups in the mail when we got home. We still have plenty of Stone’s Throw Farm CSA shares for sale, though, so if you’re looking to sign up, please do so. I’ll post an update here as soon as we’re sold out, I promise.

If you’re a past farm member looking to renew, our early-bird deadline is March 14, so you’ve still got time. You can even renew after that, but I won’t be holding a spot for you after the 14th. It’s not exactly a race, but you don’t want to miss out, either!

 

 

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It did feel like fall for a bit, with cool nights and warm days, but then it warmed up and it hardly feels like fall. It’s at least starting to smell like fall, though — I walked the little trail my dad made in our woods on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed the aroma of decaying leaves. Despite a couple of frost warnings, the temp hasn’t dipped below 32 degrees, so I’m still picking cherry tomatoes and peppers, and I even picked eggplant out of the hoophouse yesterday. The onions and squash are curing and the cover crops are doing great. I’m running the air conditioner in the walk-in cooler and holding off on harvesting potatoes and root veggies. We’ll enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.

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vanpackedYou might be expecting a photo of our fabulous produce display from the Harvest Festival farmers market, but no. What I offer you is a view of our old van (it looks a little rough, but it runs okay) just prior to unloading it on Saturday morning, because I was really appreciating the best thing about a very full vehicle:  there’s no way for the contents to shift during transit. When I arrived at Bayfront Park, everything was exactly where it was when I left the farm. Nice.

Also nice was the weather (mostly); the steady crowd, including some of our CSA members — sweet; the other vendors & exhibitors; and the work of our volunteers and (of course) our Festival Director, Jean Sramek. Jean put it all together, Gina Temple-Rhodes signed our sponsors, Joel Rosen headed the committee and kept the farmers in line, Nels & Carol Hursh supported the food vendors, Jason Wussow brought in the musicians, and others helped plan the event and made it run smoothly — thanks!

Behind the scenes at Stone’s Throw Farm, my parents harvested potatoes and carrots; my mom bagged, bunched, and packaged; and Elden manned the wash & prep station.  My dad took care of the rest of the farm work (there’s work beyond picking?!?), and everyone helped at the Fest on Saturday. We are such a team.

If you missed the event but want to help support your local farmers and cultivate new ones, click here to donate to LS-SFA’s current campaign. Thank you in advance.

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My grandpa, Bruce Dominick, was an avid gardener. My grandparents moved to my hometown when I was a little kid, and my grandpa would drive out to our cattle & hog farm nearly every day to help out. As I recall, he kind of took over the vegetable garden plot, which no one minded at all. Grandpa Bruce’s family farm near Pierz, Minnesota, was a dairy farm, but they also raised raspberries, and my mom says that my Grandpa would drive to Minneapolis at 4 am to sell the berries.  I remember that whenever we had a bumper crop of some vegetable or berry in the garden, he would talk proudly about how we really should sell some of our bounty in town. He was an excellent salesman, so I wish he was around to sell my wares today.

This Memorial Day, while Elden sided our walk-in cooler shed at the farm, my parents and I were finally able to plant our potatoes. I know we were all thinking of Grandpa Bruce for several reasons. He was so proud of his part in organizing the flag display in my hometown, and the last photo we have of him was with my grandma Trudy and the flags on Memorial Day, 1989. He died a few days later, leaving us with not only our memories, but also 480 hills of potatoes he had planted in our family garden that spring. We planted 5 or 6 times as many seed potatoes on Monday, but that was for 55 CSA shares! I know Grandpa would have been excited if he was with us, even if it wasn’t as ambitious a planting as he would have undertaken.

When I asked Elden to take some photos of the potato planting on Monday, he responded that you should never take marketing photos on cloudy days, but who has time on a farm on a sunny day during a wet spring?! Most of these snapshots I took with my cell phone, so you can blame me for the poor quality. Our seasonal creek is running and bubbling in the woods, or at least it was the day I took a stroll to check it. The first snap peas are up in the field, and in the greenhouse, a volunteer pea plant sprouted in the soil this spring. I potted it up, just for fun, and found it trying to climb a neighboring tomato plant the other day. I’ll have to find it a better home somewhere; now that I’ve encouraged it, I feel responsible to keep it going.

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