Crop List: Turnips, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Dill, Shallots, Huckleberry Gold Potatoes, Carrots Maybe Cucumbers, Sugar Snaps and/or Cabbage
Share 13's newsletter had me romantically waxing about how there was not a frost in the forecast! Of course the night I sent it out it dropped down to 39 degrees. Which is not generally cold enough to harm anything in the garden. Jed and I both commented that it felt cold. The forecast was calling for 40 and the house thermometer was assuring us of 43. The moisture content must have been perfect (or terrible) and a cold spot must have just parked it over the farm. The cucumber plants got pretty toasted and may be done for the year. They still have some green, so if it really warms up they may bounce back a bit, but we'll have to see. The rest of the garden looks good and we are looking towards the fall crops as we realize what share # we are on!
How long will the shares go?! We don't know! It just depends on how long it takes us to empty the garden out. We will definitely go until September 26th and 28th (Share #17), and we'll keep you posted about anything after that.
Last week I put out the call for questions. I received so many great ones! Thank you to all who submitted inquiries. So many of these made me smile and feel loved. I appreciate how excited you are to use your veggies. There are so many good questions that made me think. I fully admit to looking for an easy out in writing a newsletter...I needed inspiration. The sheer number of questions turned it into the longest newsletter I ever wrote!
Q: Who was decorating our Bok Choi with all the lovely window pane effects, and how do you stay in balance with them since they also enjoy sharing our produce? Do you spend a lot of time just hand picking off bugs??
A: Flea Beetles. They like to nibble on the green leafy things like Bok Choy, Arugula and Spicy Mix. The best thing we can do is keep the soil really healthy. Plants that have everything they need are unwelcoming to pests. Fascinating, right?! The other thing we do is use row cover. When we direct seed and can get the row cover on right away it really cuts down on bugs. When we transplant (crops like Bok Choy) the bugs seem to find the plants before we are done planting! We don't spend any time picking bugs off. Most of them come off when we dunk the plants in a big tub of water to cool the veggies and help them transport to you in better shape.
Q: Just curious how the team spends the winter- I am sure there is tons of planning involved but also wondering if that is when you and the family can take a vacation?!!
A: The best and worst part of farming in the Tetons is how long the winters are! We don't have much staff in the winter. One or two folks who do some chore shifts so Jed can get a break. Since we have animals, we need to milk and feed them twice a day. We usually do an afternoon check to make sure their waters are still thawed and snow removal takes a good amount of time. We do spend a good amount of time planning and seed ordering! We try to go skiing once a week as a family. In the 17 years since the kids came along we have managed 2 big winter vacations (longer then 4 days). Once to see family and once to take the kids to a beach where it was actually warm enough to swim. Having animals makes it hard to leave. Sometimes Jed leaves with the kids, and I watch the farm, or we switch. It really depends on who is working with us if we can get the chores covered for travel.
Q: What are your farm wish-list items? New pieces of equipment? Plans for future farm infrastructure investments? Operations and logistics are what interest me.
A: We really need to rebuild the cow sheds and do some excavation work around the cow yard. Like everything, time and money are the limiting factors. I would love Jed to have a tractor with a heated cab (or even a cab!) for snow plowing. We wouldn't mind some robot employees programed to weed.
Q: Oooooh. What’s the name of your truck?
A: Babe. Because she is boxy and still foxy! She told me her name. I didn't argue.
Q: How do you determine what to plant? For instance, this year we've had an over abundance of turnips and no kohlrabi. Some items seems obvious, but others, not so much.
A: We pretty much plant the same thing every year with a few exceptions. We take turns with the crops that not everyone loves. Kohlrabi is one of these. It will be rotated back in eventually. I'm so glad you love it enough to ask!!! We are having a bumper turnip year!
Q: Best way to store different types of produce for longest fridge life. Especially greens, things like chard, herbs, etc.
A: Green things like to be in bags in the fridge. This keeps them from drying out and getting limp. They need to be away from cold spots that can freeze and turn them to mush.
Q: Farm lunches for school kids.. thoughts on peoples favorite lunches to pack for school using cosmic goodness?
A: If I really knew the answer to this one...I'd sell it and retire! We homeschool, and the reason might be because packing lunches 5 days a week is more then I can handle! When we are on the go my peeps will eat sandwiches. Summer varieties: Cosmic Mix, sliced turkey, mayo, mustard, cucumbers, tomato and basil or cilantro. In the winter we love using a mandolin and slicing carrots and onions paper thin and piling on sandwiches. My crew also loves a good dip (yogurt dill, hummus or some goat cheese) and sliced up veggies for dipping.
Q: Best pizza sauce using cosmic tomatoes (all varieties)?
A: We just make an all purpose red sauce in the fall with all the tomatoes that don't make the grade to be distributed. We have not experimented with seeking out the best sauce. If you have been experimenting, let us know if you found a good one!
Q: Is there a standard size at which a Bok choy transitions from baby Bok to adult Bok?
A: There is no standard. Some varieties are ripe when they are small and intended to be harvested when they are small, some are ripe when they are big. I would call a Bok Choy small if it is under 8 inches, but that is just an off the cuff guess.
Q: For those of who have never visited the farm, when is the best time? Should we make an arrangement prior to visiting to be sure as not to interrupt a busy day or workflow? I’d love to see where these amazing harvests come from!
A: Yes! Please come visit the farm! We do love an email the day before (or more) so we know you are coming over. This is your farm and you are all welcome any time! If I get enough notice I can sometimes get my daughter to give you a tour, she loves doing so! The farm is pretty busy all the time, but we love it when folks come to visit. We will do our best to say hi and answer a few questions. Our Spring Plant Sales and our Fall Root Sales always feel festive and have lots of folks wandering about. Please come check it out!
Q: What is your water source? How do you preserve and protect this in dry years?
A: Our water source is snow melt from the Tetons! We think it is one of the reasons our produce is so amazing, we have really pure water. The water melts from the West side of the range and feeds Game Creek. There is a diversion that puts some water into an underground irrigation system built by the early farmers in the valley. Our system (known as the Trail Creek Irrigation Company) is gravity fed so we don't need pumps to move it. One of the reasons we wanted to farm where we are is because there is generally water and good pressure all year. We can't do anything to control our water rights, or how much water we have access to. The water laws in the West are a bit terrifying when you start digging into them and the future may be tough as more and more people demand this resource we all need to live. I truly don't know the answer to problems we may all face in the future. We do try to cover crop and never have bare soil. The cover crops help the soil retain moisture.
Q: What are the greatest risks for the farm? Land ownership? Increasing operations cost, property taxes, fire, water, etc?
A: Dale: I think the thing that scares me the most is Jed or I getting hurt. I really don't know how one of us would keep the farm going if one of us was out of the game for any length of time. 2nd is probably how expensive everything is getting. It keeps getting harder and harder to pay our crew what we can (not even what we wish we could) pay them. It feels like it is getting more challenging to make a living in this country and our buying power with each dollar dwindles every year. Down the road I do see water getting to be more and more of an issue. Jed says land security and water. We have been working towards land security. The land we are currently on has an easement to keep it farmland forever and we are blessed to have the most amazing landlord.
Q: Is it possible to get an earlier estimate (knowing it’s just an estimate) of the vegetables we’ll get that week, prior to the day of? This would help for planning menus and knowing what we need to get or not get when doing our remaining shopping, often prior to the pickup.
A: I hear you on this one!! On Mondays I try really hard to get a crop list from Jed, and he does his best to let me know the plan. But I have to double check it with him Tuesday morning before I hit send on the newsletter. Things change in the garden quickly. Something that was not ripe 4 days before harvest is suddenly ready, or the deer mow a crop we were planning on using. Here is a secret: If you pick up on Thursdays, Tuesday mornings you can look at the published newsletter on our website to see what you might be able to anticipate. Sorry Tuesday folks, you'll just have to live on the edge.
Q: Why is biodynamic farmed food so amazing and good for us? (I know the answer could be book length, but maybe you have a short version)
A: Short answer is...Biodynamic farming seeks to incorporate life force energy into every morsel we produce. We do this with multiple avenues. Most important is caring for the soil. 2nd is adding the Biodynamic Preps. 3rd is treating the entire farm like a living organism.
A: What’s your favorite vegetable, and what is the favorite of each of your family members? And favorite recipes?
Jed: Sugar Snap Peas and Carrots. Veggies sautéed in a cast with butter or olive oil.
Dale: This is a really tough question. I get so incredibly excited every year, when the "first" of something comes out of the field, and that is instantly my favorite, until the next thing shows up. Completely fickle. I know. I gorge and move on. Favorite recipes: Any soup with a bone broth base, Fennel Potato Gratin, Nettle Pizza.
Dagan: Carrots. Zucchini Cakes are his favorite recipe
Axel: Potatoes. Potato Leek Soup
Roxanne: Purple Cabbage. Pasta with Sorrel Cream Sauce.
Q: What was the catalyst for you and Jed to become farmers and developing Cosmic Apple Garden together?
A: Jed actually started the farm before I came along. His catalyst was a lack of good food in Teton Valley in 1996. He read about Biodynamic farming and wanted to see if it worked. For me...In college I was really tired of hearing about all the things that were wrong with the world and how no one knew how to fix them. I studied Resource Conservation and Political Science so I had classes in Hydrology, Soils, Range Management, Recreation and Fire Ecology. All the world's problems felt so big and unfixable unless I moved to DC and pursued Law. I was ready to quit school but had one semester left so I toughed it out. I needed a few credits to graduate and University of Montana offered a class in Organic Farming. I took it because it fit my schedule and didn't interfere with snowboarding! I was instantly hooked. It felt like a solution to so many daunting problems. I could be outside. I was already cooking for jobs in restaurants and wanted to learn to use better food. My roommates already had staged an intervention telling me I was NOT ALLOWED to bring home any more house plants, farming allowed me to play with plants! It really combined all my loves, except snowboarding. I moved to the Tetons to snowboard and in the summer would leave to go apprentice on farms. Jed needed help and someone we both know connected us. He hired me in 2002 (formal interview and all!) and the rest is history!
Q: And my question for your kiddos is, what are a few of your favorite things about growing up on a biodynamic organic farm?
Our daughter loves the cows. Our oldest son appreciates steaks from the cows and learning a good work ethic. Our middle son really likes all the food.
Q: How do you make sure your tomatoes get very sweet? (from a 7 year old customer!)
A: We are blessed to have The Tomato Queen working with us. We have an employee, The Tomato Queen, who only takes care of the greenhouse tomatoes. She ONLY harvests the tomatoes when they are nice and ripe. We never pick under ripe fruits like you find in stores. It makes them so much more tasty and delicate, but worth it. We also grow certain varieties that taste better. Farmers who grow for big stores and restaurants grow tomatoes that are tougher and better at riding in trucks then tasting good. It also comes back to taking care of the soil. Better soil grows better tasting veggies.
Q: How are the snap peas so sweet? (from a 7 year old customer!)
A: Most veggies really get the sweetest when the nights get cold. They kind of panic and put the sugars into the fruit in an effort to make seed. The nights in Teton Valley are colder then most places our veggies come from (California!). It makes a lot of our veggies sweeter! And of course, back to the soil. Nutrients are what makes veggies taste better and it has been proven that soils with more nutrients transfer that to the veggies! Veggies grown in nutrient rich soil taste better!
Q: What are the best ways to store your items? Occasionally I don't make it through everything as efficiently as possible, and I would like it to keep a bit longer.
Every item is really a bit different. If you are looking to put food up for eating later, I would recommend the book "Stocking Up" as a great resource for how to make certain items last into winter.
Q: You guys do not till, correct? If not, how do you use your tractor?
We do till as minimally as possible. We till to very shallow depths and only for the vegetable seed beds. We have 4 tractors...they do so much. Snow removal, grain grinding, weeding, Mulch laying, compost turning, pallet moving, cow yard cleaning, bed marking, mowing, seeding...
Q: Can you explain everything about the filling the horn and burying it ritual?
"Everything" would fit in a book! The one we recommend is Quantum Agriculture by Hugh Lovel. The basic premise is to collect fresh cow manure and place it in a cow horn. These are then buried. They absorb the energies from the earth all winter. In the spring they are dug and the compost in the horns is used to make a "preparation". This is then stirred to activate it and homeopathically spread on the garden. It enlivens the soil and promotes growth. Very abbreviated version.
Q: How do you make your compost?
Every spring we scrape up the cow yard from where the cows overwinter. This is a combination of cow manure and straw. We put it in a big long pile 10'X 100'. We add the Biodynamic Compost preps and let it sit and "cook". It gets really hot and you can see it steaming! Jed will then turn it with the tractor around 10 times during the summer. By fall it will be ready to use.
Q: How much compost do you use?
We generate 90-100 yards of finished compost per year. It gets spread on about 8-10 acres. Most home gardeners use more, it is a scale thing!
Q: Do you import any?
No. All of our fertility is generated on farm.
Q: What's your favorite tool or piece of kit?
Long handled Glaser Stirrup Hoe (Peaceful Valley Farm Supply)
Q: What have you always wanted to grow, but can't/haven't and why? What do you wish Cosmic could grow if the season allowed?
Sweet Corn. Jed and I both agree on this one. Cocoa and Coffee would be nice too!
Q: What are your dreams for your farm?
Our dreams have come true and we are living the dream! And realizing it is a lot of hard work. Currently, we are trying to figure out how to keep farming and work less.
Q: How can we best support you?
Keep buying our produce and any farm products you can get at the CSA and/or markets. Explain to your friends when they complain about the price of food that it is hard work, and no farmers are getting rich. Remind them that no one is paying the real price of our food because so much of the junk food is so heavily subsidized and no one really knows what food really costs.
Q: Are any of your children interested in becoming farmers?
Our daughter is, she loves taking care of the animals. Both boys currently say no.
Q: What is the name of the parent pigs and where are they kept?
Luther is the Dad, Mama is Waddles. They live East of the greenhouses. Feel free to walk over and say "hi"!
Q: How long do the pigs get to live before they are slaughtered?
6 months is industry standard. Ours take about 9 months because they are not on an aggressive weight gain diet and they are allowed to move around and go out to pasture.
Q: Do you keep all the baby cows or are some sold off ? Which ones do you keep for meat and why?
A: We keep all of our baby cows. We have dairy and beef cows. We decide as they grow which females we will keep to reproduce. All of the males are butchered because we want to prevent inbreeding which creates a decline in herd health.
Q: Of all the things you grow, what is the hardest/takes the most attention?
Tomatoes. They have their own employee who only tends to them! They also require greenhouses and propane to grow. They are one of the first crops we start, at the very beginning of March. We also plant them in the greenhouse at the end of April, usually before anything is planted in the garden.
Q: How do you manage to keep your fields Organic when surrounding neighbors may not share the same practices?
Organic Standards require us to have a 30' buffer on our land surrounding our farm of land we don't use. This area allows for some drift from out neighbors fields. It does seem backwards, and it seems those who choose to spray should be responsible for keeping a buffer to protect their neighbors! We are really lucky because our neighbors all know and understand what we are doing. But we still have a buffer.
Q: Will the Salmon guy (Captain Todd) be making an appearance this year?
I have not heard yet. I hope so!
Q: What was your "hardest" year to grow things? Weather? bugs? water?
Jed can't remember a specific year. He thinks they have all had their ups and downs. For me the year we finally got greenhouse 5 going and the propane company didn't fill our propane tank. It got down to 9 degrees around June 8th. We lost the whole crop. It also turned into a smoky summer. A lot of things in the garden were stunted that year.
Q: How do you start your day (spiritually, physically, emotionally)?
Jed mentally prepares for the day by visualizing what needs to be done and leaving lots of room for other people's interpretations. He does so while enjoying a cup of coffee.
I like to start the day by going for a short 10 minute shiver walk in a tank top and shorts no matter the time of year, then 3X's a week I come inside and exercise to warm up. Afterwards I meditate. When I am all done I have a hot cup of tea. This is my dream and what I strive for, I'm pretty dedicated most of the year. It all falls apart August through mid-October except for my morning cup of tea...that is a non-negotiable for me! I look forward to getting back to my full routine every fall.
Q: Do you have a team meeting every morning before everyone goes out?
Yes, Jed and the crew meet every morning at 7am to talk about what the first tasks of the morning are everyday to decide who will be doing what. We also see how many volunteers are there and who to send them with. Then Jed heads off for animal care and the crew gets to harvesting.
Q: Are there special tasks that you like (and dislike)?
Jed likes to harvest and see crops come to fruition, he dislikes picking crops early (no baby vegetables!). He also likes seeding the fields. I love writing the newsletter when I have a good idea! I struggle with it when I am in a creative slump. I love harvesting flowers. I love cooking lunch for the crew. I love the logistics of managing a CSA with 210 members to get to the right place at the right time, with the right amount of veggies. I refuse to butcher chickens. That is about the only job I won't do. I am so happy to pay any price another farmer tells me they need for a chicken.
Q: How do you overcome the tasks you dislike (attitude change)?
We try to avoid putting judgement on jobs. We really like when tasks get done and the seek the satisfaction of that. If I am struggling with a job, I find a way to be grateful. Simple example: If I am annoyed that I have to wash dishes, I pause and find what I am grateful for. That I was able to have a meal, that I am able to own dishes, that I am blessed enough to have food to eat, that I was able to feed people I love.
Q: Why is it so important to follow the lunar calendar?
Biodynamics assumes "as above, so below". The Biodynamic calendar is more in depth then a lunar calendar, although the moon does affect the Biodynamic Calendar. Studies have shown that working with plants during certain positioning of the stars, moon and sun benefit certain aspects of plants. We break the plants into 4 categories based on what we are trying to enhance Root (spuds, carrots), Fruit (tomatoes, peas), Flower (sunflower, broccoli) and Leaf (spinach, Cosmic Mix). We do our best to work with the plants during the correct phase. We manage to start all the seeds in the spring during the right phases...but once we are on our harvest schedule, our deadlines are what we follow. BUT there are certain days when a certain crop seems to be almost glowing. When I notice this it tends to be a day on the calendar that benefits that crop. Ex: The Cosmic Mix just looks unbelievably good...Later I look at the calendar and it turns out it is a "Leaf day"!
Q: If I were blind- how would you describe working the soil?
I would say it is the key to our farm's success and a question that involves a really in-depth conversation.
Q: How do you deal with tragedy when coyotes or foxes eliminate your chickens?
One fox has been our only "problem". Our electric fence was weak in the spring and it figured out how to go under. Coyotes have never pestered us. Neighbor dogs are our main issue, so luckily there is a person we can to talk to when this happens. We figure out what we need to do to protect our animals better. If we don't do that, it will just be constant struggles because, thankfully wildlife will always be around us. Gratefully, for our animals and our safety we have not had big cats or grizzlies discover us.
Volunteer Special! Only 3 more weeks to volunteer! Have you wanted to try a day on the farm, but can't commit to one day a week? Let us know if you want to work for one morning. 7am-12:15. Monday-Thursday. We'll feed you lunch and give you a half share. You'll get to see where your veggies come from and what it takes to get them on the truck for share distribution. Please send me an email so we can plan for extra hands.
Volunteer-If you (or someone you know!) is curious about high altitude gardening becoming a garden helper may be just right. We are only asking folks to commit to 1 morning a week for one month, that's 20-25 hours for one month! It feels really good to have volunteers back on the farm, we missed them!! Lunch and veggies are provided! Follow the link below to check it out!
Lunch this Week: Peruvian Quinoa Stew, Some kind of Shallot soup which is new for me and I have to find a recipe!
Recipe Ideas: Butter dill potatoes, Cabbage and Tomatoes, Creamy dilled carrot slaw.
The coolers at your site are stocked with a selection of the pork listed below. If you know you want something, please email me and I will make sure it is in the cooler, reserved for you. I don't send every cut every week, they simply won't all fit!
Hunters and Huntresses: We have pork fat for your wild game sausage making. Let me know if you want to order any and I can send it to your pick up location.
Pork Available: Grandpa's Sausage, Breakfast Sausage, Pork Chops, Shoulder Roast, Spare Ribs, Neck Bones (make the real deal Ramen!) and Fat
WASH YOUR VEGGIES!!
Bring Bags to pick-ups!
If you can't make it to pick up your veggies, send a friend!
Missed shares are forfeited for the week.
Members get 10% off at the Farmer's Markets!
The Driggs Market: Fridays 9-1 (Last one 9/29)
JH Farmer's Market: Saturdays 8-12 (Last one 9/30)
The People's Market: Wednesdays 4-7 (Last one 9/27)
Farm To Fork Festival: October 7th, Center for the Arts 1-4 pm
Questions? Comments? Recipes to share? firstname.lastname@example.org