How to Handle the Harvest

So you’re drowning in vegetables?! It’s that time of year! A few things to keep in mind: a. You likely chose this situation (signing up for the CSA, planting the garden, buying at the Farmers’ Market/Farm Stand, leaving your car door open), b. It can be managed, c. You are not alone! Welcome my friend, we’re in the same club.

There are options for how to handle the overabundance that is likely pushing against your fridge door’s capability to seal (or is this just my fridge?). Eat right now, eat soon, or preserve/prepare for later consumption, or find a new home – these are the options we’ll be addressing.

Eat Right NOW

Salsa – Fresh garden salsa might be one of the reasons I survive winter each year. The gorgeous variety of tomatoes and peppers can wow any audience. *Plus, you can can OR freeze salsa! Continue reading

Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 11: Your Summer Appetizer 4

This is our most timely episode of Turtle Talks! We talk about upcoming events in our area. The Sustainable Farming Association has their hand in three upcoming community events.

  1. The 9th Harvest Dinner Saturday, August 25. Historically, the big draw of this event, of course, is the food. However, this year the guest speakers will be Gulf Coast fisherman. They’ll be speaking about the hypoxia zone taking place where they work and live. It should be a fun evening.
  2. Farm2Families is an event taking place on ALSO on Saturday, August 25. This event is meant to help connect communities with their local growers. Music, lectures, and delicious food await those who attend this event. It’s FREE to attend, but a dinner plate prepared by Chef Peter Lowe can be purchased for $15/plate.
  3. Minnesota Salsa Fest is a great day that brings together those that love salsa. Music, demonstrations, salsa contest, and even salsa flavored ice cream. Tickets are only $5 at the door. If you think your salsa has what it takes to win, you can enter your batch into the contest for $10. Simply fill out the form found on their site.

We also talk Porketta, and more specifically, Iron-range Porketta. Allison found a recipe that looks absolutely delicious.  Give it a shot and let us know how yours turned out.

 

Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 10: Your Summer Appetizer 3

We love taking the time from planting, harvesting, weeding, and maintaining our garden and grounds to talk on camera. Sometimes, it’s a well-planned and methodical back and forth between speakers. Other times, like this episode, it’s a loosey-goosey and chaotic back and forth between speakers.

We discuss the current CSA shares, Colin gives parsley a try, we talk about the winter cover crops, and what we do with rabbits in our “rabbit-proof” garden. A real fun episode to make. Hope you enjoy.

Happy National Blueberry Month

The official Minnesota State Muffin is the blueberry muffin. Almost anyone who lives in the north star state can recite this fact. It’s simply because blueberries are awesome.

It’s true.

In fact, all the way back in 2003 (two years before YouTube, even!) the US Department of Agriculture declared that July would be the month of the blueberry. And, why not! These little guys pack tons of flavor in their tiny bodies. They’re also high in vitamins and nutrients a body needs. So, it’s not even that bad when you help yourself to a couple containers.

basketblberry

Aren’t they beautiful?!

Continue reading

Eating Healthy, Shopping Locally

Finding the time and money to eat healthy has been a problem ever since the microwave was invented. So, I’ve put together a short list of ways to make organic eating a habit. Also, there are several links of local resources where you can learn more about eating organically.

1) Buy from your local farmers market.

There are so many great deals at farmers markets. You can find local meats, cheeses, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and many other goodies in one place. The food is fresh and grown locally and you have direct access to the farmers where you can ask questions about how they grow their food. They usually start in may but the best selection becomes available as the growing season gets into full swing. Farmers markets usually last through September in this area. Plus, if you’re on EBT (SNAP/Food Stamps) many markets will accept them. The Lakes Area Growers Market in Brainerd, the Pine River Market Square in Pine River, and the Onamia Area Farmers Market are great places to get started locally.

tomatoesfarmersmarket

Eating healthy is easy when you’ve got delicious food to choose from.

2) Buy into a CSA.

A CSA is a community-supported agriculture program. Every week you will get a new box of fresh produce (often delivered directly to your door!) Variety is good. You’ll get so many different fruits and veggies that you never would normally purchase. I’ve even heard of CSA programs actually providing recipes and cookbooks with their produce in an effort to give the buyer an idea of how to prepare with the different produce. This is a great way to experiment with different varieties and eat produce that you wouldn’t be as used to. There are so many ways to choose which CSA you’d like to invest in, so go to Minnesota Grown to pare down what you want and where to sign up.

Continue reading

HDT and Agroforestry

On June 19th, fifteen forestry, conservation, and agricultural professionals gathered at the U of M Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton, MN. This lucky gardener, from a plucky little non-profit in North Central MN with a mission in sustainability, was excited to be among them. We were all ready for a 3-day intensive workshop on agroforestry.

FullSizeR

Community food forest in Mountain Lake

Agroforestry: Intensive land-use management that optimizes the benefits (physical, biological, ecological, economic, social) from biophysical interactions created when trees and/or shrubs are deliberately combined with crops and/or livestock.  

IMG_1037

Forest Farming shiitake mushrooms

Continue reading

Our First WWOOFer

We’d love to introduce you to our first WWOOFer. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF connects farms with those interested in learning more about them and their practices.

Hailing from the farming community of Winsted in central Minnesota, Alayna Karas has a first-person perspective of modern farming. Karas grew up learning the techniques her parents, and her parents’ parents (and THEIR parents) have been using for over one hundred years.

alaynaplantingbrassicas

Alayna stepped right into the planting season her first day.

Yet, despite living on a century farm, bucking tradition seems to be in Karas’ nature. As a child, all of her siblings were expected to do their share of chores. One of these chores, Karas shared, was to take a calf, nurture it to maturity, and then eventually butcher it. She laughed as she told me that she could never bring herself to take that last step.

“My parent’s just admitted that I wouldn’t do it,” Karas laughed. “I’m sure my cow is still alive and running around the farm.”

It seems that Karas has embraced the ability to see what works for her and what doesn’t, and she saw something in her community that wasn’t working.

Continue reading

Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 5: Minimize Soil Disturbances

New episode is live! Jim, Allison, and I talk about the importance of keeping your roots in your soil, and how key it is for proper soil health. While I liked to call it “no-till”, Jim & Allison were quick to let me know that it is, rather, called “Minimizing Soil Disturbances”.

We also hear from Dave in this week’s Garden Update as the crew tries to mitigate the weirdness of this spring. He tells us how the wild temperature fluctuations and freezing cold has changed how the garden crew is getting the soil ready for the spring, which is right around the corner, I swear!

Continue reading

Next Level Recycling

This month, we’re focusing on the most identifiable action of “going green.” It’s not Kermit T. Frog (however, that little amphibian has lots to say about being green) It’s not the Green Monster at Fenway. Nor is it the horrible (but oh so delicious) Shamrock Shake. Of course, I’m going to be talking about recycling.

But, while we’re on the subject, I wonder if McDonalds has any idea how much money they would make if they made their little green shake available year-round. The profits alone from my wallet would probably make it worth their time. I’m sure there was a marketing guy who thought up the term “engineered demand” and threw the idea to his bosses and they ran with it, leaving us poor suckers waiting for the magical time of year when we can punish our bodies. (And don’t get me started on the McRib!)

leveluprecycling

If you think about recycling as a game, you and the planet can both win!

Where was I? Oh yes, recycling?! Yes, that sounds more like the purview of this blog. Recycling: taking something you have and don’t need anymore and turning it into something else…hopefully, again and again. It’s one of the pillars of the environmentalism movement. It’s what we’ve been hearing for decades, and the necessity of recycling is finally being taken seriously. We can see this by how simple it is to do in our society.

Look at any recycling tote. You can get a little plastic tote and fill it with mixed recyclables willy-nilly. Papers, bottles and cans (and just clap your hands) can be picked up every week from your curb. No hassle. No sorting. They do that for you at the center. All you have to do is make sure you put your recyclables in that tote and bring it to the curb. Here’s a quick FAQ if you’re looking for a list of curbside recyclables. Recycling is so easy. It’s so mainstream. Some might even say too easy and too mainstream.

Well, I’ve got some ideas that will help you go to the next level.

Continue reading

Turtle Talks Podcast; Episode 4: Soil Diversity

The latest episode of Turtle Talks with the Garden Crew. We talk about the importance of having diversity in your garden. Instead of growing row after row of tomato plants, it helps to alternate your plant selection. This helps grow healthy soil and happy ecosystems, above and below ground.

PLUS, we introduce our “Garden Update” to give you an idea of what we’re doing on campus.

Stay tuned for future episodes twice a month!