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Posted 8/3/2012 9:20pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

Spent all morning harvesting in the rain.  Didn't mind it one bit.  Felt good getting soaked by what has become a rare occurrence this summer.  We try to harvest as much as we can on Friday so that everything is as fresh as possible.  This means that we have to work no matter what the weather. We do suspend operations if we have lightning.  Of course there are some vegetables that have to be harvested daily or at least two or three times a week.  We wouldn't be able to do this without refrigeration as we have two walk-in coolers that run 24/7.  They are set to different temperatures since vegetables have different cooling requirements.

One of the things we have to harvest a couple times per week are tomatoes.  It is very easy for them to get over-ripe so we often pick them when they still have green shoulders.  Within a few days they have ripened up perfectly.  When you pick out the three large heirlooms you will get this week, if you see any green on the shoulders, don't be afraid.  Just let them sit on your kitchen counter for a few days and they will ripen up for you just like they do for us.  By the way, don't put tomatoes in the refrigerator.  They should not be stored below 55 degrees and we keep ours at 60 degrees just to be on the safe side.

The large heirlooms and the small cherry tomatoes are doing really well so far.  The medium sized ones are coming on much slower and we don't yet have enough to share with the CSA.  The few we do have (Garden Peach, Green Zebra and Illini Gold) will be available for sale at the market.  If you ever want to buy anything that's on the market table remember that we will give you a 20% discount.  This also includes Beth's flower arrangements.

It won't be long before the Okra will be ready.  Beth was able to get enough today for one pint!  Once it starts though, look out because it is very prolific.  People usually love or hate Okra.  So, I am giving you a heads up.  Just a warning 'cause it will be here in a couple of weeks and we need turn that hate to love.

For the third week in a row I read something in the Courier-Jounal (this was in the business section) that was relevant to what we are doing.  It was a short article on how the drought is effecting vegetable producers.  Most of the press has been about the commodity crops corn and soybeans.  This article was about a CSA farmer in Wisconsin.  So far this year he has only been able to give about 20% of what he had promised.  He hopes he can make it up later in the season but is worried about his CSA partners becoming discouraged.  I can guarantee you that their discouragement is nothing like the stress and discouragement that this farmer is feeling.  I hope that his CSA will step up and realize that the commitment they made includes risks.  

Beth and I are very thankful for the good year we are having so far. We also thankful for our CSA partners and your commitment to us.  Many of you have been with us for several years.  You have experienced the ups and downs.  Many are new this year and are benefitting from a first year of bountiful harvest.  It is important to our local food economy to continue to support our small local farms.  Without them your only choice will be industrial agriculture.  It is also important to support local organic food.  As you know, there are very few of us in this area.  In fact, we are the only certified organic farm in our area that grows a variety of produce.  Without your support, there would be no local organic produce available in Louisville or the surrounding counties. We need more organic farms.  I am in my third year as president of the Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) and we have grown from fifty members to over two hundred in those three years.  However, we have a long way to go.

Thank you for keeping us going.

Larry


Posted 7/27/2012 8:44pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

Right now we are getting a torrential rainstorm but I'm not complaining.  We got 3/4 of an inch last night and it sounds like we are probably getting at least that much right now.  Be thankful.  

The heat has been oppressive again this week but we are very grateful for the good harvests that we continue to experience.  The first round of beans are done but we hope that the successive plantings will be bearing in a couple of weeks.  Squash and zucchini are also playing out but again we have high hopes for our succession plantings.

The biggest challenge we have had this year has been with our peppers.  They have not performed as well as we expected.  We are pleased that this week we will be able to share a couple of Sweet Diablos and one Nardello.  These are sweet peppers that are especially good when roasted.

Hope you have been enjoying the cherry tomatoes since we are going to give two pints this week.  The big tomatoes are starting to come on and you will get one large Brandywine this week.  There are a total of 14 different varieties of vegetables in you share this week. 

If you pick up the newest issue of Edible Louisville (available free at the Market if you go by the Beargrass Christian booth) there is a wonderful recipe for sauteed cherry tomatoes.  In addition to the tomatoes, it also uses basil and garlic. So, if you make this you would be using three ingredients from you CSA share.

As always, we enjoy visiting with you here at the farm and at the market.  Thank you for your continued support of local, organic farming.


Larry

Posted 7/20/2012 8:40pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

Again, the Courier-Journal food section has provided inspiration.  This week the topic was Basil.  This makes us happy since we think our Basil is incredible.  They offered several recipes for using this wonderful ingredient, including one for pesto.  This is one of our favorite ways to use this herb but Beth also uses it on pizzas and sandwiches.  The link, if you want to check out the article is www.courier-journal.com/food.  

This week will be sharing Yukon Gold Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes in addition to onions, basil, squash, zucchini, Boothby Blonde cucumbers, Lemon cucumbers, Marketmore cucumbers, garlic, fingerling potatoes and Royal Burgundy Beans.  Quite a haul!  In fact, if you bought everything you are getting from us at the market, you would spend thirty eight dollars.  Sometimes the CSA model really works well for the  customer.  We are all in this together and when the harvest is bountiful, you get to share in it.  

The weather is dominating the news these days.  Worst drought since Beth and I were five months old!  (She is five days older than me and I always relish those five days between February 22 and 27.)  Most of the talk is about the commodity crops of corn and soybeans. But, vegetables are also taking a hit.  These temperatures just don't seem to let up much.  We are thankful for the  one and quarter inches we got this week, and for the moderation of temperature today but it looks like the upper nineties will be back early next week.  Water hasn't been as much of a challenge for us since we use drip irrigation.  However, when we get our water bill this month it will show how much the drought is costing us.  I talked to one farmer at the market last week who expects his monthly water bill to be three thousand dollars.  He may just let some crops go since there comes a point where it isn't worth it.  Farmers can't really raise their prices at the market to adjust for this so we all just roll with it.

I bring this up just to point out how fragile our local food economy can be and how important it is for all of us to support it.  There are no government support programs out there like the commodity farmers have.  This is a local economic issue.  I'm sure that most of the farmer's market shoppers aren't aware of how much more expensive it is to produce crops in a drought and I already feel that most of the produce at the market is relatively inexpensive.  I walked through the organic produce section at Kroger last week and was shocked to discover that their prices were higher than ours.  And we are talking about stuff that comes from Mexico!!

That is why I am so thankful for people like you all.  You understand what's at stake here and how important small, local organic farms are to our food security and local economic vitality.  So, we will see you tomorrow at the St. Matthew's "Local Economic Hub" (or we saw you today at the farm) and let's give a big boost to local farms, local economy and true community.


Larry

Posted 7/13/2012 2:32pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

This week the Courier-Journal had an article (Wednesday's food section) on organic food.  It compared organic to conventional and included the annual list of "dirty food" with recommendations on what you should buy.  The article had some very good information but it dealt only with organic as a way of avoiding pesticides.  Obviously this is a very important reason to eat organically but it is not the only reason.  

Right now we are experiencing heat and drought that is having a detrimental effect on our environment.  There is the promise of rain but so far we haven't gotten any.  When it does come, most of it will hit the hardened earth and run off, carrying with it any residues of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides (including those used in town on lawns) into our rivers, creeks and other water sources.

Land that is farmed organically does not have any of those things to run off.  Since the main goal of organic farming is to build up the soil, it also tends to be better able to absorb water.  For us, the environmental advantages are just as important as these effect everyone.  It makes our world a healthier place.  

This week you will continue to support a healthier planet as one of our CSA partners.  In addition to what you got last week we will also add Royal Burgundy Beans (they are purple, but turn green when you cook them-Sorry) and Fingerling Potatoes.  Fingerlings are a culinary delicacy and wonderful when roasted.

It's nice to have a little break in the temperatures.  Last week at the Market was miserable and we are looking forward to better conditions tomorrow.  

Thank you for supporting us in our attempt to make our world a better, healthier place for all of us.

Larry

Posted 7/6/2012 9:21pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

It could be worse.  I was in Lexington for a few hours today and everything is brown.  No blue in the bluegrass.  When I got back to Shelby County our grass still has a lot of green but you starting to see the effects of our withering heat.  The most damaging part of this heat is the evening temperatures.  Plants can survive triple digits during the day as long as it drops by thirty-forty degrees at night.  We are only getting down to the upper 70's and lower 80's.  Our squash and zucchini yield is down by 80% this week.  Squash blossoms are just drying up and turning brown.  If we don't get relief soon many of our crops will be compromised.

The good news is that the beans were very bountiful this week so you will be getting a two lb. bag of green Provider beans.  Kale and Collards have been stunted this week but we still were able to harvest enough for you.  Won't have any to sell. Onions are still going strong and of course the Red Norlund Potatoes will still be in your bag.  Also, we will give you one more of the fresh garlic plants.  Next week we will start distributing the "cured" version.  In addition to the Boothby Blonde cucumbers we will add a couple of Marketmore (the "normal" green cucumbers) and one Lemon Cucumber.  

All in all I am very thankful for everything we have and must say that so far it has been a fantastic year given the challenges of the weather.  Lots of green tomatoes on the vines and if it will just cool off a bit they should be ready soon.

One of the joys of being in a minority of farmers (i.e., organic farmer) is that you get a lot of opportunities to share with others how to do it.  Since there aren't many of us doing this, everyone seems to want to know how and why we are doing this.  Last year we hosted a group of agriculture officials from several countries in Africa for a tour of our farm sponsored by the State Department of the U.S.A.  Next Monday, July 9th, we have been asked to host a group of six agricultural officials from Azerbaijan for a tour and discussion of organic farming.  We are the only real farm they will be visiting.  Most of their other experiences will be with government entities.  Of course, as with the other group from Africa, none of them speak English but they will have a couple of translators with them.  I look forward to sharing with them and also learn about farming in their country.

Looks like next week could bring cooler temperatures and maybe even some rain.  I sure hope so.  One of the main advantages of participating in a CSA is that you get to experience first hand the joys and challenges of farming.  We share with you in our triumphs and our failures.  Now when you watch the weather report on TV you know that what is happening is effecting your food.  You are no longer a detached observer.  You are living it along with us.

Nice to have you along for the ride.  We don't feel nearly as lonely.


Larry


Posted 6/29/2012 11:52am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

Nice to be back in the saddle.  We started at 6:00 this morning when it was 65 degrees.  Now, at noon, it is 90 degrees.  It makes a huge difference to the quality of your produce if we can harvest before it gets too hot.  Thanks to the good help we have, (Zach, Jeremy and Anna) everything was in the cooler by 11:00. I encourage you to come early to the market tomorrow.  Going to be another scorcher and we don't have refrigeration to keep things cool.


This week will have something old and something new.  Nothing borrowed or blue.  Onions continue to do great and some of them are reaching the size we use for storage onions.  Your bunch will probably have a combination of sizes.  Will try to do a better job of getting the mint safely to market.  Mint ice cream or ice tea would be perfect with these temperatures.  Our efforts to rejuvenate the Kale and Collards has worked and so you will get another bunch of these. We call it a braising bunch as that is what our chef/worker Jeremy says that's how he would use them.  Zach is sitting in the cool of the air conditioning putting your bunches together even as I write.


We harvested all the garlic this week and it is in the barn drying and curing.  We usually let it dry for a couple of weeks before distributing it but we are going to give everyone a whole garlic plant this week.  Consider this an educational opportunity.  You will be able to see how garlic looks when we pull it from the ground.  You have been enjoying the scapes the last few weeks.  The scapes grow out of the top of the plant and produce seed. Some of the plants you get may even still have the "stub" where we cut the scape off.  You will also see the roots.  Garlic is in the same family as the onion and you will see the similarity to onion roots.  When you eat garlic before it is cured it is known as "fresh" garlic.  Each clove is very juicy and packed with flavor.  Many chefs prefer fresh garlic (in fact, Jeremy kept eating it raw out in the field while he was harvesting!) to the fully cured.  Garlic you buy in the grocery now was harvested last summer and has been stored for the past year. Let us know what you think of the taste of fresh garlic and we might give some more next week.


Zucchini is a prolific producer when there isn't any pest or disease pressure.  We are starting to seeing some Squash Bugs and they have taken out a few plants but most of the Zucchini is doing well.  Should have enough for you to take all you need.  Also will have Yellow Crooked Neck Squash and Boothby Blonde Cucumbers.  This cucumber is an heirloom variety from Maine and has a wonderful mild taste.  The smaller ones can be eaten just like a pickle, no need to peel.  Won't find these in the grocery store.  Zach and Jeremy dug a row of Red Norlund Potatoes this morning so you will get to enjoy a quart of those this week.  


Farm pick-ups come to the back door of the house.  Too hot in the garage and we will have everything in the sun room for you.  Saturday pick-ups, you know what to do.  Come early.


Thank you for supporting us and our organic farm.  This weather is challenging but we feel things are doing very well.  We do use drip irrigation but would sure appreciate some rain.  We are not as bad off as many other farmers in Kentucky.  Some farms in western Kentucky may not make it this year.  Pray for rain--we all need it!


Larry and Beth


 

 

Posted 6/15/2012 8:08pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,


I encourage you to come early tomorrow as it looks like it will be rather warm.  These warm days are really good for the summer crops (which are doing really well) but the lettuce is now officially done.  I had hoped that our bed of Gourmet Mix would be ready but the official "tasters" say that it is too bitter.  It hasn't bolted yet, in fact it is still rather small, but I guess that you can't fool mother nature and it knows that it's time to get on with making seed.


However, we are delighted that we will have the June apples again this week.  We only get these apples about one in every three years and thanks to the heroics of chef/worker Jeremy, he was able to scale the heights and get the rest of the apples.  Beth couldn't watch.  She is a mother you know.  I was cheering him on and wishing I was younger so I could join him.


The onions are also continuing to produce as are the radishes.  This will probably be the last week for the Napa Cabbage and the Garlic Scapes.  The Garlic is looking great and it won't be long before we will begin harvesting and curing it in preparation for distribution. 


We didn't have any mint for you last week since I decided to put it in the back of the truck, and despite my best efforts to shield it, the road between Shelbyville and Louisville was strewn with mint!  I will do a better job this week.


Going to be hot next week and we will be busy stringing up tomatoes and weeding.  Weeds love this heat. Labor, weeds and bugs are our biggest challenges.  It takes a lot of labor to deal with the weeds and bugs.  Sometimes, however, nature helps out.  The wild turkeys are coming out of the woods and devouring the Colorado Potato Beetles. I guess if they keep this up I will have to put them on the payroll.  It would be money well spent.


Thanks again for believing in what we are trying to do.  It is challenging but so rewarding.  The biggest reward is knowing that there are people like you who understand.  As they say, "you get it." Keep on "getting it".  That helps motivate and inspire us.  See ya soon.


Larry 




Posted 6/1/2012 9:38pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends of Food,


A challenging day.  No matter what the weather brings, Friday is harvest day and we must soldier on.  A big thank you to the crew today for braving the cold and wet conditions.  Lots of breaks with hot coffee and cocoa.  Patrick was in the Strawberry patch at 6:00 this morning.  Jeremy and Anna were here at 8:00 after working till midnight at Jack Fry's where they both work as chefs.  Beth is now out of school and in spite of a bad cough, she was in mix too.  Some of our other regular help was not able to make it today but we appreciate them too and look forward to having them back next week.


I am going to let the Kale and Collards have a week off.  They need to recover from lack of water and pest pressure.  One of our helpers knocked over a water hydrant with a tractor two weeks ago and I just got it fixed this week.  Of course we now have gotten two and half inches of rain so that should help.  Also have some pest pressure.  Bugs take advantage of plants that are stressed and the Kale and Collards were stressed.  (Me too.)


New this week will be June Apples.  These are great for cooking but perhaps a little too tart for raw eating.  Depends on your taste buds.  You will also get spring onions, Ovation Mix salad (similar to a Mesclun Mix), Radishes, one pint of Strawberries, Mint and Garlic Scapes.  The Scapes are perhaps the item you are least familiar with but they can be cut up like scallions and added to anything.  They have a great garlic flavor and are especially good in stir-fry.


Our lettuce is suffering because of all the heat we have had this spring.  The ninety degree heat last week pretty much did in the Black Seeded Simpson but we have great hope for some Gourmet Mix that should be ready in a week or two. 


Sometimes we have items for sale that are not a part of the CSA.  We only do this if we don't have enough for everyone in the CSA to get that item.  If you ever want to buy something in addition to your share, we will give you a discount.


Look forward to seeing you tomorrow on what should be a much more pleasant day that last week's.  Enjoy the cooler weather for I'm sure it won't last long.


As always, thank you for supporting local, organic food.


Larry



Posted 5/9/2012 11:04pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Welcome to the 2012 Organic CSA provided by Harmony Fields Farm.  We are very excited to share with you the produce we will be growing this year.  It all starts this weekend.  


Farm pickups will be available after 5:00 here at the farm, 5686 Finchville Rd., Shelbyville, on Friday, May 11.  


Those who are picking up in Louisville will need to come to the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market on Shelbyville Rd. (parking lot of Beargrass Christian Church at the corner of Shelbyville and Browns Lane) between 8:00-12:00, Saturday, May 12.  I encourage you to come early as your produce will be fresher then.  We have no refrigeration available at the market and as the day goes on things can heat up.


I will be sending out another email on Friday evening describing what you will be getting.  I prefer to wait until Friday so I am sure about what we have harvested.  I do know that we expect to be able to share asparagus, lettuce, kale, cilantro and mint.  Work share members can start this Friday from 8:00-12:00 and help us harvest your food.  We are always looking for willing workers so let us know if you can recommend anyone.


Thank you for your support of our Certified Organic Farm.  We will work hard for you this year and look forward to the partnership that we will have in making the world a better place.


Larry Brandenburg



Posted 10/7/2011 10:35pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,
So another season comes to a close.  Our gratitude and appreciation for you and your commitment to us cannot be fully expressed through the limitations of words.  It is something that is held deeply within our being and shared with you, our friends, out of a labor of love, conviction and belief.

Farming is a risky business.  Organic farming is even riskier.  However, if we never take risks, we know that we will never achieve our dreams and realize our full potential as human beings.  Our dream is for a world where agriculture is a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.  And we believe that sustainable farming will help us truly understand what it means to be fully human.

As with most years in farming there have been disappointments and there have been serendipities.  The weather really challenged us this year and compromised some of our crops.  That same crazy weather gave us a cool, wet September that enabled us to have lettuce and Chinese greens for you the last two weeks.  We also had our first real success with sweet potatoes.  So, we lament our failures and celebrate our successes.  Seems a lot like life.

Thank you for believing in us.  Thank you for believing in local, organic farming.  And, thank you for being a risk taker.

See ya tomorrow at the market.

Larry and Beth 
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