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Fall at the Fruit Farm

Fall at the Fruit Farm

Fall at the Fruit Farm

I have a little break in between weekend events and am racing to rip the pepper plants out…. 500 of them…. so that the Student Farm can lift the sides of the plastic for me using their electric tractor. The ground was so compacted around the edges of the raised beds, probably due to the freakishly wet/ flooding weather we had at the end of spring and beginning of summer. I am very grateful to the Student Farm for helping me with this because it brought an all day project down to approximately 2 hours.

Pepper Finale

Pepper Finale

IMG_2093I harvested the last of the peppers and I am so sad to see them go. I have made everything from soups and stews to sauces, hummus, salsas and hot sauce. I am making the final batch of hot sauce this week and it should be ready to sell by the beginning of next week.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

The chard and nasturtium are as beautiful as ever and I will harvest that as long as I can until the boys are ready to disc the ground (which I am really hoping I get to be a part of again, hint… hint Jeremy 🙂 ). I want to turn the nasturtium into compound butter just as soon as I find the time.

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

Gaunthier at the Farm

Gaunthier at the Farm

My assistant, Gaunthier, was curious about the farm so I took that as he wanted to volunteer to help me harvest :). We harvested the most beautiful spinach. Now, I was completely impressed by the amount of usable product we took back to AKL considering how many times I had mowed it over due to pest problems resulting in an unsellable product. We got about 20 lbs and immediately mixed it in with the lettuce on the salad bar.

Lucky AKL boys

Lucky AKL boys

 

I have decided not to plant a cover crop this year for a couple of reasons. I am not sure where I am going to be farming next year so I didn’t want to do anything to the ground that wouldn’t make sense for the next person, which may be soy beans. Also, I had a lot of problems this year, which I think were caused by the cover crop that I planted fall of 2013. If you remember from my earlier posts I had a terrible cut worm infestation which I had to treat using non organic pesticides in order to save my crop. When Rick Weinzierl came by to examine the problem he told me that if the cover crop doesn’t sit for a sufficient amount of time after being mowed/ tilled in the spring than the worms who laid eggs and over wintered in the crop would not have time to die. He also made the point that this was a downfall to cover cropping because no one really has time to wait to start planting. Although I had much more success this year as opposed to last year as far as success of the plants, I had a much harder time with pests.

I attended a local food symposium at the U of I last week. The main goal was to gather different people who are associated with the local food systems (producers, consumers and market makers) and identify gaps in the system. It was very informative and I was grateful to be a part of it, especially representing not only the Beginning Farmer Program and Hendrick House but also being a producer and consumer (farmer/ chef).

Poster I created for Symposium and future marketing for the farm

Poster I created for Symposium and future marketing for the farm

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Pedaling the Pepperoncinis

Pepperoncinis!!

Pepperoncinis!!

Kale Yeah!

Kale Yeah!

I had a break from the events at the fraternity so I got to spend a glorious Sunday at our little plot, feeling completely rejuvenated and re inspired. It was a beautiful day and I am always amazed at the small

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

changes that occur between my weekly appearances. The kale and chard are magnificent and the flowers (nasturtium, calendulas and sorrel) have come back in full swing since the semi heat of the summer and are reproducing beautiful product.

 


Calendula

Calendula


Peppers

Peppers

I spent most of the day harvesting green beans and peppers. I got about 40#s of beans and ripped the plants as I harvested because I did not expect to get much more or a better product as we are quickly approaching the first frost date. The peppers are starting to become less and less but I received a nice harvest getting plenty of Carmens, a couple green bells and lunchbox for the week for AKL. I will be so sad when they end. I am obsessed with stews and soups right now and the lunchbox peppers and chard are primo ingredients making a hearty yet slightly sweet, incredibly tasty dish. I am putting them in EVERYTHING!

Green Beans

Green Beans

Hail to the Golden Greek!! I have to say that I am very impressed with the Golden Greek variety of peppers I grew this year. I admit I did not do all of my research when picking this variety. I really wanted to grow a banana pepper type so that I could pickle them and redistribute them through the company during the winter months. I could not find a banana pepper I wanted to grow and when choosing this variety I thought it would be the next best thing since the company uses a lot of pepperoncinis. What I didn’t know is that the Golden Greek is a hot pepper. Had I been patient in the beginning and let them sit on the plant a little longer I would have found that they turn from a vibrant green to a beautiful deep orange and eventually (in rare cases before they rot) a robust red. I had a lot of complaints that the pepperoncinis were too spicy for the clients so I started waiting until the peppers were orange and then I turned them into hot sauce. This was amazing because hot sauce is in huge demand with the clients. I tested it on AKL first and it was a success. I have now been distributing Hendrick House homemade hot sauce, which was pictured in a previous blog post. Although it ended up working to my favor…. lessoned learned. Know what you are growing. Duh! 🙂

Sorry Pepper! No Packer Fans allowed in this plot!!

Golden Greek. Sorry Pepper! No Packer Fans allowed in this plot!!

Spinach is such a resilient crop and no matter how many times I have mowed over it it seems to be more glorious than ever. I plan to make a big harvest this week.

Spinach

Spinach

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The little peppers that could…

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Roasting Carmens

Flowering Carmens

Flowering Carmens

Amazingly enough I am still getting peppers, despite the cooler temperatures at night. The plants IMG_1999are still producing flowers but the quantity has greatly diminished. I am getting roughly 20# of carmens , 10# of lunchbox and 15# of hot peppers to turn into hot sauce a week.

Roasted Carmen Peppers and Yukon gold potato salad with Spinach and Chard from the farm in a yogurt fresh herb dressing

Roasted Carmen Peppers and Yukon gold potato salad with Spinach and Chard from the farm in a yogurt fresh herb dressing paired with Herb and Havarti stuffed and smoked Pork loin. I LOVE when the vegetable is the feature 🙂

The hot sauce was a hit and is hitting shelves in a couple months. LOL, just kidding. BUT… I did have several requests to purchase pints so the out of house AKL boys could stock their refrigerators.  Another business venture?? Hmmmm 🙂

Hendrick House Hot Sauce

Hendrick House Hot Sauce (ignore the “smoked tobacco label)

I harvested some really pretty chard along with the peppers and approximately 5# of green beans. Some of the green beans were over ripe (from when I had all those weekend special events) and some were very very small. I am hoping to get some quantity (and quality) when I harvest this week.

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Unfortunately, like last year, this season is coming to an end for me. I would love to have the time and resources to do many fall plantings but I am only one person and I can not do it all, especially with all the special events eating up my free time on weekends. I am hoping in the future I can dedicate most of my time to Hendrick House’s farm, while being close enough to the kitchen to help process and develop recipe ideas.  I have started looking at the numbers for this year and although I produced almost double the dollar amount of produce on the same size of land, I still have a lot of work to do towards making this a profitable project, which is one of the goals. As each year passes, I am getting better and better about planning around my tools to save labor and growing varieties that I think will be successful so that they will be appealing to the other chefs at a good price.

Gauthier's first jack o lantern

Gauthier’s first jack o lantern

I was given some beautiful pumpkins last week from my friend Jeremy. My assistant, Gauthier carved his first pumpkin today for the boys at Alpha Kappa Lambda. It turned out beautiful/ scary. 🙂

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Short but Sweet (Lunchbox pepper sweet)

Lunchbox Pepper, Cherry tomato, Carmen pepper and Corn Salsa with Cilantro and Lime

Lunchbox Pepper, Cherry tomato, Carmen pepper and Corn Salsa with Cilantro and Lime

I am back in the kitchen full time as of last week in order to prepare for a series of alumni events this past weekend. Unfortunately, that meant I did not get to spend very much time out in the field. I did, however, make a big harvest at the beginning of last week so that I would get to play with some of my produce. I pretty much put lunchbox peppers in every single sauce I made…. aioli, chili, yogurt/ honey sauce, tzatziki, relish, salsa etc. It is such a versatile vegetable and goes well with almost everything. It was a great producer this year and I will be growing them again next year.

Processing farm veg

Processing farm veg

Pickled banana peppers

Pickled banana peppers

I have started processing some things now that I have a place to do so. I have pickled some banana peppers, dilly beans and made homemade hot sauce from the golden greeks. It was finally ready

Dilly beans

Dilly beans

today and was sooooo delicious.

 

 

Homemade Hot Sauce from Golden Greeks

Homemade Hot Sauce from Golden Greeks

Double duty has started for the fall now that I am in the kitchen full time, so its is early mornings and weekend harvests. It is wonderful to say “I just picked those this morning” :). I still have green beans, spinach, chard, sorrel and nasturtiums that are ready and waiting.

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