Minestrone

Minestrone is a hearty Italian vegetable soup made with tomato based broth and pasta. It is traditionally made to use up leftover vegetables, so feel free to use any seasonal vegetables and greens you have on hand. Sometimes we use potatoes and spinach, and the next time we add kale, corn and squash. We also substitute straight chopped tomatoes instead of the tomato paste and broth combination.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (4 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped seasonal vegetables (potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini and/or green + wax beans, corn, cabbage)
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 Tbs each fresh oregano, basil and thyme
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 32 oz vegetable broth + 2 cups water
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup uncooked whole grain orecchiette, small shells or pearl couscous pasta
  • 15 oz great northern, garbanzo or cannellini beans
  • 2 cups chopped spinach, kale or collards
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shiny, add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are turning translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste, seasonal vegetables (except greens), garlic, oregano, basil and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice, broth and water. Add the salt and red pepper flakes. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and add the pasta, beans and greens. Continue simmering, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the the pasta is cooked al dente and the greens are tender.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat. Taste and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Garnish bowls of soup with grated Parmesan if desired.

Week 20: Oct 19, 2019

The We Grow farm family Gus, Dene, Eric and Rebecca

Year End Reflection

This is your final share of the 2019 season. Thank you again for choosing We Grow to provide you with produce over the past five months. We strive to get better ever season and big part of that is your feedback from a customer standpoint. Criticism is never easy to hear, but being honest and providing thoughtful suggestions will help shape our program to be more successful for the next group of farm members. It does us no good to carry on the way we want if it isn’t working for you. Please take a two minutes to fill out the feedback form on our website at wegrowfoods.com/survey. There are only a few questions and you can remain anonymous.

IN THE BAG
Winter Squash (choice)
Broccoli
Green Cabbage
Mixed Onions
Rainbow Beets
Brussel Sprouts
Peppers
Lettuce
Spinach
Sage
Rutabaga (larges)
Garlic Bulbs (larges)

While each season has its unique challenges, learning to deal with the ups and downs is a large part of being a successful grower. It is fun to reflect on what we improved and what we flopped at the past growing season.

The spring started out a few weeks behind temperature-wise and we never actually got ahead to make up for this. It was the first year we took a week off from shares and it was so well timed for us, we might write it into the plan for the coming seasons. Aside from that first, we didn’t really have many “vegetable firsts” per say. It was the earliest we’ve ever given out zucchini and cucumbers. The most we’ve ever given out peppers and the largest crop of sweet potatoes to come out of our field. This was the first season we ever grew sun gold melons and enough watermelons for everyone as well. We also never had enough of our own carrots to provide them for ten of the 20 weeks. Onions were plentiful and we had lettuce for nearly every share this year.

Disappointments are headlined by our potato crop. We invested more than ever in potato seed and did not invest enough in the fertility of the soil where we planted them. The first planting of field brassicas suffered in the cold and never rebounded. The tomatoes were down from other years. The beets didn’t size up. And our kale didn’t have enough fertility. All easy things to address as we another go at this in four months! Take care of yourselves in the off-season and keep in touch!

With many thanks,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Twenty Newsletter

Week 19: October 12, 2019

Shaping beds for fall garlic planting at We Grow LLC

So Starts Another Season

The end is near! It seems like no matter when that first frost and winter weather arrives, we are not ready. In the past, it was definitely us procrastinating but as the kids get older we find ourselves taking advantage of those nice fall days and doing things with the like hiking, canoeing, hunting, fishing and cabin time. Then when the weather man warns us that it is all coming to an abrupt end, we start the fall scramble and quickly try to get done as much as we possibly can in those last few sixty degree days. All too often we anticipate one more return of that summer-like weather, but it seems more often than not that it never returns. These last few days of fall is precisely when the garlic must be planted.

IN THE BAG
Winter Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Daikon Radishes
Mixed Onions
Garlic Bulb
Fennel
Peppers
Ground Cherries
Lettuce
Parsley
Salad Turnips (larges)
Cauliflower (larges)

That brings us to this point, when we get to ask ourselves if we should continue on growing another year. This is it! We are about to plant to garlic and once we do, we are committed to the next season. We have well over one thousand dollars worth of garlic seed ready to go in the ground. Garlic is a valuable crop, vegetable gold one could argue. This season we saved back two times more seed garlic than we ever have. It grew beautifully and we hope to sell a portion of our 2020 crop as seed for other organic growers next year.

Wednesday, late in the day, the garlic beds were shaped and fertilized and are now ready for the next dry spell when we will use the waterwheel planter to plant it all. Individual cloves will be pushed into holes 6” deep, then top-dressed with composted manure and finally covered with a thick layer of leaves we acquire from the village of Rib Lake. Hardnecked garlic must be fall planted because the cloves need to be vernalized, or cooled to 32ºF for several weeks before they will grow. The naked cloves will send out a huge root system yet this fall, still growing down to near freezing temps. Next March when the weather starts to warm, it will be the first sign of spring. Through the snow, tiny green garlic shoots will begin to pop and give us hope that a fresh new crop of farm food is on the way. Even Mother Nature’s harshest Wisconsin winter can’t defeat the venerable army of garlic cloves.

Respectfully growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Nineteen Newsletter

Week 18: October 5, 2019

Food is Thy Medicine

Selling our produce direct to consumer, we have the pleasure of speaking face-to-face with just about every one of our customers. Some folks only give us a bit of small talk and others dive into their entire health history. It happens suddenly when a patron finds out that we grow using organic methods. Suddenly the farmer behind the table is much more than just a farmer, we are health conscious farmers. Perhaps farmers with some knowledge of nutrition and its effects on human health and quality of life. Clearly we care about our own health and yours enough to offer a clean product.

IN THE BAG
Butternut Squash
Green Cabbage
Broccoli
Mixed Onions
Apples
Green Tomatoes
Shishito or Cayenne Peppers
Swiss Chard
Lettuce
Basil
Celery (larges)
Radishes (larges)

This is the point at which our deep-diving customers decide to open up and tell us why they are choosing to buy our food. We have learned about illnesses of every sort over the past five years. Some we had never heard of like diverticulosis, which makes it painful to eat anything with tiny seeds. We’ve learned about dangerous drug interactions like vitamin K in the cabbage family when someone is taking blood thinners. Who knew?! Apparently one of our customers has been fighting cancer for decades with garlic infusions, baking soda and trips to Mexico for traditional medical treatment not available in the United States. It is all incredibly interesting to us both and we enjoy hearing and learning from each person’s experience as they rethink health care.

It has become clear over the past few seasons our customers have taken the phrase “know your farmer, know your food” to a whole new level. When we first printed this phrase on our brochure, we thought people were going to get to know us, better understand our farming methods and trust our food and us. Little did we know it would be the other way around, the farmers getting to know the customers. We are beginning to feel like a part of their health team as they share their stories and search to alleviate the symptoms of their ailments. People are starting to recognize the power of healthy eating. They acknowledge that the first step toward lowering health costs is to rethink their diet as preventative health care.

Yours in the field,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Eighteen Newsletter

Week 17: Sept 28, 2019

High School students taking part in community service at We Grow LLC

The Work of Many Hands

A group of high school students from Medford High along with two teachers visited the farm on Friday last week. The kids had to choose a project to work on for their required community service credits. Twenty students decided to come to our farm to work for two hours. Some chose farm work last year and knew what they were in for, but some were perhaps caught off-guard with the tasks assigned to them during their visit.

IN THE BAG
Spaghetti Winter Squash
Rutabaga
Daikon Radishes
Orange Carrots
Mixed Onions
Peppers
Bok Choy
Lettuce
Scallions
Peas (larges)
Cherry Tomatoes  (larges)

Thankfully, we had Linda and Roxanne on hand to help oversee the youth who were split into a number of groups. Eric had some of the kids digging and topping carrots, others were taking down old trellising, pulling vines and rolling up huge sheets of landscape fabric, harvesting tomatoes, removing vines and infrastructure from the high tunnel, and when all of that was done we all pulled plastic sheeting from the onion rows. Needless to say, we got a lot of work done in a short amount of time with that many hands moving at once.

We owe thanks to the teacher in charge of this project who happens to be a CSA member. As we conversed throughout the morning, she commented on how much the kids learn about the work it takes to grow food and farm in general. There was dirt, heavy lifting, mud and heat! Some of the kids grew tired quickly, for others the manual labor was second nature. We knew little of each one’s background but forced small talk as we got on with our day. Little did the students realize the learning experience they were taking part in.

Before the group loaded back onto the bus, we sat down for a water break while our staff began to wash carrots. Everyone had the chance to snack on the fresh veggies. We even sent a bag of baby carrots along for the ride home. Hopefully a few found the flavor to be incomparable to store bought like we do. Making an impression on these kids is an important part finding future food enthusiasts. Seeing first-hand that small farms can be a thriving business and an integral part of a community is an equally powerful lesson.

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Seventeen Newsletter

Week 16: Sept 21, 2019

Native bumblebee polliator at We Grow LLC

Homegrown Wellness

This is a reprint of an old article we feel is worth repeating, particularly for all of our new members. Did you know that sweet potatoes, spinach and cashews all help fight depression? Have you heard that dark leafy greens and grass-fed meat can reduce your migraine symptoms? And apples, cranberries, celery and onions can heal the inflammation in your stomach caused by acid reflux? Before foods were fortified with nutrients, we ate spinach, black beans and asparagus for folate to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Although it probably wasn’t a conscious effort. The required nutrients were already in our diet, we didn’t have to make an extended effort to find 100% of our daily requirements.

IN THE BAG
Acorn Winter Squash
Yellow Potatoes
Orange Carrots
Mixed Onions
Savoy Cabbage
Green Peppers
Garlic
Mixed Tomatoes
Dill
Microgreens
Zucchini (larges)
Choice Item (larges)

While we do need to be careful of the health claims, it is no secret that the remedies to most common maladies can be found in nutrition. It also shouldn’t be a surprise that our ancestors didn’t suffer from many of the same illnesses that modern society experiences. The top four causes of death at the turn of the century were infancy death, death from childbirth, death from infections, and death from accidents. Today, the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer. Clearly, something has changed.

If you think people didn’t live as long 150 years ago as they do today, that is not exactly correct either. The average life expectancy figure is greatly skewed due to infant mortality rates. In the year 1907, the rate was nearly 10%. Today it is closer to 0.07%. Back then, many people lived long into their 80’s and 90’s despite their diet loaded in fats.

We focus so much on the quick cure for our ailments, that we forget all about the cause. At the root of our modern health crisis is our modern diet and desire for a quick fix. All of this fueled by million dollar marketing campaigns. The numbers are staggering! Unfortunately, family farms can’t compete. Mainstream America has come trust infomercials instead of trusting their instincts to feel better by eating better. Eating real food, simple food and overpowering illness with nutrition and living a long healthy life.

Yours in the field,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Sixteen Newsletter

Week 15: Sept 14, 2019

Harvesting potatoes in the mud at We Grow LLC

Rain, Rain Another Day

It has been a challenge to dry out between days lately. We mucked out the potato and carrot harvest last week and we mucked out the carrots and beets again today. It seems like it has been raining every day this month, but of course, that is not completely true. With the cooler temps, the soil in the field stays wet and each day that it doesn’t dry out our fall crops are at risk to rot in the ground. So far, the only crop that we have seen a problem in is the radishes. It could be much worse.

IN THE BAG
Delicata Winter Squash
Mixed Onions
White Carrots
Kohlrabi
Fennel or Beets
Green Peppers
Jalapeno/Anaheim Peppers
Tomatillos
Lettuce
Celery (larges)
Radishes (larges)

Flashback to the fall of 2015, our first year with a CSA membership. We were farming in a low hay field with heavy clay that is adjacent to where our high tunnels are presently located. The soil had little to no organic matter. We got a foot of rain over the course of a few days and all of our carrots, potatoes and beets quickly rotted. We were devastated to say the least! Since then, we’ve discovered other fields on our land have significantly better soil structure and drainage. We also purchased a bed shaper that raises the soil into a 36” wide flat ridge on top of which we have planted most of our fall crops just in case of heavy fall rains. The area we are farming has also been prepared for this scenario. Three years of cover crops have slowly increased our organic matter to nearly 4%. That means our soil has four times the water holding capacity than when we started working that area. Acting like tiny passageways into the clay, organic matter lets the water soak in rather than run on top. But even perfect soil has a saturation point. We’ve definitely reached it at We Grow.

In the fall broccoli, kohlrabi and cabbage plantings, the furrows between our raised beds are nearly filled in with washed soil as the entire area was in standing water last week. Today when we checked on the area, the makeshift ditches were drier but there was still some standing water. The plants can’t take much more wet. Hopefully it will change course soon and they can grow into the crops we need to finish the season. With the warmer weather expected this coming week, the rutabaga and broccoli should finish nicely. Without rain, nothing grows. Too much rain, nothings grows just the same.

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Fifteen Newsletter

 

Week 14: Sept 7, 2019

Gus, Eric and Dene working on preserving seconds garlic at We Grow LLC

The Winter Pantry

Tonight our family spent the evening putting summer food away for the winter. The boys were busy cutting up damaged red potatoes and filling quart jars. When that set of jars were all filled, they were on to pushing tomato soup that we had been cooking all day in the pack shed through the tomato saucer. Then it was a several more hours of tending the pressure canning process as there were several batches to get through.

IN THE BAG
Purple Haze Carrots
Red Potatoes
Onions
Cantaloupe
Radishes
Garlic Bulb
Green Peppers
Mixed Tomatoes
Swiss Chard
Lettuce
Sweet Basil
Green Cabbage (larges)
Zucchini (larges)

There are easier ways to eat potatoes in the winter. When you consider that we can hold potatoes in storage without any extra processing until at least April and also the price on grocery store potatoes, it might seem a waste to can spuds. But if you work on our farm and see five or ten pounds of potatoes get thrown away each week as seconds, you might also want to rescue them from the compost pile and put them to use. But the real reward comes when you are preparing a meal in a hurry and want to simply open a jar of fully prepared potatoes and quickly mash them for supper or slice them to fry with your morning eggs. We learned a few years ago that going against recommended practice and maintaining the skins gives them an amazing earthy, almost smokey flavor we love. Keeping ugly food from the compost heap is a huge factor in determining what’s in our canning cupboard come winter.

Canning foods has been around a very long time. The heating and sealing process was first researched and utilized widespread in the early 1800’s for use by troops. The impacts of canning were huge for a civilization that didn’t have the luxury of modern refrigeration.

A few weeks ago, we had an excess of cucumbers that did not sell at market. Our friends Tom and Linda offered to come make two big batches of sweet dill pickles with us in exchange for half. Many hands made light work and we each have another shelf on our pantry filled. Every time we reach into our storage cupboard, there is a huge sense of pride packed in every perfectly packed and sealed jar. Memories of a time and place when that food was grown and made. And flavor that you can’t buy in a store.

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Fourteen Newsletter

Week 13: August 31, 2019

Farmers from We Grow and Red Door Family Farm at the Annual Farm to Table Dinner at We Grow LLC

Farming Friends

Our dear friends at Red Door Family Farm are sharing some of their spectacular harvest of beets with you this week. In exchange, they have chosen some of the best We Grow garlic for use on their farm. Since meeting the Botsford family in 2015, they have slowly become our closest friends. Not only are we working in the same industry being CSA farmers, but having started the same year we are living many of the same struggles. Our common ground includes a wide array of topics: crop loss, machinery breaking downs, variety trialing, workers, our children and the list goes on and on. Having another vegetable farmer to lean on and sympathize or celebrate our trials and tribulations and share dreams makes our farming life significantly more enjoyable.

IN THE BAG
Watermelon
White Carrots
Beets
Cucumbers
Onions
Radishes
Green Peppers
Mixed Tomatoes
Bok Choy
Red Leaf Lettuce
Shishito Peppers (larges)
Mixed Beans (larges)

Last fall, we teamed up with Red Door to offer our customers an additional opportunity to continue their local eating with two local food deliveries. Botsfords helped us provide a wider selection of produce that we would not have been able to offer on our own. The orders were collected through our website and put together on their farm. We look forward to doing this again.

In a couple weeks, we are holding a farm-to-table evening at Red Door Farm to celebrate and show our gratitude to our worker shares and employees. Both farms’ workers will be our guests and both farms are contributing to the meal. A huge part of being a community supported farm is finding “our people” and cultivating a social atmosphere. Our workers have spent time together for a few hours a week for the past thirteen weeks. Some were here last season, but about half are new to their respective roles. Already, they are meeting for coffee, exchanging babysitter’s phone numbers, going on adventures and sharing recipe ideas. This month’s appreciation dinner will be another opportunity to make connections and be amongst like-minded people.

Surrounding yourself with a strong, supportive network provides encouragement and focus. Because of this, surrounding yourself with supportive people can play an important role in achieving goals. Even more so when your goals include one another. Success can be a group activity.

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Thirteen Newsletter

Week 12: August 24, 2019

Eric, Rebecca, Linda and Roxanne finished with the bean harvest at We Grow LLC

Food Culture

It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from, you have to eat. Conceivably it is the most significant commonality that humanity shares. Whatever shape, form, or flavor food may take around the world, people eat. More than that, across the world people, enjoy eating. From paupers to presidents, we all break the proverbial bread in times of joy or times of grieving, on occasions both large or small, we bond and celebrate through food.

IN THE BAG
Tomatillos
Cilantro
Jalapeno Peppers
Green Peppers
Onions
Garlic Bulb
Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Zucchini
Savoy Cabbage
Lettuce
Melon (larges)
Mixed Beans (larges)

All across the country there are festivals celebrating very specific types of foods. Yuma Lettuce Days, Atkins Picklefest, Kansas City Spinach Festival, Pittston Tomato Festival, New Orleans Po-Boy Festival to name a few. We were recently invited to Grill Fest at the Medford City Park to sample and rate the foods in the friendly competition. The festival attendees also got to take part in the food sampling. The cuisine range from typical American grill fair of burgers and pork loin, to Mexican and Italian. Once again, food is a gathering point, a common ground, a celebration for our culture.

Reflecting our diverse ancestry, people of northern Wisconsin have thrown together a melting pot of food cultures. A small church might be serving Polish pierogies just down the road from a Thai food truck. The county fair will host a Greek gyro vendor next to Wisconsin’s famous deep-fried cheese curds. It is this wide range of food cultures that makes eating interesting. We continually seek and share new recipes that break the boredom in the kitchen. Trying new ingredients is the challenge we meet.

This week, some of you are getting something you’ve never eaten before, tomatillos. As bold foodies, you might feel compelled to expand your cooking repertoire and rouse your palate. With latin roots, it is easy to make something flavor-filled and worth sharing.

We have said it before, but it bears repeating: There is no more intimate decision than the food you choose to eat day in and day out. Nourishment is the basis of our very existence. We thank you for allowing We Grow to be part of your food culture.

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Twelve Newsletter

Week 11: August 17, 2019

Farmer Eric representing We Grow LLC on the Farmall Super C in the Rib Lake Ice Age Days Parade

Working on Ethics

Did you happen to be in Rib Lake last Sunday for the Ice Age Days parade? Did you notice a bright red 1951 Farmall Super C driving by when suddenly a youngster handed you a cucumber? That was We Grow and the families that have been working on our farm this season. Altogether with our two part-time employees, we have 7 kids under the age of thirteen. And there have been many occasions when all of us are together on the farm. Oftentimes, the kids’ curiosity gets the best of them and they end up working with us. Olivia and Roxy have weighed out portions, Porter and Emma have planted winter squash seeds and Waylon has found countless cucumbers and tomatoes.

IN THE BAG
Beets
Rainbow Carrots
White Onion
Red Potatoes
Garlic Bulb
Fennel
Zucchini
Mixed Beans
Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Sage
Kohlrabi (larges only)
Sweet Corn (larges only)

Gus and Dene, our two boys are required to work, but we give them a modest wage which they must cash in and use if they want something beyond their basic needs. Over the course of this summer, both boys have earned enough to each purchase a chromebook laptop. It has been an interesting experience watching one son keep his pockets tight and save for later while the other is a loose-pocket spender, constantly trying to bum a buck then pay you back after pay day.

In our Alaska years, midwesterners were known far and wide for their hardworking work ethic. Employers looking for hardworking laborers would put their money on a young Wisconsinite no questions asked! Much to our chagrin, we see this work ethic lacking in the next generation of the work force.

How do we change this? Where do we find young people who are willing to get dirty, break a sweat and feel the wear of a hard day’s work on their muscles? How do we teach youth to understand the satisfaction of hard work? Ironically, neither of us were raised on a farm, but from a young age we were both employed on a farm. We learned how to use a shovel and get covered in stink at a young age. But we loved it because we were working hard with others who made it fun. And we made a little money. The work the kids do on the farm isn’t always fun or exciting, but it is much more than a job.

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Eleven Newsletter

Week 10: August 10, 2019

Farmer Gus and Dene helping with the garlic harvest at We Grow LLC

The Halfway Mark

Welcome to the halfway point of the CSA season! The weather is starting to feel fall-like with some cool nights. Cool season crops are being planted as time allows. Two weeks ago it was brassicas and radishes, this week it was boc choy and lettuce. We still need to plant arugula, mustard, salad turnips, and spinach. There is still a lot of time left to fill your weekly shares. We need to keep planting to keep up with the wonderful variety we are getting into this month. Growth starts to slow as we approach September.

IN THE BAG
Sweet Corn
Mixed Beans
Rainbow Carrots
Cucumbers
Walla Walla Sweet Onion
Garlic Bulb
Swiss Chard
Celery
Mixed Tomatoes
Bell + Carmen Pepper
Basil
Melon (larges only)

This week we harvested all of the remaining garlic and it is the nicest garlic year yet in regards to bulb size and quality despite being two weeks later than usual. This is being attributed to increased soil fertility. Oftentimes we get too busy this time of year and put off the garlic harvest too long. When this happens the bulb wrappers decay in the soil and we can’t sell it. This is not the case this season thanks to the amazing help we’ve been getting and also employing our boys to do their part on the farm. The very best garlic will be saved for planting next year’s crop and the rest will be shared with you in the coming weeks and sold at market. At this point, your garlic can be dried and stored for the winter in a cool, not cold place. It can also be separated into cloves and planted in October for harvest next summer.

The broiler chickens are no longer following us around the farm. They were slaughtered and processed for our customers this week and the final product looks and tastes fantastic. We are excited to share these birds with our customers. Having them gone will lessen the daily workload and stress. While free-range chicken is healthier than the alternative, chickens seem to have a death wish and raising them can be unnerving. It can be difficult to keep them out of trouble and even then, the list of predators that go bump in the night is rather frightening. Large numbers can disappear with no warning signs. Fortunately, nearly all of our birds made it to the end without incident.

There was an incident however when we were hauling the birds to the processing facility. Our new farm kitten, Rodger hitched a ride under the truck and ended up in Dorchester. He was scared but survived the ordeal!

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Ten Newsletter

Week 9: August 3, 2019

Lettuce growing in a shaded high tunnel in early August at We Grow LLC

Breaking The Rules

With our farm kids reaching middle school age, we have come to the realization that we need to get away from the farm for some “adventuring” no matter how long our to-do list. We seek to experience more of what northern Wisconsin has to offer and keep our sanity. So this week, after Tuesday farmers markets we took off and headed north. We dined at a farm-to-table restaurant, swam in a great lake, rock hunted and napped on the beach, visited bookstores and cooked over the campfire. It was relaxing family time at its finest.

IN THE BAG
New Red Potatoes
Mixed Beans
Rainbow Carrots
Zucchini
Cucumbers
Onions
Garlic Bulb
Red Oakleaf Lettuce
Mixed Tomatoes
Parsley
Beets (larges only)
Kohlrabi (larges only)

One of the books we picked up on our adventure is titled “Food Rules, An Eaters Manual” by Michael Pollan. It is not Pollan’s first book on the matter of eating but it the condensed version of all of his suggestions, which is great, because we don’t have much time for reading these days. Faced with a hammock and an evening far away from the farm, the book was read from cover to cover and conversations about our eating habits ensued. This book is like an advertisement for being in a CSA program! #16: Buy your snacks at the farmer’s market. #22: Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. #25: Eat your colors. #30: Eat well-grown food from healthy soil. #44: Pay more, eat less. Seek quality over quantity. While we feel pretty good about our comprehension of the “rules,” our conclusion is that we know how to eat right, but perhaps break a few too many of these rules. Even vegetable farmers who have basically unlimited access to the ideal diet, could be eating better. Sigh.

With this knowledge in hand, and one more ice cream stand on the drive home, we set our goals a little higher from here forward. The bounty from the field is nearing its greatest variety. We actually had to choose what not to put in the shares this week! It’s time to buckle down and max out our veggie consumption. Eat carrots, beans and cukes for lunch or snacks. Spend some time in the kitchen and savor the flavors. #51: Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it. But also, don’t stress about enjoying the times when we break the rules. Afterall, #60: There is nothing wrong with special occasion foods, as long as every day is not a special occasion.

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Nine Newsletter

Week 8: July 27, 2019

Free-Range Layer Chickens at We Grow LLC

Mid-Season Stride

As we start to hit the mid-season stride, it feels like a good time to let you know what’s going on around here. We are sending a farm email every Friday. It is not the same as this newsletter and it often includes links to some recipe ideas as well as lots of info about other things that are happening both at the farmers market and at the farm. Make sure you are receiving this email.

IN THE BAG
Kohlrabi
Patty Pan Summer Squash
Carrots
Green Romaine Lettuce
Cucumber
Fern Dill
Red Onion
Garlic Bulb
Slicing Tomato
Green Cabbage (larges only)
Cherry Tomatoes (larges only)

There has been a lot going on besides the typically weeding, planting and harvesting. This week we hosted a red hat group and it was such a pleasure to show off our growing spaces, community involvement and share some of our harvest with them. They made it all the way around the farm and joined us for a simple farm lunch with produce picked on the spot that morning. What a treat! That same afternoon, we baled some of the hay that was cut on Monday. With enough in the barn for our small herd to make it through an extended winter, we aren’t feeling as much pressure to prioritize that task. With this weather, it has been difficult to say the least.

Eric attended his first farmers market in the city of Phillips. We are hoping to expand our offerings in the area and meet more people to our north where there aren’t many vegetable operations or CSA farms. The market-goers were excited to see the fresh produce and pastured pork. We have high hopes for what will come and plan to attend this market through the rest of the season. If you know anyone in Phillips, please help us spread the word. We Grow will be there every Tuesday from 2:30 to 5:30.

Our Medford markets were not as calm and rosy. Saturday we had to leave early because of a storm. We stayed until a huge lightning strike that caused a fire just down the street. Time to leave! Then Tuesday everything was sunny until a nasty little storm moved in too quickly for us to take down our setup. With two tents to hold on to, Rebecca and volunteer Tonia used everything they had to keep things on the ground. It was scary! Other vendors didn’t fare so well. There were seven destroyed canopies when the clouds parted. Thankfully no one was injured, but it has been two rough Medford markets.

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Eight Newsletter

Week 7: July 20, 2019

Farmer Gus and cat Dan walking to the field at We Grow LLC

Beasts of Burden

Calves, pigs and chickens, oh my! Everywhere you turn there are animals around here. None in large quantities, but enough to do their job on our farm. Livestock can play an integral role on small farms and the underlying health effects of animal interaction shouldn’t be overlooked.

IN THE BAG
Cherry Tomatoes
Snow Peas (smalls only)
Green Oakleaf Lettuce
Cucumber
Cilantro
Yellow Onion
Celery
Mixed Kale
Garlic Bulb
Zucchini
Kohlrabi (larges only)
Carrots (larges only)

Here at We Grow, pigs are pastured in areas that we need the vegetation knocked down and turned over. Their rooting behavior is a result of their search for insects, roots, seeds, minerals and even small mammals. In their path, they leave fertile manure behind which is the fastest way to convert plant matter into soil. The role the calves play is very similar. They convert forage into muscle and manure. Both are extremely valuable products. But did you know that simply having animals and/or being exposed to their germs can make you a healthier person?
Scientists have long speculated that the “dirtier” the environment we grow up in, with a wide array of germs from different people and animals, the better our immune system and physical health ultimately will be. Recent studies are suggesting that a “dirty world” might be better for our mental health, too.

The hygiene hypothesis, as it’s called, says that our immune system needs to spar with relatively harmless germs and foreign substances in its earliest years so it can calibrate itself. Without this training, it can become too sensitive and overreact to things it shouldn’t, like house dust and pollen, leading to allergies and asthma. Plenty of research has shown that growing up in a rural environment, or with pets, is associated with lower rates of autoimmune disorders, while rates of allergies and autoimmune disorders have steadily climbed in urban areas.

Rest assured that in your weekly share, you not only get fresh from the field vegetables. You get microbes from our farm. Tiny organisms that remind the immune system how to respond. And an actual visit to our farm is even better for you. Pet the rabbits, rub a cat and give the labrador some love. Germs or not, the adventure is sure to be good for your mental state.

Growing for you,

Eric & Rebecca signature

Week Seven Newsletter