Week 4

Week 4: Setbacks…and opportunities?

Brad working on assembling the shelter a couple weeks ago

In the box this week, in addition to the usuals, we’re hoping to add cucumbers and either peas or beets! The cucumbers would actually be from King's Hill Farm, a certified organic CSA operation near Mineral Point. To be honest, we are a bit disappointed with what we've been able to produce so far. It has been a learning experience and we're thankful for your patience this first year! Still hoping for an abundance of squash, tomatoes and potatoes later, but in the meantime we're happy King's Hill will hopefully be able to sell us some cucumbers on their CSA off-week (Still working out details). As always, please let us know if you won’t be able to make the pick up at Eleanor’s parents’ house on Thursday evening, and if so, if you want us to still put a box together for you for you to come get at some point through the weekend. Here’s the preferred veggie form. If you haven’t told us one way or another yet, we’re going to assume that you want eggs on a rotating basis.

Now, you may remember hearing about a shelter we were working on building in a previous newsletter. This was the one that we needed in order to move things into it (including a lot of stuff from Brad’s parents, who are moving) so we could move some chickens around and eventually get the chicks outside in some sort of structure. Well, last weekend, we got it up, and got a lot of stuff moved around and into it, with the help of some friends and family. It was a great, productive day.

–Cue ominous music- Unfortunately, this past Saturday, we had around 60 mph winds. The structure, which we hadn’t yet taken the time to really secure as much as it needed (partially due to Brad being in Pennsylvania for work all week long), just wasn’t up to that kind of stress. Brad was finishing up mowing paths through the lawn in advance of a rainstorm, and Eleanor looked out and saw the sides of the shelter flapping in the intense wind. She ran out to try to hold the sides down while Brad put the mower away in the garage. In the meantime, the shelter lifted up and blew over the neighbor’s fence. She ran after it, hoping to stop it from continuing on its path of destruction, and was literally swept off her feet by a gust of wind blowing a pipe that knocked into her legs, losing her glasses and a shoe, and bumping her head on the ground. That’s when Brad showed up, found the glasses and the shoe, and, at Eleanor’s recommendation, unzipped the part of the shelter that was still acting like a sail in the wind, so it was less in danger of continuing to fly away.

We spent the rest of Saturday night picking up the pieces, disassembling the project we had just spent so much time assembling. Though it would be easy to feel rather disheartened by these events, we’re looking at it as an opportunity. To be honest, the shelter did not fit our needs the way we had wanted it to. It was too tall, a bit of an eyesore, and really much too flimsy. We had succumbed to a sale when we bought it, and now we’ve learned our lesson about buying cheap stuff. Rather than mourn the shelter, we’re moving things to other places, and have ideas about how to repurpose all the raw materials into that chicken tractor that we still need to build. Hopefully we’ll be able to give those parts new life in a structure that is exactly what we need.

In the Box

  • Salad mix (lettuce mix, mustard greens, spinach, lamb's quarters, arugula, sorrel)
  • Small bunch of kale
  • Green onions
  • Garlic scape(s) (These are the flowering stalks of garlic plants. We cut them off to force the plant to send more energy into the garlic bulb)
  • Sprig of basil
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets (for about half this week)
  • Peas (for the other half!)


Kale Chips

1. Prepare your kale: pull the leaves off the stems, wash and dry the kale (salad spinners work great for this), and chop it into bite-size pieces.

2. Throw the kale into a big bowl, and drizzle it with olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale. You want enough oil to just barely coat all the kale.

3. Spread the kale pieces out on a baking sheet as evenly as you have patience for, and sprinkle them with salt and whatever other seasoning you want. Get creative! We've used a good spicy blend from Penzy's before that worked really well.

4. Pop the baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. This is the trickiest part. Some recipes tell you to bake the kale at a low heat for a longer time period, others for a short time at a high heat. This seems like a happy medium to us, but results may vary depending on the quirks of your personal oven and how much liquid was on the kale (hint: try not to leave the kale wet before putting it in the oven or the kale chips may be soggy). The perfect kale chip will have just the right amount of crunch and not be burnt. It's doable and delicious!

Brad's Food Philosophy Corner

Brad shares his reasons for farming, one per week!

It’s Cheaper

It is usually accepted that local, ecologically-focused, small scale farm product is more expensive. However, when considering true cost accounting I contend it would definitely come out cheaper than our current globalized industrial food system. In addition to things like subsidies and crop insurance, true cost accounting considers negative externalities – costs of transactions incurred by third parties. Pollution is the most straightforward example. If the production of a good causes air pollution, this will have a negative effect, a “cost,” which is external to the transaction, i.e., “paid” by neither buyer or consumer solely, but rather by a third party (in this case, everything interacting with the air).

Publicly traded companies have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders to maximize profit, and externalizing costs (or at least not internalizing them!) is one way to do that. Pertaining to Big Ag, the list of negative externalities is large and includes obvious things like effects of petroleum use, but also less obvious things like ocean health, healthcare, ecosystem dynamics, and rural community*. While debated, this cost is likely around $3,000,000,000,000/per year.

The large publicly traded companies that own most of our food system won’t (and can’t) just decide to internalize costs. Change will require citizens demanding, through political and legal means, corrective measures (e.g., “Pigouvian” taxes or the bipartisan CCL-proposed Carbon Fee and Dividend model). When the day comes that true costs are accounted for, the most ecologically responsible and the most economical choices will be one and the same!**

* Full list of these and citations will be available on a future blog. This self-imposed 250 word limit is really brutal for me…

** The time has come for Agro-ecology! New York Times ran an Op-Ed on this topic just last week.