Weekly news from the farm!!!



Greetings Everyone,

Like many of you, us farmers are deeply concerned about climate change.  Recently in our news feed, we’ve been bombarded with headlines claiming that “regenerative farming” is a new concept to help solve our climate crisis.  Before reading the articles, we assumed that our type of farm is a “regenerative” farm, because a lot of our farm inputs (fertilizers) come from our animals, so there’s no need to mine minerals and produce petro-based chemicals to feed our crops.  Most conventional crops are grown using petrochemicals, which are mined and not renewable, yet our animals are a “renewable” input, because they eat mostly grass and poop, so in essence the sunshine and grass helps our animals to provide a constant supply of fertilizer.  Rather than “assume” we know what regenerative farming is all about, we decided to read articles about this “new” concept, and we’re pleased to understand that our farming system here at MHO does indeed use many of the principals defined by regenerative farming practices.  The main “regenerative” farming principal that the large industrial farms can implement, yet a principal that is already required for organic farming practices, is cover cropping. That being, when fields are not producing a crop that will be harvested, they are seeded in a crop that is tilled under to feed the soil. That way the land continues to be a carbon sync even when food crops aren’t being grown.  In fact, after our country experienced the Dust Bowl, to prevent erosion our Department of Agriculture put out a lot of pamphlets, TV Commercials other education materials instructing farmers to seed cover crops right after crops are harvested. At that time, they weren’t concerned about cover crops being used as a carbon sync, only to help prevent soil erosion. So this farming practice has been around for 80 years, probably more because these practices have been used by agrarian societies that have existed as far back as 10,000 years. About 10 years ago, we happened to write some investing software for a commodity farmer in Iowa, and while we were working on testing that software, we were chatting with him and asked if he planted his 1000 acres in cover crops once his soybeans and corn were harvested, to which he replied NO because it cost too much and required too much labor. We were stunned by his response, and thought to ourselves that we shouldn’t be buying into commodity crops, because that type of farming practice is NOT SUSTAINABLE.  Although, we do love ourselves some tortillas and Fritos, which are made from commodity crops. This is just another reason why you readers should be proud to be buying organic!!!  One of the big issues with organic agriculture, is that almost all of the farms we know us animal manure inputs, so if you are trying to eat only a plant based diet, you will probably want to choose to eat conventional food that uses petrochemicals unless you know of a farmer using plant based farming practices.  We at MHO firmly believe that none of us should be buying into CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) production practices, and believe a plant based diet from food grown conventionally with petrochemicals is much better for animal welfare, but we don’t think it is as good for the planet.  Based on our limited amount of farming experience, we believe a small diversified farm with animals is among the most sustainable farming systems and much more regenerative than using petrochemicals, so THANKS EVERYONE FOR SUPPORTING A REGENERATIVE FARM!

You will probably need to white list our email to receive correspondence from us because we have changed our email from farmer@MountainHarvestOrganic.com to Farmer@MountainHarvestOrganics.com (our email is organics plural).

Your Farmers (and cleaning staff),
Carl and Julie

NOTE: Your’re receiving this eNewsletter because you’ve either been a subscriber to MHO in the past OR if you’ve registered for our newsletters from our website.   Feel free to unsubscribe if you no longer wish to receive this eNewsletter!

CSA Shareholders: You can access our online store using this link, if using a desktop you will log in by clicking the icon of the person in the top right hand side of the web page, if you are using a phone click on the menu icon and choose the login option. All orders need to be placed by Tuesday at 8 AM so that we will know what to harvest for your share! Please return your boxes because we re-use them.  Orders will be ready each Wednesday after 8 AM. 

What is new and abundant this week!

We just finished digging all our potatoes and are hoping we dug them before the wire worms discovered them!!! We’ve found that we must get our potatoes out of the ground and into storage once the plants have matured.  Alvin always advised us to leave them in the ground until until our first frost in the fall, because that way they’ll store through the winter.   That is a goal for us, to have them all winter long because we love them for breakfast and dinner during the winter.  However, we’ve found that when left in the ground after the plants have died back, the wire worms will feast on them.  There is no organic control for wire worms, so ideally we dig them as soon as the plants are done growing.  Like everyone else on this planet, we’re juggling a lot of jobs all at once, from seeding, transplanting, cleaning accommodations and even finding a little time for the pizza farm.  That means we dug our potatoes a little too late, so once the spuds are washed we’ll find out just how much of the crop the wire worms are sharing with us.

We’re in love with these Papa Cacho fingerlings!!! Y’all gardeners know how it is when looking at seed catalogs, that one has the urge to grow everything because of the claim for incredible flavor, disease resistance and high yields. We couldn’t resist adding this heirloom potato into our production mix.  We had a few of these roasted hasselback style and they are among our favorite variety prepared this way because of the for the crunchiness on the exterior and tender.  For those ordering them this week, please let us know how you prepared them and if you enjoy them.

We’re harvesting shisho!!! This herb tends to have a distinct cinnamon/clove flavor and aroma, with the spiciness of cumin. Used in Asian cooking, sushi and salad mix.This basil has a particular sweet flavor reminiscent of anise, licorice and clove. Please know, when harvested, it will wilt yet the flavor will be excellent.  We use this beautiful herb as a substitution for basil in Spring Rolls just as an alternative flavor.  It makes a beautiful drink or a tasty syrup that can be used for flavoring teas or cocktails. This recipe for a watermelon salad, with scallions and shisho is refreshing for a hot summer day.  It is especially delicious in Spring Rolls, Pesto is such a versatile sauce, that can be made with almost any herb, so you might be interested in trying Shisho Pesto!  You might be interested in this blog post that suggests several ways of using shisho.  We’d love to hear how you’ll be using your shisho!!

We’re roasting peppers this week!!! While we don’t expect that y’all eat as many roasted peppers as us throughout the season, we’ve decided to fire up our pepper roaster this week because the greenhouse peppers are ripening in mass.  BE VERY CAREFUL ORDERING PEPPERS THIS WEEK.  Those labeled “fresh” will be unroasted, while those that have the “roasted” included in the description will be roasted.  We’ll roast the peppers, then sweat them in large pots, once they’ve sweated we cool them down in our walk-in and finally bag them in ziploc bags. If you’re planning on freezing your peppers for your winter stash, you’ll be able to simply put them in your freezer, but you’ll probably want to pick-up your share from the farm sooner rather than later just to get them in the freezer as soon as possible. Our pepper roaster, along with Carl, does an excellent job of roasting peppers to perfection.

How to prep roasted peppers. When we have the time, we don’t normally wash our peppers, but gently scrape off the outer charred skin with a knife. Above is roasted Krimzon Lee peppers, among our favorite, because of their sweet and spicy flavor.  

This Weeks Farmer’s Choice Shares

We’be been making a lot of stuffed peppers.  While we use some ground beef as seasoning, these can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the meat.  They can even be vegan if you omit the cheese!!!  Our stuffing also includes onions, chopped yellow squash, chopped zucchini, chopped eggplant, basil or shisho, garlic, oregano and tomatoes!!!

This week’s Farmer’s Choice Share includes: (share contents are subject to change based on our actual harvest.)

We’re offering both a Farmer’s Choice Veggie and Farmers’ Choice Veggie & Meat Share.  Items common in both shares are listed first, followed by items specific to the veggie share the finally the veggie/meat share. The Farmer’s Choice Veggie & Meat share normally has smaller portions of vegetables. )

The following are included only in the veggie share:

  • Onions: Onions: Mixed Yellow Candy and Red bulbs.  We’re starting to take our onions down from the curing racks!
  • Roasted Peppers: Krimzon Lee It’s pepper roasting season!!!

The following are included only in the meat share

What’s Happening on the Farm

We poured the concrete base for the pizza oven!!! 

While we aren’t very experienced in masonary work, Carl has been reading books, listserv threads about building pizza ovens, and even communicating through email with a renowned mason from New England who has built professional ovens for bakery’s specializing in wood fired bread.  We are proud to have poured a 4 inch deep concrete base that will support the entire oven, lets just hope we did it right and the base is strong enough to support the oven.  

It took a lot of concrete so thank goodness Carl fixed our concrete mixer!

Our pizza oven base has 1600 pounds of concrete mix, so thank goodness Carl ordered a new motor for our concrete mixer because it came in handy.  We surprised we didn’t wear out the new motor.  Above is a photograph of the concrete base while we were screeding the top.  As you can see, Argus is pretty disappointed that this project didn’t turn out to be a new dog house for him.

Above is the base all screeded and curing.  Our next steps for the pizza oven is to finalize our design, with the help of advice from John Clemens, Steve Bardwell and the mason from New England.  Many pizza oven bases will have a slot for easily pulling ashes out of the oven once the oven has achieved the desired baking temperature, called an ash slot, which we decided not to implement in our design.  Typically, one only needs to pull the ashes out once from each firing, and for us the complexity of including an ash slot was not worth the benefit. 

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