Minnesota Wild Rice is here.

wild rice

We are happy to announce that we now offer Minnesota wild rice! Members of Jim’s family have been harvesting wild rice for years. So this past summer, Jim and I joined them and learned all about how to harvest wild rice. It was hard work, but also a lot of fun. It was amazing to watch these experienced wild rice harvesters traverse through the wetlands as they gently and skillfully hand-harvested the kernels off the stock and filled their canoes with ripe rice.

Since we Jim and I are beginners, our overall contribution to the harvest was very small. But we know we will get better at it with more practice in the years to come.

wild rice

Our hand-harvested Minnesota wild rice is now available through our website store, plus you’ll find a collection of favorite recipes as well. What better holiday gift than Minnesota wild rice, Minnesota maple syrup, and Minnesota honey?!

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Small Business Saturday.

Maple Syrup and Honey

Be sure to support your local small businesses on Small Business Saturday November 29th. Not only will the businesses appreciate your support, buy you can benefit by finding some really cool, local, products as gifts for the holiday season.

Minnesota organic maple syrup is always a hit for holiday gifts. So is our Minnesota Wildflower honey. For your shopping convenience you can buy it right now via our online store.

Something else to consider, is giving the gift of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits. Our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) has two options:

Half share CSA which is a 1/2 bushel box every-other-week from June through October, for a total of nine boxes throughout the growing season. Cost for a half share is $275.00

Full share CSA is a 1/2 bushel box every week for 18 weeks from June through October. Cost for a full share is $475.00

Purchase options include: Order the CSA online well (a 4% up charge is added for online sales). Or you can place a $25 deposit via online store and pay the remainder by mailing in a check. Or you can just download the CSA registration and mail it in.

Week 8

This is an example of the produce in a mid-summer box. You can check out the blog archives for CSA 2013 and CSA 2014 which shows all of the boxes that members received throughout both of these growing seasons.

We appreciate your support for Small Business Saturday, and we wish you a happy, healthy holiday season.

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2014 CSA Survey Results.

winter garden

Thank you for your Feedback

The vegetable fields are already covered in snow, and I miss being outside in the sunshine all day long, playing in the dirt. While mother nature may think she has given us another good smack-down by sending us an early snowstorm (we got about 10″ here), the reality is that we have a lovely view of our quiet, dormant, farm.

Here on the farm, winter is a time for regeneration and planning for the future. As I begin making plans for the 2015 CSA, I first take into consideration the feedback you provided me from this year’s CSA. So here are the results of the end-of-season survey.

Total 2014 CSA members: 48
Full share members: 22
Half share members 26

Total number of surveys returned: 33
Participated in a CSA in the past –  yes: 19  No: 14
Quality of produce – Excellent: 29  Satisfactory: 4
Quantity of produce in each box –  Not enough: 1 Just right: 29  Too much: 4
Variety of produce – Not enough: 6  Just right: 26 Too much: 1
Communication: Satisfactory: 33
Overview of comments

  • Overwhelmingly everyone agreed that they enjoyed the weekly updates and appreciated the sense of humor and creativity. (thank you!)
  • Many comments of praise and encouragement which I genuinely appreciate – in fact I’m smiling right now as I browse through the surveys once again.
  • Several comments expressed acknowledgement that the weather was terrible and recognized that this affected the variety of produce in each box, but understood it could not be controlled.
  • One survey expressed disappointment due to not enough variety and will not sign up again next year.
  • One survey stated they wanted to order two full shares next year.

Common comments about produce:
-too many cucumbers
-want more lettuce/greens
-too much lettuce/greens
-want more kale
-too much kale
-loved the broccoli
-loved the tomatoes
-loved the eggs (those who purchased eggs)

What I learned

The 2014 growing season was extremely difficult. The non-stop rain and cold in the spring turned the soil into jiggly, gelatinous slop, making the fields unplantable until the end of June. In fact it was so bad that many farmers in this area still had standing, unharvested corn from 2013 still in the field as late as 4th of July…a time when their new crop should be knee high. Overall, for Kanabec and Pine Counties, it was a horrible growing season.

So what did I learn from this?

Better communication with my CSA members - Farming is a tough and risky business that is completely dependent on the weather – something no earthly being can control. As a farmer, I accept that risk. But one of the key components of being a member of a CSA is that you share the risk with the farmer. In my weekly newsletters, I work really hard to keep the news up-beat, and not whine about the weather or all of the other dilemmas encountered each week. And the truth is, even through all of the hardships I face, I don’t let it discourage me and I press on through it. But I realized that I do need to do a better job of telling you, my CSA members, the problems I face. If I expect you to share the risks with me, you need to know the risks I deal with to grow, harvest, clean, pack, store, and deliver your produce. This year I had a LOT of crop failure. Of the 65 different kinds of produce I planted, about 20% of them failed, due to the crazy cold, wet spring…and I should have kept you more informed about specifically what was happening out in the fields and how it will affect the harvest. And then there was the day I woke up to find that the thermostat in the walk-in cooler failed and ended up freezing everything I spent the previous day harvesting. Sigh.

Grow more in the hoop house – I love my hoop house. I know you’ve heard me say that over and over. And this year, well over half of all of the crops for the CSA were grown in the hoop house. It doesn’t matter what the weather outside is doing, inside the hoophouse, all is good. So now I’m going to figure out ways to grow even more in there. This will be fun.

Experiment with unusual crops - The hoop house also gives me the opportunity to try growing things that are not normally grown in this region. So this next year I’m going to try growing ginger, turmeric, wine cap mushrooms, and artichokes inside the warm and cozy hoop house. Stay tuned.

Thank you all for your kind words, encouragement and your candor. I am fired up and excited for the 2015 growing season, and ready for the holiday season as well.

Small Business Saturday

This coming Saturday is “Small Business Saturday” where you can “shop small” to show your support to local businesses. You can also support our small business by doing your holiday shopping via our online store. Maple syrup and honey are gifts that makes anyone smile. Or you may even consider giving the gift of a CSA share as well.

I frequently make trips to St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, so if you want to avoid the cost of shipping, just give me a holler and I can connect with you to deliver your order in person. Mora and Cambridge folks – stop by the farm or I can meet you somewhere in town.

Maple Syrup and Honey

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jim and I wish you all a very blessed Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Cheers,
Debbie

Follow the farm adventures on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @SapsuckerFarms

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November Snow storm.

diggin out

It’s still autumn but we got the first big snowstorm on Monday November 10th. Timing was a bit inconvenient as it is firearm deer hunting season, but it did force us to get all of the winterizing on the farm done in just one day. It feels good to be ready for the snow, and it certainly is a beautiful scene.

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First Snowfall of the Season.

snow

The first snow of the season started last night. About 2″ fell and lasted for about 24 hours.

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Such a Beautiful Autumn.

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After a windy day, all of the leaves are off the trees and on the ground. This year was such an enjoyable autumn and the colorful leaves seemed to linger longer than normal on the trees.

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It was so enjoyable to just enjoy the scenes that nature provided, both here at home and at the family’s lake cabin.

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The dogs are always enthusiastic to be outside, playing in the yard.

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The girls in the hen house added their own colorful flair with brown, pink, and green eggs.

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But even though the leaves are off the trees, the scent of autumn is intoxicating and the naked trees now get a chance to rest. And it’s fun to watch it all from the rocking chairs on the porch of the bunkhouse.

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CSA Week 20: The Last Box of the Season.

Week 20

Hi CSA Members,

It’s here. The last box of the 2014 CSA season. It’s kind of a bittersweet moment for me, knowing that the growing season is over. But I also look forward to what new farming adventures I’ll be facing in the 2015 season to come. THANK YOU for supporting Sapsucker Farms. I hope your experience was as joyful for you as it was for me.

So here is what you’ll find in your last box of the season:

Potatoes - small, medium, large, or a combo of both in either red and/or white.

Broccoli florets – a handful of spears

Lettuce – two or three different varieties of delicate bibb heads

Green/semi-ripe/ripe heirloom tomatoes - You have several options here. You can either enjoy some fried green tomatoes (I recommend Aunt Mary’s recipe on my website), or you can leave them on your counter to let them ripen up.

Cucumber – of course.

Basil - a small bouquet of green and purple basil, perhaps for one last batch of pesto.

Onions – two sweet Walla Wallas

Shallots – and two of these too.

BOXES and COOLER PACKS – I know you’re probably wondering about what to do with your last box and cooler pack, so here is what I would like to do:

St. Cloud and Plymouth folks – This week I will pick up your boxes and cooler packs that I dropped off last week. But since I will not be returning next week, you can keep your boxes and cooler packs as a souvenir of the season.

Mora folks - Please return your boxes to Made of Mora and I will pick them up there.

Cambridge folks – this is all foreign to you because the co-op always keeps the boxes and returns them to me, so you don’t have to do anything.

As usual, the pick-up and delivery schedule for this week is the same.
St. Cloud offices – Tuesday morning
Good Earth Co-op – Tuesday morning
Plymouth Community – Tuesday afternoon, probably between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.
Made of Mora - Thursday by noon
Sapsucker Farms – Thursday after noon
City Center Market Co-op in Cambridge – Friday morning by 10:00 a.m.

And even though the season is over, you can still keep up with what’s happening on the farm by following us on our Facebook page and Twitter @SapsuckerFarms.

With sincere gratitude for your support,

Debbie

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CSA Week 19: The Growing Season is Officially Over.

fall farm

Hello CSA Members,

Alas, the season is coming to an end. This is the last box for the half-share members… full-share members’ last box is next week.

I don’t know about you, but I sure enjoyed this season. Yes, there were a lot of challenges… rain… mud…cold…critters…lots of surprises…even a vegetarian crocodile and alien abductions. But despite these challenges, it made me happy to know that Sapsucker Farms was able to overcome these obstacles and fill up your CSA boxes each week for 20 weeks with fresh, 100% certified organic produce.

As we close out the season, I really want your feedback. In your box you will find an end-of-season survey, along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope for your mailing convenience. It’s a very short questionnaire so it’ll only take a few minutes to complete. I really do take to heart your comments, so I would really appreciate.

One last bit of housekeeping… half-share members, if you could please return your boxes and cold packs to the place where you pick up your boxes, then I will pick them up next week when I deliver the last box for the full-share members.

Week 19
So here is what you will find in your box this week:

Grapes – These aren’t your ordinary table grapes. They have an intense, tart and sweet taste, and all of them have seeds. Even though they are all purple, there are actually several different varieties, so each bunch will have a slightly different flavor.

Petite Brussel Sprouts OR sweet/hot peppers – This year the brussel sprouts plants were beautiful, tall, and mighty… but had teeny weeny little brussel sprouts. Unfortunately, that means that there is not enough for everybody, so you’ll find either a bag of of petite brussel sprouts, or some peppers. You won’t know for sure until you open your box.

Lettuce - The next succession of lettuce is ready to harvest. You’ll find some baby romaine and some heirloom bibb or baby oak leaf greens.

Leeks – You’ve already had some experience with leeks in your box a couple of weeks ago. Now your stock is re-supplied with two more for your culinary delight.

Potatoes – a random combination of white or red spuds.

Broccoli florets – it keeps on growing… even in this cold weather.

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes - yes, even though it’s cold out, the tomatoes are warm and happy inside the hoop house. I love my hoophouse.

Cucumber – The MVP of the CSA season.

Onions – two more for you this week.

Shallots - and again… two more for you this week.

Half-share members, I want to thank you for supporting Sapsucker Farms this year. I hope you have enjoyed your bi-weekly box of organic veggies and fruits, and I wish you all God Speed in all that you do.

Full-share members… one more week to go for you!

Now, here is an EXCLUSIVE Sapsucker Farms CSA member news bulletin. Throughout this season, we have been working hard expanding our farm to include a farm winery. We are happy to report that we now have our federal and state license to produce and sell hard apple cider. And in 2015 we will be rolling out Sapsucker Farms Yellow Belly Hard Apple Cider! Here is a sneak peak at our label which is still in progress, and the first batch is now in production. More news will be coming soon, so stay tuned for more info very soon!

YellowBellyLabels.7.8

Also… now that the holiday season will soon be here, I’d like to suggest Sapsucker Farms organic maple syrup as a holiday gift that is sure to make everyone smile. You can even order it through our online store on our website. How easy is that?!

syrup

As always, here is the pick-up and delivery schedule for this week.
St. Cloud offices – Tuesday morning
Good Earth Co-op – Tuesday morning
Plymouth Community – Tuesday afternoon, probably between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.
Made of Mora - Thursday by noon
Sapsucker Farms – Thursday after noon
City Center Market Co-op in Cambridge – Friday morning by 10:00 a.m.

And even though the season is over, you can still keep up with what’s happening on the farm by following us on our Facebook page and Twitter @SapsuckerFarms.

With sincere gratitude for your support,

Debbie

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CSA Week 18: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again.

Week 18

Hi CSA Members

This week you’ll find some things in your box that you haven’t seen in awhile. Alas the successive plantings of greens are ready harvest just in time for fall. Here is what you’ll find in your box this week:

Lettuce – the delicate and tender baby oak leaf lettuce is making a reappearance this week.

Puberty spinach – it’s not quite baby, and not quite full grown spinach. Plus it had quite a bit of attitude while trying to grow a second succession, and was stubbornly slow to grow. There is not a lot of it, but a small handful for each. Just enough to combine with the lettuce to make a nice salad.

Shiitake mushrooms – once again we were surprised by finding another crop of mushrooms bloom. This time there are two different kinds of shiitakes, a little smaller than the ones in your box awhile back. Some of these are also slightly dried as that is how mushrooms are preserved – by drying them. But just add them to any of your favorite dishes, or try one of these recipes on our website, and they’ll plump right up.

Potatoes – a random mix of small, medium, or large taters, red, white, and/or blue.

Broccoli florets – a nice handful of some spears, small and medium-sized.

Parsley – a fresh bouquet of  “Giant of Italy” parsley

Onions – a couple of Walla Walla sweet onions

Shallots – two more for your culinary pleasure

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes – a try full of different sizes and colors.

Cucumber – one for you to enjoy.

Only two more weeks left for the CSA this season. As soon as we get a nice, cold, hard frost, then the grapes will be ready to harvest. They need a good frost to get them all sweetened up nicely, and I have a really good crop this year. The birds and yellow jackets have even stayed away from them too. Fingers crossed that we get a good frost this next week.

As always, here is the pick-up and delivery schedule for this week.
St. Cloud offices – Tuesday morning
Good Earth Co-op – Tuesday morning
Plymouth Community – Tuesday afternoon, probably between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.
Made of Mora - Thursday by noon
Sapsucker Farms – Thursday after noon
City Center Market Co-op in Cambridge – Friday morning by 10:00 a.m.
And don’t miss out on all of the activities on the farm and follow us on our Facebook page and Twitter @SapsuckerFarms.
Cheers,
Debbie

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CSA Week 17: A Savory Feast.

Week 17

Hello CSA Members

It’s officially fall, and the sugar maples are really showing off now. The colors are beautiful all over the farm, so it’s only appropriate that your box of produce be colorful too.

Here’s what you’ll find in your box this week:

Cabbage I.O.U. - First, I need to make up for my mistake last week, as I forgot to include the cabbage in the boxes to everyone in St. Cloud and Plymouth. As you cabbageless victims know, I sent you all an email apologizing for this oversight and said that I will make it up to you this week. But since I no longer have any fresh cabbage, you folks will be getting a bag of kale in place of your cabbage last week. Remember… kale is what really cool people eat.

Now… back to the subject of what everyone will be getting this week….

Apples – I did something a little different this year, and put labels on each of the apples, so you can sample different varieties that we have growing. Due to some hail damage, we don’t have a sample of all of the varieties to share with you, but you will find a random mix of different kinds, many of which you probably have never heard of before. Some are great for eating as is, some are great for juicing, and all of them are great for baking.

Leeks - If you’re not familiar with leeks, they look like monster scallions. There are a number of different ways to prepare leeks and you’ll find some recipe suggestions on my website. One of the most popular ways to prepare them is potato leek soup. And as you will see, you have potatoes this week too.

Potatoes – A random combination of red, white, and/or blue spuds.

Broccoli florets – They just keep sprouting, so I happily keep clipping and boxing them up for you.

Onions – sweet yellow Walla Walla, white, and red.

Shallots – a couple of them for you to enjoy.

Peppers – sweet and hot.

Vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes - remember how much I love my hoop house? This is one of the many reasons why I love it. Even after a touch of frost, the tomatoes have been warm and snuggly inside the hoop house.

Cucumber – Alas, the cucumber plants are starting to slow down. This week you’ll see just one cucumber, but there are still some little ones on the vines. We’ll see how big they will get before the end of the season.

Just a reminder… I’m running low on boxes again, so please return your boxes and cooler packs.

As always, here is the pick-up and delivery schedule for this week.
St. Cloud offices – Tuesday morning
Good Earth Co-op – Tuesday morning
Plymouth Community – Tuesday afternoon, probably between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.
Made of Mora - Thursday by noon
Sapsucker Farms – Thursday after noon
City Center Market Co-op in Cambridge – Friday morning by 10:00 a.m.
And don’t miss out on all of the activities on the farm and follow us on our Facebook page and Twitter @SapsuckerFarms.
Cheers,
Debbie

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