We’ll be selling at the Wednesday Columbia Farmers Market this week. Same site as Saturday, open 4pm-6pm. We expect to have garlic, green beans, edamame, herbs, tomatillos, and possibly more. Look for more on tomatillos in Wednesday morning’s post, as well as in Wednesday afternoon’s Tribune. Regardless, hope to see some familiar faces there.
We’ve had three really good market days in a row now, anchored by the very popular trio of diverse garlic, heirloom green beans, and edamame. We’ve been getting so much good feedback on these products and are thrilled with how well they’re selling and how much people like them. We haven’t had a whole lot of diversity lately, though, as our cherry tomatoes, okra, tomatillos, and other summer items are taking their time to come on.
The market garden has been somewhat neglected lately (I don’t even have current photos), as we’re spending so much time harvesting beans and edamame in the main field, and clearing & replanting beds for fall items. In the above photo, you see edamame in the foreground, newly planted fall greens & radishes behind them, sorghum off to the left, dent corn to the right, drying soup beans in front of the corn, then in the back middle we have edamame, amaranth, tomatillos, and okra. Not pictured are sunflowers, more beans, potatoes, and sweet corn (this latter just for us). The white blooms in the far back are a buckwheat cover crop which is loaded with bees right now.
Joanna, especially, has been getting fall items seeded in the market garden (collards, kale, mustard, bok choi, turnips, & more) . Our cherry tomatoes are finally ripening, and cucumbers & squash are finally producing (we only have small quantities of these last two).
Weather, as always, is a factor. Last week a strong storm swept over Goatsbeard Farm while I was working, pelting the dairy with pea-sized hail for about 15 minutes. Luckily this missed our farm, though the next morning a related front swept through with high winds, which funneled down our main field’s valley and flattened a lot of our very tall sorghum. Some of this has since made an amazing recovery, but there are still lots of broken stalks:
Good grief, have edamame been popular! We sold a lot last week, including 3lb to Uprise Bakery, and will be bringing similar amounts this week. I’ve been getting a lot of very good feedback about them, making the long daily harvests worthwhile. Overall we’re in a bit of a product rut, with about the same mix of items for the last few weeks and probably at least a few more weeks. But luckily they’re all very good and very popular products. Still, it’s a learning process on really getting our plantings correct to always have a diverse and worthwhile stand throughout the season.
For the past month or so, we’ve had regular weekend help on the farm. An alumni of Joanna’s college (and another Geology major) has been working a summer job in Columbia, and has quickly integrated herself with the farm. Laura has been spending many partial/whole weekends out here, enjoying the farm and helping with whatever work we’re doing. It’s been a great arrangement, allowing her to get out of the city (she grew up on a farm) and giving us good company and excellent help.
Earlier this year, somewhat on a whim, I brought home four young ducks from a nearby farm. Ducks are prolific egg layers and tasty, and I figured they would fit in well with our geese without adding too much management needs. That last part was wrong, as they were very independent-minded and continually failed to respect fencing. They regularly got into the chicken shed despite every attempt to rig things so chickens could get in and ducks couldn’t; once in they would eat all the grain and foul the water. Several times we caught them merrily exploring around the house, despite all the other birds’ willingness to respect their large fenced paddocks to range in. Finally, we’d had enough, and it was time for tasty, tasty duck.
We butchered all four one recent afternoon, saving two for fresh consumption and freezing two for later. We got four different nice meals out of the first two, briefly summarized below.
We kept this one whole, stuffed the cavity with our fennel, onions, and garlic, and roasted it in a pan with chopped potatoes. I had rubbed the breast with orange zest, and the meat came out with a nice citrus flavor, while the roasted vegetables carried a good duck flavor.
Duck with peach marinade
This was loosely inspired by a recipe in the Tribune, which accompanied a nice column on the values of local foods and businesses. For our version, I marinated the breasts and legs from a single duck in a sauce of water, chopped market peaches, salt, sugar, and cider vinegar. Then I simmered everything together for hours, resulting in nice, tender meat that fell off the bone, topped with the reduced peach sauce. Served with sides of our fresh oven-roasted potato fries and sauteed fresh beans with garlic, this was a great meal (see below)
Duck broth vegetable soup
With any poultry we use, we always keep and boil the carcasses for broth, yielding lots of tasty liquid plus the last scraps of meat that are easier to strip once cooked. We generated several gallons of broth this time, freezing some and saving some for a basic soup. In this case, I just combined lots of our onions, garlic, potatoes, green beans, and zucchini in a long-simmering duck broth, with appropriate salt, pepper, herbs, and some frozen basil cubes left over from last year. Toward the end, I added a few cups of lentils for heartiness. Easy, filling, and tasty.
Duck stir fry
Finally, with the scrap meat left over from the four-carcass broth, I made a simple stir fry with the meat, our garlic, onions, green beans, and zucchini, flavoring it with soy sauce and rice vinegar. 15 minutes from start to finish.
All that from two young birds, plus two more in the freezer along with broth. Not a bad exchange, and our lives are just a little simpler again without four stubbornly independent birds crapping on our front step.
And, of course, no article on eating duck can end without a mention of the Fawlty Towers Gourmet Night:
One of the challenges we regularly face consists of deciding when to stop harvesting something. From a harvest perspective, there are either one-time items (like onions, garlic, radishes, beets) or continually-producing items (like peas, beans, peppers, and tomatoes). Ok, and there are grey areas like cut-and-come-again greens. But the tough decisions come with the continual items, because their production is always in the form of a bell curve: early rises in yield, a peak in both quantity and quality, and then a slow tailing-off as the new growth slowly succumbs to pests and/or the plants just get old.
When to stop can be really hard to decide, because often there’s still a lot of food potential in the plants, but the quality is slowly declining to where they’re not really sellable anymore, or at least not at the near-perfect quality needed at market. We hate to rip up plants that are still producing food, but at some point they begin to create more work than practical as we spend more time sorting out bad product from good, and often we need the bed space for the next planting of something else.
This is our situation with regards to our popular Fin de Bagnol green beans this week. They’re still producing, and still loaded with flowers, but we’re definitely sorting out more and more bug-bitten or weird ones to get the same high quality we like for market, and we need the bed space for fall items. So this is the last week for these beans. Such tough decisions are one of the things that separate farming from gardening, in my eyes.
NEW THIS WEEK:
Nothing in particular. In a few weeks we expect to start having our first multi-colored cherry tomato mixes, featuring six distinct varieties. The first ones are just starting to turn color now.
The core of the stand this week will be 8 varieties of cured garlic, red potatoes, two types of fresh edamame, and two types of green beans (Fin de Bagnols and our heirloom mixes). We’ll have LOTS of edamame this week, so hopefully it will last through end of market for all the later customers who have missed it the past few weeks. Herbs will be a little less plentiful, as we donated a lot of chives, garlic chives, and mint to the Taste of the Market event Saturday night.
DONE FOR NOW:
Amaranth greens are finished, as the plants are getting tall and the leaves are getting stronger. Most onions are finished for now as well.
Cherry tomato mixes, okra, purple fingerling potatoes, and more are coming down the line.
This Saturday, the Columbia Farmers Market and Sustainable Farms & Communities are hosting a fantastic event that any area readers of this blog should attend. The second annual Taste of the Market is a celebration of local foods in mid-Missouri, with over 20 local chefs and providers making and presenting foods sourced entirely or primarily from local producers. For just a $5 cover charge, you can explore the possibilities of our local food system, along with Missouri beers and wines. The event also includes live music and an outdoor screening of a food documentary.
The last few weeks have been the busiest of the season for us, as will be the next few weeks. We have a great deal of produce coming on, particularly items which need to be harvested nearly every day to ensure their quality. This is especially true for our green beans and edamame; right now we’re spending hours a day picking these. They’re worth it, but still a time sink. Below, you see Joanna and our friend Laura harvesting Fin de Bagnol green beans.
We’re also working on another never-ending but very important task: putting up food for winter. With green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, and more really producing, we have to find the time to process, freeze, and/or can these items. We’ll be grateful all winter for these, but there’s not enough time in the day right now.
And, of course, there are the weekly tasks. Fridays are completely taken with market preparations, and Saturdays are taken with going to market (especially as we’re getting busy and large enough these days for both of us to be beneficial at the stand). That leaves us five days a week to manage all the other needs, and for the last few weeks we’ve been going 6am to 10-11pm almost non-stop. We did take a rare night off on Monday to go see Food Inc, and very much noticed the lost time in terms of work not done. More on that film later.
So that’s life right now. Should stay about the same through August.
My wife and I run a small vegetable farm together, selling at local farmers markets and restaurants in Boone Couny. This is our primary business and we’re working to make a decent living at it. We urge you to oppose all efforts to implement overly strict food safety regulations that will seriously impede our ability to run a good business that grows fresh food for our community. At our scale, food safety is best enforced by the customers who know our faces and our growing methods; we don’t need new Federal rules holding us down when we’re not the ones causing food safety problems in the first place. Please support us, not these overreaching and un-American laws.
Market this week should be the same as last week, with more garlic and edamame.
NEW THIS WEEK:
More cured garlic, 6-8 varieties this time. Also more fresh edamame, two different varieties.
ALSO AVAILABLE: Amaranth greens, onions, herbs (including basil), green beans, fennel, potatoes, and more.
DONE FOR NOW: Yukon Gold potatoes.