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Posted 7/26/2017 7:51pm by Jan Schofield.

Hi Folks,
It seems to be that time of year where we are just going through the motions at the farm. Although we are starting to think about some fall and winter crops (carrots) and where to plant them that activity is still a few weeks off. We have fallen into maintain and harvest mode. Our potato and squash crops are looking good and are requiring very little attention right now. We will start harvesting some of the more gourmet type potatoes next week. This year we have the blue potatoes and two types of fingerling potatoes along with our more winter storage varieties. Tomatoes continue to ripen but not as fast as I would like or would have thought a week ago. This year our heirloom tomatoes are doing well. We are starting to see some blight on them but expect a pretty decent crop. We have been pleasantly surprised with a few ripe heirlooms the past few days. Although sometimes a little ugly looking you can’t beat the flavor of the heirloom tomatoes. We are also beginning to get some ripe egg plant and peppers but not quite enough for our CSA shares and hardly enough to take to market but we know more are coming. We have definitely settled into summer on the farm with all the summer crops and summer weather.


Planted this week: Succession crops of lettuce and greens. We transplanted watermelon plants although late for the year we feel if successful we will have watermelons in September. Also seeded were fall cucumbers, kale, and late zucchini.


In the shares: Tomatoes a mix of heirloom and red slicers, beets some shares will receive red others gold, cucumbers (see this week’s recipe), summer onions, basil and dill, and jalapeno peppers.
Enjoy,
Jim

Posted 7/19/2017 7:33pm by Jan Schofield.

Hi All,
The heat is on. With temperatures in the 90’s the past few days and forecasted for the next several days we definitely know we are in the dog days of summer. So far the farm crew and I have handled it quite well. Drinking lots of water and taking some short breaks out of the sun and heat from time to time. We can only hope the crops will hold up. Generally a day or two of 90 degree plus weather doesn’t have too much affect on most crops but when you have several days back to back and add in no rain it can stress some plants. Tomatoes for example will not germinate in temperatures above 90 and can suffer from blossom drop losing all there blossoms. Most plants will wilt and stress in the heat of the day only to regain vigor when the sun goes down too many days of this in a row will eventually cause plant set back. All in all most of our crops are handling it well. We will keep the irrigation going and hope the heat wave is short lived and we get some normal rain fall soon. In the mean time the farm crew and I will try to stay watered up and not over do it.


Planted this week: This may be one of the few weeks throughout the spring, summer, and fall season that we did not really plant or seed anything. Most of the week has been spent weeding, irrigating, or harvesting. We are starting to see peppers and egg plant beginning to size up and tomato harvest is becoming a daily event.


In the shares this week: This week will see the first of the red slicing Tomatoes. Although some of them are a little smaller then we like we will have larger ones in the weeks to come. Also in the shares will be Red Potatoes, Leeks, Zucchini, and salad mix.
Enjoy,
Jim

Posted 7/12/2017 8:04pm by Jan Schofield.

Hi Folks,
I hope everyone enjoyed some time with family or friends or maybe just a few days off work around the fourth. I know I did although not a full week off we definitely enjoyed the break from the weekend to the fourth. I’ll bet our CSA members are more than ready for the return of some fresh veggies this week. The farm had actually planned to take most of the week off and not go to any farmers markets but that didn’t quite work out. We found out that the veggies don’t take a break from growing and we had a little surplus so off to 2 markets we went last weekend. We still enjoyed the break earlier in the week and it definitely helped to recharge the batteries so to speak. So back to a full work week. We are starting to see the summer crops come on a few ripe tomatoes here and there is a good indicator we will be flush with them in a few weeks. Eggplant and peppers all have small fruit on them so will be a little while yet. The midseason potatoes are looking good loaded with blooms and plenty of small tubers. So far the rain has been pretty steady just about when we need it. All in all the growing season is going pretty good. We are glad to be back this week and bringing our CSA members their fare share.

Planted this week: We transplanted a succession crop of zucchini; the old patch maybe has a week or two left in it. We also transplanted watermelon, better late than never, we will see how they turn out. Also a large planting of pickling cucumbers for late summer pickles. We finally had a planting of green beans come up properly. We have planted them over four times this year with very poor germination each time so looks like we will have some at some point just later than we like.

In your shares this week: A full serving of Cherry Tomatoes, Shiitake Mushrooms (grown on our outdoor oak logs), a couple of slicing Cucumbers, Summer Onions, Lettuce and Greens Salad Mix, and a sprig or two of fresh Basil and fresh Dill.
Enjoy,
Jim

Posted 6/28/2017 7:01pm by Jan Schofield.

Hi All,
With all the major field plantings done, finally, we have been able to concentrate this week on much needed mowing, weeding, and general straightening at the farm. We still have a ways to go but we put a big dent in it this week. We have reached that time of the year where we can now concentrate on maintaining the crops we have planted and nurture them onto harvest. We will still have many succession plantings of various crops but the major project plantings are done. Irrigation and watering have been all consuming this week. The farm is going on 3 weeks again without rain. Yes that’s right seems everybody got rain last Thursday and Friday except us. Bummer. I hope the slight chances in the forecast for Friday and Monday favor us. Some will have a long holiday weekend with the 4th coming on Tuesday. We plan to take a few days off at the farm next week for a much needed mid-season break. Speaking of breaks, there will not be a CSA share drop next week. Please read the important notice below.


Important Notice:
There will not be a CSA share drop next week on Thursday July 6th. Next week is one of 3 preplanned and designated weeks that the farm is taking a break. When planning our CSA this year I decided that the 24 week season was too grueling on myself and the farm workers and that we could use a little time off so I decided to plan into the CSA 3 farm vacation weeks and shorten the season 1 week early making a total of 20 weeks this year rather than the previous years’ 24 weeks. We will send out a notice next week reminding you not to pick up a share.


In this week’s share:
Asian Green Salad Mix, Radishes, Green Onions, New Red Potatoes, Zucchini, and another sampling of Cherry Tomatoes (we have a ton of green cherry tomatoes we just can’t seem to get them to ripen in quantity).
Enjoy the 4th holiday,
Jim

Posted 6/21/2017 7:32pm by Jim Baughman.

Hi Folks,
Some would say summer is finally here. Others, like me, would say I wish I had a few more weeks of spring. Spring is the time when and if you can get your crops in the field in a timely manner things really grow. Most plants need the spring weather to build up a good root system to survive the warmer and dryer days of summer. This year we really seem to be behind on a few of the larger plantings because of the wet May we had and timing of several large down pours of rain. Last week we got the sweet potatoes planted I would say about a month late but they should be okay if we get a few decent rains this summer. Tomorrow we will finish planting our winter squash. Being behind on this one concerns me a bit more due to the fact that we ‘direct seed’ our squash. Meaning we plant the seed directly in the ground where it grows. The seed requires quite a bit of consistent moisture to germinate, something we may not see this time of year. Squash takes about 90 days to mature from germination. This puts us right at or about frost time in the fall. All in all though we have had a good past two weeks on the farm. The crew has been working hard and steady through the heat. We now have all the large field plantings done and can really just start to work on maintaining the crops we have. Summer is here and soon will be the taste of all our labors in the way of those tasty summer crops.


Planted this week: Winter Squash - 5 different varieties this year: Butternut, Acorn, Kubocha Sunshine and Winter Sweet, Burgess Butter Cup, and an heirloom Sweet Winter Pie. Although not a planting we did stake our Heirloom field tomatoes this week. This is a very large undertaking of staking and stringing over 600 tomato plants. Glad that’s done. Also planted were a succession crop of beets.


In your shares: A taste of summer to come. Everyone will receive a small sampling of cherry tomatoes the first of the season not a lot but we harvested what we have and will divide them up in the shares. There will be larger portions in the near future. Also more summer goodness - Cabbage, New Red Potatoes, Kale, Zucchini, Beets (tops removed), and garlic scapes.
Enjoy,
Jim

Posted 6/14/2017 8:20pm by Jan Schofield.

Hi Folks,
Whew! Just came in from a pop up thunderstorm here at the farm. Much needed rain but this one had some really strong winds and came in really fast. These summer storms can be so almost violent when the temperatures reach the low 90’s and suddenly drop 20 degrees or so. Makes me very nervous but at the same time after a hard hot day in the field it feels really good. The nervousness comes from worrying about our greenhouses and the violent winds. When the greenhouses are open a strong wind can get under them and you have the parachute effect which can be very damaging. This time of year we have our greenhouses wide open because of the excessive heat if we were to close them it would be 140 degrees plus inside them. The problem comes when there is a predicted storm with these day time temps you can’t close them up until it’s almost too late or if you make it at all. Today everything is good. As I said the rain was much needed. We had been in about a 3 week dearth and have been scrambling to hook up irrigation the past week. We also had just completed today before the rain our sweet potato planting. The rain will really help them get off to a good start. I guess I would much have the rain come in like this when needed rather than no rain at all.
Planted this week: For the most part we spent most of the week prepping the field for our sweet potato planting. This year it was a pretty big undertaking. Last year’s sweet potatoes were received very well at the winter markets so I decided to double the planting this year planting close to 2000 sweet potato plants. We hope that will be a lot of winter and Holiday nutrition coming your way.
In your share this week: Zucchini is on the menu. Our zucchini crop is doing fabulous. We are sending a pretty good portion in the shares this week. Please check out this week’s recipe. You may also want to check out other recipes on the internet for this great summer staple. Also in the shares will be Lettuce Mix, Green Onions, Radishes, Cucumber, and Broccoli. All shares will receive Broccoli but we may not have enough to double up in the full shares if not we will be substituting a surprise item.
Stay cool,
Jim

Posted 6/7/2017 7:21pm by Joe Baughman.

Hi All,
Have you ever heard the old saying “let’s make hay while the sun is shining”? The neighboring farms around here have been doing just that. There has been a bustle of tractors and hay implements going up and down the roads taking advantage of the sunny dry days to get the hay in. I love it when they cut hay there is a sweet smell in the air for several days and the landscape takes on a different view. It also reduces the pollen in the air, which has been very heavy this year. Here on the farm we to have been taking advantage of the sunny, dry, and mild weather and have made some strides in getting somewhat caught up, at least being able to see a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel. We could not ask for better working conditions then what we have had this week. The dry fields have allowed us to finally finish the last third of our potato planting. A month late but I feel they will be alright as they are our winter storing varieties and will be fine as long as we get some rain this summer. Speaking of rain, we could use a little it’s been almost 2 weeks now and getting a little dry. I know there is no pleasing us farmers either too much rain or not enough. We will continue to make hay while the sun is shining and hope for just enough rain in between.
Planted this week: As said above the last of the potatoes, finally. We transplanted Sweet Bell Peeper Plants to the field and high tunnels, as well Jalapeno Peppers. A succession planting of cucumbers, green onions, and Asian Greens. One other finally and about time Green Beans, late but they should be ok.
In the shares: Kale (see the recipe for Kale Chips and Kale Pesto. Beets, Purple and Orange Carrot mix (half shares), and lettuce mix. Full shares will receive asparagus this week.
Enjoy the mild weather summer is coming.
Jim

Posted 5/31/2017 11:45pm by Joe Baughman.

Hi All,
I hope that you all enjoyed a great holiday weekend. I know I did. It was busy as we sold at 3 farmers markets on Saturday and had company in on Sunday and Monday cooked out on the grill and enjoyed listening to the race on the radio. We are still behind on our plantings and feeling the pressure of summer creeping in. The short week does not help but I think the break is good for everyone. I once had a farmer tell me if you ain’t behind you ain’t a farmer. I’m starting to believe there is some truth to that statement. With still 1/3 of our potato planting left, all of or sweet potato planting, and the entire winter squash planting we are definitely feeling the pressure. Next week the forecast looks to be a little drier and perhaps we can make some progress. Most of the crops we have left are the winter storage corps that help supplement the winter farmers markets that we sell at. Due to the wet springs we have had the past 3 years we have really struggled to get these corps planted on time. They are fairly large undertakings compared to some of the other succession plantings we do throughout the spring and summer. With a little luck and some long hours we hope to get it done in the next few weeks.


Planted this week: The 2nd third of or potato corp. we transplanted Basil, cabbage, broccoli, and dill. Seed were red and gold beets, radishes, cucumbers.


In the shares: Greens Salad Mix (a mix of lettuce, spicy greens, and spinach), Kohlrabi (see this week’s recipe), Asparagus (only the half shares will receive this week. Full shares next week) carrots, and chard for the full shares only, scallions (aka green onions), cucumbers and zucchini (we will be mixing these up a bit as we do not have enough of either for all shares, Garlic Scapes. If you are not familiar with these they come off the garlic plant. Dice them up and use them as you would garlic. They are milder than the garlic bulb/clove. See the recipes on our web site for garlic scape uses.


Enjoy,
Jim

Posted 5/24/2017 6:37pm by Joe Baughman.

Hi All,
Well chalk up another wet May. This will be the third May in row that we have seen excessive rain fall. It seems we just get dried out enough to do a little of something and we get rain again. This week was not a total wash out though. We were able to transplant what we are now calling the Bio Char Tomatoes. The farm has been working with Purdue University now going into a third and final year of studying the effects of Bio Char in the soil. Bio Char is basically charcoal, not wood ash, it is made by heating wood and other products to a temperature in which it chars without exposing it to open flame. The char is then ground up and added to the soil. In theory the Bio Char is supposed to latch onto other nutrients in the soil and slowly release them rather than the nutrients being leached away by rain and snow. So far the two previous crops tested for the most part inconclusive. I feel good that we will see some results this year with tomatoes being the test crop and also being three years in. Purdue has provided the farm with an intern each summer to not only work on the project but also provide a good deal of time working on the farm as part time summer help. This year’s intern is Lia BoBay she is an IU student. She started on Monday a beautiful day but still very muddy from the weekend rains. Today she helped harvest carrots and beets in the rain and mud. She hasn’t seemed to mind and has done a good job so far. Let’s hope with her help and a little luck we will have a good crop of tomatoes from the test plot that we all can enjoy. I will keep you posted.
Speaking of Purdue University, the farm is  working with them on another project this year. The project is a study ‘How to grow early cucumbers in unheated high tunnels’. Our CSA members will be receiving and enjoying some of those cucumbers in their shares this week. Cucumbers are very cold sensitive and need warm weather to grow. Typically they must stay above 50 degrees to survive let alone thrive. We are studying using a grafted cucumber plant. The cucumber plant is actually grafted onto a hardy Chinese squash root. We planted the cucumbers in late March in our high tunnel and have been harvesting them now for three weeks. This would be three weeks earlier than normal. I think the study shows good promise for early cucumbers. Early fresh organic cucumbers can be sold at a premium at the farmers’ markets. So far so good!
Planted this week: We transplanted the Bio Char Tomatoes to the field. Chip and Dayton were also able to transplant our large Heirloom Tomato field planting over 600 plants. The conditions were not ideal but they got it done. Cabbage, fall tomatoes, and cucumbers were all seeded in pots for future transplanting.
In this week’s share: Fresh Carrots (finally - they seem to take forever), Beets, Kale, Lettuce Mix, and Cucumbers. *This week’s storage tip: If you receive fresh root vegetable with the tops on them and wish to store them for future use, remove the tops and place the root vegetable in a plastic bag before storing in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Don’t forget that most of the green tops from these vegetables are edible. Beet, carrot, radish, and onion tops are all edible and will also store well in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Enjoy,
Jim

Posted 5/17/2017 7:39pm by Joe Baughman.

Once again as I am writing this newsletter blog we are faced with high winds and thunderstorms in the forecast. I actually can hear thunder rumbling in the distance. Today has been extremely windy with 20 plus mph sustained wind and up to 40 mph gust. It brought back a memory of last week’s CSA harvest day that I thought I should share. If you remember last week in the area we had severe thunderstorms roll in on Wed evening into the late night. With that storm came a power outage, which we have quite often out here in a rural setting. When it happened late Wed evening I didn’t think much of it. When I woke up early Thursday morn ready for CSA harvest and the power was still out I got a little nervous. We need electricity out on the farm to run the well pump for fresh water. Went about my business and thought well surely they will get power restored soon and we will be able to clean the produce for the CSA shares. We started the harvest in a reverse order of what we usually do. Normally we harvest all greens very early while it is cool and they are still crisp, but we like to clean them in cold water immediately after harvest, this helps to preserve their freshness. So we went about our harvest radishes, onions, beets. Ok still no power so these items may not be too bad to send dirty but we still like to rinse them off. Eleven then twelve o’clock rolls up still no power. Ok harvest the kale it’s not too dirty and won’t be that bad to send. One o’clock still no power no water what are we going to do about the lettuce? The lettuce was extremely dirty because the storm the night before had splashed dirt up on it. We started scrambling Chip went and got his Dad’s generator maybe we could rig it up to the well pump and have water. As Chip pulled up with the borrowed generator suddenly the lights flickered and we had electricity again. Somehow we got everything washed and ready to load just in time for delivery. Let’s hope the power holds this week. We take a lot of time, effort, and pride to delivery clean fresh produce to our members and market customers. If you ever receive dirty produce from us you will know something went wrong. Let’s hope we don’t have to go through that again.

Planted this week:  We had a pretty good week. I spent a lot of hours on the tractor from Sunday through Tuesday evening working dirt for our field plantings of potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini. Chip and Dayton were able to plant about half of our potato crop and I hope to have them transplant heirloom tomatoes on Thursday while I deliver the CSA shares. Also planted were zucchini, onions, lettuce, and carrots.

In your shares: It’s stir fry week! You will have Pak Choy, Leeks, Asparagus, Red Stem Spinach, and Shiitake Mushrooms. No recipe this week. You are on your own with all these goodies. If you opted for the Shiitake Mushroom option you will receive them plus something extra this week.

Enjoy, Jim

From of the Fields of Freedom Valley Farm 7.26.17July 26th, 2017

Hi Folks,It seems to be that time of year where we are just going through the motions at the farm. Although we are starting to think about some fall and winter crops (carrots) and where to plant them

From the Fields of Freedom Valley Farm 7.19.17July 19th, 2017

Hi All,The heat is on. With temperatures in the 90’s the past few days and forecasted for the next several days we definitely know we are in the dog days of summer. So far the farm crew and I ha

From the Fields 7.12.2017July 12th, 2017

Hi Folks,I hope everyone enjoyed some time with family or friends or maybe just a few days off work around the fourth. I know I did although not a full week off we definitely enjoyed the break from th

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