21st Century Barn Raising: Summer CSA 2011 – Week 4

 In CSA Newsletter

Last Friday, we completed the final stage of building our hoop house at the home farm. A hoop house is basically an open metal structure covered in plastic. The idea is to make use of the greenhouse effect: sunshine penetrates the plastic, the plants and ground absorb the radiation, and then as the heat tries to re-radiate as infrared heat, the heat gets trapped in the plastic, making the space warmer than the outside air. In a climate like Wisconsin’s, structures like these help extend the growing season just a little bit.  Mike and I were awarded a grant for this hoop house, and we’ve been slowly plugging away at constructing it since the spring. With the demands of the farm increasing exponentially, we felt like it was now or never to get this thing done. Friday was the day.

the new hoophouse

Imagine an enormous sheet of super thick plastic, roughly 100 by 40 feet. Now imagine trying to pull this up over the metal ‘bones’ of a building structure… in a slight breeze.  Sound challenging? Sound like you’d need lots of hands? You bet.

With five of us on one side, and five on the other together we pulled the first sheet, and then the second up over the metal. The wind caught the first sheet a bit, and at one point 10 human beings were using all the force of their muscles and body weight to keep this enormous plastic sheet from flying away. There were some heroic body dives and creative burrito-ing of bodies into the plastic to keep it down. At one point, one of the worker shares called out, “This is like a 21st century barn raising!” Indeed. Check it out: the new hoop house.

Speaking of barn-raisings, our barn was finished this week as well. So exciting!!! Check out the before and after photos.  We want to send out a special thanks to Brings Building and Jetcrete for the amazing job they have done in building our new pack shed last season, and now the refurbishing of our barn.

the barn, before

the blue barn!

We were able to save the older part of the barn, which dates back to the late 1800s. The newer part of the barn has a second level that we’ll use for curing onions and garlic. It is super satisfying to stand in the barn and look out at the fields and feel the peace of mind that all of the major infrastructure needed for our home farm is now complete.  Seeing the patchwork of crops from up high is so beautiful. And then you begin to notice all the weeds, all the work waiting out there for you…. but I digress.

In your shares this week, you’ll find two new items: parsley and green cabbage.  Parsley is an awesome herb. Before I farmed, I thought of it as a garnish, but it is so much more than that! First of all, it is super healthy for you. It has lots of vitamin A and is local source of vitamin C.  It’s great for making salad dressings, throwing on sandwiches, and especially great for making pasta dishes. Like alfredo? Fresh parsley is awesome with it. Cabbages are obviously great for things like coleslaw for the 4th of July. But if you never tried just sauteeing it in butter, you are in for a treat! If you are starting to feel overwhelmed by your greens, think about putting up your spinach. Frozen spinach is a great addition to lasagnas in the winter. Click here for simple instructions.

'11 strawberry pick

Finally, thanks to all the members who came out to the farm this weekend! About 100 folks were here – our largest turn-out ever. Everyone was able to pick 2 full quarts of strawberries and some industrious jammers stayed later to pick additional for themselves. Seeing the fields full of people was a real treat for us. Making that personal connection to those who eat our food is '11 info tourone of the major highlights of the farming we do.

Thanks for reading and happy eating! Cassie, Mike, and Zea

In the Box:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage, green
  • Cilantro – EOs
  • Garlic Scapes Green, cylindrical, bunched
  • Head Lettuce
  • Kohlrabi Spiky, green or purple bulb
  • Parsley, Italian – REGs
  • Salad Mix
  • Salad Turnips
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini

REGs = Regular members only

EOs = Everyother members only


Summer Week 4: Wednesday, June 29th – Everyother Group B