Tuesday, June 25, 2013

WEEK 1... well worth the wait!

Hey Herbal Turtle members!  It's been a cold, wet spring but the produce is looking great!  Fortunately we have well drained soil and have not lost any crops to root rot (knock on wood).  While we are about 2 weeks past our targeted start date, we are very happy with the quantity and quality of the produce and feel that it was well worth the wait! 

We have a lot of new developments on the farm this season.  Our new walk in cooler is up and operational.  We are building a garden "shed", more of a tiny barn really :), complete with composting toilets!  Don't worry... the compost from these toilets will NOT be going on the veggie fields.  We also have some new crops we are experimenting with including artichokes, celery, and sweet corn.


Arugula - cooked or raw (spicy green)
Red Russian Kale - cooked or raw
Valentine's Day Radishes - cooked or raw
Garlic Scapes -raw or cooked, use just like garlic
Spinach - cooked or raw
Herb Mix: Chives, Oregano, Mint

Everything in your box this week should be stored in the fridge.  The greens will keep best if they are left in the bag.  You may notice some tiny holes in the kale and arugula... we can thank our little flea beetle friends for that.  Since we don't use any chemicals on the farm, we sometimes have to accept minor blemishes on our produce.  We promise it will still taste great and your body will appreciate all the good nutrients!  We have had a lot of hard rain lately and although we have washed (and in some cases triple washed) the greens you should also give them a soak and a spin in a salad spinner when you are ready to use them.  If you don't have a salad spinner we highly recommend picking one up!  It will make washing greens a piece of cake. 

Also, we realize we used a lot of plastic in this box!  We are really trying to figure out ways to reduce our plastic bag use but your greens will keep much longer in a plastic bag.  As we get into some summer crops our plastic use will go down significantly.  We are open to ideas if anyone has a few! 

We ask our shareholders to take good care of their boxes and to please return them every week.  We will post a video on this blog detailing how to break down your box so that it doesn't get too torn up.  Each drop site will have an area for members to return boxes so please bring your broken down box with you and exchange it each time you pick up your new box.

The pick-up sites and times are:

Winona - Bluff Country Coop, Noon - 8pm

Trempealeau - You know what's up!

La Crosse - Riverside Wellness Center, 11am-4:30pm (boxes will be placed in the hallway after 4:30pm)

Rochester- People's Food Coop (formerly the good food store), 8am-9pm

Some of these sites have a very long pick-up window.  We've said it a few times now but please keep in mind that the longer your box sits at the pick-up site the more things will wilt.  There is no refrigeration at any of the sites.   

Thanks again for all of your support!  We are working on building a sustainable local food system and you are making it happen!  We're looking forward to an AWESOME season.

Your Farmer's,

Bryan Crigler and Katelyn Foerster
Herbal Turtle Farms


Open Faced Grilled Cheese with Arugula:
Minnesota's Bounty
1 baguette, split lengthwise and lightly toasted
8 oz thinly slice mild cheddar, Colby, or Manchego cheese
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
A few handfuls of arugula
salt and freshly ground pepper

Lay the cheese over the baguette and place it under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, oil, mustard and honey.  Toss the arugula with just enough dressing to lightly coat it, and season it with salt and pepper.
Top the grilled cheese with the dressed greens just before serving.

Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
1/2 cup pecans
8 oz kale
4 radishes
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 oz of soft goat cheese, chilled

3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toast pecans in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring once or twice to make sure they toast evenly.
Wash your kale and let it dry on towels.  Then, with a knife, remove ribs from each stalk, leaving long strips of kale leaves.  Stack the leaves in small batches, roll them tightly the long way, and cut the roll crosswise into thin ribbons. Add the kale ribbons to a large salad bowl. 
Thinly slice the radishes, and add them to the bowl.  Coarsely chop the pecans and cherries, and add them as well.  Crumble the goat cheese over the top.  Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small dish and pour over the salad.  Toss until evenly coated.  This salad is great to eat right away but even better after 20 minutes of tenderizing in the dressing.

Radish Salad
A Girl and Her Pig
1/2 pound of radishes, topped, tailed, cut into large bite sized pieces and chilled
A small handful of mint leaves
Sea Salt
1 1/2 oz chunk of Parmesan, cut into slices, some thick and some thin
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
a small handful of arugula

Just before you'd like to serve the salad, combine the radishes, mint, and 2 healthy pinches of salt in a bowl.  Grab a handful of the mixture at a time and smoosh the mint against the radishes for about 30 seconds.  Add the cheese and go at the radishes again until some of the cheese goes creamy, some is in little chunks and some is still in larger dime sized chunks. 
Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss well.  Give it a taste, adjust salt if necessary.  Maybe some more lemon too, but keep in mind that although you want the salad to taste acidic and bright, the lemon shouldn't dominate.   Add the arugula and toss gently but thoroughly.

Herb and Honey Dressing
Forgotten Skills of Cooking
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp mixed herbs e.g parsley, mint, chives, oregano, thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

Put all the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Shake well to emulsify before use; otherwise, blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender for a few seconds.  As a variation, you could use 4 tbsp fresh lemons juice or wine vinegar instead of the cider vinegar. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

CSA update

Hello Herbal Turtle 2013 Shareholders!

Thank you so much for your support this season. As a society we are becoming less and less connected with our food. We have entrusted our agricultural system to larger corporations who place less emphasis on health and sustainability and more and more emphasis on profits. We don’t need GMOs to feed the world. We need to RE-teach the world to feed itself. Why should we trust companies driven only by profits with our food and our health? We believe that more small farms feeding the people in their communities are part of the solution. By choosing to support a small family farm you are helping to take our food system back! Thank you! We are honored to be growing your food this year.

As we’re sure you have noticed this spring has been a little hesitant to introduce us to summer! It has been a challenge and like everyone else, we are a little further behind than we would like to be at this time of year. The good news is that we have taken advantage of every window of good planting weather given to us and are pretty much caught up with our planting schedule. So far we have only suffered one casualty and would like to give honorable mention to the Bok Choy. They were good seedlings but got root-bound in the trays and as a result the majority have now bolted. They will be missed but we will have another succession later in the season. Everything else is looking great! While a cool, wet spring can pose a few challenges for planting, we would rather have the moisture in the soil going into a hot summer. This time last year we were way ahead planting but the warm, dry spring led us right into a summer drought. So while we may be a little behind, we’re still grateful for the rain! A realistic timeframe for our first box is the 3rd week of June.

We will continue to publish weekly newsletters which will include farm news, box contents, and recipes for you to try. In an effort to save paper we will post the newsletters on our blog at www.herbalturtlefarms.com but not in a hardcopy form. The blog will be updated every Wednesday. If you don’t have internet access please let us know.

Winona members, your pick-up site will remain at Bluff Country Coop in the produce section. We will have boxes there by Noon on Wednesdays and you can pick them up anytime between Noon and Close (8pm). Please keep in mind that the sooner you can get your box the better as things may start to wilt if left out too long.

Rochester Members, your pick-up site will now be at the People’s Food Coop instead of the Farmer’s Market. The market was a great site but did pose a few challenges. The new site will give members a greater window of time to pick up boxes and will not be affected by poor weather. Boxes can be picked up on Saturdays any time between 8am and 9pm. Again, please keep in mind that the sooner you can pick up your box the better as things may start to wilt if left out too long.

La Crosse Members, pick-up will be at the Riverside Corporate Wellness Office (RSCII Building, 2nd Floor - above River Rocks) Thursdays between 10:30 am and 4:00 pm. After 4pm the boxes will be placed outside the office in the hallway. We do have an alternate drop site in La Crescent so if you know that you will consistently be later than 4:00 to pick up your box let us know and we can arrange to have you go to the other site.

Trempealeau Members, your drop site is still TBA. The Simota’s were hosting the site last year but Katie Simota moved to Madison :(. If anyone is interested in hosting a drop site please let us know and we can work something out. We will call all Trempealeau members and let you know where to pick up your first box.

Please remember to return your boxes each week! The wax boxes are expensive so we only order what we need each year. It can cause a lot of problems if we don’t get them back each week! Your name will be listed on your box along with a color coding system that lets us know which add-ons you are supposed to get so make sure you don’t peel off the colored stickers :).

If for some reason you are not able to pick up your box please let us know ahead of time and we can make other arrangements. Any boxes left over at the pick-up sites will most likely be taken and eaten by employees of the pick-up sites! We cannot guarantee that your box will be there if you forget to pick it up. Again, please call us if you will not be able to pick up your box for any reason and we will try to make other arrangements.

If there are any issues or you have any questions please contact us directly. The businesses that allow us to use their space for pick-up have no other involvement with our farm and will not be able to help you. We love hearing from our members so feel free to reach out!

Thanks again for choosing to be a part of our farm! If you would like to volunteer to help with a project on the farm or just come and see where your food is grown please let us know. We would love to have you out! Looking forward to a GREAT season! Our contact info is listed below for your records…

Your Farmers,

Bryan and Katelyn

Herbal Turtle Farms

Bryan Crigler



Katelyn Foerster