May 4, 2009

CSA News for the Week of May 4th

This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Chives
  • Green Garlic
  • French Breakfast Radishes
  • Mixed Lettuces
  • Overwintered Spinach
  • Pea Sprouts
  • Red Potatoes*
  • Decorative Willow Bunch
*=not grown on our farm. See Notes from the Farm Kitchen for more info.

Farm Journal

Tuesday night. I’ve just tucked the last sleepy child into bed. I must admit to pretending not to notice their dirty little toes as I pulled up the covers and kissed their sweaty foreheads. After a long day of playing in the garden, chasing chickens and “supervising” the farm crew, we’re all much too tired to contemplate the bathtime routine. Back down in the kitchen, I pause at the window near the sink as dusk settles over the farm. Off to the west, I see Matt making his way back from the fields. If that old 1949 Allis Chalmers tractor still had headlights, they’d certainly be switched on. In the near dark, Matt guides the tractor into the shop and kills the engine. I watch his shadowy form as he proceeds to make his nightly rounds, first locking up the shop, then checking to make sure the greenhouses and hoophouse are all closed up, and finally, fastening the chicken coop door.

What a day! After three weeks of above-average rainfall, we were starting to get pretty nervous about our chances of getting the spring crops planted in a timely fashion. Today was the first day in weeks we’d been able to do much tractor work. With more rain looming in the forecast, there was no time to waste. Up at 5:30, and sitting in the tractor seat by 6:00 a.m., Matt was determined to make every minute count. Our farm crew rose to the challenge and accomplished just about everything on the day’s to-do list-- harvesting and washing the CSA vegetables; mowing off the winter cover crops; and planting kale, swiss chard, fennel, lettuce, and Brussels sprouts (see photo below). Tomorrow if the rain holds off we’ll plant leeks and onions. In the meantime we’ll sleep, relieved to have plants in the ground and content in the knowledge that we put in a good day’s work.

Thanks to all of you who’ve joined us for the spring CSA season. Growing your spring greens is a real pleasure, and we thank you for your support of our farm. Have a good week! -Peg


Organic Plant Sale on May 9th

The Prairie Crossing Learning Farm and Prairie Crossing Charter School PSO invite the public to their 4th Annual Organic Plant Sale. The theme this year is “Grow Your Own Groceries” from organically grown vegetable, herb and edible flower plants that will be for sale at this fun family event. Most of the plants for sale are grown by the students of the Charter School as part of their curriculum and 7th grade Service Learning Project. The Organic Plant Sale will be held at the shops of Station Square at Prairie Crossing, 977 Harris Road, Grayslake, IL on Saturday, May 9th from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., rain or shine. In addition to plants for sale, there will be educational presentations as well as crafts, kids activities, coffee pastries and more.
For more information please contact Dorie Roth at 847-548-4062 x 11 or

13th Annual Prairie Pedal - A Family Bike Ride on Sunday, May 17th

Celebrate open space and support the Liberty Prairie Conservancy’s land preservation work by taking part in this popular Lake County tradition—a bike ride through beautiful natural areas. Choose from a variety of route lengths, ranging from child-friendly to challenging, and be sure to swing in to the well-appointed refreshment and education stations. The end point features a scrumptious lunch, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and professional massages. Check in and begin riding anytime between 8:30 and 11 a.m. at the Lake Forest Hospital building in Grayslake. Walk-ups welcome. $25 adults ($20 by May 9), $15 ages 6-17 ($10 by May 9. Free for children ages 5 and under. Visit for more info.

Notes from the Farm Kitchen

Overwintered spinach has thicker and more flavorful leaves than spring-planted spinach because it gets planted in October and grows throughout the winter before being harvested in May. It is best used in cooked dishes rather than eaten raw in salads.

Most spring vegetables must be refrigerated in a plastic bag. Some items (such as the leaf lettuce) are bagged by us at the farm. You will need to supply plastic bags for other items such as asparagus and head lettuce. Keeping these items in plastic helps prevent wilting. If you’ve got lettuce or some other tender vegetable that appears droopy, soak it in cold water for a few minutes and refrigerate in a plastic bag until it perks up. On another note, we rinse the vegetables here at the farm, but you should wash them again prior to eating.

Arugula is a member of the mustard family. Its peppery flavor adds a real kick to salads and sandwiches.

Green garlic stalks are the immature stalks of the garlic plant. We plant our garlic in October and harvest the bulbs in July. We allow most of our plants to develop bulbs, but a small portion are harvested in the spring when they look like very large green onions. Use everything but the fibrous dark green tops. I substitute garlic stalks for garlic cloves in many different recipes since the flavor and pungency are very similar.

Use chopped chives in potato salads, egg dishes, salad dressings, marinades and much more. You can make chive butter and freeze it for later use by adding chopped chives to softened butter. Mold it into a rectangle (or some fancier shape if you are the artistic sort), wrap in a piece of waxed paper and place in a freezer bag.

This week's red potatoes come to us from our friend Brian Igl, an organic potato grower near Antigo, WI.

When pea shoots are snipped up and tossed into salads, they add the flavor of fresh snap peas. You might also want to try adding them to a stir-fry at the last minute.

This Week's Recipes

Peg's Green Goddess Dressing
Use as a salad dressing or as a dip for radishes. It's also great drizzled in a pita stuffed with lettuce and chopped chicken or turkey.

Spinach and Chive Tarts
Many different greens and herbs can be used to make countless variations on this recipe.

Potato Hash with Chives and Green Garlic
Top with a sunny-side-up egg and you've got a great meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... Popping corn, head lettuce, dill, asparagus, bok choy, winter spinach, curly endive, wheat flour and more!