Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eat Local For Memorial Day!

First off...
A great event coming up next Sunday (June 5th) from 2 to 5 p.m.  The Second Annual Slow Food Whidbey Island "Taste of Whidbey."  Whidbey restaurants and Whidbey farmers pair up to create a fabulous "tasting" that features the best of that local farmers and chefs can provide. 
Restaurants include The Inn at Langley, Oystercatcher, Fraser's, Gordon's, Christopher's, Whidbey Pie Cafe, Prima Bistro and Front Street Grill. Tickets are $30 and benefit SFWI. Tickets are available at participating restaurants and at Bayleaf stores. See you there!
Willowood Farm will be selling tickets at our market booths today at the Coupeville and Bayview farmer's markets.  This event sold out last year so make sure to come get your tickets early!

And now back to the farm...

What's a good holiday without good food?  And when that food is grown and prepared by your local farmers and bakers and cheese makers.  Well that's the making of a GREAT holiday. 
I don't know about you folks, but as soon as I get back from the farmer's markets today I have great plans for hanging out with the family (we are "camping" in the backyard this weekend!) and enjoying some of the fruits of my labor (or my accurately, vegetables of my labor).  I'm already getting hungry.
So what's on our menu for the weekend?  Well...I'm still working out the details, but here's a few things my mouth has been watering just thinking about...
* Peregion Beans.  This sexy little bean can go all fancy and dress up bean salads with it's striking mocha and black swirls.  But I admit, I'm just thinking about cooking up a nice easy pot of these, with a bit of onion and garlic greens thrown in for flavor, and then having it around to complement the 3 Sisters Beef burger and hot dogs that will be coming hot off our backyard grill.  Easy peasy.
* Garlic Scapes.  First picking of these for this weekend so looking forward to eating one of my favorite seasonal treats.  And these are a great veggies for barbequing.  Just braise them with some oil and throw them on the grill.  They are a perfect side dish for burgers, for fish, for just about anything...
* Maris Piper potatoes.  These are the LAST of the potatoes we have left from last years abundance (the new crop is just coming up!).  Luckily this Irish heirloom potato is a fabulous grilling type.  We only have smallish ones left (again, these are the LAST of what we have left!) but they still lend themselves well to grilling.  I think we'll probably boil them just slightly so they are a bit cooked, them cut them thinly and once again, coat with oil and grill!
* Popped Emmer from Ebey Road farm.  This is another great snack.  Just pop these on the stove top with a bit of oil, it just takes minutes.  Toss with some yummy salt and these are great for eating out of hand are for dressing up a salad with a bit of crunchy pizzazz.  
* French Breakfast radishes.  I have a new favorite for eating radishes.  Clean them and then put out some softened butter and some flavored salts (Truffle Salt is my personal favorite available at bayleaf stores in Coupeville and Oak Harbor).  Great snack and satisfy that "summer holiday salt craving" I always get.
* Heirloom Butterhead Salad.  This is the time of the year for some beautiful and tender heirloom baby butterhead lettuces.  We grow two types - Amish Speckled and Bronze Mignonette - both beautiful, sweet tender little wonders of the lettuce world.  They are so beautiful I like to just barely present them.  I wash them whole and then carefully cut the stem off the bottom so the leaves are loose but keep the lovely lettuce rosettes whole.  Drizzle them with a bit of good olive oil, balsamic, a very chopped up garlic greens, some fabulous Chevre from our Whidbey Island cheese maker Little Brown Farm (available at Bayview Farmer's market or at bayleaf stores in Coupeville) and French Breakfast radishes and voila - a beautiful, simple, nutritious and tasty salad dish!
* Two-toned spinach and garlic green frittatta. This is on for our breakfast menu.  A frittatta using some local farm eggs and our mix of two colors of spinach - our classic green "semi-savoy" spinach and the ever beautiful red-veined Bordeaux spinach.  Add a bit of garlic greens and a bit more of Little Brown Farms chevre and some sweet breads for Treetop Bakery (selling at Bayview farmers market and bayleaf in Coupeville).  Yum!
And of course there is more, like I think I might whip up a batch of braising greens (just think sauteed greens) to go with some nice steaks from 3 Sisters Beef and a batch of crispy kale chips for the kids and me (just chop up the kale, toss with olive oil and kosher salt, spread out on a baking tray and bake at about 400 degrees til the leaves just begin to brown). 
The possibilities are endless!
So, on that note...Here is what we will have at the Coupeville and Bayview farmer's markets today...
From Willowood Farm:
* Garlic Scapes - First picking of the season!
* Kale bunches
* Baby Heirloom Butterhead lettuces
* French Breakfast Radishes
* Mixed Salad Greens - lettuce and some other yummy stuff
* Spinach bags - two types of spinach in each bag!
* Braising Greens bags
* Arugula bags
* Pea Vine bags
* Maris Piper potato bags
* Peregion Dry Bean bags
From our Friends at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Garlic Greens
* Chives
* Napa Cabbage bunches
* Dry Beans - Rockwells
From Ebey Road farm:
* Emmer Farro
Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A pictorial essay on what too much water does...

It seemed strange with all the nice sunny weather we've had since Tuesday, but last Sunday's ginormous rain event left us with a lot of wet wet work this past week.   To keep this in perspective, our normal May average rainfall is 1.52 inches.  BEFORE last weekends rain event, we had ALREADY accumulated 3 inches of rain in May.  Then, in a 24 hour period we received 1.33 inches.  Even my sandy loam can't deal with that much water at all once.  So what does this do in real life for a farmer, well, they say a picture is worth a 1000 words so here ya go:

Garlic field swamped.  This photo taken AFTER pumping water off for about 8 hours!

River of water draining off the garlic field
Generator/sump pump/bucket in a hole of water set up

Water flowed like this for 2 straight days
What new arugula crop should look like
What 90% of arugula looks like after being waterlogged for 6 days. Brown sad, dying leaves.

So what does this all mean?  Well, not totally sure yet.  Will the arugula recover?  Maybe.  It might also just go to bolt  (or basically set flowers without maybe much of any leaves which is what we harvest).  Will the garlic be damaged - possibly.  So far haven't seen any signs but jury still out on that.  About 30 percent of the crop was under water like that so at least it didn't affect it all.  
So what to do?  What for the fields to dry out, replant and carry on.  It's what we farmers do...
In the meantime...We are coming to the Bayview and Coupeville market with the goodies we could harvest out of the not too wet fields including:
From Willowood Farm:
* Radishes - tons of them!
* Carrot bunches
* Baby head lettuces
* Spinach - mixed types
* Kale and chard bunches
* Braising greens
* Garlic greens
* Dry Beans
* Potato Bags
* Japanese Turnips
From Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Arugula (Coupeville only)
* Chinese Cabbage
* Chives
* Dry Beans
From Ebey Road Farm:
* Emmer Farro
Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Prairie Pantry

Introducing....The Prairie Pantry!
The cover and back page of the Prairie Pantry

The Prairie Pantry is a seasonal compilation of recipes, historical tidbits and (hopefully) inspiring notes from the farm.  We are now offering it complimentary with $10 purchases at the Willowood Farm farmer's markets booths at Bayview and Coupeville markets. 
It is our hope that this little journal will become a collected and handy tool in the kitchen (notice the ruler on the back cover edge!), a place for inspiration for seasonal recipes featuring the great veggies that Willowood is often bringing to the farmer's markets. 
The inspiration for the Prairie Pantry format was the John Deere farm journals I am lucky to have that were used by my great-grandfather Harry Smith in the 30s, 40s and 50s.  They were handed out of the farm equipment shops, a great little tool for a farmer to record planting dates, weather notes, harvest yields, addresses of buyers and contacts and whatever else might be of note.  A few of my favorite quotes from my grandfather's journals (and yes, he often wrote his own name into the notes.  Never "I"):
                              From April, 1936

§  27th - Harry S. Smith started sowing alfalfa on 27 April 1936. Weather very wharm (sic) and dry just one little sprinkle of rain during April.
§  May 3rd – Finished sowing on the 3 Mar the ground so dry when rolling would float out in front of roller
§  May 4th – to day May 4 rained hard for 4 hours
  Like any farmer, Harry spent a lot of time noticing the weather!  Too dry, too wet, too cold, too warm!
The new version of our "Prairie Pantry" focuses on recipes and uses for our great seasonal abundance.  Why?  Because we know that recipes and inspiration for using unusual veggies like Japanese Salad Turnips, or Kohlrabi, or Garlic Scapes are greatly sought after.  So...we are putting them into a handy-dandy little journal that will hopefully be easy to use in your kitchen.  We plan to put out at least three Prairie Pantry versions a season, so look for later ones featuring the height of summer goodness and then the fabulous fall abundance version. As we move forward with additional "marketing" plans for the farm, we will start also include the Prairie Pantry online on our website. 
But for now, stop by the market, pick up a Prairie Pantry and tell us what you think!
And of course...coming to the markets in Coupeville and Bayview today:
From Willowood Farm:
* Arugula
* Spinach
* Mesclun
* Baby Lettuce
* Purple Baby Pac Choi
* Braising Greens
* Kale Bunches
* Radishes
* Garlic Greens
* Mustard Bunches
* Dry Beans - Peregion and Black Cocos
* Potato Bags
From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Green Garlic
* Dry Beans - Rockwells and Tiger Eyes
* Chives
* Sage
* Lemon Balm
* Oregano
* Sara's famous pie (Coupeville Only)
And, Bayview only, Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods is bringing fiddleheads!
Hope to see you at market today!