speak out, even if your voice shakes



speak out,

even if your voice shakes.


Many years back I was involved in many large, public forums throughout the state. This was through my efforts with Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. These were informational meetings to all sorts of civic and environmental groups. Also public hearings, on the record, with many Government officials, and large crowds. Even media.


The combination of speaking out and being heard publicly (even recorded!) is still both invigorating and nerve-racking.


“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind — even if your voice shakes”

accredited to Maggie Kuhn, an American activist.

Well, here’s my latest speaking out. With shaky voice. It’s got to do with my greatest challenge growing food in 2014. Check it out.


And, here’s your chance to speak out, not with shaky voice (but, of course, even if your voice shakes, speak out!). It’s your 2014 Veggie CSA Evaluation, Survey, and Feedback.


speak out,

even if your voice shakes.



let’s be honest,

sometimes it’s easier to just curl up,

cover our eyes,

and NOT do it!

eyes wide shut - our scaredy cat

A few less years ago I was browsing many on-line blogs and websites, looking for some suitable examples for our soon-to-be on-line presence. A friend in upstate NY suggested checking out Sugar Mountain Farm online. Okay. I checked it out. I like what Walter Jeffries is doing online (and on farm).


I had some questions for him. I wrote to him directly by email (not via his blog). He gave me some great pointers. Amongst them were: “write to me via my blog, publicly, so all can benefit from your questions & answers.” Oh. It made sense. It makes sense. I’m just not usually quite that public of a person…. I mean we are talking the


world wide web!





could see it!


Still to this day, honestly, that seems more public than I might like, frankly.


I’ve had to talk myself down from the public-exhibition-cliff-side.


The internet is a tool. For me. For you.


It’s a great way to streamline communications. Efficiently.


As Walter Jeffries told me, www communications, open and visible to all, also can be a learning opportunity. In Our CSA Adventure, and elsewhere online, I’ve expressed how we tend towards the High Transparency level of the spectrum. As much as the medium (online) may not be my personal favorite, I know it’s a tool for many, many others too. If we can help and be a part of that, we’ll try.


In Our CSA Adventure I wrote, “Communication is essential in this process, especially to make it successfully satisfying. We all benefit from communication within our wider CSA community. Talk to us and others, and talk with us and others. We have telephone, email, the blog, facebook, the curbside. This is part of building and sustaining our locale, our culture, our health, and our lives! This sounds grandiose because it is!”


this season I’ve had a fantastic amount of mis-spellings

I didn’t know you could spell check an email!

boquet is spelled bouquet for example

how many years have I spelled bouquet wrong?

is that why it’s always been underlined in red??


social media has been the utmost of challenges

Walter tried to teach me some social graces of social media

I’m still largely lost


This season I suffered an embarrasment socially, sort of. My heart sank some. Some people don’t really have patience nor see humor in my lack of social graces on social media. Now I think it’s kind of funny. My family sees it as a great story to tell. Oh well. Check out my faux paux


speak out,

even if your voice shakes.




brussels sprouts

brussels sprouts - on the stalk yet! 2014

thanks to Victoria for this excellent recipe! Enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad-

Cooking from the Heart, by John Besch


1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

Olive Oil


Freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 tablespoons of sherry/wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a baking pan, toss the Brussels with a generous amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the sprouts are golden brown and tender, tossing occasionally.

Transfer to a large bowl and, while the sprouts are still hot, add the garlic, vinegar, and oils. Toss, sprinkle with more salt and pepper, and serve.

-Submitted by Victoria Sladek (Since I did not have sesame or hazelnut oil, I substituted vegetable oil and it still turned out delicious!)



some other recipe/usage ideas for those brussels sprouts


These are many Dad’s favorites – Brussels Sprouts! A whole cabbage in one bite – Yum!


“Some crops love frost. Your Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, and kale have gone through some hard frosts in the last couple weeks. This should sweeten them up nicely. The sweet quality induced by frost is seldom experienced in grocery store brassicas (cole crops), because they are raised mostly along the West Coast where the temperatures do not get that cold.” (Farmer John’s Cookbook. 2006. John Peterson and Angelic Organics).


Brussels Sprouts

  • boil or steam 5-8 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Eat tender, not mushy.
  • toss sprouts in olive oil, lemon juice, and a dash of salt and pepper, or top with a pat of butter.
  • Marinate cooked sprouts overnight in your favorite dressing for use in salads.
  • toss sprouts into hearty soups and stews.
  • try a puree of Brussels Sprout soup with snippets of fresh herbs and sauteed onion. Leave a few sprouts whole to float in the soup.

Sesame Garlic Brussels Sprouts :

MACSAC, From Asparagus to Zucchini. 2004.

1/8 cup soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoons minced garlic

3/4 pounds (wait for next weeks batch too) Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved

2-3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, crushed pepper, garlic, and 3 tablespoons water in a large bowl. Blanch the Brussels Sprouts in boiling water until partially tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain well. Heat wok or a large, heavy skillet over high flame until the air looks hazy over the pan, 3-4 minutes. Add a small amount of the peanut oil, swirl the pan to coat the surface, and add about a third of the sprouts. Stir fry until bright green and crisp tender. Drain on paper towels. Stir-fry the remaining sprouts similiarly, in batches. Add stir-fried Brussel Sprouts to soy sauce mixture and toss well. Serve immediately or allow Brussels Sprouts to marinate one or more hours before serving. Makes 3 servings.

Our Final CSA Veggie Harvest is Next Week (Oct 21 & Oct 23)

fall is here

view from back door step 10/16/14

our final CSA pick-ups:


Tuesday October 21


Thursday October 23


please return all crates,

please bag all produce this week,

and please complete your CSA Survey

take a look at

my greatest challenge this season


thank you!


1 quart pure honey, $15.00 ; Oct 2014

honey for sale to you



cured garlic - ready for you!


garlic and

winter squash

for sale to you


sweet dumpling winter squash Turk's turban winter squash Oct 2014 sweet dumpling winter squash - single serving- Oct 2012 buttercup & acorn winter squash spaghetti winter squash

The vermin are harming the farming

This season….


I’ve tried to stay on the sunny side,

 but there’s an underside:

 The vermin are harming the farming.


I’ve tried to keep it light,

but it’s gotten heavy:

The vermin are harming the farming.


This has been my greatest challenge growing food in 2014.


In 2014 we’ve had crop damage, by deer, unlike any we’ve ever seen. The deer pressure has mounted exponentially into this fall. None of our long-term, nor short-term, deterrents have worked (even well enough). Whereas our efforts to keep the deer out HAVE worked in the past (not perfectly, mind you; but well enough, YES).

The devastation of our field crops has become unmanageable.

I am certainly looking for some brainstorming on this. Both in regards to the deer, and to the solution.


I am needing us to put our heads together on this one.

putting our heads together

I’m calling on our community.


Crops outdoors unharmed by vermin:

garlic, parsley, basil, dill, cilantro


Crops outdoors harmed by vermin:

spinach, salad mix, stir-fry mix, head lettuce, broccoli, chard, kale, collard, radishes, snow & sugar-snap peas, edamame, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, summer squash, chinese and storage cabbage, kohlrabi, beets, winter squash & sunflowers.


Many of the crops listed have been limited by the deer damage. We’ve harvested less than our potential. Some have been absent from your CSA harvest, because the deer ate them all. Especially as we’ve come into fall.


Where’s the beef?


toscano, "dyno" (dinosaur), lacinato kale

"juvie" swiss chard June 2013beets and beets and more good beetsbroccoli October 2012

baby chard

aug 2013 sunnies red loose leaf head lettuce june 2013 green loose leaf lettuce June 2013 swiss chard   DSCN4610 carrts 2014

When I look at this in 20/20 retrospect, I pull my hair out by the roots.


 Year after year we’ve had great and wide harvests (though not perfect, mind you). Turns out, this has been literally impossible this season. The deer have been uncontrollable.


We cannot go through this level of crop loss again. I would estimate we were initially planting, irrigating, and cultivating 1.5 times as much as our harvests. Later in the season we approached 2x the effort per harvest. And, worse, total losses.

The total losses are after every effort, all time, all money have been put into the growing of these crops….. and then zero harvest.


This is unbearable. We cannot go through this again.

We can find a solution.


Though we will need your help, please.

I am certainly looking for some brainstorming on this: the deer problem, the deer solution, and how to “Get It Done” ( for example, communicating well with our CSA shareholders, proposals, potentially crowd-sourcing, Kick-starting, etc.) I’d appreciate any and all input you might have.


Likely this will include a Kickstarter-like Fundraising campaign,



For a big fence!


I’ll re-address this at later dates too.


thank you!

Thank you for any and all input.

CSA Veggie Harvest # 17 : October 14 & 17, 2014


a few reminders:


final CSA Veggie harvests Tuesday 21 & Thursday 23 October

in the meantime:


please return all crates

please complete your 2014 Veggie CSA Evaluation, Survey, and Feedback


now’s the time to shop:


garlic for sale to you


honey for sale to you




help and visits always welcome

October Farm Photos

Swier Family Farm Recipes Page

Swier Family Farm Veggie ID Page


this week’s full share

CSA CSA Veggie Full Share : 10/14/14

in your crate:


buttercup winter squash and sweet dumpling winter squash



brussels sprouts

sweet pepper


green onion


winter squash

usage and recipes


Turk’s Turban Winter Squash

Turk's turban winter squash Oct 2014

Sweet Dumpling Winter Squash

sweet dumpling winter squash

Buttercup (left) & Acorn (right) Winter Squash

buttercup & acorn winter squash

Spaghetti Winter Squash

spaghetti winter squash


Butternut Squash and Coconut Cream Soup

1 medium butternut squash (any winter squash)

1 cup coconut milk or coconut cream

1 teaspoon green curry paste, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds

olive oil

Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, lightly olive oil the flesh, and place in a baking dish cut side down.  Bake in 400 degree oven for an hour, or until fork goes through the skin and flesh easily.  Cool, then scoop out the flesh into a food processor.  Add other ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.  Heat, chill or serve at room temperature drizzled with good quality olive oil.  This would also be delicious with lemongrass.  May also be ladled on a plate and topped with roasted meat, cooked greens and roasted sage potatoes.


Basic Winter Squash

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Cut your winter squash in half, scoop out the seeds (clean and roast with olive oil, salt and a little sugar) and put the squash cut side down in a flat pan with sides.  Put water in the dish enough to come up the side of the baking dish about 1/2 inch.  Put in the oven and bake about one hour.  Checking to make sure you keep water in the bottom.  The squash will have brown skin and soft flesh.  Take the squash out of the oven and let cool until you can handle it.  Scoop out the squash into a bowl.  Depending on the flavor of the squash I sometimes add:


Salt & Pepper

Maple Syrup




Mix it all up and serve warm.

FYI:  I have also substituted any of our winter squash for the pumpkin in pumpkin pie and it worked wonderfully.


Cranberry Acorn Squash: Molly Bartlett, Silver Creek Farm

1/4 cup raw fresh cranberries

1 small apple, cored, chopped into small pieces

1/8 cup currants

1/4 cup apple cider or orange juice

3/4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

1/2 tablespoon melted butter

pinch salt

1 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed

Heat oven to 350 degress. Combine cranberries, apples, currants, apple cider or orange juice, honey, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Heat until berries are just tender. Place squash in an oven proof pan. Fill cavities with fruit. Cover dish and bake until squash is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Makes 2 servings.


Spaghetti Winter Squash

have pale yellow skin, oblong shape. The flesh of the squash is stringy like spaghetti! They are often baked or boiled and then the mildly sweet flesh is scooped out and topped with sauce.

To bake: cut in half lengthwise (the long way). Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place cut halves face down on a baking sheet. Add water to baking sheet surface, about half inch “deep”. Bake 350 degrees – until halves are completely soft and starting to collapse (45 minutes to 1 hour, size/ variety dependent). Remove from oven, Scoop out and top with a sauce! Yum!

Cooked Spaghetti Squash



Quite a bit of canned “pumpkin-pie filling” is actually one or another orange fleshed winter squash (not even “pie pumpkin”). So, don’t think I’m too nuts. Acorn-squash-for-pumpkin filling is fantastic!


Pumpkin or Winter Squash Pie

This is super tastey, use your acorn winter squash! So tastey it was gone before I could get a picture of it!

One 9-inch single-crust pie (buy it or make it. I won’t offer crust recipe here, my typing’s too slow!)

Use 3 eggs for a soft, custardy filling, 2 for a firmer pie with a pronounced pumpkin flavor. To prepare with sweetened condensed milk, substitute 1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk for the heavy cream and do not add white sugar.

2 – 3 large eggs, see above

Whisk in thoroughly:

2 cups cooked pumpkin or squash puree (see basic winter squash recipe on our website, use the search function)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream or evaporated milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Warm the piecrust in the oven until it is hot to the touch, leaving the filling at room temp. Pour squash mixture into the crust and bake 35-45 minutes, until firm. Cool completely on the rack. The pie can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Serve cold or at room temp.



this is Kate’s pumpkin (really WINTER SQUASH) cake – YUM says the family!


Pumpkin (Squash) Cake


super tastey, again, use your acorn squash!


1 1/4 cups honey

4 eggs

1 cup mild vegetable oil

2 cups cooked mashed pumpkin or winter squash

2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour (up to 1 cup of which could be whole wheat pastry flour)

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup chopped walnuts


8 ounces softened cream cheese

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Yields 3 9-inch layers

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly oil 3 9-inch cake pans.

Cream the honey, eggs, oil and pumpkin or squash. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and then add the wet mixture, stirring until smooth. Fold in the nuts. pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is done. Cool the layers on a rack.

Whip the softenend cream cheese with the maple syrup until light and fluffy. When the cake has cooled, spread the frosting between the layers and on the top and sides.



stock up & eat well!



now’s the time to shop:


I’ll bring these to the final two CSA pick-ups,

or, be in touch:


cured garlic - ready for you!

garlic for sale to you


1 quart pure honey, $15.00 ; Oct 2014

honey for sale to you



Sweet Dumpling Winter Squash, $2.00 each

Acorn Winter Squash, $2.25 each

Buttercup Winter Squash, $2.25 each

buttercup & acorn winter squash

Turk’s Turban Winter Squash, $2.25 each

Turk's turban winter squash Oct 2014

For some wonderful winter squash RECIPES

(including some scrumptious pumpkin pie and “pumpkin” cake)



please complete your


2014 Veggie CSA Evaluation, Survey, and Feedback



thank you!

2014 Veggie CSA Evaluation, Survey, Feedback

Swier Family Farm : 2014 Veggie CSA

Evaluation, Survey and Feedback

(I know, I know, I didn’t use Survey Monkey… I am just DIY.)

Thank you for taking your valuable time to complete this. Your answers will help us better understand your needs and how we might better meet them. Your frank evaluation is invaluable; don’t hesitate to tell us the “good, the bad, the ugly”.

Please return your evaluation, electronically or hard copy, anonymously or not. I will share results with you once I have a significant number of responses. I will then dive in with my own seasonal reflections (many of which are already somewhere on our Website). I enjoy the back and forth communications, and I look forward to your Evaluations.

My focus and my intent are to economize our CSA efforts and  finances. We are trying to “work smarter” as we “work harder”.  We continue to try to put our farm efforts where they best make most Shareholders most happy, contented, and satisfied.

Do you have a full share __a half share __ How many people eat from your share ___ Do you expect to purchase a share next year? Yes__ No__ If no, please detail (this could be a most valuable lesson for us):

Which veggies (that will grow here) do you most want from us?

Which veggies that we grew, do you least want from us?

The price you paid was:     A Steal     A Worthy Deal     Too Much For Too Little

On a scale of 1 to 10 (awful to fantastic), how have you found the veggie’s presentation__, cleanliness__, freshness__, sufficiently bagged__, quantity__, variety__, overall shelf-life in your fridge__, taste__

On a scale of 1 to 10 (no value to (nearly) priceless) how valuable are the flowers__the stand-by, familiar veggies__, the odd-ball, new-to-you veggies__, the Share Crate__, your families nutrition__, seasonal eating__, local food production__, organics__, diversity in your diet__, home-cooking__, cooking from scratch__, experimenting with new foods__ “knowing your farmer”__, investing in your local community__, sharing food, food prep with your children__. Did your participation in our CSA satisfy, or further these (1 to 10, “definitely not!” to “absolutely, positively!”)__

On a scale of 1 to 10 (no value to (nearly) priceless), How valuable is CSA communication to you__On our Website or Facebook, how valuable is our communication regarding: Recipes__, In your crate__, Notes about Veggies__, Photos__, Nutritional Contents__, Freezing/Canning/Drying (extending your harvest)__, Info about our farming practices__, How valuable is our Website__, our Facebook__ How important is an annual, on-farm event to you (i.e. the garlic harvest party)__ Work Bee opportunities__ No work, just a tour of the farm__ the “Community” in a CSA__

What would be your number one suggestion to better this CSA for you?

Have we met your overall expectations (1 to 10, not at all to very well met): __

Any other thoughts you might like to share with us?

Thanks for your time! Thanks for your honesty!

Please detail any of your answers. Feel free to include any other suggestions, feedback, constructive criticisms, questions, comments, inspirations….


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