Social Media + Chris + CSA = Mixed Results

just a few reminders


these are hyperlinks, click on ‘em


Garlic Harvest Party

Saturday 2 August

Open Invitation!


Mt. Pleasant Shareholders : BEWARE!

Some July Farm Photos


If you are not finding my (more than) weekly posts easily on facebook,

please Follow Our Website/Blog instead


So, yes, let’s talk social media… I’m sorta comfortable hacking my way through this new-to-me frontier. But it is just that: hacking.

I’m at a loss much of the time. But I do my best. Sometimes with mixed results.

I don’t use social media very well. Not according to its rules, social norms, mores… all that jazz. Why?? Because I’m in seriously foreign territory I venture to only now and again. I’m off-line 99.98% of my life (that’s a rough estimate, I rounded downward).


My face is currently pretty RED on facebook right now.

RED from embarrassment.

And a little RED, I admit, from frustration too.


so…. embarrassment??


Yes. I tried to create an Event, on Facebook, for our Garlic Harvest Party.

check it out: click HERE


I thought I could handle this. I couldn’t. I shouldn’t have tried even.

now it’s just sheer embarrassment.


I posted that Event on facebook lickety-split. I was pretty impressed by my fabulous efficiency. I figured I’d let that bird out of it’s cage and it’d just








See how naiive I am?


The next time I was at the Library to use the internet (99.98% of my time I am not at the Library), I was shocked. The Event had not flown gracefully. As a matter of indisputable fact, it nose-dived and crashed to the ground below. OUCH.

I tried to spend the 10 minutes before the Library closed to trouble shoot that crash and burn. I thought, as I poked around almost aimlessly, “Oh! Invite! Invite! Invite!” There’s a button there to invite. Check it out how handy. That’ll send the Event high off the ground and far into orbit. Gotta do it.

Well, sadly, embarrassingly, I have Zero friends.

I mean Zero. 0. Wow.

And it’s right there on the www for all to see. Wow.

how embarrassing

Though this did make a great story and a great teachable moment at supper time when I told the girls how much of a social misfit their Pops is on the internet. But that it’s still okay to be me. 

I told Kate, “Maybe I should delete the Event thing and just pretend I never tried”. She laughed pretty hard and said, “You probably won’t be able to figure out how to delete it.”

I decided to not even try today. I do think it’s kinda funny. Serves me right, thinking I know what I’m doing. Oh well!


Honestly, my infrequency on the internet really limits my capacity for in-the-exact-moment, spontaneous STUFF that social media seems to REQUIRE.


But, that does not limit your usage of our social media sites,

or does it??

maybe some, what do I know??


I’ve tried to pick a lot of people’s brains about how to better use our BUSINESS FACEBOOK SITE, or our WEBSITE/BLOG too, for that matter.


sooo RED with frustration on facebook??


One conclusion I’ve reached recently,

especially after talking to Ben C., is that:


if you are following us on facebook,

and you really aren’t ever finding our stuff in your feed,

Follow Our Website/Blog 





The Share Crate (formerly known as the Community Crate, the Grab Crate, the Trade Crate, That Orange Crate, Prince, etc, etc…)


the Share Crate


one of the many Share Crates, Thursday July 18

the other day I was working with Ila.

out of the blue she called this crate

the “Share Crate”

a so-much-better name than I ever could come up with: grab crate/trade crate/community crate. my naming efforts just pale in comparison.


here’s a short little explanation I’d sent out earlier in the year

regarding the Share Crate:


By the way, Tuesday I transported 6 Share Crates to MP! (many were stuffed full with broccoli, or scapes! also: summer squash, cukes, cauliflower, beets, broc, scapes, chinese cabbage, happy rich.)

 (For a CSA of our scale, most individualization might best be handled with a grab crate/trade crate/ community crate. These have been orange crates, labelled Community Crate which I’ve brought with me to the curbsides, not always, but often. We usually try to bait the crate with some extras, or maybe a few early or late-coming veggies (of which we do not have enough to stock each shareholders crate). CSA shareholders are welcome to Grab from the crate, or Trade with the crate (say trade your tomatoes for the kohlrabi in the crate (go figure)), or just Donate to the crate your least favorite whatever it is. It’s one way for You to individualize Your crate.)

The Garlic Harvest Party : Saturday August 2, 2014

I’ve had A LOT of inquiries:


How can I help?


When can I help?


I often answer very generally, “Whenever and However You Can!”

Or, sometimes specifically, “Tuesdays, after 12 noon.”

I do mean it. We could very well use your help. Whenever. However. And Tuesdays after 12 noon too.


this year


here’s my answer


at the

Garlic Harvest Party

Saturday August 2, 2014


(you can find extensive details by clicking HERE)


swier family farm garlic

though it’s so easy to, don’t sit the bench on this one

sitting the bench


July 15 & July 17 : Harvest Four

just a few reminders


these are hyperlinks, click on ‘em


Garlic Harvest Party

Saturday 2 August

Open Invitation


sometimes you might be tempted to sit the bench

sitting the bench

……don’t be!



Mt. Pleasant Shareholders : BEWARE!

Some July Farm Photos



 sample full crate: Thursday July 17

in your crate

salad mix

snap peas

scapes (final week)

chinese cabbage (see recipe below)


MAJOR broccoli (blanch & freeze! see usage below)

share crate: summer squash, cukes, cauliflower, beets, broc, scapes, chinese cabbage, happy rich


It’s getting to be that time of the season. You know what I mean: “That” time of the season. Enough time has passed, I can see some results, try to glean some conclusions, etc, etc, etc. And I really wanted to share two changes and two successes with you all. Actually it might be three, they’re so intertwined it’s kinda hard to tease them apart!

First, I made a very simple, very straightforward modification to our rototiller. I’d been thinking about doing exactly this for quite some years now, at least a few in a row. I knew it’d simplify and streamline things for our planting routine. I knew it’d be so simple, so minimal, and yet so effective. So I just tinkered with it in my mind (and now I’m wishing I had a picture of it on the camera to show you…)

I added row markers to our rototiller. Nothing revolutionary really. But such a great aid to just get ‘er done. So when I rototill through with our tractor and rototiller I leave two tracks right where we then need to plant. All in one pass. One foul swoop. Done.

This has both simplified and speeded up our planting process. With no real out-of-pocket expense whatsoever. WOW.


Here’s the result: very linear, very exact, very neat and tidy… much easier to weed frankly. That’s the point.

lhh garden, June 21 2014

This has allowed us to really stay on top of some of our weeding. No, not all of our weeding. But a good portion. A really good portion.


nicely, recently weeded.... so clean!


This is Lucky, our dog, looking for the next rain cloud. Never far this passed month.

Lucky, looking for the next rain cloud

We’ve not kept up in any way, shape, or form with some of our weeding in the front heavy clays. Our direct seedings have been surprisingly slow to germinate and establish. The weeds have not. The rains have come so regularly (and irregularly too). The heavy clay soils maintain such moisture that new rains, and heavy rains, and additional rains all so close create a very moist, sometimes soggy, slow-to-dry out soil.

The weeds are so opportunistic. Terribly opportunistic. Amazingly opportunistic.

The soil has gotten so wet, and stayed so wet, that we have often been unable to get into those gardens and weed. The soil behaves like a mud. It does not flow. Does not respond to the weeders “correctly”. It pushes or pulls instead. The weeds simply stand back up. The moisture’s enough, the temp’s so cool, the weed does not desicate, it just stands back up. And then it is stronger, bigger, gnarlier, a greater survivor the next time you can ever get at it…. This has been very challenging this year.

Two growers, both much larger, more equipped, more staffed have both re-planted because of so much water and so many weeds.


But, yes, I was trying to discipline myself to celebrate a few of this year’s successes. Let me get my head back into that:

The second thing I did this year, which I view as successful thus far, also has to do with the rototiller. When we purchased our rototiller, which attaches to our tractor, I purposefully paid a whole lotta extra money to get one with variable speeds. It has gears which you can arrange to modify the rpm of the tines spin. I just knew this would be handy, necessary, valuable, important, etc, etc, etc. Well, we’ve modified certain steps in how we work our soil, and how we build our soil through these years. Some of the changes have been especially noticeable in the last three years. I’ve felt the soils were ready for a much slower revolution from our rototiller.

I adjusted our rototiller to a very slow speed. It’s creeping. The tines revolve almost silly slow. (This is the feature I paid much extra for!) This is gentler on the soil. Less impactful. Less pulverizing (the main critique of a rototiller in the first place: too “violent” on the soil structure.) The rototiller is much more like a disc now, turns some soil, moves some soil, aerates, incorporates green manures…. just gently.

The third thing I’ve noticed this year is great improvements in our big hoophouse’s soil structure (yeah, that’s what we call it, our “big hoophouse”. Because, well, it’s big.) We’ve worked this soil and worked on growing this exact soil for 8 years. We’ve amended with many slow release organic minerals, with peat moss, with organic compost. We’ve even cover cropped with oats, buckwheat, rye, and clover (all at different times, that is). All according to soil sample recommendations. This year, this spring, that soil had some gorgeous tilth… just so nice. There was an airiness, a lightness, some kinda sponginess.

Really exciting for a gardener knowing that the soil is the basis of all growing!



recipe: Chinese Cabbage: Kimchi:

kimchi recipe

this is one chinese cabbage’s worth of kimchi – oh so yum!

kate's kimchi july 2014

this is a hyperlink to a scape pesto document: check it out!

Garlic Scape Pesto

graceful scapes



recipes, usage: broccoli


Thursdays Broc

Major broccoli week this week. Blanch and freeze your broccoli!

to blanch & freeze broccoli:


There are more than plenty of very, very detailed directions online. Check ‘em out if you’d like.

Here’s what we do.

Scrub and sanitize your sink’s basins. Pour salt onto the bottom of each basin, thoroughly. Run the water, COLD, and dissolve the salt thoroughly. Put all that Beautiful Broccoli in. Let the basin fill thoroughly with COLD water. Let it soak.

Start some water boiling in some big pots. Big enough to dunk all the broc, or big enough to steam all the broc.

Separate the broc into florets, or small mini-heads of broc. Look into the nooks and crannies, make sure it’s clean and free. Slice these somewhat smaller, into just bigger than biteful bits.

If you’re gonna dunk the broc into boiling water it’ll need 3 minutes blanching, minimum, in rapidly boiling water.

If you’re gonna steam blanch, 5 minutes, minimum.

Empty your sink basins and re-fill with COLD water.

Dunk your blanched brocs into the COLD sinkfuls of water. Soak. Cool thoroughly.

Bag the blanched, cooled broc in FREEZER bags. Or vacuum pack. Freeze!

This is just part of what we meant when we described extending your eating season. Also, extend your dollars and sense.




Broccoli & Tofu, in Spicy Peanut Sauce


Begin cooking your rice about 10 minutes before you begin your stir-fry.


for the sauce:


4 teaspoons peanut butter (or 4 tablespoons roasted peanuts ground to a paste in a clean coffee grinder)

4 teaspoons soy sauce

4 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili paste

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves


you also need


4 teaspoons finely diced fresh cilantro stems


Combine all ingredients for sauce, except cilantro leaves, in a bowl and mix well. Hold aside until the broccoli is bright green and just tender (about 5 minutes), see below. You will pour the heated sauce over the saute. Toss gently until everything is coated with everything else. Serve over rice.


The Saute:  


1 1 lb bunch of fresh broccoli

3 Tbs peanut oil

2 tsp freshly grated ginger root

4 med cloves garlic, minced

1 lb tofu, cut in small cubes

a few dashes of salt

2 cups thinly sliced onion

2-3 Tbs tamari sauce

2 freshly minced scallions


1.) Cut off the bottom half-inch of broccoli stems. Shave off the tough outer skins of the stalks . Cut stalks diagonally into thin slices. Coarsely chop floweretts. Set aside.


2.) Begin heating wok or heavy skillet. When hot, add 1 Tablespoon of peanut oil. Add half of the ginger and half of the garlic. Salt lightly. Saute over medium heat 1 minute, then add tofu. Turn heat up little, stir-fry tofu 5-8 minutes. Transfer it, including liquid, to saucepan of peanut sauce. Mix together gently.


3.) Wipe pan with paper towel, return to stove, begin heating again. Add remaining oil to hot pan, then ginger and garlic. Salt lightly. Add onions, grind in freh black pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until onions soft (about 5 minutes).


4.) Gently re-heat the sauce, just warming, no more.


5.) Add broccoli and chopped peanuts to wok. Add 2-3 Tbs. tamari sauce, stir-fry over medium-high heat until the broccoli is bright green and just tender(about 5 minutes).


6.) Pour heated sauce over saute. Toss gently and add cilantro leaves as you toss.


Serve over rice.


gorgeous broc


Attention: Tuesday Drop-Off/Pick-Up Site May Be Affected

Sarah Christiansen, General Manager at the Greentree Co-Op, has given us a head’s-up regarding some upcoming construction on Franklin Street… Seems there could be some complications with road access. This, of course, will be very disruptive for Greentree.


This may also affect our Tuesday CSA Deliveries/Drop-Off’s/Pick-Up’s.


This could be happening for upwards of one month, on and off.


So…. in the next few weeks, or more, if you cannot access our usual CSA site by car, or if parking on Franklin is severely limited, please head to the City Parking Lot south of the Greentree.


If you do not see me in our usual spot, please check that City Parking Lot (it’s across from the Red Cross).

let’s have that be our back-up plan!


And let’s keep shopping at Greentree, no matter some potential or occasional minor inconveniences.



Greentree - Our  Local Co-op


thank you too


Garlic Harvest Party : Saturday August 2 : Come One, Come All.


It’s a Foodie-Fest;

a Work Bee

& a Potluck!


Tenth Annual

Swier Family Farm

Garlic Harvest Party



Saturday 2nd August



9am – 5pm (or until done!)

potluck around 1pm, or so


Yep, it’s a Party and you’re all invited! Come one, come all, bring your friends and family! (no, you don’t have to be part of the CSA, course not!)


Come for an hour, come for the day, stay into the night! We’ll be visiting with friends old and new – getting to know our CSA friends better and better. You’ll see where and how your food is grown. We’ll eat around 1pm (or so). We can take a farm tour after lunch, if you’d like.


Bring an instrument if you’d like, and a camera. Please no pets.


bring some pruners,

if you got ‘em


(we’re often a bit short on pruners)

(see those pruners gripped in their workin’ hands?)


pruning off garlic necks, which year??

my Mom, Evelyn & Tim garlic 2013



If you have any questions or concerns, contact me directly. Need directions? Just ask. Don’t let anything hold you back from coming and enjoying!


(Come rain, come shine, come hot, come cold…. We’ve got plenty of large, covered shelters from the rains and the shines; nice places to take a break, have a seat, do some shade work, visit with friends new and old, eat some food, drink some drink.)

step out your car

take your hat off

stay awhile

(like Janek did!)


 step out your car, take your hat off, stay while Janek

or put your hat on

and stay awhile

(like Sirah does!)


Sirah, late May 2014


It’s a Potluck (around 1pm, or so)


please bring a dish or drink to pass!


Please bring a dish or drink to pass. This is one of the year’s best meals, guaranteed! (or your food back?) The food’s been absolutely exceptional, delectable, incredible and inspiring each and every year. Always been great company to share it all with too.

Bring any picnic ware you might have, your favorite drink(s), some outdoor chairs, if you can.


just a small portion of the 2013 food spread – oh my!

2013 garlic harvest party food spread

bring a smile

Sirah, garlic party 2013

bring a friend

chatting at the party, garlic party 2013

work up an appetite

plucking garlic from field 2013

work up an appetite

Airlia 2010 garlic harvest

I mean, you’ll work up an appetite!

what great helping hands from all! thank you!

and we’ll eat, of course!

garlic harvest party 2013

be part of the clean plate club

the leader of the clean plate club, Sirah,  garlic party 2013


It’s a Work Bee

bring your hand pruners!


our bees March 2014


Come prepared for the weather, whatever it may be, and for some work. There’s all sorts of work for all sorts of people. The harvesting of garlic, as we do it, is time and labor intensive – and we’re going to get it done!

We’ve got work on your hands and knees, standing straight up, sitting in a chair, and on ladders – oh my! I’m telling you, something for everyone!

Wear some work clothes – and bring a second (third?) set, just in case. Be prepared for the elements – and bring some hand pruners, if you’ve got them (to cut the “necks” of the garlic).

We are a working farm, and you will help us get this work done!



farmphotosgarlic10 020

David loving on the garlic

“You should market this as therapy!”

honestly, David said that!

garlic harvest 2012 001

farmphotosgarlic10 028

farmphotosgarlic10 014

farmphotosgarlic10 030


garlic harvest 2012 003

garlic before cleaning - 2013

workers in the distance!

farmphotosgarlic10 030

happy garlic day 2010

cured garlic - ready for you!

 thank you!

July 8 & July 10 : Harvest Three

cauliflower - kinda shy

in your crate


peas, snap or snow

scapes (we’re into the millions of these by now, according to Laura M.!)


chinese cabbage

salad mix

green onions (final week, for now)

happy rich


toscano kale

community crate: toscano kale, head lettuce, kohlrabi, happy rich, broccoli, salad mix, green onions, beets


toscano/lacinato/dinosaur leaf kale July 2014


toscano/lacinato/dinosaur leaf kale

One year we grew three types of kale: toscano, winterbor, and red russian. We nearly had a minor rebellion on our hands, a small uprising! Most years since we’ve grown one full-sized kale, one baby (or juvenile) kale. Last year we grew winterbor full-sized, red russian baby or juvie sized.

This passed winter I attended a small farm conference. One presenter sold over $50,000 of kale alone. She was what you could safely call a kale connosieur. She was also very opinionated. She claimed that if we were growing anything other than toscano, we were growing the wrong one. (Some of you out there might think even toscano is the wrong one!) Her opinion was all about taste.

I respectfully disagree. As far as we have found, as have other growers I’ve spoken to (we have no corner on this market), kale does grow a thicker, “tougher” leaf as it grows full-sized. Kale’s taste is definitely at its absolute peak in the cooler weather (early spring, or fall). It gets “sweeter”, and really nice in the cooler months. It’s a cool-loving crop. We do feel that most kales are tastier when smaller, more “baby-like”, or “juvie”. Smaller, younger, more tender leaves. As are many, many, many vegetables. So, therefore, we grow at least on full-sized kale, one baby kale.


recipes/usage : Kale


GREENS – KALE, CHARD, COLLARD, swiss chard, arugula, spinach

Info below gathered from From Asparagus to Zucchini MACSAC. 2004.

fresh, raw “greens”

  • wash well in cool water bath to remove fine grit. (spin dry in your salad spinner. dry is good!)
  • try a salad mix of varied baby greens with no lettuce at all, or dilute down a pungent blend by tearing in extra lettuce.
  • many salad greens taste excellent lightly braised, sauteed, or stir-fried. Watch out! They cook very quickly.
  • Use sdalad greens to decorate a platter.
  • Toss green salad with dressing at the last minute to avoid sogginess.
  • toss salad with your choice of fresh herb leaves, such as basil, cilantro, dill or parsley.
  • pile your favorite salad greens into sandwiches, tacos, burritos, or omelets.
  • cook and add greens to quiches, lasagna, or other baked goods.

cooked greens

  • be careful not to overcook. overcooked greens will be mushy, tasteless, and significantly reduced in nutrition.
  • greens will cook down approx. 1/4 to 1/8 original volume.
  • boil greens 2-4 minutes, or steam 5-8 minutes, depending on maturity and toughness of greens. watch for the color to brighten; this signals cooking is complete or nearly complete. colors will darken and fade in vibrancy when overcooked.
  • baby greens are excellent for sauteeing, larger, more mature greens for stir-frying – add them toward the end of the cooking time – anywhere from 2-5 minutes is usually adequate for both.
  • most greens are interchangable, though pungency does vary.
  • greens add color, texture and flavor to soups and stews.
  • serve cooked greens simply. Toss with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Or, toss with sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Or, toss with a lemon vinaigrette. Or, top with a pat of butter or totally plain!
  • mix greens into omelets, quiches, lasagna, and casseroles.
  • saute pre-cooked greens in garlic butter and onion.
  • baby greens make an excellent raw salad.

“Most garden greens love cool weather. They grow quickly and will be among the first vegetables of the season in spring and the final leafy ones in the fall.

Their vibrancy and freshness are a gift of flavor and health. Greens are packed with nutrition. Properly prepared, greens offer generous amounts of vitamins A and C, some B vitamins, and folic acid, as well as minerals such as calcium and iron. Greens are very high in dietary fiber and low in calories. In the health world, dark leafy greens also receive attention for their roles in disease prevention.”


kale, kale, & more kale recipes!

this is a hyperlink, click on it!


Christine’s Kale Salad

Little did I know how much Christine R. enjoys her kale salads, until one week she was willing to trade her basil (what!?) for kale. My mind was pleasantly blown. To be frank, she has been “forced” into this favorite kale salad by the non-stop frequency of kale coming in your CSA crates. But she now enjoys it so much that she’s “even bought some kale at the grocery store, and it wasn’t as good as yours, Chris”.

Thursday, on the curbside, she explained to Cheryl B. how to make her kale salad. I eaves dropped.


Rip and Tear the leaf off the stem. Chop the leaf very fine. To ease the inherent tough nature of the winterbor kale leaf, Poke and Stab repeatedly with a fork. Pierce it again and again, throughout. (Christine, did I get the sequence correct?)

Dress with your favorite dressing Now. The pokes and stabs will help the dressing “marinate” the leaf, infusing and tenderizing it.  (Our girls have really enjoyed Caesar dressing on their winterbor. Me too.) Store in an airtight container in the fridge, you’ve got salads marinating, ready to eat on a moment’s notice.



Salad Greens with John’s Oil and Vinegar Dressing Zephyr Community Farm

1 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup olive or canola oil

1 tablespoon horseradish mustard

5 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon honey

1 pinch salt

1 pinch pepper

salad greens

garlic scapes

Chop fine, one large handful (approx 10 stems) garlic scapes. Mix all other ingredients (except greens and garlic scapes). Toss scapes, greens, and dressing together. This recipe was inspired by Rob Summerbell. Makes about 3 cups dressing. (source: From Asparagus to Zucchini)


Green Gumbo: or, or “How can we eat all those greens!”

Tuesday, on the curbside, someone asked, “what to do with these greens??” Another shareholder said, “make some green’s gumbo”… So, here you go!

Cooking time: 90 minutes, plus 30 minutes prep.


4 cups vegetable stock

6 Tbs olive oil, or 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tsp dried  thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp  cayenne

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp white pepper (optional)

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, diced

2 pounds (about 8 cups) greens, cleaned, stemmed and roughly chopped, of any combination: collard, mustard, beet, kale, chard

1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt

ground black pepper

4 cups cooked basmati rice, made from 1 1/3 cups uncooked rice


Keep the stock warm over low heat in a covered saucepan.

Prepare the roux: In a large pot that will eventually encompass the whole gumbo, heat the fat over high heat just until either the oil smokes or the butter bubbles actively. Lower heat to medium, add flour, stirring til completely blend.

Stand by the pot at least 15 minutes, constantly stirring as it changes color from blond to a shade of burnt orange.

Remove from heat and add onion., bell pepper, and celery ( known as “the trinity” in Creole cookery), plus the garlic. Stir to combine, return to medium heat, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Slowly add simmering stock to the roux., while stirring. Bring mixture to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.

Stir in the dried spices and chipotle chile, followed by the greens, which will wilt and shrink. When the greens are wilted, add salt gradually, plus black pepper, then taste and re-season as needed. Cook over medium-low heat for about 40 minutes, until greens reach desired tenderness.

Serve gumbo over rice.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

source: The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook. Kim O’Donnel. 2010.





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