Tuesday, February 17, 2015

You, As a Food Buyer...

“You, as a food buyer, have the distinct privilege of proactively participating in shaping the world your children will inherit.” 

~ Joel Salatin

It is that time of year again already, to start the shaping of a new farm season here at Echollective and CSA membership is a big part of that planning process.  With many of our past members chomping at the bit, we have begun to accept membership applications for 2015 and applying is really easy.  Applications received on time really helps us to plan our growing according to demand.  For those of you who may not know quite how CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) works, check out Local Harvests description.  It is very thorough:  http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

Otherwise, kick off 2015 with us, your local farmers, and be a part of Echollective!  If cost is an issue, we do also offer work trade for a portion of your membership and you get to dig in and get your hands dirty!  If you are wondering what might be on the menu each week, take a look through our archived blogs from May - September of 2014.  We weekly send this blog out as a newsletter to our members with farm news, weekly box contents, farmers market updates and recipes.

All in all, CSA with us is not only an opportunity to participate in the sustainability in being a part of locally grown food but also supports our efforts at stewarding 35 acres of forested land, along with the 14+ we farm vegetables, herbs, perennials and cover crops with.  Your participation helps us to conserve prairie grasslands and habitat, as humans who care and are committed to them.  By supporting us as your local farm of choice, you are supporting sustainability in agriculture in your own community.  Thank you!

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”  

~ Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

We Love Us a Greenhouse

"Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too."
- William Cowper

Hello, friends and family!  We wanted touch back in with you to offer thanks again for a beautiful and bountiful year with us.  Can you believe we are actually getting ready for another season?  Yep, we start early.  One of the reasons we can start early is because of our high tunnel houses.  Before we got dumped on with mounds of snow, we were able to get a lot accomplished on a new and bigger one which will give us more yield this coming year!  

I love working in the hot houses, especially in the beginning of our growing season when we get started in them while the weather outside is a bit frightful.  The quiet, warm environment smells of soil and baby plants which is a heavenly perfume to me.  I always feel really lucky and look forward to getting in and doing some groundwork soon.

An update on the coming summer CSA season: As our pricing has remained the same for several years, we have decided to adjust a couple's share from $375 to $395 and a family share from $600 to $630.  It is still a great deal and helps us out with increases in our farm budget.  Thank you!

We will most likely be doing weekly boxes for sale in the spring but not as a formal CSA membership and will keep you updated when we get closer, as to how that will pan out.  It will be a lot like our winter boxes which we are just now finished with for the year. 

With much anticipation for the new growing season, farming constantly teaches me one thing over and over:


In the meantime, we look forward to the energy and communion of being your farmers for another year!

Jessica and Your Echo Team

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Turning of the Wheel

"In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer."

~ Albert Camus

As Winter Solstice approaches, we are offering a local foods box to our faithful CSA members of summer and fall.  Thanks again for a great year with us!  This offer is also open to the general public and we expect to have a limited amount so please let us know as soon as you do if you would like one.  We are partnering up with our sister farm Muddy Miss, along with Kalona Organic, to put together a hearty arrangement for this coming week and should know what the price will be soon.  Pick up will be at Tim's/Kirkwood School for Children on Thursday the 18th, dropped off at 5pm.

As for farm updates, the weather has been warm enough after that early cold snap for us to do some good work on more greenhouse development and we hope to have a greater capacity then for the coming Spring.  

Boxes will include:

Red Onions
Yellow Onions 
Diakon Radish
Pie Pumpkin
Kabocha Squash
Watermelon Radishes
Black Radishes
Sweet Potatoes

If that sounds like a good haul for your holidays let us know.

Here is a great recipe which requires mostly stuff from your box!

2 tablespoons butter or oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium-sized yellow onions, diced
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cup acorn squash, deseeded and cubed
4 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup pine nuts (pignolias)
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
In a large pot, heat oil or butter on medium
heat. Add garlic and onions and cook about 5
minutes, until onions are slightly glassy and
softened. Do NOT let the garlic turn brown and
burn- it will taste bitter.
Add in the carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes,
and stir to combine. Follow with the vegetable
broth, curry, cumin, salt, and pepper. Let simmer
on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring
occasionally, until vegetables have become soft
enough to poke through with a wooden spoon.
While soup cooks, combine the pine nuts and
water in a high-speed blender until creamy. Set
When soup is ready, let cool a bit, then
blend using an immersion blender, or in batches using
a high-speed blender. Blend until completely
puréed. At this point, you can mix the pine nut
cream into the soup OR serve it in bowls,
adding the pine nut cream to each bowl
individually (our preference and how we did it in
the photos). Sprinkle each serving liberally
with cilantro, and enjoy! 
Makes 10-12 servings. 
Freezes well, and keeps in the fridge, covered,
for about a week. Feel free to half the recipe for
a 4-6 serving portion.
Check this recipe out online, compliments of fettlevegan.com

Sending the warmest of wishes your way and as we are full of thanks for our lovely community.

Your Echo Team 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gratitude: It Has Been Rad(ish)

"Radishes grow just about anywhere. People think, 'Oh it's just a radish.' But radishes are delicious, and people don't think of cooking them."

~ Emeril Lagasse

(Black Spanish Radish)

First this week, we want to thank all our CSA members for putting your faith in us and this Iowa prairie land to feed you and yours.  This pick-up will be the final of the fall sequence and we are happy to report that you are still getting greens!  We also want to thank Tim Tabor and the Kirkwood School for Children for providing us all with a meeting place in town to exchange with as much ease as possible.  It is with deep gratitude that we end out this round of community supported agriculture.  We are by no means calling it quits for the year, though, and will be offering boxes on a weekly basis so keep your stoves ready for what that will entail.  More info on that to come soon.

So, the Black Spanish Radish.  Some of you have asked us what the heck they are and what you should do with these exotic beauties.  They are a delicious and easy to use radish, just like any of the others we offer and are great raw or cooked.  If you don't want to get too complicated, they are easily diced and added to a potato roast for added interest in flavor and texture or they can be roasted on their own with a little oil and salt/pepper.  They can certainly stand on their own as a side dish.  

This week you will get black radish, diakon radish, watermelon radish and potatoes so you could easily do a medley roast and keep it simple.  If you want something a bit more adventurous we suggest you try healing pickles.  It is still fairly easy, fun and healing!

Healing Pickles (Shiver Me Liver Pickles)
  • 3-4 watermelon radishes
  • 2 black radishes
  • 1 daikon
  • 2 inches turmeric root
  • 1 thin burdock root
  • 2 cups of brine (1 tablespoon of salt dissolved in 2 cups of room temperature water)
  1. Slice all veggies to about 1/3 of an inch (~1 cm) thick
  2. layer them into a quart jar until you are just below the shoulders of the jar
  3. Pour brine over and weight your veggies down, using either the ghetto jar method, some jar weights or another method of your choice.
  4. Allow to ferment for 2 weeks.  The brine will become gorgeous within a couple hours.
  5. Remove weights once you’re happy with the acidity level, put a lid on it and stick it in the fridge.
For more guidance and inspiration you can check this out at phickle.com.

They also provide detailed info on pickling and fermenting in general with the following link:


"Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute."

~ Wendell Berry

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Still Going Strong

"Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing."

~ Helen Keller

(Sunset on the farm)

This is my first year at the farm and I am many things all at once but you could call it humbled to be succinct.  It amazes me to witness and participate in how growing food for locals is this amazing dance of being super present to current conditions and drawing upon past experience while forward thinking at all times.  If I were not working with people, especially Derek Roller and Will Lorentzen, who know how to do this, working with all the foreseeable and unexpected together, I would have nothing to share here because I only type that we have LOTS of vegetables to offer our CSA members this week because they are so committed to and good at what they do.  I am learning so much.

As the weather turns toward bitter and biting, we still have some great local food to give our community and it is always something I am honored to be a part of but it is during this time especially that I become reflective as we still press on.  We could stop now but it is in the extra mile that one can really appreciate endurance.

This week we are finally seeing a a little less greens going into the boxes and for mid-November, that is pretty darn good!  We still have greens, lovely spinach and also lots of winter squash, garlic, onions... considering all we faced this year with flooding conditions along with nowhere even close to tomato favoring weather.  We even have heirlooms to offer still!

Here you go:

Red Onions
Yellow Onions
Diakon Radish
Pie Pumpkin
Butternut Squash
Bunched Spinach
Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Watermelon Radishes
Black Radishes

*Due to the freezing cold temps, CSA pick up at the Kirkwood School for Children has a slight change to it.  You will still pick up there but instead of your goods being on the deck, you can go one step further from the deck and into the mudroom door where your boxes will be.*

Most of our members know and appreciate that they can leave their used boxes at the drop off site for reuse but we would like to remind you all that now we are back to boxes full time, please return them.  We make good use of them and you sleep better at night knowing that.  

Also of note:  You may have two boxes this week since you are getting two winter squashes which take up a lot of space.  So please look closely to see if you have a second box with your name on it.  It will be with your primary box.  Just make sure you are looking for it.

If anyone has troubles or questions let us know!

Otherwise, here is a yummy way to cook some of your goodies:

You can do this with butternut squash or pie pumpkin.  The link provided offers this as a pie, which I have adapted and made but used the extra in little ramekins and fell in love with.  So I offer this adaptation for ramekins but you can easily make a pie with this filling.

  • 1 large butternut squash or pie pumpkin , cooked and pureed, about 1 1/2 cups pureed squash
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk or half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
I substitute the butter with coconut oil and use whatever milk I have on hand.  I also use a thickening rice flour instead of all purpose.  AND....

Really importantly, I do not puree anything unless I am making baby food.  I enjoy this with a hand beaten texture.  Do what you prefer.

To cook squash:

Cut the squash in half lengthwise; remove stem and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side down, on a foil-lined oiled baking pan; add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 400° for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the squash is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Let cool completely then peel and mash or puree the squash or put it through a food mill.

Measure 1 1/2 cups of the squash and set aside.

Reduce oven to 350° F and position an oven rack in the center of the oven. In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat the squash with the brown sugar. Add eggs, evaporated milk, spices salt, flour, butter, and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pour the filling into the chilled pie and place on the center oven rack. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until set. Check after about 35 minutes and loosely set a ring of foil or a pie crust protector over the browned crust so it won't get too dark. When the filling is set, transfer the pie to a rack to cool. Serve just warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped topping or whipped cream.

Via: Southernfood.comhttp://southernfood.about.com/od/pierecipes/r/r71128d.htm

Wishing you all wellness for you and yours this season of giving thanks.  We are grateful to be your farmer.

Your Echo Team

"It is simple... go the extra mile and you stand out from the crowd."
 ~ Robin Crow