First Market Coming Soon

4:54 PM Adrian 1 Comments

Hello Echollective followers!  Hope you all are doing well.  As of this minute, it is pouring outside out here in Mechanicsville.  We've been getting so much rain lately!  It's really taken a weight off our shoulders not having to run around and water our outdoor plants, and even for a few days afterward (especially if it's cloudy!) we still don't need to worry about them.  Mama nature does the work for us.  Still gotta water the plants and flats that are indoors and in greenhouses, though.  However, in between these storms its been getting so warm, we gotta rush to make sure that we retain that moisture level!

We are looking forward to the first Iowa City Downtown Farmer's Market this year!  Happenin' this Wednesday and Saturday, lasting all the way until October.  We hope to see you all there, and will be bringing a bunch of good stuff!!!!

Summer CSA is still going and open.  You can still sign up if you're interested.

Our new Spring CSA is coming along nicely, we're getting between 25-30 folks each week wanting a family or couple box!  Last week's consisted of braising and salad mixes, a bunch of radishes, kale and asparagus, spinach, green garlic, and more.  Feel free to contact us for a box and take part in our Spring CSA!  So far it's mostly been on a week-to-week basis for most, though we have a few people who've signed up for the full 6 weeks.  Contact Derek Roller directly to participate, whether you would like just one box to start, or the full six weeks.  Spring CSA Info and costs can be found by clicking the tab above.   

If you are joining late we can always give you a pro-rated cost!

What you Spring CSA'ers can expect in our next box:
  • Cilantro bunch
  • Spinach (bunch or bag...)
  • Green garlic
  • Asparagus bunch
  • Leeks
  • Mint bunch
  • Spring radish bunch
  • Rhubarb
  • Parsley bunch
  • Pac choi head
  • Lettuce (most likely head lettuce...maybe salad mix, but we might have sold out...)

Along with the farm experiencing lotsa rain, and lotsa salad mix sales....we've also received lotsa....noise?  I'm not talking strictly thunderstorms, but we've had a couple real low-flying military planes heading over the farm...pretty normal actually, since Air Force seems to have a steady route overhead here.  It's not uncommon to see an Apache or a Chinook helicopter out here.  But these planes flew so low that it was incredibly noisy for a while, and....well, we could tell exactly what kind of planes they were, and that they were indeed Air Force One planes.  So...apparently President Obama got a really good glimpse of what we're up to here on his way into Iowa City, I hope he was real proud and that his stomach grumbled a few times.  Maybe he'll hit is up for some salad mix next week, get a chianti and some vinaigrette and have a romantic date with Michelle.  I mean, those planes flew so low and so close, he could've seen how truly beautiful and delicious all of our produce truly is, and in startling detail.

As Spring continues, there is still a lot going on.   Potatoes have begun to sprout as a result of the rain.  The garlic is bigger and taller.  We're pulling up our first big pac choi heads, and our over-wintered leeks are huge...they will be featured in the next CSA box!  Soon we will pull our huge New Red Fire lettuce heads also, they are all green, pink, and red.  Arugula is getting big...almost there!  The ground has been tilled and amended by tractor as of late, and we've plugged in some kale and are readying to put in our onion, leek and shallot starts.  More kale and broccoli will be transplanted out into our fields soon, they are getting big enough.  We're making room for our quickly enlarging tomatoes!  Peppers and eggplants are on the way as well, getting transplanted into bigger containers.  Flats of carrots, parnsips, and celery have been recently sown, vegetables we did not try to grow last year!  We will see how they do this time around.

We've had several volunteer and intern inquiries.  A potential intern, Caleb, is showing up this week for an interview on Wednesday, which includes a two-week preliminary stay here.  He has worked on a lot of farms, so we are stoked to meet him, and hope he would like it here.  There are a few others who may or may not show up here....I believe we may be expecting a cross-country bicyclist and farming enthusiast to stop by here in May!  Stopping in by bike, of course.  We also had the Scattergood kids come out here this weekend by bike, part of their one-week long biking stint to different farms in the area.  They work for a day, and camp for a night.  Pretty cool thing for kids to be doing!

 Our two piglets (officially, Dr. Caporkian and Merlock) are growing steadily bigger the more farm scraps we feed them!  They have also grown really fond and friendly; in comparison, their arrival here made them a bit nervous and skittish of people.  Now Caporkian will stand still for a good back-scratchin', and they'll jump for joy and run around when they are approached!  (it's the food.)  They'll even let you pick them up!  Their menu consists of a whole smorgasbord of things, mostly of scrap that we used to just throw into our compost pile but is now put to an even better, more sustainable use: asparagus stalks, wilted lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli stalks, spinach leaves, old cooked grains, coffee grounds, egg-shells....they'll eat it all, and with a big "suine" (pig-like) smile on their faces.  Their pen has already been moved once to a new place in our plot where they can root around and fertilize the soil.  We have placed the small chicken tractor in their old spot, and the chickens are cleaning up any scraps and pests they have left behind.  In a week or two, those chickens are going to be slaughtered and dressed.

A lot going on...a lot to I've gotta get off this computer and back into the fields!

See ya at Market!


 Asparagus Spring Pizza (



  • 1. Position rack in lower third of oven, place a pizza stone or large pizza pan on the rack and preheat oven to 450°F for at least 15 minutes.
  • 2. Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons oil and garlic in a small bowl; set aside. Trim asparagus spears to about 6 inches long; slice any thicker stalks in half lengthwise. Toss in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 cup chives, salt and pepper.
  • 3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about a 14-inch circle.
  • 4. Carefully remove the pizza stone or pan from the oven and set on a heatproof surface, such as your stovetop. Place the dough on the stone or pan and brush with the reserved garlic-oil mixture. Arrange the asparagus in a circular pattern on the dough with the tips facing out. *(Add those extra veggies!) Top with cheese and the remaining chives.
  • 5. Carefully return the stone or pan to the oven and bake the pizza on the lower rack until crispy and golden and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce (good with steak or pork chops!) (

  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 8 to 10 ounces rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 pork loin chops, (each 1/2 inch thick and 6 to 8 ounces)


  1. In a small bowl, combine cherries with vinegar and 1/4 cup hot water; let stand 10 minutes to soften.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-low heat. Add onion; cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  3. To the saucepan, add cherry mixture, rhubarb, and sugar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until rhubarb has softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; keep warm.
  4. Generously season both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Cook pork (in two batches, if necessary, to avoid crowding the pan) until browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve topped with warm sauce.


The cherries can be replaced with other dried fruit, such as golden raisins; soften as instructed in step 1.


Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!



Spring CSA Begins!

7:03 PM Adrian 0 Comments

Spring CSA will last for 6 weeks, starting this week and lasting until the end of May. Sign-up is on a contact basis, please contact Derek Roller for a box! Phone, email, and Facebook are great. Couples share pays $20 per box as you want it, Family share pays $30; or you can pay ahead, $120 for 6 Couple boxes, $180 for 6 Family boxes. Derek has already been driving into town for the last few weeks and selling boxes to people on an on-call basis, and arranging pick up times and locations. Popular sites have been the Grantwood Farmer's Market or at Tim's Daycare on Fridays. Our Spring CSA is pretty much the same deal, although our selection will become wider, our vegetables' quality more mature. People have already been getting asparagus, kale and radish bunches, salad and braising mixes, fresh winter spinach, green garlic...we've gotten some pretty positive feedback on giving out early shares! It gives you something to get excited about until summer produce comes in. Everyone should get on board. We've been eating pretty well out here!

Summer CSA 2012 Signup is still open, but we will apply a $30.00 late fee at this point. We now have two new pickup spots available for selection during signup: one is at the Cedar Rapids Farmer's Markets on Saturdays. We aren't sure yet about dropping off there Tuesdays, since that may conflict with our Tuesday packing schedule. The other drop-off is available at Tim's Daycare/Kirkwood School for Children on Fridays, around 5.

We are happy to announce the arrival of some of Echollective's first farm animals! A small chicken tractor has been completed, and is now housing five fledgling meat chickens....and our two young pigs have finally arrived! One is a red barrow (castrated male), one is black gilt (unbred female). We're all still confused about what their names are? Dr. Caporkian and Merlock? Cinnamon and Strawberry? Or...Mulder and Scully? We gotta straighten this out. They seem happy! They get to root around like crazy and eat all our leftovers! We like it when animals are happy.

We've also encountered and welcomed some new wildlife....just today we found a nesting pair of pheasants! We had to put a stop on our mowing operation for a little bit to get our heads around what we were going to do about pheasants having a family in the middle of our field!

The start of the farming season is always busy...we're still plugging in baby plants and planting more seeds in flats...our tomato starts have become huge and will need to get in the ground soon. Our baby beets and peas are getting bigger! And as always there's lots lots lots to do, lots of yummy food to look forward to.

Keep on having a happy spring!


Peas, Asparagus, Potatoes!

7:08 PM Adrian 0 Comments

Hello everyone, the season is rolling up quickly to speed! Everything is happening in a rush and way earlier than any of us could have predicted. The air is filled with bird song, the weather is warm, and we welcome the intermittent rainstorms and thunder that signifies that Spring is here.

Asparagus shoots are poking out of the ground, our planted sugar snap peas are climbing up toward the sky, and our babies we planted (it seemed only yesterday!) are large and harvestable any day now! Fresh pac choi, lettuce, and cilantro is on the way to Spring CSA shares and Grant Wood Farmer's Market. We walk through our fields of garlic and remove mulch so their green spears can reach the sun. Sizeable crops of beets and kale are on the way, and our new spinach seeds are sprouting for yet another round of delicious greens. Our tomatoes have been re-potted, they are getting large! Peppers and parsley have sprouted from their flats. Broccoli, basil, and eggplant have been recently seeded. Just today, we got an entire field of potatoes planted! We have a lot on the way!

Spring CSA begins soon! We will have that up and running on our Small Farm Central page. It will be announced in an upcoming newsletter when that happens, which will be soon. For now, visit our CSA Info page for details on that. We do have some CSA boxes available right now. Contact Derek Roller for a share!

Summer CSA season is still open for sign-up as well! Visit our CSA Sign-Up page.

Along with our veggie products, we have a few other projects well on the way. One small chicken tractor has been mostly completed, and a larger one for higher egg production on it's way to be done soon (hopefully! The frame is coming along.) Tomorrow, our future hog farmer Will is heading in to buy the hog panels we'll be using to keep our pigs. A first round of mushrooms has been inoculated! You can look forward to getting your hands on some of those!

We've had a lot of people out to visit, work, and volunteer! This week we have had Stella from Cornell College stay and help us work, she is staying with us until this Friday. She is an exchange student from China who is wanting to major in Environmental Studies. We're glad she wants to dig her hands in the soil with us! We hope she's having fun, and learning a lot. We have also had Lisa over from the quaint hamlet of Cedar Bluff along the river join our team to help us out on our big order days! We surely appreciate her help too!

Oh, and by the way....barn cat Macy is pregnant again. We can look forward to more kittens!

Hope you are all doing well! We've got a lot of juicy food to look forward to: fresh veggies, gourmet mushrooms, farm fresh chicken eggs....and pork! (Um, actually, we meat eating farmers here will be enjoying meat CSA's. Sorry!)

Keep enjoying Spring while it's here!