Summertime Neighbor Sharing

9:28 PM Unknown 0 Comments

This past week has been busy with garlic picking and curing, along with the many other farm operations that support our presence at farmers markets, New Pioneer, HyVee and you can find our produce on the menu at several great local restaurants including Motley Cow, Trumpet Blossom, Salt Fork Kitchen, Cobble Hill, Palisades Cafe and Kirkwood Hotel's Class Act.  They are all doing really amazing things with fresh Echollective veggies right now.

The sunflowers are in full bloom with many buds yet to open and the bees from our hives are busy going in for some honey love. We have had some of our CSA work-traders out in the garlic fields! It is so nice to work alongside CSA members and get to you know you better.

Our neighbors at Green Share Organic CSA are beginning to trade with us some of their bounty as we have a lot of onions to share with them.  Feel free to check them out!

This week is the big downtown Cedar Rapids market and, as usual, you will find us there on 3rd street near the main stage, across from Zins.  As a reminder, Cedar Rapids CSA members will be picking up there. 

CSA boxes this week offer:

Garlic Scapes (good with practically every dish!)
Turnips (great roasted with potatoes or added to a potato mash)
Parsley (perfect for cold dishes like tabbouleh)
Kohl Rabi (thin round slices make great raw chips to dip in salsa and/or guacamole!)
Collards (great cooked or used as a raw wrap)
Broccoli (another great cold salad addition on hot days)
Red onions (small but mighty)
Candy onions (shiny and sweet)
Red potatoes (getting a lot of compliments on these)
Basil (caprese salad favorite when fresh)
Zuccini and summer squash (add turmeric to this steamed for a seasonal anti-inflammatory dish)
Leeks! (potato and leek soup with our garlic... heaven)
Rosemary (lovely added to said soup or with a potato/turnip roast)
Thyme (compliments rosemary very well and pairs great with fish)
Garlic (what much of the fuss is about. powerhouse herb)

We love to hear about how you are preparing your box goodies so please pass along to us anything you would like to share!  On facebook or via email.

Here is a lovely potato and leek soup recipe, which you can add red potatoes to for a slight variation using yours from your box! 

Compliments of: 

3 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, thinly sliced*
1 medium or large onion, chopped
6 – 8 russet potatoes, thinly sliced**
3 1/2 cups chicken broth (or enough to barely cover potatoes)
1 cup heavy cream
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste

1) Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat then add onions and leeks. Cook, stirring, until onions are limp and just slightly brown.

2) Add sliced potatoes to saucepan then pour in enough chicken broth to just barely cover the potatoes. Continue cooking over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Using a potato masher, mash and stir potatoes until desired consistency is reached. As you mash the potatoes and the soup thickens, turn down heat and stir frequently with a large spoon to prevent scorching on the bottom.

3) Add one cup of heavy cream (or more if you desire) and salt and black pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more over low heat, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and serve.

Notes: *Make sure to clean leeks thoroughly and slice only the white and light green part of the leeks. **You don’t need to peel the potatoes as the peels add to the rustic texture of the soup. But make sure to scrub them thoroughly and remove any obvious blemishes before slicing. Although we always make it with chicken broth, this can easily become a vegetarian soup by simply using vegetable broth instead.

< More tutorial is available on the website >

As always we are happy and honored to be your farmers!

Wishing you a joyful mid-summer,
Your Echo Team


Summer Endurance

12:18 PM Unknown 0 Comments

Although the land continues to provide abundance and works to respond to a crazy summer of fluctuating weather patterns, we are experiencing a difficult leg of the race.  Not down and out, just experiencing farm stress due to some crop failure and circumstances beyond what our able bodies and minds can save.

As we put deep trust into the land that we inhabit and farm, along with the sky shining (and sometimes down pouring) upon us, we apologize for having less options on our table this week. 

That said, we have gorgeous onions and garlic as we work hard to get it all picked and processed.  Our summer squashes are amazing and we have been getting a lot of feedback on the divinity of flavor in our potatoes.

“What I stand for is what I stand on."
~ Wendell Berry

CSA picks:

Lotsa summer squash... yellow, green and zephyr stripe (stir up the fry)
Garlic (and so it begins!)
Red onions (small and packed with flavor)
Candy onions (exceptional halved on the grill or roasted in the oven)
Scapes (yes, they are still coming... squeee!)
Parsley (far from just a garnish)
Red Potatoes (great roasted, carmelized with the onions, rosemary and balsalmic glaze)
Rosemary (place sprig under nose and inhale... bliss)
Mint (great in summer tea)
Cabbage (kraut anyone?)
Kale (always add greens)
Turnips (yes, you can eat them raw)

Quick Recipe:

Use squash/zucchini, red onion and garlic with butter/olive oil for a quick seasonal dish that is full of flavor. Here is the link for more instruction on sauteed zucchini and summer squash:

Special note to Cedar Rapids:

We will not be at the NewBo Farmer's Market this week but CSA members can pick up boxes at Greyhound Deli inside.  Thanks to our good friends who prepare some mean viddles and are there for us this week!

Thank you so much to all of you for supporting your local farmers.  We appreciate our relationship with you and the honor of being your farmers.

Much love,
Your Echo Team


Cool Breeze Pickin'

12:29 AM Unknown 0 Comments

What is "seasonable" summer weather in Iowa?  It is difficult to tell anymore but we can say that this week is surprisingly gorgeous to be out picking on the farm.  Makes us pretty giddy.

Cool, sunny, a little rain here and there...

So we cordially invite you to come spend a little time in the great wide open, rich soil of your local farm to help out with the launch of garlic season!  The weather could not be better and you cannot beat the veggie trade for your time.  This is really one of the most enjoyable aspects of farming for us, to connect with city folks or even other rural friends on the land that serves us so beautifully with the food that sustains us.

Zucchini is bursting to life for CSA and as a new addition to our farmers market tables.  The flowers are enchanting and delicious too!

Did you know that for Native Americans, squashes were considered as one of the "three sisters" along with corn (maize) and beans?  With powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, to mention a couple, this is food that heals and tastes great!  Entering CSA boxes this week!

The boxes this week will include:

Cooking greens
Bok Choi
Kohl Rabi
Garlic Scapes
Red and White Candy Onions
Red Potatoes
And you never know what kind of surprise finds its way in!

Garlic scape pesto is a favorite out here on the farm and parsley makes a perfect compliment ingredient.  Here is a very simple recipe that packs super fresh and vibrantly healthy flavor.

Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe with Parsley

• 15 to 20 garlic scapes, chopped
• 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
• 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
• 2 to 3 cups chopped parsley (or substitute basil or arugula)
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Combine garlic scapes, nuts, Parmesan and parsley in a food processor until finely chopped.
2. With processor running, slowly add oil until desired consistency is reached.
3. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Process until mixed. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Parsley contains more vitamin C than any other standard culinary vegetable, with 166mg per 100g (4oz). This is three times as much as oranges. Flavonoids, which make up the Vitamin C molecule, maintain blood cell membranes, and act as an antioxidant helper.   It has many, many benefits that you can read about if you follow this link:

Thank you for joining us as CSA members and/or farmers market shoppers.  We love to know you and hope to see some of you out on the farm anytime to do some garlic picking!

All the summer's best,
Your Echo Team



Blue Skies and Dedication to the Land

11:10 PM Unknown 0 Comments

Soil, rain, sunshine, wind, insects, deer, humans... oh, my!  

Thank you, dear CSA members, for letting us into your home pots and pans, blenders and juicers! Your stories and questions...

All the variables in this wonderland we call a farm keep us on our toes,
the sky never ceases to bring a never ending story.  And we watch... 

And we work... 

looking to the sky,
navigating foliage,
tracking animal activity,
weighing to pick or not to pick and how much,
treading as lightly as possible as we
may to give this land the time and attitude it needs
to abundantly respond,
as we usher growth in flood lands,
which have depressed a number of our plants.

We are currently on rescue mission daily,
with some of our plants,
as these conditions have honestly taken a 
toll with them.

The past couple of days have offered sunny heat, which we have needed so importantly as we work to keep plants from being completely swamped!  And boy, are they full of inspiring life so quickly, these past couple of days.  Thank you, Sun.  We cannot say what tomorrow or this next week will bring to a pretty suppressed land life force but we are on vigil. 

For now, it is not clear how viable our storage efforts will be if we are sacked with the current rain predictions while rebounding from the conditions we just got blasted with, but you know what?
We are giving the land everything we have and
keep our working spirits afloat. 

We forge ahead with some stealthy garlic for sure and fall plantings.  It will be a week to week kind of adventure as to what we can offer, due to this weather, we are playing a tap dance with transplants and trying to give them the best conditions we can.  The boxes are still packed full, though! This week's CSA will include but is not limited to:

Bok Choi ( we have carried this all summer, thank goodness, and begrudgingly prepare to wind down with this power house, staple veggie )

Garlic Scapes ( stock up!  they freeze well on their own and also in any freezing dish you want to rock into your freezer before it gets cold again... yes it is coming )

Turnips ( best kept secret of a stir fry )

Parsley ( super fresh, flying off the farm to all, restaurants, co-op and Hy-vee, but hey... come get some from the source.  We adore knowing those of you who show up for farmer's markets and the CSA pick-ups there.  Always a pleasure. )

Red Russian Kale ( this is rapidly growing in popularity to the denser, more familiar varieties.  gorgeous. )

Broccoli ( fickle plant, delicious and familiar flavor... Iowa grown?  summer CSA had been getting it steady! )

Cabbage! ( enough said! )

Candy Onions ( game changers:  shiny, sweet and charming )

Kale Varietal ( never enough kale, you know.  Ha, ha... )


Here is a fun way to play with some of your goodies:

Kale and Bok Choi Slaw with Spicy Sesame-Ginger Dressing

  • 1/4 cup raw tahini
  • 1 Tbsp. pure water
  • 1 Tbsp. light miso (preferably unpasteurized with live cultures)
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 cups kale leaves, firmly packed, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1-3/4 cups thinly sliced bok choy, packed
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 1 apple, finely diced
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts (optional)
  1. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well blended.
  2. Place the kale in a large bowl and massage it well for a few minutes to soften. The kale should take on a “cooked” appearance and reduce dramatically in volume.
  3. Add the remaining salad ingredients to the kale. Then add the dressing and toss well.
  4. Best served within 3 hours, but it can also be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. The slaw will release some liquid when it is stored, but it will still taste good.
  5. Enjoy!
This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop!

We are your farmers, as always, honored to grow with you,

Echo Team


The Waters Rise

1:05 PM Unknown 0 Comments

The wild storming and rising waters have increasingly challenged us here at the farm, even though we have miraculously avoided some of the more tragic damage and devastation of our surrounding folk.  We have been so grateful to be forging through a really difficult growing year.  We actually had an amazing lettuce season, which is winding down as temperatures rise along with the water.

When rain continually hits us, flooding the area like it has, the ability to address disease and critter damage is a much bigger challenge than even the normal issues we face, when committing to organic practices.  ( Lots of people hours. ) We cannot meet market expectations which would be ridiculously easy if we were to succumb to overt chemical methods, yet we have a much bigger picture in mind and heart.

We so appreciate our members and give great thanks to our land and all that provides us through this difficult time.  We still have a lot growing as we have really been fortunate too!  The onions and garlic are just all over the place, brimming with promise and early offering.

This week's CSA boxes include:

Bok Choi
Garlic Scapes
Kohl Rabi
Candy Onions (Sweet!)
And the always added element of surprise. ;)

If you are wondering what to do with these super shiny and fresh candy onions, here is a very simple solution.  No fuss.

Toss them on the grill.  My kids eat them grilled, stand alone!

Here is some guidance from Writes 4 Food, but I would like to add that I don't bother much oil or seasoning... these are really so lovely that a quick flash on a seasoned grill with whatever you are serving is pure magic by itself.

Thanks again for farming and eating with us.  We are honored.

Your Echo Team.