Summer into Fall...

Dearest Eaters,

Whew wee! What a ride. The cooling grace of autumn has swept over the farm. While our heads are still buzzing and bodies still burning from the stress of summer, we are beginning to feel a sense of relief. Like most humans in these uncertain times, Farmer Dan and I are pretty beat down. The ongoing stress of Covid, the isolation, the kids at home, the absurd challenges and mini emergencies that are ever prevalent on a small family farm, and the constant work load has flattened our spirits. We aren't the only ones who hurt right now, and frankly we are luckier than most, so I write this not to complain, but to say "hey, you are not alone" - we recognize our privilege and position, we hurt and lament for those who have no justice, and we strive to make the world a little better...or to at least fill your bellies with some really good food!!

On that note, we'll be toting loads of Gourmet Spuds to this Saturday's Brookside Farmers' Market. We'll have four yummy varieties on the market table, including hearty quarts of "seconds" potatoes at a discounted price (they're ugly, but they taste great!!!). You can even pre-order 5 Pound Multicolored Potato Sacks online. I pack them in a complimentary organic cotton bag. Heck yeah!
To compliment your spuds, luscious Leeks will make their season debut, and you know what that means...
Time to make Potato Leek Soup! The recipe pictured below is the bomb. So simple, so good. (photo credit: Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes)
As always, you can show-up and shop the market OR you can purchase products online for market pick-up.

Not all our products are available for pre-order but we try to have a nice selection of offerings including our coveted PASTURED EGGS!
Pre-Order Products
*Orders due Thursday by midnight.
And now, how about a field tour!! I wish so much I could express in words the love and anguish that goes into our food & soil, but my brain is swollen (I'm currently trying to school my 9-year-old while typing this email) and the only word I can come up with has four letters and ALL CAPS. You get the point! Photos are my default, so get ready for a lot of them. After a glass of wine, I may come back and tackle captions!! Oh yeah!
Success!! The fields are weeded and thinned, and fall crops are thriving! Everything spirals out of control during the high summer harvest, and we've busted our butts to play catch-up these last few weeks. Now that the fields are looking good, we've moved on to mowing, fence clearing, and orchard maintenance. 
Believe it or not, these crops were close to dead a few weeks ago during the heat & drought. We don't irrigate at URBAVORE which is unheard of really. Instead we rely on our bio-intensive "low till" system coupled with heavy mulch to retain moisture. For the past ten years, it worked (but this year was a different story). I felt like a HUGE idiot as we spent hours and hours in the field with a tank of water, hand watering each and every row with watering cans over and over again. Can you imagine? We kept the seedlings alive until rain finally came. We pride ourselves on creating resilient farm systems that use very little resources, but man, after this year, I may have to rethink irrigation. Hmmmm...
Watermelon Radishes are coming!! All year long people are asking me when they'll be ready, and by the looks of these healthy greens, I'd say we'll have our first harvest in late October. They'll dominate the market tables through January. 
We recently cleared the spring planted beet beds, along with the White Satin Carrots. You can expect weeks and weeks of nutrient dense roots as these crops store beautifully in the walk-in cooler. We've got several thousand pounds!  I'm dying to try this recipe for Beet Burgers
After clearing the beet beds we promptly covered them with a silage tarp. The tarp kills existing weeds, and encourages new weeds to germinate then die in the absence of light. This process has greatly reduced our weed pressure on the farm which is essential to our continued success as growers. 
All three of our strawberry fields have been weeded and mulched! Woohoo! Big job (you should've seen 'em). Strawberries are easily our most popular crop, but they are SO MUCH WORK when you grow them organically without chemicals & plastic mulch. 
We've cover cropped many fields in the last several weeks. These rains have been well timed. The pigs will move onto this field in a few weeks to feast on oats, peas and sunn hemp. 
Our pastured laying hens have recently moved into the peach orchard and were lucky enough to feast on several beds of chard that we chose to take out of production. Good eatin' around here! 
The farm is ablaze with flowers right now! I wait for the Tickseed Sunflowers to bloom all year long. I've spent the last four years saving seeds and spreading them around the property. They attract hordes of beneficial insects, and they make me happy everywhere I look. 
Even our house is engulfed with wildflowers. It pays off NOT to mow. So much life and beauty is in the "weeds". 
We've transformed many fields into "insectaries" full of wild flowers and beneficial weeds. Many of our neighbors think we are lazy and trashy (as if we don't want to mow or keep up our property). If only they understood the intention in our actions, and the relevance of the results. It's lonely farming regeneratively in the city.
9-year old Percy has taken a liking to flowers (or maybe just the money he makes from them!). He's been harvesting these gorgeous Celosia and selling them by the stem at market. He's also cutting and arranging bouquets fro pre-order. He's saving up money to buy a video camera. He wants to make movies.
Little Solomon posing in the "Amazon Celosia". These awesome flowers attract humming birds. If you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of their emerald green buzzing bodies. Spectacular.
Hogs!! Who knew. We've been so busy this season, I've hardly mentioned our glorious pastured pigs. The heart-felt harvest is coming up fast. Such an emotional time. Eating an animal should never be taken lightly. We hope to provide some of the best meat possible, from some of the happiest animals. 
We have two breeds of heritage hogs this year: Berkshires (a favorite amongst pork connoisseurs) and Mulefoot/Tamworth crosses, which I'm super excited about! The Mulefoot is a lard pig originating from Spain. They are celebrated for their creamy, high-quality fat and beautiful marbling. The Tamworth is a heritage pig with a longer loin. The combo should make for incredible flavor & marbling, creamy fat, and beautiful bacon & chops. 
We have 22 hogs this year, so as you can see, our foreman has his hands full!
He's a real hard ass too!
Our hogs eat certified organic grain, and they rotate to new pasture every two to three weeks. We never administer antibiotics or dewormers. These lucky pigs get organic apple cider vinegar in their water to keep their immune system top notch. Better still, our hogs move onto fallow veggie fields seeded with nutritious forage. They provide fertility and nutrients for future crops. How cool is that?
And now for our trickiest crop: kids! We went from full-time school and childcare to zero help. Since March, the kiddos have been isolated on the farm while we work 80 hour weeks ("benign neglect" is the best way to describe it). We've decided not to send them back to in-person schooling and we've also opted out of virtual learning because we aren't huge fans of screens. We are between a rock and hard place, working insane hours and attempting to homeschool or unschool or whatever you wanna call it! I don't have the answers, but I do know that my kids are better off naked, running around on the farm than strapped to a desk (global pandemic or not). There are silver linings within the madness of it all. We are closer than we've ever been, and we've made some major breakthroughs with my son's anxiety and depression. It's rough, and it's ugly at times, but it's family. We'll launch into a more formal homeschool schedule once the frost hits.
And now, for some sunshine...look at this guy! This year has wrecked me, it's true. But when I'm really worked up about the farm and life, and I feel like I'm gonna lose it, I just have to hug this little guy and remind myself what's important. He's my sun, he's my light. It's amazing what love can do.
Wow! Field tour is finally over. I got carried away! Sometimes I just start writing these things and I never stop. If you're still reading, well, THANKS.

To all our valued customers & friends: a genuine "thank you" for your continued support through these crazy times. And another big "thank you" to our dedicated volunteers and apprentices who have tirelessly worked these fields alongside us. We couldn't do it without their blood, sweat, and laughter.

We'll see you Saturday for good food, masked conversation, and pretend hugs!


Farmer Brooke & Crew
Copyright © 2020 URBAVORE Urban Farm, All rights reserved.

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