News and Blog
Despite how cold the earth must still be, we are seeing signs of Spring: garlic that we planted last fall has pushed green shoots up through the slowly thawing, dark, caked soil. The birdsong has returned along with sightings of beautiful red cardinals at our feeders and today's rain showers will hopefully bring those May flowers.
In the greenhouse 350 + seed trays have been sown with 25,000 seeds in the moist warmth of the tunnel -- a shelter, whose thin plastic linings are just enough to catch the sun's heat and create an entirely different climate perfect for starting seeds. Currently growing are your broccoli, herbs, onions, leeks, cabbages, celery and celeriac to name a few.
After much research and due diligence, Dominic has decided on the Kabota MX5100 HST-50 horse power tractor as our next and much needed investment. Having our own tractor will help Dominic and his team be more efficient and self-reliant which will help us in our production and operations this season -- this is essential with our newly expanded acreage and growth capacity. The Kabota will go straight to work upon its arrival spreading organic soil amendments and phosphorus-fortified compost to increase the soil's health for the season.
Speaking of capacity... we have CSA shares available! Our veggie share options provide up to a 3/4 bushel weekly of freshly harvested, and locally grown, seasonal veggies! Prices are $325 and $595 for Half and Full Shares respectively. CSA pick up begins mid-June and goes through October, and we offer three pick up destinations throughout Barrington and Chicago! Sign up for your CSA share here!
Dominic in the City --
At Chicago's Good Food Festival and Conference this March, Dominic with Angelic Organics Learning Center's Executive Director Tom Spaulding, presented the Beginning Farmer of the Year Award which went to Tim Huth of LOTFOTL Farm in Wisconsin and Chris and Marcy Prchal of Trogg's Hollow Farm in Elgin. We love beginning farmers! (no, we're not biased...) The Gentleman Farmer will also be attending the CSA Fair at the Thompson Center (street level atrium at 100 Randolph St) next Monday April 7th between 10am and 2pm. If you work in the loop, grab some colleagues and come sign up for a CSA share with The Gentleman Farmer!
Get involved with The Gentleman Farmer! "Reap The Rewards... literally..!"
This season The Gentleman Farmer is offering 6 members the opportunity to "Work For Your Food - Reap The Rewards..!" The position is called a "Worker Share", and it works like this - In exchange for one morning or afternoon's work at the farm each week of the season, you will receive 1 full Vegetable CSA Share, worth $595!
But signing up for a Worker Share is so much more. For one season, you will become an honorary member of The Gentleman Farmer family, you will be able to watch and learn just how a sustainable, organic farm operates, you will spend active time outdoors, and you will literallyreap the rewards of your labor..!
While a Worker Share is not as formal as employment, neither is it as informal as volunteering - you will be an important part of the farm team and the commitment should be taken seriously. We expect the following of our Worker Shares: -
A commitment to work one shift every week for the 21 week duration of the delivery season (Mid-June through end October. A shift is one morning (7am till 12 noon) of a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday) -
Preferably, it will be the same shift on the same day every week (although this is flexible) - To know the work will include everything from seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing and packing etc. -
An understanding that while the shifts are short, the work can be hard, especially when the weather is hot. You need to be up to the task! -
To be a "Team Player", be organized, to arrive on time and stay through the end of the shift. - To be able to follow instructions well, and behave in a professional manner. -
To relish working outside on an organic farm, to enjoy, and to have fun!
Please let us know if you are interested by emailing Jessica with "Worker Share" in the title.
We're hiring! The Gentleman Farmer is looking for an Office Manager as well as 2 part-time Farmhand positions. Click here for job descriptions. With warm thoughts from the greenhouse, Jessica and Dominic Green www.gentleman-farmer.com
Its a new year, new field, new crops and new home! We are more excited than ever this year as we enter our 4th farming season. Having started our business in my mother's back yard on a 1/3rd of an acre, we have since seen incremental growth every year from our fields and yields to our CSA. When we began this farming journey our initial intention was to make farming a lifestyle, not just for Dominic but for our entire family. This year that plan will be realized culminating in the form of a move to Barrington for the Greens. We'll exchange waking to the sound of the traffic helicopter hovering over our home at 5am to the rooster crowing at any 'ole hour.
Since 2010 Dominic has been commuting almost 4 hours a day during his farming season which, as you can imagine, hasn't been the most ideal situation for farming. Finally, living within minutes of our fields will not only increase our efficiency in our work, but also set our farm onto the next stage of growth which we have intended from the beginning. While we will miss the city dearly(!!!), we look forward to staying connected to our friends and loyal customers throughout the season at The Logan Square Farmer's Market where we have been welcomed as a small farm vendor since 2010.
On the farm this year we have added a new 5.5 acre location on the same Barrington Hills farm, which brings us to 7.5 acres total under The Gentleman Farmer. The plan is to rotate cultivation within the 7.5 acres, 2/3rds at a time, using each of the fields for different purposes. Every third year we plan to allow 2.5 acres to lie "fallow". This practice is an ancient and natural method allowing the land to "rest" by planting cover crops or green manures.
The benefits to this practice are many, including but not limited to:
- protecting the soil from erosion and leaching of nutrients
- adding organic materials and increasing humus to the soil
- adding fertility to the soil (by planting legumes which actually "fix" nitrogen from the air and adds it back into the soil through nodules on the legumes' root systems, while other plants with deep roots pull nutrients to the surface from deep down)
- improving soil tilth and structure (by breaking up the hard pan, suppressing weeds through dense cover and alleopathy)
- attracting beneficial insects while repelling harmful ones increasing water infiltration while decreasing run off.
This rotation structure does take away valuable land from the profit cycle, but the long-term benefits of a healthy soil far out way any short term loss. Needless to say, with this expansion it is time to purchase a tractor. Yes, we've been farming thus far with a "walking tractor" and now its time to join the big leagues! In terms of how this effects our CSA -- we are aiming to reach 100 members this year. Quite a leap from our previous 40 member capacity. This year we are offering a limited number of worker shares*. We are also hoping to add in a second market, in addition to our beloved Logan Square Farmer's Market in Chicago. And Dom is planning to increase his variety this year from 100 different varieties to 138 including peas, pole beans, honeydew melon, romanesco cauliflower, celeriac, collards, rutabega and sweet potato to name a few.
In addition to the season's preparations we are continuing with our farming education. This week Dominic and I will participate in the MOSES (Midwest Organic, and Sustainable Education Services) Conference taking courses on everything from soil fertility to growing flowers for your CSA. And when he is not farming, Dominic continues to serve on the board of Angelic Organics Learning Center which is the mid-west sponsor and facilitator for CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training). AOLC also serves as a midwestern organic farming hub offering other amazing programs from bee-keeping classes, to inner city urban farming initiatives.
As we embark on this final phase of our initial "start-up" plan we continue to be so grateful to everyone who has supported us from the beginning. We want to thank our CSA members -- from our first year customers to today's customers; our market customers and The Logan Square Farmer's Market; our farming team members; fellow farmer's and farming mentors; the communities of Barrington and Chicago and their surrounding neighbors; our family, our coaches, and our friends. Thank you for helping us work toward realizing a dream and keeping it (and us) real.
"The moment one definitely commits oneself; then providence moves too." -- Goethe
With Gratitude, Jessica and Dominic Green
Be a part of this journey! JOIN OUR CSA TODAY!!
*For more information on Worker Shares please contact email@example.com
Dear 2014 CSA Members, Happy Spring!
With the early snow fall yesterday, it felt as though Old Man Winter was having his last laugh. As of noon yesterday, we have officially entered Spring and aren't we glad for her arrival!
Since the beginning of March, Dominic and Rafael have been busy in the greenhouse. Weeds had grown over the winter, encouraged by the constant warmth and shelter of the greenhouse. In order to keep the greenhouse clean and free of disease and bugs, all of the weeds had to be cleared out and the surfaces thoroughly cleaned before we could begin seeding. Now trays of parsley, leeks and celery among others have already been seeded. We will be working diligently to seed as much as we can in order to have it all ready for transplanting as soon as the last frost date.
In the meantime, we have had 32 cubic yards of organic compost arrive from Purple Cow in Madison, and it is patiently sitting under cover until the snow has completely melted off our new field to spread it. Organic soil amendments from Midwestern BioAg, also from Wisconsin, will be spread in order to balance minerals in the soil.
With our expanded field, we have increased our CSA capacity. Please let your friends and neighbors know about our 2014 Veggie CSA and invite them to join our farm family!
The arrival of Spring also marks the time for us to kindly request the payment of your remaining balance (should you have one). I will be emailing Status Updates which will show your remaining balance should you need a reminder. Please look for the Status Update e-mail in your inbox in the coming days. All payments can be sent by check to: The Gentleman Farmer c/o Dominic and Jessica Green 2041 W. Dickens Ave Chicago, IL 60647 Should you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact us by email at Jessica@gentleman-farmer.com.
Pick ups begin Mid-June, as does the Barrington Farmer's market of which we will be new vendors! Logan Square Farmer's Market begins in late May. We'll continue to keep you abreast of details as needed via the CSA newsletters as well as our seasonal monthly newsletter. We are so excited to feel and see the signs of Spring. Let the official countdown begin!
Jessica and Dominic Green
We've had a successful growing season this year. Thank you to our 2013 members for keeping us going with your support and enthusiasm! We are looking forward to expanding in 2014. Our CSA subscription will open to the public in January. We are currently taking renewals from our 2013 members and will then reach out to our waitlist in December.
We are grateful for all the enthusiasm that surrounds the local food movement and our CSA in the Barrington and Chicago areas! We only wish we could supply to everyone! Due to a wonderful rate of customer return, we had very few shares left to sell as we opened our CSA again to the public last friday. We were sold out within a couple of hours and now we are taking names for our waitlist in the case of changed minds. Please contact Jessica@gentleman-farmer.com to add your name to the waitlist for 2013. We appreicate your understanding!
Confession time: growing up, I did not like tomatoes. And when I say, “growing up,” I mean until I was well into my 20s; and I was never a picky eater. To make matters worse, I grew up in the south on a small farm – where we had the best selection of tomatoes in the world... or so everyone told me. Looking back, I remember my family having mostly beefsteak-type tomatoes, all about the same size, round and orange-ish/red in color. No doubt they were great – but it wasn’t until I started to discover the many other varieties of tomatoes that I began to find my favorites and fall in love.
Now, I’ve not only discovered the many different varieties and colors of tomatoes, but I’ve also learned many creative ways to enjoy them in recipes and juices that have completely changed my relationship to these lovely fruits. And this is a good thing, because the health advantages offered by tomatoes make them a key ingredient to disease prevention, longevity and better quality of life. There could be no better time to celebrate the tomato, as it’s one crop that hasn’t suffered greatly from this year’s unusual heat and drought and we’re just now getting into peak season for these amazing fruits!
You may already know that tomatoes top the charts in terms of vitamin C content, as well as being a great source of Vitamins A & K, folate and potassium. Tomatoes even offer a good source of fiber, protein and iron, all for very low calories or fat. Their high-water content means that you can take advantage of the tomato’s natural hydrating effect by eating them raw on a hot, dry summer day. And if you want to really tap into the cancer-preventative and bone health benefits of the tomato’s lycopene content, be sure to cook some of your tomatoes with a little bit of added fat to help your body access and absorb it.
Shoulda Hadda Tomato-Veggie Juice! (recipe)
Pull out the juicer for an energizing and surprisingly filling health tonic!
Juice about 2 handfuls of tomatoes (any variety) with 1 small sweet pepper (seeds removed), ½ small cucumber, 2 stalks of celery, ½ bunch of parsley and 1 clove garlic (optional). Serve over ice with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime. If desired, add a little spicy paprika or cayenne, salt and/or black pepper.
Sauce it Up!
Did you know that canned tomatoes are one of the most insidious sources of BPA (a plastic-based, endocrine-disrupting toxin) in our diets? Take advantage of the bounty of the season by making your own tomato sauce – and make some extra to can or freeze for the winter! Simply simmer diced tomatoes with fresh herbs, garlic and a little oil for 30-45 minutes until thickened and season to taste.
So, what’s so great about Cabbage anyway? Cabbage made it to the all-star list of foods by the American Cancer Society as a cancer-preventing food. Not only is it packed with antioxidants, (especially the red-purple varieties) but it’s loaded with Vitamins A, C, K and many B vitamins, folic acid and important minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.
There’s something about the appearance of zucchini at the farmers’ market that signals the arrival of summer to me. Of course, this year in Chicago, we haven’t needed much of a reminder that Summer not only arrived, but came a bit early this year. Zucchini is one of those gems of the garden that is SO incredibly versatile, that it’s easy to come up with new ways to love it, week after week. And not only is it versatile in a culinary sense, but it’s fast becoming recognized as offering a very wide range of health benefits as well.
Historically, zucchini and other summer squashes haven’t been studied much for their health benefits compared to other more obvious health food stars. It’s been long-praised for being a good source of popular antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin A (through Alpha Carotene), and manganese. Summer squashes also sport high levels of other antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin – both of which offer excellent health boosting benefits for the eyes as we age.
Where zucchini and other summer squash are just starting to get some notice is in their high levels of nutrients known to benefit blood sugar balance. In our rising epidemic of diabetes and other insulin and blood sugar related disorders, identifying foods that can not only help protect against the onset of type 2 diabetes but also support the body in dealing with diabetes-related problems, is a big deal. Although more research is needed to fully connect the dots, the preliminary findings suggest that the combination of B-complex vitamins, choline, zinc and magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and high fiber naturally found in summer squash, create a recipe that supports healthy metabolism of sugar and helps keep insulin metabolism and blood sugar levels in balance. In addition to this is the presence of polysaccharide fibers like pectin that have special benefits for blood sugar regulation.
Additional research is also delving into the anti-inflammatory properties of zucchini, as well as protective benefits against certain cancers. So, now that you have a strong “Why” for enjoying your zucchini, making them delicious is the easy part!
- Light, Attractive Appetizer: slice zucchini crosswise into ¼ inch discs and use in place of crackers as you top with your favorites: soft herb-infused cheese with tomato, or a pesto spread with chopped kalamata olives, or hummus and diced, roasted red peppers.
- Summer Pasta Substitute: use a vegetable peeler to slice whole zucchini into thin ribbon-like strips. Toss with your favorite pasta sauce immediately before serving. *Note, salty sauce will soften zucchini and pull out moisture – adding water to your sauce. Use less liquid in your sauce, or eat immediately, to avoid “soupy pasta”
- Simple and Steamy – better for nutrient retention than boiling or microwaving, simple steamed sliced or diced zucchini with some fresh herbs is an excellent topper for tacos, sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, baked potatoes or served on top of rice.
- Slice lengthwise into ¼ to ½ inch thick pieces. Marinate in mixture of Grape seed Oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Add a touch of mustard or a squeeze of lemon for an added zip. Grill slices on a Med-Hot grill, just long enough to make pretty grill marks and not overcook the squash. Serve as is, or Caprese-Style with mozzarella cheese, fresh tomato slices and basil, drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
After my last visit to The Gentleman Farmer I was so taken with the Chickens! When I told a friend how beautiful they were, the response was, “Are chickens beautiful?” Before this visit, I didn’t particularly think so, but these girls were so obviously happy and healthy that they were radiating!
Many folks now know that the bad press eggs received several years ago relating to cholesterol problems have been disproven. But what is perhaps less widely known, is the superior health benefits of eggs that come from chickens who are truly free-range.
In 2007, Mother Earth News completed nutritional testing on eggs from 14 flocks around the country that were allowed to range freely on pasture. When compared with the official egg nutrient data from the USDA for “conventional” factory-farmed eggs, these pasture-raised hen eggs had 1/3 less cholesterol, ¼ less saturated fat, 2/3 more Vitamin A, 2 times more Omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more Vitamin E and 7 times more Beta Carotene. Just recently, they also discovered 4 to 6 as much Vitamin D content in these eggs.
Unfortunately, buying eggs at the grocery store with the USDA Certified Organic label is NOT enough to insure you’re getting this level of quality, nutrition and care. This very informative (and sad) video describes the loop-holes used by many large scale farms to label their eggs as organic when they clearly are not (click here for video). This is why I feel so good supporting local, family farmers like those at The Gentleman Farmer who have many challenges competing with corporate farms. This Egg Rating Chart is very helpful if you do find yourself needing to buy eggs from someone other than The Gentleman Farmer or your local farmer’s market (click here for Egg Scorecard).
Oh – but here’s the BEST part: not only are these Happy Chicken Eggs better for you, but they taste worlds better than the grocery store version. So, let’s get in the kitchen, shall we? Take eggs beyond breakfast for a fast and easy weeknight dinner that’s high in quality protein. The bonus is that they go great with a variety of leafy green vegetables which are often the early crops and most abundant in your CSA box throughout the season. Serve this veggie frittata with a slice of whole grain toast, fresh fruit and/or tomato slices.
6 farm fresh eggs, beaten well
1 TBSP grape seed oil or unsalted butter
2 handfuls washed and chopped leafy greens (Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard)
1-2 TBSP fresh herbs, minced (optional – use your favorite. I suggest Thyme.)
1 clove Garlic, minced or ¼ cup chopped Onion
1 handful chopped mushrooms (shitake is best option)
Preheat oven to 425F. Heat butter or oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over Med-High heat. Add garlic or onion, and sauté briefly (about 1 minute) to flavor the oil. Add mushrooms and a dash of salt. Sauté about 1 minute more and add greens, herbs and another dash of salt. Gently stir-fry until greens are wilted and softened.
Turn heat to High, and work contents of skillet to be equally distributed across bottom. Gently pour in eggs and do not stir. Allow mixture to cook just about a minute (searing the eggs in the pan) before transferring to oven. Allow Frittata to bake until eggs are set (15-25 minutes depending size of pan and depth of ingredients)
If desired, you can brown the top slightly under the broiler, with or without a sprinkle of cheese, just before serving. For a decorative and nutritional boost, garnish with minced parsley, dill or cilantro.
Its a slow start out of the gate this season as we attend our first Logan Sq Market today with eggs but no produce. This time last year it was just the opposite with plenty of fresh greens and yet our hens were still a couple of months away yet from laying.
Our new location, while robust in space has not been robust in fertility. Many of our seedlings that were on schedule in the greenhouse, halted their growth once they were transplanted in the field-- which lacked in phosphorus and nitrogen-- essential minerals for our plants.
That compounded by the dry spell which finally broke late last week, slowed our plant growth right down. Having walked the field late last evening the crops are slowly starting to come around: fennel, kale, kohlrabi, arugula, mixed leaf lettuces, head lettuce, radishes etc... are all starting to look happier.
Farming continues to be an adventure. And a very humbling job.
Other progress on the farm includes the beginning of building out a new washing/packing station as well as a new cold room to store our freshly harvested veg. Last year we relied on our refrigeration truck to store our produce. Although not ideal and far from perfect, it did the job. We're looking forward to having a walk in cold room that will be far more efficient!
Tomatoes, potatoes, summer and winter squashes, onions, leeks, and sprouts are all in the ground. This year we are planning to grow our tomatoes under hoops and up lattice. We have a few heirlooms as well as black cherry toms and some nice beef tomatoes to expect. In the same plot, which is just uphill from the main field, we plan to plant the rest of our nightshades-- eggplants, tomatillos and okra to name a few and new to our harvest this year will be some ground cherries or husk cherries. Lots to look forward to!
Also we've discovered that one of our chickens is indeed a rooster! Dominic was working out in the field the other day and heard a very clear "cock a doodle doo". Turns out our one "exotic" chicken that was thrown in for good measure from our sellers happens to be a guy! So now there's no question as to who will rule the roost!
For those of you who are visiting us at the markets-- we appreciate your patience! And as always, we appreciate your support!