News and Blog
Hello CSA Members!
As we near the start of the season Dominic and I would like to update you on our current news both in the field and behind the scenes:
CSA Start Date
Due to some new tractor fits and starts we continued to catch the rainy and wet end of the month of May and are behind a week with transplanting. While we have seedlings to sell at the market, our CSA start date has been pushed back one week. Full shares and Group A Half Shares will begin the weekend of June 22nd; Group B Half Shares will begin the following weekend of June 27th. Next week we will be sending out your CSA start dates and pick up schedules. Half Share members will be notified of whether they are Group A or B in these e-mails. At that time, should you need to switch your group; please contact Jessica@gentleman-farmer.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work with you.
In the field we have two new team members Scott Speer and Herminio Ballinas. With our new and expanded acreage we are needing to increase our field hands and so both are working alongside Dominic to seed, weed, sow and harvest your crops.
In the office, we would like to welcome Nicole Pommer. Starting June 11th, Nicole will be your new point of contact regarding your CSA memberships and any questions or concerns regarding scheduling and pick ups as we start the CSA season. While transitioning Nicole into this role of Office Manager, I will continue to work alongside her, so please feel free to contact me on any current correspondence. I am also still available by phone 773 386 1326 and I plan to continue to be present at the Farm pick up and at the Barrington Farmer's Market as well as at the other CSA pick up locations occasionally throughout the season. This move will help me to step back from administrative duties and focus on our next phase of our Gentleman Farmer vision. Nicole can be reached at email@example.com and I can continue to be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please join me in welcoming these new farm team members!
Dominic has begun his season at the Logan Square Farmer's Market selling multiple varieties of seedlings from heirloom tomatoes to eggplants and herbs. The Barrington Farmer's Market begins mid-June. Market hours in Chicago are Sundays from 10am-3pm; and begining mid-June in Barrington will be 2pm-7pm on Thursdays.
We have had a great response to our Worker Share program! We will depend on these folks to help with weeding, seeding, harvesting and packing one morning shift a week from Wed- Friday in order to get your boxes to you each pick up. At this time our worker share spaces are filled. Anyone interested in being placed on a wait list for worker shares can contact either myself or Nicole.
Finally, we are thrilled to share with you this piece on www.365Barrington.com written by CSA member Renee Blue. We eagerly anticipate putting our roots down in Barrington more permanently this year and look forward to being able to grow the farm and serve the Barrington and surrounding communities (as well as Chicagoans) while doing so. A huge thank you to CSA member Cory Flahaven for her insight on what its like to be a CSA member too!
We hope you are enjoying the beginning of June as we finally experience the weather for which we've waited patiently!
Pick up schedules to hit your inboxes next week,
Jessica and Dominic Green
We're so excited to be given the spotlight at 365Barrington thanks to our CSA member and 365Barrington contributor Renee Blue. Read more on The Gentleman Farmer now!
In starting The Gentleman Farmer, we made a commitment to making sustainability a part of our lives, and while that comes with its own challenges we continue to be encouraged by those who are working toward similar goals. With the UN's recent climate report coming in with rather sobering data, we're excited by the organization happening on the ground. The students at Stanford calling for divestment in coal and people rallying across the country on May 9th in support of the "Monsanto Plunge" are perhaps indications that working toward a more sustainable planet is permeating a collective consciousness.
Even so, this can sometimes seem so overwhelming that it's hard to believe that any small changes an individual or family makes can have any impact at all. The small farming and CSA model offers the perfect place for community members to act, contribute and support these movements, even when they have very little time to do it. Its just one of many ways to participate, and yes, your participation does have an impact! There is no denying that the long winter has had an effect on all of us, particularly those of us here in the midwest. The tolerance for the prolonged cold had just about disappeared when last week brought warmer temperatures, pushing the buds on the trees into beautiful floral blooms. Our children continue to comment on the magnolia tree in our alley, the red buds at their school's playscape and the willow's weeping branches at the farm.
Dominic has been familiarizing himself with the tractor-- which has yet to be named-- and enjoying the improved self sufficiency. With 4 different implements: loading, spreading, lifting and tilling its' versatility is wonderful.
The greenhouse is bursting with seedlings! We're a few weeks behind because of the weather, but these seedlings will be going into the field this week, after Dom's final application of soil amendments. All the table-top and floor space in the greenhouse is occupied due to our increased CSA capacity and also this year's increased variety. At market this year we plan to sell more potted seedlings including six different heirloom tomatoes and eight different herbs.
And we've added two new members to our farm team! Nicole Pommer who is taking on the roll of Office Manager will be transitioning over the month of May. She will be interfacing with our CSA members, and getting our administrative side into ship-shape. Nicole and her fiancé Tim have an interest in organic farming and have taken multiple classes at Angelic Organics Learning Center. Nicole and Tim will be tying the knot the first week of June and we look forward to her return just as the season begins!
We've also hired a new farm-hand, Scott Speer, who is the brother of one of our CSA members! He will be replacing Rafael who has moved on to do landscape work. We are grateful to Raf for all of his hard work and look forward to working with Scott this season.
Out with the old and in with the ... Dominic has sold his "trusty" Market Truck (which was formerly a Meals on Wheels refrigerated truck). It has served us well over the last 4 seasons acting as our first storage cooler before we built a permanent one last year. It also helped keep our freshly harvested produce cool and crisp on their way to market. We're sorry to see her go, but we have well and truly outgrown her and must upscale. Dominic has three weeks to find a bigger replacement in time for market season which is just weeks away!
Lastly.... Our tentative CSA start date is the 2nd weekend of June. This however may change determined only by the weather. We will be sending out a CSA newsletter in the next couple of weeks with more concrete information.
We are still looking for interested people to take on a Worker Share position. All enthusiastic parties please read below for more information on what a worker share entails.
Save the Date for Angelic Organics Learning Center's Harvest Dinner Fundraiser July 26th in Calendonia, IL!
Get Involved! "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! All worker shares will begin with a trial period to make sure the fit is right for all!
Please let us know if you are interested by emailing Jessica@gentleman-farmer.com or email@example.com with "Worker Share" in the title.
Read this Crain's article on a new Farm to market food hub expected to launch in Bucktown!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.