Nitty Gritty News June 3rd

It’s 5:45 AM and the thermometer outside the window reads 37 degrees. The cold nights and lack of rain have slowed both the early crops in the fields as well as planting out more tender crops such as tomatoes and peppers. Along with the 80+ degree days we had some weeks ago it makes for a frustrating spring – (or a normal farming year). The lettuces and greens, radishes and onions, snap peas, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, potatoes and corn have all been planted as well as beets, carrots and chard. The tomato, eggplant and pepper plants are hardening being moved in and out of the greenhouses. Basil and flowers are started in flats in the greenhouse waiting for their turn to be planted out in the field. The watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydews and cucumbers have just germinated under lights and been moved into a greenhouse to grow on until it is warm enough to plant into the field. .

Thank you to all of you who passed on the frost warnings to us. We regularly listen to the reports for our area from the National Weather Service which gives us a pretty good idea of what’s coming. Last Saturday night the frost dipped into the low areas of our fields and nibbled on some of the young Norland potato plants. The leaf edges are black and wilted but they will grow back quickly in warmer weather.

We’ve been putting down a lot of hay mulch between rows of potatoes, onions and all the cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, bok choi, etc.) to control weeds, conserve moisture and build soil. It’s been kind of tricky this spring with all the high winds to contend with. We also purchased a plastic mulch layer to lay the extremely thin plastic mulch in which we plant the tomatoes, peppers and vine crops. The machine came in parts in boxes and took quite some time to assemble. Just yesterday we began adjusting it and figuring out exactly how it should work to dig the trenches, lay the drip irrigation line, lay the plastic mulch and cover the furrow.

We are also trialing some heavy black/white plastic strips down between rows of small row crops like lettuce and greens to see how they work in retaining moisture and controlling weeds. We have also set up drip irrigation lines – something we almost never do this early – since the early crops are either not even germinating or just not growing due to lack of soil moisture.

Our farm animals are all doing well – pigs are growing, the goats continue to milk heavily giving us cheese making opportunities galore, the steers are getting bigger and feistier, the older ewes are on pasture with their lambs already weaned, younger ewes are still nursing their lambs, the laying hens have been moved into their new summer quarters, the broiler chicks are in ‘chicken tractors’ (daily movable hoop houses so they are contained but on fresh ground daily), the baby turkeys are nearly ready to move to larger housing as are the Black Star laying hen chicks, and one rabbit (Hermione) is pregnant and the other (Minerva) has seven babies whose eyes have just opened and will soon begin hopping out of the nest box. I think that is all the critters except the dogs and cats.

And – we have an amazing intern team this year. If you attended the festival you had a chance to meet some of them. Dustin – a professional chef, also back in school – organized the pizza baking for the festival – and enriches the farm with his thoughtful questions and intense interest in many aspects including beekeeping (not to mention his cooking). Dustin works four days each week. Dale who works three days a week has his degree in biology – and is a general handyperson and ‘Mr. Science’. If we need a tool for something we can be pretty sure Dale has it in his car. Dale has been coordinating most of the yurt-building process here at the farm. (We are building Mongolian style yurts as intern housing here at the farm.) Jacq – pursuing Naturopathy – has endless energy and enthusiasm – and a willingness to try anything – and loves the baby goats – but not the pigs anymore. Jacq is here four days a week. Jane – a new mom and United Church of Christ minister (currently not serving a church) works two days a week and brings new energy with her. Adrienne, back from last year, is covering some weekends for us so that we (Robin and Gigi) can have a little time off from farm chores. Adrienne is a wonderful massage therapist and great farm sitter and doer of chores. She also helps out with whatever is needed to be done. Sue, who comes every Wednesday is a long time shareholder who volunteers each week after working her other job. Through her enjoyment of the farm and the land, she reminds us each week of why we are doing this. Starting next week will be Avery – a neighbor who is graduating from the Perpich School of Arts this week. He’ll be here four days a week for one month – before he goes off on a mega Boundary Waters trip and then off to college. In July Cara will start after finishing her degree in Environmental Studies. She worked on a CSA last year and will be with us into the fall. And Sarah who is also in school out east, will also join us in July and work full time for one month. She was recommended to us by a former intern.

Our first delivery date will depend completely on what the weather does. When the nights warm up and we get more moisture – things will begin growing. The growing season for our area is one zone colder (about 7 – 10 days later) than the metro area, so if you are seeing the lilacs in full bloom around town, they are just starting to bloom at the farm. The timing for many of the vegetable plants follows a similar pattern. Watch our blog for updates. We are just as anxious as you for fresh veggies.

Delivery site details will be in next week’s blog update. We will include directions to each drop site location, available pick up times, estimated delivery times and some suggestions about picking up your veggies, dismantling your veggie box and getting it back to us, and anything else you need to get started.

Thank you to everyone who visited us last Sunday for our first farm festival. Our fields and flocks are sure to begin and continue being abundant and fruitful with all of your blessings and wishes. Victoria, a shareholder who visited last Sunday has some pictures from the farm on her blog and good thoughts about why she joined a CSA. Take a look. http://aspendance.blogspot.com/2009/06/nitty-gritty-dirt-farm.html

Thank you to all of you who have joined us for this 2009 season and for your patience. Spring is a hectic time and we wear many hats to get it all done, farm manager, marketer, blogger (even when the blog refuses to upload), equipment mechanic, public relations, intern instructor, soil scientist, biologist, botanist, recipe tester, cheese-maker, weather monitor, worrier, optimist (as well as our non-farm jobs of music instructor and minister) ….. and the list goes on.

With all of its challenges and joys, it’s going to be a wonderful season. Until next week…


Use the addresses to google or mapquest or look up the drop site from your particular location. Keep in mind that the folks at the drop sites are volunteers, allowing us to use their space (and in some cases, their homes) as drop sites. Be nice to them. We couldn't do this without them. If you have any questions about your share etc., you should ask us, not them. They have enough to do....as do we all. All deliveries occur on Thursday afternoons. Approximate drop site times are listed below each location. The end times vary but you should pick up your share as early as possible. Look for the NITTY GRITTY DIRT FARM DROP SITE signs at your delivery locations along with lists to check your name off when you pick up, and a description of exactly what you should take.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm
10386 Sunrise Road (Cty Rd 9)
Harris MN 55032

35 north past North Branch to the Harris Exit. Turn Right.
Go into Harris, cross RR tracks to stop sign. Turn Left
Go 2 blocks to County Rd 9, also called Sunrise Road. (at Heartbreakers Bar) Turn Right. Farm is 4 1/2 miles out on left side of road. Look for Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm sign.
Shares available from 3:00 to 6:00

United Theological Seminary 3000 5th Street NW, New Brighton MN 55112
694 to Silver Lake Road exit. Go south to 5th and turn west (right). Go three blocks to UTS. Follow driveway (left) to the maintenance garage at the far north end of the parking lot. Shares available after 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM.

Pilgrims United Church of Christ
8801 Rice Lake Road, Maple Grove MN 55369
Just off of Weaver Lake Road across from Rice Lake Elementary School. Use main church door. Shares available from 3:30 to 6:00.

Acadia Cafe
329 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis
NW corner of Cedar and Riverside. Park on Riverside or
in lot behind the cafe.
Shares available after 3:15 PM until 6:00 PM

Vincent Avenue
3646 Vincent Avenue North, Mpls MN 55412
1/2 block north of 36th Ave N, and 2 blocks south of Dowling. Park on the street. Shares available after 3:30 until 6:00 PM

Additional drop sites may be added as shares are sold. Drop Sites are subject to change but plenty of notice will be given and alternate sites will be within close proximity to the original drop site.


Robin Raudabaugh & Gigi Nauer

Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm

10386 Sunrise Road

PO Box 235

Harris MN 55032

(651) 226-1186


Also Nitty Gritty Goods Wool CSA
Robin Raudabaugh

We are a 15 acre Community Supported Agriculture farm providing a wide variety of fresh, organically and sustainably grown vegetables, fruit, lamb, pork, turkey and chicken. Located one hour north of the Twin Cities, we deliver to several metro locations. We are intentional about our organic and sustainable farming practices which include (but are not limited to): maintaining soil health through green and animal manures, compost, mulch, cover crops and crop rotations; Organic Pest Management to naturally monitor, prevent and control insects and other pests; maintaining animal health and well-being through the use of portable and loose housing and pasture rotations. Owner/operators Robin Raudabaugh and Gigi Nauer provide over 30 years experience in fruit, vegetable and livestock production, education and customer service. Our primary goal is to build community, relationships and personal health and well-being around good food and the intentional living that creates it. We’d love to have you join us.

Not every day is like this but we try.

Not every day is like this but we try.

Not every day is like this either.

Not every day is like this either.