Nitty Gritty Farm News August 12th

From the Farmers…………
As I write, three big kettles of Italian tomato sauce are simmering on the stove – in spite of the almost unbearable heat and humidity of the day. To get all our work accomplished, we’ve been starting early, working until a late mid-day meal, then taking several hours away from the fields in the afternoon. Today, following the tomato harvest this morning, we ended up with five, five gallon pails of imperfect tomatoes and a couple of pails of sunscalded peppers – all of which needed to be processed immediately. While the interns went to the Sunrise River this afternoon to cool down, Gigi and I cut up all the veggies, added some marjoram, thyme, basil and celeriac and put it on the stove to cook until soft. This evening we’ll run it through the Squeezo strainer and continue to cook it down to a thick sauce. Next winter when it’s twenty below zero, we’ll surely enjoy this capturing of summer’s heat and bounty in a jar over a plate of pasta.

It is hard to believe that fall is coming – but our fields certainly tell us so – and two of our interns saying goodbye also remind us of the calendar. Kathryn who finished last Thursday is taking a week of family vacation before she returns to college at Grinnell and Gretchen’s last day is tomorrow. It is always hard to say goodbye to our intern/apprentices who become like family to us – as well as help create the community that makes this farm work and play as well as we do.

Our fields are telling us clearly that it is fall – in fact looking at the produce, it feels more like mid-September than mid-August. Our melons are in full production – and it is an amazing melon year! It is true that with all the rain there is a good bit of cracking but the production is so high that you’d never know how many melons we are feeding to the pigs and chickens and making into a variety of foods for us. [For our noon meal today, Kristen made a delicious Melon Sorbet from cantaloupe and honeydew melon. I’d highly recommend this wonderful thing to do with excess melons. She said she just Googled ‘Melon Sorbet’ and found this recipe on Alton Brown’s site. She served it with some sugared ginger and homemade meringues.] We hope that you will be creative and find uses for the over abundance of melons in your box this week. This is also some of the risk of being part of the farm – sharing in the overwhelming abundance and figuring out what to do with so much food all at once! Let us know what you discover about using so much melon. By the way – the watermelons look great and will be ripening very soon. So look for watermelon recipes too.

The melons keep us very busy – they must be harvested every day – and kept cool. We have created a make-shift walk in cooler by adding an air conditioner to our sauna. We all joke about wanting to sit in the reverse sauna with the melons on these awfully hot days.

The tomatoes that I had such high hopes for – they looked so beautiful earlier – are just awful – the worst tomato crop we’ve had since beginning this CSA six years ago. The plants are blighted, the tomatoes sunscalded or split from the rain and heat and sun, and if not all of those, they are covered with little black spots from the blight brought on by the rain. It is so disappointing – especially when we did such a good job with the planting, mulching, staking and caring for them this year. Hopefully, though, because of the sheer numbers of tomatoes plants we have, you will get enough tomatoes to satisfy you.

We had two more huge rain storms since your last share – one on Saturday night and one on Tuesday during the day. So much rain and wind! We are so tired of rain and heat and sun and humidity – a real Minnesota winter is sounding better and better.

It is true – Gigi and I did manage to get away to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for four whole days! The interns delivered all the shares and we did a scramble pack and were on the road by 5:30 on Thursday evening – though we still had to pick up a few supplies and wanted to have a meal at Fitgers in Duluth. We’re getting pretty good at putting up a tent by the headlights of our car. We found a campsite just after midnight and slept for a few hours at Finland, picked up our permit and maps in Tofte, and were on the water of Seagull Lake (the only permit available at short notice) by noon. And it was absolutely wonderful. Perfect weather – not too hot – not too cold. Sunshine all day. Light breeze – no big winds or big waves. Perfect campsite for swimming and everything else. And our dogs, Birch and Bracken were in heaven – they are wonderful campers. We came back late Monday night rejuvenated and ready to head back up as soon as possible.

During the rain storm on Tuesday, we decided to put up sweet corn for everyone here at the farm. We picked two big wheelbarrow loads of corn – some smaller second ears – and shucked (in the living room while the rain beat against the porch) and blanched and cut off the cob – 90 meal bags of delicious corn to be divided among us and four interns. More good eating this winter.

No calf yet. Reba is biding her time. I think that she is holding out for cooler weather. I think she is a wise cow. She seems contented here at NGDF but not overly friendly. She seems to like anyone with a bucket or an armload of hay but when those are gone, she loses interest.

All the other livestock seems to be handling the weather pretty well. The biggest broilers seem to suffer the most – panting from their beaks in the heat of the days. The pigs dig down into the mud so that it’s hard to tell that they really are pink pigs. The sheep and lambs lay low – moving about only during the morning and evening hours if at all possible. And the goats sleep under their playground and shade roof most of the day. They too are hoping for cooler weather soon.

Until next week………………….Robin

What’s in your Box?

Cantaloupe – Superstar, Pulsar, Classic, Eclipse
Honeydew – Passport, Diplomat
Asian melon – Sun Jewel
Bok Choi – Joi Choi
Carrots – Scarlet Nantes
Summer Squash – Zephyr, Lita, Raven, Elite, Bennings Green Tint, Horn of Plenty, Slick Pick
Onion – Mars
Peppers – Hot: Serrano Del Sol
Sweet: Carmen, Lipstick, Gypsy, Jimmy Nardello
Eggplant – Dancer (pink), Galine (big purple), Classic (smaller purple), Kermit (small green)
Herbs – Orange Thyme
Potatoes – Yukon Gold
Tomatoes – Taxi (yellow), Orange Blossom (orange), Red Sun (red), Paragon (red), Beam’s Yellow Pear,
Austin’s Red Pear, Sungold Cherry


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.