Friday, December 31, 2010


"I believe that where there is pure and active love for the poor there is God also. I see God in every thread I draw on the spinning wheel"

Young India
Winter is the time for processing wool. I suspect we never learned to card and spin wool because hand spinning and other fiber arts were always other peoples' "hobbies".

Again the farm catupults us into untried (for us) arts.
(Agri culture as foundation for culture...)
Because when you have sheep, you have wool.
And necessity brings with it much reason to figure out how to turn your fluffy fleeces into hats and mittens and cloth.

First we pick the fleeces clean...usually with a cat or two napping on top of them...

Then comes a series of soaks to clean them in soap and rinse them in water and vinegar.

After that they are dried on old screens...

Then we card them into rolags.

The rolags are stored away ready to be spun into yarn.

Those not naturally into handicrafts appoach the carders with a kind of snarling surliness. But soon the very act of carding aligns more than the fibers of the fleece...the very soul is soothed. Especially with fat flurries of snow falling outside the nearby window.

" I claim that in losing the spinning wheel we lost our left lung. We are therefore suffering from galloping consumption. The restoration of the wheel arrests the progress of the fell disease."

These things are all part of more than just "living the country dream" or "taking care of mother nature". These processes by which we make shift for our daily necessities are all part of living a life which does not require the starving poor. Some measure of self-sufficiency, some small effort away from commodity trading, a life which supports the craftsman as an individual and the individual as essentially a craftsman may not end in CABLE TV for all...but it certainly will mean Bread on every table.

It would also give our nursing home elderly a place in the working home.

"It is not enough to say that hand-spinning is one of the industries to be revived. It is necessary to insist that it is the central industry that must engage our attention if we are to re-establish the village home."

Ghandi (again.)

Community Supported Agriculture is all about following healthy food systems to all their logical conclusions...and how those conclusions change our lives if we are willing...
exciting stuff to be had in the muck and mire...with the beans, beats, and sheep. Come aboard!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The beauty of Community Supported Agriculture is something most of us have not been acquainted with in our lives. In this age of legalese and fear amongst neighbors it is hard to understand that a CSA farm is not a business engaged in promoting the familiar consumer-producer relationship.
There is consumption, and there is production...but most importantly there is the mutual preservation of a way of life and a means to life through a forging of bonds of trust.

Our members are not share holders in the stock market sense. They are not guaranteed a return on their investment. They are share holders in the sense that they share in the burden of keeping a farm up and running, they share in the financial and emotional burden of farming without pesticides. They are members in the sense of "family members."

We do not run a business out of our home. We live a life in our home, and we farm a farm on a separate parcel of land. These efforts are supported by others who believe in our cause, and who want to partake of the pains and the fruits of making it work.

These relationships are about more than just growing great food for all of us involved...these relationships are part of a small effort to rebuild the lost trust between men in our society. We are living in times which daily pressure us to consider our neighbors and co-workers as threats to our property and our pursuits...we have lost habits in our culture of shared work. The great migration to the cities has made it so that one of the only remaining means of help that many can offer to an agricultural work is financial. This is a small seedling that has sprouted up from the decimation of the small family farm...small farmers can no longer bear the costs of their living on their own, and city-dwellers are looking for a way to reconnect with the land again, and provide safe food for their families. Hence CSA.

Little Flower Farm has been blessed to be community supported in many unusual ways. The very land we farm has been lent to us with good will, with no money changing hands. It has not been leased to us, it has been a gift of goodwill. The Minnesota Food Association has been willing to give us the opportunity to utilize land that would otherwise be sitting untended. The Wilder Foundation owns the land that both Minnesota Food Association's Big River Farms and Little Flower Farm exists on. How beautiful that three different organizations can co-exist with missions that benefit and support eachother.

We operate without employees. We have been graced by the zeal and grunt work of many fine volunteers who have been interested in learning the craft of adding to soil fertility, tending animals, and building a sustainable vegetable farm. They have been content to give to the farm many hours of their time, and in return they have accept gifts which only the land can give...vegetables and meat made possible by our loving tended soil.

These days are times of trial for the family. Families are wounded and crushed by financial woes, family strife, and a loss a sense of mutual purpose. CSAs are a way of repairing this collapse of family in our society.

CSAs bring strangers together in a kind of new and broad family. We each of us contribute what we are able, be it labor, capital, land, or instruction...and gather around the table to eat the good food that is the fruit of our bold project. It is about two kinds of food. The food on our forks...and the food of fellowship.

Thank you to all of our members who make little flower farm possible.
Thank you to the Minnesota Food Association and to the Wilder Foundation for the farmland. Thank you to our volunteers and our friends who have lent their time, talents, and treasure to our 2010 growing season.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Now Accepting 2011 Season Members

Email us at
for an application.
Info and order forms for our MEAT and Cheese Shares available as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adventures in Bread

"Good bread is the great need in poor homes, and oftentimes the best appreciated luxury in the homes of the very rich."
A Book for A Cook', The Pillsbury Co. (1905)

Petit Pain Poilane...a whole wheat sourdough bread


Vienna Bread New York Deli Rye
Baking bread reduces one's grocery bill considerably! Maria Monetessori suggested as a breakfast food for small children nothing more than a piece of bread with milk...and indeed in the morning few things make for such a heart-filling contented sunrise feast than a wedge of any bread slathered with butter or jam.
For mid-day repasts there are the parade of sandwiches...grilled cheeses, especially the mozerella sandwich saute'd in olive oil and dipped in marinara....and for deserts we cannot omit the mention of drizzled honey and Nutella.
[Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread." M.F.K. Fisher (The Art of Eating)

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Bread is Better than the Song of Birds"

-Danish Proverb-
Bread baking in Winter is the continuation of the Farmer's romance with grass.
In a kind of patient passion, after the grain has been harvested and threshed and stored, after the grasses have long since died back and lie under a heavy blanket of Winter snow...the farmer mixes and kneads and causes to ferment grains in a warm kitchen...buoyed by a hot oven and many cups of tea.
The world of Bread is fascinating.
Peter Reinhart speaks of this tousle with the grain in his book "Artisan Bread Everyday":

" The baker's mission is to learn how to draw out the full potential flavor trapped in the grain...(he) accomplish(es) this by understanding the effects of time and temperature on the ingredients..."

He goes on to describe slow processes of cold fermentation (stick your dough in the refrigerator and go to sleep, letting the yeast work it's magic...) as a kind of "manipulation of time".
There is so much Romance packed into this way of speaking about Bread making. Everyone - bakers and non-bakers alike instinctively sense the historical signifigance of a loaf of freshly baked bread...there is a kind of continuity that is experienced
when one samples a loaf of home made bread, a continuity of experience that spans across the ages...linking all nationalities of human beings. Bread is the stuff of Life. A representation of the year's harvest. It is the universal food. Christ chose it to partake in His great Sacrament. It is the food of peasants and kings alike...It has sparked Revolutions, ("Let them eat Brioche") and it has been present at many a romantic Parisian picnic beside a bottle of wine.
We have been enjoying our foray into the world of Ryes, and Seed Cultures, Pane L'Anciene (the unbelievable experience of a truly french baguette, complete with crackling crust and airy crumb,)and other worthy adventures in persuading the grain to reveal itself...It truly is the perfect study for a farmer in Winter.

New Faces on the Farm

Love is in the air on little flower farm. It's breeding season for the sheep and goats, and two fellows have joined us just in time for the season's pairing off.

Olaf is our new creamy Oberhasli/Sanaan grade. He has a sweet disposition, and as a buckling is not as stinky as some of the bigger fellows can be. He rounds out our genetics now to include all of the major dairy breeds: Sanaan, Nubian, Toggenburg, Alpine, and Oberhasli. Hurrah for all that lovely cross-breed vigour! No ribbons here, folks, just delicious milk and fresh Chevre!

We are breeding our purebred Icelandics to a larger breed of the interests of our lamb fans! Finnbar will bring some very nice wool genetics to the herd, and a boost in size too. He looks like a nice big fuzzy dog in amongst our ewes.
This is such a satisfying time of the year. The CSA field is put to bed...little shoots of Vetch and Rye are starting to sprout...the animals are all content with their Fall adventures in Amore, and the promise of Spring is tangible. The Hogs are putting on some last pounds...and the whole farm begins again its self sufficient cycle of new life. These are the best parts about farming...the parts that involve nothing else on the farmer's part....but contemplative enjoyment.

Thank you to those
members who are signing up early for 2011. Your memberships are making the improvement of our herds possible now-right when we need it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Be Like Martha

from the October issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.....
No. 6: Say "Chevre"

"Fresh goat cheeses, especially those made from the milk of grass-fed animals, contain high levels of conjugated linoleic acid, which helps you feel full and may help reduce body fat. Toss the cheese with whole-wheat pasta and kale, or add it to a black-bean-and-squash burrito."
little flower farm good! (And so good for you!)

Field Days

It has been a busy week on the farm. Our vegetable field is finally put to bed for the winter. An indescribably lovely feeling. Shane scythed the acre down, raked the surface vegetation into piles, and we pitched them into the back of our trusty old Dodge, creating quite the monumental haystack.

With the help of Pam and Ken, and Shirehorses Indy and Dance we did a little Fall tilling. The hens had a feast day, lunching on earthworms and the plow turn the soil over...
And neighbor Aaron came by to help us put in Vetch and Winter Rye. Next year's stand will be used as mulch for our vegetable rows, and also more feed for the sheep and goats. The last of the cabbages have been processed...and we are rapidly approaching breeding time for the ewes and goats.

"It is my contention that the feds don't want us to know, let alone dwell on the fact, that for two years running there have been in excess of 70 million food-borne illnesses in the U.S. That's 70+ million per year! And far and away the vast majority of those have come from factory farms and food processing plants NOT from the small farmers.
Obvious conclusion? Our food and Drug Administration's testing and monitoring programs have broken down and drastically so. Why are'nt we worried? Why aren't we angry? Why do we put up with this? What to do? Get to know your local farmers and trust them because you can.
You will never get to know all the people and machines that are involved in industrial farming;processing meats, grains, and miscellaneous food products. Too many cogs in that wheel. Too many places for things to go terribly wrong. The best reason in the world to 'cultivate' your local food supply is not for economics, or cost, or taste, or freshness, it's for safety.
And, if we are serious about returning to a truly safe food supply we need to reinstitute Home Economics training to teach folks once again how to store, refrigerate, cook and evaluate food stuffs. One of the more prevalent human characteristics that corporate greed feeds on is ignorance. And ignorance we can address."

-Lynn R. Miller
Editor/Publisher of the Small Farmer's Journal

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall shearing is always bittersweet. Bitter because it means the departure of a good portion of the Spring lambs to the butcher.
Sweet because it never fails to bring the farm together for a few hours....for a happy chaotic union of paws, horns, beaks, and fleece.

"The mountain sheep are sweeter, but the valley sheep are fatter. We therefore deemed it meeter to carry off the latter."
-Thomas Peacock-

The day was made lovely by a misty drizzle. It was Jane Austen weather. The kind of weather that swells the heart, crinkles the nose in delightful ways, and gives even the dullest soul thoughts of writing a novel in one's slippers. The kind of day that makes you hang around the kitchen and rebell at the thought of tromping out in the gray dampness....but once you do, you soften into a gentle sort of happiness.
The cats were laying about in the lotiony fleeces...
the curious laying ladies came about...grabbing up grain for themselves....
the sheep would playfully nose them...distracted by the stress of a smaller enclosure and the buzzing of the electric shears.

Melba loves the camera.
To look at her, is to understand the essence of a warm and dear (and slightly pudding-y) Grandma.
But once shorn, she is (in the words of farmer Shane) a veritable SPRING CHICKEN, galumphing about as if she was not but a little lamb...ready for a first mating.
8 years ago I found a small note tucked into my College mailbox...I unfolded my curious and mysterious little epistle and found scrawled these words by St. Exupery from The Little Prince:

"If someone wants a sheep, then that means he exists."

and I must confess a romantic attachment to them ever since. There is nothing you want to lunge for a grab and cuddle more than a sheep when it has been newly shorn.

chocolate, fresh from her hair cutting appt.

Monday, September 20, 2010

THAT BIG GREEN ROPE OF VEGGIE IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK IS MALABAR SPINACH prized by gourmet chefs...even the stems are edible. Slice it up and let the feasts begin!!

The last of the seasons Harvests are under way. The eggplant is surprising us with a final push of fruiting, the lettuces have been plucked from their dusty beds...the final round of radishes was stunning...and the celery, is a veritable sea. We have been canning apple cider, baking bread, slaughtering chickens, and Fall shearing.

Keats' ODE TO AUTUMN is perfect these days...
read it ALOUD to a loved one...or to the clouds as you walk fully sweatered on a woodland path...or in a thunderous trumpeting voice that causes the surrounding cubicles to quake! Thank you to Mim for sending it to us!

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Little Flower Farm Bread Shares

We will be offering 30 Artisan Bread Shares this Winter.

$156.00 for 12 weeks (beginning in November) of bread delivered to local drop sites.

Each week you will receive one loaf of the bread of the week and a share in the weekly sweet (9 cookies, or 2 mini sweet breads, or 8 bars).

Goat Cheese can also be ordered weekly as supplies allow.
french bread
oatmeal bread
white mountain bread
chocolate morning bread
whole wheat bread
7 grain bead
farmhouse rye
dinner rolls
cuban bread
garlic herb bread

email for a Little Flower Farm Bread Share application:

Support the Farm this Winter!

In what may have been our Waterloo, we transplanted some asian greens to a newly constructed hoophouse in the hopes that they would sprint to the finish and smile up at members in their last boxes.

We have been composting chicken and rabbit manure in these beds for a year now, and the resulting soil is pure fertile sponge. An Organic grower's dream bed.

Yet it cannot be denied that this sudden transplanting push felt somewhat...untimely. After the exhileration any gardener feels at seeing tilled soil, ready and waiting for seed and growing green things...we hit a wall of fatigue that signaled the nearing end of the growing season, the change in weather...and the end of mass plantings.

And then, Sunday, in what can only be compared to tragic soap opera drama, the chickens breached our temporary fencing, and began to play "scratch and sniff" in our newly planted beds.

One of the difficulties in veggie farming is the emotional toll that sweet little tranplants can take on the human heart. One feels an almost motherly attraction toward them...and all the anxieties and smiles and tears that can pour from a parent's heart towards his or her little ones, can also be wrenched from the farmer's towards these green growing things. By Fall, the veggie farmer MUST stop the is too much twanging on the heart strings!

(Or so our thoughts ran as we stood stupefied, gazing at our poor little ripped up transplants, gasping and groaning for soil and water.)

Not so nice thoughts about chickens also ran through our heads....perhaps it is the coming of Fall and the impending Winter...but I have been imagining quite a lot of slowly rotating spits lately....
But as Nature so often and so gently and so slyly does, She won us over again with the discovery of a mother hen and her newly hatched chicks out in the field.

She had gone off and raised a fine little troop all by herself without our knowledge....and you should see how tall she stands when she is leading her little ones around, or protecting them from passers by....she scratches around in the dirt for them, and teaches them to poke their little beaks around for breakfast.....imagine! No heat lamps or chick starter ration! Just good Old (wise) Mother Nature at her best! We are continually awed and inspired by the things that happen on this farm...that we have nothing to do with!

Beatrice had another litter of kittens.

When we first moved here, the yard was a maze of mole hills. Outdoor cats with claws have definately cleared up that problem!

Beatrice brings her little ones freshly caught moles and voles and mice several times a day...preparing them for careers as world class mousers!

The pastures are showing fantastic signs of recovery due to just one season of grazing. It is amazing how livestock can even the playing field and cut out the competition for some of the lusher grasses.

The rabbits are all sold, and destined for stews, pies, and bistro dishes.

The last of the lettuces will go out in this week's CSA deliveries. I will miss those butterheads. We will experiment with some Season extension this Fall...
Plans to put in a perennial flower border to the west of the Vegetable field are in the making. We need more pollinators!

Last of the Zinnias

The broilers will be ready in a week or so. They have generously fertilized a nice chunk of next year's veggie acreage.
Integrated animal systems on CSA farms are simply dreams come true for both farmer and animal. Thank you to all of our members who have supported these projects during our 2010 season.