Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Spring Arrivals

Yes. I know. Snow is on the Horizon. Here. in Mid-April.
Here's what you do. Whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, brew some tea, and feast your eyes on some cute baby goat pictures. Repeat after me: "BABY GOATS = SPRING! Spring IS here!" Old timers used to say that snow in spring is simply the good Lord's way of sending a nice little dusting of nature's fertilizer on the waiting veggie fields....
Both Bluebelle and I have been waddling about big as houses recently. We’ve been both expecting Spring babies…and finally last Tuesday she beat me to it and delivered twins, a doe and buckling.

She surprised us with a mid-day birthing, and by the time we found them in the barn the babies were dry and sprightly, though one had slipped under the goat pen door and was at risk for being rejected by Bluebelle who had forgotten her first (and most strapping) twin in the haze of delivering the second, licking her dry, and delivering the placenta. It took his tenacity and our regular forcing a latch on while keeping her penned into a kidding jug for a few days to bring about a happy reclaiming of him on her part. Bluebelle is an old pro, and it was just like her to eventually make it easier on us and not require us to bottle feed her plucky little kid.

It takes about a week for the milk to come fully in and the bitter taste of colostrum to disappear. That’s when we begin milking in earnest and making cheese. We rear kids on their dams, and simply separate them at night so as to take the morning milking, leaving the rest for the growing babies. Some say this results in wilder goats later on, but we prefer this method because it is healthier for the kids, and in our experience bottle-fed babies pick up all kinds of bad habits from their human sympathizers. It’s often easier to train an animal with their natural instincts intact, than to cope with a spoiled animal always nibbling at your hand for treats and crying pitifully when you leave the barn.

Our resident two year old had forgotten the many days we spent last year milking in the early morning in the barn, and when she saw me sitting on the stool behind Bluebelle, she squeezed my arm and exclaimed “Brave Mama!” with eyes shining with admiration. It’s quite something to be squat-sitting on a low stool heavy with a child almost 9 months in utero, behind a goat, squeezing away as you smell the hay, the wet earth, manure, and the breath of the doe standing on her hind legs leaning over the door behind you waiting her turn, when suddenly, you find yourself exalted, rocketed even, to super-hero status in the eyes of one of your children. Perhaps the ladder to transcendence really is made of the hummusy stuff of smaller humbler realities. “From the mouths of babes” they say, come wisdom and truth…so can it be then, that filling a stainless-steel bucket with warm milk from an udder I milk with my own hands be an amazing act? Maybe it’s another one of those every day Spring miracles we take for granted…how suddenly fortunate I feel to partake in it…and share it with child standing next to me  in muddy black rubber boots grinning away and the little one within, kicking me in the ribs and hiccupping.

New addition to the little flower farm herd: Daisy!

Cheese Shares will begin late April/Early May.

If you’ve pre-ordered look for an email for your start date and drop-site.

GOAT CHEESE SHARE: $25/4 weeks of cheese.

See the side bar Farm Share page for details about drop-sites and print the page to fill out contact info and sign up.

*2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
*1 egg
*1 C brown sugar
* 1/2 C white sugar
* 1 tsp baking soda
*1 tsp kosher salt
* 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
*handful of small flaked unsweetened coconut (we source ours from our co-op's bulk section)
*handful of chopped walnuts or slivered almonds
2 C flour (We use 1.5 C white, and 1/2 C whole wheat)
2 C chocolate chips
MIX WELL. BAKE FOR 11 min. Do not overbake. Eat warm if experiencing a snowstorm in April.

Eating Organic and Recent Pesticide Study

Senior Staff Scientist for Friends of the Earth published an article recently in the MOSES Organic Broadcaster, detailing a study conducted by researchers led by University of California-Berkely and Friends of the Earth. Conducted nationwide, participants from Minneapolis contributed to the study. It showed that pesticide levels found in study participants dropped by 60.5% after just 6 days of eating an all-organic diet.

little flower farm pepper seedlings 4/08/19
The most significant declines were measured in the organophosphates (highly neurotoxic pesticides linked to brain damage in children.) “Organophosphate exposure is associated with endocrine disruption, autism, learning disabilities, reduced IQ, attention disorders, delayed motor development, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, decreased sperm quality, and cancers.”

At the end of her article she lists the things we can do with this knowledge:

“We can work together to pass laws in our cities, states, and nationally that decrease pesticide use and expand organic farming….We can support farmers markets, CSAs, and independent retailers and food companies that source from local, organic growers. Together, we can demand that our leaders step up and shift supports, research, and policies to create a system where organic is for all.”

News about toxins building up in your kids’ brains is scary stuff.

But we humbly propose that mega organic farms are not the solution. Small diversified farms (the kind of your great gran’s day in the 30s and 40s) are the answer to poor soil health, chemical inputs, and destruction of social fabric.
new batch of chicks to start laying this summer!
A small farm allows the farmer to keep his boot on every piece of ground. Beyond keeping chemicals off of his land, rotating animals and using their manures and time-cured compost piles for on-farm sources of fertility increases the nutrients accessible to the plants growing and fruiting in the soil. We are always amazed at how we can fill up on vegetables in the summer here on the farm, and feel more satisfied on an all veggie-stir fry than on a winter stew made with store bought produce and meat.
 Give it a go yourself. Sign up for a Farm Share this season and keep us growing and going on this St. Croix River Valley farm! Order forms can be found on our side bar page.
*We do not believe the USDA sets the Organic Agriculture bar high enough. While we are not certified organic, we do not use any chemical fertilizers or insecticides on our fields. Our farm is surrounded by a buffer zone of forest and grassland here on the bluffs of the St. Croix River. We use on-farm sources of fertility such as leaves, compost, goat and chicken manure applied in fall and early spring, and crops tilled in for green manures which boost soil health. We tackle insect problems with floating row covers, healthy soil which gives plants the strength they need to resist issues, and planting flowers and shrubs which attract beneficial pollinators and predator insects. We like to say that our farm goes BEYOND ORGANIC.*

Make BREAD, not WAR.

It’s a crazy world.

And we’ve all experienced the private and work-place squabbles aired in mass emails and via other electronic means of gossip and slander.

Our answer to all this (aside from not having cell phones or internet at our farm) has always been to make bread.
little flower farm sourdough

Bread and Libel are similar. You take practically nothing and make something sensational with it. The difference is, while in character defamation you are tearing somebody down, in proffering bread you are literally building a body up.

My first success with a sourdough starter came when I read Chad Robertson (of Tartine, San Francisco fame) talking about how you’ve got to mix your flour and water with your very own hands. The baker has to get his hands dirty, to give something of (off of!) himself to make for fostering that wonderfully vibrant world of micro-organisms that will naturally leaven a loaf and lend the unique aroma and taste of your own home place.

In dealing with dough, all the things required of a mature adult when one is slammed on social media, or disgruntled by the recent newsfeed are exercised: patience, time, rest, observation, careful measurement and deliberation, kneading (or folding)- which can be cathartic and feel like taking out aggression while in actuality it is the building up of something-namely gluten to create good rise and crumb.

shaping the loaves

Like farming, making bread is a matter of setting up the conditions for favorable growth, and regularly checking in to lend a timely hand to the process that will never cease to humble and amaze as the magic of life and the internal design of living things manifests itself in new creations and fruition.

It’s a much better alternative to crafting a scathing reply on your iphone.

First you start making bread, and then you begin to be bread.

 “Give yourself….You must be as good as bread, which for everyone rests on the table and from which everyone, if hungry, may cut himself a piece for nourishment.”

-Albert Chmielowski

St. Albert Chmielowski, was a one-legged painter turned Franciscan. Born in Poland, he lost a leg in an uprising in 1863 and became a prisoner of war, narrowly escaping exile to Siberia and the death penalty. He then became a painter in Paris and Munich, and then, eventually became disenchanted with the never-ending race to achieve self-fulfillment through talent, something which he called the “most foolish and despicable form of idolatry”.  He became inspired by Francis of Assisi and his call to “rebuild the church”. He began to repair and renovate neglected wayside shrines, and preserve ancient oil paintings in the churches of Poland.

I can no longer stand the evil which the world feeds us. I can no longer wear the heavy chain. The world like a thief strips the heart of everything that is good; every day and every hour it pilfers love from people and steals serenity and happiness…”

Soon he was taking in the homeless into his own small studio apartment. Many of them were fellow war veterans. Eventually he went to live among the poor in filthy municipal shelters, where the conditions were morally and physically wretched.  saying:

“To prop up a wobbly table, you cannot weight it down at the top; you have to stoop down and support it from the bottom. The same is true of human indigence. To save the poor you must avoid burdening them with reprimands, rebukes, and sermons on morality, while you are well-fed and well-dressed; you must become poorer than the poorest among them in order to lift them up.”

This was a guy who made a lot of bread. He’s an inspiration for our farm because his quest for beauty in art led him to the beauty in his fellow human beings, and the call to nourish it, and thus nourish his own soul.
painting by Albert Chmielowski

We are currently offering bread for special order. Contact us via email for details. We are making weekly deliveries to the Twin Cities and suburbs.

Our regular Bread Share program is something we are gearing up for the Winter season, when the fields and animals require less of our attention. Our farmhouse sourdough is rapidly becoming our signature bread, which fits with our sustainable farming philosophy. Sourdough is the perfect compliment to  vegetables harvested fresh on nutrient dense local ground without the aid of chemicals. Baking with naturally leavened dough is a way to both respect the grain and the body’s health.

From Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions:

“Baking with natural leaven is in harmony with nature and maintains the integrity and nutrition of the cereal grains used….The process helps to increase and reinforce our body’s absorption of the cereal’s nutrients. Unlike yeasted bread that diminishes, even destroys much of the grains’s nutritional value, naturally leavend bread does not stale and, as it ages, maintains it original moisture much longer.”

-Jacques DeLangre

“May you never be without bread,

May you always be as good as bread.

May you ever be as sustaining as bread

May you allow others to cut you as bread.”
-Br. Albert




Email to order.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Thank you to The Apiary Salon!

Another new  Little Flower Farm Share drop-site added in St. Paul:

Check out the Apiary at

2047 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

As Seen in SAVOUR

Check out the lovely spread on local CSAs in Press Publications' SAVOUR magazine:

New St. Paul Drop-site Added

a big THANK YOU to STACKED DECK BREWING CO. for offering to host a drop site for our farm shares!
Stacked Deck is located in the old Dayton's building downtown St. Paul.
Can't imagine many things better than celebrating the end of the work-week with a box of fresh veggies in one hand and a pint in the other!

ST. PAUL 55101

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Here Comes the Sun

We started this year’s onions while a snow-globe worthy storm flurried about outside the windows. There is something satisfying about muddying the hands with gloppy SunGrow Resiliance 360 seeding mix, painstakingly planting each 50 cell tray with our precious Yankee and Red Wing onion seeds, while feet and feet of snow pile up outside and iciceles hang from the roof. It is the consummate pleasure of faith. It is the knowing nod of a patient lover waiting for the finer qualities to rise to the surface again in the beloved. It is the little cheeky fist brandishing act of defiance which will not be conquered by months of frigid temperatures, but remembers with romantic nostalgia grass and green and leaves and earthworms.

All of our 2019 CSA gardens are contained in a box 12.5 inches long and 9.5 inches deep. The seeds seem vulnerable in their little packets. We’re soon to tear into some of them, and plunge them into their moist flats coaxing them out of their blissful dormancy into the audacious experience known as life.
Aware we are leaving the realm of human manufacturing we beg down blessings on this little treasure trove.
“Grant that no hail may crush them, nor violent winds destroy them, but may they ever remain unharmed. Be so kind as to bring them to great abundance and ripeness for the use of body and soul.”
-“Blessing of Seeds” from the Rural Life Prayerbook
Any grumbling over broken spray bottles or spilled seeds is soon drowned out by the 2 year old’s gleeful exclamations: “I love mud!”
“These are seeds! I love planting seeds! These will be plants for our garden!”  Soon she is singing a song of her own making. I know the magic she’s experiencing. The smell of the mix, the promise of new growth. The happiness of having some concrete and new task to do.
The enthusiasm is infectious. It is something to see such a small figure bent over a flat with concentration, dropping tiny onion seeds into their respective holes, dibbled with a unsharpened pencil. I could not conjure such deliberate industry with commands. The work itself pulls it out of her, reminding me again of the primary reason we are growers
Our laundry room has become a flat preparation chamber, our kitchen table the seeding bench, and our dining room bay window is now the germination chamber, perfectly situated where the flats can sun bathe by day, and snuggle over the radiator by night, helped both by the fluorescent lights hung over them, and the woodstove in the next room. We seed the onions ala’ Eliot Coleman, 5  seeds or so to a cell, planted a foot apart in the garden, they will push eachother aside for enough room to get fat, and be easy to harvest by the clumpful.
We spend the next days battling our annual doubts. To start seeds is to become a hovering parent, overanxious, scutinizing, self-critical…
Will they germinate? Is the room too cold? Did we bury them to deeply? And then comes the day when the graceful little knobbly onion shoots, folded, press to the surface, and unbend like willowy preteens, uncertain of their sudden and newfound height.  It’s always such a shot in the arm, to see the particularly luminous green of new seedlings, against the backdrop of white landscapes and stark skies behind them through the window.

Monday we will be seeding peppers and parsley, and soon after the brassicas. It Is a quiet act, slow, filled with pregnant intention and hope, un-noticed, like the tunnels the moles and squirrels are making to get to the base of our bird feeder and pack away any fallen sunflower seeds. But I write about it because every March we Minnesotans find ourselves asking perfect strangers at the grocery store whether the winter will ever end…we look at each other with pasty white faces unable to disguise our weariness with the white, the frost, the chill…I write about little green shoots growing with unmistakable confidence, faces to the sun, like arrows intent on a target, because they proclaim the promise of dirt and rain, and green again, fresh vegetables, flowers, bare-feet, and warmth. “Here comes the sun!” they sing, and soon we’re singing it with them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

JOIN US FOR our 2019 Season!

This year we are celebrating Little Flower Farm's 10th year farming, and 6th season as a CSA.
Sign up for one of our farm shares to join the party!


(and we mean REALLY fresh.) Best way to ensure the healthiest food for your and your family: buy from a guy who harvested it HOURS before it hit your plate. Support a gal whose big-time small-farm dream keeps sustainable agriculture alive and well in your community.
July Share: Garden Bounty

read this article on how fast some foods lose their nutrients after harvest

and then there is this from the
"You already know that fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and nutrients that prevent the onset of diseases. However, they begin to lose their nutrients within one day to a full week. Some vegetables begin to lose 15% to 55% of their vitamin C content after a week, and spinach can lose up to 90% within 24 hours after harvest. On average, produce loses nutritious content within the first three days.
The loss of nutrient content reduces the vitamins and minerals you get even if you consume a lot of produce. MorCo Fresh cites that the increasing popularity of farm to market or end consumer delivery of fruits and vegetables is the result of awareness about this quick loss of nutritious chemicals after harvest."
We're hoping you'll decide to get fresh with us this season!
Yes we know...
The grocery store has convenience. So true. It's a one-stop shop where you can get toothpaste, cat food, organic veggies from CA, AND marshmallows. You can even get your pint of Ben and Jerry's to reward yourself for being good and stocking up on so many lovely USDA certified organic veggies from that CA mega-farm.
June Share: Green Goodness
Those shipped veggies aren't the same food as the veggies your local CSA farmer is offering in his farm-share box. That plastic cube filled with spinach riding in your grocery cart now has less than 10 percent of total initial nutrients. Most of the other pieces of produce have lost at least one third of their nutrients before they reached your cart. The marshmallows never had any to begin with.
Little Flower Farm Harvest Crew member in action
If you made a New Year's Resolution to eat for health....may we humbly suggest that you could eat the same things as last year, but simply substitute OUR veggies instead, and be fulfill that resolution? Every Farm Share box from Little Flower Farm comes with our hand-illustrated weekly newsletter containing a new recipe each week to aid in your culinary adventures....and every vegetable is harvested HOURS within delivery. There's really no substitute for FRESH. Really Fresh tastes Really Good. 
   And our small family farm needs members like you to survive and thrive. 
Click on the side-bar for more Farm-Share sign up info!