Patchwork Green is a hillside and ridgetop farm overlooking the beautiful Canoe Creek Valley several miles north of Decorah, Iowa. Our family grows five acres of vegetables on a farm near Decorah, Iowa. We grow a wide variety of high quality, chemical-free vegetables using sustainable techniques.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

April News

In Your CSA Bag This Week...
The promise of spring and summer and fall, and all the great food that we can grow in those warm

Coming Soon...
Asparagus, spinach, lettuces, boc choi, rhubarb and potatoes.  Shortly thereafter, we’ll be picking broccoli, summer squash and peas!

Important Dates:
  • May 1 – CSA sign-up deadline
  • May 21 – First Traditional Share delivery (weather permitting!)
  • June 18 – First Farmers Market for Patchwork Green (hopefully)

News from the Garden
Signs of spring at Patchwork Green Farm: more daylight but busier days; songbirds in the morning; more eggs from the chickens; 4”-tall garlic; a hoop house full of green transplants; kids who won’t come inside; fresh chives and sorrel on our salads.  Also, weather worries and trying to relax about below-average temp’s and frosty-cold nights.  But, the spring rains have been wonderful, and the transplants in their flats look healthy and ready for real dirt (once it warms up a bit more).

Thanks so much to all of you who have signed up for a CSA share this spring.  We appreciate your support and we are looking forward to growing good Iowa vegetables for you and your family.  If you have not signed up yet, please consider doing so by the end of April, as this gives us a better assessment of how to plan our production for the season.  Also, if you are a Luther College employee, the reimbursement program (up to $100 off your CSA membership!) asks that folks sign up by May 1st as well.

The old deer fence around our garden has been completely dismantled.  The 10-foot, electrified fence looked pretty impressive to people, but apparently not to deer.  They have found flaws in the fence the past two seasons, and have systematically tested, breached and destroyed it.  As soon as materials are available (hopefully, in the next week), a fencing company will install a permanent wire fence that should make for a physical barrier that will block out all deer pressure for decades.  We’ll all keep our fingers crossed.

We are thrilled with our garden crew for 2016!  Starting this month, our crew now has two full-time women, both with significant gardening experience.  They are curious and hard-working, and will be a great fit for our farm and work pace. 

Patchwork Green is participating in a mentoring program run by Practical Farmers of Iowa, for folks interested in farming as a career.  Both of our employees are enrolling in the program, so we’ll be discussing lots of vegetable farming details as we work each week.  From farm finances and marketing to lettuce variety selection and appropriate machinery, we’ll cover a lot of topics.  It’s very encouraging to give future farmers a chance to ask lots of questions and learn from our mistakes and successes, and to see their excitement about producing quality food.  You’ll get a chance to meet the garden crew at market in June.

Monday, February 8, 2016

February news from Patchwork Green Farm

What a beautiful, windy day.

The root cellar is holding steady at 35 degrees, seemingly irregardless of outdoor temperature swings.  The potatoes, garlic and shallots stored there are snug...It's only about two weeks before I head to the basement to start the first onions, shallots, leeks and flowers in flats, germinate them on a heat mat, and encourage the first green growth under grow lights. Makes the winter seem less endless to know that, don't you think?

Hopefully, you received a letter and CSA order form from us this week in the mail. If you participated in the Luther College CSA Reimbursement program in the past, here's an update for 2016:  the program has not yet been fully funded, and we'll let you know as soon as we do when reimbursement can be assured. We expect to find out in the next few weeks, as we did last year.  You can sign up for the CSA now, indicate that you would like to participate in the Luther program on the order form, and we'll send a receipt once the program comes on-line. Or, you can wait until the program is confirmed to sign up.

There is a new coalition of Decorah-area CSA's, called (wait for it...), CSADecorah. This is a promotion group, and the 6-7 members are interested in sharing resources and collaborating to most effectively market our individual CSA's around town. There is a website that is now live, found at: where you can see the farms profiled. Our first big event will be held next Saturday, 2/13, at the Oneota Coop Kitchen Space from 10-2:00: a CSA Fair!  
You can meet all of the farmers, catch some live music and sign up for the season. There are several other vegetable-centered CSA farms (we sure hope you'll stick with Patchwork Green Farm, of course!), but you might be interested in a garden-help CSA, a meat CSA and a cut flower CSA.  Nothing wrong with utilizing this model to diversify your local food consumption and beautify your table. Of the new local farms featured, two are run by former PGF employees and one by a mentee of ours. It's very exciting and gratifying to have the next generation putting down their farming roots and finding their place in Decorah. 

While we're waiting for the local produce season to kick in, we still need to be eating our veggies. Although you and I try hard, it is certainly more challenging to get our recommended 3 servings of veggies every day in the winter. Iowa, however, is ranked 49th among the states for per capita consumption of fruit and vegetables. Not a good place to be.  Do your part to bring up the state rank, do your body a favor, and have a better lunch today!

Here's an easy, slightly exotic recipe with two great winter vegetables:

1/2 cup pistachios
1 tsp. plus 1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. curry powder
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
4 small beets, peeled, thinly sliced on a mandoline
4 medium carrots, peeled, shaved lengthwise into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
Lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350.  Toss pistachios and 1 tsp oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt.  Roast, tossing once, until pistachios are golden brown, 5-7 minutes.  Let cool, then coarsely chop.  Meanwhile, bring curry powder and remaining 1/2 cup oil to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally.  Let cool.  Blend garlic, vinegar, and mustard in a blender, then, with motor running, stream in curry oil.  Blend until dressing is very smooth and thick; season with salt.  Toss beets and half of dressing in a medium bowl; season with salt.  Let sit until beets soften slightly, 8-10 minutes.  Add carrots and remaining dressing and toss to combine; season with salt and lemon juice.  Serve topped with pistachios.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

49th in the Nation

Iowa is currently ranked 49th (that's bad!) in the nation for per capita vegetable and fruit consumption.  This link comes from a group trying to change that statistic (Iowa Healthiest State)  

Locally, you have some great options to increase your vegetable and fruit consumption, including Patchwork Green Farm CSA Shares!  Sign up now for a 2016 Membership at  Eat Local and Eat Well.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Now accepting memberships for 2016

Patchwork Green this winter, taken by Beth Lynch.
Here we are in mid-winter.  While we all revel in the dark season, with snow sports, film festivals and cozy nights at home, we're really just biding our time until we can be outdoors in shirtsleeves, with bird song, green grass and fresh food all around.  Here's an opportunity to let your mind wander toward the warm months, when the bounty of the land in northeast Iowa can be gathered and enjoyed every day.

Patchwork Green Farm is now accepting memberships for the 2016 growing season.  We are again offering Traditional Shares (11 weeks of the seasons best produce, herbs and cut flowers) and Market Shares (pre-paid tab at our farmers' market stand in three price levels).  Please visit for all the details and to sign up!  Prices are the same as they have been for the last few seasons.  We have improved the online order form, and you can purchase a share with a check or Paypal.  And, don't forget to browse the photo page for a visual journey to summer on the farm!  If you were a Patchwork Green Farm CSA member last year, look for a letter and order form in the mail next week. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions at 563-387-0837 or

Eat Local and Eat Well!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Veggies and Music at Saturday's Indoor Market

The last indoor farmers market of the season is Saturday, 12/19.  We'll be at the Danan Lansing Building at the Fairgrounds from 8:30 to 11:30.

At the Patchwork Green Farm table, you'll find lots of potatoes (red, yellow, fingerling and blue), lots
of cured alliums (garlic, red and yellow keeper onions, red and yellow cippolini onions and shallots) and a few fresh vegetables (cabbage, carrots, beets, cilantro and turnips).  We're thankful to still have some good produce left, due to a warm fall and a good root cellar.  We're also thankful for you, our community of healthy vegetable eaters, for supporting our farm and eating all of the food we produce!

An extra bonus this Saturday: my friend John Goodin and I will be playing music at the market from about 9:00 to 11:00.  We'll have a bunch of our CD's available for your holiday shopping, of course.

The recent mild weather has allowed me to do some good fall cleaning of facilities and containers and wash about 2000 pounds of potatoes for winter sales.  The multiple inches of rain have all soaked in beautifully, and it's reassuring to know we'll have good soil moisture to plant into next spring (otherwise known as MUD).  The ground should be frozen enough tomorrow to start mulching the garlic patch without making a muddy mess of things (thanks to those of you who contributed leaves to the effort).  This is certainly the latest I have ever done that job, and an unfortunate sign of the times we are living in.

The seed catalogs are begging for my attention next week, and I'll be in touch with you about Patchwork Green Farm CSA membership for 2016 in a few short months - dreaming of asparagus and peas....

Have a wonderful holiday break, and eat well!

Erik and Sara
Meg, Mairi and Nina
Fingerlings with Slivered Garlic 
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil, plus extra for the dish
1 pound potatoes, scrubbed and sliced lengthwise into halves or thirds
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly butter a shallow baking dish.  Layer the potatoes in the dish with the garlic and small pieces of butter or a drizzle of oil and season with salt and pepper.  Make sure there's butter or oil for the top.  Add a few tablespoons of water to the dish, then cover and bake until tender, 40 or 50 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer to brown on top.  These potatoes end up moist and succulent unless you continue baking them once they're tender - then they'll crisp on the bottom, and that's delicious, too.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Last big garden harvest - get ready for Thanksgiving

Here comes the cold weather and probably a decent amount of snow!  Are you as excited as all the 10-year-olds I talked to today?  I felt kind of old as I complained about all the unfinished fall projects and the too-cold weekend temperatures, but I'll try to get in the mood by Saturday.

We did the last big garden harvest on Wednesday.  It was wet and windy, but it was above freezing,
and we pulled in a lot of produce.  The late fall broccoli is amazing, and there are a lot of nice kales, cabbages and Brussels sprouts as well.  We picked lettuce heads and some Salanova mix, and pulled some great radishes, baby beets and turnips.  The kohlrabi sized up during the last warm spell, and we found a bit of parsley and cilantro to season your holiday dishes with.  Of course, we still have lots of garlic, onions, shallots and potatoes in storage to go with the fresh greens.  The weather for the past 6 weeks could not have been much better for the late-maturing greens and cabbage family crops - a few light freezes, some gentle, soaking rains and plenty of sunny days in the 50's.  Those conditions make for some of the tastiest crops imaginable.

Just in time for your Thanksgiving table, we'll be offering up these morsels at the second indoor farmers market on Saturday, 11/21.  We'll be at the Danan Lansing Building at the Fairgrounds from 8:30-11:30, no matter how much snow we get Friday night!

Friday, November 6, 2015

First Indoor Market of Fall


After a Wednesday off, the Winneshiek Farmers Market has its first indoor event of the season this .  We'll be set up at the Danan Lansing Building at the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds in Decorah from 8:30 to 11:30 on Saturday, 11/7.  The next three markets are on Saturdays:
  • November 21 
  • December 5
  • December 19 
You'll find many of your favorite vendors, selling veggies, crafts, baked goods, apples, wine and other goods.  Live music as well!

With the warm week, our greens grew!  The broccoli is amazing, and the lettuces are great for November.  We also have lots of Brussels sprouts, some spinach, kohlrabi, kale, chard, cabbage, rutabaga, scallions and leeks.  We still have a good supply of potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots and a few varieties of winter squash as well.  We hope to see you down at the Fairgrounds.  Market Share CSA members are welcome to use their remaining balance at these indoor markets.

I always find good vegetable recipes in the 'Eating Well' magazine each month.  Sometimes, they are variations on dishes we already make, and sometimes there are totally new ideas or combinations of ingredients that are intriguing.  Here are a couple from the November issue that feature vegetables that we are selling this week:

  • 2# Sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 small lemon, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese  
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss sprouts, lemon, garlic, oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets and spread in an even layer.  Roast without stirring for 10 minutes.  Switch the pans top to bottom and continue roasting, without stirring, until lightly browned and tender, 8-10 minutes or more.  Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with Parmesan and pine nuts.

This makes about 12 1/4-cup servings, so feel free to cut down the quantities!  Feel free to ask me for small onions for this recipe - I think they would work best.

  • 2# cipollini onions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 12-oz bottle wheat ale, lager or hard cider
  • 2 T packed light brown sugar
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add onions and cook for one minute.  Drain.  Peel and trim the root end, if necessary, but leave the onions whole.  Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted.  Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until browned in spots, 5-7 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir in beer or cider, brown sugar and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Uncover and gently stir the onions.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook at a gentle boil, spooning the sauce over the onions frequently, until the sauce has thickened to a light syrup, 8-10 minutes.  Remove thyme sprigs before serving.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Market this week and Looking for Leaves!

I hope you can enjoy this amazing weekend outdoors.  Start it off right with a visit to the market! 
  • We've got some late summer produce, like sweet peppers, joining the fall greens and storage
    crops in this mild fall.  
  • This week, we'll feature sweet and hot peppers, cilantro, kale, chard, radishes, delicata squash, mini ornamental pumpkins, garlic, cooking onions and 5 types of potatoes.  For the early birds, we'll have a few beets, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, Napa cabbage, Jack-O'-Lanterns and pie pumpkins.
We'll wait a few more weeks before we bring in a few of the latest-maturing crops.  Look forward to Brussels sprouts, big winter squash, tatsoi, rutabaga, carrots and a big crop of sweet, fall broccoli.

We are starting to fill bulk orders for the fall.  Place yours now to ensure availability!  You can order potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, cabbage and beets.

See you at the market!

More News from the Garden
Now that we have worked in our new packing and storage facilities for a full growing season, their utility is really beginning to shine.  The root cellar, with it’s nifty Coolbot system, is easily keeping 5 pallets of potatoes, onions and garlic at a constant 44 degrees.  We’ll put cabbage, carrots, beets and other storage crops in there for the winter to see how they hold up.  We’ll probably drop the temperature lower as well, and keep a close eye on the humidity level.

The packing shed is still a work in progress – all the construction is done, but we’re still figuring out the best configuration of tables, sinks and storage areas.  The covered outdoor area has been very useful all summer and fall.  Food safety is a lot easier when you can clean off a concrete slab at the end of each work day and indoor storage space is completely pest-proof.  The indoor part of the building stayed cool all summer long, so flats of ripening tomatoes and cured garlic were happy (it was 85 degrees outside and too cold in the cooler and root cellar). The fall crew and I are looking forward to washing potatoes indoors on a cold November day.  I’m confident that we’ll continue to find new perks in these buildings every year.

It’s that time of year when we need to gather many bags of leaves.  The garlic planting starts next week, and we’ll use the leaves as the bottom layer of mulch.  We top them with straw and the garlic cloves will stay at a consistent temperature through the winter months.  The mulch also acts as a weed suppressor in the spring, then feeds the soil after it is tilled into the garden in August.  If you have leaves that you have raked and bagged, and have not sprayed your lawn in at least a few months, I would love to come pick them up.  I can return your leaf bags in November if you would like.  They make a great compost if we have extra, and we would be happy to get hundreds of bags of leaves.  No yard waste or walnut leaves, please.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Reserve your pumpkins!

And, all of a sudden it's fall.  What a glorious change of weather we have had this week.  We have even had a light frost for the last four days.

We're doing lots of harvesting now: the last of the beans and tomatoes, more peppers, and some winter squash.  Yesterday, we cut all of the pumpkins, and we'll start bringing a few Jack-O-Lantern's to market each week (let me know if you would like to reserve a few).

The fall lettuces are getting sweeter each day, and we are now picking radishes, turnips and rutabaga.  Although the basil and dill are done, October is a great time for fresh cilantro and parsley. We also have kale, chard, beets, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, delicata squash and a few carrots and cucumbers.   And, don't forget about the cooking basics: onions, shallots, garlic and potatoes.

 Enjoy the beautiful weekend!

Erik and Sara

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Variety Called Carmen

It's going to be a gorgeous weekend, and cool enough to do some comfortable cooking.  The unusually warm
weather this past week has kept the peppers, tomatoes and zucchini producing much better than in most years.

We picked about 150# of sweet peppers today.  From red to yellow to orange to chocolate, and from mini to large bells and bull's horn, they are all beautiful, sweet and nutritious.  We snack on them raw, and then put sweet peppers in every type of salad, on our pizza, in the tacos and pasta dishes, on sandwiches both raw and roasted ....  OK, so we're a little addicted to peppers!  We also chop and freeze peppers for off-season use.  Tomorrow, we'll feature the big, bulls-horn (corni de toro) variety called 'Carmen.'  It has a nice crunch, medium-thick flesh and stunning brick-red coloring.  Peppers like to be stored at 55 degrees.  This week, you could just keep them on your countertop, or in a cool garage or porch.  If you put them in the refrigerator, put them in the warmest spot.  They should keep for up to two weeks.

We still have a few flats of tomato seconds available.  The cool nighttime temps a week ago has diminished the quality of the basil, so I'm afraid that bulk orders are done for the year.  We are starting to fill orders for storage garlic, onions, shallots and potatoes, so put in your order.  You are welcome to use your CSA balance for bulk orders, or just pay in cash.  We price bulk orders at our wholesale rate, so items are cheaper than the retail price you see at market.

This week, look for the last succession of green and yellow beans, lots of Salanova lettuce mix, some head lettuces, and 5 types of potatoes.  There is a fresh crop of kohlrabi, some broccoli and green and red mini cabbages.  We are still offering sweet onions, as well as cured garlic and cippolini onions.  I'll bring the first shallots to market, and we still have eggplant, summer squash and cucumbers.  We started picking fall scallions today, and they are large and healthy.  Cilantro has been the top-requested herb this summer, and we picked lots for this weekend.  Also, look for parlsey, dill weed, basil, bigger red and golden beets, Swiss chard, great kales, yummy cherry tomatoes and butterscotch melons.

I've got CSA balances at market, so ask if you are curious.

Have a great weekend.