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.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Winter Update

Weather  The recent cold snap was a wonderful dose of ‘real winter.’  When the temperatures fall as low as they did last week, experts say that the invasive emerald ash borer mortality rate is as high as 90%.  I like when Mother Nature brings things back into balance without humans needing to resort to pesticides, traps and tax dollars to fix a problem we created.  On our farm, these cold temp’s may kill off pests like cucumber beetles and squash bugs, making it easier for us to produce quality vegetable crops this year.

Our four laying hens have a super-cool, lime-green mobile chicken pen that we move every week during the summer, allowing them fresh ‘pasture’ bugs and greens, and providing us with amazing eggs.  The mobile unit has an enclosed area for roosting and egg boxes, but we were concerned about how the hens would handle the negative temperatures, day after day.  Although they are amazingly resilient and tough (and they are not laying eggs this month – not enough daylight), we decided to bring them onto our porch.  This involved a large dog crate, a space heater and some re-arranging of the porch ‘junk.’  The hens were very happy to be warm for a few days, however.  They ate and drank more than usual and seemed very perky.  When it warmed above zero they were quickly re-introduced to their outdoor coop – chick manure is smelly in a confined space!

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, a Maine-based seed company that we patronize, is offering a new strain of cherry tomatoes this year.  As if we don’t already attempt to grow 10 different cherry tomato varieties and 15 heirloom and slicing tomatoes!  But, these beauties need to be trialed on our farm (I’m a sucker for tomato trials).  There are seven separate varieties, all striped.  They vary in shape, coloring and size, making an amazing mixed-container combination that is touted to be as tasty as it is pretty.  I’m ready for a fresh tomato, how about you?

Website  One of our projects this month is to update our website (  We have some wonderful new pictures to upload, recipes to add to the menu page and better page layout to implement.  You’ll be happy to know that we are keeping CSA prices the same this year and our Traditional Share and Market Share CSA options are largely unchanged from 2013.  The updated website will be ready for viewing by February 1, and you will be able to purchase 2014 CSA shares at that time.

After a big expansion in our CSA member numbers last year, we hope to maintain and improve rather than grow our member base this year.  That means there won’t be too many new memberships available, so sign up early!

Many thanks to our web gurus, Kate and John!!

Maren Stumme-Diers is promising that the Luther College Sustainability Center will have its’ website updated by Feb 1 as well, with explanation of the CSA reimbursement program for 2014 outlined.  For those of you who participated in this great cost-sharing option last year, your excited feedback has encouraged Maren and Luther to offer even more member reimbursements this year!  Spread the word!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Celebrate 2014: International Year of Family Farming

2014 was declared the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Food Tank is honored and excited to be collaborating with FAO around highlighting how farmers are more than just food producers--they're teachers, innovators, entrepreneurs, environmental stewards, and change-makers!

14 food resolutions for 2014 from Food Tank

1. Meet Your Local Farmer
2. Eat Seasonal Produce
3. End Food Waste
4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
5. Commit to Resilience in Agriculture
6. Eat (and Cook) Indigenous Crops
7. Buy (or Grow) Organic
8. Go Meatless Once a Week
9. Cook
10. Host a Dinner Party
11. Consider the ‘True Cost’ Of Your Food
12. Democratize Innovation
13. Support Family Farmers
14. Share Knowledge Across Generations

More at