Summer Has Officially Arrived
Looking at the harvest this week it is clear that summer is really happening. We've finally moved beyond just leafy greens and into more substantial vegetables, pulling up gorgeous beets, carrots, kholrabi and broccoli. The flowers are looking beautiful as well and we'll be featuring sunflowers, larkspur, bells of ireland and the first zinnias in our market bouquets this week.
In the cheese plant, we recently hosted our first class in the new space! Six students spent a day learning about making Bulgarian style feta, scooping chevre and taking care of the washed rind cheeses. It was a wonderful day with lots of foodie conversation, cheese sampling and exchanging of ideas. We had such a good time that we are planning some more classes for the fall and are collecting emails from anyone who is interested in signing up. Classes are $40/per person and last about 4-5 hrs. They make a great gift for your friends or family members that love to cook or just want to be immersed in cheese. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, tagline "Upcoming Cheese Classes".
In other exciting cheese news, a limited quantity of our mixed cow & goat's milk blue cheese is ready for eating and will be at the next couple of markets. We're loving how it is developing and can't wait to hear what you think of it. Speaking of goats, our kid goats are all finally weaned and on pasture, which always feels like a milestone of the summer. Next time you are driving down Denton Road, look out for them in the fields enjoying the long, green grass.
Many thanks as always to our wholesale accounts! We love going out and seeing the Shadow Brook name featured in so many great local and regional restaurants and stores. If you missed us at the farmer's markets get your fix at any of the following locations: in Lincoln check out Open Harvest, Whole Foods, Dish, Wilderness Ridge, Venue, Maggie's, Jack and June, Bread and Cup, Single Barrel, The Normandy and Sebastion's Table. In Omaha, look for us on the menus and in the cheese cases of Grey Plume, The Boiler Room, Le Bouillion, Pitch Coal Fired Pizzaria, Dante's, Happy Hollow Country Club, Whole Foods, Wohlners Grocery, French Bull Dog, Brix, V. Mertz and Tasty Pastry. In Kansas City visit Rye, Farmhouse and Justus Drugstore for a taste. In Chicago, make a trip to Pastoral Cheese to pick up some Herbed Chèvre.
The Ups and Downs of Life on the Farm
It's been a whirlwind here at Shadow Brook Farm this week with much evidence of both the successes and setbacks possible in farming.
Things had been looking beautiful. All this rain has been making the fields lush and verdant with growth. The corgis, Lily and Poppy, disappear in the tall new grass as they race to keep up with Kevin and Charuth. Cover crops of peas and barley are growing green and fast, the spinach is in its prime and we pulled up the most beautiful carrots you'd ever want to see for last week's markets. The goats have been thriving on the spring grass and literally kick their heels and jump in the air when they are released out to pasture. Happy goats make for abundant, rich milk which we have been busily turning into cheese, barely able to keep up with the flow.
And then came the storms again last Tuesday and we were not spared. Our greenhouses and goat shelters took the brunt of the damage, with roofs ripped off and plastic covers destroyed. Fortunately the hail damage to the crops was not too severe so the long term outlook is good. Digging the goats out of a flooded barn twice in one week and repairing the greenhouses has put the team to the test and has left little time for sleep. The poor goats had quite a fright so consequently milk production has been significantly lower the past few days while they settle down again.
These are the realities of what it takes to bring food to table. It can be so easy for consumers to disconnect with the daily struggles that all farmers face when a trip to the market means running into the grocery store to grab anonymous, plastic wrapped produce. We deeply appreciate the CSA model that helps us build real relationships with customers and feel the support of the community that helps us keep growing through these bumps in the road.
So come visit us at the farmer's market in the upcoming weeks and let's all share the community supported agriculture love. The flowers are finally starting to come on strong in time for the wedding season. We'll have peonies for a bit longer as well as sunflowers, Sweet William, Bells of Ireland, and zinnias. And if you haven't had a chance to try our chocolate goat cheese truffles, you absolutely must! We've partnered with Chef Kjersten Gilbert of Open Harvest who has created three delicious flavors. She uses our chèvre as a base to create Lemon-Thyme, Raspberry, and Honey chocolate truffles.
Shadow Brook also made the news last month with a Chef's on the Farm Dinner. We invited all of chefs we work with to take a break and let us cook for them for a change. We had a lovely lunch in the fields with local music, delicious cheese and great company. It was a fantastic opportunity for local chefs to get to know the land and the people that are behind the cheeses and vegetables that they buy every week. Here's a link to a fun interview with Kevin that aired on 1011 now:
Thanks again for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you at the market!
Blooms, Babies and Bedding Plants
Well, after a couple of false starts it seems safe to say that Spring is really and truly here and we might even get to enjoy it for another week before it starts to feel like summer. Because of the late cold snaps all of our asparagus came on a bit later than in years past but once it started it came on with a vengeance with our first harvest weighing in at 100 pounds! Also making an appearance on the spring stage are sunflower sprouts, tender pea shoots, radishes, Hakurei turnips, mesclun mix, and spinach. All of you Popeyes out there should make sure to load up on spinach now because once the hot weather hits us we'll be done with spinach until the fall. In addition to our produce, we offer a full range of bedding plants at our farmer's market stalls and Omaha Whole Foods. We have herbs, flowers and veggies starts to fill your gardens and flower beds with goodness.
Speaking of flowers, keep us in mind this summer for graduation, weddings, birthdays and any other special events. Our flowers are looking great and will be ready by the end of May. You can email or call us for special orders or just swing on by the farmer's market for seasonal bouquet.
We're happy to report that an epic baby season is complete and Shadow Brook Farm is the proud parent of 200 hundred kids! Overall, the births went smoothly. We did lose one mother during a very difficult birth but managed to save her baby via caesarian section. We named her Phoenix and she is doing great. Now that the kids are getting weaned and the goats are moving out onto fresh green pastures our milk production for cheese is exploding and the flavor profile is changing with the season.
With this steady supply of rich spring milk we are churning out cheeses. Our new on site cheese making facility is allowing us to expand production, bringing back the old favorites such as our Ogallala Tomme, Gigi and Natalie as well as working on new products like a Spanish Style Blue, inspired by Charuth's work with Catalonian cheesemakers. Come by the farmer's market and check out the cheese board where you can taste our entire product line and pick out your favorites.
Out in the wider world you can find our produce and cheeses at these wonderful local and regional businesses: In Lincoln check out Open Harvest, Whole Foods, Dish, Wilderness Ridge, Venue, Maggie's, Bread and Cup, Single Barrel, The Normandy and Sebastion's Table. In Omaha, look for us on the menus and in the cheese cases of Grey Plume, The Boiler Room, Le Bouillion, Pitch Coal Fired Pizzaria, Dante's, Happy Hollow Country Club, Whole Foods, Wohlners Grocery, French Bull Dog, Brix, V. Mertz and Tasty Pastry. In Kansas City visit Rye, Farmhouse and Justus Drugstore for a taste. In Chicago, make a trip to Pastoral Cheese to pick up some Herbed Chèvre.
Spring Fever is in the air here at Shadow Brook Farm
After the relative quiet of a long Nebraska winter, the past month has brought a rush of activity. The excitement has come mostly in the form of two hundred baby goats that have been keeping Charuth, Justin and Margo busy non-stop in the barn. Two hundred was a bit more than anyone was expecting, given that they came from just 80 does, but there were an unusual amount of twins and triplets this year! Here's hoping we see that same burst of fertility in the fields and yields of the upcoming growing season.
Kevin has got the first plantings in and our CSA members have lots of beautiful produce to look forward to. Weather willing, the first French breakfast radishes, baby hakurei turnips, bok choy and spinach of the season will be coming up by the second week of April, with carrots and beets soon to follow, in time for the start of market season.
Coming right in time to help with spring cleaning was the annual group of students from Creighton University on a three day Service, Justice and Sustainability trip. They were a huge help getting the farm ship-shape for the beginning of planting. They weeded the high tunnels, seeded the green houses, cleaned out the chicken coop and the packing shed, milked and fed the goats and kids. A big thank you to everyone from Creighton for all of your hard work!
The volunteer work groups we host provide an invaluable chance for people in our community to connect with the land, deepen their understanding of sustainable agriculture and be inspired by the transformative process of farming. If you are interested in exploring volunteer opportunities at Shadow Brook for your school or service group please get in touch.
In other very exciting news, Shadow Brook Farm's onsite Dutch Girl Creamery cheese plant is up and running! Charuth and Abigael have been transforming all of that rich Spring milk into fresh chèvre, Tomme, soft-ripened Robiola, Belle Sabine and our aged Spanish style Rosa Maria. The new space also provides an opportunity for us to expand our production. Abigael recently took our first batches of cheese down to Kansas City where the booming farm to table restaurant scene is looking like a great new market for Dutch Girl Creamery cheeses.
The Shadow Brook Farm Store will be open for CSA pick ups and cheese purchases starting in the second week of April, Saturdays from 1-4 pm. We'll keep you posted about expanded hours as the season progresses. This year be featuring pasteurized goat milk for sale in Lincoln and Omaha. In Lincoln you can buy and try Shadow Brook Farm Products at the following grocery stores and restaurants: Open Harvest, Whole Foods, Dish, Wilderness Ridge, Venue, Maggie's, Bread and Cup, Single Barrel, The Normandy and Sebastion's Table. In Omaha, look for us on the menus and in the cheese cases of Grey Plume, The Boiler Room, Le Bouillion, Pitch Coal Fired Pizzaria, Dante's, Happy Hollow Country Club, Whole Foods, Wohlners Grocery, French Bull Dog, Brix, V. Mertz and Tasty Pastry.