Halftime Snacks

The best part of every soccer game growing up was the halftime snack. Orange slice, granola bar, cookie, whatever it was I wolfed it down and panted a little bit and looked to the team’s fearless leader for advice. I’m halfway through the 2019 growing season and I find myself panting and looking around for my fearless leader–then I remember the fearless leader is me and I think about how fearful my childhood leaders may have also been.

It’s 2019! Which means I started Blue Fingers Farm three years ago, and I’m still growing plants and my business so it looks like I’m here to stay. I’ve got some small news and some big news, listed them in order of importance below.

Blue Fingers Farm Has A New Home

I recently closed on a land purchase. It’s 10 acres of raw land on Gooby Rd; 3 acres of woods and a <5% slope down to 7 acres of southern-aspect pasture. It’s 4 miles from downtown Sandpoint and somehow in my price range, so I’m starting to suspiciously believe in a higher power. I bought it with my boyfriend Steve. One of his childhood dreams is to hand-build a log cabin–my career goal is to own a small farm in Sandpoint, so we held hands and went for it. He is not going to be my business partner or financially dependent on the farm; that’s the way we both prefer it. Lots of work to do before it’s farmable, so I still plan on continuing to rent the Oldtown farm next season (thank you so much, Bill and Patricia Christman), and move permanently to Gooby Rd in spring 2021. I don’t really believe it’s real yet, so if I wake up and this was all a dream, it was a really good one.

Alani Still Likes Farming

A good farmhand is hard to find–especially in a region run by internship and WOOFing labor pools. I am so lucky for mine; she joined last year as a part-time harvester and market hand and stuck around to see Blue Fingers through another spin around the sun. Not only is she an incredibly detail-oriented and hardworking harvester, I can’t believe she still likes hanging out with me. She has her own interests in farming and food preparation…it’s very beautiful watching them grow. If you see her at the market tell her she’s one tough cookie. She’d like that.

Multiple Farmsites, Ahoy

I’m now growing on Sandpoint small farm heritage ground–the original site of Red Wheelbarrow Produce run by the great Emily Levine. I have thoroughly run out of space on my quarter acre in Oldtown, so I am now also growing on a quarter acre on Forrest-Siding Rd. Growing in two places is not ideal, but not impossible. It helps that she left behind so much driptape! Thanks Em.

New Restaurants Featuring Our Custom Greens Mixes

Beet & Basil continues to be the steam powering this engine, thank you to Jessica and her fearsome army of line cooks.  I have been delighted/flattered to start working with Spuds Waterfront Grill, The Fat Pig, and The Pie Hut! I brought my seed catalogs to the chefs to design a custom greens mix that they were excited to work with and I was excited to grow. Each mix is an exclusive offer to just that restaurant; you won’t find them at any other restaurant or wholesale outlet in town. You can, however, find them at my booth at the Sandpoint Farmer’s Market! I credit the restaurant that buys them on the label so you can’t miss them.

Potential Pickling Profits Programmed to Prosper

I’m starting a line of value-added products to sell at the Sandpoint Farmer’s Market. I’ve been practicing fermentation and traditional food preservation techniques for as long as I’ve been farming, and I think it’s time to financially invest in my knowledge and see if Sandpoint bites! Heeeeeeere kitty kitty kitty. Starting August 1st,  come and get your fix of vegetables in their sexiest, probiotic form. I am intellectually, biologically, and dare I say spiritually devoted to lacto-fermentation and I can’t wait to show your tastebuds how beautiful and nutritionally dense local produce can be.

Abandoning Priest Lake

I’m sad to say that I can’t keep up the Priest Lake CSA, sell to 3 new restaurants, grow in two sites, and start a pickle company. I had to pick which would be most efficient for me, and Priest Lake was just too far away to keep commuting to. Please forgive me, Jake Christman, and all of my devoted Priest Lake customers. I can’t thank you enough for your support these last two years. I hear that the Farmer’s Market in Priest Lake has six tents now, and meets every Saturday! I cried when I heard…it used to be just me and Caitlin under a big white tent, watching the cars go by. All my love.

Murphy is Huge, and Doing Fine

The farm dog is alive and well, and stomping on all the beds. Anybody have any tips for training her to walk only in the walkways? She’s very excited about the new land–so excited she got a grass seed stuck in her eye while leaping wildly through the field and had to get it extricated by the vet.

 

And that’s it for this orange slice! Hope you enjoyed your snack. Now let’s get back out there, team! We’re gonna tighten up the defense, support midfield, and just let that star forward carry us on to glory. Hands in! Gooooooooo Blue Fingers!

 

Leigh

 

 

 

 

August CSA Signup is Live! Come and Get it, Foodies.

First, the July CSA was an absolute success. Thank you so much for your support, Priest Lake. I had a great time selling you the best of North Idaho local food and flowers. The monthly CSA sales model worked perfectly as a way for me to harvest and bring the appropriate amount of food.

Second, HEEEELLLP! We’re drowning in produce.  The zucchini are poppin’, green beans climbing, tomatoes getting plump, peppers getting orange and red, so it’s time to expand the CSA and get some of this delicious food off my hands.  August CSA signup is open through the form below! I am expanding the CSA to 15 shares this month, snap them up while you can.

Pickups will be Thursdays– August 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th–from 4-6pm. I’m just one gal, I can’t make private deliveries, so I’m counting on all of you to make the CSA pickups. If you can’t make the group pickup time, thank you for supporting me, but please don’t sign up for my CSA.

The first pickup will be August 9th, from 4-6pm in the Catholic Church parking lot across from the Tamrak. See you there!

Leigh

p.s. if you have no idea what I’m talking about, please see this post explaining last month’s CSA system and what the heck CSA is all about.

Sign up for the July Priest Lake CSA

We are ready to launch our new monthly produce subscription service for Priest Lake! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture; it is a produce subscription system that is used nationally on organic farms to connect devoted customers with farmers and build the relationships between local food buyers and local food providers. This website has a great explanation of why CSAs help small farmers succeed. In a CSA, the customer signs up for a “share” of produce; they buy the produce in advance, and pick it up once a week; the choices at the pick-up are based off of what produce is seasonally available. Traditionally a CSA share supplies an entire summer of produce; my CSA is only going to run monthly. A central part of CSA is that not all vegetables are available all the time; the vegetables available at the pick-up are what I have to offer based off of what crops are ripe, doing well, or in abundance.

Pre-ordering produce helps me bring produce to Priest Lake because it helps me plan my harvest and condense my delivery time into one weekly pick-up. The pick up for July will be Thursday, July 5th, July 12th, and July 19th, from 4-7pm at the Catholic church parking lot next to the Tamrak. If you are not available for the pick-up, please don’t sign up for the CSA; I will not be doing any personal deliveries this year.  Thank you for your interest in local food! As my business grows I hope to expand to more options for buying my products in Priest Lake.

Subscription is limited to 10 people for July, so the form will not be open when subscription is full. Stay tuned to the website for early notice of the August CSA!

Welcome to the 2018 Growing Season with Blue Fingers Farm

Hello again! After 6 long months of snow and sub-zero temperatures, it’s finally time to grow plants again. I am proud to announce that Blue Fingers Farm survived its first season, and is feeling incautiously optimistic about going for a second one! Here are some highlights of the upcoming season.

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Alani stocking the goods at the Sandpoint Market

Sandpoint Market Moved to Saturdays:

I am going to sell at the Sandpoint Farmer’s Market on Saturdays instead of Wednesdays this year. Wednesdays are the little leagues, and Blue Fingers is trying out for big leagues. Find us across from the Wells Fargo on N 4th Ave. from 9am-1pm every Saturday throughout the summer. I am going to be majorly expanding fresh bread production, incorporating new sourdough and whole grain recipes; big plans to bring root vegetable bunches, bagged greens, fresh herbs, and a whole lot of cherry tomatoes once they hit. Yeehaw!

Priest Lake CSA running July-September

I am so grateful and moved by the dedication of my Priest Lake customers, I’ve designed a produce ordering system just for them! I am going to offer a monthly pre-ordering program where a family can sign up for a month of seasonal vegetables, fruits, farm fresh eggs, and/or fresh bread through July, August, and September. This is the first year the program is running, so the membership will be limited to 20 customers. I’ll be explaining more in mid-June…stay tuned!

Restaurant Orders Expanding

After a chaotic and exciting first year for both of us,  the friendship between Blue Fingers Farm and Beet & Basil is blossoming into a beautiful partnership. This year I took my seed catalogue straight to the chef and asked her what she would like me to grow. I’ve got a great stash of herbs and unique greens up my sleeve for her, and I can’t wait to see what she and her crew will do with them. I’m looking forward to expanding our greens sales to a few other restaurants in the Sandpoint and Priest Lake areas.

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Mission Impossible:  supply Beet & Basil’s beets and basil

We Lost Caitlin to Missoula

Bad news for us, great news for Missoula! My trusty farming partner has moved on to greener pastures with more career opportunities. Blue Fingers is less without her, but I’m so grateful for her help through the inaugural season; could not have done it without her and will be carrying her ideas and support forward through extended phone calls.

Welcome Alani to the Sweet Chaotic World of Farmer’s Markets

I hired a new Farmers Market Assistant! Her name is Alani, and she is exactly what the doctor ordered. This is her first experience working at a Farmer’s Market and I can’t wait to see what new ideas and contributions she brings to the booth. If you’re at the market, stop by and say hi! She’s very friendly, and she doesn’t bite.

I Have A Puppy

Please welcome my sidekick to Blue Fingers Farm! Her name is Murphy, she is also very friendly, and she does bite. In a friendly puppy way. She will not be at the Farmer’s Markets so you’ll have to visit us in Priest Lake if you want to meet her. How’s that for bait? She is currently undergoing training to become a certified avalanche rescue dog at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

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Murphy’s Law Goldfish Bercaw, hard at work.

Fresh Local Blueberries! Look for them Saturday at the Priest Lake Farm Stand

 

Bless you, Riley Creek Blueberry Farm. I’ve seen a lot of blueberries, and I’m telling you, these are the most plump and beautiful berries I’ve ever seen. One of the true delights of small-scale growing is that the farmer has the opportunity craft a delicacy. One of the benefits of u-pick is that the farmer saves on the labor costs of berry pickers, so you can have gourmet berries at an average berry price.

Caitlin and I picked 40lbs of these cuties today, come find them at our Priest Lake Farm Stand this Saturday.

And if you miss us, go pick your own at Riley Creek Blueberry Farm in Laclede, open 7 days a week during daylight hours.

Suspend Your Disbelief: Your New Favorite Spring Vegetable May Be A Turnip.

Not just any turnip. Introducing the Hakurei Turnip, a sweet and crisp Japanese turnip; its light and fruity flavor is finally part of Blue Fingers’ first summer.

I like to take the time to mention these guys because I’ve never seen a vegetable create more faces of surprised delight when a customer tries one. Last week in Priest Lake a customer drove away and then came back a minute later saying she tried one in the car and immediately turned around for more.

Sadly the root maggots got to 2/3 of the first planting, but I’m seeding more now, and this time I’ll see if I can get more to the markets. We’ll hopefully have a steady supply of them from here on out! (Albeit limited quantities)

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May I reccomend Miso Glazed Hakurei Turnips, cooked in their own greens?

New Farm 101: Radical Acceptance

I think I like farming because I love catastrophes. I’m not speaking for all farmers, and I don’t even consider myself a farmer yet, but the farmers that I’ve met remind me a lot of EMTs. There’s a lot of dark humor there. A lot of gossiping about horrific accidents. A fair measure of superstitious protections.  And if you’re lucky, there’s also a healthy dollop of tranquil acceptance.

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got to find this album

In our first month of farm independence, my co-conspirator Caitlin has been teaching me about Radical Acceptance, which according to Psychology Today means,  “completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind. You stop fighting reality. When you stop fighting you suffer less.”  It also says “Radical acceptance is easier to understand than it is to practice.”

Here are my attempts at practicing radical acceptance.

In my first month of growing food, I built a hoophouse that was supposed to help me sell food a month early; it turned into a mysterious deathbox…everything that I planted in it turned yellow and grew a hunchback. I put some more topsoil in, prayed to the all-seeing all-knowing farm books, and put the tomatoes in it. They’re my most valuable crop, and I know they might die, and I probably don’t know enough to save them. But they might not! Radical Acceptance.

Root maggots got the first batch of radishes. Usually you can beat them if you cover your crops with Row Cover.  But since 90% of my most frustrating farmhand moments have been wrestling row cover, I hoped root maggots hadn’t moved to Oldtown yet and left the radishes uncovered. Now I know better; row cover is an incredible waste of time and energy…but it’s the only thing that can defeat the maggots. Radical Acceptance.

This winter I was riding a wave of big dream realization, and planned after Curtis Stone’s audaciously optimistic farm profit models. Now I have $600 worth of produce, most of which is beautiful, all ready to sell! But as a first year farmer, I’m that weird new kid on the block who nobody wants to be friends with yet. It takes time to build a customer base, so I’m dumping most of those tasty little plants into the compost pile. Everybody says start small and build up! Now I believe them. Radical Acceptance.

This feels a lot like skiing….I planned the perfect route, launched myself over the edge, and am now tomahawking down the hill. But I can’t say I’m not having a good time? It’s gonna be a great story someday. And I know for a fact that this is just the beginning. The seasoned farmers I’ve worked for are kind of like pro skiers…they get good at one cliff, then find a harder one to jump off. I respect that bravery.

The radishes are covered, the tomatoes are surviving so far, and I had two big restaurant orders come in last weekend. Now I might not have enough greens for the next order? Radical Acceptance.

 

 

Blue Fingers at Sandpoint’s Wednesday Farmer’s Market

We’re going to market! Finally! Despite all odds, and some incredibly lengthy rainy spells, we made it to a market in May! We must admit, the selection is low right now, but the arugula is BOOMING and highly recommended! Below is a list of available chow. We will be there from 3:00-5:30.

BULK SALAD CROPS: (see How We Sell for details)

Arugula! It loved us by growing quickly, and we intend to repay it by selling it to you. Ideal peppery and tender taste in the spring.

Spicy Salad Mix: If you like the arugula, you’ll love the mix. Red and green mustard greens, mizuna, and tatsoi. Great fresh or lightly braised.

Radish Mix: The radishes have been neck and neck with the arugula. French Breakfast Radishes, White and Pink Easter Egg Radishes, and the classic Red Radish! May we suggest a French Breakfast Radish sliced thin on a piece of Lydia’s Simple Bread, with butter “bien sûr.”

Baby Kale: Come meet kale at its most tender. Green Curly, Red Curly, Red Russian, and Tuscan.

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I bet it tastes as tender as it looks.

We may or may not bring lettuce…come to the market and find out!

Lydia’s Bread will also be present. I hear she’s baking Simple Bread (a wondrously chewy white bread) and Cranberry Raisin Honey, which I haven’t tried but intend to ASAP.

And Plant Starts! If you like the kale, why not grow some?

We have been making signs all week and I can now say I have officially mastered free-handing Google’s “Rye” font. Can’t wait to show them to you! And my Sharpie Paint Pen blisters.

Introducing: Bread, by Lydia

We are beyond excited to eat and sell this bread. We intend to give away free samples of a loaf every day the produce stands are open. Please come try a sample before we eat all of them.

Baked by the incomparable Lydia Tollbom, this bread was born the morning that you buy it. Organic flour, and incorporating herbs grown by Blue Fingers Farm. Crunchy, yet chewy, it’s the unicorn of breads. SELLING A LOAF FOR $5. That’s the same price as Dave’s Killer Bread…made by a local wonderwoman!

Three Rotating Flavors (So Far):IMG_2722

Simple Bread

Roasted Garlic Dill

Cinnamon Honey Craisin

I heard a rumor Lydia is currently working on a Coffee Chocolate Bread….made with coffee instead of water during the rising process. I don’t understand the science but I will absolutely let you know if this sweet princess makes it to market! That Lydia….what is she going to come up with next?

June Special: Plant Starts!

THE SUN IS OUT. I REPEAT, THE SUN IS OUT. WE CAN PLANT NOW.

Plant starts are not our usual modus operandi, but we have some extras from our starts this year, and I’d love to share them with you! For a modest fee.  (4 PLANTS FOR 5 BUCKS *cough*) Here’s what I’ve got:

“Tough Guy” Kale: Did you know kale can overwinter? Even a North Idaho winter? In fact, winter is when kale is the sweetest and most flavorful. Snake River Seed Co-op started a community plant-breeding project where over a dozen area farmers and gardeners saved seeds from kale that overwintered for them. These kale starts were grown from that seed! SHAZAM.

Cherry Tomato Runts: In North Idaho, the tomato growing window is short and rather chilly. Cherry tomatoes are the solution. Tomato germination makes me nervous, so I started too many…having already planted all the big guys, I’m now offering you, the consumer, the runts for cheap! Selling two varieties: SunGold (Orange), and Supersweet 100 (Red).

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