Farmer Feature: Steel Pony Farm

By Stefanie Jaeger

Mike at Steel Pony Farm, located in Red Deer, Alberta Canada came into farming in a unique way considering he grew up in the city, never thinking about farming. I asked Mike if he had a clear “ah-ha” moment that directed him to the path he is on and he said “Absolutely, I have an ah-ha moment. Let me tell you about it.”

It started with a trip to a small village in Kenya and ended with a deeper philosophical question about where food comes from and the lack of connection we have to our food in much of North America. Mike recalls a conversation in the village around a campfire where he was asked to tell them about his farm. “When I told them I grew up in the city and never had been to a farm, they were really shocked. They could not understand a life without farming. So then they asked me where I got my food from, of course my response was a grocery store. They proceeded to ask me where the grocery store farm was….”

This was the moment the “stars changed” for Mike. He made a commitment upon returning to Canada that he would at least spend some time on a farm to understand about where food comes from and spent the next year interning on a farm in Quebec. The next decision was easy, as he tells me “When I came back to Red Deer, I knew I needed to come back and feed my community.”

When asked “Why is farming important to you?” the first and most obvious answer is always about food. But Mike takes it a step further and sees it as a mirror to himself. He explains “For example, my lack of management skills on the farm is a direct reflection of my lack of organization in my head.” He explains that while it’ll always be about food, it has to be about more than just being really good at growing broccoli. Mike elaborates that “It would be boring in 20 years to think that I’m just good at producing broccoli. Like, so what? If I’m not a good person or I’m stressed and don’t spend enough time with my family, does the broccoli really matter? I aim to be a well rounded person.”

Mike says this year has seen a huge shift from last year. He explains “The feedback I’m getting right now is that it’s a lot more valuable for people to be able to choose and customize what they want. It’s been awesome to go to my first CSA delivery and see these familiar faces of past members who have come back because they found out they could customize their boxes and are happy to join again. It showed me that I wasn’t necessary doing anything wrong before, we just didn’t have the flexibility built into the program to give them what they want.” He goes onto explain that he now has time to put the community back into the farm and do farm potlucks for the first time and work to have more meaningful connections with his members.

In closing Mike feels optimistic about the season and says “This year, I don’t feel it’s hard or stressful. It’s been a shift in my mindset and it’s now fun and rewarding and it feels like it is about more than the vegetables.”

Mike Kozlowski, along with is wife MacKenzie and son Adler, operate Steel Pony Farm in Red Deer, Alberta Canada, an 8 acre CSA farm. He plants 12,000 heads of garlic, loves rubbed kale salads and his favorite vegetable is whatever is in season at the time. He encourages simple eating with all his CSA members.

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Mike, Adler and MacKenzie

One Dollar, One Vote

By Simon Huntley

Local farms are an essential part of healthy local economies.

They protect farmland from development, they take care of the environment by responsibly growing on their land, they build a rural lifestyle for farm families and their employees, they preserve local food production, and often build a community around their farm.

However, it’s not a glamorous lifestyle. It’s hard being a local farmer.

There are crops to grow, irrigation to run, hail storms to worry about, bills to pay, payroll, equipment to fix, and on and on. It’s a complex small business.

Local farming is demanding work that has benefits we can all agree on. How can we as consumers support farmers in this work?

Buy directly from your local farmer.

Do you know your farmer’s name? Then you are buying from your local farmer.

Have you visited your farmer and have you seen where the crops you are eating are grown? Then you are buying from your local farmer.

There is certainly a government policy aspect to supporting local farms and I respect the political work that many organizations do on behalf of farms. However, what I see lacking for many of the farms I work with are the sales to justify the investments that need to be made on the farm to compete in the competitive local food marketplace. The tractors that need to be bought, the post-harvest handling facility that needs to be built, the multitude of systems that need to developed on the farm, let alone the marketing expertise that is needed; all of this is expensive!

In a democracy, you get to vote once or twice a year, however with your food choices, you are voting three times a day. One dollar, one vote.

Vote for local farms. Buy farm direct.

It’s up to us in the local farm community to develop better ways for you to access quality local food. We need to make sure that this food is convenient, cost-effective, and high quality. That’s why Harvie exists.

However, at a certain point, we all need to pull out our wallets and vote for local food production if we want these farms to thrive.

Thank you for supporting local farms!

Seasonal Food Ideas: Risotto with Farm Share Veggies

By Mike Cuccaro

I was struggling one Saturday to get some free time so I didn’t get to customize my Harvie share from Rivendale Farms. They always offer a big variety of stuff (curse them!) and the Harvie algorithm strives to create a variety of produce (curse us!) so I wound up with a large assortment of things to cook which would be great if every day of the week I could cook a different vegetable as a side dish. But, as it happens in life right now, it’s really only the weekends that I get to do any cooking. So here it was Saturday and we’d barely touched Tuesday’s box. What to do?

The one thing I had managed to do was make sure I had at least some savories (onions, garlic, leeks, etc.), solid veggies (carrots, beets, squash, etc), leafy veggies (chard, cabbage, kale, etc.), and optionally, fresh herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, etc.) because if you pick one from each of these groups, you always have a good backbone for lots of recipes. As it happened, I had a lot to choose from, so I decided to cook two big batches of risotto, mixing and matching from my share.

For one risotto, I planned to cook the pearl onions (savory), yellow squash (solid), baby broccoli (leafy), and basil (herb). For the other, I chose baby leeks and chard stems (savory), baby beets (solid), chard leaves (leafy), and basil (herb). The first step was a whole bunch of prep work. I tend to prefer to have everything cut up ahead of cooking. It feels like an accomplishment and takes away the stress of doing too much later.

Risotto is kind of a “fancy” but not really dish. I’m not going to look it up but I always imagine it was invented by an Italian peasant with a very very small water bucket and a well that was far away from the house. So the standard method of cooking until all the water is gone, constantly stirring so it does’t burn, and then only adding a small bit more of water each time came about by necessity.

I probably don’t need to go into detail about this recipe. Basically, fill the bottom of a big pot with olive oil and cook the savories until they soften up and the house smells like heaven. (ht Isabel Allende)Then drop in your solid veggies and cook them a bit – maybe 10 minutes? Then put in your leafy veggies and cook them down.

It doesn’t all have to be cooked at this point because you’re going to be cooking that rice with all this stuff for another half hour. It’s hard to keep good track of time on this because risotto is a good cooking-with-wine dish. You won’t need all of it so you can be calmly finishing the rest of the wine while waiting for the veggies. We had a subscription to Winc which was like a wine-of-the-month club. It’s almost all blends from California and the one I used here was called Funk Zone. It was tasty.

So when you’re ready, you’ll also have to have a big old pot of some kind of liquid going — chicken broth, veggie broth, or just water. As I was already using up my two biggest pots and two pots of two cups of arborio rice needed a total of sixteen cups of liquid (4:1 ratio). So I just kept refilling my electric kettle and just using water with a little of this Better Than Bouillon goo that looks like Marmite. Mostly I figured all those veggies would flavor it enough.

First thing is to dump the rice in dry and let it toast up in the oil for a minute or two. Then comes the wine (2:1 ratio rice:wine) and let that sadly cook itself away. Then drop in the first of the water or broth. You can go with the same amount of water as rice at first, stir that up and let the water cook away and then add 1 cup at a time whenever the mixture becomes hard to stir and makes little dry canyons when you drag the spoon through so you can see the bottom of the pot. The risotto will get creamier and creamier as you go. You know you are doing it right if you start to feel like Hans und Franz.

The last thing you’ll add, basically when you’ve turned the heat off and used up all the water is a hefty amount of grated Italian cheese (2:1 rice:cheese) and the chopped basil. You shouldn’t need salt. The cheese will do just fine and if you’ve forgotten that you ran out of cheese, you’ll also need an awesome spouse to run to the store and the chillest baby in the world to hang out with you while you cook!

Seasonal Food Ideas: Cucumber Boats

By Harvie Staffer Julie Inman

Talk about a crowd pleaser that brings the WOW factor!  I took these to a 4th of July party and quickly saw my ‘Merica platter being passed around the room cocktail party style, serving up these fresh little bites to the curious guests.  What I love about them is their simplicity, crunchy freshness and versatility – they can be topped with any ingredients you like, especially for themed parties! Almost anything goes with cucumbers!   

The ingredients are simple!  All you need is:

Cucumbers – any size will work

Hummus – your favorite recipe or our suggested recipe below*

Your favorite toppings

For this recipe, we used the following ingredients to create two different styles of Cucumber Boats, the Mediterranean and the Home Garden (see below!)

Carrots, shredded

Black Olives, sliced

Cherry Tomatoes, sliced

Red Onion, thinly sliced

Feta Cheese, crumbled

Sunflower Seeds, toasted

Basil, chopped

The Mediterranean Cucumber Boat

Home Garden Cucumber Boat

Lets get started!

Gather your ingredients.  I always find this helpful as it makes your prep go so much faster when you have everything in front of you ready to go!

Slice the cucumber in half and scoop out the seeds.  This creates the “boat” affect. Cut the slices up into bite-size pieces in any size you desire.  

Fill the boats with hummus.  To make it easier and cleaner, I suggest using a piping bag with a plastic nozzle.  If you don’t have one, you can fasten your own with parchment paper and a nozzle or by filling a plastic freezer bag with hummus and cutting a hole in the corner of the bag to act as the nozzle.  

You will want to fill the boats enough so they “grab” your toppings well.  

Add your toppings with the amount of ingredients based on the size of your cucumber.

Enjoy!  Get ready to receive compliments on your creativity!

*Here is a classic hummus recipe we suggest!


Seasonal Food Ideas: Two-Step Chimichurri

By Jonathan Doron

Let’s talk about what we can do with all of that parsley you just got in your farm share. If you’re like me, then you know that the sauce is the boss. Today we’re making chimichurri (aka “chimi”). It’s so easy to customize, and so versatile, you’ll have no problem finding a dish to include it in. Toss it together with some grilled vegetables (summer squash or potatoes), pour some on your favorite steak, or even smear it on a toasted baguette.

The foundation of chimi is very simple. You begin with garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, parsley, cilantro, salt, and pepper. If you’re in the camp where you think that cilantro tastes like soap, or are simply allergic, feel free to substitute it with an equivalent amount of parsley.

Once you’ve got this base, the recipe is super flexible. But, before you start going and practicing chimnastics, there’s two final decisions that you need to make. Whether or not you choose to include some form of onion and/or oregano is entirely up to you (I think they both add a nice flavor, and so should you). Be passionate about whichever combination you choose, and heckle anyone who tells you otherwise.

Now you can go crazy with whatever other additions suit your taste, or pair well with your final dish. For a spicy kick, red pepper flakes are hardly optional. Or, if you’re feeling weird, fresh jalapeño is also an option. If you like your sauce more or less acidic, feel free to adjust your ratio of vinegar and olive oil. Just don’t forget the red pepper flakes.


1 medium clove of garlic, minced or grated

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems

1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

Kosher salt or sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup yellow onion or scallion, finely chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons oregano leaves (optional)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional-ish)

2 tablespoons minced stemmed and seeded jalapeño (optional)


Gather all the ingredients.

Throw everything in a medium-sized bowl, give it a good stir and season that bad boy with salt and pepper.

That’s it!

Farmer Feature with Park Ridge Organics

By Stefanie Jaeger

Unlike a lot of farmers, Robyn Calvey of Park Ridge Organics in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin didn’t grow up farming, but she can’t imagine doing anything else at this point. With a background and career in forestry and environmental advocacy, Robyn found herself moving back home in 2006 after her parents started farming in the early 2000’s.  

Robyn and her daughter Frances looking out over the field.

Robyn says of the early days, “My parents started to farm in 2003 with the desire to do something with their land that was really just laying fallow and they wanted to do something that could potentially bring an income. We laugh now because a market garden probably isn’t where that would happen but they wanted a little roadside stand. It’s not a beautiful story that they were hippies and wanted to save the environment or anything. They were approaching retirement and were looking for something good to do. This was 2003: the market for organic was just coming around the bend and they saw a window of opportunity and felt that certified organic was the way to go. They were also environmentally conscious people so it was also the right thing to do. In 2006 I moved home and introduced them to the CSA model after learning about it from my boss at the time.”

Pack house and office, Park Ridge Organics

To anyone out there thinking that sounds pretty easy, a cautionary tale awaits you. While Park Ridge Organics is now a successful 325 member CSA farm of 10 years, Robyn laughs when recalling the first year of starting the CSA.

“2007 was our first CSA year and we did awful. I had to call all the members the 2nd week and tell them we don’t have anything, we picked everything the first week. We had 13 members, most were family members or close friends. I remember picking all the broccoli and thinking “I don’t know what we are having next week” so we took a year off and came back in 2009 and did a reboot and started with 34 members. 5 of those members are still with us, 10 years later.”

Ask any farmer and they’ll tell you it’s about more than just growing vegetables. There is a vital connection to the land, the community, and to the people who eat the food you grown.

Farming is important to Robyn because “Agriculture is the root. We all eat, our food system is out of whack and I don’t expect that we’d move completely to a localized food system but people can understand the higher value products that you can get from a local food system. It’s fresher, less steps along the way to get to the consumer, and that is a higher value to me. I am big on providing a liveable wage for my employees so it can be a sole job for them and they are turning around and shopping at local stores and restaurants. Even choices we make on the farm – we could buy bags on Amazon but we go to this little store in Fond du Lac and we buy from them. We’ve talked about getting them cheaper elsewhere but that little old lady who runs the store asks me how my daughter is doing when I stop in to buy stuff…that matters. This circle is important.”

Robyn and her staff on the pack line of their first Havie shares

Just as our food systems have changed dramatically over the years, the way consumers are experiencing CSA has changed to. The traditional CSA model had always been for members to pay the full cost upfront, get what the farm grows with no say in what they might get, and hope there was no crop failure.

When asked about the future of CSA she says “The last few years people have been very doom and gloom about it (CSA) and that it’s plateauing and really, I think that is ok. I think if you aren’t changing with the trends in the consumer world then you are missing out. The trend is to go more customized. Why wouldn’t people want more of what they like when they are pre paying for it? I think it’s completely ok that it is changing. It’s still the CSA model; it’s not the original model of everyone getting a bushel of apples and that’s ok. That steers people away. Did they really want that bushel of apples or 20 bundles of kale in a 2 week period? I don’t think so.”

Pack line for the first Harvie delivery of 2018

As Robyn’s daughter Frances is bouncing around on her Mom’s lap trying to join in on the conversation and running around the pack house with her dad, Robyn reflects on the biggest lessons she’s learned on the farm over the past ten years.  

“You have to take moments to remember why you are doing it and separate yourself from the business part. Because if you get so caught up in trying to do everything right, it stops being fun. I do this with something as simple as walking to close up the buildings at night. I try to take a moment and look at it and be proud of everything here. I can get sucked into negative moments but I look around and those things aren’t really a big deal. The bigger picture is that we are going to send out $9,000 worth of vegetables tomorrow that will feed hundreds of families in our community. They are going to eat Park Ridge Organics vegetables and that feels good. Being present but not too present. You can’t control everything and not everything will turn out. That’s ok.”

No farm interview would be complete without a few fun questions so here we go:

Favorite vegetable to eat: celery.

Favorite vegetable to grow: also, celery.  

Favorite vegetable to eat fresh from the field: sun warmed green pepper, green beans and warm cherry tomatoes.

Favorite piece of farm equipment: red harvest knife, cell phone and the Harvie Website (as she laughs)

The infamous red knife

When asked if she has any final parting thoughts on life on the farm, Robyn says “Once I stopped worrying about the little things, you start to have better moments”.

She agreed this could apply to both farm life, and off-farm life. Words to live by…

Park Ridge Organics is a 15 acre Certified Organic Farm in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin with 7 acres in production. They serve Fond du Lac, Appleton, Neenah, Elkhart Lake and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Visit them at and find their Harvie profile at You can also follow them on Facebook.

Seasonal Food Ideas: Potato Hash Tacos

Potato Hash Tacos!

By Mike Q. Roth

The great thing about tacos is that you can make them out of most anything.  We’re a vegetarian household so we usually do our tacos with a base of beans or something like tofu, tempeh or seitan but we also like to use potatoes and sweet potatoes as an option to mix things up a bit.  As long as you have some tortillas, you’re well on your way.

Your farmshare can provide you with the raw materials for many different interesting taco combinations.  Today’s recipe for Potato Hash Tacos uses a bunch of stuff from my recent farmshare, a couple other things I picked up at the farm market this morning, some things that I just had on hand and a couple things from a trip to the local Mexican grocery.

The ingredients

  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 garlic scape
  • 2 small carrots
  • 2 red radishes
  • 1 avocado (optional but always so good on tacos)
  • Cilantro (also optional but likewise it helps make the flavor pop, unless you of course hate cilantro, then avoid)
  • Cheese (optional)
  • Tortillas
  • Hot sauce
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Salt, Pepper, Paprika and whatever spices you might like

This amount of ingredients was enough for 4 tacos.  Another great thing about taco recipes: they are easily scalable.  Just chop more stuff if you’re feeding more people

Starting with the slaw (you want something crunchy on top of that taco!)

I made my slaw out of radishes and carrots – cutting them into small matchsticks and then letting them marinade in some rice vinegar and sprinkling them with some salt.  Prep these first and let them marinade while you prep the rest of the taco fillings.

You can make this with any number of things in your farmshare – carrots, radishes, beets, cabbage, turnips, kohlrabi…really anything crunchy.  Just chop it up into fine pieces that’ll go into a taco well and marinade. It’s that easy.

Making the taco filling (you want something hot in that taco!)

For the filling I just chopped up the potatoes into small cubes (1/8″ or so) and tossed them in the frying pan with a bit of olive oil.  Cook them up just like you are making hashbrowns/homefries. Let them get a bit brown and crispy. Sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper. I added some of that good Hungarian paprika to give them a bit of a smokey flavor.  

Right before the potatoes are done, I also tossed in the chopped up scallion and garlic scape. Fry that lightly and mix in with the potatoes.

Putting it all together

Once the potatoes are done, remove them from your frying pan but leave the pan on the heat.  I recommend taking your tortillas and tossing them in the pan to get them warmed up. If you are doing cheese on your taco, toss some on the tortillas and let it get melty (if that’s your thing).  Keep the heat down a bit and don’t leave them on too long or they start getting crunchy and burned. You just want to hit ‘em with a bit of heat to warm them up.

Scoop a couple tablespoons of potato hash into each tortilla, then a pile of the slaw on top of that, add some chopped up avocado on next, then the cilantro.  To finish things off, shake a little bit of hot sauce on there. After my wife and I spent two months in Mexico over the winter, we developed a bit of an affinity for Valentina and Salsa Huichol; highly recommended but you do you.

Preparation time

About 30-35 minutes from chopping to eating.  Probably a little faster if you team up with someone in the kitchen.

Recommended Listening

The Clash – self-titled album (just long enough to prepare the food and eat it)

Seasonal Food Ideas: Father’s Day Food Adventures

By Mike Cuccaro,  Harvie Development Crew

It’s Father’s Day so I got a chance to do one of my favorite things: cook! I love doing bulk cooking on Sundays with what I’ve gotten in my Harvie share from Rivendale Farms and had doubled up my order of pearl onions and chard this week to cook a big pot of beans. That’s the best thing for me about Harvie. The meal-planning aspect! Instead of figuring out what to do with 9 different things, I’ll narrow my choices to fit my narrow window of opportunity. So, let’s set to it.

First thing I did was cut up those pearl onions. But they were so beautiful whole, I couldn’t bring myself to chop them fine. Instead I figured I’d try quartering them. Because they’re going to get slow cooked and pearl onions taste good boiled whole I figured this could be a good compromise. Then, I got to the chard. One reason why I often swap kale for chard is that I don’t have any use for the kale stems but chard stems make a great soup base. I rip the leaves from the stems and then chop the stems up fine. At this point I get out the crock pot and fill the bottom with olive oil. Then I throw in the onions and chard stems to coat and get the flavor started.

While that’s going on, I go down to the pantry to select a bag of beans. We make regular orders to Rancho Gordo in California. I know it’s not local but these beans are amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever had even a single bad bean, much less a batch. I picked out some Goat’s Eye beans which are one of my standbys. You still have to rinse them up but I never presoak them. They are so good they don’t need it. Then, partly because it saves on counter space and partly because I enjoy the act, I rip up the chard leaves with my hands rather than chopping.

Next, I pour the soaked beans into the crockpot and mix them around with the savory veggies. I pour enough water over top to cover by about 2 inches. I never measure how much this is. Sorry. This is also the point where any bad beans will float up to the top and say, “I’m a bad bean. Get me out.” None floated up of course.

Last, I take the torn chard leaves and pile them on top. These are great for weighing down the beans and keeping them submerged so they’ll cook well. Then, just lid it and quit it! “Hey, where’s the salt, dude?” you might ask. That’s the trick to good dried beans. NO SALT until the very end. Otherwise they’ll harden on the outside.

After maybe half an hour after the chard has steamed down to a manageable pile I’ll submerge the leaves around the edge of the crockpot so they’re not burning to the sides of the crock pot.  After a few hours I’ll check the level of the water but otherwise just leave everything alone. In maybe another hour more I’ll test a bean. If it’s tender, then at this point I’ll add some salt and turn the beans down to warm until dinner time. We might serve with rice or bread or pasta. Meals for the week!

This particular day my wife had reminded me that we had some vegan chorizo that should have been eaten a few days earlier. So instead of spicing up the beans, I just browned the chorizo and let the beans mellow out the flavor and serve with chips.

I’d like to say I then enjoyed my Father’s Day gifts of the new release of the Who Live at the Fillmore East with some Dewars on the rocks after I got the kids to sleep but instead just passed out myself as soon as they were down. Real talk, right??