Seeds of New Beginnings

We can taste spring in the air. It's almost here.

As we patiently (or not so patiently) wait, we've been seeding in the warmth of the greenhouse -- the ultimate act of hope.

We love the new beginnings that a tiny seed, and another spring, can bring. Sunshine, hope, promise.

Speaking of seeds and hope and new beginnings, Prairie Heritage Farm is thrilled to be a founding member of the Triple Divide Organic Seed Co-op, which is putting up these gorgeous displays of northern-adapted seeds for farms and gardens across Montana.

 You can find our seeds at Third Street Market in Whitefish; Delaneys Landscape Center in Polson; Swan River Nursery in Bigfork; Missoula Food Coop in Missoula; Good Food Store in Missoula; Planet Natural in Bozeman; Real Food Store in Helena; and Lakeland Feed & Supply, Hamilton.


We're heading into our third year on our gorgeous farm and our 8th (!) year of farming. Here's to hard work, progress (no matter how slow it seems at the time) and the ever-present promise that the seasons bring. Happy New Year!

This is the farm in August 2012 right before we first moved here, and here it is in August 2014.

Grilled Lettuce (Wait... What?)

We're at the Great Falls Farmer's Market again this season after a few years off. We did the market our first two years, but then kids arrived and we took a little break, focusing on selling our food through our farm shares (CSA) and wholesale to our favorite places (Mountain Front Market in Choteau, 2J's Fresh Market in Great Falls, Daisy's Deli in Great Falls and soon, Wines by Wednesday in Great Falls.)

While all that (CSA and wholesale) continues to grow, we still decided to do the market this year, mostly in an effort to support the food community in Great Falls and meet more people who might be interested in what we do and grow.

So, far, it's been slow, though. I'm trying not to feel desperate about it. My hope is that it picks up as people get to know us again. It's still early. We have a nice display (if I do say so myself), and we're trying to put all sorts of tips we've heard and found to use. So, it will pick up. I know it will.

But for now, I'm bringing home a fair bit of produce after each market. This week, I brought home more lettuce than I would like to.

We won't sell that lettuce wholesale after it's been in cooler for four hours and we won't give our CSA members anything but the freshest picked produce either.

So, that leaves it up to us to eat everything we bring home.

Kale and chard and other veggies I can freeze for winter. Or, make smoothies or make kale chips (which is how we powered through 6 bunches of kale in one day this week) or soups for the freezer.

But lettuce. You can only eat so many salads, you know?

So, I've been doing a riduculous amount of research on non-salad uses of lettuce. As it turns out, there's lots of things you can do with lettuce that don't involve chopping it up and slathering it with ranch dressing. (Who knew? Certainly not me.)

This one, so far has been my favorite.

Grilled Lettuce

Most recipes on the web call for only romaine hearts, but we thought grilled Black Seeded Simpson lettuce was DELICIOUS. The thing about the lettuce we grow is that it actually tastes good. It actually has flavor and texture -- not that lifeless stuff that's been on a truck for the last week. The charring just makes our lettuce even better, bringing out those unique flavors and characteristics.

Here's what you'll need:

1 huge head of Black Seeded Simpson (or romaine) lettuce
1 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper

Here's what you'll do:

1. Preheat your grill to medium high heat.
2. Trim off most of the leafy part of the lettuce head and throw that in a salad spinner to wash up and use later for a salad (dang! there's still a salad involved!) or sandwhiches or wraps or whatever.
3. Cut the head down the center of the stalk. (Here's where this gets awesome. Normally, we don't use the stalk -- especially as the season progresses and that stalk gets thicker and longer. Why don't we use it? Because it's thick and doesn't quite fit in a salad. But, grilled! Oh my!)
4. Submerge both sides into cold water for a few seconds to get it cleaned in all its crevasses.
5. Pat dry and let drain a little on a platter.
6. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a generous amount of course salt and pepper (a little minced garlic too if you're into that.)
7. Place on the hot grill and grill for 5 minutes or so a piece -- until the stalk is tender and the leaves are bit charred and crispy.
8. Top with Parmesan cheese or a creamy dressing and eat with a knife and fork, like a big beautiful green steak.

Other ideas for lettuce: 

Lettuce wraps, including tacos! (We love this awesome lentil taco filling with our black lentils.)
Lettuce soup
Lettuce smoothies

2014 Veggie Farm Share (CSA) Delivery Schedule

Great Falls:
Thursdays, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Gibson Park
(Half Shares pick up every other week starting with the first pick up on June 5.)

Thursdays, after 4:00 p.m. at Mountain Front Market
(Half Shares pick up every other week starting with the first pick up on June 5.)

(Our long-time customer and farm friend Terri (Thanks so much Terri) will be doing the delivery this year so you'll go around back to get your share out of the white cooler. Terri will drop the cooler by no later than 4:00 every Thursday. But after you pick up, go into Mountain Front Market and buy a bunch of food from Jill too! :)

Helena (Half Shares Only)
Thursdays, from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at 705 Saddle Drive.
(First pick up is June 12.)

What to Expect
With the Prairie Heritage Farm CSA you can expect:

-To eat in season. Your first few shares will be early-season crops like lettuce, greens (kale, chard, etc), radishes and the like. Your first share will be baby greens, salad mix and greens mix. We'll ramp up as the season progresses.

-You'll get a weekly newsletter via email with information on the week's share and recipes to give you some new ideas in the kitchen. (So make sure we have the right email address for you!)

-Everything you get in your share will either be harvested that morning or, at the very longest, the night before. There's nothing like fresh-picked homegrown produce.

-To know your farmers. There are many reasons it's good to know your farmers, but one big one is that you have a direct line of communication with us. So, we hope throughout the season you'll tell us what's working for you and what could be better. If you want more of one thing and/or less of another, please let us know. We keep our CSA numbers small so we can have a direct relationship with you and can make sure this isn't a one-size-fits-all program. We understand that different families have different needs and preferences. So, let us know if we can do anything to make the program work better for you and your family.

-Please bring your own bags to pick up your produce

If You Can't Pick Up
If you are not able to pick up your share, it is your responsibility to make arrangements to have someone else pick up your share or you can choose to donate it back to the farm. Please be respectful of the time and energy it takes to harvest and put together your share and let us know -- with some advance -- if you'll need to skip a week. We
can be flexible on where and when you pick up to make it work -- we just need a heads up.
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