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Muddy Blog

Posted 4/20/2011 8:30am by Mark Werner.

Here are some answers to common questions we've been asked about our CSA:


If you have any questions, email us at muddypumpkinfarms@gmail.com

The pick-up location for the Sioux Falls CSA has been changed to the Shopko parking lot during the Thursday afternoon farmers market.

The pick-up locations for the Rapid City and Chamberlain drop are still on Saturday mornings, but we are considering adding another drop time.

If you would be interested in a Tuesday evening pick-up in Rapid City or a Wednesday evening pick-up in Chamberlain, let us know.

Despite the recent cold weather, the elderberry and currant bushes are getting their first buds. Here's Travis displaying one of the sure signs of Spring:


Posted 4/16/2011 12:45pm by Mark Werner.

“No two snowflakes are identical,” says one maxim of our culture. As a child, snowflakes were a simple lesson that we are all different, each of us unique, all of us wonderful in our individuality. So the teacher let us cut jagged flakes from colorful cardboard with plastic scissors.

That elementary school lesson — that each snowflake is wondrously unique — serves us well. But we must also remember that each snowflake is similar as well—hexagonal in its crystallization, braced with 60 degree angles, melting at 32 degrees Fahrenheit—and alive as the Romanian scientist Dr. Coanda discovered, filled with pulsing life and "a circulatory system composed of tiny tubes in which still frozen water circulates like sap in plants, or blood in animals.”

Scientists have apparently proven this infinite variety of the snowflake by probing thousands of flakes with high-powered microscopes finding that no two flakes combine their two hydrogens and one oxygen in the same way. Having been raised in our culture of homogenous individuality, I would take more wonder in two identical flakes. But nature just keeps dropping perfectly new shapes from the sky.

The forecast was right: wet snowflakes battered the fields yesterday. Drifts swept over the low tunnel and greenhouse. Much needed moisture blankets the black earth in white.

low tunnel in snow

Psychologists have determined that the present as it occurs in our brains is somewhere between 2.3 and 12 seconds. It’s a snowflake that lands on your hand, speaking to our interconnection and impermanence, to water cycles and climate patterns, the unity and beauty of the world. The snowflake rests there for that moment, almost transparent, and is gone. In the same way, the snow that drifts against our greenhouse will be gone before Monday. Yet, that water will nourish our fields all season.

Greenhouse drifted with snow

Meanwhile the kittens enjoy the peace and warmth of the farmhouse, snowflake ruminations far from their minds.

Kittens wake from a nap

And the lemon cucumbers enjoy the warmth of the farmhouse as well. Little do they know that those frosty low tunnels will soon be their home.

Lemon cucumbers

Posted 4/14/2011 8:01pm by Mark Werner.

The forecast may be for 6 inches of snow tonight, but the harvest has already begun.

Our days here at the farm are filled with season extension techniques -- floating row cover, low tunnels, greenhouse starts -- but nature is the master of the long-season harvest. A soft -- yet prickly -- bed of stinging nettle coats the understory of the valleys that feed the Missouri River. Here is one choice seedling of the nutritious spring tonic:

Stinging nettle in mid-April

Look but don't touch without gloves. After a mini-forage, I headed to the kitchen to cook the first local meal of the spring. Below is the harvest of baby nettle and the stir fry that also featured local pak choi from our friends Mark and Teal at Happy Hydros.

Nettle harvestVeggie stir fry

If you're looking to cook with some wild harvested stringing nettle, check out these resources:

An excellent guide to harvesting stinging nettle over at Learning Herbs.

This guide to cooking with nettle is also a must read by Hank Shaw, master forager.

Here are two more medicinal plants that are already dotting the landscape near Muddy Pumpkin Farms. The soft leaves of mullein and that favorite of our farm's felines, catnip:



Posted 4/4/2011 12:55am by Mark Werner.

If spring has you excited for fresh local food, check out the varieties we will be growing next year.

Highlights include:

  • Aunt Ruby German Green tomato. A variety that comes from the backyard garden of Ruby Arnold, a German immigrant who lived in Greenville, Tennessee. Her jumbo green tomato is our farm favorite.
  • Blacktail Mountain watermelon. A variety developed by Glenn Drowns who runs the Sandhill Preservation Center. The perfect summer treat!
  • Atomic Red carrot. Deep red color -- and completely safe to eat!
  • Tigger melon. Perhaps the most colorful patterns you'll see on a melon.
  • Dakota Tears onion. We're especially excited about this onion, a variety developed by David Podoll who is a master plant breeder from North Dakota. Their flavor is so robust, you will cry. Here are photographs of our Dakota Tears onions in soil blocks.

Dakota Tears onion in soil blocks

Posted 4/1/2011 9:24pm by Mark Werner.

...goes to the Polish white garlic. This morning Matt cleared the straw from the fall-planted garlic beds to discover the first garlic sprout of the year:

Garlic sprout in the soil

The compact utility tractor is ready to form some more raised beds once the frost danger passes:

Compact utility tractor

This weekend will be composting time. Look for a post on the heaps tomorrow.

Posted 4/1/2011 6:39am by Mark Werner.

The last drifts of snow melted from the land today. Hiking through the hills above the White River delta, I saw the first signs of spring. Green things were sprouting through last summer's brush and the deer were flashing their tails from the top of every slope.

White River delta

The yucca were beginning their spring growth.


Charlie, our farm dog, came along for the hike.


So did Scurfpea, the farm's tomcat. He enjoys the long hikes as much as Charlie, always scrambling to stay in the lead. Here he is surveying the scene.


Back at the farm, the California Wonder pepper seedlings are content to wait for warmer days.



Posted 3/31/2011 1:30pm by Brett Werner.

Last year was a time of beginnings and transitions. For the Werner family and what has become Muddy Pumpkin Farms, 2010 marked the first year of growing food for more than the family.

The season started when Matt got out his heat mats to start tomatoes and peppers. The whole family was especially interested in growing Kleckley Sweet watermalons, an heirloom variety that our Grandpa Alvin had grown as a child. We had always heard the stories of young Alvin rowing a boat full of them across the Missouri River to market, and we were excited to continue that tradition.

Because this was our first year of operation, and because we hadn't even planned to sell anything except maybe watermelons, our 2010 season surpassed all our hopes. Soon we were selling at both the Chamberlain and Rapid City farmers markets.

Our plan is to transition to organic methods and USDA certification in coming years. The motivation for transitioning to organic production methods stems from our desire to provide healthier food for ourselves and our communities, to minimize chemical exposure for those people doing the spraying (in this case, us), and to build ecological health and resilience of our soil, water, and pollinators that could in the end make our farm less dependent on chemicals.

Apprenticeship Program 2013November 19th, 2016

Join the crew at one of the only organic vegetable farms in South Dakota. Located in the heart of the breadbasket yet still on the fringe of the organic food movement, Muddy Pumpkin Farms seeks creati

Apprenticeship ApplicationFebruary 15th, 2013

Weekly Newsletters for 2012September 9th, 2012


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