Local Food and Farm Products 
Volume 7 Number 51    December 22, 2015

FIELD NOTES: Fiddlehick Farm, Fiddletown

The latter half of this year has found my partner and me very busy with our jobs, so our farming duties have unfortunately been put on the back burner. We normally have lots of greens, root crops, and various cole crops in our winter garden, but this fall we just managed to get our onions and garlic planted for harvest next summer, with a few seedlings of greens waiting and waiting to be transplanted. It is very disappointing to have to buy our vegetables this winter! Ah, well, we can only hope that 2016 is a better year for our garden.

I am optimistic that it will be a better year for Mother Lode Harvest. As a founding member of MLH, I have been one of the steadfast few who have worked the last several years to keep MLH going-- which we have, but barely. It was with great relief and gratitude that I welcomed the huge influx of energy and ideas for improving the operations of MLH that has come from Emily Beals of Harmony Hill Farm. She and Steve Wilensky of Humbug Creek Farm have been fanning the flames of our zeal, and through meeting after meeting have been showing us the possibilities for MLH's future. It looks like it will include a lot of healthy growth and expansion, with hopefully a lot more involvement from all our members. A general meeting for all members is being planned for March, so you will get to hear all the details and decide how you will join in the fun.

I hope you are enjoying this solstice and holiday time, as we welcome the winter and the return of the light!

Michelle Grondin


Roasted Sunchokes




2 to 3 large sunchokes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed

3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole



Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Scrub the sunchokes under cold running water and slice 1/4-inch thick. Add the sunchokes and garlic to a roasting pan or baking sheet and toss with the olive oil so the bottom of the pan and the sunchokes are lightly coated. Add more olive oil a tablespoon at a time if you don't feel like the vegetables are coated enough, but not too much; you don't want them swimming in olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and rosemary. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sunchokes are tender inside, like a potato.


Sunchoke and Potato Gratin




1 garlic clove

10 sunchokes (about golf-ball sized), sliced thin

2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin

2 shallots, sliced thin

1/4 cup milk

1 cup grated fontina cheese

salt and pepper



Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x9 ceramic dish with cooking spray. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the cut sides onto the dish. Discard garlic.

Layer the potatoes evenly in the dish covering the entire bottom. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer the sunchokes evenly covering the potatoes. Sprinkle the sliced shallots on top of the sunchokes – and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Pour milk all over the vegetables. Sprinkle with the fontina cheese.

Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Take the cover off and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Make sure the sunchokes are soft – if not cook a little longer.

Fennel, Sunchokes, and Apple Salad

Posted February 27, 2008 at

serves 6-8



1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

2 tbsp. chopped fennel fronds

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced

6 sunchokes, peeled and very thinly sliced

2 apples, cored and very thinly sliced

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, and very thinly sliced


In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, lemon juice, chives, and fennel fronds to make a smooth vinaigrette. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.

Add radishes, sunchokes, apples, and fennel. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day, to allow the flavors to come together. Season with salt and pepper before serving.


Single Box

1/2 lb. sunchokes Butte Mountain Farm

1/4 lb. walnuts Casa de la Pradera

1/2 gal. cider Humbug Creek Farm

1 oz. dried persimmons Casa de la Pradera

2 Meyer lemons Abbondanza

1 lb. apples Humbug Creek Farm


Family Box

1/2 lb. sunchokes Butte Mountain Farm

1 bunch basil Humbug Creek Farm

1/2 lb. walnuts Abbondanza

1/2 gal. cider Humbug Creek Farm

1 lb. persimmons Humbug Creek Farm

1 oz. dried persimmons Humbug Creek Farm

1 Meyer lemon Abbondanza


Mother Lode Harvest has local food and farm products available to order at


Orders received during that time can be picked up on Tuesdays between 10:30 am and noon, or 4:30 to 6:00 pm, at 1235 Jackson Gate Road in Jackson, behind Teresa's Restaurant. Prepaid orders may also be picked up in Volcano or Plymouth. Payment may be made at pickup by cash or check made out to Mother Lode Harvest, or before pickup by PayPal.

New customers will need to register by using the "join" button on the website before they can shop. A signed customer agreement and membership dues may be mailed to MLH, or brought to the distribution center with your first pickup.

If you have any questions or problems with using the website, please contact our customer coordinator, Michelle, at, or 419-2503.


Soper Farms Triples Net Income Switching from GMO Crops to Organic

By Ken Roseboro

Making the transition from conventional to organic farming can be a big leap, but Harn Soper will tell you—based on experience—that it is worth it in terms of better crops, soil and financial returns.

Based in Emmetsburg, Iowa, Soper Farms has been in the same family for over 100 years. Both Harn's father and grandfather farmed the land. Today, Soper Farms Inc. spans four generations, with 73 family stockholders and 17 family board members, including Harn.

Back to the Land

After working in Silicon Valley for 30 years, Harn returned to manage the farms in 2007. At the time, the farm was producing genetically modified (GMO) corn and soybeans, but that was about to change. The Soper family voted unanimously to transition all 800 acres to organic, starting in 2010.

The family focused on soil restoration and decided to grow row crops, such as corn. They started the three-year transition to organic by growing oats, alfalfa and clover in the first two years, followed by corn in the third. Net income from the first two years of the transition averaged $134/acre, compare to $180/acre from GMO corn and soybeans in the years prior.

In 2012, the final year of the transition and first year of organic certification, net income from the organic corn crop soared to $900/acre. Continuing the rotation the Sopers planted organic oats and alfalfa that produced $254/acre. Comparing two years of GMO crops with the first two years of Organic Certification, Soper Farms increased their net income from $180/acre to $578/acre.

The farm also reduced their cost in 40% by eliminating expensive GMO seeds and chemical pesticides and fertilizers. “We tripled our net operating income and we don't have to deal with superweeds. To me it's an economic win all the way around,” said Harn Soper.

Summarized by Yashenka Nesmith

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Our mailing address is: P.O. Box 534 Amador City, CA 95601
Mother Lode Harvest is a non-profit membership association.