Dubuque Winter Farmers' Market

Chunky Butternut Squash and Apple with Honey

Honey, squash, apples and herbs are all available at the Winter Market!

1 (1-1/2 to 2 pounds) – butternut squash , halved, seeded, and cut into 2- or 3-inch chunks
2 crisp apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons – unsalted butter
2 tablespoons – honey
1/2 teaspoon – coarse salt
1 teaspoon – minced fresh herb leaves, to match the honey (optional)

Place the squash in a steamer set over an inch or more of boiling water. Cover and steam for 15 minutes, until almost tender. Add the apples to the squash, cover, and steam for about 15 minutes longer, or until the squash and apples are fork tender.

Let cool slightly. Select the chunks of squash from the steamer. Scoop the squash flesh from the skins, or if preferred cut the skin from the flesh with a paring knife. Transfer the peeled squash and the apples to a large saucepan.

Add the butter and honey, and with a potato masher or a big wooden spoon, roughly mash the squash and apples, leaving some chunks of each. Add the salt. Sprinkle with the fresh herb of choice.

Source: honey.com

Skeps – basket-style hives

Skeps, which are baskets placed open-end-down, have been used for about 2000 years. Initially they were made from wicker plastered with mud and dung, but from the Middle Ages they were made of coils of grass or straw. In its simplest form, there is a single entrance at the bottom of the skep. There is no internal structure provided for the bees and the colony must produce its own honeycomb, which is attached to the inside of the skep.

Johnson Honey Farm with Bill & Louise Johnson

What’s new in the world of honey?
In the last four months the price of wholesale honey has gone up by 30%. Supply is down and bee populations continue to decline, so we’re seeing a spike in price. We currently have 250 hives but we’re increasing to 400 to help meet the demand.

What’s the advantage to buying honey directly from a beekeeper like yourself?
A lot of the honey you buy in the supermarket has been processed, heated and filtered so that it has a longer shelf-life. Some honey labeled “pure” could even have fillers like corn or rice syrup but the labels might not reflect that. If you buy your honey from beekeepers you can ask them directly how they harvest and process their product.

What’s your best-selling product?
The wildflower honey is most popular. When we extract the honey from the hive we shine a light through it to see the color, and if it’s brown we know it’s from wildflowers, and the green-colored honey is basswood. We also sell honeycomb, our own soap made from beeswax and honey, honey-glazed snack mix, and 19 different flavors of creamed honey. Stop by our stand for free samples!

How do you promote bees, the honey industry, and the importance of pollinators?
We’re always willing to give people tours of our beehives, so just give us a call. We also do free presentations for schools and organizations about beekeeping. We have a mobile hive that we can bring out in the summer so kids can see right inside. We also teach one beekeeping class each year at NICC. We’re pretty active in the Iowa Honey Producers Association and the American Beekeepers Association.

Great River Maple – Maple Festival 2015

When: Saturday, March 28, 2015, 8am – 4pm
Who: Great River Maple
What: $5 Pancake Breakfast
Wagon Ride to the Sugarbush
See Maple Syrup being Processed
Tours of our Sugarshack
Samples of Maple Cream
Where: 217 Clay Brick Lane, Garnavillo, Iowa 52049

The Gent’s Winter Salad

2 cups mixed greens
1 orange segments (Cara Cara or other)
1/4 cup toasted almonds
3 tbsp dried cranberries

Juice (from ends of oranges)
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 shallots (finely chopped)
1 tsp oregano (fresh or dried)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch salt

Peel and segment the orange over a small bowl to capture any juice. Add vinegar to the orange juice in the bowl, toss in the shallot and oregano. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Mound two plates with greens. Sprinkle the almonds and cranberries on top, lay orange segments on top. Drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with salt. Enjoy.

Source: Food52

Cold and Sickness

Did you know that being cold might not actually be what makes you sick? Almost every mother has said it: “Wear a jacket or you’ll catch a cold!” Is she right? So far, researchers who are studying this question think that normal exposure to moderate cold doesn’t increase your susceptibility to infection. Most health experts agree that the reason winter is “cold and flu season” is not that people are cold, but that they spend more time indoors, in closer contact with other people who can pass on their germs. More fascinating info about the connections between healthy lifestyles and immune system strength.

MAYAN Hydro with Mac Ahnen

How did you learn about hydroponics?
I first started with a conventional outdoor organic garden, but the folks at Paradigm Gardens in Madison got me interested in hydroponics. I read seven books about hydroponics, but it was still a lot of trial and error. It was about five years before I started producing at a commercial scale. There’s a lot of science behind it. One small error in temperature or nutrients and you can wipe out your whole crop.

How did you build your system?
I did it all myself using standard pipes, lights, timers and pumps. My setup is six feet wide and 30 feet long. All the water is purified through reverse osmosis and the air is also filtered and purified. Since there isn’t any soil to bring in contamination, this process reduces the disease and insect levels almost to zero. It’s a completely pure closed system. For the lettuce I go from seed to harvest in about four weeks. I rotate the crops so I always have some fresh lettuce ready to harvest each week.


What types of produce do you have?
I mostly have lettuce, but I also grow watercress and a bit of basil and other spices. My “spring mix” has seven different varieties of lettuce including buttercrunch, oak leaf, red sails and others. I also sell a special body cream that I started making for a friend who was having trouble with sensitive skin. It’s a special mix of vitamins, baby oil, and other ingredients.

Do you sell anywhere else besides the Winter Market?
I used to sell at the summer market, too, but now I work on the hydroponics over the winter and travel in the summer. Restaurants need 100 pounds of lettuce a week; I just can’t produce at that scale so I stick to the winter market at this point.

Solar Powering Your Community Workshop

March 10, 2015, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Best Western Plus Dubuque Hotel

Communities interested in learning more about solar development in the Dubuque, IA region are invited to a free workshop with national and local experts hosted by the East Central Intergovernmental Association. This interactive workshop will provide actionable information on creating a local-level solar program, with a focus on:
– The benefits and barriers of solar development;
– Planning for solar: getting solar ready;
– Understanding the regulatory landscape of solar; and
– Innovative financing options for solar projects.


Roasted Vegetable Soup

3 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 quart Roasted Winter Vegetables, recipe follows
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound carrots, peeled
1 pound parsnips, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For serving:
In a large saucepan, heat 3 cups of chicken stock. Coarsely puree the Roasted Winter Vegetables (see below) and the chicken stock in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade (or use a handheld blender). Pour the soup back into the pot and season, to taste. Thin with more chicken stock and reheat. The soup should be thick but not like a vegetable puree, so add more chicken stock and/or water until it’s the consistency you like.

Roasted Winter Vegetables:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and butternut squash in 1 to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don’t cut them too small.
Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 sheet pans. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula.
Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.

Credit: foodnetwork.com

Plants, trees and Midwest weather

Did you know that many of our native plants and trees are capable of surviving temperatures of -40 degrees (or lower)?
After they are acclimated by milder temperatures at or below freezing for an extended period of time, native trees undergo a “deep supercooling” process that suppresses ice formation within their living cells. Read more about this fascinating process.