Meet your farmer

Hi there! My name is Kiely Houston and I’m a first year farmer here at Rainshadow. I arrived at the farm after spending nearly a decade working as a public health consultant trying to fix our costly and ineffective health care system. Over time, I realized that I personally needed to spend more time away from a desk and that I really cared more about health (human health and ecosystem health) than healthcare. I decided I wanted to try out farming as a new career direction and am so grateful to be here learning.

Photo credit: Kiely Houston

The big change of the week

As we approach the Fall Equinox, we’re watching the evolution of our crops as they start to think about returning to the earth. The cold nights we had recently nipped a few particularly sensitive things and we’re clearing out tired plants (they’ve been abundantly producing for weeks!) to make way for all our winter greens.

This past week was a bit of a mind blower on the farm. Early in the week we harvested tomatoes, melons, corn, and hot peppers, and at the end of the week we cleared those beds and planted our winter greens starts.

When we clear beds, we take out all the plants that had been growing there for weeks, possibly months, thank those plants for their valuable and much appreciated service, and then feed them to the chickens, pigs, or compost pile depending on the plant. After removing all the plants, we add a bit of nutrients, rebuild the beds, and then plant new starts. This is always an exciting day! Gratitude and new growth, what farmers thrive on.

We flipped one row of tomatillos and a whole house of eggplants. We are in the process of removing these heat loving summer crops and planting our winter gems in their stead. Featured in these photos: our stand out favorite winter green: Siberian Kale.
(Sign up for your winter CSA to make sure you don’t miss out!)
(photo credit: Alison Holland.)

Move over summer squash, it’s winter squash’s turn!

One of the ways we learn as a farm crew is to take farm walks together and discuss the current state of the farm. This week we paid a visit to our winter squash patch to see how they’re coming along. Winter squash need time to develop their sugars and we encourage them by cutting their water. Picking a harvesting moment is a delicate balance: harvest too early and the squash will be bland and immature, too late and we risk a hard frost which can damage the squash and make them less storage hardy.

Like every vegetable we grow, these squash have been touched by many hands. The more I learn about sustainable farming practices, the more I’m impressed by just how much care goes into each piece of produce. First, someone grew the squash that gave us its seeds. Then a farmer dropped that seed into the ground, pulled a hoe across every inch of soil and later knelt to weed again and again around the tiny seedling. Someone will have to stoop to cut the squash from the vine and carry the heavy load to the farm truck. Then we’ll unload the squash and carry it into storage and eventually we’ll carry it to market or to the Farm Store and you will carry it home. That’s a lot of hands, and a lot of love!

We grow many different varieties here at Rainshadow and each has its own flavor, personality, and purpose. Last week we harvested a sampling and roasted them up for a taste test. Some varieties need time in storage to develop the most flavor, and some will be ready to eat very soon! The clear winner of our taste test was the North Georgia Candy Roaster. Originally cultivated by the Cherokee, the Candy Roaster can be roasted, stuffed, or made into pie. This gem can also be stored. Tucked into a cool spot in the house, it will not only keep, but also get sweeter with time.

Farmer Simon cradles an enormous North Georgia Candy Roaster. This is by far the largest of these squash the farm remembers growing. The light green and speckled sugar dumpling and dark green winter sweet are also coming along in the 25-acre. (Photo credit: Kiely Houston.)

Harvest List

This time of year, harvest lists can be a bit hit or miss. Crops are starting to get fatigued and produce less than expected. We clear beds and find more of something than we initially thoughts. Either way, you know the list below will adjust to reflect what is actually out there by the end of Tuesday harvest and you know it will be delicious!

For this week, we think our foundational veggies will be:


  • salanova oakleaf lettuce head
  • 1 leek
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • celery


  • salad mix
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 kohlrabi
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • celery

Asian greens
Thai basil
Italian Basil
Golden beets
Chiogga beets
Red Beets
Daikon radish
Green onions

Lettuce Heads
Lettuce Mix
Salad turnips
Yod Fah
summer squash
Cherry tomatoes
Large tomatoes
Hot peppers
Sweet peppers


Kiely’s Tried and True Winter Squash

Cut the squash in half and place it cut side down on an oiled cookie sheet, puncture the skin a few times to release steam. Roast up your winter squash in the oven at 400 degrees. Flip the squash when soft and bake a little longer with seasoning of your choice. Here’s some winter squash seasoning ideas:

  1. Keep it classic: brush with butter, salt and pepper and sprinkle with a little brown sugar

  2. Spice it up: Cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt

  3. Pour chili-lime vinaigrette over it: garlic, salt, minced hot chilies, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

Not quite ready to embrace fall flavors and still have some eggplant from last week you are wondering what to do with? This eggplant recipe puts summer flavors into a cozy comforting baked pasta format. Recipe from Smitten Kitchen adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi.

1 large eggplant (or 4-6 Rainshadow minis), cut into 3/4-inch dice
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 celery stalk, in a 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces orzo rinsed
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups vegetable or meat stock
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or more to taste, up to the zest of a whole lemon
4 ounces mozzarella, firmer is better here, cut into 1/3-inch dice
A generous 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
3 medium tomatoes, diced

  1. Sprinkle your eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. (This is a great time to get the rest of your ingredients together.) After 30 minutes, rinse it well and pat it dry on towels.

  2. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and once the oil is shimmering, add the eggplant. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer them to paper towels to drain. Add celery and carrots to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for two minutes more. Turn off the heat, add the oregano, mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon table salt, many grinds of black pepper and the stock and mix well.

  3. Transfer mixture to an 8×11-inch ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then bake 20 minutes without the foil. (You can increase the ratio of foil-on to foil-off time if you don’t like a crunchy pasta lid.) Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

I hope you are enjoying the turning of the seasons and still finding small moments to appreciate our natural world despite the smoke.


Please email us and let us know if you can’t make Wednesday or if someone else is picking up for you. We can’t wait to see you on Wednesday!