Kopp's Crops is a family-run business specializing in maple syrup, honey and fresh vegetables. We are located 45 miles north of Minneapolis in Bradford Township on our 65 acre farm.

*Now Selling at the Cambridge-Isanti Farmers Market!*

Local Orders: For pickup in Isanti, Cambridge, Brooklyn Park or Arden Hills, please email koppscrops@gmail.com or call 763-772-7057 to place your order and arrange payment & pickup. Available products are listed in the shopping cart below.

Outside the Twin Cities: Please use the online shopping cart below. USPS shipping charges will be calculated at checkout.

For questions, please email us at koppscrops@gmail.com


Monday, July 25, 2011

Keeping Out the Riffraff

We know a couple who puts up a fence to keep their kids out of the garden.  But we'd rather our girls spend as much time in the garden as possible, so they learn to love vegetables and appreciate where they come from.  However, that doesn’t mean we want our garden to be quite so open and welcoming to other species.  Our first line of defense is a foot-wide border of wildflowers around the perimeter that creates a habitat for “good” insects like ladybugs that feast on the “bad” insects like aphids that chew holes in leafy greens to make our Swiss chard look like Swiss cheese.
But a few weeks ago we saw that we had a bigger problem:  hoofprints in the garden.  Hence, a fence.  To keep the deer out, we string fishing line between metal fence posts, which doesn’t seem like it would be strong enough to keep a big doe from busting through.  But whatever it lacks in strength, it makes up for in deer confusion.  See, the deer only come into the garden at night (sneaky little devils), and they can’t see the fishing line in the dark.  When they run up against it, it stops them in their tracks.  Since they can’t see it, they don’t know how to get around it.  After a few tries, they usually give up, which means we can leave a strategically-placed section open so we humans can come & go without having to open a gate.  At least that’s how it worked last year.  But now we apparently have track-star deer on our property; at least one has already jumped the fence to nibble on the sweet potatoes and green beans. 
At the ground level we need a tighter barrier to keep out the woodchucks, so we use 18” high chicken wire.  They primarily like to munch on plants that are members of the brassica family like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage (aka the "gas-producing vegetables").   How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a wood chuck could chuck wood?  We don’t know, but a he can really chuck up a garden!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kopp's Crops in the Classroom - Saturday, July 30

Have our posts inspired you to start preserving your own food? Need more information on how to get started? Jason will be teaching a FREE introductory class in home canning, freezing and smoking at the Green Barn in Isanti on Saturday, July 30 at 10am.

The class is free, but preregistration is required and space is limited. Call the Green Barn directly at 763-444-5725 to register, or click on the link below for more information:  http://www.greenbarngardencenter.com/events-more/

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Great Bee Fake-Out

Last night we went to check on the bees, and found one hive almost ready to swarm, meaning that our queen had her little bee bags packed and was ready to kiss our hive goodbye, take roughly half the worker bees and settle a new colony.  Sometimes bees swarm because the hive is too “hot” or crowded.  Other bees are gypsies at heart – they just naturally want to swarm. And though the queen may rule the hive, it’s the workers who decide when she should lead them on a swarm.  The worker bees won’t swarm until a new queen is ready to take over the hive, and they can turn any egg into a future queen just by feeding it a protein called royal jelly.  In the hive we saw, there were eggs in eight queen cells, and they were all fully enclosed or capped.  That’s a lot of potential queens to duke it out for Head Honcho of the Honey Hive when they chew their way out of their cells in a few days.
The capped queen cells were the first sign that a swarm was evident.  The second indicator was the queen herself – when Jason found her, she was newly svelte and lean.  When the workers are really ready to go, they stop feeding their queen to put her on a crash diet, so she stops laying eggs and actually slims down enough to get airborne.  Normally those pampered royalty are so pleasantly plump that they can’t fly. 
But we’re selfish – we didn’t want to lose half our hive and the honey they would produce.  And we just so happened to have a vacant hive box in our beehive neighborhood (sadly, a previous colony of bees had been unable to pay their mortgage on time, so we had to foreclose on them).  But there was no way of knowing whether our nomadic queen would colonize in the empty hive or take her entourage to someone else’s property.  So we engaged in a little bee psychology and faked a swarm.  Jason found the queen, took her and half the colony to the empty hive, and basically made them all think it was their idea all along to colonize there.  In a couple of days, we’ll smush all the queen cells in before they hatch in the old hive, then reintroduce the remaining bees into the new hive.  If we just let the two half-colonies live apart, neither hive will produce enough honey for human consumption.  But if all goes well with the great bee fake-out, our reunited colony will produce plenty of what we affectionately refer to as “The Nectar of the Kopps.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Frozen Chosen

The weather may finally be heating up, but here at Kopp’s Crops we’re still freezing – freezing broccoli, that is.  The first sizable batch of broccoli crowns was ready to harvest this weekend.  With the Packman broccoli we grow, we always make sure to cut off the main crown of broccoli before it starts to flower.  Harvesting the first crown early enough means the plant will continue to grow smaller shoots of broccoli for most of the summer, providing a steady supply of the superfood for our dinner table.
After cleaning the broccoli & cutting it into Sacagawea-dollar-sized florets (and yes, we eat the “stumps” too), we blanch about a gallon at a time in boiling water for three minutes to kill any bacteria and stop the enzyme action that destroys that delicious fresh broccoli flavor.   We then quickly drop it in a sink full of ice water to stop the cooking process before the broccoli gets too mushy for anyone but the baby to enjoy.  Normally we soak our broccoli in salt water before processing to make sure to get all the bugs out.  But this year we seem to be vermin-free!  The nice thing about the blanching process is that even if we miss a bug or two, we find them before we bag & seal the vegetables – they wind up floating belly-up in the blanching water, like miniature Mafia snitches in the East River.
A couple of years ago we invested in a good quality vacuum sealer, which has paid for itself over & over in freezer burn prevention.  Freezer burn is caused when the outer layer of the frozen food loses its moisture and starts to dehydrate.  This can be caused by too much air in the freezer bag to begin with, or a small leak that lets the moisture out.  And today’s auto defrost freezers make it worse, because they are designed to remove moisture from the freezer (which is why you don’t get the ice buildup…solve one problem, create another).  The vacuum sealer solves both problems, by simultaneously sucking all the air out and melting the plastic together to get a truly airtight seal.  Which is a great improvement over the method Michelle can remember back in the “olden days,” freezing vegetables with her mom.  Back then, the process was as follows: put the veggies into thin plastic freezer bags bags, stick a straw inside, suck out all the air, try not to choke on the inevitably-inhaled broccoli bits, and then hope for the dexterity to quickly remove the straw and close the twist tie before all the air get back into the bag.  Repeat as necessary until all the bags are air-free or we pass out trying.