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Have Sheep, Will Farm--Part II

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Kayte Young: From WFIU in Bloomington Indiana, I’m Kayte Young and this is Earth Eats. 


Kathleen Walters: We did one for camel milk. So we are…we... you know what? My feeling is if you’re passionate about it, and it’s feasible, and its agriculture then we’ve crossed the biggest hurdles right there. 


KY: This week we talk with farm loan officer Kathleen Walters. For part two in our series “Have Sheep, Will Farm”, a story about a young couple searching for their farm home. 


And as promised, garlic soup from Chef Arlyn Llewellyn. That’s coming right up, so stay with us. 


Last week I talked about growing garlic. This week we’re cooking with garlic. We’re joining Chef Arlyn Llewellyn in the kitchen of Function Brewing. Arlyn is sharing what she calls “A Tale of Two Soups”. It’s a garlic lover’s soup. One version is vegan and the other is made with chicken. We’ll be walking through the steps of the two variations somewhat simultaneously. You can zoom in on the part that matters most to you. If you get lost, no worries, we have both versions on our website. Let’s get started. 


Arlyn Llewellyn: In both cases we need to roast a whole head of garlic. So we just add a complete intact head of garlic. And we wrap it up tightly in aluminum foil. And we’re gonna... put that… you can either put that on a sheet pan or you can put it straight on the rack in the oven, at 400 degrees and 40 to 50 minutes. And the way to tell if its done is to take tongs and just squeeze it and it will have a nice give to it when it’s all roasted. Get that going in the oven.  


Another early step that we’re gonna do for the vegan version is to make our mushroom broth. So we have a half of cup of dried porcini mushrooms, which smells so amazing. I feel like I could… I know if you hate mushrooms maybe it smells terrible. But for me it's like the most satisfying savory smell. 


I thought we’d talk a little bit about my approach to making a recipe vegan. One of the things is to think about specifically how you want the flavors to come across rather than just doing straight substitutions. So somebody might look at the chicken soup recipe which came first. I’ve made this at a restaurant several times, and say “well you should just substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock”


But in my experience vegetable stock is not always a great substitute. Depending on the context it can taste very muddied. Because chicken stock, beef stock, while they have vegetables those are so in the background. And the stock itself is bringing a very strong specific meaty flavor. So in this case I would much prefer a very strong meaty flavor of a mushroom, rather than the complex… and as I said sometimes muddled flavor of a veggie stock. So we’re just gonna make our own mushroom stock, although you can certainly buy mushroom concentrate in the soup aisle at the grocery store as well. 


So I have a half a cup of dried porcini mushrooms, and just add… three cups of boiling water to it. And you want this to hang out for at least half an hour, wouldn't hurt for it to go for at least an hour or more. At a minimum you want the mushrooms to become really plump, and the water will become a nice brown color. That is the mushroom stage on the meat side, at this point we would also get a bone-in, skin-on, chicken breast going in the oven. Roasting at 375 to 400 degrees for... depending on the size of the chicken breast, and how efficient your oven is, you’re looking at 30 to 45 minutes approximately. So those are the early stages if you were making soup for dinner you could do this in the morning if you wanted, or the day before, and just refrigerate these components, because this stuff does take a little bit longer. But everything else is gonna come together much faster. 


You can fast forward in time… in the case of both soups we’re gonna be back dicing up some yukon gold potatoes. And you’re just cutting these into pieces that would be appealing to you in a soup. Once we have diced up our potatoes, we’re gonna put them in a nice big soup pot with our broth. 


In the case of the chicken soup, we just have chicken broth, so it's pretty straightforward. We just put the potatoes in the pot and then pour in 3 cups of chicken stock. Get the lid on it and bring it up to a boil on medium-high. As soon as you reach a boil, you’re gonna turn it down to medium-low and let it simmer, until the potatoes are just starting to become fork-tender. You don’t want to overcook them because then the potatoes will be real mushy and they’ll just sort of fall apart in the soup.


The mushroom stock - we have one step first, which is that we need to pull these mushrooms out of the water they have been rehydrating in. We just want to chop them up. So we’ll set those aside. 


KY: Chef Aryln says that there’s often some grit from the dried mushrooms that settles on the bottom of the bowl. And you don’t want that in your soup. 


AL: So we just want to pour it carefully rather than just dumping it. And the sediment will mostly stay at the bottom. And we’ll just have to sacrifice the last couple tablespoons of broth, in order not to transfer all that grit. 


So we’ll put a lid on that. And same thing we’re just gonna bring it up to a boil on medium-high, and then once the boil is reached down to medium-low, and let it simmer until the potatoes are just starting to become fork-tender. 

So we have our potatoes cooked and stock that have become fork-tender. And then to add to those… we’re gonna be adding cream cheese. Eight ounces of cream cheese. We have a nice vegan cream cheese for the vegan one, and a traditional dairy one for the chicken soup. Lots of vegan cream cheese options out there to choose from. My favorite is Kite Hill, it’s gonna be bringing a lot of body and richness to the party. 


We’re gonna ladle out approximately a cup’s worth of the broth and potatoes into a metal or glass bowl. As well as our roasted garlic cloves. So I guess we started with a full intact head of garlic, we’re gonna have to squeeze out the cloves now. But that is… I find... personally very satisfying. You end up with this really gooey, sticky, very savory garlic mixture that just wants to pop out of the cloves when you apply pressure to it.  If you don’t have an immersion blender and you have a blender that can handle the heat, you can just ladle this straight into your blender. 

And then we’re gonna add our cream cheese to this mixture. So this how we’re getting some body in the soup, because these potatoes are gonna blend up with the cream cheese and create a nice rich base. Which we will stir back into the rest of the soup. 

I don’t know about you but immersion blenders are like my favorite kitchen appliance. Although the challenge is definitely when you’re using a smaller amount like this, is to try to make sure you keep the immersion blender immersed, because if it gets a little too high, most of the brands have holes on the side, and you could end up shooting hot liquid out. So you do wanna make sure you have kinda a small bowl, you tilt it to the side, you stick your immersion blender all the way in. If you’re concerned about this at all, again you can just use a traditional blender. 

Okay, so now that we have blended the cream cheese, the potatoes, and the broth, we’re just gonna stir that right back into the rest of the soup mixture. 

And now we have a nice creamy soup that’s still brothy as well. And then to this, again we’re working on the vegan version, that we have blended with the... part of, with the cream cheese and the roasted garlic, and now we’ve combined it back together.

We’re going to add two and a half cups of broccoli florets. So we’re gonna add that to our still warm soup that’s been blended with the cream cheese and roasted garlic. As well as broccoli, we’re gonna add our re-hydrated mushrooms. We’re also gonna chop up some - I have cremini mushrooms here, or you could use portabella mushrooms, or any wild mushroom you have. You're just gonna slice these up into pretty small slices, and that will go in as well. 

And we want half a head of minced garlic cloves. So I wasn’t kidding around when I said this was a garlic lover’s soup, we want this to be vampire-proof and great for your immune systems, especially in cold and flu season. This is not a starter garlic dish. And then we’re gonna add a pound of shelled edamame. 


KY: And these are the green soybeans which can be found in the frozen foods section. Just make sure you get the ones that are removed from the shell. There’s no reason to thaw them, just add them as they are. They’ll bring texture and some extra protein. 


AL: And edamame has a nice little snap to it so...


KY: Looks good too.


AL: Yeah there’s a lot of green poking out from the broccoli and the edamame. Again, during cold and flu season that's particularly nice to see some green going on. 


KY: Allow the soup to simmer until the edamame is heated through, and the broccoli is tender, 5 to 10 minutes. 

AL: And then you’re just gonna season to taste with salt and pepper. And we're gonna add salt to taste and a generous amount of black pepper to round it out.


KY: And now back to the chicken version of this garlic lover’s soup. We still need to finish that one. 


AL: We’ve removed our lid from our soup pot that has our potatoes and has our chicken stock simmering in it. Potatoes are nicely fork-tender. We’re going to turn off our heat for just a moment and then we are going to ladle out a cup or two of the potatoes and the broth into a heatproof metal or glass bowl and we will blend it with cream cheese. 


And then the roasted garlic that we squeeze out with of the roasted garlic head. And once we’ve blended that out with an immersion blender or a traditional blender we’ll stir that back into our soup. And to our soup we will now add two and a half cups of broccoli florets. And we’ll put the lid back on it and let it simmer about 5 to 10 minutes. At that point we’re gonna turn off the heat completely and we’re gonna add in all the shredded or chopped chicken meat we pulled off that chicken carcass earlier. I don't want to add it before this because I don’t want it to overcook, it's already fully cooked. And it hanging out in a simmering broth is just gonna dry it out. And then we’re gonna add salt and pepper to taste. Again we didn’t season earlier because we wanted to taste the whole thing together. And the chicken stock, and the cream cheese will have already added some salt. So we’re gonna taste that and see what else it might need. 


KY: So there you have it. A garlic lover’s soup prepared two ways - one vegan, and one chicken. These recipes come from the kitchen of Function Brewing, where Arlyn Llewellyn is the chef and her husband Steve Llewellyn is the brewer. 


Check out both of these recipes, as always, at EarthEats.org. 


We gave both of the soups a taste. 


That is some intense garlic. I think because some of its fresh, or you know hasn’t been cooked for a really long time, it’s really got an intensity. 


AL: Right. But not that raw garlic bite I don’t think. It is, its very garlicky, But it isn't that sharp, its just really pronounced. And then in the background you definitely get some of that roasted garlic caramelization which brings the sweetness, creaminess from the cream cheese. 


That was the chicken one I was just trying, I’m gonna try the vegan one now. 


Vegan one is definitely still very garlic-y, but it’s also very mushroom-y. I think it pays homage to that earthy robust flavor of the mushrooms. So they're... it's interesting that they have so many ingredients in common but they are such different soups. 


KY: They are both really good. So if it were me I would do this one, but I would use real cream cheese. So I would make a vegetarian, but not a vegan. 


AL: Right, right, yes, that makes sense. 


KY: Let us know what you would do. And if you make either of these soups, drop us a line. We’d love to hear how it turns out. E-mail us, EarthEats@gmail.com. 

[production support music]

KY: Production support comes from Elizabeth Ruh, Enrolled Agent, providing customized financial services for individuals, businesses, and disabled adults including tax planning, bill paying, and estate services.  More at Personal Financial Services dot net

Bill Brown at Griffy Creek Studio, architectural design and consulting for residential, commercial and community projects. Sustainable, energy positive and resilient design for a rapidly changing world. Bill at griffy creek dot studio.

And Insurance agent Dan Williamson of Bill Resch Insurance. Offering comprehensive auto, business and home coverage, in affiliation with Pekin Insurance. Beyond the expected. More at 812-336-6838

Earlier this year we launched a series about a young couple getting started in farming. You might remember Brett and Lauren, they have a flock of Jacob sheep. A small breed with long-horns and a distinct voice. 


Their flock got started from a wedding present. Yep, they asked for farm animals… they got some farm animals. The thing was they didn’t have land of their own. They were renters, which meant they ended up moving their expanding flock from one farm to another in the back of a minivan no less. And when the 2nd lease was coming to an end, they decided to try for some land of their own. In the first episode we heard about Lauren and Brett’s connection with the work of farming. Their motivations and their dreams for Three-flock farm. And they talked about some land they had set their sights on, and their application for an FSA loan. 


This week in part two of our series, “Have Sheep, Will Farm”, we speak with Kathleen Walters, for more insight into the FSA loan process 


Kathleen Walters: I’m Kathleen Walters, and I work with the Farm Service Agency, and I’m a farm loan officer. The FSA is… we are an agency of the USDA, and our... we’re the farm service agency. Our focus is a little different than a bank's. We’re… our programs are designed to help small farmers get started, or young farmers get started where they may not have the equity that they necessarily need for a commercial bank. We do a lot of smaller loans, we have a micro-loan program that's under 50,000 dollars. A lot of times commercial banks have a hard time making that profitable, so that we’re kinda that pickup area.


We don’t compete with banks. If you are strong enough to get a loan from a local bank, then that’s where we send you. On the whole all our interests are lower than commercial banks. We have a lending limit to 300,000 dollars for a farm ownership, and then a separate $300,000 for like equipment, and let’s say to put your crop in for the year. 

KY: Kathleen works with all kinds of farmers. But she specializes in small scale operations and specialty crops, organic farming, vegetables and fruits, maybe some aquaculture, or even flowers. I asked Kathleen about the specific requirements for these types loans. 


KW: We have to be able to collateralize it. We are still under that umbrella. And managerial experience is important. We wanna see that you’ve thought it through and maybe you’ve done it at a small scale, for instance I have one up in my area that does pumpkins. And they started with six acres, and they worked the bugs out of it, and... tried to figure out and we're ready to go to close to 50 acres, and then they needed us. And so then we can pick it up, we do an annual operating line for them. That's where we kinda come in, where you've tried this on your own and on a little small scale. 


One my... the couples that we closed a loan with last winter, were doing it in their backyard. You know they were raising vegetables and selling them at the farmer’s market, and they were ready to move and have a big enough place where they could do it more full-time. It’s not full-time right now, they both still have jobs, but they’re working towards that, that’s what their ultimate goal is. And that’s kinda what we look at it. 

The most important part is… if you have an idea about it, come sit down with a loan officer, even if its two years before you really are ready to do it. And kinda work through “Well, here’s what we can do in the meantime to make it… you know, fly through better”


KY: Right, and like you're saying if they have a chance to try it out for themselves both to see "Do i even like doing this? Can we do it? What all is involved?" because when you’re just thinking about it, you don’t really know what its like. 


KW: Yes, right, and its -  


KY:  What kind of problems you might encounter. 


KW: You know organic farming and a lot of the producing fruits and vegetables is a lot of hard work. And you can tell that the people that I work with are truly committed to it and have a passion for it. And that goes a long way to knowing that this is... they’re gonna have setbacks, everybody has setbacks, but the thing is that we have a plan.


We did one for Camel milk. So we are... you know what? My feeling is if you're passionate about it, and it’s feasible, and its agriculture, then we have crossed the biggest hurdles right there. 


KY: So I've been hearing that the average age of farmers in the United States is around 60. There is an aging farming population. And so is part of what’s happening with these government programs is to encourage young farmers to get started and try to move some of those barriers out of the way? 


KW: Right, and it does do that. And most of my borrowers are fairly young.  


KY: So you serve beginning farmers but also can help if somebody… like if you said, gets in a tight spot. So they may be an existing farmer, but they've... you know, had a bad season, or need some new equipment because something has failed or whatever... and they need a loan. 


KW: Right. Or there could be this one piece of land that came up for sale, right? With them that may not ever come up for sale again, that’s perfect for them. But they’re not quite financially where they need to be at that point in time. 


KY: Lauren and Brett went to talk with Kathleen about the first piece of land they found. They weren’t able to agree on a price with that seller so it fell through. 

KW: They are a young couple, that I know that they have had a real passion for farming when they got married 5 years or so ago. They asked for agricultural wedding gifts. And they got some livestock from that. They received some sheep, and they started to build their herd and over the years they’ve been building their herd up and now they’re ready to actually sell. They’ve been kind of trading up to this point, their meat for some other things. You know and now they're ready to go froward. And they put the time and effort in to come up with a business plan. And plans always change, but you need to have one.  

You know and... so they found this other piece of property near Ellettsville, and was actually a better fit for them. So waiting was a good thing. And we haven’t completely got the loan finished but we’re getting there. 

So we’re in the… its approved but we just haven't... I say that approval is one spot, then there’s a marathon to closing. Because there is a lot of financial things that have to happen in the background that a lot of times people don't see. But they are a couple that is excited about good quality food and they're in the perfect area for that. And I’m… confident they will be a success. So, they’re just real good people. And we still lend on people’s character also. I mean... that's part of the decision making. There are some things that are very strict about we do, and then there are some things that are interpretation and...

KY: Subjective and... 


KW: Yeah. When someone’s got that passion you do your best to work forward with them. 


KY: That actually just brings up another question for me, when you talk about some of those subjective areas.  I know that the USDA has a history of racial discrimination in its farm lending programs and there have been a couple lawsuits that were settled. So I was just wondering if you could speak to that at all and what you thought about it.  


KW: Well apparently it did happen. And you know, just like our past some of the things we’re kinda embarrassed about. It was more in the south, I can’t say it wasn’t here in Indiana also, but I think getting the right people on the ground sorts that problem out. You know we... they have a lot of racial diversity training but I think you just have to have the right people that see each person as an individual, and you know that will get sorted out. But a lot of the little behind the scenes things we do is because of those lawsuits, so that we’re sure that we are not being discriminatory so...

KY: I asked what kind of changes they had made within the agency.

KW: Apparently they were not giving applications to people, just turning them away. We take an application from anyone who wants to give us one. And then we give them a receipt for it. It’s called a receipt for service. So that we have documentation that shows that yes we took their application and we legitimately looked at it. You know and...


KY: And they have that proof too, because they’ve been given a receipt.


KW: Right, right. 


KY: What kinds of assurances were able to offer to Lauren as a black woman who is applying for a loan like this?


KW: Well the funny thing is I didn’t see her as a black woman. All I saw was someone who was really invested in this and we do have different pots of money that we pull out of. The congress gives us certain amounts of funds to work with. And if those funds are gone, there's... for veterans and for the under served populations, there's a little extra pot of money there. So even if that's gone we may still be able to roll that through. 

KY: I know Lauren told me when she came into the office that you said something to her about the history of racial discrimination. And that that was not gonna be an issue or something. She said that she just felt really reassured and comfortable with you that you were willing to mention that and to let her know. 


KW: Well, I may have said something but I just remember what she said when she left. She goes “I feel really good about this meeting” and I said “well I’m glad”. You know and... and I was excited to help them. Because its kinda… from my position I was a hog farmer for 30 years before I... we retired our hog farms and I went to work for the Farm Service Agency. So I have that understanding about working for yourself, and having your own goals and visions. You know not someone above you setting those forth, and you’re kinda responsible for. And when I see them I get excited for them also. It has to work and I make sure I do my work does, but I just get real excited for them. 


KY: I wanted to hear more about the specific requirements for these types of loans. 


KW: To get a farm ownership loan you have to have 3 years of farming experience. And while Brett and Lauren started small they did build that. 


KY: It’s also interesting to me because from what I understand, they didn’t even know about the FSA program when they started. And so they were kind of building this experience without realizing that it was gonna help them, in the future when they did decide to go forward with a more solid plan. 


KW: Right, sometimes I think we’re the best kept secret. 

KY: Do you feel like the program is being taken advantage of in the area? And do you... does all the money usually get lent? 

KW: Not usually lately. 

KY: But that’s good to know that like... there’s money out there and people need to just  know about it and find out if its a good fit for them. 


KW: Right. So people don’t know, but usually if we get into one farmer’s market where one person is, its invariably that we’ll get more people from there, because unlike a lot of other businesses, it seems like to me that, at farmer’s markets they help one another a little more than… they're not quite as cutthroat. 


KY: One of the other requirements for FSA lending is that you need to have a purchase agreement with the seller before you apply for the loan. 


KW: Brett and Lauren came and talked to me before they did, which is what I suggest. If you have some type of idea of what you wanna do, come talk to us. You know... just kind of find out the navigation of it first, and so when you do get that you can get forward. Because part of our application process, unlike a lot of banks, is that we actually ask you to provide a cash flow statement and a projection for that following year, even if you have a off-farm jobs. Because a lot of times banks will see that off-farm job, they go "Well they'll pay for it that way" and we’re more geared to agriculture and so we want-


KY: You want to see the farm succeed.


KW: We wanna see that-


KY: You're not just looking at "do they currently making enough money at their other jobs to be able to pay these payments" 

KW: Right. 

KY: The goal of the program is to expand agriculture. You want to see the farm plan work. So that they can maybe start cutting back on that outside income because they're actually making income on their farming operation. 

KW: Right and I think most of the goals of a two income family that come to me, is to drop the income of one of the partners and have them be 100% into the production, and you know... that takes time.  KY: Yeah. 

That’s all we have time for today. Well thank you so much for speaking with me Kathleen, its been really great to talk to you. 

KW: Well I've enjoyed it. 

KY: That was FSA loan officer Kathleen Walters. Please visit the Earth Eats website to learn more about Brett and Lauren’s farm dreams, the history of racial discrimination in farm lending, and about applying for FSA loans. Find us at EarthEats.org

Renee Reed: The Earth Eats team includes Eobon Binder, Chad Bouchard, Mark Chilla, Abraham Hill, Taylor Killough, Josephine McRobbie, Daniel Orr, The IU Food Institute, Harvest Public Media and me, Renee Reed.  Our theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey. Earth Eats is produced and edited by Kayte Young and our executive producer is John Bailey.

KY: Special thanks this week to Kathleen Walters, Arlyn Llewellyn, and everyone at Function Brewing. 

Production support comes from

Insurance agent Dan Williamson of Bill Resch Insurance. Offering comprehensive auto, business and home coverage, in affiliation with Pekin Insurance. Beyond the expected. More at 812-336-6838


Elizabeth Ruh, Enrolled Agent, providing customized financial services for individuals, businesses, disabled adults including tax planning, bill paying, and estate services.  More at Personal Financial Services dot net


And Bill Brown at Griffy Creek Studio, architectural design and consulting for residential, commercial and community projects. Sustainable, energy positive and resilient design for a rapidly changing world. Bill at griffy creek dot studio.

Portrait of Kathleen Walters, outside, on IU campus

Farm Loan officer Kathleen Walters is stationed with the FSA office in Rockville, Indiana, but she serves the Bloomington Area, too. (Kayte Young/WFIU)

“We did one for camel milk, so, ya know what? My feeling is, if you’re passionate about it and it’s feasible and it’s agriculture, then we’ve crossed the biggest hurdles right there.”  

This week we talk with Farm Loan Officer Kathleen Walters, about FSA loans. Our conversation is part two of our series Have Sheep, Will Farm--about Lauren McCalister and Brett Volpp, a young farming couple searching for their farm home.

We talk about the USDA’s history with discriminatory loan practices and about the importance of building a solid business plan for farming success. 

Check out Have Sheep Will Farm--Part 1, from earlier this year. 

Also on the show this week, as promised, garlic-lovers soup recipes from Chef Arlyn Llewellyn of Function Brewing

Music on this episode

 Autumn Souvenir by Yoann L. Dantec-From Universal Production Music

Luna Lushness by Rainman-from Universal Production Music

The Earth Eats’ theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey.

Stories On This Episode

Arlyn's Vegan Garlic Mushroom Soup

images/eartheats-images/garlic_mushoom02.jpg

Chef Arlyn Llewellyn doesn't just subsitute ingredients to make a recipe vegan. She carefully builds flavor and richness to create this standout vegan garlic soup.

Arlyn's Garlic Chicken Soup With Broccoli And Potatoes

images/eartheats-images/garlic_chicken.jpg

The chef at Function Brewing shares a comforting soup for garlic lovers only.

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