It is about time we get back into hosting some workshops around this farm. Everyone has been asking when the farm will open to the public? We are just waiting on some business issue to really open up…but that is not to say we can’t have a little fun here on the farm on the sly…No really I am just kidding..this weekend we are doing our jam making workshop and like every year in the past when we have had this workshop it is so much fun. We talk about all kinds of jams but we will be making Strawberry jam…and the attendee are taking theirs home with them to enjoy. So remember there is limited space email me if you want to come…and bring a friend..it makes for a great morning outing.
On to what is happening on the farm. This past weekend we had our 2nd CSA shareholder pickup…wow there were a lot of people and baskets flying off this farm.
It had rained just hours before making for a nice cool morning but a bit muddy in the harvesting. Mark and I spent more time slipping and sliding around on the wet grass..me hitting the dirt a couple of time with bags of kale in hand. April and Viki helped pack baskets and get everyone signed in for their pickup. It was busy…busy…busy for a few hours and Mark and I both couldn’t lift our heads that evening. It was nice seeing the shareholders back on the farm. Now that spring is in high gear and the field is in drifts of greens, reds and…green colors…yes this is the greens season. And the shareholders baskets contained a big bunch of them of all kinds shapes and taste. Lots of salads this week..But that is how it always is during this time of year. Come July we all will be pleading for something green..something leafy..and only basil fits the bill and that just doesn’t make for a great salad. But speaking of salad I am posting a couple of great vinegarrett recipes (check Facebook) to help add a little spice to those huge heads of red lettuce and romaine that came off the farm this week. Now I understand some of you shareholders are a little over welemed with so many greens and April post can help you as well. But lets talk a little about how this whole farm/eating in season works. Spring time offers the first harvest of anything editable after a long winter of nothing growing. And with that the first crops to break the soil are green leafy vegetables. These are the crops that withstand mother natures fickleness when it comes to frosts and then warm sunny days. Next comes the root and bulb crops like onions, radishes then beets and carrot leading the way for new potatoes. They too can take being slapped around by the weather a bit. There is a reason for these crops to be first to find their way to our plate and these are what grow in our climate in the spring. Sure I would love to have a few weeks of California weather and be able to throw a couple of red tomatoes and few peppers in there too…but we don’t live in California and just between you and me…I kinda like living where there is 4 seasons not 1. The greens will be moving out before you know it and I for one will be sad to see them go…well until fall when they are back…
So what’s in the basket?
There are some really fun and delicious items in that basket from Saturday and if you stuck around for the cooking demo you know how wonderful Kale and cannelloni beans with sweet red onions can be…and fast too! Several of you also got a brazing mix this is basically a mixture of mustards, red russian kale and asian greens meant to be sautéed with a little stock or water. Grap those recipes cards while your picking up at the market…that is what they are there for. I personally like to add chicken to this brazing mix and or pasta. You can cook it like we did with the kale during the workshop…a little apple cider vinegar and a dash of sugar takes the bite off these asian greens. Good reason to come to these little cooking demos…that and we eat what we cook! Love that:)
A bag of tender loose leaf lettuce and a bundle of onions and radishes pictured here…that brazing mix is so pretty….I just want to put it in a jar of water and make a center piece out of it! Now some of you got krohrobi in this pickup…we harvested all that was ready..if you didn’t get one you will get it next time. Love those. 2 huge heads of romaine and red sail lettuces, a bag of kale and a bag of spinach. You also got strawberries with this pickup. Some of you got a few farm eggs again we will get to everybody it just takes time…the chickens only lay so much. Those of you that brought your flower cutters also took home some really beautiful bouquets.. & herbs like parsley, mint and dill. Now for you new shareholders if you didn’t get all of these herbs or flowers or weren’t sure where they were located on the farm..asked we will point you in the right direction..this is part of your CSA and you have to do the cutting. This one bouquet i caught a picture of was extra nice..
Here are some more pictures of the basket contents and the shareholder pickup:)
Fresh romaine lettuce…Nothing better for a hearty salad.. or you could go for a spinach strawberry salad…I just can’t seem to make it into the farmhouse from the field with those strawberries!
CSA~ be watching for pickup updates we will need to get y’all back on the before next weekend..
You Can’t Argue with Mother Nature
by April Patel
CSA shareholder & Farm staff writer
Seasons form the natural backdrop for eating. All of the world’s healthiest foods are seasonal. Imagine a vegetable garden in the dead of winter. Now imagine this same garden on a sunny, summer day. How different things are during these two seasons of the year?! For ecologists, seasons are considered a source of natural diversity. Changes in growing conditions from spring to summer or fall to winter are considered essential for balancing the earth’s resources and its life forms.
But today it’s so easy for us to forget about seasons when we eat. Modern food processing and worldwide distribution of food make foods available year-round, and grocery stores shelves look much the same in December as they do in July.
What does this mean for you? There’s two ways to answer that question, one with a farm perspective and the other with a personal perspective. I can’t speak from the farm perspective, Peggy can do that better than I can. But I can speak from the personal perspective and what I have learned while being a CSA member.
You have to remember a few things. The CSA basket isn’t a grocery store cart. You may not get some of everything every single pick up. Things will run out and there’s no 18 wheeler with mealy, half-frozen, nutritionally lacking replacements when that happens. The beauty of it is, if the weather is right, more will grow. Some items you will get an abundance of, like in the springtime it’s greens, in the summer it can be beans, eggplant or sunflower bouquets. The main point is to be very grateful when there is abundance and learn how to use it to its fullest!
Here are three examples of this from this week’s pick up. How many of you know that chickens do not lay eggs when it’s cold outside? Seriously, raise your hands! When we just came off of a cooling trend before this past pick up it was no surprise that there weren’t many eggs to go around. A young hen lays one egg a day when it’s warm, period. You can’t change that. All the shareholders will get to try the farm eggs at some point. It just takes a few pickups to get to all the shareholders. It evens out though it may take a while.
Another example is there was a TON of lettuce this week in the baskets. We tried to warn you when greens come in, they come in! I realize even a healthy eater might find the amount of greens in this past week’s basket a daunting task. Let me tell you how I deal with it.
- One, I freeze what can be frozen for later. Eat what’s perishable now. One shareholder said her spinach from the first pick up got slimy before they had a chance to eat it, so they threw it away, been there done that! Of course it would kill me to do that now, but that’s because I’ve been through it and know how to deal with it. I wash everything when I get home. Then I lay everything on kitchen towels to dry. I pack all the greens between layers of paper towels and slide them into Ziploc bags squeezing almost all of the air out. Peggy and others have talked about the green bags, they work, too. But this is how I store all my greens to keep them from going bad and it works for me. I reuse the plastic bags after the greens are gone, too.
- And two, learn to diversify your pallet and experiment with ingredients and recipes. In my personal blog post on our pick up I share a way to grill romaine hearts and have it as a warm salad instead of a traditional cold salad. This would break up some of the lettuce monotony. Also, you can toss lettuce in with a cold pasta salad. In addition to fixing sautéed kale with cannellini beans like Peggy did in the workshop, you can make a cold bean salad and toss in lettuce, too. A veggie sub sandwich loaded with mixed greens, kohlrabi or radishes would be a wonderful lunch during the heat of the day.
- Third, juice it. I peruse Pinterest regularly for juice recipes. Every single item you get in your CSA basket will have a recipe somewhere that will teach you how to incorporate it deliciously into a juice.
Let me give you some food for thought about the timing of what is in your baskets when you eat seasonally. Did you know your body is genetically made to need certain foods at certain times of the year? Your body adjusts to your climate and desires what it needs nutritionally based on the time of the year it is. If you don’t tend to crave fruits or vegetables in season- consider yourself broken. This will catch up with you eventually in the form of digestive disorders and degenerative diseases. Eat what is harvested locally in the present season, align yourself with nature and keep your body healthy.
For example, in spring when the leafy greens are abundant your body needs to be renewed just like the earth is renewed and refreshed. All of these greens aid in cleansing the blood, especially the liver, of all the junk in your body that has collected over the past year. It’s a time to wake up the digestive tract, filter your blood, renew your health, so eat your greens! And then eat some more! Greens also help to alkalize the body. A diet high in alkaline foods helps a body to avoid cancer, autoimmune disease and osteoporosis to name a few.
Tip: the cruciferous vegetables that are so abundant in spring have anti thyroid suppressing properties so make sure you cook all of these to prevent harm to your thyroid glands.
Here are my suggestions to make the CSA more enjoyable for you.
- Interact with the other shareholders and find out how they are successfully incorporating everything into their regular meals. Ask about on pick up days, comment on my blog posts, be active on the Facebook page, all of these things are there for you so use them to your advantage.
- Don’t just come to the farm and pick up a basket. When you get to the farm, leave the world behind and go country! I can’t tell you how wonderful it is for me just to pull into that driveway. Before you pick up, go out into the field look and see what’s coming in, what’s gone, what the hands are picking, get your herbs, explore and breathe it in! I am more alive on that farm than almost anywhere on earth. There’s a connection there I cannot explain.
- Have an open mind. Again, to appreciate this experience to its fullest, be willing to let go of your preconceived notions about gardening, going to the farmer’s market, buying food at the grocery store, and any other concept that hinders your understanding and enjoyment of this process. Last year, I was upset about tomatoes LOL! Tomatoes are my absolute favorite food. I expected the CSA share to have a basketful of tomatoes every pick up, or something like that. Because in the summer when the stores have tomatoes in season, I can get as much as I want, they are prolific. I thought the same thing about my CSA share. I was mistaken. Don’t let your expectations steal the enjoyment and benefits of every other blessing in that basket! Embrace it for what it is.
I realize you new CSA members came into this not knowing what to expect, I was the same last year. And you may be questioning different things. Let me assure you, it does take a little adjustment getting used to the slow, seasonal food movement. But I promise you, if you give yourself a little time, patience, and let your curiosity and creativity help you learn and grow through this experience, you will not only enjoy the ride, it will change your life!
If you need some inspiration on recipes or have questions, feel free to check out my blog at An Apple A Day Wisdom. I also wrote an eBook, Don’t Compost It, Cook It. I talk about making the most out of everything in a CSA basket and then some! Ask me about the Madison Creek Farms Coupon Code to receive a discount.
Keep up with farm updates on our Facebook page.