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Month: May 2016

Reflections of Sunflowers and Swiss Chard

Reflections of

The 2015 growing season was the first time our family joined a CSA. I had wanted to join a local CSA for a few years to have more control over where our food comes from and to support our local farmers.  A “CSA” is Community Share Agriculture…we buy a “share of the harvest” in advance and then enjoy weekly pick-ups of produce from the farm picked fresh that morning.  I do have my own vegetable garden but….well, let’s just say some years are not as successful as others (life happens and weeds take over or I forget that we didn’t fertilize properly)!  We chose Blooming Glen Farms as our farm of choice, not just because of location but also because of pricing, guaranteed quantity of items per weeks, and that it is a certified organic farm.  We liked that it included fruit, herbs, and flowers as well.  

IMG_7951As the season started you could be sure that if it was our Tuesday pick up day, it would be raining…it became a joke among the Tuesday shareholders.  You see, each week of the CSA a member usually had one or maybe two items that were “pick your own” in addition to the already harvested and washed crops that are in the pick-up room.  The farm would let us know how many pints or quarts and out we would go to the field to pick.  I loved going to the field to pick my crops, it brought out my inner farmer! My son would often join too.  CSA members were always welcome back any day of the week except Sunday to gather your “pick your own” crops…but I’m a busy mom and a camper, so the rain did not deter me from the mission at hand…

On many a rainy day my son was along…he enjoyed the adventure of going out to the field in the rain.  Our first strawberry picking was in the rain…our first green beans picking was in the rain…oh and a thunderstorm too! (We hurried out of the field that time…the medical side of me reasoned it was not good to be the tallest thing in a field of several acres with lightning and thunder.)

IMG_7952My son especially enjoyed the tall sunflower field from which he could pick flowers.  One particular Tuesday was just a downpour.  I stood waiting for my son to emerge from the sunflowers (which were so tight together I could not get in the row).  I figured we were already soaking wet and could not be anymore drenched than we were, so there was no need to hurry along…I just let him search out his flower.  Finally, he emerges from the sunflowers with a mammoth sunflower which he cut at ground level, holding it at least 3 feet taller than himself!  He proudly proclaims, “I thought I would cut a BEAUTIFUL flower to help us remember this lovely day!” I could not help but to stand there and laugh…what a great little guy I have! 

IMG_7949We were pleased with our first season’s experience.  My mother had also joined last season, but was not as favorable to the experience…she had selected a full share which proved to be way more produce than she needed for 2 people and she felt a bit overwhelmed and shared much with her neighbor, so this year she joined as a “half-share” holder.  (If you are a vegetarian I image a full share would be perfect for 2 people, though.). When you join you need to be prepared that you will likely need to adjust your menu and cooking style slightly as well as your shopping list.  You will have a variety of locally grown produce items that you may not have even heard of before.  I grew up in a “food family”…we preserve our homegrown food, canned fruit, and jam, and even prepared large quantities of food for big groups (as in 100s of people)..but I never heard of Kohlrabi.  

Kohlrabi was my personal new favorite…we like to shred it with some garlic powder, salt and pepper, added our own fresh backyard eggs and then cooked it in the mornings for breakfast.  You will receive a lot of leafy greens, Swiss Chard and Kale were fairly new to me and we received it often in our share…I’ve heard of them but never really experimented.  You will want to have some ideas on what to do with them all because salad will get boring.  We sautéed our kale and Swiss chard with garlic or garlic scapes (that is a little shot from the top of a garlic plant that will show up in your share some weeks as the farm needs to trim them in order for our garlic to grow properly underground). We also roasted our kale for a crispy kale chip treat.  One of my favorite things to do is to sauté some Swiss Chard along with a few other fresh veggies like tomato or zucchini and make it into an omelet with my Kohlrabi “fritter”.  Towards the end of the growing season, you will receive a lot of radish varieties…these are the size of turnips.  I’m honestly not a fan of radish, but I found that if I roasted them with the potatoes and carrots we received that it really mellowed the flavor of the radish and I found it quite enjoyable.  

IMG_7950If you are considering a CSA be prepared to experience new things, it is a bit different than shopping at the grocery store’s produce aisle.  Have some recipes on hand for the anticipated harvest or do what I often did…just ask other CSA members during pick up what they do with the item of produce in question…this is where most of these ideas came from.

A CSA may not be for everyone, but it is for me and my family….I look forward to our first pick up today when I know one of our family favorites will be on the farm…STRAWBERRIES! If this article has inspired you to check out the Blooming Glen Farm CSA, please list us as your reference.  I do get a credit for referrals which I use to purchase additional items that I preserve for our family for the winter time.