Nice feedback from one of our CSA members!

Personal note: I’ve lost 6lbs by doing nothing more than substituting my normal lunch with a big salad composed primarily of your produce. So, thanks. Susan and I both appreciate it!

Charlie

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Purée of turnip w/ avocado & chick pea croquettes with broccoli from our garden.

Winter produce from Good Things Grow Here

It has been a mild winter this year so far and favorable for all fall/winter produce. Its a good time to experiment with vegetables that one overlooks in the warmer seasons of the year. Turnips are under rated . With a low glycemic index of 2 (boiled) they are ripe for those who are looking for a mashed potato (glycemic index 16) alternative. In tandem with a no-oil/fat diet from butter or vegetable oils the addition of a quarter of an avocado (a whole food fat source) can be a tasty  substitute. Also, they are a good source of calcium, iron and vitamin C.

Broccoli has done well this year. I am still harvesting medium size crowns and lots of reoccurring florets. Steamed or blanched broccoli is always a welcomed side dish. Try blanching them in water and a pinch of vegetable stock.

P.S. Yes, I prepared the above pictured dish.

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In a word

When you feel you’ve heard enough about the plight of small family farmers,  the word Organic, heirloom tomatoes, free-range chickens, the price of arugula, pasture raised, grass fed, CSA, sustainable, local food, community gardens, labeling GMO’s, food advocacy or  how truly awful Monsanto really is remember:

At the heart of your health is nutrition and your farmer is your primary physician

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Living the Difference

As we see the consumer driven Organic industry rise to over 31 billion dollars and grew 9% in 2011 according to the Organic Trade Association, the word Organic now defined by the USDA has clearly become a household word. As the debate continues by University studies over whether Organic is more nutritious or simply better for you than conventionally grown farm products a vibrant movement has been gaining momentum throughout this country and specifically here in the southern Appalachia. This movement is the local food movement. We represent a diverse community of artisanal producers of fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, milk, baked goods, forest products such as mushrooms and honey. Some producers are Organic as put forth by the NOB National Organic Board, some are not.
Yet out of choice, economics or ethics alternative labels such as Sustainably grown, Naturally grown, Bio intensive, Biodynamic, Permaculture, Grass Fed, Pasture Raised and Freerange to name a few are all if not in part influenced by the forefathers and mothers of land conservation. These familial ties with our ecological past remind us to be aware, to have a deep connection to and have an abiding respect for our natural resources. I cannot think of any greater natural resource or political agenda than the air we breathe, the water we drink and food we eat. But how do small family farms that implement a sustainable strategy effect a community? To assess one effect on a community we can look at agriculture practices abroad who have implemented a conventional approach using herbicides such as glyphosate found in Monsanto’s Round-up but now marketed by agrochemical companies world wide. Glyphosate is rated by the EPA on a toxicity scale from 1-4 , 4 being least toxic, as a class 3.
. In one example according to a 2011 study in the journal Ithaka done in Berlin, Germany, crops such as potatoes that do not fully mature due to excessive rainfall have been sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate. This is not limited to potato production but this pre-harvest termination has become common practice for other crops such as cereals, canola and legumes. This not only terminates the present crop but also will control weeds for the next sowing period. Moreover, according to the study “death sprayed” potatoes harden the skin surface and reduces its susceptibility to late blight and prevents germination which improves shelf life. I might add, this also inhibits the farmer from saving seed for next season’s planting. Furthermore, glyphosate has been shown to accumulate in the plants meristematic regions, shoots, roots, rhizomes and tubers. The German study also conducted a urinalysis of city workers, journalists and lawyers who had no direct contact with glyphosate or agriculture and found 5 to 20 times the contamination of glyphosate in all urine samples. This is one small example of how only one chemical practice affects a larger community.

Native Americans referred to food as medicine and revered it as sacred. They relied generation after generation on a particular food system in which each tribe adapted to the plants and animals in their homeland. This symbiosis in which we rely upon our natural resources within our local communities in particular concerning food production has been disrupted due to globalization, urbanization, cheap oil, transportation and now gene engineered modification.
For some, we seem to be living in a time of greater personal responsibility no longer relying on the promises of wellbeing from government or lab coats. Safegaurding the family farm entrepreneurial spirit is paramount in our local food system and offers an alternative choice. A culinary democracy where you have a direct vote in the way you want your food produced and in turn economically safegaurds our rural landscape and those of us who farm it . Indeed, we are directly empowered by our supporters.
There is no better biosecurity system than diversifying our food source to many farmers rather than a corporate few. Learning from the past we know the deprivation and sometimes devastation that is wrought on the environment by monoculture farming. Every local family farmer I’ve met has some form of diversification or value added of on farm products.

We individually do not feed the world but we collectively feed communities. We connect a face to the food we produce and that face is tangible to our supporters who rely on us to provide clean food and authentic flavor. We break the food chain from industrial engineering to homegrown and offer an alternative to the paradigm of how food is produced and perceived. We do this through community involvement. How? Join a CSA Community Supported Agriculture subscription; come join your friends at the local weekly farmers market. Get involved. Many farms have volunteer programs. Organize a crop mob with a group and donate time to a local farm. Get to know your farmers, ask questions such as what are you using to control pest? Rather than “are you Organic?” How do you raise your livestock? Tell them what you like; they might grow it for you.
I field more questions than the extension service. From cooking tips to what’s eating my garden to consulting local chefs; this patron interaction each week is what I like best. And my customers appreciate it. When they say thank you there is a real sense of gratitude for us showing up, being there, offering great food and that is the ultimate compliment; a true transparency between producer and the community.

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Eat your Greens!

csa bag insideIf you are aware of the conventions of our food paradigm you may know that the local food movement challenges what has been accepted as normalcy, turns it inside-out and often right-side up.
As a grower and a foodie I have been painfully thinking about lettuce, a staple in our mass cultural epicure for over 2,000 years.
The draw of consumers toward fresh lettuce at the farmers market every Spring is something of a hypnotic rite of passage especially here in the South where Springtime can be fickle and often erratic as temperatures fluctuate into the 80′sF(27C) by April as it did this year. Lettuce tolerates light frost but does not do well in temperatures above 75F(24C). As their Latin name suggests Lactuca sativa referring to the physiological state of the plant when ambient temperatures rise above 75F which produces a lactate or latex exudate when masticated (chewed) is horribly sour. This is a big disappointment for both consumers and growers of local produce as this seasonal vegetable is short lived (at around 35 degrees Latitude).

Historically, early settlers as far back as the pilgrims planted salads for fresh eating. Without a doubt so did Native Americans much earlier. Many of our domesticated “weeds” such as dandilion, lambs quarters or chickweed were often planted. But presently, often overlooked as a viable salad replacement are many of the Brassica oleracea species of greens such as collard, kale, colewarts (non-heading cabbage) and other colorful salad amendments such as beet greens, chard, spinach also short lived in the south as well as arugula make for a highly nutritious vitamin and antioxidant rich dietary supplement. These greens in general have a much longer life in the field,garden or refrigerator than leaf lettuce. Kale at 3.5oz (100g) has 134% more vitamin A ,11% more Calcium, 12% Vitamin C and 4% more iron than Romaine or Cos lettuce. Just one portion of kale is only 36 calories but it provides a massive 192% of your daily vitamin A needs. Greens are  seriously underrated in our general diet and have long been subjugated to the saute’ pan or steamer basket. I say eat them raw dressed in olive oil,vinegar, herbs, nuts, fruits, you can only add to their nutritional value when eaten raw.
I grow a greens mix of 5 kale varieties, collards and rainbow chard. This makes for an aesthetic presentation and a potent nutritional supplement.

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What to Spray on my Basil to promote Growth

Gary,
Depending on where you live and your growing conditions your basil should parallel your tomatoes and likewise basil tends to follow seasonal temperature increase culminating in sufficient growth for harvest mid-June through July here in the south-east. Dilute 5-1-1 Fish emulsion will give it a boost. Also work compost,rotted manure,keep weeds cultivated keep soil loose, compost tea concoctions and keep soil moist but not water logged. What interests me most about growing any herb or fruit is the intensity to focus on the needs of the specific plant. This becomes a challenge when I need to grow 30+ vegetables for CSA and market. Each plant has it’s own character if you will. Basil in my experience is shy at first and vulnerable but once it hardens off and roots well its carefree. Deadhead flowers for bushier growth. Try using a root stimulator which boosts the P and the K available to the plant(non-hormonal).
Other facts:
pH 6-7
6-8 hours of sunlight
plant 6-12″ a part
deeply water every 7-10 days

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Spring Treat: Take a Leek.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium leeks (about 2 1/2 lb.)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken stock
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, whites and yolks separated and chopped

Preparation

  • Heat oven to 425°. Trim dark-green tops from leeks, leaving root end intact. Remove tough outer layer. Starting 1″ above root end, halve leeks lengthwise. Wash leeks, making sure to clean all sand from between layers. Dry slightly on paper towels.
  • Heat 1 Tbsp. oil and butter in a large, deep ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, turning occasionally, until light golden in spots, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, 3–4 minutes. Add 1 cup water, chicken stock, thyme, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until leeks are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk 1 Tbsp. parsley, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer leeks to a platter, drizzle with vinaigrette, top with eggs, and garnish with remaining 1 Tbsp. parsley.

*bon appetite

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