Saturday, August 04, 2012

Community Supported Agriculture

So, I'd heard about the CSA movement some time ago, and while we still lived in Bothell I looked around and found nothing. Out here I figured I could find something easier, but various circumstances prevented us from joining one, including the fact that the closest one I found on a website was closed to new subscribers.

Flash-forward to a month or so ago when I was assigned to visit Heavenly Hills Harvest and do a piece on some planned classes for children. To my delight, it is a CSA and after a tour of the place I was determined to try it out, at the very least.

Well, it took a month, but we finally got a trial half-share yesterday. Eric and I drove down to pick it up together, bringing a grocery bag with us. The bag was filled by an intern with a bag of salad blend, a summer squash, kale, swiss chard, basil, chives, cilantro, peppers, beets, carrots, radishes and potatoes. These were not processed and cut and dealt with. Just plain herbs and produce. The carrots even still had their bushy tops on them.

I asked what I couldn't eat, and the owner said everything was edible except for the carrot tops, and those could even be used to fill out stock, just not eaten. So I picked a cilantro flower to taste. Wow, tastes like cilantro, who would've thought it? Turns out I really like fresh cilantro.

Anyway, we made some plans for how to use the food. It's going to take some work. Eric doesn't like beets, so I'm going to have to come up with a way to make them for lunch. I'm not excited about the hotter peppers, so Eric will need to figure out how to get them into his meals. Beyond that, we have some of the items already planned for... but how do I use kale or swiss chard?

For lunch today I put in the two largest potatoes to bake in the oven and cleaned a small portion of the salad blend. Eric chopped up some chive and a little bit of the cilantro. We had salad and baked potatoes for lunch. And let me tell you, the salad was incredible. I don't know what all she put in that blend, but it was better than just about any salad I've ever had, period. It was full of flavors and fresh. The potatoes were good, and chives and cilantro incredible.

We have two trial half-shares, two weeks apart. We'll get our next share on the 17th. After today's lunch, I really hope we can make this a part of our yearly food supply, because it's really really good and probably way better for us than what we generally eat. It's also completely organic, no pesticides. The farm is Tilth, which means they use sustainable farming practices (well, it means a whole lot more, but that's the most basic level).

We can do a workshare (go out and pick on the farm) to reduce the costs. I would love to try that at least once so I can get my hands dirty and learn a little farming technique myself. I'm hoping I'll be able to fit it into my schedule next year with a little planning ahead. They apparently need the most help on Friday mornings, early, when they harvest for the CSA.

Anyway, that's my current adventure. Anyone know what to do with kale, swiss chard, beets or radishes?


David Oakes said...

Kale or Chard can be cooked down like Spinach or Collard Greens.

Beets make a great soup. Though if they are fresh, just slice them into sticks like carrots and eat. Good stuff.

People claim that radishes have value beyond decorative rossettes, but I have yet to find it...

Lynnae said...

Goggle recipes for each of your listed items and check them out. Some you will say no to immediately because of the other ingredients and time involved. Some you can adapt.

I've heard that radishes sliced thin and sprinkled gently with salt are a gourmet's delight!

We liked our kale in a salad; really good as a salad green.

Anonymous said...

Another fun thing do do with kale or chard is to make crisps out of them. Tear them up, very lightly toss with oil, salt or other seasonings if you like, and put them on a baking tray at 450 or so - maybe 5 or 6 minutes at the most. Very satisfying alternative to salty snack food, and the heat really ups the flavor.