Several new experiences for me this week. I’m helping out my daughter and son-in-law with their new baby — my first grandchild! And I got to visit an awesome organic farm with my daughter and granddaughter. They’re members of a farm share (Community Supported Agriculture or CSA) and every week they go to a local organic farm to pick up their share of the produce.
They pay a set price at the beginning of the season — they can opt for a small, medium or large share. On the farm’s website, it states “The commitment of consumers to pay the farm early in the season helps farms with early-season capital costs, and relieves the stress of marketing produce during a busy growing season.”
I would think that belonging to a CSA relieves some stress for members, as well. For instance, my son-in-law says, “In terms of meal planning, it helps you narrow down choices. It also introduces you to produce that you may not always use and gets you out of your comfort zone.”
The only problem I see is what to do with all the produce you take home. It’s a lot! My daughter and son-in-law said the bigger challenge is when you just don’t know what to do with something. “Okra,” they both said. “We never did much with that one.”
When we were at the farm, it was filled with bustling, friendly people loading up their bags with freshly harvested vegetables. Other members were out in the fields picking herbs and flowers.
The first thing that happens when you arrive is your name is checked off the weekly list. Then you look on the board to see what’s already been picked and what you need to pick yourself.
Our bounty was plentiful and we’ve been using it in meals all week. Or at least, I am. One of the ways I’m helping out is by cooking dinner every night. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve done with the produce so far.
I chopped up zucchini and summer squash, drizzled on some olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a clove of minced garlic. I roasted the squash in a 375° oven for about 30 minutes. While it was cooking, I chopped up two tomatoes (not from the farm) and some basil (from the farm) and mixed them together. I added the tomato/basil mixture to the squash as soon as I took it out of the oven. That way the tomatoes were warm, not cooked. I served it with whole wheat penne pasta. Delish! And great for leftovers.
I also made a salad of chopped up kale and swiss chard. Totally forgot to take a picture. Sorry!
The next night, I sliced up beets and carrots and marinated them for about half an hour in garlic and olive oil. (I love garlic and olive oil!) I roasted them in a 400° oven for about 30 minutes. I also roasted more squash and some onions. We just ate them as is and used the leftovers as a pizza topping the following night. Sliced tomatoes and fresh basil made a delicious topping for a second pizza.
We got a big batch of cilantro so I decided to make some salsa. I used a combination of fresh and canned tomatoes (with the juice), 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 juiced lime. I just threw everything into the blender and there you have it. In fact, I’m having it right now with organic tortilla chips. Wicked, wicked good. If you like your salsa hot, add a jalapeno.
I’ll also be making my absolutely delicious sweet potato soup, which calls for chopped cilantro as a garnish.
A pretty successful trip to the farm, I’d say. We even got some lovely flowers.
The weekly harvest is a lot cheaper than if you bought all this organic produce at the store, says my son-in-law. Belonging to the CSA also promotes a sense of community. “I like that we can support a local farm,” he says. “We get to meet the farmers and other members of the community. It’s very community-driven.”
How do you support local farmers in your neck of the woods? Do you belong to a CSA? Do you know what to do with okra?