With all the rain lately, I find myself thinking of my childhood home, specifically the bathroom… You see, growing up, there hung these cross-stitch framed pieces in the bathroom. One said, April Showers bring May Flowers and the other, Save Water, Shower with a Friend and there was an image of 2 bunnies pulling a flower head over to have water shower from it onto their fuzzy bunny heads. It’s silly, but I loved those pieces…not so sure if I’ll be showering with friends anytime soon…but…
What I am sure about is that April showers do bring May flowers and those flowers often turn into fruit, vegetables, herbs and other wonderfulness that farmers grow for us every year. And I am sure that sharing that food, once I get it from the Farmer with a friend is always much more satisfying than enjoying it alone!
And here we go- year 2 of Moraine Valley Community College participating in a CSA and year 2 of my friend Maura and me sharing the box of goods. So, what’s a “CSA anyway?” The acronym stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Small, food-producing farms (i.e., not industrial, mono-culture farms growing only one of corn, wheat, soy, canola, etc. to others for feed, processing, etc.) benefit from having capital on hand before the yield of the crop to ensure they have the funds for maintaining the soil, equipment, staff and so on to grow the food into saleable crops. Rather than going to the bank for a loan, many farmers have started offering this CSA as an option. Community members pay the farmer in advance of the crop. In exchange for their investment, they are guaranteed a set scheduled delivery of food from the farm as it matures. Sometimes this arrangement is referred to as buying a “share” of the crop or farm. More on the benefits for local economy, farmer independence, where to locate local CSAs or locally farmed food (ex., farmers markets or you-pick) can be found at LocalHarvest.org
For our CSA we get a box of different foods grown just down the road in St. Anne IL. It’s delivered to the College every week, with each week’s contents potentially different as it is dependent on the viability of the crops including weather, farming techniques, what was planted, what bugs are eating what, and on and on. Our Farmer practices organic and sustainable farming techniques, so dealing with Mother Nature is that much more challenging. Still, she has figured out the best way to manage pests, weeds and weather related challenges and is ready to deliver our very first box of the season!! I am so excited.
Each week we get an email update containing the musings of our Farmer- what’s happening at the farm; is there a new crop coming in; perhaps a deluge washed out the greens; or maybe the extra sunny days made the peppers come early… and then she includes what’s in the box. For giggles, here’s the first of the next 16 emails Maura and I and all the other CSA Members received:
Eggs: This is week 1, so both weekly egg shares and half shares pick up eggs this week. For those of you who signed up for bi-weekly eggs, please only take eggs on the odd numbered weeks. If your name is not on the list for eggs, please contact me, but do not take eggs. I will take care of the problem next week.
The rain has gone on its journey out of Illinois, happily for we farmers. I would like a little warmer weather than we have today, but just to see the sun shine is a real treat. Because it has been so wet, we have been ditch digging most days to drain the fields of water. For the most part the water has flowed nicely, but I have seen a bit of crop damage due to the wetness of the soil. It is all part of farming, being at the mercy of nature, but it can still be discouraging. Almost all of our greens turned yellow or purple from too much water around the roots. Some of the peppers curled up and died. But, most things are fine and will come out of it just fine. And, fortunately, I have enough extra plants that I should be able to replant the areas that died off, so we really do not have a loss there, just in the greens department.
I was able to pick strawberries today. Hoorah! I was worried they would be ruined due to the wetness, but they are mostly fine. I do ask that you wash them carefully prior to use to make sure all the dirt is gone. For those of you who were spring CSA members, Mr. Gray Bunny relocated to the berry patch and is very happily snacking on our strawberries. And, I thought I hated the meeses to pieces, but the darn bunnies on this farm have gotten my goat!
I have started a new blog where there are little missives and the beginning of a collection of recipes. Please feel free to contribute to our recipe list with original recipes. I will send out recipes from cookbooks, etc via email, but not in the blog. Here is the link to it. http://blog.genesis-growers.com/
- Strawberries – please wash them prior to eating
- Turnip greens – these are young and tender and can therefore be eaten raw as well as cooked
- Asparagus – I heard an idea for asparagus and tried it – Ymmm. Wrap bacon around the individual spears and then roast or grill. What a treat!
- Loose leaf Lettuce head
- Basil – I picked several different varieties. The Thai is great for an Asian twist. Purple and lemon are nice in salads, and green is your typical basil
8373 E 3000 S Rd
St Anne, Il 60964
815 953 1512
I canNOT wait to get my hands on those fresh berries and the greens and the kohlrabi and… well, all of it! I know for sure that basil is getting chopped with the turnip greens & loose leaf lettuce and topped with hunks of roasted asparagus and radishes for a robust, flavoral dinner salad. I’ll make a vinagrette-0oo maybe with some of the strawberries!- and drizzle the salad that will accompany my rhubarb corn muffins. The kohlrabi, you ask? I’ll make that into pickles. Mmmm…what a yummy, summery dinner I have to look forward to this weekend! [FYI: these links are not my own recipes... I'll probably use a few to inspire my own work]
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, and experienced myself, folks explain how local food is so fresh it’s really a different experience than grocery store food. Try it yourself and then tell me all about it on Facebook or email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Not sure where to start? Check out LocalHarvest.org to find your own amazing summer dinner fixins’…Happy Summer, y’all!