Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mother Jones: 4 Hopes for Obama's Farmers' Market

It looks as though President Obama is interested in starting a White House Farmers' Market. He says it could give Washington D.C. "more access to good, fresh food, but also is this enormous potential revenue-maker for local farmers in the area."

Mother Jones has come up with four things they'd like to see if the White House starts a market. Although they mention featuring "local, organic farmers," I would personally put a "producer-only market" (with a reasonable distance maximum, like 150 miles) at the very top of the list.

Saturday's Highland Market

Amy took some lovely pictures of our table at this Saturday's market. We work from 7:30-9:00 to get all of the food packaged and organized and ready to go. Once we're done it's nice to take a moment to appreciate it before the selling begins.

The whole spread. This week we had carrots, squash, basil, mustard greens, chard, salad mix, nasturtiums, herb medley, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

The squashes are one of my favorite things to grow (and look at). On the table is white scallop, tondo scuro, red kuri, and rampicante squashes. We also had red, orange and yellow carrots, and a little tomato/pepper accent.

Our flamingo chard and mustard greens. Amy made a display basket of fresh herbs and nasturtiums. Isn't it lovely?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

$300 a Night? Yes, but Haying's Free

This is terrific... farm vacations are apparently all the rage. You can even upgrade and add a vegetable picking session for an extra $35!

Click here for the story (by Kim Severson for the NY Times).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New York Times: Food for the Soul

An editorial by Nicholas Kristof, stating his opinion that one of the major problems with industrial agriculture is that is has "no soul." He also tells a story from his experience of growing up on a farm. I loved reading about the baby chicken who grew up thinking she was a goose!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Brooklyn Paper: Your Land is Their Land

A charming story about modern "sharecropping" in Brooklyn. I like it when the author describes yard farming (Neighborhood Supported Agriculture, basically) as "...what could be one of the greatest urban agricultural movements, if not the only urban agricultural movement, since World War II 'Victory Gardens.'"

By Gersh Kuntzman for The Brooklyn Paper. Click here for full article. (Thanks, Amanda)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Herbs: Freezing & Butters

The gardens have been producing an abundance of fresh oregano, tarragon, savory, parsley, and sage. While we all enjoy fresh herbs in the summer, it can also be nice to save some for future use in the kitchen.

Freezing Herbs
Rinse herbs and remove any tough or brown stems. Place herbs in a food processor and puree. You probably won't have to add water, but can add a teaspoon or so if it's needed to help the mixture blend.

Spoon the pureed herbs into an ice cube tray. Cover the top of the tray with plastic wrap and freeze.

You can pop the herbs out a cube at a time for winter soups or sauces.

Herb Butters
Some of our gardners have been making herb butter by simply mixing finely chopped herbs with softened butter. The butter can be used immediately, or it can also be frozen.

If you'd like a more detailed recipe, just click here.

Recipe: Savory Zucchini Pancakes

I learned how to make these from Bhavani at Shoshoni Yoga Retreat. They make a wonderful light lunch or dinner, and the recipe is very versatile.

Makes 3 large pancakes; serves 2-3 people.

2 cups shredded zucchini (or other summer squash)
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
dash of tabasco
olive oil or ghee (for cooking)

Mix zucchini, herbs, and egg in large bowl. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until mixed. Add tabasco.

Pour olive oil or ghee into a non-stick frying pan. Heat oil over medium low heat. Spread batter in the pan, making a pancake about 5-6 inches in diameter. Cook slowly over medium low heat. When the first side is browned, flip the pancake.

Serve sprinkled with salt and pepper. Can be served topped with sour cream or cottage cheese and chopped tomatoes.

*It's important to cook the pancakes over medium low heat so that the inside has time to cook thoroughly. If the heat is too high, the outside of the pancake will cook, but the inside will still be soft.

*You can add any number of things to the batter for variation: chopped onion, diced garlic, or chopped arugula, spinach or chard.

Green Eggs (but no ham)

Yesterday I was excited to find our first green egg in the nest. Our Aracaunas (Sage and Rosemary) have been a little slow to start laying, but we expected that. A few of the hens - the Rhode Island Red, White Leghorn, and the Silver Laced Wyandottes - are known to be "good layers." But our Dark Brahma and the Aracaunas are more renowned for being pretty than hard workers. Even so, we'll soon have multi-colored egg cartons, with brown, white, and green (or blue) eggs!

And yes, those are golf balls in the nest. It's a time tested method for teaching the hens where to lay their eggs. Kind of silly, but it works!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Announcing 2010 Apprenticeship Program!

People who live in other neighborhoods often ask me if I plan on expanding, and can I come and garden in their neighborhood? I explain that expanding our little NSA (Neighborhood Supported Agriculture) to gardens throughout the city isn't really practical, and the answer isn't for me to become the McDonald's of front-yard gardens --- the answer is to encourage NSAs to start in each and every Denver neighborhood.

To that end, we've decided to start an Apprenticeship Program that would give new farmers the tools they need to start an NSA in their neighborhood.

We are now accepting applicants for our 2010 Apprenticeship Program. All applicants must work at least 3 garden shifts before the end of the 2009 season, so early application is critical. The program is designed to give hands-on experience with all of the aspects of running a successful NSA (Neighborhood Supported Agriculture) program.

For details on the program, time requirements, and benefits (including a free share of the veggies!) please visit our website. Please contact Sundari at if you have any questions.

The Atlantic: Why Small Farms Are Safer

Article from Slow Food USA president Josh Viertel about how the stigma of "Big Ag" foods can be unjustly applied to small farmers.

"In 2006 I was--among other things--a vegetable farmer. In New Haven, Connecticut, using Ivy League labor, we grew and sold over 300 varieties of vegetables. Today I am struck with memories of one in particular: a gorgeous crop of spinach we couldn't sell..."

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Wire: The Corporate Co-Opt of Local

A number of large corporations (including Starbucks and Wal-Mart) are attempting to re-brand themselves or otherwise cash in on the "buy local" movement. Will it work?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grocery List

Today I was making my grocery list and realized that, in addition to skipping store vegetables, I also could leave eggs off the list. Pretty soon I'll (hopefully) be able to stop buying milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, and ice cream as well.

These critters have been - and continue to be - a lot of work. A consistent routine of morning and evening chores that can never be missed, getting permits from animal control and zoning, and learning my way around feed stores --- not to mention trimming hooves and checking chicken vents.

But boy, is it worth it! Tonight we enjoyed a homegrown dinner of eggs scrambled with sauteed arugula and hot pepper, chopped heirloom tomato, and salad with carrots and cucumber. It was very nourishing, and both Brian and I felt terrific when we finished eating.

The satisfaction from that meal came not just from consuming the end product, but from the entire process that went into creating the dinner. Many thanks to the chickens who gave us the eggs, and to the garden that provided the veggies (and the garden scraps that helped produce the beautiful, healthy eggs!).

New York Times: You Say Tomato, I Say Agricultural Disaster

The story of the tomato blight that hit plants in the Northeast - a reminder that our food is vulnerable. The blight started in plants that were sold by big box stores (like Home Depot) and spread all over the region.

Veggie Treats

Red Kuri squash, a small winter squash. It can be roasted, sliced/peeled and sauteed, or baked.

Listada de Gandia eggplant.

Decorative gourds. These were "volunteers" that sprouted up out of the compost.

Chinese Five Color peppers - just one color so far! Super hot.

Hard Worker

Recipe: Mint and Sage

This week we have an abundance of mint and sage. Both have very distinct flavors that can completely change the taste of a dish.

My favorite use for mint is as a topping for vanilla ice cream. It's also great in mojitos, and can be chopped in any mediterranean grain dishes (like cous cous).

Deborah Madison uses both mint and basil in this Chilled Tropical Melon Soup recipe. Canteloupe is in season right now - try to get a Rocky Ford melon!

I think that sage goes well in eggs and with potatoes. Bon Appetit has a Sage and Honey Skillet Cornbread recipe that features sage in an unusual way.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where Does Your Money Go?

How much of a difference does it make when you shop at a local business vs. a non-local (chain) business? How much of what you spend stays in your community?

According to this great chart sent to me by John I., $73 of every $100 you spend at a local business stays in your community --- going to wages for employees, suppliers, banking/marketing/printing companies, taxes, and donations. However, if you buy from a non-local business in your town, only $43 of that $100 stays in your community, and the rest goes somewhere else.

Shopping at local businesses helps preserve the character of your area, and it can sustain your community. So, whether you're choosing a restaurant, clothing boutique, printer, or hardware store -- think local!

(Click here to see a larger version of the chart)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Recipe: 101 Simple Salads for the Season

A wonderful compilation of 101 simple salads by Mark Bittman of The New York Times. Fabulous ideas, like grated carrots with toasted sunflower seeds, blueberries, olive oil, and lemon juice. Click here for the article. (Many thanks to Judy for bringing these salad recipes to me at the market)


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Get Local: Beyond Food Miles

One sure sign that a movement is gaining steam is the amount of backlash it generates. I think it's good to give a thoughtful, reasoned critique of any idea or social movement --- unfortunately, it seems that most of the anti-local-food rhetoric is neither thoughtful nor reasoned. (which, incidentally, posted "It's easy to be generous with other people's money" as their featured quote the day I visited their website) recently posted this article slamming "locavores."

The Appalacian Sustainable Agriculture Project posted a wonderful response, called "Beyond Food Miles," on their blog. You can (and should) read the article in its entirety, but I especially like their points about why buying local food is helpful - above and beyond saving food miles:

1. Eating local food supports farm job retention and creation in your community.
2. Eating local food supports jobs in the farm supply/support sectors.
3. Eating local food preserves and forwards your local rural culture and history.
4. Eating local food sustains unique varieties of fruits, vegetables, and animals, bred to be hearty and productive in your region.
5. Eating local food helps to keep working farmland from being further developed, which gives your region more open space, wildlife habitat, and natural beauty. In some places, this draws tourists and further helps the economy.
6. Eating local food increases your region's food security and choices in the face of global political conflict which can disrupt food supply.
7. When you eat local food, you support a safe supply being in place when food safety events or scares shut off the global supply of a food item.
8. Eating local food keeps farming skills alive so they can be passed down through the generations.
9. Eating local food allows you to talk to the producer (or someone who bought from the producer) about their practices, rather than relying on vague labels and marketing claims.
10. Local food is more distinctive to your region, fresher, and better-tasting.

Recipe: Parsley Pesto

To make pesto with parsley you basically follow the same recipe you'd use for basil pesto (with one important substitution). This pesto is great with fish, chicken, or in pasta. As always, prepare it "to taste" -- fiddle with the quantities until it tastes right to you!

1 cup Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tblsp olive oil
salt to taste

Puree in food processor until smooth.

Recipe: Beets by Deborah Madison

Both of these recipes were taken from "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by the incomparable Deborah Madison.

Five Minute Beets

4 medium beets
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Fresh lemon juice or vinegar to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, tarragon, dill or other herb

Grate beets into coarse shreds. Melt the butter in a skillet, add the beets, and toss them with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/4 cup water, then cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the beets are tender. Remove the lid and raise the heat to boil off any excess water. Taste for salt, season with a little lemon juice or vinegar - balsamic or red wine is good - and toss with the herbs. If you don't mind the shocking color, you can stir in a tablespoon of yogurt or sour cream, always a good addition to beets.


Vinegared Beets Nested in Their Greens

Deborah says that this recipe is perfect for small garden beets.

8 small beets
2-3 tsps butter or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp balsamic or sherry vinegar

Remove the greens, scrub the beets, and steam until tender, 15 to 30 minutes. Peel and set aside. Steam the greens until tender, about 5 minutes, then toss with half the butter and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the greens in a nest on a plate. In another pan, heat the beets with the remaining butter. Add the vinegar and shake the pan until it evaporates. Spoon the beets into the center of the greens and serve.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

40 Farmers Under 40

Meet the new crop of American farmers -- young and energetic idealists who are bringing local, sustainable food back to the table.

(Thanks for sending, Sasha.)

Easy Roasting Garlic

Sometimes nothing beats roasted garlic. After several years of trying more complicated methods, I've found that what works best for me is just to wrap the whole head (unpeeled) in tinfoil, then heat in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Once the head cools, the roasted cloves can be easily squeezed out of their skins.

Or, if you'd rather, you can try this method for roasting garlic with olive oil. Both ways are delicious!

Veggie Treats

Here are some of the veggies that are starting to appear in the gardens...

Squashes: Costata Romanesco zucchini, yellow straightneck squash, Tondo Scuro zucchini, Red Kuri winter squash.

Beans: Kentucky Wonder (green), Royal Purple Pod, Dragon Tongue (purple and white).

Cucumbers: Boston Pickling, Lemon, White Wonder, Bushy Pickling, Poona Kheera.

Monday, August 3, 2009

LiveScience: Lack of Vitamin D in Children "Shocking"

It sounds like just 15-20 minutes outside would do the trick...

Recipe: White Bean Salad with Wild Salmon

Serves 4. They have a great canned wild Alaskan salmon at Costco, for only about a dollar a can.

2 cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped herbs (tarragon, savory, parsley, oregano, and/or thyme)
1/2 cup chopped arugula
1 can wild salmon, drained
juice from 1/4 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients (be cautious with the salt, since canned beans are already salted). Adjust ingredients to taste. This can be served immediately, or refrigerated for a few hours to let the flavors blend.

Recipe: Roasted Vegetables with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

This dish can be made with beets, carrots, and/or turnips. Roast the vegetables and saute the beet greens as described in this article. Toss with blue cheese crumbles and chopped walnuts.

Singing the Praises of Purslane

Since I started looking into the health benefits of purslane, it's been nothing but good news. Men's Health published a list of the 10 Best Foods You Aren't Eating, and purslane made the list (along with guava and prunes). Also, I was reading a yahoo article today about mental health, and they point to omega-3s (which purslane has lots of) as helpful in preventing inflammation.

The other night I made burritos with black beans, roasted potatoes, sauteed squash, cheese, purslane, and salsa. They were delicious!

Sasha (one of our working members) makes smoothies every morning for her girls that include purslane from her yard.

This month Food & Wine magazine
featured a recipe for Chilled

Farmers' Market Abundance

I had promised some photos of a full, pre-market table (as opposed to the late-market table we showed here). These are from the Highland Farmers' Market on July 18th. It was the very last of our early season harvest. We've experienced a bit of a lull in the gardens' productivity over the last couple of weeks; the rest between the end of the cool-weather crops and the onslaught of the warm-weather harvest. In another week or two we should have a table full of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and other summer goodies. I can't wait!

Thanks to Amy (our FM neighbor, with Olde Crone's Bath Soap) and Jenn for snapping the photos.

The table.

Our salad mix display basket, with lettuces, arugula, and spinach. Lots of carrots, too - Kuroda, Cosmic Purple, and Lunar White.

The last of the season's peas.

Gotta love the beets! Bull's Blood, Albino, and Chioggia beets.

This was the first week that we packaged our fresh herbs with a vinaigrette/marinade recipe. It's been very popular.

Beautiful nasturtiums, basil, and beets.

Daily Camera: GMO Debate Questions Meaning of Sustainability

Interesting article by Laura Snider for the Daily Camera. Six farmers who lease open space land from Boulder County asked for permission to grow GMO (genetically modified) sugarbeets on that land. Boulder County's Food and Agriculture Policy Council, after hearing impassioned testimony from both sides, eventually decided not to allow the GMO crops. However, the decision wasn't as clear-cut as one might think.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


New York Times: Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch

I do SO love Michael Pollan. He wrote a wonderful article for the New York Times about the role of cooking in our lives. Includes a cheeky analysis of the boom in cooking shows on TV, while the number of people actually willing to cook for themselves has declined sharply.

"The more time a nation devotes to food preparation at home, the lower its rate of obesity."

Happy Egg Day!

Today I went into the barnyard to let the chickens into their run for lunch. Six of them went in quickly, but I couldn't find Cayenne (our White Leghorn) anywhere. After searching for a while, I finally found her tucked into a corner of the shed, nestled on a pile of straw.

I took a step toward her to herd her into the run, and she started squawking at me. Really loudly, and persistently. I left her alone, just hoping that she wasn't injured. After a minute she hopped off the straw. I ran over, and guess what I found?!?

TWO eggs actually, which means that Cayenne started laying yesterday. We know they're both from her, because she's the only one of our chickens who will lay white eggs.

I scooped her up, and she let me hold her for a while (which is unusual).

We're so proud!

I would be tired, too!

Here are the eggs in the straw stack. I hadn't put official nests in for the chickens yet, because they're not due to lay for a little while. I guess Cayenne is just advanced for her age!

Our lovely eggs. (and yes, that's chicken poop on the eggshell)

All cleaned up and ready for their closeup.

Just 2 inches across right now, but the eggs will get bigger as the chickens continue to grow.

Delicious fried egg.

The yolks are a beautiful red/orange, from the beta-carotene in all of the weeds the chickens eat.

Our little chicken, just 19 weeks ago...

Way to go, Cayenne!!