Saturday, June 27, 2009

Video: Chickens in New York City

A great video on urban chickens (about 3.5 minutes):

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why They Call It Cherry Creek

The beautiful Cherry Creek (and Cherry Creek bike path) run through the heart of Denver. Last year my friend Josi told me about her experience picking cherries from the trees up the street from her house, then baking a pie. I had to laugh at myself for never previously noticing the trees, and apparently believing that the "Cherry" in Cherry Creek was just a figure of speech.

I'm a huge fan of all things cherry, so the thought of fresh (and free) cherries available for the picking was exciting. The act of foraging in the trees is definitely an important part of the experience for me. It's a lot of fun to be face-to-face with the tree that's producing your food, poking around and wrestling with it a bit to get to the best cherries.

Last year I picked from the Cherry Creek trees, and also found a couple of trees to forage from in my neighborhood (with the homeowner's permission, of course), and ended up with some wonderful pies. This week Josi and I went out to pick some of the early cherries, before the birds have a chance to get to them!

Trees overlooking Cherry Creek.

Sunlight in the trees.

Josi doing her picking.

Many of them aren't ripe yet, but we still found a bunch to take home.

Getting ready to pit! This is just my batch of cherries --- Josi picked enough for another big bowl.

Cherries and tea.

Josi's cat Bila was observing, ensuring that everything went well.

Fourteen Pounds of Peas

Peas picked on Wednesday for the CSA shares. Most are a type of English pea (sugar snap) called Laxton's Progress, but we did have a few of the Blue Podded peas that were ready to go. We should have more next week if all goes well!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CSA Info for June 25th

Veggies to Enjoy this Week

Baby Beets & Beet Greens
Varieties harvested: Chioggia (candy cane), Bull's Blood, Albino, Golden

Arugula & Wild Rocket

Garden Cress

Varieties harvested: Big Boston, Dark Lollo Rossa, Amish Deer Tongue, Rocky Top

Spicy Micro Greens

Petite Itsy-Bitsy Baby Carrots
Varieties harvested: Cosmic Purple, Kuroda, Atomic Red, Amarillo, Lunar White

Russian Red Jack

Amaranth Greens

Varieties harvested: Tarragon, Savory, Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley, Oregano, Cilantro, Sage, Dill

Also, we'll have English Peas for those of you that didn't receive them last week!

Meet Your Farmers

"Meet Your Farmers" will be a weekly feature to introduce you to the people that grow your food!

BarryBarry has lived in Berkeley for 13 years with his wife Vicki, and now his 5-year-old son Conner. Barry joined Heirloom Gardens to learn more about gardening, and also to help introduce Conner to where food comes from. He likes to grow things that get big and grow fast (like squash and cucumbers), but his favorite thing to eat from the garden is fresh tomatoes. When he's not gardening Barry enjoys reading magazines, seeing movies, and learning about public policy.

Brenda has been gardening since she started growing flowers in her grade school 4-H program. Her favorite veggies to grow are things that vine - they're gifts that keep on giving! She loves to eat tomatoes and fresh peas, and cooks some incredible things including potato leek soup, mushroom risotto and an African dish called doro wat. When she's not in the garden Brenda likes to plant trees, read comics with her husband Brian and snuggle with her cats.

Featured Item

AmaranthAmaranth plants are typically cultivated for their seed, which is cooked as a grain (similar to quinoa). However, the leaves are often used in Asian cooking and are quite tasty. They are similar to spinach in texture, and can be used in the same way. You can eat the leaves raw in salads, give them a light steam or saute, or include them in eggs, casseroles, or other baked dishes. Last night I made a pasta with sauteed garlic, shrimp, and amaranth leaves, and it was delicious! Amaranth leaves are a good source of vitamins A, K, B6, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, and a few other things. You can read more about amaranth leaves on Wikipedia.

Recipe Ideas

Roasted Beets with Beet Greens
This recipe was featured in an "In My Kitchen" segment of 5280 magazine. It's a recipe I created based on a dish prepared by the chef at my old job, and it's one of my favorite ways to prepare beets. You can view the official recipe by clicking the link, but this is a simplified version. The portions of veggies can be whatever looks good to you.

Our beets this week are still baby-sized, but they're big enough to enjoy being roasted!

Beets, with greens attached
Green beans
Head of garlic
Olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon horseradish
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim beet greens, coarsely chop leaves, and reserve. Cut beets in half (only if they're big, otherwise you can use the whole beet) and rub lightly with olive oil. Wrap beets and garlic head separately in foil. Roast beets for one hour (or 45 minutes if they're small), roast garlic for 45 minutes.

Cook beans in boiling salted water until tender. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add beet greens and saute until lightly wilted. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

Mix sour cream, horseradish, cream and 1/2 tsp salt. Peel beets and cut into wedges. Spoon the sour cream dressing onto the bottom of the salad plate. Next, arrange the green beans, then beets and roasted garlic cloves. Top with beet greens and serve.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rooftop Gardens in the NY Times

Many thanks to Lexi for sending this to me - a great article about rooftop gardens that are sprouting up :) in New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

I know that there are some restaurants in Denver interested in starting rooftop gardens, and the whole concept of green roofs is interesting too.

As with so many things pertaining to urban agriculture, the development of rooftop gardens will depend on whether Zoning allows it. I will be interested to see how Zoning responds when this movement sweeps through Denver (as it surely will).

Do you know of a great rooftop garden in Denver? Tell us about it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Happiest Barnyard in the West

Yesterday I indulged in one of my favorite pasttimes --- watching the animals play in the barnyard. It's endlessly entertaining, because with nine critters (ten, if Lucy has decided to join the fun) doing their thing, there's always something to see.

As I watched the chickens pecking the guts out of an old cucumber, perching on the hay bucket, and lounging under the ramp, I got the sense that these are some very happy chickens. As it should be.

The crew.

Cinnamon, Sage, and Cardamom exploring the cucumber.

Rosemary, Cayenne and Thyme. At first they just pecked the open end of the cucumber, but eventually they learned that they could make new holes in the skin. Notice how Rosemary is lying on her belly. She likes to do this when she's relaxed, and it took me a while to get used to. The first time I saw it I thought something had broken one of her legs.

Peaberry can reach her head into the hay bucket from the ground, but really it's much more satisfying just to crawl in there.

The closest I got to a smile. She didn't appreciate being distracted while eating.

I committed the horrifying act of going a whole 15 seconds without paying attention to Dasha, so she decided to check in and see what I was up to. Note the straw between her ears --- she likes to forcefully scratch the top of her head on the straw bales and ground. Sometimes she leans over too far when scratching, and she'll actually do a somersault and land on her back.

"Aw, Mom... cut it out!" (See Lucy in the background?)

Sage at 12 weeks. Her feathered cheeks are so cute.

Cardamom is a blur as she scratches her ear. Her feathered feet make her the favorite of all of our barnyard guests.

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stormy Weather

Sunday marked Colorado's 8th straight day of "severe weather." We've experienced thunderstorms, downpours that flooded the streets, funnel clouds --- and hail. The hail had been heaviest on the eastern plains, with only little bits coming through northwest Denver. Until Sunday, when a pocket of particularly strong hail nailed us.

Here's a picture of the Perry street garden on May 29th. Note the lovely bed of turnips in the bottom right corner:

And here's what it looks like today:

This is a time when having a multi-plot farm (as opposed to just one big plot) really saved the day. The Perry garden was the only one affected by the hail. We have another garden on Newton street, just 5 blocks away from the Perry location. The Newton garden is in great shape --- just a little rain.

Our former beds of turnips, squash, cilantro and beets.

We had just thinned out this turnip bed, to give the already-big-and-beautiful turnips a little more room to grow.

Beets, about 2 weeks away from harvest.

The process of growing food has really been a lesson in hard work and detachment. Then more hard work, then detaching again.

What are you gonna do? Weather happens.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Big Market

This Saturday was the second week of the Highland Farmers' Market. This is our "big" market, a counterpart to the Thursday afternoon MicroMarket (MiMa).

This week we sold bags of salad mix (lettuces, spinach, arugula and garden cress), arugula bouquets, bags of spinach, turnips and turnip greens, two varieties of kale, and fresh herbs including oregano, thyme, tarragon, savory, dill, mint, and parsley. The veggies were picked on Friday afternoon for Saturday's market - just about as fresh as you can get!

The markets are a great way to connect with people in the community. We talk with chefs, people interested in starting restaurants (like the man above), local gardeners, moms and kids from Family Harmony music classes, and all kinds of individuals and families that live a block away or as far as SE Denver. It's a lot of fun --- everyone has something to tell us about their experiences growing food, the recipe they're shopping for, or why they prefer arugula to spinach (or vice versa!).

Goat Butt

Really, what more can I say?

Mess Load 'o Turnips

We harvested our first batch of turnips this week, and Keith is bunching them up for the CSA shares. Quite the lovely pile!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CSA Info for June 11th

Garden Update

This week we were excited to harvest some beautiful big (and little) turnips. We're keeping an eye on the beets. They look great, but they're still pretty tiny, so we'd like to give them a little more time to grow before harvesting. The peas are flowering and some are growing in the pods, which is a lot of fun to watch. All of the squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are in the ground.
Erin 5-29The weather has certainly been interesting. It's great to feel like we're having a spring, although gardening around all the storms can be a challenge! So far we've (luckily) avoided any hail damage to the plants. If you'd like to see some progression shots of the gardens, you can click here to view the blog post.

Be sure to check out our Recipes section this week! I received so many wonderful ideas from our shareholders and working members. It's so great to see what people are doing with their veggies, and I really appreciate your generosity in sharing your recipes with our community. Please keep it up!

Veggies to Enjoy this Week

Varieties harvested: Giant Noble, Bloomsdale Long Standing

Turnips & Turnip Greens
Purple Top White Globe


Garden and Pepper

Varieties harvested: Big Boston, Dark Lollo Rossa

Radish Greens (with baby radishes)
Black Spanish, Chinese Red Meat

Varieties harvested: Tarragon, Savory, Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley, Oregano, Cilantro, Sage, Dill, Thyme

Meet Your Farmers

"Meet Your Farmers" will be a weekly feature to introduce you to the people that grow your food!

Sasha and kids
Sasha is mom to Hazel (5) and Maia (7). She and her husband Nathaniel live in east Denver with their hive of bees, a dog, a cat, a ferret, and (unofficially) six "pathetically dependent squirrels."

Maia and Hazel participate in all of the gardening activities alongside their mom, with dad dropping in from time to time to give us a hand with our unruly rototiller. Maia specializes in worm-finding, and Hazel is truly in her element as our goat-herder. Although we usually try not to encourage these in our veggie gardens, Sasha's favorite thing to grow at home is dandelion greens - which she purees in smoothies for the girls to enjoy. Sasha moved here from London in 1995, and still loves to cook winter foods like soups, roasts, and pots of beans. She joined Heirloom Gardens because her family is "joyfully swept up by the force of the urban homesteading movement."

Recipe Ideas

Linda passed along this recipe for Pizza with Mushrooms, Goat Cheese, Arugula and Walnuts. She used her fresh arugula and thyme in the recipe, and said it was great!

All Greens
Angela emailed this recipe for a Greens Soup that sounds really tasty. I love the way she was able to utilize so many different things from her CSA share!

2 tablespoons olive oil
4-8 small potatoes, coarsely chopped (I used 6 small-medium red potatoes skins and all)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4-6 cups chicken broth
3-4 bunches of greens (I used about 6 cups in total of mixed kale, spinach, cress, radish greens, and a variety of herbs)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and potatoe, cook for 5 minutes. Add greens and cook until greens are wilted. Add broth and cook until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Squeeze in lemon and add zest. Puree mixture in blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot or cold.

Josi and I are big fans of the NY Times' No-Knead Bread recipe. If you're interested in some fantastic, I-can't-believe-how-easy-it-is bread, check it out!

This week Josi told me that she added a few handfuls of fresh chopped herbs to her bread dough, with wonderful results.

Also, this week I made a yummy pasta dish with the herbs. I sauteed chopped herbs (pretty much anything in your bag except the dill) in olive oil along with shrimp and some chopped bell pepper. I tossed the mixture with cooked pasta and fresh arugula, then seasoned with salt and pepper. It took about 10 minutes, and was delicious!

Pat is friends with Dave (one of our shareholders), and last week Pat picked up Dave's share at the MiMa. Pat told me about a terrific Turnip-Potato Soup recipe he has, and luckily he sent it on to share with the group!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In the News - "Your Friendly Neighborhood Farm"

Click the link below to view Joel Warner's article on the weekly Westword Blog called "The Urbavore's Dilemma." 

The article is "Introducing Heirloom Gardens, your friendly neighborhood farm."

CSA Info for June 4th

Veggies to Enjoy

Varieties harvested: Lollo Bionda, Dark Lollo Rossa, Amish Deer Tongue, Rocky Top
Varieties harvested: Giant Noble, Bloomsdale Long Standing
Varieties harvested: Russian Red Jack, Dwarf Siberian, Blue Curled Scotch
Garden and Pepper
Radish Greens (with baby radishes!)
Daikon, Black Spansih
Varieties harvested: Tarragon, Savory, Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley, Oregano

Meet Your Farmers
"Meet Your Farmers" will be a weekly feature to introduce you to the people who grow your food!

Kara has been in Colorado since 2006, but jokes that she should have moved here sooner. She lives in NW Denver with her fiance, Sonny. Besides planning her August wedding, Kara likes to go hiking, hang out with friends, and practice mediation. Kara joined Heirloom Gardens because she's been interested in starting her own garden, and learns better by doing. She loves the process of gardening, being out in the sun and working with her hands. 

Recipe Ideas

Radish Greens 
One of our CSA shareholders, Josi, sent me this note about how she prepared her radish greens last week:
"I sauteed them in olive oil until bright green, added a splash of lemon juice to the pan and covered to let steam for 2 minutes. Then salt/pepper, onto the plate and topped with feta crumbles. So tasty!"
Another option for radish greens is adding them as a supplement to hearty sauces or soups. Last night we made spaghetti, and just threw in chopped greens when we were sauteing the onions and garlic, then added the tomato sauce. The sauce was great, and had the health bonus of the greens.
Arugula & Cress
Simple arugula salad is one of my favorite dishes. I wanted to pass along my favorite ways of dressing the salad. Top the arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and a few drops of white truffle oil. Add salt (I like to use kosher or sea salt) and fresh cracked pepper. Yum!
Josi was busy this week. She also created this recipe for Arugula-Cress Pesto:
1 clove garlic 
1/4 cup (plus/minus) olive oil 
3-4 cups mixed greens (arugula, rocket, garden cress, pepper cress, etc) with tough stems removed 
handful walnuts 
handful cashew nuts 
1. Wash and trim greens. 
2. Heat a few Tbsp oil over low heat, add minced garlic and cook until golden but not crispy. 
3. Use food processor to make a paste of the greens (throw in a few handsful at a time) and nuts. Scrape sides periodically. 
4. With food processor running, add in garlic with its oil, and additional oil until you are satisfied with the consistency. 
5. Salt to taste. 
6. Add to pasta, eggs, use as a dip, etc. 

Ideas for additional add-ins: cheese (parmesan, asiago, feta; cilantro as part of the greens; pistachios or garbanzo beans in place of the walnuts or cashews; yogurt for a more creamy pesto)  
If you discover (or create) any tasty recipes using Heirloom Gardens produce, please email them to me and I'll pass them on to the group!