Monday, July 13, 2009

Farm Girl Farm

There is something unbelievably wonderful about picking up a box of seasonal organic vegetables grown by a farm specifically for you. Saturday, Uncle George, Lil' Bit and I hopped in the car and drove to Farm Girl Farm to pick up his CSA share for the week. We drove down a dirt drive and pulled up to a little barn structure where two beautiful women were doling out squashes, greens, scallions, garlic scapes, kale, potatoes, and cucumbers. This is their 5th season at Farm Girl Farm, and they feed over 70 CSA members from their 5 acres of land. Pretty incredible if you ask me.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is one of the best ways out there to get seasonal goodies. Basically, you pay a certain amount of money per grow season to buy a membership, or share of the harvest, which equates to a weekly supply of fresh vegetables. The cost can range anywhere from $300 for a summer season to $600 or more for a full season. It is a little pricey, but more often than not you get more food than you can eat in a week so splitting it with another friend or family is a great idea.

Chef and I were members of a CSA a few years ago, and we found ourselves swamped with lettuce. Three weeks in a row Chef and I received 4 heads of lettuce and 2 lbs of mixed greens. Now I love salad as much as the next person, but this was a little ridiculous. I didn't want to throw it away, so I went online and found a Giada De Laurentis recipe for a soup that was mostly lettuce pureed with a bit of potato. I told Chef I was making lettuce soup and he cringed...but when he came home and tasted it he was pleasantly surprised. It was delicious! It was like Vichyssoise, only much lighter and refreshing...and a lot less calories.

This membership really opened my eyes to an entirely new variety of vegetables. At the grocery store you see the same old stuff regardless of the time of year. One of the major perks of being a member of a CSA is that you are introduced to new vegetables that you would never think to buy or sometimes even see at the store. For example, one week we received a bunch of Kohlrabi which is a member of the cabbage family, but it is more like a broccoli and you eat the bulb. It is a bright green and has a fresh crisp taste. I had no idea what it was when I went to pick it up, but the farmers supplied me with a recipe for slaw that was fantastic.

Actually, last week Uncle George received some Kohlrabi and didn't quite know what to do with it. It was still sitting in a bowl on his counter when I arrived to town. I remembered the slaw from a few years ago, and this past weekend we made our own version with radishes and topped it with a delicious piece of red snapper.

Garlic scapes were a new vegetable for me from George's CSA. They are pictured above and below in the white basket. They are the shoots from the garlic bulb that the farmer trims in order to make the bulb grow bigger. They are long and curly and make beautiful arrangements for a table, and are great sauteed and eaten like a scallion.
We made a yummy potato salad with his share of scapes and potatoes.

CSA farms first made their appearance here in the USA in 1984, actually here in Great Barrington, MA. If you want to see if there is a CSA in your area Local Harvest is an awesome resource for finding out pretty much anything you want to know about farms across the USA.

A CSA membership is a simple way to reconnect with your food. You take a risk with your farmer, if mother nature decides to ruin a crop there is no refund, but there is the knowledge that is gained about the ecology in your area. It is a fantastic partnership and in a lot of ways it is an adventure.

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