Dining A La King: CSA eating can be wild
Posted: 06/11/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Marshall V. King
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Nicole Mellinger picks produce from last week's harvest at Rise Up Farms, 22600 S.R. 120, Elkhart. Last week was the first week of the farm's CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture program.
Truth Photo By Marshall V. King
Radishes are in season. This is the box for people to choose bunches from at Rise Up Farms last week. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
The harvest this time of year includes basil, mint and radishes. This is from last week's harvest at Rise Up Farms, 22600 S.R. 120, Elkhart. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
The first week of a vegetable subscription raised a lot of questions.
What's lamb's quarter and what do you do with it?
What's poor man's pepper?
And how to you tell a good radish from a mushy one?
Last week was the first week of the season for the Rise Up Farms CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture but really means a vegetable subscription.
Every week through October, the farm will offer fresh vegetables and herbs.
In a CSA, customers pay farmers to provide local and often organic produce on a regular basis. Clay Bottom Farm east of Goshen provides customers a box once a week. People who buy the market basket at the Goshen Farmers Market can pick an amount of produce from the vendors. At Rise Up, customers paid either $300 for a half share or $550 for a full-share, which is just double the amount of produce each of the 20 weeks in the season.
On Tuesdays I'll go pick up a bunch of vegetables at the farm east of Elkhart where a group of people are developing an organic farm and community center. This is the third year for the CSA.
This past week, farm manager Nicole Bauman was a little worried about what the harvest would look like. We haven't had enough rain. Some of the crops are thriving in the dry conditions. Others aren't doing well.
That's the risk of farming. That's the risk I'm now part of because I paid the farmers for a summer's worth of vegetables.
This past week, a full share received:
eight big sprigs of mint. It made great iced tea.
eight sprigs of oregano
two bunches of radishes
four bunches of carrots. They were small carrots, but flavorful.
two bunches poor man's pepper, a wild edible that tastes like black pepper
two bunches lamb's quarters, a wild edible that is a mild-flavored green
four stalks green garlic
eight garlic scapes, a long thin offshoot of garlic that can be chopped and used in a variety of ways
1.5 ounces of basil from Barbie's Buds & Blooms in Elkhart
10 ounces of salad mix. That's a lot of salad.
I think most of the CSA members were anxious to see what they'd get. And those working on the farm were hopeful there would be a bounty. “ I feel pretty good about it, all things considered,” said Bauman, who oversees the farm with Nick Simons.
The farmers are irrigating as much as they can. But since it was dry, they used some “wild edibles.” That means weeds, really. I'm not opposed to eating wild things. Morels are among my favorite foods.
But I've never seen poor man's pepper before. I've seen lamb's quarters, but never eaten it and didn't know how to use it. Simons recommended putting it in morning smoothies or using in stir-fries. The farm also provided a recipe for Lamb's Quarters Pesto.
I put it in a quesadilla. I also put it in smoothies. It didn't cloud the flavor of the fruit, but wasn't as mild as spinach.
At the pick-up, there was a seconds bin. The radishes and carrots that were cracked were put in there. Customers could take what they wanted. I grabbed some, washed them in a drinking fountain at OxBow Park and snacked. Some of the “seconds” radishes were fibrous. Others were mushy. But you could tell by feel which were best and those were the ones the farm put in its bunches.
I'm looking forward to the season. I'm looking forward to a supply of fresh, green things, particularly after eating so many cupcakes.
In the coming months, you'll see Monday columns on restaurants, but I'll also write more about the CSA, what's in season, and how to use it.
I'm hungry for vegetables. Let's eat.
Can I still get a CSA share?
Rise Up sold out its 70 half-shares for the summer, but the Goshen Farmers Market, 212 W. Washington St., has its CSA baskets still available. Market hours are 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. More information is available at www.goshenfarmersmarket.org.
And you can still get shares at Clay Bottom Farm for its session that starts in late July. I got a trial box in May to see how owners Ben Hartman and Rachel Hershberger do their CSA. It was a full box of lush food. A full share is $486 and a half-share is $252 for 16 weeks.
Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth/eTruth.com. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @hungrymarshall or via www.facebook.com/diningalaking.