Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CSA Harvest! And, Tilth Farmwalk adventures

I headed off-island yesterday with my friend and fellow farmworker Jay for a Tilth-sponsored "Farmwalk" tour of the WSU research station in Mt. Vernon and a trip to Viva Farms, a farm incubation project.  Both were exciting and inspiring, but more on that in a moment.  First, a visual tour of this week's produce:

1/2 lb. salad greens
1/2 lb. spinach
1/2 lb. braising mix

Lately, my favorite way to prepare cooking greens (kale, chard, collards, or mustard greens) is by sauteeing half an onion until soft and translucent and then throwing in handfuls of roughly-chopped greens.  Some advise removing the stems from the leafy foliage and either composting or cooking them first, but personally this is a step I find time-consuming and unnecessary.  Leave everything.  Still tastes good.   Increase the heat, stir, then add a splash of water and cover the pan to steam-soften the greens.  After a minute or two remove the pan lid, cook off any remaining water (you don't need to add much to begin with) and turn off the heat.  I add a few shakes of sesame oil, tamari or soy sauce, grated ginger, and sesame seeds.  Delicious.

When I stopped in town today to drop off CSA bags my friend and CSA member Jenny asked excitedly, "What is there today?"  I adore Jenny for many reasons: she owns a great local business (Darvill's bookstore), grows her own garden AND supports local farmers, and is always enthusiastic about her weekly delivery.  When I reported that this week meant more leafy greens, we chattted for a few minutes about the lack of vegetables with "substance" that are coming from the garden.  I love cooking and fresh-eating greens, but this spring has had a dearth of vegetables that pack a crunch.  Peas are late, beets are slow, and I had to pull all my radishes last week due to pest damage.  I will always enjoy salad and cooking greens, but look forward to harvesting something from the garden that I can actually bite into...

In other news, the Tilth event was a welcome and encouraging change from my usual Monday fieldwork.  I find myself in great appreciation of the state of Washington and the WSU extension services for dedicating so much support and research to organic farming.  We walked the grounds of the research center and I was impressed by how many plots were managed organically, with researchers studying everything from organic wine grapes to no-till cover crops to alternatives to plastic mulch.  Thank you, WSU.  In the afternoon we visited Viva Farms, a nearby 33-acre plot of land that is currently "incubating" ten farmers by providing access to land, equipment and markets, low-interest loans, and technical support.  I encourage a visit to their website at http://vivafarms.blogspot.com.  I could write for a long time about how inspiring these farmers, the director of the program, and the program itself are, but I think the site speaks for itself.  Plus, I have a chicken waiting to be roasted in the oven.

Exciting things are happening in my own garden and in the farming community around me: strawberries blush deeper red each day, peas set their flowers, a researcher develops a new organic management practice, young people and immigrants gain access to land to farm.  I consider myself a tired and lucky girl to be a part of this movement.

1 comment:

  1. Fun stuff ... Washington is indeed a beautiful state