Saturday, July 01, 2006

Friday is Farm day- it is the day we go to our CSA to pick up our weekly share. This is the fourth year we have been a member of Natural Roots CSA in Conway....and every year it gets better!

Robyn Van En is credited with creating the first CSA's in America, right here in Western Mass. He is someone who kids should learn about in school. His contribution to the way people view food and farming was great.

What is a CSA?

A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly "basket" (in our case cotton tote bag with our farms logo on which I proudly carry around all year) of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become "members" of the CSA. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season upfront, but if you are in need it is my experience that farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments or members can often work a small number of hours on the farm during the growing season.

This arrangement began in Japan 30 years ago, called "teikei" in Japanese, it translates to "putting the farmers' face on food." This concept traveled to Europe and was adapted to the U.S. and given the name "Community Supported Agriculture" at, in 1985 by Robyn Van En and friends in the Berkshires of Western Ma, Indian Line Farm, Still a working CSA today,

If you are not a member of a CSA I cannot recommend it enough, especially if you have young children, or a new to an area- it is a great way to meet your community, very much the same feel as a farmers market. It is a scene, there is a pine climbing tree, one of the best I've seen, kids aged 2-13 climb that tree and every week year after year get a limb higher and proudly call for their parents to see them. The more adventurous hang by their knees . When I looked up yesterday there were 13 kids in the tree! all laughing and looking out for one another. Every year there are new babies, new mamas, expectant mothers, and every year oh my the kids are a year older. And Leslie is always there with her flower shares making the space more beautiful,

A short walk across the suspension bridge leads you to the fields, pick your own , this week we collected peas (sugar and snap), If you are lucky you catch a glimpse of farmer david working with the fields with his 2 draft horses- these horses are huge! The little ones love the sheep and cows....BUT be careful of the electric fences.

Our CSA has the additional benefit of the river, on summer days once the food has been picked up families walk down to the river, little ones can't wait to whisk off their clothing and get wet all over while parents catch up on the shore.

Once home it is time to put away the colorful produce and plan the meals. Yeah- A daikon for pickling, better look up that pickle recipe. Dill and Cilantro are two of my favorite culinary herbs and are plentiful this time of year, Here are my two favorite recipes...

Snap peas with Spring Onions and Fresh Dill

This is a Greek recipe that I learnt from my family, Sauté spring onions and garlic in a saucepan 1/4 full with olive oil. Once the onions are translucent add the peas. There should be almost enough olive oil to cover the peas. Add a pinch of sea salt. You can add a little water now. When the peas are almost done add a bunch of dill chopped up. Turn it all the way down to to low and leave for about 30 mins.

Cilantro Pesto

Just like you would make with Basil but you can just use Cilantro

Chop up the Cilantro add to the blender. Pour in olive oil, some lemon juice, a few garlic cloves, pine nuts, (walnuts also add a nice flavor) and some parmesan cheese. Blend to a nice consistency and viola you and pesto!

This pesto is especially great over Mugwort soba noodles (available at WholeFoods).

I have noticed that that the St Johns Wort has just come into bloom. I hope it stays dry enough to make some oil. Other herbs currently in bloom in our gardens are Valarian, Motherwort, Elder, and Red Clover.

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