CSA

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Produce Anxiety: Overwhelmed by your CSA?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 6:10 AM

I have a confession: I don't do a CSA.

It's likely that if you're reading this, you know what a CSA is, but if you don't, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In short, for each season, you buy a share (or partial share) offered by a farm, and in exchange, you get a basket of goods (usually each week). The basket is generally composed of fresh, seasonal produce, but many CSAs also include farm eggs, meat, honey, jams or other products made by the farmers. Each farm offers a little something different (as well as options for pickup times and places). A good list of CSAs available in the Nashville area can be found on LocalHarvest.

So, not only do you get a guaranteed bounty each week, CSA members also usually get the best of the bunch. Several times I've been to the West Nashville Farmers Market and noticed a voluptuous bounty at the back of a booth only to be told that it's off-limits except to members. It makes sense, but it's not quite enough to get me to join. Y'see, as much as I love fresh produce, I never want to have more than I can use.

That's why this story in The New York Times really resonated with me. The panic that can come with the never-ending influx of fresh produce. Yes. Like the mail, it doesn't stop (until it does, at the end of the season, that is). I've heard about it from others, too. I believe Nicki Wood once lamented there was only so much she could do with 5 pounds of yellow squash, particularly knowing that 5 pounds were coming next week, too.

And then there's this:

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More on the FEAST Together CSA Box

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 5:51 AM

Chris blogged a few weeks ago about FEAST Together, a sort of dinner CSA involving chefs preparing healthy meals with local ingredients for pickup or delivery. Bites recently got word from one of the participating chefs, Martha Stamps, with details on how it works, and it really is ideal for people who want to eat better and don't want to cook. There are a few of memberships left, but let me stress, just a few.

A six-week membership is $370 to $400, which buys you six food boxes at $67 each. A 10-week investment is $620 to $670 for 10 boxes. Both include two tickets to the Wednesday night dinner and film Martha hosts at West End Methodist. The 10-week membership includes a copy of her cookbook The New New Southern Basics.

To give you an idea of what you'll get, here's the list of what's in a box, followed by specific menus.

Weekly box

*A Quart of Vegetarian Soup

*A Quart of Hearty Stew with Meat

*An Entree with Sides (serves 2 to 3)

*A Salad Package with Local Greens, Dressing, & Toppings
(serves 2 to 3)

*A freshly baked loaf of bread

A vegetarian box is also available.

All soups and most entrees will freeze well.

Here are some sample menus:

Week 1 OMNIVORE Box

Leek, Wild Mushroom, Barley Soup (Quart)
White Bean Soup with Country Ham and Cabbage (Quart)
Chicken Pot Pie (2 to 3 servings)
Spicy Kale (2 to 3 servings)
Winter Salad Mix (2 to 3 servings)
Pumpkin Seeds, Dried Apricots, Feta Cheese, Burnt Sugar Vinaigrette
Honey Wheat Walnut Loaf

Week 1 VEGETARIAN Box

Leek, Wild Mushroom Barley Soup
Vegetarian White Bean and Tomato Soup
Spinach and Leek Tart (2 to 3 servings)
Spicy Kale (2 to 3 servings)
Winter Salad Mix (2 to 3 servings)
Pumpkin Seeds, Dried Apricots, Feta Cheese, Burnt Sugar Vinaigrette
Honey Wheat Walnut Loaf


Week 2 OMNIVORE Box

Curried Cauliflower and Chick Pea Soup (quart)
Chicken and Spinach Soup with Brown Rice (quart)
Braised Beef Short Ribs (2 to 3 servings)
Baked Cheese Grits (2 to 3 servings)
Spinach Salad (2 to 3 servings) with Hard Boiled Egg, Bacon, Pickled Beets and Red Onion
Dijon Vinaigrette
Sourdough Loaf with Rye

Week 2 VEGETARIAN Box

Curried Cauliflower and Chick Pea Soup
Caldo Verde (Portuguese greens soup)
Pumpkin Ragout
Baked Cheese Grits
Spinach Salad with Hard Boiled Egg, Pickled Beets and Red Onion
Dijon Vinaigrette
Sourdough Loaf with Rye

And a final temptation, should you be on the fence.

In addition, we'll be offering add-ons at the pickup site (which, by the way will be Wednesday afternoons at West End UMC), such as pickles, baked goods, sweets, or even chicken salad, Greek orzo, or roasted Brussels sprouts!

Interested? Visit feasttogether.org or call 983-8850. Martha's website is marthastampscatering.com

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Garden to Go: Teen Farmer Eschews Miley Cyrus for Seedlings

Posted By on Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Alexandra Reau, 14, in her financially lucrative backyard garden.
  • NYT
  • Alexandra Reau, 14, in her financially lucrative backyard garden.
Statistically speaking, there's nothing all that spectacular about Michigan teen Alexandra Reau. She's 14; she lives in a rural part of Michigan on land her family farmed for generations, so she, too, knows a thing or two about working the land. She's a 4-H member who lives in an area where seniors can ride their tractors and four-wheelers on the last day of school. She raises bunnies on the side.

As the New York Times put it in a story about Alexandra: "While her peers are hanging out at Molly’s Mystic Freeze and working out the moves to that Miley Cyrus video, she's flicking potato-beetle larvae off of leaves in her V-neck T-shirt and denim capris, a barrette keeping her hair out of her demurely made-up eyes. Who says the face of American farming is a 57-year-old man with a John Deere cap?"

This is the sort of thing that a teenage me would have scoffed at. Ag classes, 4-H, country roads, dilapidated barns, quilting lessons: Been there, done that. And there was nothing more boring to me than embracing my own roots and doing what was expected of me. My solipsistic teenage mind was sure there was nothing for me within 500 square miles of what I knew. Take that, bluegrass festival on the square!

I spent my earliest memories in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Byrdstown, Tenn., where everyone has a garden in their backyard, and the idea of going to the store to buy produce is practically unheard of. But gardens need tending, and so my sisters and I were drafted to pick green beans, shuck corn and can vegetables every summer — child labor paid for with bushels of corn or cartons of blueberries to take home, something that, at the time, seemed like a royal rip-off. To me, it was indentured servitude, a country way of life best departed for the city.

Little did I know, the joke was on me.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

How to Help Amish Farmers Who Lost Everything

Posted By on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 11:03 AM

A recent column about the growing landscape of community supported agriculture in Middle Tennessee featured Fresh Harvest, a joint venture of Turnbull Creek and Drury Family Farms. Every Sunday night, Tallahassee "Tally" May at Fresh Harvest sends out an email about the week's crops. In the wake of last week's flood, Tally's email this weekend had a plea to help a farming family that suffered heartbreaking damage:

This week we are collecting donations for the Hershberger family, who lost everything in the flood. Many of you are familiar with this Amish family who have been providing us with their wonderful produce — field peas, winter squash, watermelon, and more — for years. They are amazing farmers and have been a joy to work with and learn from. They lost everything in the flood — their house, greenhouse, two of their draft horses, and all of their belongings. They are thankful to have survived and that their four children are safe. It looks like they will not be able to farm this summer, and we want to help them sustain themselves while they find a new place to live and get back on their feet.

Continue reading »

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Day Blooms with CSAs

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 8:12 AM

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At the pretty wonderful Earth Day celebration in Centennial Park, I picked up community-supported agriculture forms from a couple of farms, because now is the time to sign up for the weekly batches of locally grown produce a CSA provides.

I like all the different ways that CSAs distinguish themselves. Eco-Gardens (ecogardens@bellsouth.net) has Hendersonville pickups as well as Crieve Hall and Belmont and discusses its farming methods in a lot of detail in its weekly newsletters. The late, lamented Sylvanus Farms included recipes for some of the less familiar foods, and for using the sometimes-astounding amounts of seasonal produce. Real Food Farms (realfoodfarms.com) supplies local restaurants as well as individuals and offers seven pickup locations.

Speaking of which, Delvin Farms, the CSA powerhouse, has added a pickup point at the West Nashville Farmers' Market. And while we're on the topic, the West Nashville market begins its regular Saturday operations in May, as does the Wednesday farmers' market in East Nashville at the Free Will Baptist Church at 10th and Russell. Buying at the markets is a good alternative to a CSA if you just can't commit to all those vegetables each week.

How do you buy produce: supermarket, CSA, roadside stand, farmers' market or home garden, or a combination?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Nutrition Action Stirring in Public Schools

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2010 at 8:09 AM

It can be pretty dismaying for parents to see what kids eat at school. The rotating selection of sweetened, flavored milks (tired of chocolate? Try the cotton candy flavor!), the pizza and fried foods, and the stream of sodas and cookies brought for birthdays and other special occasions challenge even "good eaters."

Several schools, most notably the Hillsboro cluster, are forming nutrition action committees to improve selections at PTO events, encourage nutrition education, promote non-food rewards in class and other steps towards improved in-school nutrition.

Individual efforts at Julia Green (a healthy snack cart), Glendale, Percy Priest and JT Moore include fitness clubs, partnering with CSAs (community-supported agriculture, as in buying shares of a farm's crops) and starting school gardens.

On May 1, the Hillsboro Cluster will hold its first cluster-wide event focusing on overall wellness with special emphasis on nutrition and is looking for committee members to help with planning the event. The first committee meeting is scheduled for 10-11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5, at 10am at Carter Lawrence School (in the community room). If you are interested, contact Bites and we'll connect you with organizers.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Veggie Trader: I Will Gladly Trade You Kale For Some Rhubarb Today

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 2:02 PM

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Ever buy a boatload of veggies only to realize you can't possibly eat all those turnips by the week's end? Those of you who participate in CSAs probably know all too well what it's like making your way through a bushel of green beans when that's all the latest crop produces.

Now there's Veggie Trader, a currently free social networking site that allows folks to trade their bushel of peas for a bushel of zucchini. (You do have to register to use the site.) You search listings for the veggies you need, and find someone who wants what you're holding. You can input how many miles you're willing to travel, and the rest is up to fennel-fate.

Using Veggie Trader is free and easy. It works like classified advertising. You post a listing describing the excess produce you have and what you'd like in return, and then you wait for a response....

Or if you're looking for local produce, you simply enter your zipcode and see what your neighbors have available. You can also post specific produce you're looking for in our Wanted section and see which of your neighbors answers your request.

It was started in Portland, so right now, there's nothing within so much as 100 miles near us on the site. But letting folks know is the surest way to get this thing going, right? One or two posts is all it would take to kick it off. And what better way to actually start meeting people just like you? Who knows? Maybe you'll fall in love over a surplus of summer squash.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Putting the "C" in CSA

Posted By on Sun, Jul 26, 2009 at 8:51 PM

We just heard the news that Hank Delvin, patriarch of the Delvin Farms CSA family was seriously injured in an accident early Saturday morning on the way to make his delivery to the Franklin Market. Another driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel and struck Hank's truck, requiring him to be cut out of the wreckage and Life Flighted to Vanderbilt Hospital. Hank suffered three broken ribs, a fractured neck, broken left leg, knee and hip and has already undergone a major surgery with more scheduled.

Luckily he is alert and on the mend. His family says that his spirits are being lifted by the well wishes of the members of the Delvin collective. According to his daughter Amy:

We eased his worries with stories of our customers, farm crew, friends and family who pitched in and took care of every detail on Saturday. With the help of friends and farm crew, dad's truck (which had been towed to the farm) was unloaded of produce and the CSA shares placed in the warehouse. An email was sent to the CSA members to pick up their shares on the farm. Word was spread around the market and "get well" posters were made by my friend, Hannah, who stayed all day with friend and CSA member Dale, to inform customers of the accident. We are so thankful and humbled by everyone's support and prayers, which have obviously worked. Dad has a long road ahead of him and will most likely be in the hospital for many months, but he is alive, and broken bones will heal. Thank you thank you for your prayers!!

It reminds us that Community Supported Agriculture is more than just a cheap way to buy fresh vegetables. It really is about developing a relationship with the people who grow your food and share your dedication to local agriculture. We here at Bites wish Hank a speedy recovery and promise never to complain again about the mountain of kale in our bushels. At least until next spring.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Provence Hosting Local Food Fête July 25

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 1:43 PM

In celebration of summer, Provence in Hillsboro Village is hosting a Local Food Fête, showcasing seasonal produce from Farmer Dave and offering a chance to chat with owner Terry Carr-Hall and chef Dustin Pritchett. If you made it to Provence's recent bread fête, then you'll know what to expect--but with an emphasis on seasonal produce. If you get to the 21st Avenue store between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, please report back if you discover any particularly clever uses for seasonal CSA booty.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kale Crunch Makes Chips of Your Greenosity

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Kale grows really well in Tennessee, and actually, the trick isn't getting to grow. It's getting it to stop. Which makes it a dependable spring staple in a CSA. Trouble is, like a Tennessee rainstorm, it's a good thing that arrives all at once.

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And frankly, not everyone tolerates kale indefinitely. Once you've made a dent in the kale with Southern-style greens, Greek greens pie and maybe Portuguese chickpea and kale soup, the recipe options grow so exotic that kids--or the whole family--may revolt.

From a Delvin Farms subscriber comes this lovable Delvin-supplied recipe for crunchy baked kale chips. My friend said her Kale Crunch took only about 10 minutes to reach a "chiplike" stage.

Kale Crunch

A little olive oil or oil spray for the baking tray

1 large bunch fresh kale, stemmed and minced (about 1 pound)

2 to 3 tablespoons grated parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a large baking tray or two with foil, then brush or spray it with oil. Add the kale, spreading out each leaf as much as possible. Avoid overlapping the leaves.

Bake for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice during that time. Sprinkle with parmesan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until it's as crisp as you like it. (The kale will continue to shrink and crisp the longer it bakes. If you watch it closely and stir it enough, you can get it quite crisp without burning it.)

Remove the tray from the oven, and let the kale cool on the tray. Kale Crunch will keep for a week or two in a covered container--no refrigeration necessary.

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