Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a system that connects the producer and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms.
We first began to read about CSA in Mother Earth News and Southern Living. Then UNC-TV, North Carolina’s Public Broadcasting Network started featuring stories and reports on programs springing up across the state. The concept intrigued us, but the programs offered in our old hometown just did not seem to work with our lifestyle at the time. However, since we have moved to the heartland of the State’s farming industry, and our routines have changed with retirement we are giving the idea a try.
Now to participate in a CSA does require an adventurous food spirit. Unlike picking, “just the things you like” off of a grocery shelf, your CSA delivery is based on what is growing and ready to pick on the farm each week. This means your box or basket of farm fresh produce is a surprise. We have already been introduced to a wide selection of greens that until this program we had never tried before.
To help us prepare for the ‘produce present’ our CSA provider Red Barn Market a division of Correll Farms in Rowan County sends us an e-mail before the delivery outlining what will be in our basket and provides recipes for the preparation of some items. It is a blessing, because as I’ve stated some of the vegetables are new to us, and we need guidance.
Welcome to Basket #1-
Red Barn Market delivers right to our home, and when David handed us our first order we tried to remain cool. I can tell you we were both busting with childlike enthusiasm at seeing Basket #1 brimming with greens. Although we had gotten the e-mail of the items to expect, it was so thrilling to see and touch each one for ourselves. Let us review it with you…
Spring Onions – are sweeter and mellower than regular onions. As their name implies they are harvested in the “spring.” While they can be used just like basic onions, you find they are best grilled or roasted.
Kohlrabi – (We had never heard of this vegetable before.) It is called a German turnip and is the same species as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. It can be eaten raw or cooked. We cooked ours and mixed it in a sort of potluck all in one dish with some ground beef.
Romaine Lettuce – maybe it was all mental, but knowing it was fresh picked made it taste even better. We fixed salads and put a little spring onion in there for a little extra taste. Yum.
Bok Choy – is a type of Chinese cabbage. If you have had any food from a Chinese Restaurant then more than likely you have eaten Bok Choy. Red Barn Market provided us with a recipe for Chicken Bok Choy Stir Fry that was delicious. (Look at the bottom of this post for the recipe.)
Kale – also called leaf cabbage is one of those greens we had a lot as children. Over the years, it seemed to take a back seat to spinach, maybe because it can be a little bitter. We Googled a number of recipes and found some great ways to cook it to cut that bitter taste.
Mustard Greens – resembles kale, but has a distinct horseradish or mustard flavor. In fact, it is also known as green mustard cabbage. I randomly picked a recipe off the internet to prepare the greens, but I wish I had reached out on Facebook to some of our friends who eat these on a regular basis. My dish was not very tasty.
Well, that’s Basket #1. Over the weeks, we will be sharing with you our Farm to Table delights. I hope that we can toss in more recipes and even wine selections. Just a few things before we go. Keep in mind CSA programs work differently in different areas. Ours was pay in full up front. Like us, you may have to change your additional grocery shopping around the e-mail for the week’s delivery items.
If you do not cook, only like your vegetables from a can (there is nothing wrong with that), only prefer a select number of greens, or you eat out a lot, then this program may not be for you. For everyone else, we can only share our limited experience to date. We started small; Red Barn Market offers a much larger box of items. While most programs have already gotten underway, I do not think it is too late to join one at a reduced rate. Check the internet for CSA programs in your area, or contact the Agriculture Extension Office.
We’ll keep sharing and we look forward to hearing from others about their Farm to Table experiences.
Ingredients3 boneless and skinlesschicken breasts2 egg yolks1 teaspoon coconut flourtamari or soy sauce1 bunch bok choy1 cup mushrooms sliced1-2 teaspoons minced garlicsesame oilsalt and pepperInstructions
- Cut the chicken into thin slices.
- Mix 1 teaspoon soy sauce, egg yolks and coconut flour. Coat chicken with egg yolk mixture and let sit.
- Slice bok choy into small bite size pieces.
- Heat sesame oil in large skillet or wok. Cook garlic in oil until golden.
- Add chicken to skillet and stir fry until no longer pink.
- Stir in mushrooms and bok choy. Continue to cook and stir until vegetables are tender.
- Add additional soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste