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Creativity in farming and eating

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Creativity in farming and eating
This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Salad Mix
  • Oak Leaf Head Lettuce
  • Popcorn
  • Fresh Dill
  • Cucumber
  • Beautyheart Radishes
  • Green Garlic
  • Young Fennel
  • Salad Turnips
  • Asparagus
Farm Journal
When we first started farming, we were often asked, "What made you decide to start farming?" We answered with a myriad of reasons, ranging from our desire to work alongside family to an aim to make a tangible impact on the land and our community.
But the answer to this question isn't really a simple answer, rather its a combination of values that we share with our farming business. We value collaboration, integrity, sustainability (social, economic and environmental) and creativity. As the son of an artist and the daughter of a drummer, creativity is a value that we've always taken to heart.
Farming is a naturally creative practice. Growing plants and fostering life is an understanding of science (soils, plants and natural systems) blended with art (placement, timing and problem solving). We recently spent an evening with our friend, mentor and fellow farmer, Mike. We discussed how our plans for the food forest are a longterm land and soil nutrient building strategy. At the same time, we hope the food forest will be an aesthetically pleasing forest to walk.
Farming is a creative outlet as we embrace the complex planning processes, interdependent systems and sometimes, the creative engineering needed to create better tools. Last year, we struggled to wash our salad mix effectively as the process was time consuming and got our team very wet in the process! After a good deal of research and several rounds of trial and error, Jeff recently built a salad spinner using a washing machine and some creativity. He used the basics of the appliance (the motor for the spin cycle and the drum) to build a safe and effective centrifuge that spins salad mix quickly, yet delicately, improving our washing process significantly. These sorts of clever solutions to every day farming challenges provide a higher quality salad mix to our members/market customers, save us valuable time and the creative process is endlessly interesting!
Creative challenges and balances inspire us each day, and we hope the farm also inspires creativity within your kitchen and gardens!

Enjoy this week's spring harvest!
~ Jen, Jeff, Owen, Gavin and our farm crew
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Cucumbers!?! Yes, for the first time, spring shares include cucumbers grown in our greenhouse. While we didn't intend to grow them this way (they were slated to go into our cooler temperature hoophouses), we are pleasantly surprised by how much healthy growth these cucumbers take on each day in our 70-80 degree (unheated) greenhouse. Jeff selected the variety of cucumbers for their flavor and tender yet crisp skin. They are great addition to the variety of salad ingredients in this week's shares!
We're including white salad turnips and green garlic again this week. We have extremely strong plantings of both crops, with the salad turnip greens in beautiful, healthy condition as they were protected from pests and wind in our hoophouse. At our farmers' market, many customers purchase our turnips more so for the greens because of their high nutritional value and sweet flavor. Here's a link to last week's newsletter which provided a bit of background and recipes for both.
Raw fennel has a distinct anise flavor and smell, and our spring fennel is young, delicate and tender. Sautéed or roasted fennel is excellent paired with broiled fish and a touch of butter and lemon. My favorite ways to use fennel is to sauté sliced fennel with onion and some Italian sausage. Then add it to hot pasta, mix in some jarred tomatoes, wilted swiss chard or mushrooms, add olive oil on top and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and salt to taste.  
Recipes from the Farm Kitchen

Salad Turnip, Fennel and Cucumber Salad

1 head young fennel
3-4 salad turnips, tops removed
1 medium­ size cucumber
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Trim the fennel, leaving only the white bulb at the bottom. Cut the bulb in half and cut into thin slices. Slice the turnips into thin slices. Split the cucumbers in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Slice them crosswise. Place the slices of fennel and cucumber in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to blend. Salt and pepper to taste, serve.

Fettuccine Pasta With Shaved Asparagus and Pea Pesto
1 pound thick asparagus stalks, trimmed
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen English green peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (about 1/2 cup), divided
1-2 green garlic, chopped 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces uncooked fettuccine pasta
Use a vegetable peeler to shave asparagus stalks into long, thin strips (about 4 cups shaved asparagus). Combine peas, mint, nuts, salt, half of cheese, and garlic in a food processor; pulse until a chunky puree forms. With motor running, slowly add oil, pouring in a thin, steady stream until a smoother puree forms.
Fill a 12-inch high-sided skillet with 2 inches water. Bring water to a boil over high. Add pasta to skillet, and completely submerge; cook until al dente, about 8 to 12 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Drain pasta; return cooked pasta to pan. Add shaved asparagus to pasta; toss well for 1 minute until asparagus softens slightly. Add pea puree to pasta; toss well to coat. Stir in reserved cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce is slightly creamy and thoroughly coats pasta. Top with remaining half of cheese and serve.

Roasted Fennel and Green Garlic with Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 green garlic, finely chopped
2-3 baby fennel bulbs, cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices, fronds reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a small glass baking dish and sprinkle with chopped green garlic. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then with the Parmesan. Drizzle with the oil. Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 teaspoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.  Serves 2.   
Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... salad mix, garlic chives, rainbow swiss chard, asparagus and more!

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