Category Archives: Events

FarmParty_2014_Will Klaczynski (19)

Freshest Party of the Summer

Yo! It’s time for the Farm Party.

Tickets here

We call it the freshest party of the summer because:

1. It has a lot of fresh vegetables that are prepared by the students and teens that grew them, into delicious salads including potato, slaw, kamut, carrot, and a nice green salad. UM Catering helps us with a few of the salads, and much of the roasting (did you know they have an oven that is as big as a room? You can walk into it!).

2. Beer from Draught Works Brewery. Local, delicious, and dedicated to our cause. They give 100% of the beer for the party, which is a big darn deal.

3. We’re cooking up some of the freshest burgers, grass-finished, and Montana raised, from Oxbow Cattle Company cooked up by UM Catering for you! Also, marinated zucchini for vegetarians and vegans.

4. Fresh music: Mudslide Charley is one of Missoula’s classic bands, and they are particularly hot right now because of their new lead singer, Lee Rizzo. Plus, we’ve got Good Old Fashioned who is one of Missoula’s freshest, newest bands.

5. Bring your dancing shoes! By the end of the night the floor is always hopping, often thanks to the PEAS Farm students who have spent their summer growing veggies for the community, from 20,000 pounds for the Missoula Food Bank to 100 CSA members. The Farm Party is a celebration for them, and a way to show Missoula a little slice of the magic they’ve taken part in (and made happen) in the last few months.

Menu should be posted next week, including all the ingredients!

Here are a few photos from last year:

FarmParty_2016_LukeBrown (108) FarmParty_2016_LukeBrown (126) FarmParty_2016_LukeBrown (129) LexieBeagle (1) FarmParty_2016_LukeBrown (115)




Red Rooster painting

Window shopping takes on a vegetable flare

In the spirit of local food and local business, we collaborated with over 20 downtown businesses to celebrate vegetables in May and June. I tell you, the downtown business community is pretty cool. They were doing the vegetable themed displays in support of our Room to Grow at River Road Farmstead campaign to raise funds, and two roofs, for a big old barn/community center/offices for our staff. Just in case you missed these creative displays, I have some photos. This was just about the most fun I have had with marketing ever!

Note: I don’t have all the businesses yet, but will update with more photos when I do!

NOTEWORTHY lead the charge, Amy wrote the downtown businesses and walked door to door with me to ask for their support. Which is a lot of time and energy, let me tell you.

Noteworthy's display

Plus, they did a lot of paper mache and creative thinking!  And some worm painting, too. . .


Red Rooster was one of the first to create their display, and it was a beautiful one. The photos have some glare, since you know, glass does that, but here’s my best attempt. . .

Red Rooster (2)_small_cropped

Many of the shops employed an artist to paint these beautiful vegetables on their windows, as the Red Rooster did. . .

Red Rooster painting

Another early adopter was One Eleven, which had some cute potted starts. . .

One Eleven Display

4 Ravens Gallery had an assortment of hand crafted tools, antiques, and even a floral scarf!

4 Ravens Gallery display

Berkshire Hathaway had fun with some cut outs!

Berkshire Hathaway Display


Bitterroot Flower Shop made a combination of paper mache and balloon creations. . .

Bitterroot Flower Shop display

Copperopolis really filled their display with fun elements of gardening and vegetables. . . Copperopolis display

Copperopolis (2)_web

Copperopolis display with flower

The Crystal Limit declared “we dig crystals and veggies!”

Crystal Limit display

Though my picture does it little justice, Fact and Fiction had a playful display of books including one of our favorite, Growing a Garden City by Jeremy Smith, and a new favorite, Vegetables in Underwear (best way I can think of for teaching the concept of potty training!).

Fact & Fiction display


Frame of Mind might not be downtown, but they went all out with a display including live plants like strawberries and tomatoes and salad greens. The owner told me that she even made some lunch salads from the window! The plants have now been transferred to a outdoor garden space, to continue growing and producing food.



Frame of Mind display

The Green Light had similar glare issues, but lots of great creativity there, including a wheelbarrow!

Green Light display

Laurel Creek had beautiful seed packets along with some very flower-filled comfy looking PJ’s

Laurel Creek (2)_web Laurel Creek (1)_web

La Stella Blu nailed it with wooden veggies, cute kid’s outfits ready to dig in the dirt, and a book all about the Farmers’ Market (its good to start them young!).

Le Stella Blu display Le Stella Blu (4)_web

The Olive Branch combined efforts with Mom’s Demand Action’s work and ours for their display:

Olive Branch display

Shakespeare and Co picked an excellent selection of garden books to consider . . . I think I might have to check out Will Travel for Food.

Shakespeare display

Sweet Peaks got into some radish and carrot sculpture too, even though they don’t typically do window displays! Sweet!

Sweet Peaks display

And finally, Upcycled did both a window display (with live plants!) and a sandwich board, which was really very kind. Again, the photographer (me) does not do the window justice!

Upcycled Display


We’ve Got the Beet (Recipe)

Dave enjoying a burger at the Farm PartyWe’ve gotten a lot of requests around here for the Farm Party recipes. And what I think that really means is GIVE US THE BEET RECIPE! It is clear from this photo that a Farm Party dinner makes a guy happy. I posted the Kamut® recipe a few weeks ago, another favorite at the party. Now, let me give you the beet.

I will also tell you the story of how our beet salad came to be.

First we got a group of about six or seven EVST Grad and undergrad students and two Youth Harvest teens who have spent their summer up at the PEAS Farm. These folks have seeded, planted, harvested and weeded and weeded (and did I mention weeding?) to bring food to the Missoula Food Bank, their faithful CSA members, and all of our Mobile Market patrons at (mostly) senior affordable housing around town. Farm Party is a way for these students to team up and show the community what they’ve been up to. It’s a proud moment.

Tuesday before the party, the interns and Youth Harvesters harvested the beets and onions (and many other ingredients). Wednesday, the Farm to School staffers whisked the beets and onions to the Missoula County Public School’s Central Kitchen, where they have fancy machines like the robot coupe that chop and slice the veggies REALLY FAST.

Then, to the UM Catering kitchen, where they are roasted in the oven to perfection.

Then, to the First Presbyterian Church commercial kitchen where they are cooled overnight (because you don’t want to melt the cheese) lovingly combined by the PEAS Farm students and Youth Harvest teens the morning of the Farm Party with a simple dressing and delicious Lifeline Farms Feta-U-Beta.

FarmParty_2014_Will Klaczynski (14)
The beet salad in action at the Farm Party!

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Farm Party Beet Salad

Serves 6


  • 4 medium sized beets (should be around 1.5 lbs or 4 cups cubed beets)
  • 1/2 a medium Walla Walla onion
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil (or any oil you enjoy, at home I would use olive, but Safflower is definitely more local, if more refined)
  • 4 oz feta (we used Feta-U-Beta from Lifeline Farms to keep it local and organic — whoop whoop!)
  • Salt to taste

How to

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash the beets and remove tops if still attached (and feel free to use for another dish!). Peel and chop beets into bite sized pieces. Chop coarsely, about the same size as the beets.

Place beets and onions on a large cooking sheet (or two, best not to crowd the veggies). Cook until fork tender, approximately 20 – 30 minutes.

Let the beets and onions cool enough so that they won’t melt the cheese when you toss it all together.

While the beets are cooling, combine the crumbled cheese, safflower oil, and salt.

Once cooled, combine all ingredients together and serve!




kamut salad

Kamut® Salad: the newest addition to the Farm Party lineup

The Farm Party is in a little over a week from now. If you haven’t been, it is a big old party up at the PEAS Farm celebrating this great community, and the harvest that abounds this time of year. We cook everyone a big meal, and host some live music (Shakewell and Local Yokel this year!). It’s really fun. This year, we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary, which means we’ll have cake and a photo booth and a few other fun things.

One of the longstanding traditions around this party (we’ve been doing the party for 14 years, so we’ve got some serious traditions going) is that Josh (PEAS Farm Director) and the PEAS Farm student crew make the food. They harvest it in the fields, truck it over the First Presbyterian Church’s commercial grade kitchen, and get to work. The party has gotten so big that UM Catering has now taken over cooking the burgers, so we can focus on what’s most important: the veggies.

Chopping onions for Farm Party
Chopping onions for the Farm Party Kamut Salad. Real chefs wear onion eye protection. Photo by Tom Bauer/The Missoulian

This wonderful group makes six salads (green salad, cole slaw, carrot, cuke, roasted beet, and Kamut Brand Khorasan Wheat). It’s a treat for them to show Missoula what they’ve been up to all summer. All their harvesting, weeding, moving pipe, tractoring, educating, more weeding, seeding and re-seeding, and harvesting again, and sweating and sometimes freezing — it all adds up to a rich and new experience. So it is a special thing to be able to invite all of you up to the farm to see a little piece of it in action.

In the spirit of sharing, I asked Kali, an EVST grad student who is one of the group’s leaders this year, if she’d share a recipe. She did some calculating (these recipes are sized for making food for around 1,000) to make it for around 6 servings, and gave me this year’s version of the Kamut® Salad recipe. Grain salads are great because you can stick all sorts of things in them and they taste great with a little dressing. This year, the crew is adding peaches (that’s right!) to the savory salad. It’s a great way tie many seasonal ingredients into one dish. Eat it as a meal, or as a hearty side. To make this gluten free, sub rice.



1/4 cup safflower oil or olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
A few sprigs of basil
1-2 tsp raw honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Kamut® berries, cooked and cooled (shorten the cooking time if you soak the berries overnight — see here for simple cooking instructions — mine cooked for almost 60 min)
3 – 5 kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, diced small
1-2 peaches, chopped
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled


Prep all your ingredients.
Emulsify the dressing with an immersion blender.
immersion blender and dressing
Massage the chopped kale with a small amount of the dressing to tenderize it. Then combine all the ingredients in a bowl!
Combine together ingredients
We hope you’ll make this, and come to the Farm Party on August 18th, 5:30 pm at the PEAS Farm to try ours! Come find me and we’ll compare recipes, will you?

The Chicory Project

This week, we have a bonus post from guest writer Ari LeVaux, writer of Flash in the Pan, a syndicated weekly food column that’s appeared in more than 50 newspapers in 25 states. Flash in the Pan also regularly appears in The, Alternet, Slate, Civil Eats, and other online publications. Ari lives in Montana and New Mexico.  

Taste chicory at the PEAS Farm with ARI LeVaux!

Ari will be offering tastings and recipes for chicory during PEAS Farm CSA pickup, Thursday 6/30 and Tuesday 7/5 between 4:30 – 6:30 pm. Anyone is welcome to join in the fun!

Here’s Ari. . .

chicory at the PEAS Farm, photo by Ari LeVaux
Chicory at the PEAS Farm, photo by Ari LeVaux

At an airport salad bar in Rome, recently, I filled a plate with leaves. It was a basic cafeteria salad bar, one that in the U.S. would probably be dominated by a large bin of iceberg lettuce laced with carrot shavings. But instead of lettuce, the leaves were chopped escarole and radicchio. Dressed with oil and vinegar, they were crisp and watery. And they were bitter, a taste I have been coming to appreciate.

By this point in my travels I was well aware that the Italians are ahead of the curve when it comes to eating chicory, the family of bitter-leafed plants that also includes endive and dandelion. At various stores and markets along the way, I had picked up several seed packets of different chicories, like the stately, thick-stemmed Catalogna that looks like a dandelion on steroids, or the Rossa di Treviso, a leafy radicchio shaped more like romaine than the typical tight radicchio head. These and several other equally interesting varieties would become the basis, when I returned home, of the chicory project.

The chicory project, which also includes Italian chicories ordered from, is now fully underway at an area farm. We are investigating which varieties do well in our climate, while playing with different ways of serving it that might appeal to the locals.

This last part is kind of a tall order, as we are programmed to reject bitterness from an early age. Newborns will scowl at the taste, and for good reason: most toxic substances are bitter. Our default status, thus, is to avoid them all until we learn otherwise. Like, say, when we learn about beer, or mixed drinks that contain bitters. Or coffee. Or chocolate. Or something charred on the grill.

The American palate is catching on to the dark flavor of bitter. Dark chocolate is increasingly popular. Dark roasted coffee is all the rage. But how dark is too dark? Everyone has their own comfort zone. I personally think dark roasted coffee tastes burnt, and so I always order the lightest roast. Similarly, I don’t like my food blackened on the grill.

Many bitter flavors from plants come from the presence of glucosinolates, and other plant defense compounds, that are toxic to insects and worms and other hungry critters. But at the levels we humans consume, these molecules are not dangerous, and are showing promise in actually preventing a variety of diseases.

Meanwhile, fiber. One hundred grams of escarole only contains 17 calories, but has nearly 10 percent of your daily fiber requirement. The bitter leaves tend to be stacked with other nutrients as well, like folate, and various antioxidants, and readily accessible forms of minerals.

There are ways to remove, hide and blend away the bitterness of chicory. You can soak the leaves in ice water, balance the bitterness with fruit or a sweet dressing, or combine it with other bitter foods, like mustard, to create a smooth continuum of bitter flavors. You can braise chicory leaves in butter or melt the stems into a fatty sauce.  But the best way to deal with these and other bitter foods is to embrace them, head on, and celebrate them for what they are.

I don’t know anyone with more of a chicory habit than my wife. And those tight burgundy radicchio heads, dreadlocked frisse and grand Batavian leafed escarole aren’t cheap. Which, admittedly, is a big part of my interest in the chicory project.

Like the Italians, she equates a strong bouquet of bitterness with complex flavor, while mild lettuces no longer hold her interest. She has two primary ways of using chicory. They are both exceedingly simple, and instructive to those bitter-curious who may be interested in embarking on this path.

One method is to use leaves like tongs, to grab and encase food en-route to one’s mouth. The food that is grabbed could be anything. A bit of crumbled hamburger patty, some onions, tomato and mustard, and a radicchio burger bite is ready to go down the hatch. A leaf-grab of ratatouille, or a bitter leaf-bite of some other salad. Some people bring their own plates to potluck dinners. My baby, she brings heads of radicchio.

The other way she eats chicory is via what I call the “chip and salsa” technique. She makes a salad dressing of two parts olive oil to one part vinegar, with the vinegar portion split equally between cider vinegar, balsamic and white balsamic. Then she adds soy sauce to taste.

She then dips prepped leaves into the dressing like a chip into salsa, and chomps them down. How the leaves are prepped depends on the type of chicory, her mood, and how much time she has. The only requirement is that they be cleaned.

Freshly gathered dandelion greens are eaten whole, two or three at a time, and folded in half, with the fold dunked in the dressing. This shape holds the dressing for the potentially messy journey to your mouth. With radicchio, my wife will sometimes cut the head into wedges, which also hold dressing very well too, having oozed between the leafy layers.

One enjoyable combination of both of these methods is to wrap a thick chunk of bacon or other meat in the leaf, and then dip in dressing.

If she has the time, my chicarista’s all-time favorite way of eating chicory is in a big salad tossed with this dressing:

In a blender (or other processor) whizz ½ cup olive oil with a few cloves of garlic, and ¼ teaspoon salt. When smooth, blend in the juice and some zest of a lemon or lime and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Adjust salt and vinegar to taste.

There are all kinds of interesting recipes out there for braised radicchio, wilted escarole, endive torte, and many others.  Enthusiasts of cooked chicory praise how it mellows the flavor, and how it adds to sauces. But after adapting my palate to the crisp texture of the raw stuff, I have no interest in soggy chicory. And I don’t want to mellow the flavor anyway, because I’m into bitter. I’ve acquired the taste, and I can go there by myself without training wheels. I’m a chicory grown up.


Garden Therapy

Molly and Clark (the dog)
Molly and Clark (the dog)

Meet our guest community garden blogger for this week…Molly Kimmel! Molly is an occupational therapist at St. Patrick Hospital and a community gardener at the ASUM garden. She earned her  masters in occupational therapy from University of Washington in Seattle. Right after school, she moved to Missoula and quickly fell in love with a smaller town lifestyle. When not working, Molly likes to travel, spend time on any of Montana’s many rivers, and of course, tend her garden plot at the ASUM garden.  

In addition to the ASUM garden, Molly also actively participates in the Providence Garden – a different kind of community garden — where plots are rented out. This particular garden provides a communal space for St. Patrick’s patients, staff, and the surrounding neighborhood to enjoy and to provide a place of respite from hectic work and life schedules. The Providence Garden is located behind the Providence Center, which is a part of the St. Patrick hospital system and is a partnership between St. Pat’s and Garden City Harvest. Garden City Harvest garden coordinators (with lots of help from interns) manage the space and most of the produce grown at the garden gets donated to the Missoula Food Bank (over 1,000 pounds have been donated so far this year!).

Meet our wonderful 2015 garden intern, Brenna!
Meet our wonderful 2015 garden intern, Brenna!

We (Patrick and myself) sure enjoy working with staff and patients in the Providence garden and learning about garden therapy from a therapist’s perspective. In Molly’s blog post below, she writes about how she uses the garden as a therapeutic space for some of her patients.

(And for more information about another initiative taking place at the Providence Garden, check out this Missoulian article about prescriptions for veggies!)

Raised beds at the Providence Center Garden
Raised beds at the Providence Center Garden

When Michael started sautéing fresh onions, garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots for his pasta sauce, I knew it was going to be a good day. Not many people get a homemade meal cooked for them at work, but I have one of the best jobs on the planet. As an occupational therapist at St. Patrick Hospital, I work with people after illness or injury to help them regain their prior level of function with everyday activities. We try to make therapy patient-centered, functional, and meaningful, so when I heard that Michael used to work as a chef in a restaurant and enjoyed gardening, I knew I wanted to take advantage of Garden City Harvest’s Providence Garden as part of his plan for therapy.

When the Providence Garden was getting underway this spring, staff reached out to the different units in the  Providence Center (PC) to see how the space could possibly be used for staff, visitors, and patients. Since the garden is fully accessible with crushed granite paths for wheelchair users and beds of various heights for standing/sitting/kneeling, I knew immediately that it would make an excellent space for patients during therapy.

Up on the 4th floor of the PC at the St. Patrick Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility is where Michael was sautéing his veggies, as well as receiving intensive occupational, physical, and speech therapy, along with 24-hour rehabilitation nursing services, to help him recover from a stroke. Prior to this summer, when I wanted to put together a cooking task with a patient, it meant a trip to the grocery store. Now, thanks to the Providence Garden behind the PC, I had a built-in produce department right in our backyard.

The day before Michael made me lunch, we walked down to the garden to procure our harvest. In doing so, we were able to work on maneuvering over uneven terrain, kneeling down to gather items, interacting socially with the staff at the garden, and getting back to one of Michael’s favorite leisure pursuits: gardening. For other patients, the garden can serve as a place to work on fine and gross motor skills, sensory integration, item identification, or simply as a place to get some fresh air or socialize with family members.


Every Thursday morning of this summer, I have taken 1-4 patients to the garden for a therapeutic group. Everyone enjoys their break from the therapy gym and their time outside, whether they are hunting for the ripest tomato or sampling herbs to decide what will best accompany their upcoming lunch. Then on Friday, we often use what we harvest to make a simple appetizer or light lunch while practicing meal prep skills and kitchen safety. When we begin cooking, not 5 minutes go by before other staff, patients, and family members come walking into the kitchen saying,   what smells so good?

The garden itself has become an invaluable extension of our unit and our therapy offerings – allowing patients (and staff!) the chance to spend time outside, gather healthy, fresh produce, and get back to “normal” life. I am incredibly grateful to the staff at Garden City Harvest for their hard work making this garden accessible and I look forward to our continued partnership in the seasons ahead. For more information about St. Pat’s Inpatient Rehabilitation, visit our website or call 406-327-3260.

Many thanks to the kiddos in the adolescent  outpatient program who made these beautiful signs for the garden!
Many thanks to the kiddos in the adolescent outpatient program who made these beautiful signs for the garden!

{If you’re interested in checking out the Providence Garden for yourself, join us for a Garden Party this Thursday, October 8, from 4-6pm. The Clove Cart will be selling pizza slices, there will be liquid refreshments and live music. Come celebrate the season with us!}

heirloom tomatoes

The Tomato of My Eye

sarahjGuest post: Sarah Johnson is a Northside Community Garden Mentor, and also an expert on tomatoes.  When she agreed to do a blog post for us on tomatoes, and we were tickled pink (or should I say red?).  If you want more info, Sarah will also be leading a workshop geared for community gardeners on July 14th, 5:30 – 7 pm at the Northside Community Garden.  Give Garden City Harvest a call 406.550.3663 if you’d like to join in the fun (it’s free).

My tomato education began five years ago on a cold June afternoon.  I was working on Killarney Farm that summer,  nestled in North Idaho surrounded by nothing but national forest.  Farmers Paul & Ellen of Killarney Farm grow over 30 different tomato varieties.

On the afternoon of my arrival, I stood in a warm moist greenhouse seeking respite from the rain, breathing in the scent of hundreds of potted tomatoes bound for market.   Over the next five years I worked closely with farmer Ellen learning how to tend, care for, and appreciate the unique attributes of the many tomato varieties.


One of my favorite parts of the job was helping customers choose their tomatoes at the Kootenai County Farmer’s Market. The chance to educate customers on features and planting techniques was key to their success at home. Here are some of the questions I learned to ask our customers as the decided what to plant.

Top 5 questions to ask yourself when choosing a tomato for planting:

  • What am I gonna use it for? (proper North Idaho back woods English)
  • Do I want small, medium, or large fruit size?
  • Heirloom? What does heirloom mean anyway?
  • Determinate or Indeterminate?
heirloom tomatoesWhatcha gonna use it for?

There are so many ways to use tomatoes: salads, salsa, sauce, sandwiches, snacks… it makes your head spin. These questions will help narrow down the variety of tomato that will be right for you. For example, if you plan on making sauce till the cows come home then a nice meaty paste tomato will serve you much better than a juicy salad tomato.

Fruit size
  • a small cherry tomato is 2 to 5 oz or the size of a large gumball
  • a medium tomato is 6 to 10 oz or approximately the size of a tennis ball
  • a large tomato is 10 oz+ and can be the size of a softball
Heirloom – what does it mean?

An Heirloom is open-pollinated (by birds, insects, wind) and has been cultivated for at least 50 years. An heirloom must be open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated plants are heirlooms.

This is in contrast to a hybrid where different varieties are cross-pollinated by human intervention. Hybridization may also occur naturally but when buying plants the seed is usually denoted by ‘F1′. Heirloom does not always mean a better tomato. Choose a tomato that fits your taste!

Determinate vs. Indeterminate

A determinate tomato grows to one size (also called bush tomatoes), sets its fruit over a couple of weeks, ripens, and is done for the season. These tomatoes may be caged for support. An indeterminate tomato, or vine-type tomato, continues to grow and shoot new flowering tops, getting infinitely taller and producing fruit over a longer period of time. An indeterminate tomato needs pruning and a greater support structure during the growing season.

Transplanting tips

Growing space: Cherry tomatoes and compact determinate tomatoes work well in containers 18”-24” in diameter. Tomatoes planted in the ground should be 24”-36” for the best production.

Choose a sunny location that receives 6 hours or more of direct sunlight each day.
Prepare the soil:

Dig a hole large enough so that you may transplant the tomato up to its second set         of leaves. A trench may also be dug and the plant can be laid into the soil at a slant with only its head sticking out of the ground. Throw a handful of compost or composted manure into the hole & mix well with soil. At this point you may add an organic tomato/vegetable fertilizer to the soil or water your transplants in with an organic liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion.

Prepare the tomato for transplant:

Pinch the bottom leaves off the stem of the tomato plant. Gently pull the tomato out of    its container and massage outer roots slightly to loosen the root ball without damaging the root system. Place tomato into hole or trench so that the entire stem will be buried up to its leaves. The tomatoes will form roots from the stem that is planted underground forming a more solid root structure for the plant. (Tomatoes are super cool plants!)

Watering Tomatoes:

Water transplants in thoroughly. After initial watering, water regularly but let the soil dry out between watering, as over-watering can lead to disease in plants. Give the plants an inch* of water every week, two inches when the weather gets really hot (that equates to soaking the plants thoroughly every 4-5 days for well-drained sandy soil and every 7-10 days for heavy soil).

*There are many ways to measure ‘an inch’ of water. The easiest way is to set a container out under your sprinkler, drip line, etc & water until you have 1 inch of water in the container.


Make sure your tomatoes are hardened off (aka being introduced slowly to being outside over a week or two). Tomatoes may be transplanted after the last frost date (May 19th in Missoula!) and when the night time temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you have already planted your tomatoes, don’t fret! Tomatoes can be covered with an old sheet or fancy row covers at night to ensure that they stay warm. Tomatoes can tolerate temperatures below 55 degrees F but start to show cold damage if the temperature drops to 40 degrees F.

Want to learn more?  I am hosting a workshop for community gardeners on tomatoes.  Join me Tuesday, July 14th from 5:30 – 7 pm at the Northside Community Garden.

Happy Growing! I wish you a plateful of Tomatoes later this season!

Seasonal Cooking in Four Courses, Adult Cooking Class Series

I have heard many people say over the years that the one hard thing about getting a CSA or growing their own garden is figuring out what to do with all those veggies.  Are you in this situation?  Maybe you are just getting to know your way around the kitchen.  Or maybe you are like me.  I love to cook and have a pretty broad selection of recipes up my sleeve, but I have been known to get in a deep, dark, boring rut wherein I have no idea what to make for yet another dinner.

Enter:  Cooking Classes!  Learn a new trick.  Get acquainted with a mystifying vegetable.  Try a well-known vegetable in a new get-up.  Find kitchen inspiration.

Kitchen Inspiration via Color

The Leadership Committee of Orchard Gardens Community Garden has dreamed up an exciting series of cooking classes and we think it will be a great place to jump out of your cooking rut.  The classes are taught by Rachele, a recent graduate of the Culinary Arts program of Missoula College.  She is a natural teacher and she knows her stuff.

It’s a four part series, with each class addressing a different course of a meal (like a really, really slow progressive meal).  The courses are as follows:  Soup-Salad-Entree-Dessert

I know there will be some kale in the soup, fennel in the salad, homemade pasta in the entree and berries in the dessert.  Each class will involve both demonstration and hands-on learning.  You will be introduced to the kitchen techniques of a professional, such as proper knife handling.  And you’ll get to sample.  Yum.  Take them all or pick and choose.

Here’s the details: Seasonal Cooking in Four Courses

  • Wednesdays, July 23, 30, August 6 and 13
  • 5:30-7pm
  • $20 per class
  • Orchard Gardens Community Barn, 210 N. Grove Street, Missoula
  • RSVP or Questions:


Looking Good, Northside!

Shane, of Youth Harvest, did a spectacular job in assisting with the compost pile turning!

Garden City Harvest’s Northside Community Garden had the honor of being included in the Missoulian Garden Tour last weekend, where visitors could enjoy a self-guided tour around the many gardens scattered throughout our fair city.  This past week, some volunteers from Youth Harvest and some Northside Garden Leadership Committee Members and gardeners helped out to beautify the garden.  The compost pile was turned, abandoned plots were cleaned up, and black plastic was put down to control weeds. Everything looked great!

In the next days, visitors walked around the plots and marveled at the flowers, the purple peppers, the artichokes, the huge heads of cabbage, and the pumpkins that have grown to the size of bowling balls, but have not yet turned their familiar orange. Visitors also enjoyed seeing other features of the Northside Garden including the food security plot (for neighbors in need to come and pick their own veggies, tended by volunteer gardeners and Garden City Harvest staff), the children’s garden, the fruit trees, the raspberry patch, and the community squash plot.

The favorite feature, however, was the hops tipi that stands beside the tool shed.  Everyone who saw the tipi wanted to go inside of it.  The tipi stirred the imaginations of these folks and made them wonder what they could do in their own backyards.

A big thanks to everyone who came to visit our wonderful garden and those who came to help make it even more beautiful than it was to begin with!

United Way Day of Action Makes Everything Better

Team DirecTV in all their glory!

This week at Orchard Gardens the largest volunteer group ever (I mean it)  came and completely transformed the place.  Over the course of the day, over 60 volunteers, employees of DirecTV and Adventure Life and high schoolers from the Schwanke Honors Institute weeded, weeded, weeded and weeded.  Earlier in the week, I was feeling despair at the sight of so much weedy jungle.  Now, I feel like I work in a formal French garden.  Or at least something kind of like that.  We managed to weed all the onions (500-plus feet) and all the potatoes (450 feet).  People walking by on the bike path were stunned to see such a pretty garden where once was a wall of knapweed.  An entire drip tape installation was assembled in the winter squash and raspberries.  The fruit trees were freed of tall grass at their feet.  And on and on.  I spent much of the day walking from project to project oohing and awing in genuine surprise and delight at how much work was being achieved.

Before: potatoes
Before: Onions

Proof again that many, many hands do a lot of stuff really, really quickly.

Veggie of the Week:  Yukina Savoy

Everyone in the CSA wants to know what Yukina Savoy is.  Well for starters, it’s probably my new favorite vegetable.  Yukina Savoy is yet another amazing Brassica family mustard green.  It has beautiful dark, green leaves that are shaped like giant, crinkled spoons.  “Savoy”refers to the crinkliness.  Here are two pages of yukina savoy info, nutritional facts and a few recipes.

As for me, like pretty much everything else, I like to stir-fry it.  Heat up some oil in a wok or skillet.  Throw in some chopped garlic and ginger and onion-type things.  Add a chopped chile pepper or two if you want.  Throw in a massive amount of chopped greens.  Maybe a mix of yukina, mustards and broccoli raab.  Stir and stir.  After a bit, add a splash of tamari and rice vinegar.  Eat with rice or noodles and maybe some tofu or poached eggs or steak.   See Cori’s recent post about simple cooking.

Prepping for Green Curry Broth

Otherwise, Yukina Savoy is very good in anything that calls for spinach.  Just substitute.  I made this Green Curry Broth using Yukina.  (Side note:  I did happen to have yuba, from a spring trip to Seattle, but any old noodle would work).  I also added some Chinese shunkyo radishes and some asparagus.  It was very yummy.