Tag Archives: local food

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)

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Cauliflower

Cauliflower: why I always ask for more (& 5 ways to sub it for carbs)

When I see cauliflower on my CSA’s chalkboard, I am filled with joy. It is one of those vegetables that does so much in place of a starch. Sub it for rice, pizza crust, mashed potatoes, tots (just heard about that one!). . . The list goes on. One of my favorite recipes is mashed cauliflower: a simple, elegant dish that my 16 year old niece always revisits for seconds.

Mashed cauliflower (or as we sometimes say, faux potatoes) can contain a basic three ingredients or get a bit more complicated (but not much. . .like add some garlic and Parmesan, or finish it with some truffle or rosemary salt).

Here’s what I did:

I had about two heads of cauliflower worth (they were smaller than that) of cheddar and regular cauliflower (just because that’s what I had). I chopped them up into flowerettes and put them in my large pot, with a steamer tray at the bottom. I poured in about a cup of water (enough to get a half inch of water in there) and steamed them until they were a little more than fork tender. You don’t want to over cook them, but you want them to be soft enough to mash well. Mine took about 10 minutes.

While they cook, if I have the oven going I might slip some garlic in to roast as well. And slip a few cloves of that in the food processor. Or saute some diced garlic.

Mashed Cauli

Once the cauliflower is cooked, take out your food processor (a hearty blender would probably work, too) and add the cauliflower to it. I had to do this in two or three shifts. I used a total of 1/3 cup olive oil, but poured some in each batch. And then a little extra at the end. . . Cause it’s so good. I added a 1/2 tsp of salt as well, distributed in each. And then another pinch at the end.

I let the food processor run for a good two to three minutes to really get the cauliflower into

a pureed mash.

And then I served it up.

You can use this to top a farmer’s/cottage/shepherd’s pie. You can serve it with steak. You can do so many things with this little side dish.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2-1 tsp salt (I like Redmond Salt — localish, filled with minerals)

2 heads (or the equivalent) of cauliflower

HOW TO

1. Chop the cauliflower into flourettes. No need to be pretty about it, these will eventually be mashed. But don’t hack them so badly that much of the cauliflower turns to crumbs.

2. Steam in a large pot (you can boil them too). Takes about 10 minutes. Cook them well, until they are very fork tender.

3. In batches that work for your food processor, add the cauliflower, some of the olive oil, and some of the salt. Stick your finger in to see if you like the taste. Add more salt or oil if you don’t! Here is when you would add a clove or two of roasted garlic, some rosemary salt or just rosemary, or other herb combination. This is a very flexible recipe.

4. Process the ingredients for 1-3 minutes, until smooth.

5. Add some finishing salt if you feel like it (I really liked truffle salt, took away some of the cauliflower flavor).

Here are a few other ideas that will make this little, sometimes smelly, nondescript, unassuming veggie something that will get your blood pumping as well:

Featured image is by Mike Mozart.

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Jewell Case_goats

First Friday in the Garden!

Have you heard?! Next Friday (August 4th), we are teaming up with our garden partner, St. Patrick and Providence Hospital, to host a First Friday event in the garden!

The Providence Center Garden is a special aspect of the community garden program at Garden City Harvest. Each year, it is planted, tended and harvested by Community Garden Coordinators. The garden is intended for the use of patients, hospital staff, and  the community to enjoy and heal. Additionally, all of the food grown on site is donated to the Food Bank or sold as a part of the Prescription Veggie Program.

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At this special First Friday event, we’ll have garden fresh snacks, refreshments, an art installation, and live music by St. Pat’s own staff person, Walt Pedersen, and his band “Desiderada.” We want to bring the community together and celebrate the Providence Center Garden.  All are welcome!

Local artist, Jewell Case, will have her free-standing murals titled: “Addicted to Grandeur: A Retrospective of Wrangling on America’s Public Lands” placed throughout the garden. These vivid paintings depict  the landscapes and tradition of backcountry horsemanship in Alaska, the Grand Canyon, and Montana Wilderness. The opening will also include storytelling and interpretation of the history of Glacier National Park from a trail guide’s perspective.

Jewell Case_Guardian of the Desert

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FullSizeRender  Jewell explains, “I convey scenes which are memories and renditions of my explorations in the wilderness and public lands of the U.S.” Jewell has worked as trail crew, wrangler, horse packer and outfitter for the last seven years. Currently, she is a wrangler outside of Glacier National Park. Most of her paintings are made in one or two sittings along the trail and carried in her backpack with all other essentials of camping.

             jewell case_drawing              jewell case_wrangler

The Providence Garden is located at 902 N. Orange Street, behind the Providence Center. For more event details, check out the Facebook event here or contact Emily at Emily@gardencityharvest.org with any questions.

Hope to see you there!

 

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Midnight Baking

For most, strawberry season in Missoula is coming to a close.  As I harvest the last of my strawberries from my June bearing strawberry patch, I am reminded of a recent midnight baking escapade with strawberry rhubarb scones. The scones were deliciously memorable. And as I watch the raspberry canes begin to droop bearing the weight of ripening fruit, I think this strawberry rhubarb scone recipe would translate easily to a raspberry scone recipe.

It all started a couple weeks ago with a craving for a baked good, a breakfast baked good to be exact.  However with the consistent 90-100 degree heat we’ve been experiencing in Missoula, the idea of baking is absolutely ridiculous. Regardless, I couldn’t get the idea of a delicious baked good with my morning coffee out of my head.

I waited until sun down and the temperature outside was cooler and comfortable. Flinging open all doors and windows in the house, I hesitantly fired up the oven to 425 degree and hastily started adding flour, sugar, salt and butter into a bowl. As the dough began to take shape, I could feel some of the heat slipping out of the oven and beads of sweat prickled on my forehead. I moved quicker, dropping ruby strawberries and chopped rhubarb into the sticky dough, then finally folding and forming the triangular scone shapes. Once in the oven, I stepped outside and sat on the porch. The birds were still whistling and trilling to each other in the trees as the last daylight faded. Only five minutes later the sweet smell of the scones wafted through the window, and another five minutes later I pulled the thick and fluffy scones out of the oven.

It was just about midnight when I finished cleaning up, so I crawled into bed. In the morning, I had strawberry rhubarb scones with my coffee and smiled.

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This recipe for strawberry rhubarb scones come from Heather Cristo.  I also encourage you to try it with raspberries instead of strawberries. Let me know how it goes and keep cool!

Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 Tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup rhubarb, cut into ½” slices
  • 1 cup strawberries sliced
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt. Pulse it together.
  3. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter has been cut into the flour and you have a coarse crumb.
  4. In a small bowl beat together the cream and the egg. Add it to the mixture and pulse until you have a dough that comes together but is still crumbly and wet.
  5. Dump the dough out onto a generously floured counter top and gently fold the fruit into the dough with your hands.
  6. Using the extra flour, pat the dough into a disc. Using a floured knife, cut the disc into 6-8 scones (depending on preference of size).
  7. Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining 2 tablespoons of whipping cream.
  8. Bake the scones for 10 minutes until slightly golden around the edges. Let the scones cool for a few minutes and firm up before removing them from the pan.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with strawberry jam.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

scapes

Scape Gazpacho!

A few weeks ago, I got this recipe from Ellie Costello, owner of Black Bear Soups (which you will find at the Clark Fork Farmers’ Market), director over at MUD, and former PEAS Farm caretaker. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you still had scapes hanging out in your fridge, so I thought having another scape recipe would be a good idea. . . So here’s Ellie with a new twist on gazpacho–great for hot weather! 
Ellie and a scapeDuring scape season, some folks are loading up from my stand in bulk to make pickles. In far greater number, I get questions while a market-goer eyes my pile of green curly-cues. Most often: “Are those beans?” or, “How do you use them?” During my time at the PEAS farm several years ago, one visiting cattle rancher pointed at the garlic scapes shooting out of the tops of the hardneck garlic and shockingly proclaimed “Now what kind of corn is that!?”
Since scapes are short lived, you must capitalize on their sweet garlicky goodness. Here is one more way to highlight these mysterious and dramatic green curls: Garlic Scape Gazpacho.
You’ll need:Black Bear market stand
1 cup dry bread in chunks
1.5 cups cold water
1 cup of your choice of nuts
1/2 t. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups chopped lettuce leaves
1 cup chopped spinach
1 cucumber chopped
4-8 chopped garlic scapes
3 tablespoons of your choice of fresh herbs
2 tablespoons sherry or apple cider vinegar
How to:
Soak the bread in water, then squeeze most of it out. Blend your soggy bread, nuts, scapes, and 1 cup water in a food processor. Once a paste has formed, drizzle in olive oil as you blend, then transfer to a bowl. Put the lettuce, spinach, cucumber, and herbs in the food processor and blend with remaining 1/2 cup water. Whisk the puree and the sherry or vinegar into the bread mixture. Add salt and pepper as you like it.
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. . .

Worm

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. . .

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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

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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

 

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Broth: not just for the tummy troubles

It is the dead of winter. There’s no more figgy pudding, the stored vegetable stores are starting to run low, and the light is still in short supply. I got fed up with my snow boots the last week and braved the snow in clogs. Winter be damned! Somehow, this was my rebellion against the endless layers and tense muscles that old man winter demands.

All I got was wet feet.

It’s times like this that require a little broth. There are many benefits to a cup of bone broth, including some protein,  gelatin, and glycine (the last two are good for your gut!). It’s a great thing to drink daily. Even if you don’t care a fig about the nutritional benefits, bone broth is a building block for so many recipes, that having it on hand is so handy. Buying it is expensive, and it is easy and quick to make at home. Plus, it saves you some bones! It will certainly make your day a little warmer, and that’s really saying something.

The difference between stock, broth and bone broth:

Broth — Broth cooks 45 minutes to two hours and usually uses meat, and perhaps some bones. The flavor is light, and it is generally not drunk on its own but instead used as a building block.

Stock — Stock and bone broth are similar in their ingredient lists, but differ greatly in the time they are cooked. They both always include bones, according to the definition, however a stock is typically cooked three to four hours and bone broth typically 12 – 24 hours. A note on vegetable stock: essentially, vegetable stock and vegetable broth are the same. The difference is how you use them in the end. (Will it be an ingredient of a larger dish? Stock. Will it be drunk on its own? Broth. )

Bone broth — Bone broth is always cooked with bones, and cooked for a long time (12 – 24+ hours). Some add vegetables, some do not.

Where to get bones:

Direct from the farmer (Lifeline Farm, Jamie’s Naturally Raised Grass Finished Beef, Oxbow Cattle Company, Manix Family Grass Finished Beef. . . Check out AERO’s Abundant Montana directory) — try the winter and summer farmers’ markets in Missoula, too. You can get a large amount and freeze them. You’ll need around 2 lbs of bones per 64 oz batch.

At a local natural food store –if you don’t see them on display, ask the meat department if they have any soup bones you could purchase. They’re usually very cost-effective.

You can keep a bone bag in the freezer, and put your chicken carcasses, ham hocks and other pork bones, and beef bones in there until you are ready to make some stock. A mixture of bones gives a wider flavor profile.

Make it without wasting all those veggies!

You can make bone broth without any vegetables (well, you always use the garlic). However, if you want the flavor vegetables offer, just start collecting your vegetable scraps. I’ve recently started keeping a bag in my freezer for my vegetable scraps. Any time I prepare a meal, I put the discarded ends and peelings, etc. in the bag for my next broth making venture.

Vegetables to keep — the basic aromatics are what I typically use (carrots, onions, celery) — they give a good base to work from. However, once I started staving scraps, root vegetables, stalks, leaves, tops, ends, peelings. Kale and chard stems, bell pepper cores, green beans/string beans, mushroom stems, herb stems. I put the garlic and onion skins in, though I’ve read that onions skins, along with beets, will turn your broth dark brown, so it’s more of a cosmetic thing. If you have some veggies that are about to turn (but haven’t yet) or are a bit dehydrated, this is a great use for them!

Vegetables to send packing — cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, (all from the brassica family, which has a certain odor you don’t want in your stock/broth), turnips and rutabagas (those are two roots to avoid). And of course, rotten spots and moldy veggies are also not a good idea.

How to make it

I prefer to make bone broth in my slow cooker. It is an Instant Pot so it can hold up to 64 oz, which is key for this recipe. If you are in the market, I can’t say enough about this one, it’s made of safe, stainless steel, it’s big, and can pressure cook, make yogurt, and rice. Anyway.

This makes 4 full quart sized mason jars.

Mason Jars

I got the bones (I used beef bones this time) and vegetables scraps out of the freezer, and dumped them in.

my ingredients

On top, I poured the apple cider vinegar and salt. I added a whole head of garlic, just smashing each clove between my knife and the cutting board before adding. I poured water to the max fill line in the slow cooker.

bone broth ready to boil

 

After that, all I had to do was stick the lid on, and put it on high until it came to a boil. Then, I turned it to low, and cooked it for 12 hours.

Here’s the beautiful elixir:

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Other notes:

set your slow cooker for 12 hours

Cooking time: Some say the vegetables will become bitter if you cook them longer than 12 hours. The longer you cook the broth, however, the better for you it gets. I often cook it for 24 hours without a problem, but if you are concerned about bitter broth, just scoop out the vegetables at the 12 hour mark and keep on cooking. Or skip the vegetables and just use water, vinegar, bones, salt and garlic (that doesn’t get bitter). You can also check doneness by taste and smell. This batch tasted perfect at 12 hours, so I didn’t have to worry. You know you’ve gotten all the nutrients out of the bones when they are starting to crumble at the edges.

Stovetop or oven: You can also do this on the stove top or in the oven. You want to bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it is simmering in such a way that a tiny bubble trickles up every few seconds. Same cooking time (12 – 24 hours). For the oven, bring to a boil on the stove, then place in a 200 degree oven.

Storage: You can keep it in the fridge for 4-5 days, then it’s time to freeze. I like to either freeze in an ice cube tray or small baggies. Remember to label the baggies so you know how many cups are enclosed, and when you made it.

Roasting the bones for flavor: This is a great idea if you have time and want to bring out a richness in the bone broth, but easily skipped for simplicity. Coat the bones in a high heat oil (I usually use a solid fat like lard, bacon grease, or duck fat) and distribute them in a roasting pan. Roast at 400 degrees for around an hour.

To drink on its own: add your favorite herbs (fresh or dried), or just a little garlic and salt.

Recipe

This recipe is designed to make 64 oz of broth. Make sure your soup pot or slow cooker has the capacity. 

Ingredients:
  • Whole head of garlic, broken apart and each clove smashed (leave skin on)
  • 1.5 – 2 lbs stock bones (can use chicken, beef, or pork bones)
  • Vegetable scraps (optional)
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Water
How to:

Combine the bones, vegetable scraps, and bay leaf. Pour the salt and apple cider vinegar over the top. Add water until you reach the max fill line in your slow cooker or soup pot.

Bring the water to a boil, then cook it for 12 – 24 hours. The longer the better. Remove or skip the vegetable scraps if you cook it longer than 12 hours. Let cool and refrigerate or freeze.

If this bone broth doesn’t do it for you, then try this quick video. There are places in Alaska where they only get minutes or an hour of sunlight some parts of the year. And start garden dreaming: sign up for a community garden plot or CSA share!

 

 

Home Made Gifts: Holiday Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa
Hot cocoa. Photo by Slice of Chic.

During the holiday season, I’m always grateful to receive homemade gifts. The hot cocoa mix recipe listed below is a perfect family activity and makes a tasty gift for friends and neighbors. Of course, it’s also perfect for placing in your own cupboard and enjoying during Missoula’s winter!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup powdered milk
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions:

Combine ¼ cup of the powdered milk with the cornstarch and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Pour into a pint jar or into two half pint jars. Pour sugar into the jar (or jars if making two). Combine the remaining ¼ cup of powdered milk and the cinnamon. Pour into the jar or jars. Add ½ cup of chocolate chips to the top of two jars or the entire cup if using one pint jar.

That’s all! This recipe doubles and triples very easily and is perfect for children to make as gifts.

To Serve: Pour contents of jar into a bowl and mix. When evenly blended, add back into jar. For a single serving, place 4 Tablespoons cocoa mix and 1 cup milk or water in a small pan. Stovetop: Heat milk and mix on medium until the chocolate chips melt, stirring occasionally. Whisk for 30 seconds or until smooth, pour into a cup and serve with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Mix and milk can be heated in a microwave. Place cup on a plate in case of the milk/water boils over. Heat for a minute and stir. Heat for another minute or two if needed, whisk and serve.

Growing Up in the City Doesn’t Mean You Have to Miss Out on the Farm

Nico and DogThis week, our Orchard Gardens Farm apprentice, Nicolas Matallana (or Nico for short), has recorded a bit about his experience this summer. We are grateful to the Missoula Federal Credit Union for funding his position, enabling him to learn about farming and nonprofit operations. It also helps us grow Orchard Gardens as place where those of any income can eat fresh—whether that means bringing a prescription, a few bags to fill, or a few seeds and a caring hand. Nico originally came to Missoula to explore the mountains and learn about the ecology while pursuing a degree in Ecological Restoration, but little did he know that local food would strike his passion. Nico has been gardening and volunteering on farms since his first semester in Missoula. 

I’m going to tell you about a youngster that I got to know this summer. He lived in the Homeword housing complex, next to the Orchard Gardens Community Farm. Let’s call him Carrot.

As a five year old, he was too old for the resident play structure, but still too young for Kindergarten, so he would spend his days looking for something, anything, to let him let out his creative energy. From the field, I would often see him speed by on his bike, yelling unintelligibly, as he lapped and lapped the housing complex. It reminded me of the endless summer days of my childhood, biking or skateboarding back and forth on the curb, trying to spend an unlimited amount of energy.

Orchard Gardens Farm
Orchard Gardens Farm. Photo by Chad Harder.

He wasn’t usually allowed to come into the farm, so he would often swoop on us while we hauled our harvest across the parking lot to the barn.

“What are you doing?”

“We’re getting ready for the CSA.” One of us would respond.

“Why?”

“Because we have to get these vegetables ready” One of us would say patiently

“Why?”

And so on, he would hang around and ask questions and linger and pick up things he shouldn’t and we’d sometimes have to kick him out. But he would always be back, laughing and goofing off the next day.

My co-worker, Michelle, was the true wizard at keeping him busy. She’d see him coming towards us and immediately find something to entertain and occupy him.

“Do you want some kale?” She’d ask.

“Mmmmm… No!”

“How about some cucumber?”

“Mmmmmmmm……. Okay!”

And off he’d go munching on his cucumber to chase around the other neighborhood kids. He ate most things that came out of the field, which impressed me for his age – I certainly didn’t eat so many vegetables when I was that young. When good things were being offered, like apricots or cherries, the entire neighborhood kiddo-herd would come, flocking around us impatiently.

“What do you say first?” Michelle would remind them all.

The chorus would respond, “PLEASE!”

We knew this was a special place for Carrot. While the other kids came and went, Carrot came by consistently. When Dave was out running errands, he would ask where he was every couple minutes. If we were busy in the field, he would always ask us when CSA was, which he knew was when he could get our attention. At first, entertaining him felt like another job, but over the summer I grew to appreciate his persistence.

Nico and Campers
Nico and some summer campers at Orchard Gardens.

I wish I had grown up with a farm next door, with a Dave and Michelle to put a cucumber in my hand when I needed something to do. My neighborhood friends and I would get so bored that we would eventually end up in trouble, and over the years it just got worse. Carrot sometimes got in trouble, but handing him a vegetable would usually do the trick.

Next year he will be in Kindergarten. I’m sure he’ll come around every summer, looking for a snack or a human to talk with. And it will be the farm employees, the vegetables, and the community gardeners that will welcome him. I’m glad the farm can keep him out of trouble. Maybe he’ll even be a farm apprentice one day.

kayajudanelson-4

Tales of Pigweed

This week Kaya Juda Nelson writes about her work as an apprentice at Garden City Harvest’s Youth Farm, run in partnership with Youth Homes. After spending her freshman year at Boston University, a semester of her sophomore year in South America, and a semester of her senior year campaigning with a climate action organization in Denver, Kaya graduated from the University of Montana with high honors in Environmental Studies and a minor in Climate Change Studies. For the past year and a half, Kaya has also been part of a bluegrass band, Local Yokel, in which she plays the fiddle, banjo, writes, and sings. Here’s Kaya: 

We choose to farm because it connects us with our environment and offers a relationship to the cycles of the seasons. Farming feels great as we work our bodies and work the earth under the sun, in the rain, feeling the wind against our faces.  But even more than the connection to place and weather, this season working at the Youth Farm has affirmed my favorite relationship brought about by farming: the relationship with food.

After a morning of weeding and thinning the carrots or harvesting salad mix (a sometimes tedious and time-consuming task), a trio of young adults from various Missoula youth homes and an adult staff member (often myself) break to make the lunch for our 10-20 person crew.

We learn how to properly cook rice and lentils, what you can do with the abundance of radishes, how delicious raw kohlrabi can be, and the fact that cucumbers should never, ever, ever, under any circumstance be cooked. The first days we cook lunch I hear:

“I hate veggies”

“there’s no meat?!?”

“are we seriously eating this for lunch?”

By the end of the first meal, we have converted most of the youth into veggie lovers. I remember getting excited about having agency in the food I ate when I was in high school. Now, watching that agency develop in these adolescent faces as we make lunches each day, I relive it myself. Carrots and onions are chopped with confidence and chard is discovered to shrink when you cook it and sometimes the stir fries are too salty and sometimes the beets are horribly crunchy but the food education is palpable.

Zayne arranging CSA boxesAs you all may have read in Genevieve’s post, Zayne, one of our youth employees tells the story of discovering kale at a mobile market stand while living at the Council Groves apartments. He proudly declares himself as the kale kid, and always asks for an extra bunch to take back to the Tom Roy youth home where he lives, located adjacent to the farm. When his mother or grandmother is in town for a visit, he begs to take them a bouquet of the hearty leafy green. I see part of this as a simple fact that kale is delicious and has become nutritionally notorious both in the local and the mainstream food world, but you can also see Zayne’s pride in his cultivation of his favorite crop and his desire to share a tangible fruit of his labor.

The CSA is the other venue in which the Youth Farm employees have a chance to shine and pass along their thoughts and opinions on produce to the roughly 60 CSA members that come to collect their share each week. For a few weeks in late June, we offered pigweed in our CSA share. Yes, this is a weed that we harvest for our customers. We constantly battle pigweed as it grows rampant through the farm. When we learned from a visting Greek that it is delicious cooked in olive oil and lemon, we made lemons out of lemonade and added it to our CSA offerings.

Pigweed is amazingAs Zayne greeted the CSA customers that week with a giant box of pigweed, he spun the story of the Greek farmer into a personal tale of meeting this man and together sharing the delights of pigweed. This pitch was mostly fabricated, but Zayne encouraged our CSA customers to try this leafy weed with an unappetizing name in such a spirited and hilarious way, it didn’t matter whether it was factual. It was about a connection with this crop and with the CSA members.

We work with groups of young adults that have come from wide-ranging and diverse backgrounds, but who are all living in the Missoula Youth Homes. These teenagers are navigating the difficulties of adolescence, while living in homes that are not their own, and while I wish I could say that the farm provides a fairy tale solution, but I can’t. But when the rusty steel triangle that serves as a lunch bell is rung and the giant cast-iron pan of bok-choy is brought to the table, it is evident that change and connection are happening in ways I’m not always aware of, and the effort, joy, and learning put into the meals we share out here in the sun and rain and wind provides a sense of ownership and accomplishment for the employees of the Youth Farm.

Zayne and the Greek Farmer’s Pigweed

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb fresh pigweed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 T olive oil  salt to taste

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a pan and add pigweed (whole, not chopped).  Add lemon juice and stir until all the pigweed is covered with oil and lemon juice. Cover the pigweed until it has wilted slightly, then uncover and cook off any liquid that has accumulated. Add salt to taste. Enjoy!