What’s New on CCCC’s Student Farm?
What’s new on the farm? STUDENTS! School is back in session for the fall term and the ag classes are filled with new and returning students ready to farm. What is there to harvest right now? Well it looks like peppers, okra and amaranth! Most people know what to do with peppers and okra (obviously okra is best when fried and stewed will do in some occasions) but then we are left with Amaranth.
Amaranth originates from Mayan and Aztec cultures so why would we grow it in Pittsboro? Well, the grain is considered a superfood by today’s standards so that’s a good reason but how is it growing in NC? According to heirloom-organics.com amaranth is easy to grow. The plants need about 140 days in well drained soil, full sun and a warm climate. Sounds like Pittsboro. No wonder they are doing well!
Soon these plants will be harvested and my question was “how?” since the grain is so tiny. Heirloom-organics.com’s guide says the best way to harvest is to “bend the plants over a bucket and rub the seed heads between your hands.” We will have to see how the CCCC student farmers do with this technique!
Now what to do with this tiny grain after harvest? Thekitchn.com gives us many options. You can eat it as breakfast porridge, popped in a skillet then used to top soups, or as a protein breading (like a healthy oven-fried chicken), combined with other grains or added to soups for a hearty thickness. The green leaves of the plant are even edible! This super food is great for the vegetarian or omnivore alike because of its high levels of protein, fiber, iron, and calcium. For more amaranth tips and recipes check out this article from kitchn.com.
One other fun fact about amaranth is that it is high in the amino acid methionine which is crucial to prevent feather eating in your new flock! So let those peeps clean the harvested rows!
In non-crop related news, CCCC has once again joined up with the Livestock Conservancy to foster and breed a flock of rare chickens called Crevecoeur. This is a critically endangered, dual-purpose breed originating from France. Its name, Creve-Coeur, literarily translates to “broken heart.” Aww! According to the Livestock Conservancy’s breed description, the Crevecoeur is black with a crest and beard (think Animal from the Muppets as a black bird), lays medium to large eggs and can deal with confinement well, which in my opinion makes this bird a great option for backyard poultry enthusiasts. Let’s hope CCCC gets a 100% hatch rate for the good of the neighborhood!
I leave you with Ricardo, the main man on the farm.
All images are courtesy of Jason Morin