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What’s in the CSA Box for Wednesday December 13, 2017

First, we would like to give a shout out and a word of appreciation to one of our farm assistants that labors all year long to help keep insect pests under control on the Student Farm.  This little fellow is very quiet and unassuming  – often so much so that we don’t even know he is around.  But through the course of the year, month in and month out he works diligently and serves as an important member of our biological pest control team on the farm!

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Despite our current snap of cold weather continue to have a good supply of cool weather vegetables for our CSA members.

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Here’s a quick rundown of what will be included in this week’s CSA Box:

Sunburst Sweet potato

Kale

Ginger

Mustard greens

Turnips

parsley

Cilantro

Chervil

Spinach

Carrots

Endive

Salad mix

Dill

Turmeric

Cabbage or Endive

Head lettuce

Brussels sprout bombs

 

 

Posted by Mike Tate, December 13, 2017

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Weather conditions affect harvest

Weather challenges greet us toward the end of this season’s CSA. Infrequent temperatures changes have affected a few crops, and some were completely lost (tomatoes, cucumbers and squash). We will completely harvest crops like spinach and salad mix to have as much to offer as possible in the CSA boxes in the final week. Some of the crops like collards, carrots, and beets have winter hardiness and are able to withstand temperatures below 20 ° F. We will see.

Post by Shaquannah Faison

CSA for 11/15/17

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This week in your CSA box you will find a few new items! These include chicory root, turmeric, kohlrabi, carrots, and 2 varieties of sweet potatoes. Please note that there will not be a CSA box next week due to Thanksgiving break.

Chicory root is a source of prebiotic fiber that assists the good bacteria in your gut, boosting your immune function. The root can be consumed raw or cooked, prepared similarly to dandelion root. Can also be dried, ground, and used as a coffee substitute. Additional resource: https://www.livestrong.com/article/371906-medicinal-uses-of-chicory-root/

Turmeric is part of the ginger family. It has digestive, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits. Some common ways to use turmeric is to grate it in to smoothies, soups, curries, and rice dishes. It can even be used as a toothpaste! Note that the golden (orange) varieties of turmeric may stain skin. Additional resource: https://www.livestrong.com/article/135303-the-benefits-raw-turmeric/

Kohlrabi is a member of the Brassica family and is similar in taste and texture to a broccoli stem– though has a bit more crunch. My favorite simple preparation is to slice as thin “steaks” and roast in oven or grill. It can also be eaten raw as a slaw (but make sure to slice very thin and marinate to soften).

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To extend the life of your carrots, top immediately before storing in fridge. Tops will continue to transpire, which will cause the roots to wilt. Carrot top pesto is a farm favorite, and easy to prepare– all you need is olive oil, garlic, salt, walnuts, and tops. Blend and enjoy with your next grilled cheese!

The smaller varieties of sweet potatoes in the CSA box this week are best eaten sooner rather than later, cooked while the skin is still thin. When aged, the skin becomes more tough and may be more challenging to peel and remove.

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Thanks for your continued support, and enjoy the bounty!

–CSA FARM TEAM

 

Sustainable Ag Classroom Happenings

Social Media Down on the Farm

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Through the courses in the Sustainable Agriculture program here at CCCC students are exposed to a broad variety of topics and experiences that will well prepare them to go on to work on a sustainable farm, work in a food co-op, or be a part of the management of a farmers market.  We learn how to propagate plants using multiple methods, we learn how to harvest and wash fresh vegetables for packing CSA boxes; we learn how to budget, plan and schedule at a crop level as well as for a whole farm.  We learn how to drive a tractor, assemble a drip irrigation system and how to safely use a chain saw to cut down a tree.  We learn how to take soil samples, interpret the resulting analysis and properly amend the soil in a manner that enhances its goodness and health as the seasons go by.  All of these are good and necessary elements of the body of knowledge one must assimilate to become a sustainable farmer.  But there is also a deeper level of learning and mentoring woven throughout the program that helps us learn how to be good stewards, to care for the land and our planet’s future, and the importance of being part of a community and giving back to those around us.

 

The Student Becomes the Teacher

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This afternoon, the fall Agricultural Marketing class was the recipient of a great “gift”, given back by Central Carolina Community College Alumni Angie Blomer. Angie is a former student in the Sustainable Agriculture program and completed her Degree in Sustainable Agriculture in 2014.

Angie was invited to return to campus here in Pittsboro by our instructor Robin Kohanowich to speak with the class about social media fundamentals and the role of social media as part of an overall marketing plan.

Since graduating in 2014 Angie has used social media extensively. First to build an online following for Good Foods Growers Market, a local food market she started up in Kernersville; then in her work with the Forsyth County local foods council, and currently at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market in her role as Local Business Coordinator.

Good Learnings

 

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For an introduction Angie walked us through the current social media platforms and the demographics and common uses for each platform, helping us understand what types of activities might make sense to employ on each platform.  As the afternoon class time passed, Angie shared the fundamental elements of a small business social media program and some of the key things she has found important to pay attention to in implementing a social media program. Her presentation was interspersed with periods of lively discussion as class members had the opportunity to ask questions and share their observations and experiences in using social media.

The discussion that occurred later in the afternoon on how to develop a social media plan was most helpful for me as Angie provided the class some wise, but very easy to understand advice on getting started:

  • Define and be clear about your goals for social media before you begin
  • Define and understand who you are trying to reach, their demographics and which social media platform(s) they typically use
  • Define your “voice” and how you will address your audience before you begin and then be consistent with your messaging “voice” across platforms and through time to your audience
  • Understand the time required to properly execute your plan, and devote the time needed consistently each week to work your plan as you build your social media presence

Angie’s presentation and discussion on social media was wonderful, engaging and easy to understand.  Our entire class participated in the discussion with lots of good questions asked and answered.  In the end, it ended up being one of the best classes of the semester (so far)!

The Most Impressive Thing…

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Here we were in a lively discussion on the merits of each social media platform, and where we think social media seems to be headed as a marketing tool… it was great, invigorating and exciting to think about all of the possibilities.   The comments and questions from around the room were fantastic.  But for me, the most impressive, and encouraging thing was that the class was being taught and the discussion led by someone who was sitting in this very classroom as a student only three years ago!  It is amazing to me how far Angie has travelled in just three years!  Learning of her accomplishments and everything she shared with the class helps me see beyond the daily grind of classes, homework, plantings, and projects.   Her journey helps me realize that our studies and preparations in Sustainable Agriculture may well lead us to some very exciting and fulfilling places as we journey forward at the completion of our studies.  Just as important, Angie’s willingness to come back to campus as a guest speaker speaks volumes to me about the good that comes from being involved in a community and “giving back” to help those around you.

 

By Michael Tate, Reformed Direct Marketer and Farmer in Training

10/11 What’s in this Week’s CSA Box?

There are a couple of new items in this weeks CSA! You will see a mix of mustards, arugula, and asian greens (to be enjoyed as a micro-green salad), as well as a daikon radish included your share this week.

(Pictured left: harvested Asian Greens, known as Te You, Mebuna, and Hon Tsa Tai. Pictured right: Farmhand Ashley unearthing the first Daikon Radish of the season. Could be a State Fair Winner!) 

The Daikon radish is also known as the ‘Chinese Turnip’ or ‘Japenese Horseradish’, but despite this last moniker, this radish tends to have less of a ‘bite’ than the more familiar pink Cherry Belle. It is crisp and juicy in texture, and can be used either raw or cooked. See below the CSA pack list for a ideas on how to prepare this giant-ly healthful root crop!

This week’s CSA box also includes:

  • Shishito Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato Greens
  • Jalapenos
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Daikon Radish
  • Microgreens (Mix of Arugula, Garnet Mustard Greens, + Asian Greens)
  • Beet Greens

Daikon Recipe Ideas

  • Radish-Slaw (with carrots, apples, fennel, whatever you want to use! finish with vinaigrette)
  • Glazed with greens (butter and water and cubed pieces in pan, 2-3 TB sugar, cook until water evaporates+add greens, yum!)
  • Add to Stir-fry!
  • Quick Pickle ’em and keep them in your fridge!
  • Make Daikon Chips via the broiler! Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever seasoning you’d like– garlic powder, paprika, etc)

For the serious home-chef I’ve included here is a youtube video about how to prepare a vegan version of Lo Bak Go. Ingredients needed are your daikon radish, rice flour, dried shiitake, scallions, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, and frying oil.

 

Happy eating!

Post written by Laura Maule

What came first, the popcorn or the grit?

Long before the New World was ‘discovered’, corn was known to many civilizations as maize. The Zuni Indians of New Mexico called it tawa. When translated, tawa means ‘old’. The term accurately expresses how old this cereal grain is, OLD! Throughout history corn was made into cakes, porridge and even beer. The Iroquois are given credit for popcorn, maize was mixed in receptacles that held hot sand and cooked slowly until the kernels burst. Thanks to the tenacity of our ancestors we are able to craft many of the corn dishes we love today.

And even still we are finding new ways to elevate corn in the kitchen. Creating grits from popcorn is not entirely a new concept. Many chefs have recreated popcorn grits. But I thought it creatively simple enough to share.

What type of popping corn can you use?

Any popping corn will do. This recipe will use the Dakota Black and Tom Thumb to highlight the varieties included in the CSA box. If you’re interested, the seeds for both varieties are available through High Mowing Seeds. I initially thought that the purple black seeds of the Dakota Black would impart their deep hue to the grits. Not quite, the color transfers only slightly. But there are interesting bits of purple shell visible throughout the finished product.

Why take perfectly good popping corn and make grits?

The corn flavor is intensified with the corn broth, created by boiling the popped kernels in water with butter. This dish is excellent because it avoids a major pitfall,  getting popcorn stuck in your teeth.

Final notes

The recipe does not yield a large amount of grits compared to the amount of popcorn used. A corn sheller would make removing the kernels easier but it’s possible to remove them by hand. When popping the corn, avoid the temptation to use high heat. The burnt popcorn taste will transfer to the finished bowl of grits. Low and slow is the best way to go.

Here is a link to a recipe with easy to follow instructions.

popcorn grits

Two book sources used for this article are:

A History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat

The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

 

Post by Shaquannah Faison

9/13 All Farm Things

With the first day of fall just around the corner, fields are getting prepped for a new fall planting! Hurricane Irma sent some additional rain our way (but fortunately not much else), so everyone is drying out and moving on with production. Look forward to lettuces, brassicas, fennel, carrots, radishes, turnips, rutabaga– and so much more! collards tomatoes.jpgPictured are collards and tomatoes hardening off outside of the greenhouse before planting (to avoid transplant shock). 

It may be too early to bring out your sweaters! We had a week of cooler temps, but it seems like the 80’s are coming back (gratefully, sans sweatbands and leotards). So while you may not want to pack away your shorts and T’s yet, the appearance of pumpkins in this weeks CSA remind us that it will soon be time to get ready for costumes, candy, and delicious new recipes. But for now, continue exploring trying new things with peppers and eggplant! Or slice ’em and roast ’em again and again. Simple can be sweet.

pumpkinsPumpkins present in this weeks CSA

Indoors, in the Sustainable Ag classroom, students continued learning about the principles of propagating by cuttings– considering such things as the time of year it is, the health of the plant, and the ideal growth stage.

In the selected topics course, class has been reviewing all things trees– from IDing, to creating agroecosystems, to learning the importance of urban forestry. Guest speakers Tony Mayer, Ben Bergmann, and Barbara Fair shared their expertise and love of trees. There is now less mystery about what is an odd bipinnately compound leaf structure– another Jeopardy question solved. (post by Laura Maule)

leaf-structuresImage from here: http://www.tuninst.net/MP-TAXON/criteria/criteria.htm

Post By Laura Maule