CSA

Start the Harvest Season Off Right!

The Early Summer Harvest!

Ah summer! Mid-June is when several vegetables are starting to be harvested. Nothing tastes quite as great as freshly harvested veggies! Although many factors are at play, the nutrients and vitamin content of fruits and vegetables start decreasing after they are harvested. In some cases that can be as short as 24 hours and others within a week.

If your produce makes a long trip from a field, to a processing area, to a supermarket, you have already narrowed that window significantly! If you can’t grow your own produce, consider a local farmer’s market or CSA to get your produce from the field to your table in a shorter amount of time to retain the most nutrients. (Check out this past blog post about CSA’s and local markets!)

Depending on the spring weather, typically just coming into season mid-June are: beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, scallions, and kohlrabi. You’ll also find lettuce greens, arugula, kale, peas, radishes, and rhubarb are already in (and perhaps almost past) season!

Beets!

Did you know? Swiss chard is a bottomless beet! Standard small beets are best for roasting or steaming. Try grating beets and sautéing in a pan with some butter or olive oil. Use the leaves too like you would kale. Beets can be bagged and stored in your crisper drawer for 7-10 days.

Salad Greens!

Salad greens are high in nutrients and low in calories which make them great if you are watching your diet. There are many varieties of greens so mix and match for a variety of tastes, textures, and nutrients.

PRO TIP: If you are not using your salad greens immediately, after the greens have been washed and dried, line a container with paper towels and loosely place the greens on and cover with a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

Click here for a ranking of the most nutritious greens. HINT: number one is NOT spinach or kale…and certainly not iceberg lettuce!

Want more? Learn how to construct the Perfect Salad!

Broccoli!

Broccoli heads are the unopened flowers of the broccoli. When stored too long the green head of “buds” start to turn yellow and lose their nutritional value. Do NOT store broccoli in a sealed container or plastic bag. If in a plastic bag, make sure the bag is open or has holes poked in it; it needs to have air flow. It should be misted lightly or unwashed and then wrapped loosely in damp paper towels and refrigerated. Consume within a couple days or 1-week max.

Try this recipe to get more broccoli in your days! Combining zucchini “noodles”, traditional spaghetti, broccoli, peas, and pesto sauce. Toss in some chicken/protein and you’ve got a meal ready to serve! Love zucchini? Double the amount of zucchini and reduce the amount of traditional spaghetti…or fully replace it!

Bok Choy!

Bok Choy is a great source of fiber as a cruciferous vegetable. It also contains healthy amounts of vitamins C, K, and A (beta-carotene). Store bok choy in a zip bag and remove any extra air. Toss it in the crisper and serve within about a week.

Pick up some bok choy and serve it up with this classic Ellipse Ginger Chicken Recipe! This tasty meal combines chicken breast, bok choy, ginger, leeks, orange, lentils and curry!

Kohlrabi

Stock up now! The bulbs do great in the refrigerator for quite some time, but you’ll want to use/process the stems and stalks right away as they will get limp otherwise. Kohlrabi is in the “brassica” family which is the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts. Kohlrabi stems can be used raw in salads like kale, but more commonly the kohlrabi bulb can be peeled and eaten raw (tastes great with hummus or ranch too!) or shredded into a coleslaw.

Try roasting kohlrabi! It’s fantastic! A simple recipe can be found here.

What are you waiting for?? Go shopping and get to eating!!

Gear Up For Your Spring Garden!

The winter can start to feel quite long this time of year – especially with seemingly endless winter vortices, storms and bitter cold – but Spring planting, gardens, and produce are just around the corner!

If starting seeds indoors, now is the time to start your broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, and eggplant! As soon as the soil can be worked, spinach and parsley seeds can be tossed in the ground! This week we’re talking about different ways to obtain and grow your own local produce.

Find help in growing your own produce through your local county horticultural department!

In the Green Bay, WI area go to https://www.co.brown.wi.us/ and navigate to Departments/ UW-Extension area you will find tons of resources like classes and articles to help you with gardening needs (and a lot of community resources that you may not even know about!).

There is specifically a page for Urban Horticulture and Natural Resources Program which has weekly articles and resources for soil testing, plant identification, and more.

Find Local Produce Through a CSA:

What is a CSA? In Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA), a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public in return for a seasonal fee of anywhere from $350-$700 depending on the farmer and program.

Shares typically consist of a box of produce, but other farm products may also be included like jams, baked goods, eggs, soaps, herbs, and more! Many farmers will team up with other local farmers or businesses to provide the largest selection of fruit, vegetables, animal, and/or dairy products they can.

Now is the time to get signed up! Typically farmers take a survey from their pledged consumers before the planting season so they can be sure to provide as much of the things you want as they can. What could be better??

You can find local CSA’s by searching www.localharvest.org. Wisconsin members check out the CSA delivered right here to Ellipse Fitness Allouez! Healthy Ridge Farm, now offering ½ shares too!

Read our past blog post on CSA’s here!

Get to Your Local Farmer’s Market!

Not sure where to find one close to you? Check out localharvest.org and click on Farmer’s Markets where you can search your city or zip code to see a map and listing of markets near you!

The Green Bay WINTER Farmer’s market, weekly at the KI Center, just wrapped but, keep an eye out next season to satisfy your needs for local products when it is frosty out!

Community Garden Blitz!

In the Green Bay area, the Brown County UW Extension teams up with New Leaf Foods with a program called Green Bay Garden Blitz, to provide the resources and knowledge of urban gardening by selling and installing raised garden beds, with the help of volunteers, at a low cost ($175 for an 8’x4’ rot resistant box including delivery, installation, and soil)!

They also provide experienced gardener mentors for new growers. Since 2014, 547 gardens have been built in Green Bay through this program. This year even local public schools will benefit from boxes being installed at school locations allowing classrooms to learn first-hand about healthy food and nutrition (www.newleaffoods.org).

CSA – Do You Get It??

It’s come to our attention that many people are still unsure what a CSA is and why they are such a great thing to be a part of! So…what is it?

Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA)

A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Shares typically consist of a box of produce, but other farm products may also be included like jams, baked goods, eggs, soaps, herbs, and more! Many farmers will team up with other local farmers or businesses to provide the largest selection of fruit, vegetables, animal, and/or dairy products they can.

Now is the time to get signed up! Typically farmers take a survey from their pledged consumers before the planting season so they can be sure to provide as much of the things you want as they can. Let your voice be heard by signing up before seeds are in the ground!

How does it all start?

Interested consumers purchase a share/membership and in return receive a box, bag or basket of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Although half shares are available, a full share will range somewhere between $400-$700 per season for weekly deliveries often from June through late fall. Not bad at all if you compared the same amount of produce with your grocery store, and you get MUCH fresher and generally more sustainably produced food!

Feel good about your place in the food chain!

With a very large amount of produce in supermarkets being trucked and/or shipped in from other regions or countries, a great deal of farmers have turned to monoculture (growing one crop in massive quantities) in order to turn a profit. You can help keep traditional farming alive and provide a reliable income for small farmers by sharing in a CSA program!

CSAs provide the freshest of local produce and sometimes the opportunity to try produce that you may never have known existed! That is super exciting for those bored with the same old selection at the store. Many CSA farms have a couple of events throughout the season which allow its members to visit the farm and see where their food comes from! Some farmers also provide newsletters/communications sharing with their members ways of preparing the vegetables they received and different recipes to utilize their weekly bounty.

It sounds great! What’s the catch?

Well as we all know, growing anything outdoors poses potential problems due to weather, pests, and other conditions beyond our control. Every year farmers take the same risk and, although they take preventive measures to prevent as much loss as possible, sometimes full crops can get destroyed. But turn this around in your head; CSAs provide the chance for the community to support the farmers and share in that risk! Understand that sometimes you may get less of your favorite crop or it may be less than perfect, but on the flip side when crops are abundant you can find yourself with more produce than you ever could have expected! This usually makes you the favorite neighbor on the block when you have to offload extra produce or share a dish you made extra of!

Check out the local CSA options at www.localharvest.org and search based on your city or zip code.