It’s starting to look like spring here at EverGood. We’ve dusted off our rainboots and have started outside work finally! We had a beautiful little warm spell a couple of weeks ago and the weather seems to be improving so we have been able to do some greenhouse repairs, add more mulch to some of our perennials and finally see the soil in the fields. Almost all of our snow piles have melted and we are well into our spring seeding in our basement under the grow lights. Next week we will be turning on the pellet stove in the greenhouse and moving trays out there since we won’t have anymore room in the basement. All the seedlings are growing beautifully and we will begin potting up our Vegetable starts next week too!
Our members are starting to get spring fever too and are starting to crave our fresh veggies again. We have seen a big jump in memberships these last few weeks with the spring warm up. Sign up soon to avoid dissapointment!
Today I want to focus on one of my favorite root vegetables. I’m pretty sure the parsnip is under-loved because most grocery store ones are bland and possibly bitter. If you are not a parsnip lover, I’d recommend either trying one from the farmers market after a few frosts have come, or spring dug parsnips (my personal favorite). Most root crops are better after a frost since they start converting their starches to sugar.
My favorite root chops…parsnips are on the right.
Parsnips are related to carrots, celeriac, and parsley root but have more of a complex, herbaceous flavor. Sometimes I think they are a bit earthy and sweet tasting. While they are edible raw they are usually cooked since they are quiet dense. While you don’t need to peel parsnips I generally like to since sometimes I find the peels a bit bitter.
Parsnips are native to the Mediterranean region and are generally higher in sugar than carrots. They are actually comparable in sugar to banana’s and grapes (it’s the good kind of sugar though!). Parsnips are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, and contain same anti-oxidants that carrots have. They are also high in vitamin C, k and, E, and folic acid. It also has good levels of minerals like iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus.
My favorite way to eat parsnips is slow roasted in a 300F oven, peeled, cut into smaller chunks, and tossed with olive oil and salt. It may take an hour or more but it’s worth the wait!
Here are some other ideas.
Roasted Parsnips and Carrots with Sage
Spicy Parsnip Soup
Spiced Parsnip Cupcakes
This weekend we all piled in the car and drove to La Crosse for the MOSES Farming Conference. Our heads are bursting with all the new ideas we picked up and we are excited for the upcoming season. Margie from Miss Margie’s Farm, and our loyal volunteer Debbie both came along for the ride. Allison also flew in from Colorado. This gave us the ability to all go to different workshop sessions so we could learn as much as possible.
Breakfast at the farming conference
Our favorite workshops were about bio-intensive agriculture, flower farming, organizing your packing house, medicinal herbs, and how to get more out of your hoophouse. It was great to see so many (were are talking over 3000) people at the conference. There were a lot of new and beginning farmers and college students looking to start a career in organic farming, which is super exciting since we need more farmers!
This week back at the farm it is snowing hard and we are looking at another 3-5 inches. We can’t wait to finally getting outside to play in the snow! The temperatures seem to be warming up a bit, which is exciting. We will be starting our celeriac, basil, and some flowers this week under grow lights.
Have a great day!
Things have been pretty quiet here at the farm since it’s too cold to get outside. CSA memberships are coming in and we are about halfway full. We expect to be full by April. It’s great to see some new members and all of our loyal returning members too. We have been researching and planning some better ways to grow tomatoes and broccoli type crops as well as ordering seeds and bulbs. Next week we will start seeding the early crops and basil so we have some large transplants to sell at the first markets. I cannot wait to start digging in the dirt. In fact Emmett and I started last week when I decided to turn my sage plant into new cuttings.
Emmett and I planting sage cuttings.
We are gearing up to head to the MOSES organic farming conference in La Crosse this weekend. We will be road tripping down there with Margie of Miss Margies Farm, and Debbie one of our loyal farm volunteers. We will also be meeting Allison there! We hope to come back with many new ideas and plans.
This Saturday is National CSA sign up day. Turns out this is the most popular day to sign up for a CSA share and some people have decided to make it a holiday. We thought it would be a great idea to join in too. Facebook makes it easy to sign up from our page, and you can also just hop onto our website and get signed up in a matter of minutes. It’s that easy to be a part of something big and also eat fresh healthy vegetables all summer. Don’t live near EverGood Farm…Click here to search for a CSA near you.
Here is the press release for the National CSA sign up day.
Onions come in all shapes and sizes and we grow a few different types here at the farm. We start the season out with mild tasting scallions, and move into shallots, and the larger red, and yellow bulb onions. We love onions here at the farm, but I think our absolute favorites are scallions and shallots. We love their mild and slightly sweet flavor and cook with them almost daily. Onions are members of the Allium family which also include leeks, chives, and garlic, to name a few. Onions are very good for you. They are rich in powerful sulfuric compounds which gives them their strong odor and also makes you cry. Studies show that they may lower high blood pressure, and reduce heart attack risk. They are are also high in phytochemical and the flavonoid quercetin, which are thought to protect against cancer. One onion also contains about 20% of your daily vitamin C.
A mountain of freshly dug onions
Do you tear up when you cut members of the onion family? I do, and while onions are the worst culprits, shallots and scallions can sometimes do it too! When I am chopping a lot of onions for freezing or salsa I usually wear goggles, but a new trick I learned is to chill the onion for a bit in the fridge and cut the root end last.
Shallots and onions are known for their storage capabilities. In the right conditions they can keep for months. Try to keep them in a cooler spot and away from light so they don’t sprout. If you can’t store them and have freezer space try chopping them up (a food processor is handy here) and toss them in cup portions in freezer bags or containers.
Scallions growing in front of cabbages
This potato salad has shallots and red onions
Caramelized onions in the slow cooker! They freeze well too.
Kale is is truly wonderful and versatile vegetable. It comes in a few different shapes and colors to keep your diet interesting. We love kale in our house and use it fairly often, but I’ll let you in on a little secret…we didn’t always love kale. In fact I didn’t eat much of it before we started working on vegetable farms. Once we grew it I felt like I “needed” to eat it and soon that “need” turned into a love of kale. My favorite way to eat kale is probably in the chip form, but we do love a good raw kale salad in the summer (try mixing some in your cabbage slaw with poppyseed dressing, with nuts and cranberries). Kale grows very well for us since our temperatures remain pretty cool all summer. We do have some pest issues and different times in the season, but the best thing about kale is it keeps on growing through most problems.
Curly kale in the field
We grow 2-3 typs of kale; Lacianto or Toscano (flat or dinosaur leaf kale), Curly kale, and Red Russian (which is the baby leaf type). The first two types we think generally taste about the same, but our customers definitely have their preferences. The good news is all kale is so incredibly good for you! Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin k, vitamin C, and calcium. It is also a source of two carotenoids, lutein and zaexanthin. When chopped it also has higher amounts of sulforaphane a chemical with high anti-cancer properties.
Kale will keep around 2 weeks in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer. You can also store in in a glass of water on your counter or fridge like flowers. This is also a good way to rehydrate wilted kale. Kale also freezes great. If you are freezing it longer than 6 months you’ll want to chop, blanch, and freeze it, but I find it freezes great if I just de-stem it chop it and stuff it into freezer bags. We use it sautéed, in quiches, and in smoothies this way.
make these kale chips
kale caesar salad anyone?
our favorite kale artichoke dip
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from EverGood Farm. We hope you are spending the day with people you love and eating some good food. We have enjoyed the morning and have spent most of it playing outside in the snow with Emmett. There were a few snowball fights! We are also looking forward to enjoying some of our stored veggies throughout the holiday.
Thank you to everyone who has made 2014 a great year for us. We are so grateful for our wonderful customers and supporters. Stay tuned for the opening of the CSA to the general public and other news in the new year.
Peace, Brendan, Jenny, Emmett, and the crew at EverGood
Winter Squash is one of my favorite fall vegetables. It looks beautiful on the vine and I love seeing it grow throughout the entire growing season. Winter squash is in the same family as zucchini, cucumbers, and pumpkins, however we leave in on the vine until it has a nice hard shell and woody stem. This gives it a fantastic storage life and sweet flavor! There are hundreds of types of winter squash and all have a slightly different flavor or texture. One of our favorites this year was a round smooth squash called “Fairy”. Upon picking it we roasted it and it was good, but not great. Fast forward 2 months and it is the sweetest tasting squash I’ve ever had. It makes a great pumpkin soup.
My favorite way to cook winter squash is to cut it in half with a large kitchen knife. A mallet or meat tenderizer can be helpful to hammer the knife down if it has a tough skin! I scoop the seeds out, rub the flesh with oil or butter then place cut side down on a cookie sheet. Roast at 375F for about an hour or until tender. Once cooled I scoop out the flesh and use it in soups, breads, muffins, and even smoothies!
Winter squash keeps best in a coolish dark place. Basements can often be good locations. They like the temperature to be around 40-50F. Some winter squash can keep for up to 4 months or more and they usually get sweeter with age.
Here are some of our favorite recipes
Almost 5 ingredient paleo pizza pie
Curried Winter Soup
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
For the past few years we’ve had the pleasure to work with Margie at Miss Margie’s Farm. Our vegetable scraps have nourished her animals, and we’ve enjoyed eating her Chickens for two years now. This year we are loving her pork. I asked Margie about her journey to becoming a farmer and here’s what she said!
I have wanted to be a farmer for as long as I can remember. My cousins had beef cattle and could ride their horses to school and I remember being so jealous! We only had dogs and chickens growing up. Veggies were a staple in our household and anything left over went to our chickens or the compost pile.
In high school I became a vegetarian after my parents decided to eat the cow I had bottle fed every day after school. This lasted until college when my values began to take shape and I was learning how to make choices that would affect my health and the health of the planet. I love to eat and prepare food, it became my hobby and I wanted to learn more about my food, what it was, how it grew and where it came from. Food became something beautiful and more flavorful to me, and if I knew where it came from it was that much better. I started meeting farmers, learning about food preservation and taking classes. I started paying more attention to my family’s recipes and food traditions.
After college I decided it was time to eat meat again. I purchased an old farmstead that was in need of repair. As I began to clean up the property and listen to the land, it started to reveal its potential to me. The flat ground was great for hay and grazing meat chickens. The old barn foundation made a great place to raise some piglets. The little sheds were a perfect shelter for the sheep and geese as well as a place to store animal food and tools. I made the decision to raise animals as God and Mother Nature intended so I started out small with some laying hens and meat birds. My sheep, geese, and bees all just fell into my lap. I choose to raise all small animals as they are easy for me to manage. I don’t overcrowd my pens. I make sure that every animal has fresh air, a clean space, and an area to act as it would in the wild. I give them plenty of companionship and a balanced diet. As more people have discovered me and found out about my farming practices my hobby farm turned into more of a business. The more I shared my story the more people wanted to become a part of it. It definitely isn’t easy being a farmer, but the work and the people are so rewarding. It is a joy to feel tired and happy at the end of my day because I was able to care for so many living things. It’s a wonderful responsibility.
Margie’s farm is located north of Eagle River. Margie spends her days as the Program Coordinator at Northwood’s Children’s museum in Eagle River. She spends her mornings and evenings tending to her beautiful animals.
She can be reached at: 715-630-4474 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out her facebook page here