Winter CSA Recipe Ideas

Hello, Winter CSA Member!

This week, you may see some less-familiar crops in your share. Featured vegetables for this distribution are celeriac, kohlrabi, rutabaga, Black Spanish and watermelon radishes, Bok Choy and Tokyo Bekana. We’ve pulled together some preparation ideas, as well as links to some of our farmer-favorite and staff-pics recipes.

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Have a favorite recipe of your own? Share it with your fellow Winter CSA members! If you’ve got a favorite recipe you’d like to share, submit your recipe here!

And now, let’s get the creative (and culinary) juices flowing:

German’s pick is Mashed Rutabaga, a simple mash of soft-boiled rutabaga with butter, sugar and salt. Reserve the cooking liquid as a base for a pureed squash soup with coconut oil and red curry paste, or add a touch of sweetness to a potato leek soup.

Lauren’s pick is this Celeriac Apple Slaw. Quick and easy with lively sweet flavors, this raw recipe is a great way to enjoy some fresh winter crunch.

LK can’t choose between Kohlrabi Fritters from Early Morning Farm (to which she highly recommends adding some grated Pecorino or Romano cheese and black pepper) and this Root Vegetable Gratin from Smitten Kitchen: a great way to marry your celeriac, rutabaga, potatoes and sweet potatoes into a heavenly, hearty dish perfect for these freezing temperatures.

Zoe’s pick is Japanese Cabbage Rolls, for which you can use regular cabbage or Tokyo Bekana leaves. Enjoy as-is or serve with rice, quick-pickled radishes and carrots, and a bit of sriracha or chili oil.

Here are some additional preparation tips and general serving suggestions:

Asian Greens

Bok Choy and Toyko Bekana are both members of the cabbage (Brassica) family, mild-flavored, crunchy and tender. Wash and chop, keeping ribs loosely separate from leaves, as you’ll want to add ribs first. Then...

  • saute with garlic, soy, and lemon or rice wine vinegar. Enjoy as a side, or...
    • serve over rice topped with pickled vegetables, sriracha, sesame oil and a fried egg
    • add to a chicken- or beef-based broth with ramen-style or rice noodles, chili oil and a poached egg
  • blanch and wrap Tokyo Bekana leaves around ground beef, rice, and pickled vegetables to make wraps (or see this Japanese Cabbage Rolls recipe!)
  • chop and add to kimchi, a fermented mixture made from Chinese cabbage

Celeriac

This celery-flavored knob is from the carrot (Apiaciae) family. With a consistency not unlike a dry, hard potato, this is a most excellent, savory vegetable when cooked. It tends to be a bit “thirsty”, soaking up oils during cooking. Cut off bottom roots and peel to remove rough skin, then...

  • cube and pan roast with bacon fat, fresh thyme, and black pepper
  •  cube (with or without potatoes, carrots, and Black Spanish radishes), toss with a bit of oil, and roast with a whole chicken, basting in the juices
  •  shred equal parts celeriac and potato, mix with a little egg and flour, season with salt and onion powder, and fry into latke-like fritters
  • steam/boil and puree with (or without) potatoes and butter/cream for a mashed side dish
  • This.

Kohlrabi

This member of the broccoli (Brassica) family is mild, juicy, and slightly sweet, raw or cooked. Use a knife to slice off green skin and any tough-looking white parts at the base. Slice and eat raw, or...

  •  shred raw into salads with apples, walnuts, broccoli and a cream dressing
  • make a raw slaw with shredded watermelon radish and carrots
  • cube and roast simply with oil and salt, alone or with celeriac, potatoes, carrots and radishes
  • cube, steam until tender, simmer with onions sauteed in butter and vegetable or chicken stock, and puree with a touch of cream and a splash of sherry for a creamy soup (great with garlic toast or croutons, or an herb oil swirl!)
  • shred, squeeze excess water, mix with egg, flour, onion and garlic powder and grated Romano or Parmesean cheese, and fry into these little fritters.
  • roast with a whole chicken or piece of beef or venison

Rutabaga

This close cousin of the turnip (also a Brassica) is sweet with a savory, earthy undertone when roasted or steamed. Use a vegetable peeler to remove skin, then…

  • cube and roast with carrots and potatoes, or steam and mash with butter and black pepper
  • cube, simmer with water, sugar, salt and butter until tender, and mash (see Mashed Rutabaga recipe!)
  • shred with equal parts carrot and sweet potato, mix with flour, egg, salt, onion powder, cumin and paprika, and fry in coconut oil for a savory-sweet fritter
  • Did we mention this?

Tune in next distribution (February 3) for some suggestions with what to do with all of your winter radishes!

Harvest of the Month: Apples

Photo credit: Eilif Ronning

Photo credit: Eilif Ronning

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. A ½ cup of sliced apples is an easy way to add fiber to your diet everyday. Pro tip: apples are best when eaten with the peel, as that is where most of the fiber and antioxidants are found. A ½ cup of apples a day may sound like a lot but, one of the amazing things about apples is that they can be eaten in a variety of ways - as whole (fresh!) apples, unsweetened applesauce, dried apples, or in my personal favorite: apple pie.

At PFP, the apples we distribute through our fruit share during the regular CSA season come from Glorie Farm in Marlboro. Their low-spray apples (and other fruits) also make their way to our educational programs.  Not only are apples good for you, they are a great educational tool for kids. We like to use apples to teach students about pollination, the plant life cycle, and how trees produce the fruits we love to eat. Apples are also also a great addition to many vegetable recipes we use in our cooking workshops from smoothies to salads.

Fun fact: Domestic or table apples are of the species Malus pumila and are one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits across the world. There are over 7,000 varieties of apples (that’s a lot of apple pie) the oldest originating from the mountains of Central Asia. Apples were first introduced to the U.S by European settlers during 1600s to share their cultivation and traditions.

We can’t talk about North America’s history with apples without mentioning one of our fondest folk heroes: Johnny Appleseed. Johnny Appleseed was a pioneer apple farmer in the 1800’s and his dream was to grow so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. Unlike most legends Johnny Appleseed was a real person named John Chapman. In his lifetime  Chapman planted over 1200 acres of apple orchards.

Contrary to common belief, Chapman’s apples wouldn’t be recognizable as the conventional apples we are accustomed to in the grocery store. Chapman grew apples that were very small and tart - nicknamed “spitters” because that’s probably what you would do if you took a bite out of one. However, “spitters” were perfect for hard cider and applejack which was valued more than edible apples. Fun Fact: until the 1920s, most apples in the U.S were used for making cider. Especially in rural areas, cider replaced water because the water often wasn’t safe to drink. The cider they were drinking was what we would not call hard cider.

In the spirit of the true story of Johnny appleseed here is an easy apple cider recipe. This cider may not be what Johnny Appleseed used to drink but it’s non-alcoholic and quick to make and enjoy with kids. All you need is about 6 cups of apple juice or enough to fill a large saucepan, ½ teaspoon whole cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg and 3 cinnamon sticks. Place everything in the large saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Once it begins to boil reduce heat and let it simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Pro tip: Heating the mixture brings out the flavors of the spices. The longer you let cider simmer the more fragrant it will become.

Happy Holidays! - PFP

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Resources:
Johnny Appleseed Story
http://mentalfloss.com/article/62113/9-facts-tell-true-story-johnny-appleseed
https://bestapples.com/resources-teachers-corner/johnny-appleseed/

Apple cider recipe
https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/hot-spiced-cider/d3493337-14c1-4afb-bf8e-f1793d615405

PFP Welcomes New Staff

We are thrilled to welcome seven new members of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project team!! Zoe is our new farm crew member and our education department has hired six new team members to run brand new after-school garden clubs in City of Poughkeepsie Schools.

Aozora (Zoe) Brockman, farm crew member,  was raised on an organic vegetable farm in Central Illinois, and spent most of her life planting, weeding, and harvesting alongside her brothers, parents and grandparents. Immediately after graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Creative Writing, she returned home to look after the farm while her parents spent a “sabbatical” year in Japan. Once her parents returned home, she worked as a full-time farm hand for a season before moving to New York to live with her partner, Austin. Zoe worked as a part-time crew member at Glynwood before joining the PFP team. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from PFP’s model of community-engaged farming, and dreams of someday merging her two loves—farming and writing—and operating a community-focused farm of her own.


Maria Cali, garden assistant, is a senior at Vassar College, where she studies Sociology. She has been working at PFP since Spring ’16 with the education team, with one semester off when she went to study abroad in India, Tanzania, and Italy to learn more about food sovereignty and food systems. Maria hopes to be a lead teacher in a classroom, as she thinks education is one of the best ways in which to enact social change. She is passionate about the presence of youth in social justice work, and celebrates the many ways in which food is a part of that.


Sevine Clarey, garden assistant, loves food: cooking with it, studying it, teaching with it, and eating it. If she is not in her kitchen trying finding different variations of cooking sweet potatoes, she is drinking tea, hiking, climbing, or at PFP. Sevine is currently a sophomore at Vassar College and started working at the PFP fall of 2016. She has loved every experience she has had with them. The team is amazing and she cannot wait to see what new adventures lie ahead!


Christine (Chris) Gavin, garden educator, is a lifelong resident of Poughkeepsie with a BA from Vassar College, and she has been working as a farmer and educator in the region for over a decade.  Her passion for agriculture grew from her academic interest in social justice and the desire to create tangible positive change in her local community.  Her educational philosophy is rooted in the belief that we are all stewards of the natural world and that it is essential that we pass that sense of responsibility to the next generation to help build ethical global citizens.  Chris was a farmer and an educator at Sprout Creek Farm for many years and most recently she taught in Beacon public schools as a Garden Educator with Hudson Valley Seed.  When she's not teaching,  Chris dabbles in urban farming in the City of Poughkeepsie with a yard full of veggies and a small flock of chickens.  


Isiah Hawley, garden assistant, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. As a teen, Isiah moved to he moved to Poughkeepsie to live with his older sister. When he was 17, he started working on his GED through Nubian Directions. In his time there, he learned how to do construction work and built many different structures. During his time at Nubian Directions, Isiah earned many construction-related certifications. When he was a child, Isiah and his sister use to eat broccoli all the time together; it is still his favorite vegetable. Isiah’s passion is music and he has an ear for any genre of music. Isiah also makes his own music with his brothers; he says it is "good bonding time." Isiah loves to make people laugh always has a smile on his face.

 
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Larissa Pitcher-Alvarado, garden assistant, fell in love with PFP after attending the Farm Fresh Home Chefs program they held at Clinton School with her niece and nephews. This program is amazing because it brings families and the community together delivering education about food, healthy eating, gardening, and cooking. She has always had an interest in healthy eating and community. She is thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful establishment and is looking forward to learning and sharing really cool stuff!


Briggin Scharf, garden educator, is thrilled to join the PFP education team and grow sacred gardens with Poughkeepsie youth! After spending several seasons farming in the Hudson River Valley -- at Phillies Bridge Farm Project in New Paltz and Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent -- Briggin is excited to return to the outdoor classroom to share her passions for food sovereignty, celebrating nature and chowing-down on home-cooked delicacies with her new students and co-instructors. Briggin previously managed urban elementary school gardens in San Francisco and New York City, as well as held a range of  jobs from brewing kombucha to milking dairy cows to installing art exhibits in museums. She loves to hike, sing, discover new herbal remedies, draw, and travel!

Grower's Row: End of the Year Recap

By Lauren Kaplan

Winter has touched all parts of the farm, it seems. As of last week, the last carrots of the year are finally (!) out of the ground. The winter-kill oats and peas have been, well, winter-killed into a dense matted blanket that will protect the soil underneath until the spring, while the rye cover crop remains an impossibly lush green carpet. The greenhouse has transitioned to a winter wash station, the tunnels have transitioned from tomatoes to hardy winter greens, and the fields are frozen. 

German and newest team member Zoe encounter a frozen block of soil while harvesting the last of our carrots in December

German and newest team member Zoe encounter a frozen block of soil while harvesting the last of our carrots in December

With the year winding to a close, we've been reflecting on the arc of the season, from the challenges we encountered and the losses we suffered to the overall beauty and bounty of the season. 

The weather this year took us for a ride. On June 1 we were pelted by marble-sized hail, which destroyed our first harvest of zucchini and strawberries and many of our newly-planted pyo peppers, cherry tomatoes and sunflowers. A prolonged wet spring gave way to a wet early summer: perfect conditions for disease, from which a number of crops (our peppers in particular) suffered significantly. And there was significant pest pressure in our early potatoes, and in our cucurbits: first cucumbers and then winter squash. 

But there were high points too!

After weeks of measley pepper harvests and a few weeks where we thought the plants were finished, our pepper plants picked up with the drier, sunnier weather of early autumn; they surged with new growth and new fruit! Amazingly, we found ourselves harvesting poblanos until nearly November. Our carrots, thanks to years of refining a system of direct seeding, rolling (to ensure good seed-to-soil contact), flaming and hand weeding, have been fantastic this year. Red beets and sweet potatoes did very well, the kohlrabi were colossal, and the raspberries and blueberries are always highlights of the season. 

We trialed some new crops, including Sugarcube cantaloupe, rainbow carrots, purple top turnips, sweet corn and speckled chicories. The high tunnels that pumped out some 18,500 lbs of tomatoes over the warmer months, are now providing shelter for a thriving crop of kale, cut greens, and mixed Asian greens such as bok choi, yukina savoy, tatsoi and napa cabbage. 

Overall, we grew over 195,000 lbs of food this season -- and donated nearly 26,000 pounds of food to Poughkeepsie area food banks, schools and soup kitchens. Thanks to our heated high tunnels, we're still growing, and donating. 

And vegetables aren't the only things we grew this season. We grew some wonderful relationships with our fantastic crop of interns this year, and think of Fiona, Liz, and Sarantia (and all the things we learned from them, and with them) often. And we have cultivated some new relationships that have allowed us to provide some of our produce to the Poughkeepsie City School District and to Vassar College students in their brand new dining facility. 

As we take this last week of the year to go home to our various corners of the country and be with our families, I at least am spending some time reflecting on how grateful I am to be a part of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project family. This has been my best year of farming yet, and so much of that has to do with the wonderful people that make up this team, and with you amazing CSA members who go out of your way to bake for us, to smile while you're working, to ooh- and aah- over the produce we've grown, to volunteer over the winter for no other reason than that you like working in the soil, and to thank us: your voices of appreciation are what keeps so many of us going, doing the work that we do. 

Thank you! We look forward to continuing to grow for and with you in 2018. 

Making Herbal Salves and Balms

By Eilif Ronning, PFP MEdia Intern.
All photos by Eilif Ronning!

The second Herbal Home Remedies Workshop with Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s resident herbalist Beatrix Clarke focused on creating healing salves and lip balms using garden herbs. The benefits of herbs are remarkable and the salves made from them are great for any number of ailments.

The two different salves made during the workshop were based on comfrey and calendula. Comfrey is good for your underlying tissue and well as your skin. However, it is should not be used on cuts or infections as it will cause the skin to repair in a tight knit, which could trap infections under the skin. Calendula, on the other hand, is good for cuts as well as sunburns and inflammation. It can also be used to help treat warts, and is generally beneficial for the skin.

The first step to both processes is to make an oil infused with the herbs.

Above: Pre-prepared jars of comfrey and calendula infused oils

Above: Pre-prepared jars of comfrey and calendula infused oils

Above: Beatrix Clarke explaining the beneficial properties of calendula salve

Above: Beatrix Clarke explaining the beneficial properties of calendula salve

The calendula flower is an easy plant to grow in most gardens. Its bright yellow flowers are easily recognizable and apart from being just plain pretty, the flower has many healing properties. The sticky resin found at the base of the flower is what is responsible for these properties. To make this salve, the first step is to prepare calendula infused oil. Beatrix explained to the workshop participants the simple steps to this process. First, dry the calendula flowers either in a dehydrator or in an oven with the pilot light on. It is important to fully dry the flowers to ensure that they don’t mold when steeping in the oil. Second, fill a glass jar three quarters of the way with dried flowers and combine them with extra virgin olive oil, leaving some room at the top for the flowers to expand as they absorb some of the oil. Third, leave this to sit for 4-6 weeks. Finally, once the oil has been infused, strain the flowers out of the oil using a cheesecloth – and there you have it, your homemade calendula infused oil!

Above: filtering the calendula flowers out of the infused oil in preparation for the salve-making

Above: filtering the calendula flowers out of the infused oil in preparation for the salve-making

Above: Workshop participants avidly listening to Beatrix’s salve making instructions

Above: Workshop participants avidly listening to Beatrix’s salve making instructions

Comfrey is also a fairly common herb that possesses healing properties, however, the process for creating this oil is quite different. Firstly, the comfrey plant should be used fresh to ensure the mucilaginous plant juice in the main arteries of the leaves infuses into the oil. To make the oil, fill crockpot 3/4 full with comfrey plant material and top with olive oil to cover by one inch. Over the next seven days, heat the leaves and oil on low heat for two hours each day. After heating for the two hours, allow the mixture to cool down again, wiping the moisture from the lid after each time. When the seven-day process is completed, strain the leaves out of the oil using a cheesecloth until you get your final product!

Above: cheese cloth being cut to filter the infused oils

Above: cheese cloth being cut to filter the infused oils

Once the oils are made, the rest of the process is very straight-forward. There are three components to the salve: infused oil (calendula or comfrey), beeswax, and essential oils. In a mini crockpot or something similar, melt the bee’s wax – simultaneously warm the infused oil, in the workshop Beatrix did this “bain-marie” style.

Above: Beatrix’s salve-making set up.

Above: Beatrix’s salve-making set up.

Once melted and warm, combine 2 oz of beeswax per 8 oz of oil – it is important that the oil is warm enough to ensure the bee’s wax does not re-solidify immediately.

Above: melted bee’s wax being combined with the infused calendula oil

Above: melted bee’s wax being combined with the infused calendula oil

Once combined, carefully pour the mixture into your container. Add 20 drops of an essential oil of your choice per 1oz of salve and gently stir using a toothpick or something similar to ensure the essential oil gets mixed in. Then label your salve and allow it to set.

Above: Comfrey salve being poured into a container

Above: Comfrey salve being poured into a container

The same should be done for a lip balm, however the ratio is 5 oz of calendula oil to 2 oz beeswax. Also, since the tubes are quite small it is easier to add the essential oil to the mixture prior to pouring. Add 56 drops of the essential oil of your choice to the mixture before pipetting it into a lip balm tube.

Above: workshop participants filling their lip balm tubes with the calendula infused oil, beeswax and peppermint essential oil mixture

Above: workshop participants filling their lip balm tubes with the calendula infused oil, beeswax and peppermint essential oil mixture

Above: Beatrix topping off some of the lip balms

Above: Beatrix topping off some of the lip balms

Above: close-up of pipetting the lip balm into their containers

Above: close-up of pipetting the lip balm into their containers

And there you have it - your very own homemade salve! Though these are just two types of salves, there are countless herbs that have incredible properties that can be beneficial for any number of ailments.

Beatrix is amazingly well-versed in herbs! If you want to learn more, and get a glimpse into the magic of herbs, stay tuned for our 2018 herbal workshop series!

Above: a workshop participants notes on herbs and the salve making process

Above: a workshop participants notes on herbs and the salve making process

Harvest of the Month: Nosh on Squash!

Nosh on Squash!
December’s Harvest of the Month is Winter Squash.
By Elyse Canty, Education Intern

Winter squash are an annual vegetable that signals the end of our summer/spring crops: the tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and okra, and welcomes the beginning of our lovely fall greens and winter roots. You can distinguish winter squash from summer squash because winter squash is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage meaning the seeds have aged and the skin has hardened into a tough rind which makes it the perfect winter crop. Luckily, for us the winter squash family comes in many different colors, shapes and sizes from a vivid yellow, watermelon-shaped spaghetti squash to a bright orange, round pumpkin that Charlie Brown would approve of.

Pumpkins, acorn or butternut squash have become symbols for the changing seasons. You know fall hasn’t officially started yet until you’ve had your first pumpkin spice latte. However, there’s much more to pumpkins and winter squashes than fall-themed lattes. Winter squash are great sources of beta-carotene which will help your immune system stay healthy and fortified to fight off any colds that may be headed your way this flu season. Pro tip: beta-carotenes are found in red-orange colored food. Pick a squash with dark coloring. The darker the orange flesh, the more nutritious the squash is.

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Fun fact: squash got its name from the Native American word askutasquash, (try saying that three times fast) which means “a green thing eaten raw.” Now, I wouldn’t recommend eating your winter squash raw. However, winter squash very is delicious when it’s roasted. Roasted squash is very tender and roasting brings out it’s natural sugars so it’s very sweet.

At Poughkeepsie Farm Project (PFP) we grow several different varieties of winter squash including butternut, delicata, acorn, spaghetti squash. The farm crew’s favorite squash is delicate because it is easy to cut into rings and roast; it is delicious and you don’t even have to peel it because the skin becomes tender when you roast it.

One of our favorite ways to prepare winter squash is roasted butternut squash with children is by making it into hummus. Our butternut squash hummus is an easy recipe and fun to make with kids. In fact, it’s a fan favorite in many of our elementary school cooking workshops. This recipe doesn’t have exact measurements it all depends on how much you want to make and how you like your hummus. We like to tell our students that every time we make our butternut squash hummus, it’s special because it will be a little different each time.

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Beforehand, roast the butternut squash until tender. Once cooled scoop the squash into a big bowl. The base of the hummus is roasted butternut squash, chickpeas and a dash of olive oil. The more chickpeas you add the thicker the hummus will be. You can add spices and seasonings for flavor such as paprika, tahini, garlic powder and lemon juice. Now, you can throw everything into the food processor or you can blend it the old-fashioned way which we prefer with a potato masher. You can pass the bowl around and give everyone a turn with the masher. Once the ingredients are blended together, the hummus pairs well with carrots or tortilla chips.

Even though winter is coming, we’ve got you covered! Sign up for a winter CSA share for PFP-grown butternut squash (and other tasty produce!) throughout the cold season.

CSA Members Nourish Their Neighbors!

At the last two CSA distributions of the season, Poughkeepsie Farm Project shareholders participated in the educational food drive initiative “Nourish your Neighbor” (NYN). The program was created by Eat Smart New York, and aims to help provide children who do not have enough food on the weekends with some food assistance in the form of healthy foods from all the food groups!

The previous week, CSA shareholders interested in taking part, picked up lime green NYN shopping bags and a list of suggested groceries to donate. A week later the bags were returned full of nutritious snacks, which were sorted and counted by our awesome volunteers. The donated food will be divided up into appropriate quantities of each food group, and placed into backpacks to be sent home with Poughkeepsie students.

If you are interested in holding your own drive for the NYN program, contact the Eat Smart New York Hudson Valley team at 845-344-1234 or visit their website: http://cceorangecounty.org/food/nourish-your-neighbor

Below are quotes from some of our friends about why they chose to participate in the food drive, as well as some photos of our volunteers:
All photos by Eilif Ronning, PFP Media Intern.

 
 

Harvest of the Month: Kale

By Elyse Canty, Education Intern

Alyssa and Rodnisha glean kale for Feeding the Hudson Valley.

Alyssa and Rodnisha glean kale for Feeding the Hudson Valley.

Kale is a leafy green from the Brassica family that has been cultivated since ancient Greek and Roman times. Kale is known for being a hardy crop that is easy to grow and can withstand low temperatures. It’s the perfect vegetable for a beginner gardener to grow especially in cold New York winters. In fact, kale is sometimes nicknamed the “hungry gap” because some varieties can grow in the winter when most crops can’t be harvested.

You may be wondering what makes kale different from lettuce or collard greens. Well, kale is actually the sweeter cousin of collards and can take on many different flavors ranging from slightly sweet to somewhat bitter depending on when it is harvested. During the cooler months of spring and early summer, kale is milder. When the weather starts to get warmer kale develops a bitter taste. Pro tip: if you like sweet kale, wait to harvest your kale until after the first fall frost; that’s when it’s the most delicious.

At Poughkeepsie Farm Project (PFP) we grow kale year-round. There are three different types of kale that call PFP home: Winterbor, Lacinato and Scarlet. Winterbor is very robust kale which has finely curled, thick, blue-green leaves. Lacinato, also known as dinosaur kale, has long leaves that people say resemble rough and bumpy dinosaur skin. Last but not least, Scarlet kale has beautiful, purple-red, curly leaves that will add beautiful color to any garden or salad.

We love growing kale because it’s easy to grow and easy to eat but what we love most about kale is sharing it. PFP harvests about 4,000 pounds of kale each year and we donate over 400 pounds to emergency food providers in the Poughkeepsie community.

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Kale is packed with many essential vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Omega fatty acids. Fun fact: one cup of cooked kale contains 10 percent of daily fiber needs. This leafy green can be helpful for those managing diabetes as well!

However, despite all of Kale’s amazing qualities it can be difficult to get young children (and sometimes adults) to eat kale. At PFP we offer farm tours geared towards children where we feature kale and allow the kids to taste small samples. Gaining exposure to new foods like kale helps it become less “weird and gross” and more “yummy and tasty.”

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Also, we recommend preparing kale with your little one so they have time to become more familiar with kale and they will be more likely to eat something they helped make. An easy and tasty way to prepare kale with children is a kale salad. Apples or berries make a nice addition to a kale salad because they help sweeten the bitterness of the kale. You can use raw kale which will make a really crunchy salad or you could lightly sauté the kale which may help sweeten it. We like to massage the raw kale with some olive oil and salt to tenderize it. Then we add our toppings and some apple cider or balsamic vinegar. Whichever salad dressing you normally use at home: ranch, Italian, Cesar, etc. would also work.

Happy Kale Munching! 

Students on a field trip to PFP explain how they made the kale blueberry salad they are enjoying.

Stalk to Husk to Kernel: Corn Husk Dolls and Rainbow Popcorn

by Elif Ronning

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern

On Wednesday, October 25th families joined us at the Adriance Memorial Library in Poughkeepsie for an afternoon of storytelling, traditional craft making and cooking!

Photo by Elif Ronning, Media Intern Children and adults listen attentively as Vickie Raabin tells the story of the corn husk doll.

Photo by Elif Ronning, Media Intern
Children and adults listen attentively as Vickie Raabin tells the story of the corn husk doll.

Children and their families joined us in the Library’s Cavallero Children’s Program Room to hear local elder Vickie Raabin tell some native American stories. The children were captivated by Vickie’s retelling of Corn Husk Doll, a tale that explains why corn husk dolls have no face. The story warns against vanity, and stresses the importance of doing your duty for your community.

Photo by Elif Ronning, Media Intern Vickie Raabin holds up a finished corn husk dolls as an example.

Photo by Elif Ronning, Media Intern
Vickie Raabin holds up a finished corn husk dolls as an example.

Following the stories, Vickie explained how important it is for her community, and all of us, to use every part of the crop to ensure nothing goes to waste. For example, with corn, the corn silk is harvested, the kernels are eaten, the cobs dried and burned, and the husks are used to make corn husk dolls! With the help of Vickie, parents, and guardians, the children had the chance to make their own corn husk dolls. The dolls are made of slightly damp corn husks tied into segments using string to make a head, waist, and arms. The dolls all turned out beautifully, and everyone got to practice their knot-tying skills.

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern Kids get to work tying the first part of their corn husk dolls.

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern
Kids get to work tying the first part of their corn husk dolls.

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern Vickie Raabin provides some extra assistance in the doll-making process.

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern
Vickie Raabin provides some extra assistance in the doll-making process.

After making our dolls, we moved to the teen study room to learn from Poughkeepsie Farm Project education director Jamie Levato and Chef Katie Key about popping corn. We brought with us from the farm some dried out popping corn stalks so we could see for ourselves exactly where popcorn comes from. Popcorn is a different variety of corn, and grows for the whole season until the kernels become dried out and ready to harvest.

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern Children inspect the rainbow popcorn kernels they are about to eat.

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern
Children inspect the rainbow popcorn kernels they are about to eat.

Chef Katie then began to whip up a batch of rainbow popcorn! A bowl of the un-popped kernels was passed around, and while the children admired the variety of colours, Chef Katie explained that popcorn pops because the moisture trapped inside the corn kernel needs to get out once it turns into water vapour.

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern Chef Katie Key passes out handfuls of her delicious popcorn.

Photo by Eilif Ronning, Media Intern
Chef Katie Key passes out handfuls of her delicious popcorn.

After two batches of popcorn, one regular, and one with Chef Katie’s special mix of butter, rosemary, and thyme, everyone headed home with full bellies, a corn husk doll and a handful of popcorn kernels from the farm to plant in their own gardens come springtime.

Photo by Elif Ronning, Media Intern A finished corn husk doll sits on the window sill surrounded by harvested husks, corn silk and string.

Photo by Elif Ronning, Media Intern
A finished corn husk doll sits on the window sill surrounded by harvested husks, corn silk and string.

Grower's Row: Farewell, and Looking Forward

Grower's Row: Farewell, and Looking Forward
by Patrick Lang

We've made it to the month of November and the end of the regular CSA season, the ultimate time of transition at PFP. The decline of pick-your-own crops signals the end of the outdoor growing season and a move to storage vegetables and fresh greens from the high tunnels, all for a second winter CSA! The waning day length also tends to mark staff transitions, including my own at the end of the month.

Crop Report!
This warm fall brought with it a swift shift away from and abundance of cherry tomatoes and raspberries and toward the bare, frost-bitten stems that remain. We experienced one frost in mid-October that seems to have set this change in motion.

This fall marks the last season for pick-your-own okra at PFP (for now, at least), which has been a contentious topic lately! If any members want to know more, I encourage anyone to ask the farmers, and I also encourage folks to trust the farmers' insight! One begins to feel a bit beaten down after putting their heart into this work and then receiving an inordinate number of complaints, all about a single crop. Beautiful okra seedlings are always available during the PFP plant sale in May; we encourage okra lovers to bring some home to grow in garden beds or in containers!

By now, all fall cover crop has been sown and has had a chance to grow. At PFP, two common cover crop combinations are used in the fall: rye and vetch, one combination, is wilted by cold and covered with snow, but then sprouts in the spring for a thick cover that provides nitrogen (vetch is a legume), and it serves as a source of organic matter once it is mowed and tilled in. Another combination, oats and peas, grows vigorously until the winter cold kills it, and it does not sprout again in the spring. For this reason, it is used now where early-season crops will be planted in 2018! Aside from the benefits I mentioned above, cover crops are crucial winter erosion reducers; their root system and above-ground growth keep soil in place and reduce the speed of water runoff.

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A Fall Transition
After learning that okra would no longer be grown at PFP, I promptly notified everyone that I'd be resigning as a PFP farmer.

That's most definitely a joke. However, since coming to PFP (with no growing experience) as an intern in 2013 and then working the 2014, 2016, and 2017 seasons, I've begun to get excited about a new project, and my partner, Nicholas, and I will finally embark on it this fall. In the last couple of days of November, we will make a big move, and will start to develop a small farm on a 9-acre piece of hilly and diverse land outside the city of Menomonie, in western Wisconsin. Folks who know me are likely aware that the Twin Cities area is a sort of a second home, and Nicholas grew up less than 2 hours' drive from our new farm.

As part of this project, we aim to sell at farmers' markets and to start developing a CSA, producing vegetables and fruit using heavy mulch and working toward a stable, no-till system at a scale that is people-friendly. While we work to expand production to fruits like apples and pears (and nuts, starting with hazels), we will begin creating workshop and living space in one of our barns, to eventually host artist residents and farm interns. We are aiming to foster diverse, farm- and art-focused community, and to work with folks in Menomonie (including UW students in town) and nearby farmer friends to explore how food production and art intersect. Nicholas and I will also work hard to create an open and safe environment for people who, like myself in the past, associate rural areas and rural farmers with prejudice and hostiliy: queer people, people of color, and even 'progressive' young people in general.

I am extremely excited to begin this work, and I am grateful indeed to all of the mentors and co-workers with whom I've connected at PFP. I first arrived at Poughkeepsie Farm Project in May 2013 with essentially no growing experience, and 11 months of training later I identified crops and weeds, could manage pests, operated tractors, used power tools, identified and responded to plant diseases, and repaired irrigation lines (among other things), and my skill at handling high-stress situations improved significantly. Being able to stay at PFP for additional seasons allowed me to get to know our members much better and to improve farming, management, and interpersonal skills. Because of PFP's location, it is possible to join the farm crew without owning a car, which helps to make employment accessible: it played a big role in making my transition from urban life to the farm internship possible.

During the last full week of October while working at PFP, I was excited to receive live text and photo updates from Wisconsin, where Nicholas and Liz (one of PFP's 2017 summer interns) were first breaking ground to plant garlic for next season. PFP's garlic for 2018 is finally planted now (next to the blueberries this year), and fall cleanup and root crop harvests are still underway. I am very happy that after I leave, the PFP farm crew will still be bursting with good energy. I look forward to winter updates, especially since the crew will be putting to good use the skills/patterns/problems that were learned and/or observed last year. I wish everyone a terrific rest of fall into winter. Thanks and farewell!

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