Farms & Gardens

Embrace local farm bounty with giardiniera

giardiniera

All winter we dream of these months, when farmers market tables pile high with an array of vegetables, and CSA boxes get heavier and more diverse, boasting everything from kohlrabi to radishes.

 

It's no surprise, then, that I find that I'm eating a ton of vegetables lately, and not just boring, broccoli-as-a-side-dish vegetables. I love pickled vegetables, and giardiniera is one of my favorites.  

 

With its Italian roots, giardiniera is also known as "sottaceti," meaning "under vinegar," and is usually eaten along with antipasto selections like cured meats, various cheeses, and olives. The simple mix shows up on Italian beef sandwiches in some places, particularly in Chicago, and can be used in a muffuletta sandwich, a swoon-worthy creation that originated with Italian immigrants in New Orleans.

 

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Skip the Salad: Ideas for using up those gorgeous farmers market radishes

radish pile

The bunches of radishes you might see on the tables at many farmers markets are almost too pretty to eat: The bundles of bright red or variegated purple, pink, and white look like happy balloons. If your experience with radishes begins and ends at the grocery store or buffet garnishes, then you might be surprised with the variety of colors, shapes, and flavors. 

 

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Backyard Produce Section: Local resources for growing your own grub

Radishes all in a row

It might be hard to envision warm breezes and budding trees at the moment, but believe it or not, the growing season will be upon us before we know it. If you're hoping to travel no further than your own backyard for juicy tomatoes or fresh basil this year, now is the time to start planning!

 

Whether you're brand new to vegetable gardening or a have a seasoned green thumb, whether you're planting a couple of small barrels in your backyard or taking on a community garden, chances are you’ll need to buy or learn something this season. Here are four gardener-approved resources that will help you every step of the way, from soil testing to selecting the right seeds and compost to finally preserving your hard-earned bounty and saving seeds for next year. 

 

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Farm-Sized Classrooms: Sandbox Cooperative provides a new model for young food entrepreneurs

Sandbox Cooperative

After such a deep winter, it was surprising to see almost a dozen people happily pruning trees in early March, wearing light sweaters and sunglasses, and most importantly, showing palpable joy in the task. 

 

For me, there was an extra level of happiness during the event, since the workshop was Sandbox Cooperative’s kickoff for the "rent your own farm classroom" program that aims to provide farmland and resources for sustainability-focused workshops. Along with co-founders Libby London, Josh Adrian, and Jeny Lai, I envisioned a place where people working toward a healthier food system would have room to play and create — think of it as a farm-sized sandbox — and weren't hindered by small classroom space. 

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More Than a Box o' Vegetables: Tips on Choosing a CSA

July CSA box from Loon Organics

Well-known farmer and author Joel Salatin once said, "Don't you find it odd that people put more work into choosing a mechanic or contractor than into choosing the person who grows their food?"

 

Let's change that.

 

There are many ways to create connections with local farmers, from shopping at co-ops to frequenting farmers markets that feature locally grown produce. But to really get to know the people who grow your food from seed to harvest, consider a community supported agriculture (CSA) share. (For a quick primer on CSAs, zip over to this article for a CSA 101 description.)

 

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The Art of Seed Saving

As I walk through the field, I observe the insect populations, the soil condition, and the health of field. I notice the plants that seem to be stronger, more beautiful, or more resilient than the others and carefully make note of them. Each plant is cared for with a loving hand and a thoughtful mind, because the field is not only filled with food for the season, it is filled with seeds. Seeds that will grow food for future generations.

 

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The Farm Bill: A Family Farm’s Story through Ninety Years of Legislation

This piece is the first in a new SGT series exploring how the Farm Bill has impacted a single family’s farm. Below is a Google Map with some key points of interest in the author’s connection to the Farm Bill and food in general. Take a moment to add your own points of interest by clicking here.

 

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Farm Journal: A Snowy Goodbye to the Fields and the Seasons

This is the final post in a summer-long series from a young farmer working as a harvest crew leader at Gardens of Eagan.

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Farm Journal: Reflections on Labor in Organic Farming

I turned down seven farming positions at the beginning of the 2013 season. All across the United States I’d submitted applications and received offers from California, New York, Vermont, and Minnesota. In January, I declined an offer to attend an elite apprenticeship program in California. Though this experiential learning position had been my dream since I could say the words, “I want to be a farmer,” I couldn’t afford the tuition of three thousand dollars, plus housing, airfare, books, tools, and shared food expenses.

 

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An Autumn Ritual: Making Homemade Thai Chili Paste

In our household, the autumn ritual of preserving our garden through canning, freezing, and juicing is a family gathering in the kitchen. I love the opportunity to fend off those first few cold nights with a steaming hot kitchen, the house windows fogged up from all the blanching, poaching, and hot water baths. We play jazz music on the stereo, and even after the kids go to bed, I’m often putting up the last few jars until 2 am. It’s one of my favorite parts of the year. There is only one exception to the rule here, the evening where my wife and kids can’t get far enough away from the house while I’m working. Despite that fact, this remains one of my favorite nights of all…processing hot peppers.

 

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