Page 1

Seasonal Update Spring the Abundant Harvest Organics

{Plastic-Free} Produce Storage Tips Stories from the field & the


24 Seasonal


Spring Produce Forecast

Contents 5

AHO Staff Spotlight

Meet Nancy, one of the many who make the weekly feast a possibility.


Plastic-Free Produce Storage Tips

Tips from fellow co-producers for leaving the plastic baggie behind.


A Pollination Story

The birds, the bees, and your upcoming fruits and veggies.


Seven Years of Seasonal Eating

Original AHO subscribers share their seasonal eating tips, lessons, and the reasons they’ve stayed with us since 2007.



A new subscriber’s camera-eye view of her Abundant Harvest eating experience.


Spring Produce Forecast Get a look at what’s on the way!


Greener Pastures

A travel story from your pastured laying hens at Burroughs Family Farm.


California Gold

A historical look at the Golden State’s other gold rush, very juicy indeed.


Spring Recipes

Strawberries, tender spring veggies, and the sweet stuff.


Uncle Vern’s Tasty Rich Aprium Blossoms All photography, unless otherwise noted, by Amy Beth Beaver

LEFT: Fruits and veggies from an early March Abundant Harvest Organics small box.

Abundant Harvest Organics is a farm-share delivery service that works with an alliance of California organic family farmers to bring a weekly delivery of fresh certified organic fruits and vegetables to communities across the state. Also available from our farmers are certified organic meats (beef, chicken, turkey, fish, pork), organic dairy (including butter, cheese, raw milk and pastured eggs), nuts, beans, herbs, and other dry goods. 3


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

AHO Staff Spotlight

Nancy Ruiz

For the last four years, Nancy has been checking and double checking the produce boxes on pack days to be sure that all the produce is looking ship-shape and being packed to the proper quantities. She organizes the pallets of boxes that are sent out to your delivery sites and makes sure every order is accounted for. Years at AHO: 6 Favorite Part of the Job: Everyday is different, the variety of both the produce and the demands of the work keep things interesting. Latest On-the-Job Discovery: Brussels sprouts

y Ruiz

Left Nancy in action during pack day. Right The Ruiz kids, Cosme, Daphne, and Brian, and Nancy’s husband, Cosme with Daphne enjoying the outdoors.


cy Ru

n by Na Photo

Photo b y Nanc

Family Life: Favorite springtime activities for Nancy and her family include playing basketball outside and getting together with family to celebrate Easter. 5

“I use the brown paper that comes in the box to wrap most things and put them in the crisper drawer. Without plastic I have found that I have to be more strategic about the timing of when I use different veggies, depending on their tolerance for being stored unwrapped or in paper (some get wilty).” ~AHO subscriber Sheryl Ryan


Photo by Sheryl Ryan

Tips from seasoned AHO subscribers and a few principles of produce storage make ditching one-time use storage systems easy as pie.

While the ziptop bag might be an easy goto when it comes to storing the fruits and veggies that come in your AHO produce box, possibilities abound. Opting for reusable storage containers helps save money and also keeps one-time use items out of the landfill. Understanding the basic principles of 6

Seasonal Update Spring 2014

storage makes discovering alternative storage methods that work for you easier. Shoot for proper humidity and moisture levels, appropriate temperature, and giving produce enough room to breathe. We generally recommend keeping your produce unwashed until you’re ready to use it, so that it isn’t stored with leftover

“I just store my veggies in the veggie hydrator in fridge. I’ve had no problem and feel they stay fresher and healthier.” ~AHO subscriber Charlotte Keys

Photo by Charlotte Keys

Helpful kitchen equipment for non-plastic storage: “We rinse our greens/lettuce and then wrap them in dish cloths or paper towels. The rest gets tossed in the bins or cut up and put in Mason jars for easy access. We eat it quicker if it is already prepared too!”  ~AHO subscriber Jenn Westall Kee

Colanders Salad Spinner Kitchen Towels

Photo by Jennifer Westfall Kee 7

Chico community host, Kristen Staggs, uses washable mesh produce bags to store her AHO produce items separately in the fridge: “They truly keep your produce fresh and they also save money on baggies or paper towels or whatever it is you would put your produce in because they are reusable. I really think they keep my produce longer and more fresh.” About eight bags in two different sizes are enough to keep up with the items that Kristen needs to store in the fridge. Photo by Kristen Staggs

moisture from washing. If you prefer to absorb moisture and a slightly damp towel wash before you store, be sure and dry can serve as a way to preserve it, whether your produce thoroughly. A salad spinner you’re using Mason jars or muslin bags. is great for your leafy greens, and patience Subscribers also mentioned using butchcombined with kitchen towels should do er paper, the brown kraft paper that comes the trick for the rest. packed with your AHO box, and foil as If your refrigerator has a couple of crisper wrappings for their produce. drawers, you’re in luck. Leafy greens and items you want to keep from wilting need a higher Plastic-Free or Reusable Storage humidity environment, and those items with a propenSuggestions from AHO Subscribers sity to rot should be stored 1. Crisper drawer in the fridge (with damp or dry towel) in a less humid space. A 2. Cloth bags or towels (cotton muslin, mesh, or hemp) Tupperware container with 3. Mesh produce bags an aeration setting works 4. Glass Mason jars on this same principle. 5. Tupperware containers with aeration settings Wrapping your produce 6. Butcher paper in cloth towels is another 7. Brown kraft paper from the box way to manage the humid8. Multi-use ziptop “green” produce bags ity levels if you don’t have 9. Washed and reused plastic bags a special veggie drawer in 10. Reused sheets of aluminum foil with paper towels the fridge. A dry towel can 8

Seasonal Update Spring 2014

sniff out new Spring Recipes at

and on pages 39-52

Citrus & Strawberry Smoothie Page 40

Photo by Jessica Lessard 9

a pollination

story in pictures


Seasonal Update Spring 2014 11




Seasonal Update Spring 2014

3. Farmers have to make management decisions that lend themselves to cross pollination when necessary. Your farmer Cliff McFarlin opted to give some of his pluots a better chance by taking branches from the pollinator varieties on the opposite side of his ranch and “planting” them closer to his late blooming trees in a bucket with sawdust and water in the middle of the tree. The same end could be accomplished more permanently by grafting as you see directly above in Uncle Vern’s plums where some trees have branches of two different types of plums, thus, half the tree is still blooming while the other half has already grown fresh green leaves.


The End

Photo by Nick Voolstra

2. Not all crops rely on insect pollination. In the case of these self-pollinating conventional citrus trees (the same would be true for organic trees), pollination from other citrus varieties could cause seeds to develop in fruit that is normally seedless. This affects the marketability of the fruit more than anything, so giant nets are used to keep cross pollination to a minimum.



Photo by Jessica Lessard

1. Bee keeping isn’t only about the honey. Farmers hire bees to get busy pollinating their orchards and fields during bloom. Bees are trucked in from out of state to meet the demand. Uncle Vern uses the Cornett Farm’s bees in his orchards, so the same bees that pollinated your plums and peaches made the honey you can order as an add-on. Oh so sweet. 13

7seasonal eating years of

hat appealed to me at the beginning was less people touching my food and the fact that it was organic. The first few times the pickup was at a park and there was a line to the box. We got our box and starting eating the grapes; they were amazing—crisp, sweet and like grapes we remembered as kids. And its been a while since we were kids.

Photo by Mark Hall

In the earliest days Uncle Vern made the deliveries himself. Here he’s pictured with three wee original subscribers getting a head start on their family’s box of produce in Bakersfield, CA.

It all started 7 years ago with 61 co-producers and an alliance of California organic family farmers. Four families who have been with us since 2007 share their seasonal wisdom. 14

Seasonal Update Spring 2014

I like the variety of the box. We have eaten vegetables we can’t pronounce and probably wouldn’t buy on our own. Now we find vegetables we really like and others not so much, but we roast them or put them in a soup. We also like to grill vegetables. My husband picks up the box and puts it in the car and we look in the box for a fruit to eat NOW. On the way home, I read Vern’s words of wisdom which informs us and always makes us smile. My mom is 92 and if I don’t bring her the letter she asks for it. She does enjoy it. We have always been Farmers Market shoppers 12 months of the year, but this is much better. AHO is organic and chosen for us. We also love that people have jobs year around and we are the happy recipients of their hard work.

~ Beverly and Tom Watts Bakersfield, CA

e decided to become vegetarians (except for fish) and have had a great time figuring out menus with what’s in the box. The vegetables and fruits are so aesthetically beautiful coming straight from the earth and the farmers, with no plastic bags. We feel a personal connection with the farmers who grew everything. The salmon from Alaska is our absolute favorite special dinner (cedar plank salmon). Last year we got a freezer full and this year we got more.* The eggs from the little family on the website video with the mama and baby in the front pack, and all the children collecting eggs out in the mobile chicken trailer in the middle of the beautiful fields helping the soil, spreading manure, etc. That got me good. I love eating those eggs. We like reading the newsletter and thinking about all the farming and love that comes with the wholesome food we are buying. It’s nutritious! We enjoy the “prize” each week that comes with membership. It’s always something different and sometimes challenging! It’s so much easier to get the box than to go to the store and make decisions. Plus, the produce is so delicious—potatoes are better, everything is better because it isn’t designed to have a long shelf life. The lettuce seems like it really is full of nutrients. Our grown children live in Portland, Oregon and we send pictures of all our beautiful produce from the box to make them miss home! Figuring out how to eat some of the stuff in the box is sometimes a challenge. The Internet recipes are vast so there is always guidance for cooking even the most unknown vegetables. We have become more gourmet trying new recipes with fresh herbs from the box. (We also compost if we just can’t use everything in time.)

The Robinson’s Favorite Recipes Cedar Plank Salmon Soak a cedar plank for one hour. Mix ½ cup brown sugar and 1 T seasoned salt and rub on the salmon. Put salmon on cedar plank, cook on the grill (closed) for 20 minutes. Serve on the plank on the table—smells so wonderful! Easy Cauliflower with Tahini Cut up cauliflower into flowerets, stir fry them in a wok in a little hot oil until slightly blackened. Dip in tahini sauce (Trader Joe’s is good) —can’t stop eating it! The Robinson kids (and spouse) enjoying a California breakfast from straight from the AHO box. Photo submitted by Rachel Robinson

~Jim and Rachel Robinson Bakersfield, CA *EDITOR’S NOTE: Once a year, Abundant Harvest subscribers have the chance to special order wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye salmon from a fisherman friend of Uncle Vern’s up North. 15

Teri’s Strategies for Sneaking Veggies into Everything

e’re eating a lot more veggies and fruit, and the box also gives us a chance to try new foods. We all especially enjoyed last year’s Brussels sprout greens—now they’re our favorite green of all. I’ve added lemongrass to soups, and more veggies to all our regular soups and casseroles, giving us more servings of healthy produce per day. And we never check to see what’s coming—just enjoy the weekly surprise. In these days of complex, globalized markets, it’s difficult to know, and therefore trust, where our food comes from. Abundant Harvest not only provides my family with fresh, organic produce that I can trust, but I get to vote with my wallet to help sustain family-owned local farms.

GREENS Cut the greens up really, really small and sprinkle them over all the food, either before cooking or after, like fairy dust. If picky eaters ask, tell them it’s parsley. It looks gourmet and they’ll never know what you did.

MILD VEGGIES When you make soup next, chop the milder veggies (like summer squash) and boil them in the soup water or stock until soft, remove them with a slotted spoon and puree them, then make your soup and add the puree back in as a thickener. It will deepen the flavor but your kids won’t be able to find any veggies, so your secret will be safe. This also works as a sauce with noodles. If the veggies are strong-tasting, you can also add some crispy bacon. 16

Seasonal Update Spring 2014

I love running into friends while picking up our box, and then getting home and washing it all and laying it out on a towel on the counter—just heaps of gorgeous clean produce that I wish I had grown myself, ready to eat. But I guess my favorite thing is that when dinner time comes, I usually let the produce lead the way and mold the rest of the dinner around that. If we have a gorgeous huge cauliflower that I’ll have a tough time getting in the fridge, then we eat that first, maybe in a cheesy casserole or alongside meat or in a stir fry. I like letting seasonal produce guide our meals. Our biggest challenge was dealing with the sometimes overwhelming amount of fruit we get in the summer. We overcame it by realizing that we could chop and freeze some of it, and then we’d have fruit for smoothies or cobblers or oatmeal in the winter. So that took care of the overload of fruit and gave us more variety in the winter. My daughter’s first job was working at the produce pick up. She learned how to get up earlier in the morning than she wanted, got to know her kale from her collards, how to inventory, and had to brave some cold weather handing out produce boxes. She got to see how all the different parts make up a business and how to help out customers—lessons that will help her in the rest of her life. So don’t go thinking it’s just the produce—it’s the process too.

~ Teri Moore and Family Tehachapi, CA

remember the first time I saw a crate of produce from AHO, someone had brought it to our Roller Towne Homeschool skate day in Visalia. The basil smelled so fresh and the produce looked like it had just been picked from someone’s garden. I thought it was such a great idea that as soon as I got home I checked out the website and signed up.

The Fry Family’s Spring Recipe Recommendation Cucumber Salad with Rice Vinegar adapted from the

I also remember how excited I was when I was asked to be the hostess for the Visalia area. I had been a subscriber for a while by then and was so happy to be a part of such a family oriented organization. I felt that the quality of service and high standards of AHO was something I could really get behind and represent with pride. Our family has always enjoyed eating fruits and vegetables but we pretty much stuck to the ones we knew we liked with no exploration outside of the regulars, such as broccoli , squash, asparagus, and green beans. After we signed up with AHO we discovered a whole slew of new varieties we loved. I never would have thought my boys liked kale so much. Knowing it is all organic gives me the assurance it is the best produce I can buy for my family. Cooking with a new ingredient can be a challenge. I am not a great cook, so sometimes I am not sure how to use some of the more exotic things we get in our crate. I have spent more time trying new recipes found on the AHO site and online food sites. Some come out good...some not so good, but in the long run it stretches me to try new things and become a better cook. Another challenge is eating all the produce. Since my sons are older now they are not always home for dinner so I have been scheduling vacation days to alleviate the problem of too much produce.

Peel 3 medium cucumbers and slice into medium thin slices. Slice 1 medium onion thinly into rings. Cut 3 medium tomatoes into wedges. Toss the veggies together with ½ cup rice vinegar, ¼ cup sugar, 1 cup water, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper, ¼ cup oil, and 1 teaspoon fresh mint. The Fry family, Visalia Community Hosts Photo submitted by Pam Fry

The quality and the personal service that AHO provides keep us coming back. Our favorite part is bringing home our crate and seeing what’s in it this week and experiencing the changing of the seasons through our food. ~ Pam Fry and Family Visalia, CA 17


Get connected to your food and your farmers.

Photo by Jessica Lessard

Find farmer stories, new recipes, and words of wisdom from your fellow co-producers: The Abundant Harvest Kitchen Blog

The Abundant Harvest Podcast on iTunes, the Stitcher Radio app, and our blog AHO Food Bloggers Facebook Group Subscribers who blog can email for an invitation

AHO Community Online


Seasonal Update Spring 2014



A HAIKU: MY FIRST PRODUCE BOX Mine: greens, roots, fruits, herbs Rev–olution, –elation There’s no going back



Photo submitted by Thomas Lynch @ourhealthyfamily




Want to join in the fun? Give the world a chance to see your weekly produce box through your eyes by tagging us on Instagram @ahorganics or 19

Lisa’s Instagram account can attest to her new passion for produce. She’s been faithfully photographing each week’s box. Photos on pages 20–21 by Lisa Atherton @lisaknits

What is your favorite item from the box so far?


A New Subscriber Finds Her Groove It’s been just five months since a friend’s decision to undertake a “clean eating” challenge encouraged Kern City resident Lisa Atherton to try out a subscription to the AHO produce box. At the time, she was right in the middle of a transition to a whole foods diet and was looking for “more than just your regular grocery store list of broccoli, carrots, and onions.” Though she works 40 to 50 hours a week for the county, Lisa gets a small box weekly and cooks at least four times a week, since she relies on packed lunches of leftovers to spice up her work day. The AHO box has been in her words, “a perfect fit.”


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

Hands down, spaghetti squash. I always thought of it as bland, boring, and just a filler. In the late summer we would get a squash a week, alternating between butternut and spaghetti, and spaghetti squash was easily the more exciting for me as time went on. Spaghetti squash sauteed with kale and chickpeas with fresh tomatoes and some Parmesan Romano cheese? Instant dinner.

Tell us about your happiest from-the-box moment...

Eating apples right from the box on my way to work after pick up. And sometimes I share the apples or oranges with my co-workers that day too. Sharing food is fun!

What’s been your biggest challenge in eating from the box and how did you overcome it?

I’m currently the only individual in my household who eats the box contents, although not for lack of trying! I sometimes struggle to eat every last piece of produce from the box, but I’ve learned a few things: Blended soups will suck up any remaining

veggies that you just didn’t know what to do with. I learned the art of potato bases, coconut milk bases, and broth-based soups that all can go into the blender,* and make great additions to lunch sandwiches and salads. *Ninjas and VitaMix are great, but small batches in regular blenders work too!

What advice would you give new subscribers?

Be ready to try new things, but learn your favorite methods too. Not everything needs to be steamed and salted. Roasting, grilling, broiling, baking, crockpot, soups, casseroles, the list goes on. Google is your friend. More often than not, my recent searches show I’m trying to find a way to use fennel in a blended soup or “creative carrot dishes.” There are endless possibilities with your Abundant Harvest Box!

Bring your bok choy to work day should be everyday... 21


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

SPRING Produce Forecast

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 23




Fruits Apples Avocados

Apriums Blueberries Cherries

Kiwis Lemons Mandarin Oranges Minneola Tangelos

Nectarines Peaches Plums

Oranges Strawberries

Herbs Basil Chamomile Chives Chocolate Mint Cilantro Dill Dill Blossoms French Tarragon Garlic Chives Lamb’s Quarter Lavender Lemon Balm Oregano parsley rosemary sage Savory sorrel thyme


Seasonal Update Spring 2014




Vegetables arugula blossoms Asparagus Beets bell peppers broccoli Broccoli di cicco cabbage carrots cauliflower chard (Rainbow, Swiss) Collard Greens Daikon Radish Endive fava beans garlic scapes


green beans Green Garlic Green Onions

Horseradish kale kohlrabi Leeks lettuce mizuna mustard Greens Nopales parsnips pea tendrils potatoes (Fingerling, heirloom, russet) rutabaga shallotS Shelling Peas spinach Spring Radishes Spring onions sugar snap peas

summer squash Tomatoes (greenhouse) turnips Winter squash 25

Greener P

Your Pastured Hens Enjoy an The organic pastured hens at Burroughs Family Farm are living the good life. They’re surrounded by the rolling the hills of the eastern San Joaquin Valley, and in addition to hundreds of dairy cows as their good neighbors, the birds have faithful guardians of both the human and the


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

canine persuasion working to keep them singing their celebratory egg song in the California sunshine day after day. This year on the farm, your egg farmers Heriberto and Benina Montes, have been working hard to plant hedge rows, install solar power on five of six of their wells,


Almond Orchard Stay-cation and modify their mobile chicken coops so the hens can follow behind the dairy cattle on the property they share with Full Circle Dairy. The chickens and the cows have a buddy-buddy, symbiotic relationship. The chickens break up the clumps of what the cows leave behind, spreading the nutrients

across the pasture, and also eating up the bugs and fly larvae. The pasture gets fertilized, the chickens get full of good protein, and the cows won’t have to deal with the full grown fly pests. “It’s been a lot of management work, but running the chickens this way lets them 27

have a better relationship with everything,” Benina said. It’s tough to imagine needing to pack up and move along to greener pastures when you’ve got it made in the shade, that is until your pastures start drying up due to lack of rain. Luckily, this year, your egg farmers have also become your raw almond farmers, and when the native pasture grass wasn’t pushing like it

usually would be in a normal year, Heriberto and Benina knew just want to do. “There was grass in the orchards because we had to irrigate there, and we still wanted to have pastured eggs, so we’ve been running the hens in the almonds and olives,” Benina explained. The birds are now providing lawn mowing service instead of cow pie and Photo by Benina Montes


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

fly population destruction, but they seem just as satisfied. The almond trees are also benefiting from the nitrogen rich 100 percent organic fertilizer. For good management practice the birds will have to go back home at least 120 days before almond harvest, but they’ve got a few more months to spend amid the trees before they wear out their welcome.

Raw Almond Kick Off from Burroughs Family Farms

Non-pasteurized, truly raw almonds are hard to find, and as a farmer, there are a few hoops to jump through to be able to produce them. But, doing so was in line with the Montes’s value to provide the kind of nutrient dense food they’d want to have for their own family.

YOUR EGG AND RAW ALMOND FARMERS The Montes family has been raising pastured eggs on Benina’s family’s multi-generation farm for four years now. This season, for the first time they are offering their raw organic almonds as an add-on for Abundant Harvest subscribers in addition to the organic pastured eggs.

photo by Stephanie Noblia Photography

TIP: Raw almonds have a different texture than roasted almonds. In addition to eating out of hand, sprouting, and using for raw recipes, you can soak them overnight in warm salt water and cook them at a low temperature for a slightly roasted nut that still contains the nutrients that are normally lost during the roasting process. 29

California Gold

How Citrus Took Root in the Golden State BY JESSICA LESSARD

The orange has a long and fascinating history in California, of which we are a part; this year Homegrown Organics, the fruit packing operation which houses Abundant Harvest Organics, made history by becoming the first packing shed in Kings County to begin packing organic produce. To celebrate, it seems fitting to highlight the intimate tie between citrus and California, a tie that dates back at least two centuries. I am spurred on as well, by the fact that I simply love everything about oranges. I mean if you’ve ever had Oranges were being cultivated in California as early as 1804, fifty years before it became a state. This photo from the California State Library Archives shows men picking fruit in Los Angeles County in 1880. 30

Seasonal Update Spring 2014 31


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

the joy of smelling fresh citrus blossoms friars. Wolfskill, originally a successful on a tree well…it’s heaven, and certainly grape grower with thousands of acres worth writing about. My personal bias planted in the Los Angeles area in the early aside, from an historical 1800s, wanted to try his hand at citrus. perspective one might argue His journey began when he planted a mere the modern prosperity of two acres of orange trees using clippings California was he had acquired from a direct result of the friars (Ebeling, People began boardcitrus production which 353). By 1860, the ing the Southern developed in Southern Wolfskill orchards had California in the late- Pacific Railroad for been expanded to over 19th century. 100 acres and by the California by the Our story begins with the 1870s his family was hundreds of thouplanting of an orange orchard growing two-thirds of sands in search of by the Franciscan Friars of the the state’s oranges. A San Gabriel Mission in Los significant factor in this new form of Angeles in 1804, using orange “California gold.” Wolfskill’s success was seeds brought over to the states the development of from Franciscan missionaries. inexpensive travel by The friars established an orchard spanning railroad from the eastern United States to six acres, consisting of around 400 trees the West. An influx of people into California (Southern Pacific Bulletin, Vol 9-10). had begun with the 1849 Gold Rush, The historic moment for California but when the Wolfskills began shipping citriculture came, however, in 1855 crates of oranges out to consumers in the when a Kentucky mountain man and east, people began boarding the agronomist by the name of William Southern Pacific Railroad for Wolfskill made contact with the California by the hundreds of 33

This poster for the Fifth Annual Citrus Fair (1910) and the 1923 cover of World Traveler Magazine depict the romantic notions of this exciting new fruit in the early 1900s. Source: California State Library Archives

thousands in search of this new form of “California gold”(Laszlo, 65). Citrus orchards began to spring up all around Southern California and they were successful in part due to the hard work of both growers and their workers, smart irrigation systems, and innovative agricultural research (Laszlo, 71). By the 1940s many of the orange varieties that we enjoy in AHO boxes today began to appear: Tangors, Murcott mandarins, and Minneola tangelos, grown along with the traditional crop of Valencias and Navels. Yet by this point the major shift of citrus production to the north was beginning. We can of course see remnants of this citrus industry boom in Southern California in the names of our cities and counties, yet little of the original industry remains


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

there today. The real estate explosion that followed the arrival of “orange consumers” in the early 1900s, meant houses were replacing orchards. By the 1950s, the majority of citrus orchards in California could now be found further north, here in the Central Valley, namely the cities of Woodlake, Exeter, and Porterville. The citrus industry was welcomed here as an interest in citriculture had been growing steadily in the Valley since the turn of the 19th century. As early as 1887, a local San Jose newspaper reported

on the “citrus fair” held that year which had “enlightened the residents of that section as to its capabilities in the way of soil, climate and industry” (Pacific Rural Press, volume 33 no. 9, Feb. 26, 1887). The advantages of growing oranges in the Central Valley were many: sun, soil, good cold air drainage (which prevents freezes) easy access to shipping (thanks to the 99 Freeway), and the natural and constant source of water from the Sierra Snow Pack. Access to water was aided in part in 1935 when the US government began what was known as the Central Valley Project (CVP), the building of various tributaries and dams aimed at diverting water from the northern Sacramento River, south to the Central Valley to support agriculture. In 2014, the Central Valley still dominates the citrus industry with over 200,000 acres of citrus grown in Tulare and Fresno counties alone. Yet citrus growers in the Central Valley do face many challenges. We are all aware of the great strain the recent drought has put on all forms of agriculture, and the sporadic temperatures which brought unexpected prolonged freezes in

December resulted in the loss of 20 to 50% of the California Navel and mandarin crop. The invasion of the Asian Citrus Psyllid which has already decimated Florida’s citrus industry, remains a constant threat here. Despite all this, California remains the second largest producer of citrus in the United States, and boy aren’t you glad that’s the case. The taste of a fresh, locally grown organic orange sure is hard to beat. Printed Sources:

1. Pierre Laszlo, Citrus: A History. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2007 2. Walter Ebeling, The Fruited Plain: The Story of American Agriculture. Berkeley: University of California, 1979. 3. Pacific Rural Press, volume 33 no. 9, Feb. 26, 1887 4. Southern Pacific Bulletin, Vol 9-10, Southern Pacific Company, 1920. 35


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

IN THE FIELD Even though they are grown indoors, the organic red tomatoes at Wilgenburg Greenhouses are pollinated by bumblebees and bad pests are managed by introducing beneficial insects at the proper time. These starter plants are potted in your farmer Hans Wilgenburg’s special soil mix that includes coconut core, and also vermicompost produced on site. 37


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

Spring Recipes 40–43

Strawberries 44–49

Spring Veggies 50–52

Desserts Find more seasonal recipes at 39

Strawberries Grilled Chicken & Strawberry Citrus & Strawberry Smoothie Green Leaf Salad ½ head of lettuce, washed, and chopped 6 oz of spinach or another type of lettuce 2–3 chicken breasts, marinated, and grilled 8 oz of strawberries, sliced 8 oz blueberries 4 oz feta or Parmesan cheese 1 c sliced almonds, toasted Dressing: ½ c white wine vinegar ½ c honey 1–2 cloves garlic 1 T grated onion 1 t salt 1 c raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries ⅔ c canola oil 1 ½ tsp poppy seeds Marinate chicken in some Italian dressing and grill. When cool, slice. Toss the lettuce, berries, and almonds together. Add the chicken when sliced and then sprinkle with feta or Parmesan cheese.

Strawberry Vinaigrette Blend: 1 c olive oil ½ pint fresh strawberries, halved 2 T balsamic vinegar ½ t salt ¼ t ground black pepper ¼ t dried tarragon ¼ t white sugar

Blend: 1 cup plain yogurt, ½ cup ice, 1 peeled Valencia orange, ½ banana (optional), 2 tbsp oats, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tsp grated orange zest, ½ cup milk, 2 strawberries

Photo by Jessica Lessard

Nutty Strawberry Salad

1 head of red leaf or romaine lettuce, chopped. (May also use chard, kale or mustard greens.) ¼ c apple cider vinegar Dash of Worcestershire sauce ¼ c sugar 1 T butter 1 c olive oil ½ c slivered almonds ¼ t paprika 1 basket strawberries

In a bowl mix the vinegar, sugar, oil, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours. Melt butter in skillet, stir in almonds, and cook until golden brown. Remove and cool. In a bowl toss the strawberries, greens, and almonds. Mix with dressing just before serving.

IN THE FIELD The black plastic mulch keeps sunlight from the bed, keeping the weed seeds in the soil from germinating. It also helps keep the soil moist. Usually the plastic mulch can be laid by a tractor and mulch layer, but in the case of these strawberries, it was done by hand. 40

Seasonal Update Spring 2014 41

Rice Pudding with Super Easy Strawberry Jam For the Rice Pudding: 2 c water 1 c medium grain white rice (preferred), or long grain white rice (still good) ¼ t salt 2 ½ c whole milk 2 ½ c half and half ⅔ c sugar 1 ¼ t vanilla extract For the Jam: 2 lbs strawberries, hulled, rinsed, and drained ½ c sugar Make the pudding first: Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a 3–5 quart pot. Stir in the salt and rice. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat, stirring a few times, until the water is almost absorbed into the rice, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the milk, half and half, and sugar. Turn the heat up to medium high to bring to a simmer, and then lower the heat to keep the mixture at a simmer. Keep simmering in the uncovered pot, stirring often, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 30 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and keep cooking, stirring often so the rice doesn’t stick and scorch, until the pudding is thick, about 15 minutes more.


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Cool to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the jam. Make the jam: Put the strawberries in a wide pan and sprinkle the sugar all over the top. Mash the strawberries with a potato masher (or your clean hands!) until the mixture starts to get the texture of jam and the sugar is dissolved in the strawberry juice. Put the pan on the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Once it’s done cooking you can skim off the foam if you want the jam to be clearer (and use the skim later to drizzle over yogurt), or just stir it in. You want the jam to be a bit wet, so it makes good swirls in the rice pudding. To serve, divide the cool rice pudding between individual serving bowls. Scoop the warm jam over the top and swirl it in with a spoon so it makes a marbled effect in the pudding. Recipe and photo submitted by

Strawberry-Balsamic Tart Recipe and photo submitted by

1 T butter, divided, melted 1 pint strawberries, hulled, and quartered lengthwise pinch nutmeg 1–2 medium onions, sliced 2 T honey pinch salt ½ c balsamic vinegar 1 pizza crust ¼ c coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar) ¼ c raw walnuts, coarsely chopped pinch freshly ground black pepper

Photo by Rachel Oberg

Strawberry Pizza 1 stick butter 1 c flour ¼ c powdered sugar 8 oz cream cheese 1 c powdered sugar 1–2 baskets strawberries 3 T cornstarch ⅔ c sugar ¼ c water For crust: soften butter, mix in flour, and sugar. Spread in pizza pan. Bake at 325° for 15 minutes. Mix together topping ingredients until smooth. When the crust is cool, top with topping mixture. Mash one basket strawberries and cook with sugar, bring to boil. Add cornstarch mixed with water, cook until clear. Add additional sliced berries. Spread on pizza and chill. Photo by Diane Trunk

Preheat oven to 425º. Melt butter. In a hot, dry skillet, add onions, honey, and salt. Cook over medium-low for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until onions are caramelized, stirring occasionally. While onions cook, in a small saucepan, bring vinegar to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until thickened and syrupy, about 12 to 18 minutes (being careful not to let it burn). Meanwhile, roll out pizza crust. Par bake for 5 minutes. Toss strawberries with ½ T melted butter and nutmeg. Brush crust with ½ T melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar and press into crust slightly (with a spatula or fingers). Top with onions, walnuts, strawberries, and black pepper. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes (or according to your pizza dough’s recipe instructions), or until crust is done. Let stand for a few minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve at room temperature. 43

Spring Veggies Carrot Radish & Cabbage Slaw Whisk together: 3 T peanut butter 3 T rice wine vinegar 1 T soy sauce 1 T sesame oil 1 T olive oil 2 T lemon juice Toss with: 3 c shredded cabbage 4 carrots, grated 4 green onions, sliced very thin 4 radishes, sliced thinly Top with: 1 t sesame seeds ¼ c chopped peanuts Serve, or chill before serving.


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

Roasted Sugar Snap Peas ½ lb sugar snap peas, strings and stems removed 1 T olive oil ½ t dried thyme ½ t salt ¼ t black pepper ¼ t garlic (optional) Preheat oven to 450° Toss the peas with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper, as well as garlic until coated. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until softened and just starting to brown. Serve hot or warm. May be served with warm marinara sauce or salsa.

French Spring Veggie Soup 4 T butter 1 t ground pepper 2 leeks, 2 carrots, 3 potatoes, chopped 1 whole onion or 2 small, chopped 1 pinch dill 1 t salt 1 T chopped parsley ⅓ cup barley 1 clove garlic, minced 1 c chopped spinach or kale 8 oz mushrooms, sliced (optional) 1 cup half and half 1 bunch asparagus, cut into ½ inch spears 1 qt water 1 qt vegetable or chicken broth *To give it a little kick, ¼ to ½ c of sherry wine can be added In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the leeks, onion, and garlic, and sauté until tender. Add the mushrooms and sauté for two minutes. Add the potatoes, carrots, and asparagus, and sauté for two more minutes. Add the water, broth, salt, pepper, dill, parsley, and barley. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach or kale and add the half and half. Cook over low heat for about five more minutes. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a sourdough or crusty bread.

STORAGE TIP The green tops that do such a great job pulling nutrients into the tap roots of carrots and radishes will continue to pull moisture from the roots even after harvest. If you’re not planning on eating your carrots, radishes, beets, or other green topped veggies right away, cut the greens off an inch above the root and store them separately.

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed Salt and pepper to taste 2 T butter 1 T soy sauce 1 t balsamic vinegar Preheat oven to 400º. Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet. Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake asparagus for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until tender. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Pour over baked asparagus to serve.

Smashed Potatos, Parsnips & Rutabagas 4 c quartered potatoes 2 c chopped and peeled parsnips 1 rutabaga, peeled & chopped 1 onion, chopped 1 ½ t salt 4 oz cream cheese, softened ½ stick butter Freshly ground pepper In a dutch oven, combine potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, onion, and half of the salt; add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Add remaining salt, cream cheese, butter, and a dash of pepper. Mash together and serve. 45


Seasonal Update Spring 2014

Brussels Sprouts de la Ferme Recipe submitted by

1 lb organic Brussels sprouts, halved 2 T organic butter ¼ t nutmeg 1 t salt Place salt and Brussels sprouts in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes. Drain the Brussels sprouts and return them to the pan. Add the nutmeg and butter and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the flavors are thoroughly blended.

Lemon Basil Potatoes 1 lb potatoes 2 c of your favorite stock ½ c lemon juice 2 T olive oil 1 t salt ¼ t black pepper ½ t lemon zest 3 T of chopped, fresh lemon basil Place potatoes, stock, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes, place in a serving bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Add in lemon zest and chopped lemon basil. Toss well and garnish with more basil.

IN THE FIELD Most California Brussels sprouts are grown on the coast, but these sprouts are cultivated in the Central Valley at T&D Willey Organic Farms. The sprouts grow along the stalk at the base of each leaf.

Pea, Lettuce, and Herb Salad 3 T olive oil 1 T fresh lemon juice 1 t finely grated lemon zest 1 c fresh shelled peas* 6 medium radishes, thinly sliced 1 small head of lettuce, washed and dried, leaves torn into bite size pieces 4 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on the diagonal Salt and freshly ground pepper Optional: ¼ c fresh flat leaf parsley 2 T coarsely chopped fresh French tarragon 3 oz Parmesan cheese shaved thinly In a small bowl, whisk the oil with the lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, toss the peas in a small bowl with 1 T of the dressing. Toss the radishes, lettuce, scallions, and herbs in a large bowl with just enough of the remaining dressing to lightly coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the salad in a bowl or on a salad plate and top with the peas and Parmesan cheese. *Peas may be briefly blanched if not tender. 47

2 large stalks broccoli ½ head cauliflower, cut into small florets 1 bunch turnips, cut into wedges (optional) 10 cloves garlic, peeled 1 ½ c shredded arugula ⅓ c olive oil 1 T Dijon mustard 1 t salt ¼ t pepper ½ head cabbage, cut into chunks Preheat Oven to 400º. Separate broccoli into small florets and stalks. Cut stalks into ⅓ inch slices. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, garlic, and arugula. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, mustard, ½ t salt, and pepper. Spoon about 2 T of the mixture into a large roasting pan. Place the cabbage on top of the oil. Add the remaining oil mixture to the vegetables in the bowl and toss to coat evenly. Transfer to the roasting pan and place on top of the cabbage. Cover the pan with foil and roast for 35 minutes. Uncover, stir gently and roast for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring once halfway through. Sprinkle with remaining ½ t salt and transfer to serving bowl.

Hot Swiss Chard Salad 2 finely chopped green onions 1 T brown sugar 3–5 T red wine vinegar ¼ c olive oil 2–4 finely chopped stems green garlic 4–5 large chard leaves, chopped

Great Green Vegetable Pasta 1 c cottage or ricotta cheese ⅓ c Parmesan cheese ½ c milk (optional if using cottage cheese) 1 clove garlic 2 T fresh basil ½ t salt 2 T fresh parsley 12 oz linguine or spaghetti 2 c spinach or broccoli 1 c green beans 2 c asparagus (cut into segments) 1 c peas ¼ c green onion, chopped 2 T butter Stir together ricotta, Parmesan, milk, garlic, salt, and parsley in a bowl and set aside. In a large soup pot of boiling water, start cooking pasta according to package directions. Stir in spinach or broccoli 6 minutes before pasta is done; boil 3 minutes. Stir in asparagus and green beans slowly; boil for 2 minutes. Stir in peas and green onion slowly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Drain well and return to soup pot. Toss butter with pasta and vegetables until melted. Add cottage cheese mixture; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper.

¼ c butter 4 grilled chicken breasts 1 chopped tomato Parmesan cheese, shredded 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped ¼ c bacon, chopped

Remove stems from chard leaves. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter in pan and add chopped garlic and onion. Cook until tender. Add brown sugar and red wine vinegar. Add the chopped Swiss chard or spinach and cook until soft and tender. Place grilled chicken on plate and top with greens and toppings. Salt to taste and sprinkle with cheese. 48

Seasonal Update Spring 2014

Photo by Rachel Oberg

White & Green Spring Vegetable Roast

Spring Frittata Recipe and photo submitted by

1 T olive oil 2 medium potatoes, chopped ½ lb mushrooms, quartered ½ large leek, chopped 1 stalk green garlic, chopped 1 bunch (about 20) asparagus, ends trimmed, chopped 1–2 T fresh parsley, rough chopped ½–1 t salt ⅛ t pepper ½ c milk 8 eggs ½ c Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375º. Heat oven proof skillet. Add olive oil. Add potatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook covered, over mediumlow or low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender. Add asparagus, leek, and mushrooms. Cook uncovered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. Add green garlic and cook 1 minute more. Whisk eggs with milk, salt, pepper, and parsley. Turn heat to medium-low and add eggs to pan. Stir once. Cook for 1 minute, stir again, then cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until eggs are starting to set. Sprinkle with cheese and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the eggs are set. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 49

Desserts Honey Lemon Cookies 7 T butter, softened ½ c sugar 1 egg 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour 1 t baking powder ½ t salt ⅓ c honey

¼ c plain yogurt 2 t grated lemon peel ½ t lemon extract 1 c powdered sugar 2 T lemon juice 2 t grated lemon peel

Preheat oven to 350º. In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine honey, yogurt, lemon peel, and lemon extract. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture with honey mixture. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. In a small bowl combine icing ingredients until smooth. Brush over the warm cookies; sprinkle with lemon peel.

Blueberry Coffee Cake 1 t vanilla extract 1 ½ c flour 1 large egg 1 t baking powder 1 large egg white ¼ t baking soda 1 ⅓ cups buttermilk ¼ t salt 2 c fresh blueberries ¾ c granulated sugar Coarse grain sugar for topping 6 T softened butter Preheat oven to 350º. Whisk together dry ingredients. Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla, egg and egg white; beat well. Add flour mixture and buttermilk to sugar mixture. Spoon half the batter into a 9 inch round baking pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with 1 c of blueberries. Spoon remaining batter over blueberries; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 c of blueberries. Sprinkle the top with coarse grain sugar. Bake at 350º for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. IN THE FIELD Your blueberry farmers Mark and Alice Richmond have several varieties of blueberries. Each variety is picked 3 to 4 times over the course of a week. The farmers look at color and taste to know when a variety is ready. 50

Seasonal Update Spring 2014

Beet Brownies 2–4 beets (1 c) steamed till tender and skins slipped off, puree when cool 2 sticks butter ¾ c brown sugar ¾ c white sugar 4 eggs 1 ¼ c cocoa powder 1 T vanilla ¾ c flour 1 c chocolate chips Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium pan over low heat, melt butter and add sugars until dissolved, remove from heat. Beat the eggs in a mixer and add remaining ingredients except chocolate chips. When all other ingredients have been blended, fold in the chocolate chips. Spray a 9 by13 pan and spread batter evenly in pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean when inserted.

Parsnip Muffins 2 ½ c flour 1 c sugar 1 t baking powder 1 t baking soda 1 t cinnamon ½ t nutmeg ¼ t salt ½ c raisins (optional) 3 eggs ½ c oil ½ c milk 2 c unpeeled, shredded parsnips (can use part carrots) ½ c unsweetened, shredded coconut Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients, first dry, then wet. Pour batter into muffin tins lined with paper muffin tin liners or spray with cooking oil. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Enjoy warm or cooled. 51

Easiest Marmalade

Recipe submitted by

3 lb mixed citrus (orange, grapefruit, tangerine, meyer lemon) ½ lb eureka lemons 3 c water 4 c sugar optional flavorings: honey, chamomile or earl grey tea, Cointreau . . .

Supplies: potato peeler, sharp knife, non-reactive pan, candy thermometer (if you don’t have a candy thermometer, put a small plate in the freezer before you start —you will use this to check if your marmalade is done).

Makes 5 ½ pint jars. Clean the fruit well in cold water. Peel the zest from the fruit in wide strips using a potato peeler. Try to just peel off the colored zest and avoid the bitter white pith. Chop the zest cross-wise into strips about ⅛ inch wide by ¾ inch high, or chop the zest into a little dice. This zest is going to add texture to your marmalade, so if you don’t want big chunks of zest in your marmalade, chop the zest into small pieces. Set aside. Returning to the fruit, trim the remaining white pith from the fruit (a sharp knife is helpful here). Discard the pith. Chop the remaining fruit into ½ inch pieces. As you are chopping, discard any seeds or big pieces of pith you find. Combine the sliced zest, diced pulp, and water in a non-reactive pan, and boil gently for about 30 minutes, until the pieces of zest are cooked and soft. Mix the sugar with the cooked fruit and zest in the pan, and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the mixture over high-heat, stirring regularly. Cook until the mixture reaches gelling

temperature (220°) on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, drop a teaspoon of hot marmalade onto your cold plate, then put the plate back into the freezer for a minute. After a minute, push your finger against the edge of the drop on the plate. If the mixture wrinkles up a little like it has a “skin,” the marmalade is done. If not cook a minute or two longer and try the cold plate test again. Once the mixture has gelled, let it settle in the pan for about 5 minutes. During those 5 minutes, you can add optional flavorings. For example, you can stir in ¼ c of honey, or add 2 T of liquor, like Cointreau, or gently swirl a tea bag through the mixture to add a little extra flavor. Once the mixture has settled, ladle it into clean jars, and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy! *If you want the marmalade to be shelf-stable, you must follow detailed procedures for water-bath canning. Please check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation for more information. Also check out this helpful step-by-step guide

IN THE FIELD Apart from the risk of a late season cold spell, hanging around on the tree is the best way to store citrus for spring. Your farmer Cliff McFarlin’s Minneola Tangelos just keep getting sweeter the longer they hang on the tree. As you can see from this photo, the lower half of the tree is harvested first, and as the season passes, the field crew will go back through the rows with ladders to pick the fruit at the top of the tree. 52

Seasonal Update Spring 2014 53

to Get Ready Cooking


4 4 4

Check to find a delivery site near you.

Customize your produce delivery schedule and order 100% certified organic add-ons.

Abundant Harvest farmers pick to order each week. The produce is delivered to headquarters straight from the field and packed into a reusable crate. You pick up your fresh, seasonal, always organic, California-grown produce within days of harvest. 54

Seasonal Update Spring 2014


44444444444444444444 44444444444444444444 44444444444444444444 44444444444444444444 44444444444444444444 44444444444444444444


Farm Tours

for AHO subscribers

May 2014

Join our farm tours email list for details and annoucements

44444444444444444444 44444444444444444444 44444444444444444444 44444444444444444444 55

Photo by Jessica Lessard

The Abundant Harvest Organics Seasonal Update  

Abundant Harvest Organics connects California family farmers with folks across the state who love to cook and eat fresh, seasonal organic pr...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you