in work hours and other events. Many CSA farms offer annual get-togethers such as strawberry-picking festivals and canning lessons during the tomato bounty. Join a committee or the farm’s board - I’m involved in putting together Hamlet Organic Garden’s first cookbook. It has been a wonderful way to get to know my fellow CSA members and to learn more about the food that I pick up each week.
e flexible about what you eat. There are so many amazing cookbooks about vegetables that you should never run out of recipes and ideas (see the sidebar for some of my favorites.) Also, check out Homegrown.org, a website run by FarmAid that offers a “CSA Cookoff” section that is full of inspiration. And if all else fails, you can roast almost anything. When you’re overwhelmed with veggies - freeze them! Blanch and freeze green beans, sugar snap peas and asparagus. Freeze unwashed berries on cookie sheets and then store them in plastic bags for smoothies in the dark days of winter. Chop up herbs and freeze them in ice cube trays for a fresh addition to soups and sauces. And embrace the everything-but-the-kitchen sink salad. It’s amazing what you can use up in one quick lunch or dinner. Finally - accept imperfections. Organic corn is often wormy - cut off the top and eat it anyway. If you have odd-sized pieces, grill it, shave it off the cob, and make a corn salad. You may find a bug or two in your lettuce; they can be rinsed away. Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables from an organic farm are imperfect and infinitely more delicious than anything you can buy in a grocery store.
Honest to Goodness
fter I finished my conversation with McFadden, I kept thinking about a term he used: “Food Patriotism.” He believes that being a member of a CSA is a way to make your city, state and country a better place. It makes you a better steward of the land, and a better member of your community. I agree and would add that I am healthier, and happier because I share in the experience of growing the food that I eat. I find it more satisfying to cook what I receive from the farm, I enjoy my visits with our farmers and my fellow members. I like to walk through the fields to gather flowers and herbs. It makes me feel more in touch with nature, with the seasons, and with my own body. Farming is hard work, and I have greater respect for the growing process after seeing the farmers at Hamlet Organic Garden work, day in and day out, to provide their members with delicious and unique fruits and vegetables. My back ached after a day spent folded over potato plants scouting for beetles. But I slept well that night, and I’m ready to do it all over again.
Come back for our four-part series on a year in the life of Hamlet Organic Garden. We start in our January/February issue with Winter at the farm!