Your Brain On Kale

kaleWe were more than a little discombobulated unloading the truck yesterday in Verona. We couldn’t seem to remember which greens were which, or figure out what ordered they belonged in on the tables. Very odd. This was Week 21, after all, and we ought to have the CSA distribution down to a science.

And then someone figured out what the problem was: no kale. “We can’t function without it,” somebody quipped.

Yes, 2009 has been The Year of Kale. The software behind the “What we’re writing about” box to the left of this page renders the blog’s most frequent post tags in the largest type, and the largest of the large is … drumroll, please …. kale. For those of you keeping score, we have had kale–WhiteRussian, Red, Curly, Siberian or Lacinato–in weeks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20.

And yes, there does seem to be a connection between kale and cognitive function. Take a look at this article (headline: “Brain Food”) from Rodale’s Men’s Health magazine.

The last distribution for Upper Meadows’ 2009 CSA is just days away. I’ve got some kale stockpiled in the freezer, but not nearly enough for the winter. So I guess the bottom line is this: Don’t ask me to do any serious thinking until next spring.

George Washington’s Kale

George Washington KaleAfter months of waiting, I finally got White House tour tickets for my family. So last Thursday we headed to DC for a long weekend and, while the rest of the Verona CSA group was at pick-up, we were at Mount Vernon, looking at George Washington’s kale. We were also looking at the founding father’s walnuts but I thought that would push the bounds of good taste in a headline.

Mount Vernon could be held up as a model organic farm, except that, in the mid-1700s, that was really the only kind of farming around. No synthetic pesticides to run off into the picturesque Potomac below, no fungicides on the fruit trees. Of course, Washington’s success as a farmer–he had 8,000 acres and was highly successful–was due in no small part to the fact that he was also a major slave owner. He freed his slaves only upon his death.

George Washington SquashMount Vernon today is a fraction of its old size, but several colonial-era farming practices are still in evidence. There was a deep, straw-lined manure pit next to the stables, much to the dismay of a group of visiting teenagers. And yes, I did try to explain why that was a good idea until my older son rolled his eyes and moaned “Mommmmm”. There were also several beautifully maintained garden plots, with rows of lacinato kale, cardoons, and several kinds of winter squash and cabbage.

None of which, alas, was for sale in the gift shop. But I did pocket a walnut or two.

Verona CSA member teaches organic gardening in Newark

I’ve said before that I love it when our CSA members have their own gardens at home. Noreen Connolly, a member of our Verona CSA, took things one step farther this spring, planting a big garden at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, where she is a teacher. St. Benedict’s, for those of you who don’t know it, is an all-boy Catholic school that offers a solid education to disadvantaged kids in Newark and the surrounding towns.

Noreen’s project, which was a partnership with a Newark’s Brick City Urban Farms, got a big write-up in the Star Ledger in late June that I am just now catching up to (that’s Noreen in purple in the top photo). Her goal is to teach both farming and nutrition, and it sounds from the story as if she is succeeding at both.  Give the story a read and give Noreen a hearty congratulations when you see her at distribution.

Can’t Make Distribution? Please Let Us Know

RedPhoneWe’d like to take a moment to thank you all for joining us this season. Things in the field are looking awesome, and it’s been great meeting and feeding all of you. We hope you are enjoying all of your food! We welcome your feedback! It’s time for us to remind you about some important details that, when attended to, help keep everything running smoothly.  Please take the time and read the following very important information:

Distribution Times: To keep administrative costs at a minimum, we must adhere to our delivery schedule for shares. Therefore we need all members to fit time into your schedules and pick up during the designated distribution hours. Please find a list of distribution times and contact information below.

Advance Notice for Changes to Pick-Up: We are always willing to accommodate your needs as long as we have sufficient time to alter our harvest. To ensure that we have enough food for everyone every week, we require 48 hours notice if you are unable to pick up your share. If you can not notify us 48 hours in advance of your scheduled pick up, we cannot guarantee that there will be a share available for you.

Volunteer Time: Our CSA members have logged almost 300 hours of volunteer time so far this season and have helped us plant a half ton of potatoes, weed your fields, pick berries, and help all of you get your share at distribution. If you have yet to schedule your volunteer time, please take a moment to do so now. On farm volunteering can be scheduled through Megan by e-mail. megan@uppermeadowsfarm.com. Scheduling volunteer hours at your distribution can be completed through the links below.

We custom harvest for each of you at every distribution.  Please keep in mind that communicating your needs in advance helps us all have a more abundant season!

VOLUNTEER INFO

ASHLEY FARM: Please contact Jeff.
ON-FARM PICK-UP: Please use our online sign-up sheet here.
VERONA: Please use our online sign-up sheet here.
HELL’S KITCHEN: Please use our online sign-up sheet here.
SPARTA: Please use our online sign-up sheet here.
PARK SLOPE: Please contact Megan by e-mail.
JERSEY CITY: Please contact Megan by e-mail.

DISTRIBUTION DETAILS

VERONA
WHERE: Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit located at 36 Gould Street, Verona NJ 07044
WHEN: Sundays from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm
COORDINATOR: Virginia Citrano (Coordinator_Essex_UMF_CSA@uppermeadowsfarm.com)

ON-FARM (MONTAGUE)
WHERE: Upper Meadows Farm located at 12 Pollara Lane, Montague NJ 07827
WHEN: Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
COORDINATOR: Megan Moore ( megan@uppermeadowsfarm.com )

ASHLEY FARM (FLANDERS)
WHERE: Ashley Farm located at 25 Hillside Avenue, Flanders NJ
WHEN: Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
COORDINATOR: Jeff Perry ( Coordinator_Ashleyfarm_UMF_CSA@uppermeadowsfarm.com )

HELL’S KITCHEN (MANHATTAN)
WHERE: Manhattan Plaza Community Market located at W. 43rd Street between 9th and 10th
WHEN: Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
COORDINATOR: Megan Moore ( megan@uppermeadowsfarm.com )

SPARTA
WHERE: 205 Springbrook Trail in the Lake Mohawk section of Sparta NJ
WHEN: Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
COORDINATOR: Chris and Gabriella Arnold ( megan@uppermeadowsfarm.com )

Six Degrees Of Separation, CSA-Style

The C in CSA stands for community, and there was a lot of it at the second Verona distribution today. As we unloaded Leonard’s truck, and sorted and weighed and bagged, we discovered many, many connections between the members of our organic farm community. To wit:

  • Adrienne, who was our lead volunteer today, is good friends with a New Jersey vintner that I interviewed for a story last week;
  • Adrienne’s husband runs the library where Meg’s mother works;
  • Meg’s son and Amy’s daughter went all through elementary, middle and high school together, and their younger children are now together in school;
  • Amy’s son plays the tuba in the high school band with my nephew;
  • My dad and Amy’s dad were good friends at Lafayette College; and
  • Adrian, another new member, bought the house next door to Meg’s parents many years ago and his daughters played with Meg’s children when they were little.

I have known Meg for years, and I admit to having cajoled her and her family to join the CSA this year. But I never knew that there were any connections between her and the people I met in our new member meetings. And, amazingly, none of them knew that the other was planning on joining Upper Meadows Farm’s CSA until they all showed up in the parking lot.

Member Profile: Barbara Frish

Meet Barbara Frish, a new 2009 CSA member in Verona.4470_1074942794820_1263699978_30183381_8040899_s

Barbara is both a foodie and a photographer, and combines the two frequently by shooting food. Barbara documents her travels with photos of meals eaten and farmer’s market stalls. She even sent some of her foodie calendars out to the farm for us to hang in the office! Photography has been a hobby of hers since college, and she is now working at Livingston Camera in Livingston, NJ. Barbara is also a trained Natural Foods Chef. Her current food obsession: perfectly cooked over easy eggs over salad greens.

She came out to the farm this Monday to shoot some photos to share with our members.

All Photos Copyright Barbara Frish ⓒ 2009

Here are some of our favorites:

Miriam and Kobe

Miriam and Kobe

DSC_0152

Onions

Onions

Clover Blossoms

Clover Blossoms

Kale.

Kale.

Cabbage.

Cabbage.

Here’s to Bitter Greens!

This is Julie Parker. I’m a new CSA member, picking up at Upper Meadows’ Verona distribution site.

I’m really looking forward to these first distributions, expecting them to be packed with lots of healthy greens – those veggies we are so often told to eat but often don’t know what to do with!  For years, I avoided these items, thinking they would all end up like the mushy spinach I was served as a kid…no offense Mom!  Luckily, in college, I had the chance to live in a house with some VERY creative vegetarians, and though I am not a strict vegetarian now, they really broadened my horizons with these foods.

We often worked with Molly Katzen’s original “Moosewood Cookbook”, and I still LOVE her cookbooks.  Her “Still Life with Menu” (1988) includes a recipe for “Pasta with Greens & Feta.” This recipe is more like a guide since it’s designed to let you experiment with mixing and matching various bitter greens, just like the Upper Meadows Farm Kale & Dandelion Greens we’ll be receiving.  My family loves it with Kale!

If you don’t have Mollie’s cookbooks, you can find it through her web page.  Her web page also includes lots of other vegetarian recipes that won’t put off the meat-eaters in your families.  (Trust me – I live with two devoted carnivores for whom a meal without meat is like a day without sunshine 🙂 !)  You’ll also find lots of other fun resources for new ways to cook with vegetables.

Enjoy!