Life & Health Journey: Kohlrabi, Corn, Collards, Kale…. And Gold Beets

“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.” – Wendell Berry

Swiss chard. CB/DMP


Times, they are a-changing. You may be surprised, but healthcare professionals in medical offices and at doctor offices can be good resources for great local food, places to eat, things to do; simply ask for opinions and recommendations. By listening, have learned about Meet Me Here (great name!) Restaurant and Bar in Middlebury – known for for its “culinary excellence and inspired dishes” – desserts are all from scratch – but the raves heard were about the chef using locally sourced food and ingredients and that it’s (maybe) going to expand.

Dessert first? Perhaps. One selection from Meet Me Here, linked to menu.

Goat yoga – no kidding – that is so popular a class (cash only, $25) that it is helping a small farm grow. A “secret” source for the reputedly best sweet corn in the state. Information swapped included great farmers markets across Connecticut (there are three favorites because of the mix of vendors, management, locations) plus personal views of some of the top quality vendors – and why. That a CSA is a tasty learning experience in the seasons of foods, local crops.

A July 10 full share CSA by Killam & Bassette Farmstead 2015. (Yellow day lilies added.)

That’s CSA as in community supported agriculture – people sign up to purchase a share from a grower – then get local, seasonal food directly from a local producer.

Popular CSA farm shares go fast; sign up early and ask about the details as each farm or producer differs. Ask at your local market, or sample several farm markets, look around, learn about good CSAs – and then the over-the-top ones. LocalHarvest.org offers a comprehensive directory of CSAs, with more than 4,000 listed in their online database – search to find growers near you by category or listings. Killam & Bassette Farmstead in South Glastonbury is an 85-acre farm that raises fresh, quality produce and homemade jams made only from the produce on the farm. Free-range eggs, other products too. Here’s a sampling of the first few weeks of a CSA (previous year), delivered to market each week for pick up in a sturdy tote – filled to the brim and sometimes extra on the side. You’ll need both arms to carry it all home. (Tip: If a full share is too much, adjust to a half. Ask for recipes, tips, ideas.)

Week one: A sturdy resizable orange bag with logo, full. Four tender zukes, a jar of strawberry jam, fistful of radishes, bok choy, chives, red lettuce; kale, carton of free-range eggs. What was recently growing in the fertile loam of South Glastonbury quickly becomes an evening meal for a family.

Zukes are buttery tender and perfect plain and steamed. A dab of fresh creamery butter is gilding the lily – in my opinion. Use any leftovers for adding to scrambled eggs, fresh cheese. A crunch of toasted good bread on the side? Perfect.

Colorful, rich in vitamins, grown by Killam & Bassette, part of week two CSA.

Kohlrabi was something new, but became a favorite. Part of a CSA share grown by Killam & Bassette.

Week two: Red-veined Swiss chard, simply beautiful (and delicious). Packed with vitamins collard greens. Deep green kale, which now is a favorite. Alien-looking kohlrabi, delicious. Bunch of beets (my mother would say “builds the blood”- whatever that means); radishes, with that peppery bite. Four young yellow squash; four young zucchini. Dozen of brown eggs in a carton. Four scalloped-edge yellow Pattypan squash.

The season unfolds – berries, nectarines, peaches, apples. Wax beans, green beans. Soon, a bounty of sweet corn grown within 30 minutes of the stove on which it will be briefly cooked. What a delicious education.

Each week fresh from the farm goods arrive to challenge and delight, a window into what is growing at the farm. Bok choy and deep green kale mingle with more familiar favorites. Of course, weather conditions are a factor in growing, so the selections may vary at times – that’s life on a farm.

Sweet, ripe cherries.

Mid-July: Broccoli, 13 butter-and-sugar corn; bunch of red beets, green beans, cukes, four yellow squash, four zucchini. Head of Romaine lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, kale.

The challenge is to taste; find ways to let the flavor emerge, transfer the glowing health of these crops to fuel this journey into summer.
The fruits and vegetables you may not normally try will surprise and delight – and teach young children new tastes and words along the way.

Yellow beets were something new, and now are another favorite – properly called “gold” beets. See this listing for all sorts of vegetables you may have never realized were out there. There is a notable difference in quality and taste with food this fresh, grown with care. Another option is to consult CT NOFA, which offers member CSAs listed by county. The Farm Fresh directory online offers search listings by Zip code, product desired, other parameters.

Free-range eggs too – this is another week of one CSA share.

Now, the K&B summer CSA is sold out. But they are accepting applications; email kbfarmstead@gmail.com to be placed on a contact list for next year’s summer CSA and ask about their other programs. Their farmstand is open year round.

Deep green kale, bok choy, earthy radishes. K&B Farmstand CSA, week one.

Deep green kale, crisp stalks of bok choy, earthy radishes. CSA, week one.

“With all the research we have made there still remain many mysteries, not beyond explanation but which have not yet been explained or understood. …Whether we fail or not, we shall not be kept from continuing our mission by those who claim it can’t be done. … Indeed the whole of agricultural and livestock science and even human medicine, if sound, is merely the business of discovering certain natural patterns already in existence, putting together the various pieces and discovering their relationship to the whole universe; indeed such a process is science itself.”

– Louis Bromfield

Ripe peach, radishes, corn, more – mid summer CSA sample – there’s much more.

Bonus: The trimmings, stems, etc. go into a compost pile, along with egg shells to be turned over and under; when black rich soil again, added to the main garden, side dressing for herbs and choice flowering plants. If you have chickens, offer the leftovers to them. A rabbit will also delight in the deep green stalks, outer leaves, peelings. Feed the earth well and you feed yourself.

One more tip: The science that can help any who will read and follow methods to lessen ticks in a yard and environment can be found online as a PDF booklet by Dr. Kirby Stafford of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station – here is the link. Because one tick attached to you or a family member or friend can change everything about life and health.

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