Being a Locavore in 2018

As we enjoy yet another snowstorm this winter of 2018, thoughts of Spring are starting to sneak into my mind.  It started when I noticed it was still light outside as I started dinner the other night, and then I noticed that the sun was up when the alarm went off this morning.

I must admit I like winter. I am an active hibernater. I like dressing in cozy layers, soft sweaters and wide wale corduroys. I like how clean everything on the farm looks when it is blanketed in a layer of pristine white snow and I just love the hearty stews, soups and roasts centered on the hearty root vegetables and brassicas available to us locavores.

Being a locavore – someone who eats what is locally grown and in season — is mandatory for us.  As owners of Yellow Stonehouse Farm, John and I must “walk the talk”.  After all – we expect our CSA members to eat what we grow when it’s harvested, or in the case of our Winter Share, when we distribute from winter storage. So of course, we do the same. Thankfully, it’s a pleasure because these vegetables are the basis for the warm and comforting dishes we love to eat when its’ cold and blustery outside.  As I write this, I have a delicious stew of veal, onions and carrots simmering away for dinner tonight.

I enjoy knowing we are eating vegetables that are grown locally, organically and are good for us because these are the vegetables that are meant to sustain us during the cold times – as our ancestors did back before commercial growers starting shipping vegetables around the globe.  I think it’s healthier to eat what’s available to us based on the calendar – during winter, we eat carrots and potatoes, turnips and Brussel sprouts which contain the nutrients we need now to stay healthy.

Eating healthy foods, specifically vegetables, is one way to maintain our health and well-being.  Processed food have so many chemicals, additives, salt and sugar that they aren’t healthy for us. We’re not vegetarians but we eat lots of fresh produce and strive to make sure that at least two thirds of every plate are vegetables or fruit.  How?  Well, by adding vegetables to sandwiches, eggs and other dishes, and it’s easy to cook extra’s to add cold later to a salad.  I also harvest and dry herbs to make herb mixtures to add to recipes and even a healthy salt free salad dressing mix for homemade salad dressings.  All of these spice mixes and salad dressing mixes are offered to our CSA members so they can experiment as well.

Sharing recipes and ideas on how to cook the many vegetables we offer CSA members is an integral part of what we do at Yellow Stonehouse Farm.  We know many of our members aren’t familiar with some of our produce, so we provide them the help they need to take full delicious advantage of their farm-share.

But still, we entertain ourselves with thoughts of Spring and what we are going to grow next season. Reading seed catalogs is fun – we peruse seed catalogs and learn about new varieties of vegetables to offer our 2018 CSA members.  We look for new varieties that offer different colors and tastes as well as new hybrids that are bred to be more drought pest, and disease resistant – so that we can continue our organic practices of avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides and continue to offer the highest quality organic fruits and vegetables to our CSA members.  Just a reminder – membership applications for Yellow Stonehouse Farm’s CSA 2018 Summer share are now available.

Thanksgiving Thoughts & Thanks

Farming Matters Blog                                                               November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving thoughts & thanks from the farm

John and I just finished distributing this year’s Thanksgiving Feast.  It’s such fun to hand out tons of produce and watch a member’s face light up she sees her favorite squash or root vegetable in the bins.  This year we were very fortunate to be able to provide 18 different items – everything from acorn squash, apples, yellow & boiling onions (gotta love those creamed onions), HUGE butternut squash, Brussel’s sprouts, carrots, cranberries, garlic, horseradish, parsnips, shallots, sweet potatoes and turnips!

We also sold Thanksgiving feast baskets to a few new farm friends – who seemed very happy with their basket’s variety & amount of vegetables as well as the special touches like YSF’s special Thanksgiving book of twelve recipes, YSF’s custom poultry seasoning, and the heirloom Howe’s cranberries.

Here’s a picture of the basket we gave out.

`single-thanksgiving-feast-basket-2016

We have a lot to be thankful for at the Yellow Stonehouse farm: 

  • We are thankful to farm beautiful, fertile land blessed with abundant water. We are thankful we could successfully sow & reap an abundance of vegetables this summer despite the drought.
  • We are thankful that John’s family were such great stewards of the farm. They made sure the farm continued as an agricultural enterprise and not developed, a practice we are privileged to continue today.
  • We are thankful for the children who come to the farm – it is a delight to positively impact the next generation. We love the adorable antics of babies & children, which is surely helping to keep us young.
  • We are thankful to have settled full-time on the farm – where we are engaged & productive; continuously learning new things while giving back to our community – all things that give meaning to our lives.
  • We are thankful to have so many wonderful members of the farm, who share their pleasure in the farm with us and make our work so rewarding. Your membership is what makes this all work.

Happy Thanksgiving to all from your organic farm & CSA – Yellow Stonehouse Farm and your farmers – John & Connie

The Lovely Month of June

strawberries in spring

June is when I celebrate my birthday and also when Summer starts – so of course, June is a favorite month of mine!  You can’t blame me – there are the fabulous flowers of June: irises (my favorite!), peonies, roses and wisteria (which unfortunately didn’t bloom well this year due to that nasty freeze in March); Spring fruits: strawberries and rhubarb for sauces and pies (which can replace birthday cake anytime for me); and the first luscious vegetables: asparagus, tender lettuces, sweet peas and the mint the flourishes at just the right time, along with the spicy radishes that add a special crunch to salads.

For our CSA members in June, we also grow bok choi aka Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, Spring turnips, kohlrabi (which didn’t make it due to a great wave of flea beetles, we think because of the warm winter), kale, mizuna and Spring raab (bitter greens that are so good for us), Swiss chard, and tatsoi – a type of oriental spinach.

What’s interesting to me, is most of these vegetables are packed with nutrients we all need to stay healthy.  Take rhubarb, for instance – did you know that it’s been used medicinally for thousands of years?  Folklore credits Benjamin Franklin for first importing rhubarb to America in the 1700’s, but it originated in Asia over 5000 years ago.  Its’ roots and rhizomes were used in Chinese medicine to treat everything from liver complaints to senility.  More recently, rhubarb’s beneficial qualities have been validated by modern science who’ve found a slew of compounds that may prevent and fight cancer & senility, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, vitamins such as C, K, and B-complex plus the minerals calcium, potassium and manganese.

ysf rhubarb in spring

This brings me to an idea that at first may not seem appetizing – food as medicine!  My herbalism teacher Jade Alicandro Mace, of Milk & Honey Herbs, recently introduced me to the concept that what we eat not only provides us our day to day sustenance, but can also actively support our good health.  I am so enthusiastic about this idea.  In future columns, I plan to start introducing some of the power house vegetables that we can all eat to protect and improve our health!

We still have a couple EOW shares available for a couple of pick-up days even though the season has started!  Please call us or stop by the farm Tuesday through Saturday.