Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Meet the Nash Family!

By Chef/Farmer Andrea

From left to right: Rohan, Dina, Griffin,
Caden, and Corey Nash
This week I’m excited to introduce you to one of our awesome CSA families.  Meet Corey & Dina Nash along with their sons Griffin, Caden and Rohan.  Corey and Dina joined our CSA when Griffin, now in 8th grade, was only 2 years old.  Shortly after becoming part of our CSA family, their family grew to include Caden and Rohan who are now in the 6th grade.  Over the years the Nash family has made it a priority to include a visit to Harmony Valley Farm for a farm event nearly every year.  They’ve made the effort to connect with their farm, not just the place but also the people.  Over the years we’ve enjoyed watching their children grow and change and every year we learn a little more about each person in their family as we catch up on the past year while sipping iced maple lattes or standing in the pumpkin field enjoying another Fall Harvest Party.  We look for their names on the RSVP list and are always happy to see them walking up the drive way, smiles on their faces and ready for another day of adventure at the farm.  We look forward to talking to Griffin, Caden and Rohan, three very articulate young men who are a pleasure to converse with.  One of the great joys we have in our work is getting to know the people who eat the food we work hard to grow.  CSA is a lot of work for a farm to pull off, and it requires some additional effort from the members as well.  Is the extra effort worth it?  From our perspectives it is a definite “Yes!”  If you were to ask any member of the Nash family the same question, I think they’d echo the same.  This past June I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the Nash family after our Strawberry Day party.  I wanted to know more about their decision to make CSA a priority for their family, why CSA is important to them, how they make it work for their household, and the benefits they reap from being CSA members with our farm.  I learned a lot from them and am excited to share some of their thoughts and insights.

The young Nash boys enjoying tomatoes from their garden!
While they now live in Minneapolis, Dina & Corey Nash grew up in rural Minnesota where they had access to fresh vegetables.  When it came time to feed their own family, they knew fresh food needed to be a priority.  Recognizing fresh vegetables contain valuable nutrients, they asked themselves “what can we do to maintain the nutrient value of our food?”  One obvious answer was to reduce the carbon footprint their food left due to travel and source their food from as close to its origin as possible.  They also wanted to support local, smaller farms to help keep them in business while reaping the taste and flavor benefits reminiscent of the homegrown vegetables they grew up eating.  They decided to join a CSA for all these reasons as well as seeking to build a connection with the place and people who were growing their food.

Griffin, munching on a garlic scape in the field. 
HVF Strawberry Day 2019
If you spend a little time with the Nash family, you’ll quickly realize they are a family of very willing and adventurous eaters.  No, they may not “love” every food, but they keep an open mind and have a willingness to try new things.  We’ve watched Griffin, Caden and Rohan munch on freshly dug carrots in the field.  I’ve helped them cut their own head of celery, taught them how to pick kale, and they are now old enough that they even do some of their own self-guided field tours when they come to the farm.  This fall they returned from a little side excursion to a nearby field munching on leaves of spicy mustard greens they had just picked!  But wait, kids aren’t supposed to like and eat vegetables!  That’s the difference and these kids debunk that myth!  The Nash boys have been exposed to a wide variety of flavors and foods from a very early age.  I asked Corey and Dina how they managed to pull this off.  For starters, set a good example.  “They’ll do what you model, not what you tell them to do.”  They also have a “One Bite” house rule which says that you have to at least taste something once.  Why is this important?  Dina shared that she believes tasting new things is so important to training tastes as children grow and develop.  There aren’t any food battles at the table because the kids know what vegetables taste like and there is no cover up mission underway to get the kids to eat them.  Cheese sauce is a treat to complement the flavor of vegetables as opposed to trying to cover them up.  No trickery involved, they really enjoy the taste of vegetables!  Dina also commented that they have tried to capture the real taste of food for their children in the early years as opposed to skewing their taste buds with artificial flavors.  In fact, their kids don’t’ care to eat at McDonalds or other fast food places because in their opinion, the food has too much salt and sugar and doesn’t taste good to them.  When I asked the boys about this, Griffin’s response was “That’s what happens when you know what good food is!”

Strawberry-stained hands of the Nash family
at HVF Strawberry Day! 
Another thing Dina and Corey have been intentional about is creating an awareness for their children of their own bodies and the way food makes them feel.  When they eat healthy food, such as vegetables from their CSA box, they stay healthy and have both physical energy and mental stamina.  They are able to excel in their school work and still have energy to participate in activities after school!  They have tried to teach them to make better choices on their own by pausing to think about the positive and negative consequences of their choices.  During this part of our conversation, Caden chimed in to add “Sometimes I think, ‘Yes, I want to eat that,’ but then I ask myself, ‘do I REALLY want it?’”

So how do Corey, Dina and their sons make CSA work for their household?  For starters, they take advantage of the weekend to wash, cut and prepare the vegetables from their box so they are either ready to eat or ready to use in meals throughout the week.  Dina and Corey also make use of the weekly “What’s In the Box” email and newsletter.  They try to read through the information in the newsletter before they pick up the box as this helps them start planning what they want to do with that week’s box contents.  They have also found our private Facebook Group to be a safe and approachable place to go for help with finding uses for unusual vegetables.  They describe it as a great place to ask questions, as there is probably someone else out there who has the same question!

Captain Jack, happy to spend quality time with the Nash boys!
Now that we’ve talked about some of their food choice tactics and philosophy, lets come back to where we started—visiting the farm.  If Dina and Corey had not made it a priority to come to the farm, we may have missed out on the opportunity to get to know this family.  From their perspective, there are many reasons to make the effort to come to the farm.  First, the kids love being able to eat out of the field which has helped build their excitement for learning where their food is grown.  They have fond memories of picking their own vegetables, digging carrots and picking pumpkins.  They also enjoy the fun games, spending time with Captain Jack the Dog, and being out in nature.  Richard had the opportunity to spend some time talking to Caden at our Harvest Party last year (fall 2018).  As he was getting ready to leave he thanked Richard sincerely for the opportunity to visit and expressed that the day “put him in a zone,” a good zone that he needed.  In touch with the fields of vegetables, the sky, the trees, a good “zone” to be in.  This may seem like a simple statement, but it was a golden moment for Richard who wishes every CSA kid in our membership would have the chance to come to the farm, play in the dirt, eat & pick vegetables right out of the field and have the opportunity to experience the beauty of being in nature.

Dina Nash and her boys,
all smiles after a day at the farm!
We look forward to continuing to be a part of Dina, Corey, Griffin, Caden and Rohan’s lives.  We appreciate our connection to their family as well as the many other families we have formed connections with through CSA.  We applaud the parents who have made the decision to make CSA and organic vegetables a priority for their families.  We appreciate the individuals who have chosen to make that 2-3 hour drive to the farm so they can see and experience the farm for themselves.  I am admittedly jealous of Griffin, Caden and Rohan as well as all of the other kids who get to grow up as “CSA kids.”  I think Dina and Corey hit the nail on their head when they commented “You have to slow down and make the investment.  That’s what CSA is, it’s worth it for healthy kids who are productive and articulate.”  We’re willing to make the investment and we hope more individuals and families will choose to do the same!

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