Thursday, February 18, 2021

Efficiency Versus Resilience

By Andrea Yoder

Beautiful produce displayed by one of our
Twin Cities Food Co-Op retail partners
If you have ever doubted the impact your personal purchasing and lifestyle choices may have on the environment, society, economics, the supply chain or our food system, stop and consider the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had.  As we come up on nearly a year since COVID-19 fully infiltrated our reality, we now have the ability to reflect on what has happened and glean valuable insights that can more carefully steer our individual and collective ships into the future.  The Washington Post published an article earlier this month entitled “The Efficiency Curse” written by Michael Pollan who opened with this statement:  “The first teachable moment of the pandemic, for me, was the supply chain.”  When shelter at home orders went into effect, the market place changed, literally overnight.  Consumers made immediate and drastic changes to their behaviors.  No more eating at restaurants, no more going to work or school, less frequent shopping trips, nearly all meals at home and more food preparation happening in home kitchens.  Shelves became barren with shortages of food, cleaning supplies, and of course…toilet paper.  While hoarding may have been happening in some cases, it didn’t account for the entirety of the shortages.  And while one segment of the market couldn’t keep product on the shelves, another segment of the market now had surplus.  What was happening to our supply chain?

Tomatoes & Tomatillos, just two of over 80 
different crops grown on our farm!
Pollan’s observation was this:  “In times of crisis, resilience counts for more than efficiency.”  Suppliers to the industrialized, institutional food chain were dumping food, while the other side of the food chain saw shortages.  It was hard to watch the news stories of farmers dumping milk and burying vegetables in the field when their markets literally dropped out from under them.  Perishable foods that normally would’ve been funneled into the industrial, institutional food system to be turned into products such as onion rings and French fries to be served in restaurants, schools, event venues, etc no longer had a home and a quick pivot to handle this large excess wasn’t available or possible for many farmers and producers within the context of the “hyperspecialized system” that was created for these products.  The system is efficient when it’s working—production of larger quantities of one item with larger quantities per delivery to larger accounts means lower prices and greater efficiency.  However, Pollan’s observation was the overriding reality, “When the coronavirus came, we realized the system was fragile, rigid and therefore vulnerable.”

Rafael changing the plates on the vacuum seeder
to adjust to different sizes of vegetable seeds

It is one thing to go without a cleaning supply or your favorite brand of toilet paper, but when a basic human necessity for survival, food, disappears from the shelves it can be more than unnerving.  In the midst of a fracturing and collapsing industrial food system, the demand for local food increased across the country.  Consumers stopped looking to the system that was failing and they started finding ways to source their food that were more direct and closer to home.  All of those sayings that have been adorning bumper stickers started to have true meaning.  “Know your farmer, Know your food…..”  The strength of a local food system is not always efficiency, but as Pollan identifies—it’s resilience.

Manuel & Juan Pablo planting salad mix,
baby spinach & arugula in early April 

There may be many farmers in the world who would look at our field plans, shake their heads and call us simply crazy for growing more than 80 different crops!  But there’s a reason we do this and that reason is diversity.  First of all, we value CSA and in order to feed the same group of people for 30 weeks out of the year, we need more than 5-10 crops!  But beyond that, diversity within our business has always allowed us to have some flexibility and a bit of built in resilience.  Even in the most successful growing season, we are going to experience crop losses.  If we play our cards right, we can absorb the losses with the success of other crops, or at the very least have enough wins over the course of the entire season to stay in the game.  Pollan’s insight into diversity is spot on.  “There is a price to diversity, but it creates a cushion that can be very important in times of crisis.”

1.5 acre potato field with 9 different varieties!
We too strive for efficiency and work hard to find it anywhere we can.  We do need to remain profitable and so we need to be cognizant of our resources and find ways to use them efficiently.  We mechanize where we can, find more efficient ways to manage weeds, maximize nutrient inputs to produce healthier crops that will yield better, and review our processes frequently to make our day to day work as efficient as possible making the most of every hour of our days.  But when you grow over 80 different crops, everything isn’t going to always be efficient.  We have to get the potato planter out, grease it, set it up and maintain it so we can use it one time every year to plant about 1.5 acres of potatoes.  This is like one loop around the sandbox for the big boys who are planting hundreds or maybe even thousands of acres of potatoes!

Green bean harvest....use both hands!
What about green beans?  Wouldn’t it be easier to pick those with a machine?  Maybe, but green beans only represent about 2% at most of our overall acreage and we know that we’ll break a lot of beans if we pick by machine.  We’ll also lose some that will fall on the ground and get missed.  If we were sending them to a cannery or processing facility, we really wouldn’t worry too much about a few broken beans.  In fact, we’d grow a tougher variety that could take a little rougher handling.  But that’s not our end market and so we pick them by hand.  Efficient?  We try to be, but we know beans aren’t one of our most profitable crops due to the high labor cost.  We do however make a few friends in our CSA membership with those who appreciate having a flavorful, tender bean and we’ll consider that our payment for the sacrifice of efficiency because we know that these are the people who will stick with us when we face challenges and crises.  Monocultures invite vulnerability, whether that is a monoculture in a field, a feedlot, or a business.

Irrigation sprinklers watering a field to
germinate freshly planted seeds in a drought year
Over the years we’ve had to learn to pivot and be resilient in many different circumstances.  This pandemic is not the first challenge or crisis we’ve had to deal with.  We’ve had to adapt and respond to weather, shifts in the marketplace, changes in the economy, and fluctuations in our membership, etc.  We have been trying to find ways to be more resilient in our business long before the pandemic set in.  Most of our pre-pandemic thoughts around this issue have been related to climate change and our increasingly more erratic weather patterns.  We have tried to find ways to mitigate our risks and losses through strategies such as succession planting, planting a variety of crops, planting in different locations, and devising creative strategies for farming that will help us be more resilient when faced with challenges that impact our crops.  This is also why we have diversified our business and grow for both CSA as well as to supply wholesale and retail accounts.  Over the years we’ve been able to flex up on sales to one area when sales are lacking in another.  So when the phone started ringing and the CSA orders started rolling in last March and April, we didn’t have to turn anyone away until very late in the season. We simply changed our planting plans, redirected our resources and shifted to match the demand so we could maximize our capacity to feed people through our CSA program.  In the end, our ability to be resilient because of the diversity within our operation actually did help us realize greater efficiency!  The overhead to facilitate a CSA program was now spread out over more shares.  Our trucks were full, our time invested in harvesting, preparing and packing CSA vegetables was more efficient as well.

Gratitude for our front-line crew members!
In many ways the pandemic has forced us as a society to be more conscious and mindful about where our food is coming from and what it takes to get it to our plates.  It has also shed light on those individuals who previously have been overlooked in the shadows of our food system, “…the essential and front-line workers many of us never noticed before but whose well-being can no longer be separated from our own.  It turns out we’re all in this leaky boat together, so, like it or not, we’d better start building systems and supply chains resilient enough to withstand the shocks to come.”

Please don’t ever underestimate the power you as an individual have to impact society, the economy, the environment, your community, and our food system simply with the day to day choices you make.  You can, and do, make a difference.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Community, Communication and the Wisdom of Trees

By:  Andrea Yoder


A frosty January sunrise over the farm
We have always been intrigued by the intricate design of the natural world around us, whether it be the short-lived sunrise or sunset, a clear sky filled with bright stars, or the peace we feel after a soft, gentle snowfall.  The natural world surrounds us with awe, wonder and mystery every day.  Recently we read an intriguing New York Times article entitled
“The Social Life Of Forests” by Ferris Jabr.  The article focused on the work of Suzanne Simrad, a professor of forestry at the University of British Columbia.  Simrad has focused her career on exploring the ways trees communicate and interact with each other and their surroundings.  She has spent much of her life studying trees in the old growth forests of Canada, including her childhood days playing and exploring the forests where her grandfather and uncles used horses to log the forests with low impact methods.  In May of this year, Simrad’s memoir entitled “Finding the Mother Tree” will be released.  This book chronicles her life’s work proving that “the forest was more than just a collection of trees.”  I am anxiously awaiting the release of her memoir, but my interest has been piqued and I wanted to share a little glimpse of Simrad’s work with you.  Perhaps this topic is of interest to you as well, and if it is, I encourage you to check out some of the resources at the end of this article.

A hillside forest provides the backdrop 
for fields of sunchokes in bloom
While our attention is on vegetables growing in our fields for most of the year, we acknowledge the fact that trees are an integral part of our valley landscape and ecosystem.  For much of the year, they provide a quiet backdrop for our activities and we really don’t pay much attention to them.  They quietly exist and are, for the most part, self-sufficient.  Several times a year their appearance changes, which catches our attention for a moment.  In the spring we notice when the brown, skeletal hillsides start to take on a green hue as the trees start to push out buds, then leaves, until finally the canopy of the forest has fully opened.  In the fall we notice once again as their leaves start to lose their green and turn to shades of red, yellow and orange, marking the transition into a new season.  
And finally, the trees release and drop their leaves, opening up our view of the forest and giving our wooded hillsides a whole new look while the green of the valley fades to exist only in the evergreen pines.  Perhaps we notice trees more this time of year because they are more prominent on our landscape that is otherwise white.  Or perhaps it is simply because we lift our eyes from the ground and look up long enough to see the trees.  How often do you take advantage of the opportunity to lift your eyes to notice the trees in your surroundings?  Upon first appearance trees appear to be solitary in their existence.  Occasionally their branches may become entangled or vines may grow around them, but otherwise they appear to stand on their own.  But Simrad will quickly point out that a forest is much more than just a collection of solitary trees.  A forest is actually a living, breathing community of trees, plants and lifeforms that is intricately connected by a vast network of underground fungi called mycorrhizae  In Jabr’s article he writes:  
A ghost plant growing from the rich forest 
floor near a fallen tree

“Before Simard and other ecologists revealed the extent and significance of mycorrhizal networks, foresters typically regarded trees as solitary individuals that competed for space and resources and were otherwise indifferent to one another.  Simard and her peers have demonstrated that this framework is far too simplistic.  An old-growth forest is neither an assemblage of stoic organisms tolerating one another’s presence nor a merciless battle royale:  It’s a vast, ancient and intricate society.  There is conflict in a forest, but there is also negotiation, reciprocity and perhaps even selflessness.  The trees, understory plants, fungi and microbes in a forest are so thoroughly connected, communicative and codependent that some scientists have described them as superorganisms.”

Laetiporus Sulphureus Mushrooms 
growing on a log amongst other understory plants
Simrad, along with her colleagues and other foresters, have found that individual trees are connected within a forest through this mycorrhizal system that intertwines itself on the roots of trees and plants.  This is a symbiotic relationship where the mycorrhizae feed on the sugars produced in the process of photosynthesis by the trees.  In exchange, the mycorrhizae have the ability to scavenge nutrients and transfer them to the tree roots while also forming an intricate system to connect trees and plants in an area.  They have found that this underground fungal system allows trees to “communicate” with each other.  Now, tree “talk” is not the same as human communication, so you have to look at tree talk from the perspective of a tree.  Trees communicate using chemical, hormonal and electrical signals—in a sense they speak a language all their own which means we as humans have to try to interpret what they are “saying” and most of the time we don’t even realize what’s happening.  They communicate through their root system which is directly tapped into the mycorrhizae, but also in the air using pheromones and other scent signals.

Trees line the river winding through our valley
When the vast mycorrhizal system is present, trees are able to translocate nutrients and water from one tree to others all across the forest.  Remember, trees cannot get up and walk to the river to get a drink and trees in a forest usually don’t have a human built irrigation system to move water to their roots.  So, they have essentially built their own irrigation system!  They also send nutrients through these channels, releasing nutrients to move to other trees in need, and receiving nutrients when they need them.  In this way, the forest, with all its trees and plants, becomes a community which takes care of the different members.  Simrad has also observed the value of “Mother Trees” in a forest.  These are mature trees that seem to nurture and care for young trees, imparting not only nutrients and water to help them thrive, but also tree wisdom.  Trees communicate through pheromones and chemicals to warn other trees of danger, insects, disease, drought, etc which allows the trees to then mount their own defenses to help them withstand whatever may threaten their survival.

A "birds-eye" view of Harmony Valley Farm
But why should we care about trees or how they communicate?  Why does any of this even matter to us?  In an interview Simrad did with Yale Environment 360, she was quoted as saying, “A forest is a cooperative system.  To me using the language of ‘communication’ made more sense because we were looking at not just resource transfers, but things like defense signaling and kin recognition signaling.  We as human beings can relate to this better.  If we can relate to it, then we’re going to care about it more.  If we care about it more, then we’re going to do a better job of stewarding our landscapes.”  Simply put, we need trees and forests.  They are an important part of our ecosystem and help us in many ways.  They help us combat climate change by capturing carbon and storing it in the soil.  They are a part of the amazing way Mother Nature purifies our air and water.  When we destroy forests, we take more than just the tree itself.  We destroy an entire organism that is an important part of our ecosystem.

Frosty winter trails 
Our health and well-being are also impacted by trees. 
Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that means “forest bathing.”  It is the practice of casually walking through the woods, a simple practice that we’re learning can contribute in meaningful ways to our overall wellness.  In Japan, they have over 60 official forest therapy trails and many doctors are becoming certified in forest medicine.  They are using this type of nature therapy as a means of combatting the negative impact stress has on our bodies.  It is a low cost, natural way to improve health by preventatively lowering stress levels while improving quality of life and fostering a greater overall sense of wellbeing.   There’s a growing body of research to support this practice, as researchers measure and document the physiological and psychological effects on the human body when in a natural environment.  Some of the observations they’ve made include reduction in blood pressure, increases in factors related to immunity, and increased relaxation.  You see, we too can be part of the forest community and whether we know it or not, perhaps the trees sense our presence and respond to us as well.

Whether you choose to explore this topic more on your own or not, at the very least I encourage you to spend a little time this winter exploring the winter landscape around you.  Get outside and walk in nature.  Notice the trees around you and enjoy their presence.  Garner a newfound respect for them and be part of their community.  After all, we as humans have the choice to be their advocate, allies and protectors, or their opposition.

RESOURCES:


Simrad, Suzanne.  Finding The Mother Tree.  Penguin Random House, 2021 May.


Wohlleben, Peter.  The Hidden Life of Trees:  What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World.  Greystone Books, 2016 September.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Harmony Valley Farm CBD – Information and Uses

Hemp plants growing in the field at HVF
All Harmony Valley Farm (HVF) products are certified organic, which includes our CBD oil and CBD flowers. Our hemp products are grown in highly mineralized soil which includes trace minerals, and are subsurface irrigated as needed.  In other words, our hemp plants are grown in conditions which allow them to exhibit their full genetic expression!

Initial Lab Testing: Before we harvest our hemp plants, a representative from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) comes to the field and collects samples.  These samples are lab tested to verify that the THC content is less than 0.3%.  As a reference, marijuana typically tests between 15% to 30% THC content.

Hemp plants air-drying after harvest
Harvest: All HVF hemp is harvested by hand, and only the best buds are harvested.  The main stalk buds are harvested separately to use as CBD flowers, and the rest of the high quality buds are harvested to make into CBD oil.

After harvest, the hemp buds that are destined to become CBD oil are hung to dry in a clean space that is free of birds and rodents. When the flowers are dry the leaves are first removed, then the flowers are stripped from the stalks and stored for oil processing in small batches.

The main stalk buds are also hung to dry in a clean, pest-free space.  However, these flowers are more slowly dried and then cured.  After the curing process is complete these flowers are ready to be smoked or made into edibles.

HVF Single-Source CBD Oil
CBD Oil Processing: The buds that have been dried for CBD oil are transported to Driftless Dreams’ facility for processing.  Their new ‘white coat’ lab facility is also certified organic, ensuring that our completed CBD oil is certified organic each step of the way.  The Driftless Dreams facility is one of very few certified organic labs in the Midwest.  In order to maintain this certification they use a small batch press which uses only high pressure and heat to extract the CBD from the hemp flowers.  Heat is a necessary component of this process. Heating removes molecular carbon from the plant material, which activates the CBD making it available to the body.  One benefit of pressing the oil in small batches is that it allows for the individual inspection of the flowers before pressing.

Due to the organic certification of our CBD oil, it is guaranteed that no solvent extracted processing was used.  Solvent extracted oils are typically produced using ethanol.  This extraction method is used by other companies because it is cheaper and can be done in large batches.  Unfortunately, this method results in a lower quality oil which does not contain the full profile of 85+ cannabinoids and terpenes, and likely will contain unwanted solvent residues.  CBD oil from Harmony Valley Farm will always contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, and will never include unwanted solvents or chemicals.

CBD Oil Testing: After Driftless Dreams extracts pressed rosin from our hemp flowers they have a sample lab tested for CBD content.  These lab results are used to precisely mix the CBD rosin with MCT coconut oil for bottling.  This ensures that each bottle of HVF CBD oil contains the same concentration of CBD no matter which batch it was made from.

Storage: We store the dried flower buds at a cool temperature, and have batches of oil pressed as needed.  Once pressed and bottled we recommend storing the oil in the refrigerator for up to one year.  After refrigeration the MCT coconut oil will have a cloudy appearance, but will return to a more clear oil at room temperature.  Make sure to shake the closed bottle of oil before each use to maintain a consistent CBD content within the solution.

When storing the dried hemp flowers it is recommended to use an air tight container and to store the flowers at a cooler temperature, although they do not need to be refrigerated.  This will ensure that the flowers maintain their quality until you are ready to use them.

Carefully selected Hemp Flowers,
Dried and ready for use 
How to Use Hemp Flowers: When using the hemp flowers there are two delivery options- ingesting orally (edibles) or inhaled (smoking or vaping).  Ingesting CBD in the form of edibles is a tasty option.  For example, you can make CBD butter which can then be used to make baked goods such as cookies or brownies, or simply spread on a piece of toast.  The benefits of the CBD will be delayed 30-90 minutes, and some will be lost in the digestive process.  By contrast, smoking or vaping the flowers is a fast and efficient way to feel the effects of the CBD in just a few minutes. However, the effects of the CBD when inhaled will only last for a couple of hours

How to Use CBD Oil: CBD oil can be taken orally or used as a topical treatment.  When taking the oil orally it is recommended to use the sublingual method.  To do this you place the oil under the tongue and hold it in place for one to two minutes without swallowing.  When used this way the CBD is able to bypass the digestive system and enter the bloodstream directly. The effects of the CBD will become apparent more quickly with the sublingual method than if the oil is simply swallowed. However, swallowing the oil is still an effective, though slower, delivery method.

For shallow physical aches and pains CBD can be administered topically.  To use the CBD oil topically simply massage the oil into the area where you are experiencing pain or discomfort.  The oil needs to be massaged into the area for only a few minutes to be effective.

A Note about the Taste of the CBD Oil: When HVF CBD oil is held under your tongue you will notice the taste of a full spectrum CBD.  Along with the distinct flavor of hemp flowers, you will also taste the unique characteristic of our chosen CBD strain “Suver Haze”.  Oregon Organics, the producers of this strain, describe the flavor profile as a “walk through an orange orchard in bloom”.  There is also an after taste with a bitter profile, which is completely normal and is the result of the beneficial terpenes. We choose not to mask these tastes with artificial flavoring as some do.  The strong, distinct flavor is your guarantee that you are getting the full CBD spectrum and potential benefits.

A Note about the Legality of CBD: Our CBD products are completely legal and conform to state and federal regulations.  Our products are tested by a third party and ensured to contain less than 0.3% THC. Use of our CBD products will not produce any psychoactive effects or feelings of being “high”.

Benefits of CBD: The use of CBD products may provide some relief from:
  • Anxiety disorders and PTSD *+
  • Depression *+
  • Arthritis Pain *
  • Chronic Pain +
  • Inflammation *+
  • Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting *
  • Sleep deprivation +
  • Oxidative Stress +
  • Metabolism and body weight +
  • Some pet owners are also using CBD to treat their animal friends’ discomfort. Our old dog Jack receives a high dose of CBD for his weight, and despite his severe arthritis he is able to make it to work every day on his own four paws.
Side Effects of CBD: CBD has been shown to be safe for humans, even with regular high doses.  Also, side effects for CBD are rare.  The most common side effect is tiredness/drowsiness, which can be mitigated by splitting up your CBD dosage throughout the day, or by only taking CBD before bed. Other possible side effects include:
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in appetite
  • Lowered blood pressure

Dosage: CBD dosage is very individual, and is dependent on a variety of factors. Your body weight, personal body chemistry, sensitivity to CBD and medical conditions can factor in, as well as the condition you wish to treat and the method with which you use the CBD.  It is necessary to pay attention to your own experiences with CBD to determine the dosage that produces your desired effects. Your daily dose of CBD can be divided into 2-3 doses throughout the day to maintain the effects all day long.  A simple formula for determining your initial daily dosage is 5 mg of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight.  (Source: CBDoil.org/cbd-dosage-guide) Our CBD oil contains 1200 mg of CBD per 2 ounce (60 mL) bottle of oil, so a full dropper (1 mL) contains 20 mg of CBD.  The following chart is a more detailed estimation of daily dosage levels based on body weight, and may be helpful for figuring out initial dosages:

Sources:

* CBDoil.org/cbd-dosage-guide
+ Acres USA, June 2019 issue, “The Low Down on CBD” by Maryam Henein

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

December 17, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Beauty Heart Radishes!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Beauty Heart Radishes: Beauty Heart Radish Toast with Cream Cheese, Lemon and Honey (see below); Beauty Heart Radishes with Garlic, Brown Butter & Rosemary (see below)





Italian Garlic: Beauty Heart Radishes with Garlic, Brown Butter & Rosemary (see below); Cheesy Cabbage Gratin; Roasted Sunchokes with Hazelnut Gremolata

Red and/or Yellow Onions: Caramelized Onion Galette




Friends, welcome to the final Cooking With the Box article for the 2020 CSA season. We have made it to the final season, winter.  Your seasonal eating adventure is nearly complete.  Think about all the meals you’ve made, the new recipes you’ve tried and the vast array of plants you’ve consumed!  This week we’re featuring the gorgeous beauty heart radish and we’re keeping it very simple.  The first recipe is for Beauty Heart Radish Toast with Cream Cheese, Lemon and Honey (see below).  A piece of this toast is a good way to start your day, and of course you could serve it with a fried egg.  You could also enjoy this as a light lunch or make smaller portions and serve them more as an appetizer.  The other recipe is for Beauty Heart Radishes with Garlic, Brown Butter & Rosemary (see below).  This dish comes together on the stovetop and could be the focus of a vegetarian meal or a side dish.

Red Cabbage Slaw with Beets
photo from itsavegworldafterall.com
Now that we are finished harvesting “greens” from the field we will rely on cabbage to be our “green” for the rest of the winter.  Some boxes this week may receive red cabbage.  If you do, use it to make this Red Cabbage Slaw with Beets.  This is a beautiful slaw featuring red cabbage along with red beets, apples and dried cranberries.  You could also make Asian Style Pork Nachos with Red Cabbage.  This is an interesting spin on nachos which uses wonton wrappers as the “nacho” that is topped with a flavorful ground pork mixture along with the cabbage.  If you receive the green savoy cabbage, use it to make this humble Stewed Cabbage, Apples & White Beans.  This dish is a one pan vegetarian main dish creation, but it could also be served as a side dish.  The other recipe I want to mention is for Cheesy Cabbage Gratin, in honor of Richard who thinks cabbage and cream are a natural pairing!

In the course of searching for beauty heart radish recipes this week I stumbled across an awesome vegetable focused blog, It’s a Veg World Afterall.  As I started poking around to see what was here, I kept discovering recipe after recipe for items in our box.  You really should go check out this site as there are a lot of great vegetable recipes such as these Oatmeal Raisin Sweet Potato Cookies.  These cookies are gluten free and have some extra added protein from peanut butter.  I think they are healthy enough to make it ok to eat them for breakfast!  I also found this recipe for BBQ Lentils with Shredded Carrots.  This is a vegetarian take on shredded barbeque pork, except it is all plant based with lentils and carrots as the main bulk.

Herbed Carrot and Swede (Rutabaga) Mash
photo from itsavegworldafterall.com
I have a few more recipes from itsavegworldafterall.com.  If you haven’t used the rutabaga from your last box yet, use it to make Herbed Carrot and Swede (Rutabaga) Mash.  If you’re not sure what to do with kohlrabi, consider making these Sage Brown Butter Kohlrabi Noodles.  You can make the kohlrabi “noodles” using a spiralizer, or just make very long, thin sticks of kohlrabi.  If you don’t know how to cut and peel kohlrabi, check out this video: How to Peel Kohlrabi.

There are a few other kohlrabi recipes I want to mention.  Earlier this year we featured this recipe for Kohlrabi Custard which was shared with us by a member.  I also really like Andrea Bemis’s recipe for Kohlrabi & Chickpea Salad.  Both of these recipes are simple to make, but very delicious.  Of course, you could also shred the kohlrabi and use it to make Kohlrabi Hash Browns which may be served for breakfast or serve them for dinner alongside grilled or roasted meat.

If you are not familiar with sunchokes, I really encourage you to take a few minutes to read our past Sunchoke Vegetable Feature Article.  The key to a successful sunchoke experience is moderation!  I like to eat sunchokes in small portions, more as a condiment such as in this Chili and Lime Sunchoke Salsa which may be served as a topping for tacos or with grilled or sautéed fish or chicken.  Another popular recipe from one of our past newsletters is for Chili-Roasted Sunchokes.  You can make this using all sunchokes, or you could use half sunchokes and half potato or other root vegetable if you want to start small.  The same concept can be applied to this tasty recipe for Roasted Sunchokes with Hazelnut Gremolata.  The recipe calls for 2# sunchokes.  Your boxes only have about 1.25#, so I recommend using one pound sunchokes and one pound carrots for this recipe which should serve 4 to 6 people.

Roasted Sunchokes with Hazelnut Gremolata
photo from food52.com
Horseradish whips may be another less familiar vegetable for you.  If you’re not sure what to do with horseradish, I’d suggest starting with this recipe for Prepared Horseradish.  This is a way of preserving the horseradish in a vinegar mixture which stabilizes the flavor.  Once you have made prepared horseradish, you can add it to a lot of different things, such as stirring it into mayonnaise to spread on a sandwich or use it to make these Bacon Horseradish Deviled Eggs.  You could also use horseradish to make this tasty Horseradish Sour Cream Dip to serve with chips or crackers, other vegetables, or serve it with roast beef.  Horseradish could come in handy around New Year’s if you use it to make your own homemade Seafood Cocktail Sauce to serve with shrimp at your New Year’s Eve celebration!  If you’d like to read more about horseradish and ways to utilize it, check out Saveur magazine’s article “One Ingredient Many Ways”.

One-Pot Kabocha and Chickpea Curry
You don’t have to be in a hurry to use the Testsukaboto winter squash in this week’s box.  It will store for quite awhile.  When you are ready to use it, I’d recommend making this simple Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric and Miso that we featured earlier this year.  This recipe for Kabocha Squash Bread with Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Swirl is one of my favorites for utilizing squash such as this variety.  You also can’t go wrong with this One-Pot Kabocha and Chickpea Curry.

Last month we made squash and pumpkin pies, this month I think we should make carrot pie!  I found two tasty recipe ideas for you including this Pecan Topped Carrot Pie and this simple Homemade Spiced Carrot Pie.  If you don’t want to use your carrots for these decadent desserts, you could use them to make this savory Gingery Carrot Stew with Peanuts and Cilantro or this Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Stew.

Sweet Potato Fried with
Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce
photo from whattheforkfoodblog.com
We’re nearly at the end of the box, but you might still have some sweet potatoes lingering on your counter.  If you have some of the long skinny sweet potatoes or some ‘baby bakers,’ use them to make these Sweet Potato Fries with Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce.  Serve them alongside a sandwich, or eat them more appetizer style for your next movie night!  Lastly, if you have a pile of onions and don’t know what to do with them, use them to make this Caramelized Onion Galette.

And with that I believe we’ve reached the bottom of another CSA box and the end of another CSA season.   I truly hope you’ve enjoyed your experience and we look forward to meeting you back here in this space again in 2021.  I wish you nothing less than a peaceful winter’s rest.  Happy Holidays!—Chef Andrea



Vegetable Feature: Beauty Heart Radishes

By Chef Andrea

Creamy white to green on the outside with brilliant hot pink flesh on the inside….stunning and vibrant are the words that come to mind when I consider the best way to describe this unique vegetable.  Beauty heart radishes are one of several winter storage radishes we rely on this time of the year.  Storage radishes differ from common fresh red radishes in several ways.  First, they are more durable and dense with a thicker outer skin, all qualities that improve their storage potential.  Storage radishes are intended to be stored through the winter months, so it makes sense that they would be grown for harvest in the fall.  Their flavor is more balanced and desirable after they’ve had some cold fall nights, yet another reason to grow them in this season.  While the green tops of storage radishes are edible, you seldom see these radishes with their tops as they are typically removed at the time of harvest.  In contrast, those little red radishes are usually sold with the green tops still attached which is an indicator of freshness.

Beauty Heart Radish &
Sesame Seed Salad
Radishes are an important part of many cultures in Asia including Chinese, Korean and Japanese.  It’s amazing to look at all the different shapes, colors and sizes of radishes grown in these countries.  Richard started growing beauty heart radishes back in his early farming days in the early 70’s.  He had never had this radish, but he was scanning any seed catalog he could find looking for the unique vegetables no one else was growing.  He has an interesting story to share about how this radish came to be called “Beauty Heart.”  “When we introduced this radish to the Midwest, it was called ‘green skin/red flesh,’ accurate, but not a particularly poetic name!  One of our farmer’s market customers from Korea recognized the radish and shared the Korean name with us, which translates to ‘beauty heart.’  We thought this name was much more fitting to the radish so we called them beauty heart radishes from then on.  At that time, beauty heart radishes really weren’t being grown commercially, but as their popularity started to grow and more producers started growing them commercially, we started to see ‘watermelon radishes’ coming out of California.  ‘Red Meat’ is another name used for this radish, amongst others.  But for us and much of the Midwest, this radish will hopefully always remain ‘Beauty Heart!’

Spicy Roasted Beauty Heart Radishes
with Carrots & Tahini
photo by Vicky for food52.com
Beauty heart radishes are more mild than many winter storage radishes and you’ll even notice a bit of sweetness in them as well.  They may be eaten both raw and cooked.  Their flavor is more pungent when raw and a lot of the radish bite is in the outer skin.  If you want to tame them down a bit, peel away a thin layer of the skin and/or salt them.  Beauty heart radishes are beautiful in salads, sliced thinly and added to sandwiches, pickled, or included on a vegetable platter.  We like to eat slices of beauty heart radishes with slices of cheese instead of a cracker.  But raw is not the only way to eat them.  You can add them to winter stir-fries, roast and sauté them, or add them to soups and stews.  When cooked, their flavor mellows even further.  So if you are not a radish lover, do yourself a favor and try preparing them with a cooked method.

Store beauty heart radishes in the refrigerator loosely wrapped in a plastic bag to keep them from dehydrating.  They will store for months, although they may not look so pretty after awhile.  Trust me, they’ll still be good on the inside.  Just give them a scrub and peel away the outer skin before using.

I didn’t really intend to create a list of recipes for beauty heart radishes this week, but I started poking around and I found a lot of tasty recipe ideas I had never seen before!  So, in addition to the simple recipes in this week’s newsletter, here are seven more to consider trying this winter!


Beauty Heart Radishes with Garlic, Brown Butter & Rosemary

Yield:  4 servings

4 cups diced beauty heart radish
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest, plus the juice of half a lemon
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant and just starting to turn golden.  The oil and butter mixture may be starting to change color slightly as well.  This is perfect, just make sure the garlic doesn’t get too brown or it will become bitter.  
  2. Once the garlic starts to turn golden, immediately add the beauty heart radishes and rosemary to the pan along with a few pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir or toss to combine and coat the beauty heart pieces with the oil.  Put a lid on the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The amount of cooking time will depend on how soft you prefer your vegetables.  
  3. Once the radishes are almost at the point where they are cooked to your liking, add the juice of about half a lemon.  Cook for just a few more minutes, then remove from the heat.  The lemon juice will combine with the oil/butter mixture to make a light glaze to coat the radishes.    
  4. Adjust seasoning to your liking with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Serve immediately on their own, or with steamed rice.
Recipe inspired by a similar one sourced from www.itsavegworldafterall.com.

Beauty Heart Radish Toast with Cream Cheese, Lemon and Honey

Yield:  2 servings

⅔ cup cream cheese
One medium lemon*
2 slices really good bread 
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small to medium beauty heart radish, very thinly sliced
Honey, to drizzle
  1. Put cream cheese in a small bowl.  Wash the lemon and remove the zest using a grater, zester, or a vegetable peeler.  If the zest is not already finely grated, do so using a knife.  Add lemon zest to the cream cheese and stir to combine.  Cut two wedges from the lemon and set aside.
  2. Put bread in a toaster and toast to desired doneness.
  3. Immediately spread some of the cream cheese on each slice of toast.  Arrange slices of beauty heart radish on top of each toast.  Add a touch of freshly ground black pepper and drizzle each toast with honey.
  4. Serve the toast with a lemon wedge on the side.  These are best eaten immediately with just a little squeeze of the lemon juice.
*If Meyer lemons are in season and available, this is the variety of lemon I recommend.  If they are not available, use a “regular” lemon.
Recipe by Chef Andrea, Harmony Valley Farm

Winter…The Final Season In Our Journey

By Andrea Yoder
Nettle & Mushroom Pizza with Ramp Cream--
one of our favorite spring recipes!

We often describe CSA as “a seasonal eating adventure,” and that it is.  It seems so long ago, and yet like yesterday, that we launched into the season with some of our spring favorites.  Ramps, nettles, asparagus, sorrel…..our seasoned members could hardly wait to get their hands on these things while some of our newer members were scratching their heads wondering what to do with these less familiar items.  But with a sense of adventure, many of you jumped in with a spirit of curiosity and a willingness to try new things.  Summer came along and brought with it a whole host of foods to explore starting with fennel, green top beets and kohlrabi in June.  The heat of July brought zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and the first new potatoes.  In August we made room for tomatoes, melons, edamame, peppers and sweet corn.  Things started to cool off a bit towards the end of September and we started to receive the first of the fall cauliflower.  In October we officially transitioned into fall with winter squash and leeks.  By the time we turned the corner into November we were excited to introduce frost-sweetened Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and more roots including celeriac and parsnips.  As we enter into winter, our kitchens are well stocked with storage roots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cabbage, onions and other late season vegetables to carry us through the winter months.  Mother Nature always has something to nourish and sustain us in every season.

Beautiful jars of canned dilly beans!
Eating local food in season is more than just a trendy, foodie thing to do.  Before the days of refrigerated transportation and international trade, eating local food in season was the only option.  You eat what you are able to grow, hunt or raise, or you don’t eat.  Self-sufficiency was found in a root cellar filled with humble rutabagas and turnips that would store for months.  Shelves were lined with canned goods filled with vegetables and fruit preserved in the peak of their season.  Crocks, jugs and jars of fermented foods were tucked away, allowing yet another means of preserving foods from other seasons to make them available during times when fresh foods were limited.  Other preservation methods such as dehydrating and salt-curing are just a few of the other ways people preserved food.  We’ve been spoiled by having anything we want, whenever we want it. What has happened to the traditional ways of eating employed by our ancestors?  Have we lost our connection to the natural rhythms of nature?  Has this variance made us vulnerable?  The further we go from the source, the more risky the business of securing our food becomes.  The more hands it has to pass through, the greater the potential for something to go wrong.  Issues such as social justice, fair trade and a general lack of transparency enter into the equation and sometimes leave a deeper mark than we care to admit.  And what about the quality of the food?  How fresh are those vegetables that have been in transit for days?  Do Brussels sprouts even taste good when grown in warmer regions less adapted for the plant?

Summer 2020, HVF Crew harvesting dill
The pandemic that has left its mark on 2020 has shown us the value of supporting our local food systems.  When our industrial food systems were put to the test, in many ways they failed.  Breakdowns in labor, transportation, and the availability of raw materials limited the ability of some to source their food.  For members of our society who rely 100% on someone else for their food, this can be a scary reality.  Unfortunately, this was the catalyst for many to make a shift back to their local food system.  We are not the only regional producer who has seen consumer support of local food skyrocket due to the pandemic.  People are looking for food they can trust, produced in the region by people who are real and reliable.  But what will come of this Pandemic Reset when the pandemic has passed?  We have all been changed and many times change means we need to move forward, embrace new technologies, new ways of thinking and doing.  But sometimes I think it’s ok to hold onto ideas and ways of living that are tried and true.  Eating in ways similar to how our ancestors ate is not such a bad thing.  Yes, we can do it in a little different way while still being in sync with nature.  If you eat meat, you may not want to hunt or raise all of the animals that feed you.  The alternative is to support local producers who are raising animals in sustainable, humane ways while following the rhythms of nature.  That means there’s an appropriate time to harvest and fresh meat may not always be available.  Meat will need to be frozen so it’s available to you in between times of harvest.  You may not grow all of your fruits and vegetables in your own garden space, but you can certainly eat in alignment with the seasons through participating in a CSA with a willingness to embrace the bounty of each season and adjust your meals to the ingredients instead of seeking out specific items to prepare a recipe regardless of whether or not that vegetable is in season at the time.

Chili & Lime Sunchoke Salsa
with Seared Salmon
So as we hunker down for winter, we send you off with encouragement.  We encourage you to eat your root vegetables…all of them, even the turnips, rutabagas, celeriac and sunchokes.  The seasonal eating adventure will continue through the winter, and while there may be some challenges along the way, winter can be a very fun season to spend time in the kitchen.  Use this opportunity to explore some different ways of preparing some of these winter vegetables.  Look to other cultures where some of these vegetables are an integral part of their seasonal eating and explore some of their ways of preparing these foods. Warm your body with nourishing soups and stews.  Slow down and take time to make some things that might take a little longer to prepare.  Learn from other members by interacting in our Facebook Group.  Pull out that bag of horseradish and figure out what to do with it.  We’ve heard time and again that members often discover they like foods they otherwise may not have tried simply because it appears in their CSA box!  The adventure of seasonal eating is the discovery of new items, but it’s also the discovery of how to utilize a few foods over and over and over.  The adventure is in the ways our awareness of and connection to our food can shape and change our physical bodies, our minds and the ways we interact with the world around us.  Every year is a new adventure filled with new lessons to learn, new discoveries to be made.

CSA members learning about garlic with 
Richard & Andrea--Strawberrry Day 2018
As we move forward into a new year, I think it’s important to pay attention to the evolution of our food systems.  Who will have power in the food system of the future?  Will we continue to give our power away to an industrial food system?  Will we be satisfied eating poor quality food laced with chemicals and social injustice that is produced in ways that are harmful to our people and our land?  No, the power of each individual to choose what kind of food they want to put in their mouth still lies within each of us.  While we may not grow or produce all of our own food in todays’ modern times, we can still choose elements of self-sufficiency as our ancestors did through the ways we source our food.  Every food purchase you make has the ability to fuel our local food system.  It allows us to take back our health when we choose nutrient dense foods grown in sustainable ways that do not strip our environmental resources, but contribute to their regeneration.

Andrea receiving fresh ramps in April
Our world needs healing right now in many ways.  Food may not be our only medicine, but it is a powerful one that can bring healing on many fronts.  It’s time to reconnect to our power.  Reconnect to our communities.  Reconnect to our land.  Reconnect to the way we were designed to eat, in sync with nature.  You can do it, you have nearly done it.  Finish off winter and you will have eaten through an entire year of seasons!   I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to reflect upon as this year comes to a close.  One thing I do know is that I am grateful for the bounty my body has been filled with in each season of the year.  I look forward to winter cooking and have a stack of recipes waiting for me in my kitchen.  As spring draws near and I finish off the last few sweet potatoes, cook the last of the cabbage and use up the last of my onions, my body will start to crave fresh spring greens, those tender little spring radishes.  And when the first ramps push through the last of the snow in the forest come April, my body will be ready to transition yet again to another season.  We hope you have enjoyed your adventure with our farm this year and wish you a peaceful winter filled with hearty meals and rest.  When spring rolls around, we hope you’ll be on board to journey with us through another seasonal eating adventure.