While our new community gears up for its biggest event of the year we are still meandering our way around trying to find resources for the farm and find our place within the community. Part of whats exciting about this farming venture for me is experiencing a new culture and landscape but it also has it's disadvantages in that we have no family or close friends near by and have only had time to meet a handful of people so far. The people we have met have been incredibly gracious with their hospitality and help in getting us settled and we are hoping to spend more time with our new community this fall once we get some major projects done. One project we haven't had much time for is a garden, that and we didn't get started until July, so I decided to join a CSA because I was missing the abundance of organice produce we had in Seattle and it's something we have never done before. We joined Fuzzy Rhino Farm CSA run by first time farmer Stacey Engel and have been enjoying all the great organic veggies we have been getting and the challenge of using it all up or preserving them before they go bad. If you are unfamiliar with what a CSA is, here is a good overview from Local Harvest.
I also love the challenge of coming up with new dishes with whatever mix of veggies we get on any given week. For years I was very much a recipe following cook. Not that I followed the recipes to a tee but I would go out of my way to find all the right ingredients for a certain dish instead of improvising with what I had on hand. This has been changed by the fact that we don't live near a grocery store anymore and can't dash out for those last minute ingredients but also because we are getting an abundant amount of veggies every week that need to be used while they are at their peak. Some weeks when I bring home the bounty it can be daunting trying to wrap my head around what to do with it and where to store it all but after a few days have gone by it becomes a fun little game. One of our first challenges was Collard Greens, we had brought at least 5 pounds from our garden in Seattle and had accumulated another 5 pounds from our CSA share. So I filled our 7 quart dutch oven with the Collards and a ham hock and made enough greens for an entire week of dinners and a couple breakfasts. The real challenge was to not hate Collard Greens by day 3. We had them with sausage, added beans to them, made tacos with them, and added them to scrambled eggs. My favorite was just to have them as a side dish with lots of fresh veggies because by the time we added beans to them they had cooked down into this thick savory stew that was a nice contrast to a couple slices of tomato or just barely grilled spring onions. Here is an impromptu veggie stir fry I made with quinoa and field roast, and some carrot cake (recipe from 101 Cookbooks Blog). The boys have been enjoying all the baking projects we have been making to use up extra veggies, especially the chocolate zucchini muffins.
We have been contemplating having a CSA of our own once we get the farm up an running. I am not sure exactly what form it would take because we weren't planning on having a Vegetable CSA so it would be focused around Meat, Eggs, and maybe whatever fruits and veggies we have an abundance of on any given season. It wouldn't have the same weekly structure that a normal CSA would have so you might only see your members a half a dozen times a year. Maybe you would set out at the beginning of the season with a goal of having so many broiler chickens, stewing chickens, and whole or half lambs and pigs per farm share? I have mostly seen buying clubs when it comes to buying meat directly from farms so I'm not sure if this model will work but I am enjoying our CSA experience and trying to figure out how it could fit our farm. I'm hoping to create close connections with our new community and it seems like one of the best ways to do it.