Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring cooking!

This warm spring weather has been quite a treat, but not quite as tasty as our early spring ethnic cooking series! Before we start planting in the fields, we're heating up our kitchen with foods and aromas from around the world. Fresh Start Farms growers are sharing their culinary secrets with us as we record their recipes and photograph their process.

The first dish we watched in action. How does this delicious meal come alive? It starts with the patience to prepare food from scratch, using whole ingredients and 3 burners on the stovetop at once. And it involves a balance of taste, texture and nutrition that's not calculated but intuited.

It comes from the heart and experience of Helen Abwoch, a Sudanese grower who participates in Cultivating Community's New American Sustainable Agriculture Project. She has been farming for several years and sells her produce as a Fresh Start Farms grower at Deering Oaks Farmers' Market in Portland. She begins by slicing onions, prefering to chop them in her hands instead of on a cutting board.

Next comes the collard greens, with the stems minced and the greens sliced extra thinly. These leaves are among the healthiest foods on the planet. Grab a whole bunch when you cook - they shrink to a fraction of their initial volume.

The beef is added to sauteed onions, cooked together to capture the flavors together, then later mixed with tomato and curry powder. Not just any curry powder, though! Each blend has a unique combination of spices.

Shredded cabbage cooks in the juice of fresh tomatoes, making them more palatable for those among us who are typically adverse to cabbage. Let it become very soft and tender.

By the time Helen posed here, the trace of a homecooked lunch had completely filled our office air. Needless to say, our mouths were watering!

Looking for the recipe? Join our food community here with a CSA share and look forward to new recipes and photos throughout the season :)

We have a lot to learn from each other. Sharing food is among the earliest and most basic ways we build relationships. Growing, cooking, and eating it together makes us realize that there may be a thousand and one ways to prepare greens - but we can all relate to that sense of satisfaction we get from the first bite. Bon App├ętit!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The journey of a million seeds.

A warm breeze woke up Southern Maine this morning, with the promise of Spring days ahead. Naturally, it lines right up with our biggest seed delivery to date - and brings big smiles to the faces of proud Fresh Start Farms growers who are ready and eager to dig right in to this season!

Today, farmers picked up a box of seeds with their name on it, full of all the varieties they hand picked to line their fields and feed our bellies. But there's more to the story than that.

"What came first, the plant or the seed?"

The seeds we hold in our hands are powerful bits of potential energy, with all the instructions they need to develop into full grown plants. Farmers are caretakers of this earth and carry these bits of wisdom like wind spreading them into the fields.

Inside each seed is where the magic happens. This is a cross section of a ginkgo tree, showing a well developed embryo, nutritive tissue, and a bit of the seed coat.

The seeds arrived from Johnny's (Winslow, Maine) in bags and boxes that filled our office. Nature's biggest mystery was wrapped up like tiny presents waiting to be opened.

Each box was separated into seed type and variety...

And placed into new boxes to deliver to each farmer. A process that literally took one entire week of sorting and resorting!

All stacked up and ready to get where they belong!

Soon the sun will start shining longer, the days will stay warm & the ground will wake up, and we'll get the new rains of Spring. This week we'll be starting seeds in the greenhouse, but it's only a short matter of time before we go out into the fields again.

Soon the plants will rise, the leaves will fill out and the flowers will fruit. Soon they will send out their own seed messages to the future, and we will begin the cycle where we started.

Join us this year as a CSA member and let's embark on this fantastic journey of a million seeds together.