After much consideration, my husband and I joined a CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture) or farm-share program. We decided to join up with Wimer's Organics, a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. With a pick up location a block from our home in Philadelphia, this process could not be any easier. Opting for the bi-weekly egg and vegetable share, we had our first pick up last Wednesday. Although the initial cost seemed like a lot, once you have to do the math you realize that you are really just paying up front for items that you probably will purchase anyway. The main difference is that we know where our produce is grown; and that is at Wimer's Organics, a certified organic farm just a couple of hours from our front door. It gives you comfort in knowing that you are not buying lettuce from Mexico or spinach from California that has to be shipped across the country before it even gets to a store near you-how fresh can that be? And how much gas has to get guzzled for me to eat my tomatoes that are not in season?
These are the questions we asked ourselves when making the decision to buy local. Convenience also plays a huge role in our busy lives, which is why joining this CSA is the perfect solution. Sure, there are items in my pantry that are made in other states-certain canned foods, pastas, etc. but buying a larger portion that is local is the ultimate goal. Our farm sends weekly newsletters to its members describing what is happening on the farm. Wimer's keeps us posted on how the weather affects growth and cultivation on the farm what to expect in our boxes (each pick-up location is slightly different). After our newsletter, we were super excited for our first pick-up.
After work, we took a stroll to the pick-up location, which is literally a block and a half from our front door. We walked into a condominium building into a large lobby area. Looking confused, the lady behind the desk asked if we were there for our CSA pick-up. This friendly woman explained that she offered to host at this location for our neighborhood-she was just as excited about it as we were. She showed us to a kitchenette, where we immediately saw the CSA boxes lined on the counter and ice chests filled with farm-fresh yogurt and eggs. She gave us the giant bag inside of the box filled with our vegetables and a carton of eggs from the ice chest. We carried our items home quickly. On the table at home, we laid out each vegetable from the bag to check out our treasures from the farm. We found one giant head of Romaine lettuce, one large sealed plastic bag of spinach leaves, one colorful bunch of rainbow chard, one bunch of spring onions measuring at about 18 inches in length, four bulbs of bok choy, and seven sweet potatoes.
Immediately, we were concerned that we would never be able to eat all of these veggies before they wilt up but so far, so good. It has been four days and we have already indulged in our veggie supply for a multitude of meals and recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast, the farm-fresh eggs and wilted spinach make for the perfect protein and vitamin combo to start the day. At lunch, salads are key. Not only do I utilize all of the fresh tender greens but also create light nutritional fare to enjoy during the day. A salad is the perfect dish for lunch-satisfying enough to get through the day but it will not weigh you down or make you tired. Dinnertime brings fresh, healthful recipes, when I can bring together hearty greens and rich proteins for a filling meal.
There are so many options when it comes to greens. You really can use them in any meal or recipe. Check out the creations I have made so far with this week's vegetable share from Wimer's Farm.
Breakfast: Wilted Spinach and Eggs
2 eggs, cooked sunny side up
1 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of garlic powder
1. Cook eggs sunny side up in heated saute pan coated with cooking spray. Once egg is in pan, season with salt and pepper and bring heat to the lowest setting possible. Cover the pan with lid and continue to cook eggs until they are firm on top.
2. When eggs are finished, move to serving plate. Next fill warm pan with spinach. Season with salt, pepper and pinch of garlic powder. With tongs gently move the spinach around the pan until wilted. Top eggs with spinach and enjoy this delicious and healthy breakfast.
Lunch: Rainbow Chard and Greens with Mustard Lemon Vinaigrette
1 cup rainbow chard, chopped and washed
1 cup green lettuce, chopped and washed
1/2 spring onion, diced
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1 tsp dark mustard
1 tbsp light sour cream
Lemon juice of half of a small lemon
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of dill
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Mix all ingredients (except for olive oil) well until thoroughly incorporated.
2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk at the same time until dressing comes together.
3. Toss salad ingredients with dressing. Serve with pita chips.
Dinner: Pepper and Onion Sausage with Tomato and Chard
Extra virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper
1 large sausage link (Use any kind of sausage that you like of the Italian variety. Turkey and chicken sausage will work well in this dish. Use 1 link per 2 people.)
1/2 large onion sliced thin
1 spring onion (green onion), diced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 can diced tomatoes, drained well
Splash of red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp oregano
3 cups rainbow chard, largely chopped
Freshly grated Romano cheese
1. In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add a dash of crushed red pepper and sliced onions. Saute on medium heat for 3 minutes. Then add sausage and cover. Allow sausage to cook for 5-7 minutes, turning at least once. After the sausage is browned, remove from pan to cutting board to rest.
2. With onions still cooking on medium to low heat, add the tomatoes, spring onions, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic and vinegar. Stir well and continue to cook on low covered for about 10 minutes.
3. Once sausage has rested, slice in thin discs and put back in pan with tomato mixture. Continue cooking with sausage for another 7 minutes.
4. Add in the rainbow chard. With tongs incorporate the chard into the dish until slightly wilted.
5. Serve piping hot and top generously with grated Romano cheese. Enjoy with garlic bread.
From these simple recipes you will realize just how easy it is to incorporate any kind of greens into your meals. I look forward to many more "green" meals with this week's supply from the farm. We still have a ways to go until it is all consumed. Next on the menu...bok choy and sweet potatoes along with many more salads.