Thankfully, school is over and a few weeders, pickers, farm hands and all around great people have some time to dedicate to working! Managing a vegetable operation around a school, sports, assemblies, life, etc. schedule keeps me hopping (much like those rabbits that seem to be everywhere!) With school removed from the equation, we can dedicate some serious attention to weeding and other farm chores.
With weather patterns changing we are able to plant a little earlier, but the crops are ready even earlier than my psyche is accustomed to. This makes it a hair harder to manage when school gets out mid-June and the farm is in full production early May. In fact, I am thinking that we should all start referring to June strawberries as May strawberries! And correspondingly, have school get out in May. 🙂 This is a little tongue-in-cheek, of course, as we can’t change our school system to the benefit of the farmers. After all, there are more people incarcerated in America than there are farmers, and the number of farmers who actually grow fruits and vegetables is considerably smaller yet.
But back in the early 80’s in south Everett, a school bus would show up and bunch of middle and high school kids would climb on and head off to the berry fields in Marysville and Mount Vernon. Once they’d finish with berries, they’d start picking pickling cucumbers. Granted that was 30+ years ago, but agriculture was still a vibrant part of our economy; enough so that hundreds of kids from Everett would load up on buses and head to the fields. Many of these kids probably had parents who had done a similar thing when they were in school. Did any of you catch that bus or work on farms when you were in high school?
Sadly, most of that work has gone the way of the dinosaurs – replaced by chemical applications and mechanization. What also happened was a large migrant force of workers replaced the kiddos and the farmers also chose to not grow those labor-intensive crops any longer. Eventually, the school buses stopped coming and good summer jobs for young people stopped as well.
Farming is hard work and growing vegetables organically is very labor intensive. If we could shift our national food policy from corn and soybeans to fruits and vegetables, that would stimulate the farm economy to hire more young people. Eating organically grown fruits and vegetables is so critically important to the health of our nation (think diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc.) and to the local environment (think salmon, swallows, earthworms, rabbits, trees, etc.).
Farming for you, the environment, and the health of our nation.
Recipe: Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto
Ingredients: 1 bunch garlic scapes 1 bunch swiss chard, leaves only 1/4 cup raw walnuts (optional) 1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional) Juice from half a lemon 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Blanch the Swiss chard leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, just to remove chalky taste. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out the water.
2. Put blanched Swiss chard, garlic scapes, walnuts, crushed red pepper and lemon juice into the bowl of your food processor and process until still slightly chunky. Gradually pour olive oil in to feeder tube and continue processing until smooth.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Serve tossed with your favorite gluten-free pasta, add a little of the cooking liquid from the pasta to loosen up the sauce, if you wish.
Recipe from tasty-yummies.com
Know Your Produce: Garlic Scapes
Garlic scapes are the beginning of what would be the garlic plant’s flower; if they’re left on the garlic plant, less energy goes towards developing the head of garlic underground. So, by harvesting these scapes, you cooks get an early taste of the garlic to come down the road, and the bulbs can keep developing.
You can use scapes just like you would garlic; their flavor is milder, so you get the nice garlic taste without some of the bite. Use them on top of pizza, in pasta, and as a replacement for garlic in most other recipes.
Store: Store garlic scapes in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Store away from your fruit, because garlic is generous with its fragrance, and you may not appreciate biting into a peach and tasting…garlic. Garlic scapes will keep up to two weeks if kept in an airtight container.
Prep: Wash under cool water when ready to use.