Archive | May, 2012

Get To Know: Your Farm Table Neighborhood Coordinators, Part I

31 May

What did you think of the gigantic broccoli?

If you are like many Farm Table members, delivery day is a highly anticipated day. Your produce from the week before is dwindling, and the prospect of fresh, new produce makes your mouth water. But do you know who delivers the food to your doorstep or workplace? We would like to introduce you to our dedicated staff who bring you your food each week. We look forward to highlighting all of our Neighborhood Coordinators (in no particular order) over the remainder of the season in our “Get To Know” series.

Britt Klein, a Richmond resident for 10 years currently lives in the Museum District with her husband and son. The city doesn’t always afford much space for gardens, but she and her husband have planted their first one this year on a tiny patch of ground. Aside from gardening, she spends time grilling with friends, playing softball, and sampling different wines.  Britt  joined The Farm Table as a Neighborhood Coordinator when she left her full-time job in order to spend more time with her toddler son. She is passionate about local businesses and supporting farmers, so The Farm Table has been a great fit for those reasons. Britt has this to say to the members in her delivery area, “I’m an early bird, so if I’m your Neighborhood Coordinator (in the Fan), I may have woken you up a time or two delivering your produce! All my members look fantastic in their PJs, though!”

Betsy Loeb joined The Farm Table after hearing about it from a friend and now delivers to homes in Chesterfield.  Betsy describes her food habits as “terrible,” and that if left to her own devices she would eat like a 15-year-old. She is fortunate in that her husband is the corporate chef at a catering company, and he enjoys the challenge of coming up with new ideas and recipes to use up the vegetables that come each week, almost like an “Iron Chef on TV.” Betsy’s background is as a licensed landscape architect, but she enjoys the ability to stay home with her 4-year-old and 2-year-old children, and likes that she isn’t confined to an office during the best part of the day. In addition to The Farm Table, Betsy dabbles in landscape design, sews at home for a local company making handbags, and works with her husband’s catering company during big events. Betsy and her family enjoy hiking, camping, and being outdoors. She has picked up running again, and recently ran the Monument Avenue 10K the Run Like A Girl 8K.When she is not doing all that, she is the “head swing-pusher, Candy Land setter-upper, and train track reconnecter” at home.

Lois Abel decided to join The Farm Table because she is “passionate about good, healthy food, and wants to support local farmers.” She lives 20 minutes from the city, outside of The Farm Table’s delivery area, and determined the only way she could enjoy the produce was to participate in the actual delivery process.  Lois delivers produce from Crozier to N. Parham Road, mostly in the River Road area.  Lois enjoys toting her 2 year old daughter along on delivery day, and her daughter enjoys listening to music and playing with her dolls or play dough while they drive around. Lois, originally from Canada, and her husband, originally from India, moved to Richmond a year ago from Hyderabad, India following a job transfer for her husband who works in IT. They cook a lot of Indian food and are trying to grow some okra and eggplant so we can make them into curries. Lois was a preschool teacher for 10 years, and is slowly getting used to being a stay at home mom!  Lois and her daughter enjoy getting out on Thursday mornings to “do something for other people.”

Jen Russo is in her second year as The Farm Table’s Neighborhood Coordinator for the Virginia Center Commons area.  She’s mama to a 10-year-old voracious reader, and a 5-year-old precocious adventurer.  A chocolate Lab has recently been added to the family; a dog who is as good as gold when people are around, but who, when left alone, will point out any food left out on the countertops… including Farm Table delivered bread (and we can’t blame him)!  Jen likes cooking with minimal fuss, so roasted veggies and Asian-style greens are her quick go-to’s.  She’s also a recent convert to the joys of crispy kale, a snack the kids will eat in abundance.  They’re like chips, but you can feel virtuous eating them!

Come meet your Neighborhood Coordinator at The Farm Table’s first ever ice cream social! We will be hosting an ice cream social on June 3rd from 3:00pm until dusk at Echo Lake Park.  Everyone is asked to bring their favorite ice cream.  The Farm Table will provide toppings and there will also be some hand cranks available so people can make ice cream at the park.  Anyone who has a hand crank ice cream maker is welcome to bring them. If you are a Farm Table member, you should have received an Evite already. Save The Date!

For The Love Of Bees

26 May

The food we eat contains more than the labor it takes for the farmer to grow it, the packers to pack it, and The Farm Table staff to deliver it. The other workers involved are the unsung heroes…the bees.

We started thinking about the bees this past winter, particularly given the wild swings in temperature we had from warm to cold and back again. When the weather is warm several things happen: bees leave the nest to forage for food and the queen bee starts to produce larvae. Swings in temperature may affect the ability of bees to maintain their larvae at the right temperature, and may affect the bee population. Sudden warm spells similar to what we have experienced in VA this year drive bees out to seek food. If there are an adequate amount of flowers in bloom, the bees can do their special job of collecting pollen and nectar.

The problem occurs when the bees go out and there are not enough flowers to feed them. Not having enough to eat, they will consume the winter honey, leaving them with little food. Some Virginia beekeepers have noticed bigger and earlier swarms than is normal, and have actually harvested honey already this year, which they report is very unusual for their areas.

A more potent threat facing the declining bee population, however,  is what scientists are calling Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Scientists suspect that pesticides (neonicotinoid pesticides in particular), parasites, disease, and loss of habitat are a potential cause of CCD. Without enough bees there would be no or little pollination of plants, and agricultural production would plummet, something that the Virginia General Assembly is doing something about in a new grant program geared for beekeepers.

What are some things that you can do at the local level to support the bee population?

First of all, understand that honey bees are gentle and typically don’t sting unless their hive is threatened, or they are provoked. Honey bees are sometimes equated with hornets and wasps, but they are totally different creatures in terms of aggression. This is important to know if you are considering installing your own bee hive, and want to educate your neighbors on the risks. You can always get more information from the Virginia State Beekeepers Association or our local chapter in Richmond, The East Richmond Beekeepers Association .

Other things you can do: support the spread of rooftop bees in Richmond, consider installing a beehive in your backyard (but only after considerately discussing it with your neighbors), or support endeavors to increase your understanding and appreciation of the importance of bees in your community.

We really like what is going on at Mount Vernon High School in Washington State:

Get to Know: The Farm Table Area Managers

17 May

In case you missed the recent screening of Ingredients, brought to Richmond by Slow Food RVA, you can rent a copy of it to watch on your own (it’s even available on instant play via Netflix). The documentary, set mostly in the Pacific Northwest, advocates for closing the gap between the farmer and our dinner tables, and supporting sustainable, whole, local foods. Our favorite line from the film was, “pay the Doctor, or pay the Farmer.” The documentary made us wonder, what brought you to The Farm Table?

As part of our “Get to Know” series, we asked The Farm Table’s Area Managers to tell us what brought them to The Farm Table, and to share a little more about themselves:

Lisa Sizemore

Lisa Sizemore became a Farm Table member last summer after hearing about it in a Weight Watcher’s meeting,  joined the team as a Neighborhood Coordinator in August 2011, and was promoted to Area Manager just last month. Lisa manages delivery areas for Richmond’s west end, and south Richmond. Lisa and her family have always believed in shopping and supporting local businesses as much as possible, and The Farm Table fit in so well with that philosophy and her Weight Watchers program.

Married for almost 25 years with 2 children, Lisa has been a stay at home Mom off and on for 15 years. Lisa has a 23 year-old son who works full-time and goes to college in the evening, and an 18-year-old daughter graduating from Clover Hill High School in June. Lisa’s daughter will be attending Christopher Newport University in the fall.

Originally from Chesterfield, VA, Lisa has spent time in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and St. Charles, Missouri, and moved back to the Richmond area in 2008. Lisa’s experience includes working in a local law firm, in the finance department at Ukrops, and working as an office manager for 2 different Allstate agents in Missouri and Wisconsin. In addition to volunteering as a Girl Scout leader for 11 years, Lisa also cares for her mother and 95-year-old grandmother who still lives by herself and tries to go dancing every Friday night! Lisa, pictured above, enjoys cooking and spending time with her family.

Angela Ojeda Guzy

Angela Ojeda Guzy grew up in Southern California and took fresh local produce for granted.  She joined The Farm Table in May 2011 as a Neighborhood Coordinator for the Northside and The Fan, and in July became the Coordinator for Anthem Corporate Members.  In October she handed The Fan route over to current Neighborhood Coordinator, Brittany, while she went to California to get married.  Currently, Angela is the Area Manager for Lakeside, Glen Allen, Mechanicsville, Ashland, Highland Springs, Sandston, Varina, Rocketts Landing, Downtown, The Fan, the Near West End, Bryan Park, and Ginter Park.

Angela and her husband, Bill, love to garden year around. They grow strawberries, squash, beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions, garlic, horseradish, potatoes in the spring & summer, and all kinds of greens like chard, kale, mustard greens, lettuces during the fall and winter months in their homemade hoop houses.  They also grow Hops to use when brewing beer, and belong to the James River Homebrewers Association.

Angela is a foodie and loves to cook or “concoct” dishes with what she and Bill get from The Farm Table, or right out of their own garden, or the spent grains from brewing beer. Angela’s other passion is as an architect designing healthcare facilities; currently, she works part-time at VA State University where she is working on their Campus Master Plan.  She loves to travel and experience new places and new restaurants.  When it’s time for Angela to relax, it is all about spending quality time with friends around her fire pit, having a glass of wine or beer.

Heather Jeffrey

Heather Jeffrey started as a member of The Farm Table early in the first season, only to quickly become a Neighborhood Coordinator as she was determined to bring the veggies south! After finishing her first year the relationship was bound to grow and so she took on the Area Manager role for South of the James at the start of the second season in January 2012. Heather is responsible for families as far West as Mosely and Chesdin Landing, as far East as Rivers Bend and Hopewell, reaching all the way South into Petersburg and Ft Lee. 

Heather’s family has lived in the Richmond area for over 15 years and after having lived on both sides of the river, it still amazes her that local produce is a search-and-find mission! When she lived in the West end, she worked on bringing farmers to the 17th street market. She moved to Northside and helped bring biodynamic gardening supplies and practices to the greater Richmond gardening community. Heather and her family then ventured to Chesterfield County; the crops around them were limited to small patches of tobacco and a large amount of deer. Although the soil wasn’t what she was used to working in, it was the water – or lack thereof – that refueled her interest in locating farmers and making the connection between their efforts and her family’s food needs!

Heather feels fortunate that she gets to be a wife and a mom at this stage in her life, and is cherishing every minute. The extended Farm Table family has brought, along with great produce, many laughs, and hope that there is still a strong future to good, local eating!

We look forward to introducing you to more Farm Table staff over the course of the season. In the meantime, come meet the Area Managers and your  Neighborhood Coordinator at The Farm Table’s first ever ice cream social. We are hosting an ice cream social on June 3rd from 3:00pm until dusk at Echo Lake Park.  Everyone is asked to bring their favorite ice cream, we will provide the toppings.  Echo Lake offers trails and fishing, so bring your rods and sturdy shoes for an afternoon the whole family can enjoy. Official invite and more details are forthcoming. Save The Date!

Kale, the Queen of Greens

3 May

If you are a Farm Table member, we hope you find the newsletter full of recipes that accompany your food boxes each week to be helpful. We are excited to share with you an additional way to add new recipes to your repertoire via our Farm Table Board on Pinterest.  Not sure what to do with a particular vegetable, fruit, or herb in your box? This is a relatively easy way to find recipes on the web, collected in one easy and accessible place to help you with your meal plan each week. Please note: There is absolutely no requirement to join Pinterest if all you want to do is look around. Pinterest is a free site that anyone can access if they choose. You would only join if you indeed wanted to build a personal Pinterest board or if you wanted to re-pin from The Farm Table’s Pinterest board. 

Are you wondering what to do with kale? We brought back 3 recipes from our 2010 season that will surely put this delicious cruciferous leafy green to good use. We think the nutritional perks of kale, and the rich flavor it adds to dishes make this vegetable worth learning about. Enjoy!

Kale with Pork Chops (or Pork Sausage)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of curly or flat kale chopped coarsely
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Slices of meaty bacon, sliced into small pieces (optional)
  • 1 Medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 boiling potatoes (Yukon Gold) or baked potato
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 lean Pork Chops, sprinkled with a dry rub of your choice (recommend a mixture of garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, and paprika).

Directions:

  • Place the bacon into a pot and fry until pieces are crispy. Remove most of the fat.
  • Place the butter into the same pot and sauté the onion.
  • Add the kale into the pot and mix with the butter, sautéed onion, and bacon fat.
  • Place a lid on the pot and cook for 15 minutes. You may need to add some water if you cannot get a simmer.
  • Next add the vinegar, honey, cover again and cook for 10 more minutes.
  • Delicious with a baked or boiled potato.

Baked Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch (about 10 ounces) of Kale
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees, F.
  • Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs.
  • Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl, then sprinkle with salt.
  • Arrange leaves in a  single layer on a large baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. 
  • Place the baking sheet on a rack to cool.
Kale and Potato Soup or Caldo Verde Soup

 You can make the vegetarian version of this classic Portuguese soup by omitting the addition of sausage, but a traditional Caldo Verde soup includes chorizo sausage.

Kale and Potato Soup:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (adds just enough kick to this soup!)
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • 2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 Lb Kale, leaves ripped off and stems finely shredded (about 7 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute (do not let garlic turn brown).
  • Pour in the stock, raise the heat to high, then bring to a boil.
  • Add the potatoes, lower the heat to a simmer, then cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the Kale, Salt, and cook the soup 15 more minutes.

Caldo Verde:

  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 carrot, peeled and then diced
  • 2 cups potatoes, chopped or sliced thin
  • 1/2 lb – 1 lb Kale, leaves ripped off and stems finely shredded
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or in a pinch, 2 quarts of water
  • 6 ounces of chorizo, sliced thin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Saute the onions, carrot and garlic in 3 Tbs of olive oil, until translucent. 
  • Add the potatoes and the stock, cover and simmer over medium for about 15-20 minutes
  • While the potatoes are cooking, cook the sausage in a separate skilled, until most of the fat has burned off. Drain fat and reserve.
  • Once potatoes have soften, mash them right in the pot.
  • Add the sausage, and then the kale. Cook for about 5 more minutes. 
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

A Film Screening & Potluck

2 May

Be sure to mark your calendar and bring a dish to share at this Richmond event:

Photo courtesy of Ingredients

Slow Food RVA,  in cooperation with St Thomas’ Episcopal Church and Lulu’s Local Food, invites you to a Potluck Dinner and screening of the acclaimed film, Ingredients.  This feature-length documentary, illustrates how people around the country are working to revitalize our connection to the food that we eat. Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, the film takes us across the U.S. from the diversified farms of the Hudson River and Willamette Valleys to the urban food deserts of Harlem and to the kitchens of celebrated chefs Alice Waters, Peter Hoffman and Greg Higgins. INGREDIENTS is a journey that reveals the people behind the movement to bring good food back to the table and health back to our communities.”