Tag Archives: Farming

Ample Harvest

19 Jun
St. Thomas' Food Pantry doors welcomes guests every Thursday from 10-12

St. Thomas’ food pantry doors welcome guests every Thursday from 10-12

Nestled in what is known as Ginter Park in North Richmond, sits St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, a place of simple hospitality that has served the community since 1907. We visited St. Thomas’ a few weeks ago to learn more about their food pantry, which regularly serves people in the 23222 and 23227 zip codes. What we found was a highly organized food market with volunteers dedicated to serving the community.

The food pantry, part of a three church network including St. Paul’s Catholic Church and Ginter Park Methodist Church, is a market-style pantry where guests select the food they like to eat according to USDA nutrition guidelines.

The goal? To provide three meals for three days for each person in the household.

Food Pantry Volunteer Linc Sparks

8-year volunteer Linc Sparks prepares to register guests of the food pantry.

St. Thomas' food pantry

In May, the food pantry served a record number of people: 282 households, totaling 1,114 people. This is up from 2012 (213 households), and 2011 (105 households).

Food Pantry

To date for 2013, the food pantry has served 2,502 households, a total of 9,536 people.

USDA Guidelines

St. Thomas’ serves people in the 23222 and 23227 zip codes — a restriction based on guidelines from the Central Virginia Food Bank as part of their effort to make sure food distribution is widely spread across the areas where food is needed.

At 19 cents a pound, the food is purchased through the Central Virginia Food Bank (CVFB), which is part of Feedmore, using funds from the church budget. Through CVFB, St. Thomas is able to access the USDA surplus food, which they receive for free and distribute according to specific guidelines set by the USDA.

St. Thomas is also a Food Rescue partner with the Food Lion on Chamberlayne Avenue, gleaning good food 2 times a week that would otherwise by discarded. Other supporters of the pantry include Panera Bread, and The Little House Green Grocery, among many other supporters who provide food on a weekly basis. 

St. Thomas Volunteers

Grace Sparks and her granddaughter prepare pastries gleaned from Panera Bread

St. Thomas Volunteer, Lilly

10 year old Lilly visits every summer from Ohio and serves as the “produce manager.” This is her second year volunteering with her grandparents.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church Hospitality

Coffee, water, and pastries are prepared and served to guests waiting their turn at the food pantry. A focus on hospitality is the trademark of St. Thomas’ volunteers.

St. Thomas revamped their food pantry over a year ago — rather than giving guests a box of food, some of which the clients may not be able to eat because of dietary restriction — they allow guests to choose food for themselves using the USDA guidelines as a tool. The pantry is set up each week, resembling a market, and the people they serve are given a grocery bag where they can “shop” for the food that they are able to eat. The foods the pantry is unable to keep on the shelves include tuna, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, and cereal. They offer a limited supply of perishable items, mainly because they do not have the means to store fresh food for long periods of time.

Ray Jackson preparing the bread table

Ray A. Jackson, City of Richmond retiree and World War II Army Veteran, has volunteered at the food pantry since the 1960’s. He also helped The Farm Table blogger, Michele, pronounce Norfolk properly, the place where he grew up before moving to Richmond in 1952. He is St. Thomas’ longest running food pantry volunteer.

St. Thomas' Market-style food pantry

St. Thomas’ market-style food pantry allows guests to choose items they need based on USDA requirements.

Perishable items gleaned from local grocers

Perishable items gleaned from local grocers like Food Lion and The Little House Green Grocer on Richmond’s Northside.

This is where Ampleharvest.org and you, our readers, come in. The site links home gardeners and other supporters to the nearest food pantry in the community who accepts perishable items. As gardens begin to flourish with an abundance of food, linking up your food surpluses with pantries in need is a wonderful way to offer the people who need it access to good, healthy, and fresh food.

Dried beans ready for guests to take home

Food items gleaned from local grocers

Sharing from your garden is not the only way to give! Beginning this Thursday, June 20th, we will collect non-perishable items from Farm Table members who place canned, jarred, and boxed goods in their empty boxes. We will deliver them to food pantries in need, including St. Thomas’. We think giving back is one way we can broaden our food community, and we can do that with your help!

Food pantry volunteers, Ray and Bob, preparing to open the doors for guests waiting outside for the pantry to open

Food pantry volunteers, Ray A. Jackson and Bob Wiard, preparing to open the doors for guests waiting outside for the pantry to open. Today they celebrate one of their regular guests who is officially cancer free.

Looking for other ways to give?

Consider volunteering at your nearest food pantry. St. Thomas  is always looking for volunteers to assist with gleaning throughout the week, or helping on Thursday mornings when their food pantry is open to the people who need it.

Food pantry volunteer and member of the St. Thomas community, Andrea Marcinkevicius, hopes to see more youth helping out at local food pantries this summer. “People of all ages and abilities can help!”, Andrea says.

Farm Table member and Ministry Leader at Gayton Care Ministries, Stacy Deyerle, says she regularly donates food from her Farm Table box to the pantry at Gayton Baptist Church in Short Pump. Deyerle says their pantry serves people from Goochland, as well as “folks dealing with a recent job loss or serious health issues.” Food donated to their pantry really helps people in need.

We hope you will join us in supporting your local food pantry this summer and beyond — as we all enjoy the bounty of the season, let’s share it with others.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church   3602 Hawthorne Ave   Richmond, Virginia, 23222   804-321-9548 Food Pantry is open from 10:00am-12:00 noon on Thursdays Volunteers needed: Tuesdays at 12:00 noon to help unload food purchased at CVFB. Thursdays anytime between 9am-1pm Gleaning, Tuesdays and Saturdays

St. Thomas Episcopal Church
3602 Hawthorne Ave
Richmond, Virginia, 23222
804-321-9548
Food Pantry is open from 10:00am-12:00 noon on Thursdays
Volunteers needed:
Tuesdays at 12:00 noon to help unload food purchased at CVFB.
Thursdays anytime between 9am-1pm
Gleaning, Tuesdays and Saturdays

 

 
 
 

2883.74 Miles Away

17 Jun

I spent some time in Oregon last week and had the pleasure of enjoying all of this:

Oregon Carrots

Oregon Berries

Oregon Beets

Oregon Flowers

Oregon Potatoes

Easter Egg Radishes, Oregon

Where are you going this Summer? Wherever it is, consider stopping at the Farmer’s Market!

Blue Bee Cider

7 Jun

We hope you will join us at our Pop-up Market at  Blue Bee Cider in the Old Manchester District tomorrow, June 8, from 12:00-4:00pm.

We will have fresh local produce, Harvest Hill Farms meats, Quail Cove Cheese, freshly baked goodies from Flour Garden Bakery, and Polyface chickens! Blue Bee Cider, Virginia’s first and only urban cidery, will be open for your tasting pleasure from 12-6.

Until then, enjoy this piece we did on Blue Bee Cider back in December and then come taste the real deal with us tomorrow!

Follow The Tractor

Blue Bee Cider

The Farm Table had the opportunity last year to meet Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider, at the 2012 Richmond Earth Day Festival. We’ve enjoyed following the progress of this local business ever since.

Courtney, author of the Cider Apprentice Blog, started blogging about her experiences as an apprentice cidermaker at Albemarle CiderWorks in 2011. Since then, she has started her own urban cidery housed in Richmond’s Old Manchester District.

Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider

I had the pleasure of joining Courtney and her in December during a pressing, and came away from the visit appreciating the making of Blue Bee Cider even more. Courtney’s father, Mel, a sweet and gracious man, who is clearly committed to the success of Blue Bee Cider, gave me a tour and run down on theprocess of making cider

Blue Bee Cider

Courtney, who was in constant motion during my visit, displayed an impressive combination of dedicated work ethic…

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Grow. Eat. Share.

17 May

Food Revolution Day

If you are a Farm Table member and received a box yesterday, you learned that today is Food Revolution Day, a global day of action focusing on good food, and keeping cooking skills alive.

Now this is something we can get behind!

Lindwood-Holton outdoor classroom

Linwood-Holton garden

We had the opportunity to visit the students at Linwood-Holton Elementary school in North Richmond today, where program staff were engaging a group of students who visited Holton’s outdoor garden and learning classroom.

Spinach

Grow food with your children!

Students were able to tour the garden, learn about composting and growing their own food, and worked together to make lunch from scratch using basic ingredients from the garden. The results were delicious!

Lettuce

Strawberry Salad

Schools and organizations across the globe are participating in activities today, in an effort to promote cooking traditions by preparing good food, and teach children the importance of passing those traditions on. We were pleased to see these traditions taught in our own backyard, and were proud sponsors of the Food Revolution Day‘s Junior Chef Cooking Contest held at Kitchen Thyme and West Broad Street yesterday. To learn more about Food Revolution Day check out Jamie Oliver’s website where you will find recipes to share with your children.

Linwood-Holton Elementary School garden

What sorts of things are you doing to get the young people in your life cooking and eating fresh, whole food that is good for them? What kind of traditions are you passing down to them? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page! Please share!

Fresh Spinach Dip

1 May

 

Harvest Hill Farm Member Event

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Harvest Hill Farm Member Event this past Saturday. It was a wonderful way to get out in the country, enjoy a piece of the farm life, nosh on some great food, and watch the pigs do what they do best…eat!

The Farm Table prides itself on the community you have helped to build over the last few years, and we look forward to being able to get together over the course of the 2013 season to celebrate good farming, good food, and  good people. 

If you were unable to make it out to the farm last weekend, then you missed out on the fresh spinach dip that Richmond Area Manager, Patty Loyde brought. We’d like to introduce you to Patty, and share her spinach dip recipe using Farm Table ingredients:

Patty Loyde, Farm Table Area Manager

Originally a product of the suburbs in both New Jersey, where she grew up, and Henrico County, where she lived after graduating from the University of Richmond, Patty Loyde and her husband John are now Fan dwellers in the city of Richmond – and can’t imagine living anywhere else. Patty started as a Neighborhood Coordinator in the summer of 2012 for the Fan,and has now added the positions of Central Richmond Area Manager and Bookkeeper, aka Chief Number Cruncher, to her duties this year.

Patty loves to travel and watch movies, plays tennis year-round, tends her small city garden, and cooks from scratch, when not checking out the local Fan restaurant scene (Olio, Fresca, and Mint are some of her favorites). She attempts to eat a diet of unprocessed food whenever possible, striving for progress, not perfection. The  Farm Table makes that goal so much easier!

Fresh Spinach Dip, The Farm Table

Fresh Spinach Dip, By Patty Loyde (Print Full Recipe Here)

I made this spinach dip for the Harvest Hill Farm Member Event and served it with tortilla scoops. I love that I was able to use the spinach, onions
and garlic from that week’s box and that I didn’t need to use the package of highly processed soup mix I usually do to make it. It turned out just as good, if not better than the ole’ standby, often served in a bread bowl.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup shredded or finely diced carrot
  • ½ cup finely diced spring onions, white and light green parts
  • ¼ cup finely diced spring garlic, white and light green parts
  • 1 full bag of spinach
  • salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup diced spring onions, dark green parts
  • 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, if you prefer
  • ½ cup Miracle Whip or mayo, if you prefer
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Finish with: salt & pepper and onion & garlic powders, to taste

Directions:

  • Clean and dry the spinach well.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the carrots, onions, garlic, salt and pepper until softened. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Using the same pan, sauté the spinach in a little more salt and pepper, tossing occasionally, until all the spinach is wilted. You may need to do it in batches, depending on the size of your pan.
  • Transfer the cooked spinach to a strainer and remove as much liquid as you can by pressing with a spoon or ladle. Place on a few layers of paper towels, top with more paper towels and press to remove additional liquid.
  • Finely chop the spinach and add to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Stir well and chill for at least 2 hours to combine flavors.
  • After being chilled, finish with salt & pepper and onion & garlic powders to taste. If you’re serving with salty chips, the dip won’t need as much salt.

Spring Pop-Up Market at Hardywood

7 Apr

The Farm Table 2013 Spring Produce

The countdown has begun for fresh, seasonal food straight from the farmer to your doorstep! If you are getting impatient for The Farm Table’s anticipated April 18th start date, and you missed out on our last Spring Pop-Up Market join us for another fun evening at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery for our 2nd Spring Pop-Up MarketWith the weather forecast showing temps in the 80’s, join us while we celebrate the beginning of the new season,  renew your membership, or become a new member. 

The Farm Table Spring Pop-Up Market

The Farm Table Pop-up Market at Hardywood
Wednesday, April 10 at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery from 4-9 pm. 2408 Ownby Lane, Richmond VA 23220. Click here for directions.

We will have eggs, honey, greens, lettuce, carrots, Brussels sprouts, pastries, bread, Amish sweet butter, Harvest Hill Farm meat, and Quail Cove Farm cheese available, while you enjoy your choice of Hardywood’s excellent selection of craft brews in a laid back venue.

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Hardywood Park Craft Brews

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
If you missed out on The Hardywood Community Hopping Project for 2013, be sure to check back next year to get in on the local action while you grow hops for their RVA IPA. Some of The Farm Table staff and members got in on the action this year — we will keep you updated on how the hops grow in our backyards!
Hops for RVA IPA
The Farm Table Pop-up Market at Hardywood 
 
Join us Wednesday, April 10 at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery from 4-9 pm. 
 
Hardywood Park is located at 2408 Ownby Lane, Richmond VA 23220.

New Beginnings

21 Feb

Signs of new life waiting to take over the 2013 season.

The 2013 season is almost here!

Home Garden

We can almost taste it.

Friday Night Is Pizza Night

16 Nov

The Farm Table would like to introduce to you to one of its members, Jennifer Burns, a mother of three: Asher (2nd grade), Grace (1st grade), and Calvin (16-month old). While she is a new member this year, the fresh and local food movement has long been  a commitment  of her’s, a commitment built on a concern for her family’s health and environmental sustainability . What draws us to Jenn are the established food traditions in her family, and the somewhat laborious tasks she takes on in the kitchen (i.e. grinding her own wheat!), both of which we have great respect for.

Allow us to introduce you to this self-proclaimed ‘army brat’ who met her husband while they both attended Georgia Southern University:

After Ryan and I moved to Richmond and had our first two children, I fell down the rabbit hole of whole foods and “natural” living, and developed roots in this city without realizing it. After an almost 3 year stint away from RVA — Redemption Hill offered Ryan a position as Director of Operations — we jumped at the chance to move back to Richmond, a place we officially call “home” now. A few months after moving back to Richmond we discovered baby Calvin would be making an appearance the next summer (Virginia is for lovers, right?). Some time during all those travels I decided that being a Christian, stay-at-home health nut mom that grinds her own wheat and makes her own deodorant and lip balm wasn’t weird enough, so we home school too. 

When we decided I would stay home after our first child was born, I began reading and learning about nutrition and natural living (he was a very mellow baby — I had time to read that year). At first  I was pretty hardcore (making deodorant? Really? Yes.). However, over the years, with the addition of children and homeschooling, I’ve had to cut back on many extracurricular “natural living” type projects in order to maintain a somewhat orderly household AND my sanity. “Different people can handle different things” has been my mantra! I was so intense about food preparation, and making as much as possible from scratch to save money so that I could use high quality food, that it’s hard for me to think of the way I cook now as being labor intensive. I admit I do still grind my own wheat berries for flour, but that’s mostly for pizza dough these days. I have been buying bread (gasp!), and I make most of our pancakes and muffins with almond meal or coconut flour. I do like to make sauces and baked goods from scratch, not just for my vampire (garlic intolerant) child, but I like having control over all the little ingredients and sneaking in veggies, like beets and kale, when I get the chance.

The biggest food tradition we have (which never occurred to me as a “food tradition” before) is Pizza Night, a tradition carried on from my childhood. Nearly every Friday we make pizza and watch a movie. When other things come up and Pizza Night cannot be bumped to Saturday, my kids tend to have a hard time. It is THAT big of a deal. I’d like to say it’s because my pizza is amazing, but it’s more likely the fact that we get to eat and watch a movie…Ok, mostly the movie. They’re rarely excited about the leftover pizza for lunch on Sunday as it is not served with television. 

Pizza dough recipe found here

I decided to give The Farm Table a go this year because it sounded like what I needed. In an ideal world we would eat primarily local, organic fruits and vegetables, and pastured animal products. Unfortunately I don’t live in that world, so we do what we can, which varies day-to-day. I like the idea of farmers markets, but I get tense and flustered in crowds. Trying to make menu, budget, and grocery decisions in that sort of environment, oh! Last year we joined a traditional CSA, which I thought was my solution. I did enjoy the idea (again with the ideas) of supporting “A Farm,” thus a specific connection to “A Food” source, but unfortunately the downside of one source is that it wasn’t feasible to supply the variety that my family would be more likely to eat with a good attitude. Also, sad though it may be, running out to the pickup location with three children very close to dinner time, wasn’t exactly roses (maybe the stems…). Enter The Farm Table. I’m told what to expect the week before (so I can plan), there’s a nice variety each week, and (drumroll please) I never have to leave my house. I would say it’s been all I hoped for, but that sounds like something my overly dramatic daughter would say (but really, it has been!). There has been much less gnashing of teeth from the vegetable-challenged members of my peanut gallery than last year. 

So far the only thing I couldn’t tackle this season was the daikon radish. There’s a good bit of food that only I enjoy (cabbage, most greens….) and I deal with that by serving it once as a dinner side that week and eating the rest for my lunches. The enormous radish just didn’t work out that way. Even I, the human garbage disposal, can only eat so much radish!

As we approach the holidays, is there a family food tradition that has been passed down in your family, a sneaky way you feed veggies to your children, or another inspiring story you have to tell?  Do you have a recipe you would like to share with The Farm Table community? We want to know?  Contact us at support@thefarmtable.org with your recipes, tips, and traditions.

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing  your food and family life with us! 

Giving Thanks through Food

10 Nov

When my husband and I visited Monticello for the first time and came home with a packet of seeds from their gift shop, we never imagined the harvest that would come from this souvenir.

I mentioned several posts ago that my husband’s pride and joy from our garden this year were the Long Island Cheese Squash. He grew a little about a dozen of these beautiful pumpkins, and we have since gone on to make soup, desserts, pumpkin gnocchi, and bread with them.

We were excited about the opportunity to turn these tasty vegetables into an offering of thanks to our close neighbors who helped us with the arrival of our third child in September. Most of our family lives in the Pacific Northwest, so we relied on the kindness and support of our tight-knit neighborhood  to help us with our children while we were at the hospital bringing our now 2 month old into the world. They have since brought us dinners, desserts, homemade salsa’s, among a myriad of other thoughtful gestures. Seriously. You should move here.

How were we going to show our appreciation and gratitude? Through food, of course!

Needing a creative outlet, I decided to turn these glorious pumpkins into pies, and to bake a cake for our son’s 2nd birthday. How in the world was that supposed to happen with 3 children at home? Well, I did it over the course of 3 days, and enjoyed every minute of it. I am certain it could be done in 1-2 days, but not in this house!

I used Martha Stewart’s Brown-Sugar Pumpkin Pie recipe to treat our neighbors, and this Pumpkin Layer Cake recipe to celebrate our beautiful boy.

Day One: I halved 3 pumpkins total, scooped out the seeds, quartered them, and baked them individually, cut side up in the oven for 1-hour at 350 degrees. I placed a baking dish full of hot water on the bottom rack.

Out came this:

After cooling, I scooped  the pumpkin away from the skin and placed in our food processor.

I blended the squash for a few minutes and out came this  brilliant, bright orange, creamy puree. 3 pumpkins gave me approximately 13-cups of puree.

Day 2 and 3: I turned the puree into 6 desserts. One for each neighbor, and one for the birthday boy.

I had about 1 cup of puree left, and noticed after 2 days in the fridge that the puree lost its color, so recommend using the puree soon after you make it. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days, or you can freeze it for a couple of months.

A local friend who attended the New England Culinary Institute, and was the head chef and manager of a Bed & Breakfast in Vermont imparted this bit of knowledge along to me, “Pumpkins that come out of the can are drained of excess moisture before they are canned. This intensifies the pumpkin taste and ensures a great pie crust. When you cook a pumpkin at home, once its out of the oven and you can safely handle it (it should still be warm), you should puree it and then put it into a strainer lined with cheesecloth – this extracts some of the excess moisture in it and intensifies the flavor. This can all be done on the counter top.”

I recommend both recipes for your upcoming holiday meals, and encourage you to purchase a packet of these happy little seeds for your garden next year. You will not be disappointed, unless of course they don’t grow. In that case — try again.

I know at least one green-thumbed friend who is getting a packet of these seeds in her holiday card this year!

What sorts of things do you make to give thanks to those around you?

Here are some suggestions I found using pumpkins:

I do believe there are Pie Pumpkins available this week as an add-on.

Hmmm. How convenient!

Get To Know: The Farm Table, Part III

18 Oct

We love the community you have helped The Farm Table build. Our Members, Area ManagersFarmers, and our Neighborhood Coordinators, together, make a difference in supporting our local economy, and building a food community that brings farmers and families together. Eating local food creates jobs, boosts the economy, promotes health and well-being, and supports a healthy environment with thriving communities.

We are thrilled with the outpouring of support our members have shown toward helping the Flores Farm expand their irrigation system. Through your generous help, Flores Farms will be able to double the amount of irrigated fields on their 50-acre farm, ultimately allowing them to increase the variety of produce they provide next season. The Farm Table and the Flores Farm are grateful for the generosity our members have shown thus far — please keep it coming. What a difference you are making! 

In our Get to Know series, we’d like to share more about the Flores Farm, and introduce you to a few more of the Farm Table team who link you to your local farmers. Thank you for reading and keeping it local!

Since immigrating to this country two decades ago, Virginia farmer Gerardo Flores has become known for his ability to grow such rare vegetables as sorrel, purslane, Japanese daikon radishes, and more than fifteen types of hot peppers. Gerardo and his son Omar farm fifty acres of produce on the Northern Neck and count Hispanic and Asian produce buyers in the Washington, DC, area among their customers. Even so, according to Omar, “With the agriculture economy the way it is, we weren’t sure we were going to make it.” Having a network of families supporting local farmers has helped to add as much as $1,000 a week to a farmer’s income,  “Some weeks that’s what keeps us in business,” says Omar. “For us, this is the future.”

Peter Pickering is a former Neighborhood Coordinator turned Area Manager.

“I manage driving the truck.

They call me The Pirate and the truck is my ship.

I plunder the 7 seas for the finest produce, and deliver only the most excellent treasures to the people.

I am a graduate student at VCU studying counselor education.

I have a small farm with my wife.

We have chickens and guineas, bunnies and ducks.”

Shari Fowler joined The Farm Table and began making deliveries early last year, shortly after The Farm Table began operations. She added newsletter duties a few weeks later and has been doing it ever since.

She is originally from Dayton, Ohio where she met her husband Chris of 23 years. She lived in Central PA, and Apex, NC before moving to Richmond two years ago with her children Dana (13), and Curtis (11), and their 14-year-old German Wirehaired Pointer, Emma.

Shari used to have her own garden, but since her current property isn’t ideally suited for it, she decided to do the “next best thing” and become a Farm Table member. A self described “foodie”, Shari likes to entice her family with fun and creative ways to eat nutritious, tasty cuisine. Her favorite new food this season were the oyster mushrooms, “They looked freakish but were oh-so-delicious simply grilled over an open flame with olive oil.”

Shari is the owner and creator of Iberian Inspirations Natural and Organic Body Polishes and Body Butters. In her spare time, Shari grows exotic plants and orchids, hikes, kayaks, practices yoga, and listens to music.

To help us celebrate our local food community, and meet The Farm Table team, join us at Grayhaven Winery on Sunday, October 21st at 1:00pm. Bring a picnic blanket, the kids, and a batch of dip to share for our second annual fall dip-off! Kick off your shoes and enjoy a glass of small-batch crafted wine by the masters at Grayhaven. Observe or participate as we create our own batch of homemade apple butter to jar and send home with our members. Kids can enjoy face painting, a corn pool, nature trails, and the animals at Grayhaven. Check your official Evite to RSVP.