This time of year, in our part of the country, CSAs are starting up. CSA is shorthand for Community Supported Agriculture. Folks agree to buy produce, fruit, etc., from a local farmer at a set price. Often the food is delivered once a week for a set number of weeks. If there is bounty of, say, cantaloupe, members of the CSA share it; if a crop is lost, members share that too.
One of my responsibilities is to run a small CSA. This time of year can be tough. We had a cool, wet spring, delaying much of our planting. So for our first week of produce we had loose leaf lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, fresh herbs, and chamomile – not exactly your average weekly produce purchase from the grocery store.
That said, there’s something good about the discipline of attending, in our kitchens, to the early, delicate, often overlooked fruits of the earth. You may not be a CSA member, or a home gardener, but we all know the benefits of eating in season (flavor, nutrition, sometimes price). So here are a few notes on how to make the most of this time of year:
1. Learn to Love the Leaf. My last post was a nod to leafy greens. It’s worth restating. Greens are unmatched in subtlety and nuance – not that they lack pizazz; you can get pretty crazy with some mizuna and arugula. I like to roll up huge spinach leaves, the size of my face, and eat them like a … spinach stick, which does not sound appetizing, but is. Is it ever.
5. Embrace Volunteers. Plant volunteers are veggies that may have gone to seed, and are now germinating, or bulbs (like onion) that you missed and are now regrowing. I have a row of onions that were too small by the time of the freeze last season, that are now regrowing. Two years ago I lugged a sack of turnip seed to my shed. It had a hole in it and left a thin trail of seeds on the ground. The following spring I had a single row of turnips bisecting one of my fields.
I hope these tips are helpful. Feel free to share any of your own.