This is an exciting time of the year for local eating, in more ways than one for our family. The first spring veggies are finally showing up at the Raleigh Farmers Market: peas, snow peas, lots of lettuces, and even some beets! The past few weekends at the market have given me a few humorous moments as well. Once the weather warms up, people start looking for warm-weather crops as if they just pop up out of the ground fully ripened as soon as the temps are high enough. I was picking out some turnips at Beth Moore’s Produce when a customer walked up and asked, “Do you have any peppers?” I looked up at her, then at the saleswoman, then back at the customer. I let a little snicker fly which went unheard (I tried to stifle it, but I couldn’t). The answer was a curteous, “No, not yet.” The real answer was, “Are you kidding me? We haven’t even planted them yet!”
The same customer went on to ask, “What are these?” while pointing at the english cucumbers, followed by, “Are they good?” Wow. Then she looked at me as if to say the farmer was crazy and we were the sane ones trying to buy some decent produce.
Anyway, strawberry season is in full swing, but there are ZERO organic sellers. I keep hoping to see some over at the Durham market, but still nothing. There are a couple of organic u-pick farms in the area, but they both sell organic along with traditional berries. That makes me leary, but I hope to get out there and put up some ripes ones before the season ends.
The other big news is that our CSA share for the season has started!
Back in January, I started looking for a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm with some open shares for the season and found an upstart, first year CSA farm in Johnston County called Wild Onion Farms. We’d been wanting to join a CSA for a year or two, and getting in on the ground floor of a new operation seemed perfect for us. We chose Wild Onion because of the diversity of their crops - they don’t just plant green leaf lettuce and Better Boy tomatoes, but actually focus on rare and threatened varieties. Secondly, their season was quite long, extending from early May all the way up to the end of the year! This was appealing to us as a lot of the CSA’s in this area end soon after the first frost of the season, even though plenty of things are available at the Farmers Market heading into the Christmas season.
I was afraid we’d be the only subscribers, but they eventually announced that they had filled up for the season. We headed out for the Spring tour on a gray and rainy day, Earth Day actually. We hit a sustainable building event at the Museum of Natural Sciences in the morning, and the kids fell asleep on the way out to the farm. We had to take turns walking out into the fields with our farmers, but it was worth the trip. It was great to see the fields and the start of what will become our primary veggie source for the year, and I literally felt several nearby lightning strikes in my hair as we discussed how people don’t know how to cook kohlrabi.
We picked up our first box last week, and of course it was kind of slim. I say that, but then realize that we still have some parsley, a little endive, and a couple of spring onions sitting in the fridge, coming into a second delivery week. The first night we went straight salad, using up all of the mesclun. I used the spinach in a stir fry with tofu and mushrooms. We gobbled up the Amish deer tongue lettuce and mizuna in another salad, and I’ve been tossing the green onions into almost everything. Frankly, I think it’s going to be a challenge to use up our full share every week. So far, it’s been an exciting challenge. Here’s the tally from the first week:
- 4.5 oz mesclun
- 1.3 oz endive
- 3.3 oz spinach
- a few radishes
- small bunch flat leaf parsley
- bunch of mizuna stems
- spring onions
- head of Amish deer tongue lettuce
- head of some other lettuce
- sunflower plant