From the Farmer

Eat Your Weeds!

Good morning, Shareholders,

Have you ever laid your head on a living pillow of green clover, chewing a stem as you look up at the sky? Before the season of wispy dandelion wishes, have you tasted the blossoms? As we seed and plant, we attempt to civilize a parcel of land that used to breed tangled green chaos in the form of weeds. Although I fumble more than farm, I’ve shared enough coffee and conversation with the amazing souls behind the real work of vegetable production to know that the work of weeding is never really done. Weeds seem to be more closely related to the overnight wonder of Jack’s magic beanstalk than they are to the vegetables Willowsford nurtures, expanding aggressively without any of the encouragement given to the summer squashes and melons. They crowd our careful rows, competing with our crops for soil nutrients and water, and disrupting the efficiency of a harvest.

One of these miscreants is purslane. Its fat, crisp leaves resemble those of a jade plant, strung along a thick reddish stem. Like clover and dandelions, purslane is wholly edible. The flavor is savory, pleasantly lemony when raw, but milder with cooking. Oddly, this flavor changes depending on the time of day it’s harvested. Purslane employs two separate processes for photosynthesis, one of which increases the malic acid content of the leaves and makes for a tangier taste during this phase in the morning. An annual succulent, purslane is found nearly worldwide and throughout the fossil record. Trying a Paleo diet? Then you need some purslane! It’s made cameo appearances everywhere from Australian Aboriginal cultures to Ancient Greece. Like literally everything else, you can also now buy it online from Amazon. More to the point, there’s a luxurious vegetal carpet of purslane spreading through a small section of The Grange farm. For CSA Week 15, we’ve decided to employ an experimental method of weed control: we’re going to eat it!

Purslane has been called the most nutritious of all edible greens. It’s unusually high in omega-3 fatty acids, one of the essential nutrients our bodies cannot manufacture and must obtain from our diets. It’s also bursting with antioxidants and minerals (Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Riboflavin), in much greater concentrations than more familiar greens such as spinach. This wild weed makes a great addition to a salad, sandwich, or pesto. Its natural pectin is an ideal thickener for sauces or summer soups.

I’ll be keeping it simple in lunches this week, stuffing it in pitas like watercress with a little feta and some of the incredible Umbrian olive oil we hide on the back shelf of the spice cabinet, or maybe doing a quick pickled purslane topping for avocado toast. Here are a few other ideas we’ve gathered:

  1. Purslane and Parsley Salad
  2. 45 Things to Do With Purslane

Small Shares

  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Hot Peppers
  • Melons
  • Onions
  • Zucchini

Large Shares

  • Basil
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Hot Peppers
  • Melons
  • Onions
  • Purslane
  • Zucchini

Here’s hoping this foraged superfood in your share nourishes your sense of adventure! Sending you dandelion seed wishes for a wonderful week.

Take care,

Ashley x Penny the lazy farm dog, Farmer Anya, Deb x 22 goats & 1 fabulous Alpaca, Anna Vice President of Peanut M&M Sourcing and Distribution, Dan and Ann, Lex x 800 happy hens and x 10 happy hogs, James and Rocko, Nate, Christina, Kate, Amanda, Michelle (newest and most tolerant retail assistant), and Her Royal Highness Radish The Feline Queen

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Willowsford Conservancy

41025 Willowsford Lane, Aldie, VA 20105

Phone: 571-440-2400

info@willowsfordconservancy.org

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23595 Founders Drive, Ashburn, VA 20148

Phone: 571-297-6900

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