From the Farmer

Week 14 – 9/5/2012
With September comes…
 
Winter squash and sweet potatoes! A few of you have asked recently what new veggies are coming out of the fields in the next weeks. Last week we began harvesting winter squash and sweet potatoes. You will see these in your shares soon, after the first of them have cured. We’re excited about these, they mean Fall! They mean a cooling trend, at least. The winter squash have matured awfully early, like many crops this year, and truth be told it seems a little weird. But I cooked one up last night and it tastes ready, so here they come.
 
Sweet Potato… Greens?!
 
Sweet potatoes are a gift that keeps on giving. They know no limit. 
 
This is a great week to make a meal around the box. This week we give you sweet potato greens. That’s sweet potato, not yams. Like Malabar spinach before them, they are great summer greens. The greens – yes, the greens! – of the sweet potato have been feeding generations of people living in tropical, subtropical, and arid regions for hundreds of years, at least. Many varieties of sweet potatoes, especially in West Africa and in the Caribbean, are grown specifically for the leaves, not the tubers. Whole culinary traditions have been built around them, just as they have been around the European greens. Sweet potato greens are widely used in Asia, too, particularly Thai cooking. They are high in Vitamin A and protein and all the good things dark, leafy greens give you. 
 
And they can grow in the heat, bless them. Euro-greens have nothing on them; they wilt in the Virginia summer, succumb to harlequin bugs and blister beetles, and become sharp and bitter. But in summer do we deny ourselves our chlorophyll? No – in the immortal words of one former apprentice farmer we say, boldly, “Nay! Distribute the leaves of our sweet potatoes, and let there be joy and culinary adventures throughout the land.”
 
And so we will. And the good basil, the potatoes, the garlic, the tomatoes, and the onions and red peppers. And the best little capsicum, hot pepper. These together should make a great curry, which is our recommended introductory use for sweet potato greens. You might even add sliced okra and some Cape gooseberries. Guaranteed to be great with tofu, free-range chicken, or fish. Don’t forget the rice. Try this dish with a yogurt smoothie for the kids and a cold beer for you adults.
 
Sweet greens and be great, 
 
Mike
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Willowsford Conservancy

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