From the Farmer

Week 5 – 6/14/2016
Last Chance to Weigh in On Farms and Transition Area Zoning before Wednesday’s BoS Meeting
This Wednesday there is a Board of Supervisors meeting (6 pm at the County Building in Leesburg), which will include several items of interest to those of us in the Transition Area.  One of those, Item 11, includes language which would allow agricultural and educational uses in Open Space.  This is very important to the Farm.  Please send an email or letter to the Board of Supervisors and Supervisor Buffington in support of these specific changes.  We think they are vital to our farm plan – they would allow us to build sheds, farm stands, and a farm house.
You can use this template or write your own letter.  You will see in the template that we support a very narrow set of agriculture and education uses for Open Space in the Transition Area.  Or course, if you support more or less we encourage you to articulate what is important to you.  Engagement in the process is the most important for all of us.
In this week’s share and Onion Family Special
In this week’s share, several of our favorites: beets, baby leeks and garlic scapes.  Late spring, early summer is a unique time of year here.  We still have cool season vegetables like greens and broccoli, but the sudden summer heat can be hard on them, and there is often a lag between this time and the time summer vegetables like squash and tomatoes ripen.  Broccoli takes it particularly hard, and many farms, CSAs especially, skip spring broccoli for this reason.  When the weather turns hot, broccoli has a hard time holding its round dome together, and its favorite green worms arrive.  If your broccoli this week has “the sprouts” it is okay!  If you happen on a green worm it is also ok!  Scream, drop whatever is in your hands, then soak the broccoli in salted water, that will draw any out.  You will now have more in common with your grandmother.
Beets: these are a beautiful little variety, smooth and round and sweet.  Try them and let us know what you think.  Beets are closely related to Swiss chard, and their greens make a nice salad or cooking green.  The sweet salad turnips are similar in the sense that they have such fine texture, with none of the heat of a radish.  If you like turnips, we think you’ll really like these.  If you don’t think you like turnips, we think you’ll really like these.  Eat them raw or cook by baking, roasting, frying… you might halve or quarter the beets and the turnips and bake them together.
Arugula is a nutty, almost spicy green.  It is much more nutritious than lettuce.  You might try adding to a salad to spice things up, or eat it raw as its own salad.  It also cooks well as a cooking green, though because it’s tender it doesn’t take long – add it to a stir fry only at the end!  And add some different flavors to it – sweet, savory and bitter at least, in the form of fruit or honey; goat cheese and nuts.  Easy salad: simple goat cheese, strawberries, and walnuts, with a balsamic vinegar dressing.  Add some spice with some hot pepper, dried cayenne, or sambal olek.
Onion family coming your way this week!  Let’s talk about these guys.  First you saw spring garlic, then scallions, now baby leeks and garlic scapes.  Baby leeks?  Yes!  Use them raw, or, my fave: spread on a baking sheet, cover with a touch of olive oil and sea salt, and bake in an oven or toaster until they caramelize a little.  Eat them as a side or cut them up and put them in a salad, on a burger, heck, put them anywhere.
Garlic scapes – the little bundle of pigtails – these are my favorite part of garlic, along with all the rest of it.  The scape is the flower stalk.  We harvest these to redirect the plant’s reproductive energy (just because you can doesn’t mean you should) back down to the bulb, which we will harvest in another month or so.  Treat these the same as the baby leeks.  You can eat the tender stem (remove the end if it’s tough or fibrous) as well as the long, pointed, closed flower.  Feeeeel, taaaste the garlic, but without the heat.
But let’s TBT and talk about where these plants come from.  The Allium Family includes chives, onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, scallions (non-bulbing onions) and elephant garlic, as well as wild species like ramps, which grows in moist forests, and wild garlic, a common weed in the field and abandoned lots. Other species of the family are grown for their ornamental beauty. Many Alliums originate in the northern hemisphere, mainly in Asia, yet some are still native to Africa as well as Central and South America. The Latin genus Allium originates from Greek meaning "to avoid because of offensive smell" – perhaps you’ve heard a common name for garlic is “the stinking rose.” Cultivation of this family is believed to date back 5000-7000 years ago.
Various parts of Allium plants are consumed from the bulbs, such as onions and shallots or garlic, to the bundle of leaf sheaths on the leek commonly misnamed a stalk or stem. Garlic produces an immature flower stalk, or scape that can be used as a vegetable. Chives also produce a small scape used as an herb, or flowers that can be used as a spicy addition to salads. Garlic is thought to help lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure, help fight against tumors, and reduce toxins in the body. Leeks, onions, scallions, and shallots are said to also help lower blood pressure, prevent tumor growth, and contain the flavonoid Quercetin whose anti-inflammatory properties are thought to help people with arthritis.
People believe much about the vegetables in this family, some surely based in truth and some… well, people believe many things.  You decide which is which.  Romans believed chives could relieve the pain from a sunburn or sore throat. Romanian gypsies used chives in fortune telling, and thought bunches of dried chives hung around the house would keep evil and disease at bay. Greek athletes would eat large amounts of onions, drink onion juice, and rub onions on their bodies before Olympic Games. Emperor Nero acquired the nickname Porophagus or “leek eater” because he consumed large quantities of leeks cooked in certain oils, believing it improved his singing voice. And in ancient Egypt, garlic was fed to slaves building the pyramids to help maintain their health and strength. Meanwhile in China, garlic was and still is used to treat diarrhea, worm infections, or even sadness.
So garlic, onions, chives, scallions, leeks, you might like their flavor for good reason.  Eat these at every meal.
Take care and be great,
Mike, Deb, ANYA, Al, Lex, Jennifer, James, Briana, Theo, Kay, Bella, Radish, goats x how many?!, Camilla x 495, dinner chicks thankfully x 0, Rosco RIP and Popcorn, stuffing the mailbox at the County building ahead of the big meeting
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