I know, I know… ’tis the season to be jolly and all that, but for me this is the best season of the year for another reason…food. Locally grown, organic, Worden Farm vegetables to be exact. It’s snowing “up north”, but here in southwest Florida, we have waited all the long hot summer and fall to get to now – the winter growing season when we get to eat the best locally grown, organic, healthy, tasty vegetables!
We are members of the Punta Gorda, FL-based Worden Farm CSA – a community supported agriculture farm membership program. Last year I had the extraordinary opportunity to volunteer one day a week on the farm, planting seeds and helping the Wordens and their awesome apprentices grow food for hundreds of families in southwest Florida.
This year, as we’ve done for the past four years, we are enjoying the fruits of their labor, getting a box of vegetables (our share) each week from December through April. The thing I love about the Wordens is that they are not just farmers growing vegetables – they are a farm family that is building community through food production, sustainable practices, workshops, tours, farm feasts, and sharing.
This year, since Keith and I have both committed ourselves to a more plant-based diet, we are finding it much easier to use all the vegetables we receive in our share box each week. So far this season, our boxes included arugula, avocado, beets, broccoli, cilantro, eggplant, kale, lettuce scallions, tomatoes, bok choy, celery, fennel, green beans, kohlrabi, peppers, turnips, and Swiss chard… and we have delighted in the bounty.
There’s just something amazingly wonderful about preparing and eating food that is good and that you know is also good for you and the planet. Because there is always such a variety in our box, we’ve tried to create some new ways to prepare and enjoy all the great food. Here are a few of the dishes we’ve made from the vegetables in our shares so far:
Arugula-Pear Salad – on a bed of fresh arugula, add sliced pear, grapefruit sections, dried cranberries and walnuts. Top with home-made cashew-peanut citrus dressing.
Fennel-Bok choy-Swiss Chard Chicken – Brown chicken thighs. Saute slices of fennel bulb, bok choy and shredded swiss chard with olive oil and garlic. Add to chicken. Add some white wine and vegetable stock and simmer till done.
Tofu-Veggie Stir-fry – Press and drain firm tofu, then marinate chunks in mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, & Ponzu sauce. Brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Stir-fry chopped bok choy, scallions, swiss chard, eggplant, and carrots. Add tofu chunks and marinating sauce. Serve over cooked brown rice or bulgur.
Swiss Chard Frittatas – Beat 4 eggs. Chop and saute Swiss chard, banana peppers, onion, & mushrooms. Add egg mixture. Cook until just beginning to brown. Flip. Cook till egg is firm. Serve with slice of toasted, fresh-baked whole wheat bread and orange slices.
If you aren’t a CSA member yet, but want to try Worden Farm produce this year, you can find them at the farmer’s markets in St. Pete, Sarasota, Punta Gorda, or Naples. Or, come visit us, and we will gladly whip up a meal for you!