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The Bowl Craze Explained

The one-dish meal is having its moment. The bowl craze started with the smoothie bowl and has since become a menu staple in many kitchens and restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even if you haven’t seen one of these protein-packed bowls on a menu, you’ve likely seen one on your Instagram feed.

Though its contents may vary, most grain bowls follow a simple blueprint. It begins with a grain base, like rice or quinoa. Then, you could spoon almost anything over your grains and call the result a bowl (and some do). But the best bowls have a balanced combination of flavors and textures, and of vegetables, proteins, sauces and garnishes. Let your creativity soar in the combination of toppings and you’ll be surprised with the results!

Once you have selected your grains, you then need veggies – preferably something green, like kale or spinach. Raw, cooked or steamed vegetables will work great too.

Now you need a protein. Think of small amounts of braised or roasted meats, whether left over or freshly cooked. Beans are a great option as well. Adding a soft-cooked egg, preferably one with a runny yolk to coat the other ingredients like an instant sauce, is always a great idea.

Once you have the bowl assembled – grains, vegetables and protein – it’s time to think about garnishes, which add character and depth. Something pickled or pungent keeps things interesting, and something crunchy (sesame seeds or nuts) diversifies the textures.

Finally, a sauce on the side for everyone to mix in to taste. Use ingredients that mesh with the flavors of the bowl. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and rice vinegar or lime juice for Asian-inspired combinations. Pesto goes nicely with roasted red peppers, eggplant or anything else vaguely Mediterranean. A simple salsa works great for a Latin inspired bowl. Bottled hot sauce provides spice to the fire-toothed. And a basic vinaigrette will get along with practically anything else.

Another reason for grain bowls’ popularity is that they’re very customizable. Mix and match. Then mix and match again. If you do it right, you will never serve the same bowl twice – not unless you want to, that is.

Last but not least, bowls can be seasonal! In today’s world of mass production and far-flung distribution, the seasons blend together. Fruits and veggies that used to be available just once a year can now be found 365 days a year. However, thanks to our local farmers we can enjoy ingredients at their prime and find them more flavorful and nutritious than their off-season counterparts.

No wonder the bowl has become a favorite way of eating: out of a bowl, fresh ingredients, bold seasonal flavors, and various textures and temperatures. I’m in – time to mix and match!
Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador


Kale-Pesto Quinoa Bowl


2 large eggs

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 avocado ¼ cup homemade pesto

1 roma tomato, chopped

1 cup baby broccolini, lightly sautéed with salt and pepper

1 cup mushrooms, lightly sautéed with salt and pepper

For the pesto:

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1 cup fresh kale leaves

¼ cup parmesan cheese

¼ cup pine nuts + plus a handful for garnishing

1 large garlic clove

3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt + pepper to taste


Cook the eggs to your liking. I like mine runny so I cook them for exactly 7 minutes in boiling water.

While the eggs are cooking, add all the pesto ingredients to a food processor. Process until almost smooth.

Prepare your breakfast bowls: Add 1 cup quinoa, broccolini, mushrooms, tomatoes and half of the avocado thinly sliced and pesto sauce to taste.

When eggs have cooled, peel them and slice in half. Add to the bowl and sprinkle with pine nuts.

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Kale Power

I wish I could tell you that I’ve always liked kale. The healthy-leafy-green vegetable that now seems to be everywhere from smoothie bars to every menu across America.

For the first 30+ years of my life, I didn’t know kale existed. My introduction came about five years ago, when I started to juice, the flavor was “grassy” almost “metallic” like, I just couldn’t take it. I wanted to like it. But it caught me off guard. Kale was not part of my grocery list.

But when you love to eat, and the latest food trend catches up with you, it is almost impossible to avoid this grassy green. So I started to try it in different dishes. I would cook it, use it raw, puree it, and now… I can’t get enough of it.

One of my favorite restaurants in Washington State serves it simply sautéed in olive oil with garlic, golden raisins and pine nuts. That’s it! So simple, it’s impossible not to like it. Now, I feel somehow responsible to defend kale, the misunderstood child of the vegetable family. With its thick, curly leaves, it can easily seem intimidating, as though you’d have to wrestle it into submission before it agrees to be cooked.

Around the United States, everyone is talking about kale. So what’s all the kale hype about? Flavor aside, I love kale for three fundamental reasons: Kale tops the charts of nutrient density, possesses incredible culinary flexibility, and is easy to grow almost anywhere, which means you can enjoy local kale just about anywhere when it’s in season. I recently learned about its power to support brain health, and will be sharing that with you on the Klesick Farms blog.

As explained by doctor Drew Ramsey, author of Happiness Diet, the power of phytonutrients do amazing things. 


Sulforaphane is one of the reasons that cruciferous vegetables like kale and broccoli are on everyone’s “superfoods” list. Its antioxidant action helps fight high blood pressure, while its ability to stimulate natural detoxifying enzymes reduces brain inflammation as well as the risk of breast and prostate cancer. These protective effects may also be responsible for the observation that sulforaphane helps improve learning and memory abilities following brain injury. It can kill the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which is responsible for stomach ulcers and gastric cancer risk.

Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA)

ALA is an omega-3 fat found mainly in plants. It is an essential fatty acid, meaning your body can’t produce it and you must obtain it through your diet. Plants use this fat to convert sunlight into energy, making it vital to our planet’s energy production. In the brain, ALA is converted to the longer omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are particularly important for brain and heart health. Higher intakes of ALA are linked to a lower risk of depression and may decrease anxiety and the effects of stress.


Plant-based diets are key to brain health, and one reason are folates. At least eight forms of these water-soluble B-complex vitamins exist in food. Folic acid is the synthetic version. Folates, also known as vitamin B9, are needed for a healthy brain and good moods as they keep brain cells healthy, ward off heart disease (drastic risk reductions), and even fight cancer.

So what are your thoughts on Kale? What is your favorite way to enjoy this leafy vegetable?

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador



Kale, Apple and Parmesan Cheese Salad with Roasted Garlic-Lemon Dressing



3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, thinly sliced

1 apple

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste



Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the kale, toss to coat and let stand 10 minutes.


While the kale stands, cut the apples into thin matchsticks. Add the apples and cheese to the kale. Season with salt and pepper and toss well.

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Summer is Busy

Even if you are not a farmer, summer has got to be one of the busiest times of the year! From September to June the routine is fairly stable, but when school gets out – ALL BETS ARE OFF. Moms everywhere go from chauffeurs to program directors. Maybe the year ‘round school concept would make more sense in our post agrarian society?

Why do we send our children to school from September to June? Primarily because summer break was once needed to grow food, put up food, mend fences and cut firewood. A productive summer meant a comfortable winter! With the shift to a non-agrarian based calendar, maybe school should shift as well – just a thought. As a local farmer, a year round schedule would open more markets and more locally grown food could find its way into the school system. And that would definitely be a good thing for our children, local farmers and the health of our nation. Since that isn’t happening anytime soon, Klesick Farms and their band of local growers can save you some time by letting you skip at least one trip a week to the grocery store. This time of year, when the kids are running the asylum, time is definitely high on my families list.

Next on my list is eating well. I know you would think that eating well is more important, but truth be told, most moms (& dads) wouldn’t mind a little “me” time (just a little). Your box of good is almost as fresh as a garden (even I can’t beat a garden for freshness), and even if you have a garden, it probably wouldn’t hurt to supplement with peaches, melons, beans, cherries or other family favorites you aren’t growing.

For those of you who have chosen to skip the garden, Summer arrives every delivery day with your box of good. We make eating healthy – simple, fun and affordable. We do it all year long, and especially during the summer when we are showcasing the bounty of our local growers. A box of good is also convenient! If you love watermelon or grapes or basil, you can add that to your delivery every week and it will arrive at your door. Imagine, the next time you “go shopping” you simply pull out your phone, order what you like at and then we hand pick it, hand pack it and hand deliver it to your door.

I have been working with the same growers for almost 20 years, we know what we are doing and we like to do it. We like farming and helping you feed your family well is about as satisfying as seeing plump, juicy sugar snap peas or ripe red raspberries ready to harvest.

Enjoy your box of good, we enjoy getting it to you!



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Picnic Basics 101


Lately I have been a little obsessed with picnics. There’s something about sitting out in nature enjoying a plate full of delicious food that gets you thinking: “Life does not get much simpler than this!”  Whether it’s spur-of-the-moment sandwiches or well-planned out menus, what’s not to love about packing up a basket, inviting some friends and enjoying the great outdoors?

If you are a fan of the PBS series Downton Abbey, you have probably lost yourself in the lavish picnic settings and feasts. Even though in real life we don’t have Mr. Carson serving our every whim, that does not take away from the magic that happens when we disconnect from technology and simply enjoy each other’s company. In reality, a picnic is nothing more than a portable party, so it is just a matter of choosing a great location, putting a guest list together, planning the menu, and bringing something to sit on.

So today, I share with you some of my “Picnic Basics 101” to make the best of your next meal al fresco.

Where: When thinking of location, also think of how you will be transporting the food. Is there a hike? Are you biking there? Pack it up accordingly. If your pets are joining, consider whether this is a pet-friendly location. How popular is this place? Do we need to show up early to save a spot?

When: What time of the day would the picnic be? Should you pack an extra blanket or two? Is this an evening picnic? Electric lanterns or appropriate lighting may be needed.

Who: Think of your guest list. Is Grandma joining us? Hopefully so, so let’s pack a folding chair so she doesn’t have to sit on the ground. Kids? How many? Time to come up with some creative games! I always pack a ball, because you can place two rocks on the ground on each side of the “field” and you have a soccer game. Frisbees and kites are always great too!

What: The menu. For me the simpler is always the better. Pre-cutting your fresh fruits and vegetables makes for easy snacking. Salad-in-a-Jar is always popular. Stop by the local bakery and pick up a loaf of bread, cheeses, and cured meats and you are ready to go! When kids are part of the party, I find that sandwiches are always a must. One of my favorite sandwiches (or wraps) is the Veggie Sandwich: hummus, shredded carrots, chopped olives, Feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado on whole wheat bread or in a wrap!

Whichever menu you settle with, remember to keep the food at the proper temperature to avoid any food illness. While we’re on the subject, baskets are pretty to look at but coolers are practical. Plan for how long you’ll be staying out and try to keep your food at a cool temperature for as long as possible.

As for the drinks, they get heavy quickly so I like to pack individual bottles of water, lemonade or juice and when possible make each guest to carry or bring their own.

Last but not least, there are some other essentials you might want to pack: of course a blanket or a picnic rug, insect repellant, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, condiments (salt and pepper), paper towels, matches, band-aids, zip-lock bags, garbage bags and if you are like me: baby-wipes, they clean everything! Trays are great for setting drinks on so they don’t tip easily. Eating utensils, paper plates, bottle openers and maybe an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun.

Now it is time to have fun and relax. A good book, magazines, and the right music are the last details to make your picnic adventure unforgettable!
Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador



Veggie Sandwich



2 slices whole-wheat bread or a tortilla wrap

1/4 cup hummus

1 tbs chopped olives

1 tbs feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced

1/4 coarsely grated carrot

1/2 tomato, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced



Spread 2 slices of bread or the wrap with hummus. Top hummus all other ingredients and voila Wrapping this sandwich in wax paper instead of plastic wrap will prevent the bread from absorbing too much moisture and will keep the sandwich fresher.


Homemade Hummus



30 ounces EDEN Garbanzo Beans, 2 cans, do not drain

1/4 cup organic roasted tahini (sesame butter)

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 1/2 Tbsp EDEN Umeboshi Paste, or to taste (optional)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lemon, juiced and seeds strained out

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced



Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy, adjusting the consistency with a little cold water if needed.


Photos property of The Purple Turtle, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved. 

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People Matter II

A few weeks ago, our family took a vacation/work trip to San Diego. I attended the Dave Ramsey business conference called The Summit while Joelle and kiddos hit the beach. For me, it was three powerful days of intense business encouragement. Of course, Dave and his team taught several sessions, but I also got to learn from John Maxwell, Dr. Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni and Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Oh my word!

If I could be so bold as to sum up three full days of sessions, I would have to say the theme was “Build Culture.” What a commission! I am pretty sure that every business owner there left with the encouragement to build their team’s culture. Why focus on culture? Because as a small business it is your competitive advantage and it is the right thing to do.  Most businesses focus on measurables like productivity, mistakes, sales per hour, etc. These are necessary, but they absorb a far greater percentage of the company’s focus. And quite frankly, it is easier to focus on something you can measure.

The benefits to building culture make the measureables more easily attainable. Why? Because it is your culture that accomplishes the goals of your company, when your team is treated with respect and valued, it spills over into how your customers are treated.

The other day I was talking with a friend, a local business that we both frequent came up and the conversation turned “south” quickly.  He had received poor and indifferent customer service, not once, but twice and now he won’t shop there and went as far as to say, “I don’t think the owner (he used his name) cares anymore.” I tried to defend the owner, but the lack of care extended not once, but twice, has turned my usually mild mannered, care free friend into a negative advertisement. Heart break .

From my friend’s perspective, the culture of that business has shifted. Building culture and maintaining culture is vital to the success of any business – it spills over into every area.

At Klesick Farms, our team is important and you are important. Our team can always accomplish more working together, so whether we are packing your boxes of good or delivering them, we are focused on making your experience with us friendly, efficient and enjoyable. We know you are busy and our goal is to help you and your family eat well and live well.

One of the best ways that I can serve your family well is to continue to build our team culture; to do that I have to get better as a leader (which is why I made the investment to go to this conference). I have to lead by example, continue learning, and also train and inspire my team to serve you well.

Thankfully for me, my team already wants to serve your family well!



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People Matter


Last week we sent an email to each of you asking for you to partner with us in our Neighbor Helping Neighbor program. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the big traditional pushes to rally around homelessness and hunger, but just because the calendar has changed doesn’t mean the need has changed. The volunteers who serve at the food banks are a part of the equation to solve this issue, but so are you. Your generosity in caring for local neighbors is also a part of equation. When we as people care for the physical needs of other people, what we are saying is that we want our neighbors to be whole.


It is so humbling to get to serve the Klesick Farms community because “you get it”. You get that blessing others, caring for others is the right thing to do, and in the process, you too are blessed. Last week we sent 46 high-quality nutrient-rich boxes of good to eight different food banks. Your tangible generosity provided hope and nutrition to those less fortunate and inspiration to those who are on the front lines extending that hope and nutrition. Thank you.


Two weeks ago we were working double time on the farm to get potatoes, sweet corn, winter squash, and Maleah’s flower garden planted so that we could head off to San Diego for a Dave Ramsey EntreSummit business conference the following week. While in San Diego, I mostly sat in the conference and the kiddos enjoyed the sights and sounds of Southern California.

This conference was incredible: three days of practical business teaching perfused with a customer focus. Being in business is about serving people, about meeting a real need in your life, about partnering together to do something bigger than ourselves, and about building community. You and Klesick’s are doing this together through your support of our box of good.


I used to farm with the Gentle Giants: Belgian draft horses, which are big, beautiful, and powerful animals. One Belgian horse can move 12,000 pounds – more than 5 times its weight – and two Belgians that are just randomly put in harness together are able to move up to 30,000 pounds. However, by working together they can pull and additional 6,000 pounds! That synergy is impressive. What is even more impressive is when you take a matched pair of Belgians that know each other, have worked together, and trust each other; this team, when it “leans” into the harness can move not 24,000, not 30,000, not 36,000, but they can move 48,000 pounds!

Together, you and Klesick Farms are like a matched pair of Belgian draft horses. Our synergy, created by a desire to feed our families good food and extend tangible compassion to others is as equally impressive. By working together, we are making a bigger impact in our local communities, in the lives of our less fortunate neighbors and the lives of the local organic farmers.

Together, we are creating something special!



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Playing with Water

We are 70% water, so it’s no mystery why it is one of the most necessary nutrients our body needs. But why is it so hard to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day? We know the endless benefits of drinking water: heart circulation, metabolism, joint health, digestive health, clearer skin, etc.

Think of a dried prune; it’s all dry and wrinkled. Now, think of a fresh prune; full of hydration, smooth and healthy. As much practical sense that this all makes, I have to admit the idea of sipping on the same thing all day long can get boring. So lately I have been experimenting with Infused Water. Spring brings us bright, beautiful, and colorful produce that can naturally enhance the flavor of water. Infused water can be any combination of fruits, vegetables, herbs and even flowers. Why infuse water? The answer is simple. By improving the flavor with a healthy option, it’s an easier way to achieve your recommended daily amounts but also include essential vitamins into this healthy drink.

Although there are many flavored waters on supermarket shelves, producing a homemade option is cost effective and far healthier. Most infused waters available at supermarkets include preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and refined sugars. All of these are bad for your short and long-term health, in addition to being an enemy of your skin health.

Everyone has their favorite fruit infused water ingredients, but some are more popular than others. Lemon, lime, strawberries, apples, and oranges are the most popular fruit ingredients, while cucumbers, mint, basil, cinnamon, and ginger are the most popular vegetable ingredients. I think it’s time to produce your own, so I’ve included a basic method to follow. Have fun with it; the rest is up to you! To make your fruit-infused water, simply wash and slice a combination of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Pour cold filtered water on top. Cover the jar and store in the refrigerator. The flavor will get stronger after a few hours. You can replenish the water throughout the day.

Some of my favorite infused water combinations are: Lemon with Strawberry and Cucumber, Cucumber with any Citrus, Apple with Ginger and Cinnamon, Watermelon with Mint, Pineapple and Berry…sounds refreshing, doesn’t it? Here are 3 more tips I follow to ensure I drink enough water throughout the day:

  1. Set a specific goal for the day: Mine is to drink at least 32oz a day, I am working my way to 64oz but for now, 32oz is the goal!
  2. Get a bottle you will actually use and keep it close: My bottle requirements are: absolutely no dripping, BPA free plastic and it must fit in the car cup holder.
  3. Use a straw: I notice that when I use a straw I drink more and faster.

Here’s to a more hydrated you!

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador


Asparagus Soup                              

Growing up we had soup as the first course almost every day, this soup made it to our family table at least once a week. Enjoy!


2 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut in ½ in pieces

1 onion, finely chopped

1 leek (white part) chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon oil

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth

¾ cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste


Melt butter and oil in a medium size saucepan at low heat. Add onion and leek and cook until golden brown. Add asparagus and season to taste. Cook stirring for 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer covered for 20 minutes or until asparagus are very tender.

With an immerse blender blend mixture until creamy and soft. Return cream to pan and add milk or cream. Serve with bread croutons if desired.


Uncooked asparagus will stay fresh for three to four days in the refrigerator. The secret is to keep the vegetable cool and damp. Store spears upright in a container with the stems wading in an inch of water, then cover loosely with a plastic bag. Easier still: Wrap the ends in moist paper towels and drop the bundle into a plastic bag.

Use: cooking asparagus takes only a few minutes. The goal: Preserve the bright color and delicate flavor. Broiling or roasting the spears intensifies their inherent sweetness. Steamed or boiled asparagus is great for salads.


If you boil, forget the fancy equipment. Just launch the spears in a skillet full of lightly salted boiling water. The pan should be large enough to fit the spears in one or two layers, so that they cook evenly and quickly. Don’t cover the skillet; otherwise the asparagus will go from bright green to army drab. Start testing for doneness after two or three minutes by piercing the ends with a knife. They should be barely tender, with a slight crunch. Asparagus will continue to cook after you’ve removed it from the pan. If you like asparagus with snap, drop it into a sink full of cold water to stop the cooking.

Tips from

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Hold Your Horses!

That saying is so universal and it stems from another era, but the message still resonates and is applicable today.  When I farmed with Belgian draft horses, “hold your horses” took on a deeper meaning. Those “girls” of mine were big 1,700 lbs. of muscle and single-mindedness; gentle giants, for the most part.

However, getting them to stand still and wait could be a challenge. Shoot, getting me to stand still and wait is a challenge, and I don’t even have a bit in my mouth! Conversely, waiting and learning to wait is a necessary life skill for all of us.

This spring has been tough to wait! We have had incredible weather, warmer than expected and dryer than expected. I have had several non-farming folk in the community ask me how the farming is going: “Have you planted your peas yet?”  The look on their face is priceless when I tell them, “No”. They think I am joking with them, but I am not. I did work a little bit of ground to transplant some blackberries, but other than that, I am waiting.

I have learned to “hold my horses” and wait for April.  I remember a spring like this in 2005 and I had chomped right through the bit and started discing and plowing. I was appalled that my neighbors hadn’t started yet. After all the weather was perfect, but those 3 and 4 generational farmers who had farmed here for years were holding their horses.  I finally ran into one of those “slow out of the gate” neighbors. I asked him, “Why haven’t you started working the dirt?” His response was profound, “It is only March?” not a hint of superiority in his voice, his eyes, nothing derogatory at all. His answer was simple and, quite frankly, honest.

This year I was the one in the valley holding my horses, and all those multigenerational farmers got started early. Farming is akin to gambling and with the global warming as a new factor, it is hard to know if March will be the new April. And now? After a 1” rain event last week with more to come, I am glad that I have finally learned to hold my horses. After all it is only March!



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Fresh Spuds

Last November we ran into two issues on the farm; rain and storage. The weather had turned bad and we were harvesting more mud than spud. J We’d also run out of room to store any more potatoes. So we left them in the ground, anticipating that the rainy and freezing last winter would kill the spuds.  Last week we “opened up” a few fields with the disc to start drying out the soil. As soon as we started down those left behind rows of potatoes, it was like we hit a brick wall. Bam! The disc sliced through some of the whitest, rock hard potatoes. I was not expecting to see that.

As a farmer, I spend a lot of time building my soil and my soil biology (microbial and fungal populations). I earnestly believe that having healthy soil and microbial activity helps my produce grow better and last longer. However, to have those spuds overwinter and be in as good of a shape as they are was not even on my radar. I called a few farming friends and shared what I discovered – radio silence. So I sent them a picture of the inside and then their responses came in as “WOW!” or “Nice!”

Of course we had to cook up a few and yes, they are good! So we geared up, got the digging equipment set up and headed out. Bummer! It turns out that the winter weather has caused our soils to pack together so tightly around the potatoes it is almost impossible to dig them. Ugh! As we ran the digger through the soil ever so carefully, we were cutting through more than we were harvesting! We have had to resort to hand digging to get the potatoes out. That is really the epitome of slow food!

Needless to say, what was going to be a pretty good harvest and a little extra profit has produced fewer high quality potatoes, which means I could only put them into a few boxes this week. That is painful for me! I love to grow food and love to get it to you.  We will keep digging, but it will be more of a slog than a jog!

I have definitely learned that digging potatoes in the spring is not going to work, but it was sure fun to find this buried treasure.

From local spuds to local speaking!

Last year, our team added a goal to have me spend more time out in the community sharing about organic farming, eating healthier and just visiting! I have spoken to Rotarians, preschoolers and at large farm conferences, and I have been to health fairs and community meetings.  So if you need some entertainment at one of your local meetings or events, just call the office and we will do our best to come and share about the importance of local farms and healthy eating. I will even bring a box of good to be raffled or auctioned off with the proceeds going to your group’s favorite charity.

The farm is waking up!


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There is a New Superfood

I can’t quite get my mind around it, but Lettuce is the new super food. It is a new variety of lettuce created by a team of researcher breeders from Rutgers University. Nutritional breeding is the newest frontier, where in a lab a single plant cell is selected and “grown out”. From these single cell lettuces cultures, the cultures with the most desirable traits are selected and re-grown and re-selected until the Nutritional Breeders get what they are looking for. From there it is grown out as a plant to produce seed for the vegetable growers. While this new lettuce variety is not GMO, it is produced in a lab.

This process has the potential to really speed up the hybridization of vegetable breeding, shaving years off the process of bringing new varieties to market. And this new lettuce called Rutgers Scarlet is supposed to have as much nutrition as blueberries, quinoa, almonds and kale. Those are some hefty claims! Lettuce was chosen as the first vegetable to work with because it is the second most popular vegetable behind potatoes that we eat. And unlike blueberries, the season for lettuce is much longer, thus adding a nutritionally potent fresh food source available for a longer season.

I am still on the bubble on this concept of nutritional breeding. In this discussion, no one is talking about the soil, sunshine and the environment it is grown in. I believe that the soil is everything. I spend a lot of time focusing on my soil health, striking a delicate balance with nature and the ecosystem on my farm. I am hypersensitive to getting the soil as nutritionally charged as possible so that the food we grow can “do its thing”. I am not sure that food grown inside a laboratory can ever compete with food grown outside.

However, if the nutritional breeders can really produce a super food through speeding up the genetic selection within a lettuce plant and I can grow it in my organic system – I can make the mental leap to accept it. As long as the plant breeders are staying with lettuce to lettuce, carrot to carrot, apple to apple etc.

However if they start to add non lettuce traits to lettuce, I am out! I would never consider any crop that has a transgender component, which is what GMO technology uses.

I have other concerns about being so gene selective: vegetables are very complex and selecting certain traits will limit our genetic diversity of our seeds going forward. I understand the debate and the need that they are trying to meet, but maintaining a genetically diverse seed stock is also important for future generations to meet their nutritional needs.