…And it begins.

Liz here. I just got done harvesting one of our first rounds of summer squash.  And it was exciting! Because summer squash is exciting! …For about a week.  Maybe two weeks.  And then, the squash plants are so prolific that it’s just overwhelming.  So while for now you are still (hopefully) excited about summer squash, sooner or later you might get overwhelmed by an inevitable question: What do I DO with all this squash in my share? I thought I’d provide some preemptive inspiration in the form of three recipes that I snatched from the internet.  Hopefully, this will help to get you thinking creatively about summer squash.  It’s all about perspective: instead of dreading round after round of sauteed squash, perhaps a new recipe will help bring new life to this CSA classic.

 

Garlic Parmesan Yellow Squash Chips

An incredibly flavorful, crispy, and absolutely delicious snack!

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 35 minutes

Servings 6 Servings

Author Katerina | Diethood

Ingredients

  • 4 yellow squash (small to medium), sliced into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch rounds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper , to taste
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • cooking spray (I use Organic Olive Oil by Pam)
  • Serve with Non-Fat Plain Yogurt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine squash, olive oil, salt and pepper; mix until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, and garlic powder.
  5. Dip slices of squash in cheese mixture and coat on both sides, pressing on the coating to stick.
  6. Place the squash in a single layer on the previously prepared baking sheet.
  7. Lightly spray each slice with cooking spray. This will help with achieving a crunchier texture.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven; gently flip over all the slices, lightly spray with cooking oil and bake for 8 more minutes, or until chips are golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven; transfer to a serving plate and serve with a dollop of Non-Fat Plain Yogurt.

Recipe Source: http://diethood.com/garlic-parmesan-yellow-squash-chips/

 

Summer Squash Succotash

Serves 4 as a side

1 fresh ear of corn, husked
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
12 small pattypan squash, sliced in half or quartered if large (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 baby zucchini, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 scallion, diced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the kernels off the corn and place in a bowl. Use the back of your knife to scrape the juices off of the corncob into the same bowl; set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let cook until soft, about 3 minutes, then add the red pepper and continue to cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the squash and zucchini, cut-side down (as best you can) and another pinch of salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes without moving them so they brown on one side. Stir in the chickpeas and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the corn, corn juices, and garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the cherry tomatoes, scallion, and paprika. Stir and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and basil. Season to taste as needed.

Recipe Source: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-summer-squash-succotash-233931

 

Curried Squash Soup

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large summer squash, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Sour cream, freshly cracked black pepper, cilantro sprigs (for serving)

Preparation

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add squash, onion, and curry powder; season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 8–10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until very tender, 25–30 minutes. Purée until smooth. Serve soup warm or chilled, topped with sour cream, cracked pepper, and cilantro sprigs.

Recipe by Allie Lewis

Recipe Source: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/curried-squash-soup

 

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Farm Rhythms, with a tangent on keeping cool.

Hi, everybody!
I get to write the blog this week, and I thought I’d share some things I’ve been learning in my second season at the Blandford Farm.
Growing seasons have a rhythm to them, and as I continue to work as a grower, I become increasingly aware of those rhythms. Greens, alliums and brassicas are the first transplants to go in the field. Flea beetles are among the first of the pests to appear. (The holes in your Asian greens, arugula and radish greens were the work of flea beetles.) As we harvest greens, scallions and radishes, we are transplanting peppers, tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini. Soon, we will be harvesting their delicious fruit and transplanting fall crops, such as brussels sprouts and root vegetables which will be ready in their due time.
Then there are weekly rhythms. Mondays are for planning and general farm maintenance, Tuesdays and Thursdays are harvest/market preparation days, Wednesdays and Fridays are market days for Mark, and general farm maintenance days for myself and Aaron. So you’d probably never see us moving animals to a different pasture spot on a Tuesday, and we wouldn’t harvest greens on a Friday.
Last year was my first year at Blandford Farm, and I spent that year getting acquainted with all these seasonal and work patterns. This year, I am taking on more responsibility. I have been handed the baton on CSA communications, and I’m also responsible for our direct seeding schedule. (These are seeds that get planted directly in the ground, instead of started in trays and then transplanted. Some items that we seed directly into the soil are: carrots, beets, radishes, peas, beans and cut greens.)
It’s a different perspective. Instead of being told what to do and when to do it, I am in tune with what needs to happen enough that I can arrive to the farm in the mornings and just start doing what needs to be done. I can see a field full of weeds and know which section needs to be weeded first.
It’s a good feeling. Even though I have much more to learn, I feel like I’m growing as a fledgling farmer.
I’ve also been learning good tips to keep cool while working in the fields, as it has been draining-ly hot lately. My #1 hack for keeping cool on hot days is: don’t work on hot days. …At least not in the hottest part of the day. I’ve been coming in to work earlier than usual and leaving earlier than usual to try and escape as much of the heat as I can. It is much more pleasant to work at 7:00am these days than it is to work at 3:00pm.
Tip #2: Wear a bandana around your neck and keep it cold and wet. This can be achieved by periodically drenching it with a hose. It’s amazing how much cooler I feel when the back of my neck is cool.
Tip #3: Wear a hat with a wide brim. Create your own shade!
Tip #4: Stay hydrated. You’ll sweat more and thus stay cooler.
Tip #5: Wear sandals, not shoes. Your feet can feel the breeze, and you can occasionally put your feet under the hose. It’s very refreshing.
Tip #6: This one is mainly for those who sunburn easily. (And as a redhead, I can tell you that I sunburn easily!) It is easier to wear light, long layers than to apply sunscreen constantly throughout the day. I find that I get just as hot in shorts and tank-tops as I do in long pants and a *light* long sleeved shirt. So I opt for the longer option so I can protect myself from constantly getting sunburned. My farmer’s tan cuts off at the wrists!

Blog Photo

I’m the one in the straw hat, following *most* of my own advice for keeping cool!  The rubber boots were a bad idea. (At least as far as heat goes.)

Farm Day 2017

Do you want to get some farm in your life? There is no better way to support local farms and jump start a summer of healthy eating than by purchasing a CSA share.

CSA shares:
…Give you a chance to see where and how your food is grown. Vegetables are picked up each week right where they are cultivated!
     …Offer the freshest food available. Veggies are harvested the same day you receive them.
     … Provide an opportunity to learn about vegetables that you might not have tried before. Expand your vegetable repertoire with the help of a handy recipe guide created by one of our long-time CSA members.

Whether you are a long-time CSA member or are still considering your first share, you can get some farm in your life by attending “Farm Day:”  a family friendly open house style event at the farm! Meet the goats, sheep, chickens and pigs, say “hi” to your local farmers, check out our plant sale, listen to a story and play some games. There will even be draft horses plowing the field in old-school style! This is a great option for a Memorial Day “stay-cation.”

Farm Day:

May 27, 2017

10:00am-1:00pm

3143 Milo St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534

Native Plant Plot

This year, Blandford Farm applied for a micro grant from Slow Food of West Michigan. We proposed to use funding to turn a section of land on the farm into a native plant agricultural ecosystem.  Our goal is relatively simple: remove some of the scrub plants that had taken over the space, and plant native trees, wild flowers and mushrooms in their place.

We have chosen to plant trees that are listed in the Ark of Taste guide:

Michigan Paw Paw

American Chestnut

American Hazelnut

American Persimmon

Interspersed in the tree-scape, we hope to cultivate the Wood Blewit and Bleu Foot mushrooms.  These native mushrooms are related (known as the Clitocybe Cousins) and prefer wooded areas where they can grow undisturbed.  This makes them ideal companion plants for a grove of trees.  We will sow a native wildflower seed mix in the space so that while the trees are growing and there is a lot of available sun, there will be increased habitat and food sources for native pollinators.  Once the trees begin to mature, the wildflowers will be pushed to the edges of the space, as the available sun will decrease.

Part of the intention for this space is to have an educational component to it.  Stay tuned for opportunities to learn about agro-ecosystems, and how you can turn your own backyard into an edible native plant paradise!

 

Currently, this is what the space looks like:

 

Why join a CSA?

Many people who read this blog are already CSA members, and we appreciate it! But for those of you who aren’t CSA members, here is a post about why we have a CSA program at Blandford Farm, and some of the reasons a CSA share could be good for you and your family. 

Fresh, nutritious food is the cornerstone to healthy living.  But by the time most produce makes its way to the supermarket, it has been in storage and in transit for weeks or even months, depending on where it was sourced.  In addition to being imported from other states or countries, much of our food is also grown with pesticides and herbicides, which leave residue on the fruit and vegetables that we then consume.

There is an alternative: buying fresh, local fruits and vegetables from farmers who take care to have healthy growing practices.  There is a growing movement of naturally grown “slow” food production, started by people who know that where and how food is grown correlates to the nutritional value and taste of that food.  Blandford Farm is proud to be a part of that movement, offering you a local option for vegetables.

We offer CSA shares as a way to connect you back to the food you eat.  If you become a CSA member, you can pick up vegetables the very same day they are harvested!  We are committed to producing the most nutritious, ecologically friendly vegetables possible, practically in your backyard!

With pigs, goats and chickens for kids to interact with, a nature play nook, and a children’s garden for visitors to explore, picking up your CSA share can be a fun family experience as well as a culinary adventure.  We produce a wide array of vegetables, ranging from familiar favorites such as heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers to leafy greens to less familiar vegetables like kohlrabi, fennel and daikon radishes.

For more information about how a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share can support a local farm, to see a sample share, or to sign up for a CSA through Blandford Farm, check out our website: http://blandfordnaturecenter.org/blandford-csa/

 

We offer a discounted price on CSA shares for Blandford members:

Full shares are $510

Partial shares are $300

 

For those who are not Blandford members:

Full shares are $540

Partial shares are $315

 

We offer two pick-up locations.  One is at the Blandford Farm on Tuesdays from 4:00-6:30pm.  There is no additional fee for this pickup location.

The other is at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market on either Wednesdays or Fridays from 8:00am-1:00pm.  There is an additional $25 fee for market pickup.

In the words of the BEEPS…

For those of you who don’t know, BEEPS are Blandford Environmental Education Program Students.  This year, Aaron and I have been part of a collaboration between Blandford Nature Center and Blandford School: the BEEP mentorship program.  This week, the theme was communication, and so the BEEPS decided to write a blog post that I could share! 

Hi.  Our names are James, Other James, Violet and Ava.  We are part of the first-ever Blandford Farm Mentorship Program, or BFMP.

I am Violet and I will tell you about how this mentorship is going for me.  The first day we cleaned the goat pen.  That was the worst day.  But it was still fun because we sang and told jokes.  I love being in the dirt and planting the seeds.

Hi.  My name is James.  And I like turnips.

Hi.  My name is James P. and I am part of the very first mentorship of farming.  I really like farming and it is so fun to do this mentorship. 🙂

Hello, I am Ava.  I am part of the first ever farm mentorship at Blandford.  I did not know that when I came to blandford a lot of things were going to happen.  Number 1.  I did not know that I would have this much homework.  Number 2.  I did not know I would make such great friends, and finally number three.  That I would be able to be in such a great mentorship.  This mentorship has been a once in a lifetime chance.  First of all I get to hang out with the goats so much more then I would have if I was not in this mentorship.  Second, I got free food, spinach, and turnips.  And finally third I got to know the farm a lot better.  Overall I am happy I am in this mentorship.  I would recommend this mentorship to any future BEEPS.

Growing Gardens

Part of the reason that I was able to be hired on full-time at Blandford is because I wear many hats for the Blandford team.  In the winter, when there is not as much to keep two full time farm staff busy, I am primarily working as an outdoor educator:  teaching programs such as “Anishinabek Lifeways,” “Wildlife with a Backbone,” and “Winter Explorers.” I am also privileged to be collaborating with other Blandford staff to pilot a school garden outreach program (called Growing Gardens), and create a new educational program based on the farm to reach upper elementary students.

As an aside, part of Blandford’s history is collaboration with a group called Mixed Greens.  Mixed Greens was all about helping schools plan and maintain educational gardens, exposing students to many different kinds of vegetables and promoting healthy eating.  Mixed Greens and BNC ended up merging together, but sadly, the program could not be sustained in the long term.  The program I am working on with other BNC staff feels like it’s coming full circle to the intention behind Mixed Greens curriculum: making gardening and garden spaces more accessible to local schools.  

I am hoping my role as educator, farmer (and occasionally graphic designer) will act as a bridge between the educational component of Blandford and the Blandford Farm.  I believe that both aspects of the nature center have a lot to offer each other.

With moving into the new nature center building very recently, the acquisition of the highlands golf course, and all the internal planning of how we can expand our offerings to the community, it is certainly an exciting time to be on board!  I feel honored to work at a place that values my perspective and contributions, and I’m excited to see where the next few years take us!  I’ll try and hold on to that perspective come August, when it’s 90 degrees and I’ve been in the field for hours.  I know there will be highs and lows to come, but for the present, I am feeling good. (Cue Nina Simone.)

Related: Blandford Nature Center’s Environmental Consulting blog

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