Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Work Exchange (Career Exchange)

Each Tuesday and Friday morning, (the days on which we harvest and distribute CSA shares) we get to work with a team of off-farm folks. They are the Work-Exchange CSA members who come just one morning a week to harvest vegetables with us. Picking strawberries, peas, beans, and  takes a long time, and it is thanks to them that we bring in the harvest without too much stress. 

The best part, though, often seems to be the social infusion of twelve or so individuals throughout the season.
Last week someone asked me how I got into farming, and though its a question I've fielded more than a few times, somehow being in the field, working over a spring-time bed reminded me of the first time I actually considered farming. That's because I had that first inkling during a work-exchange experience of my own. About 13 years ago, my mother and I rode our bikes to a small organic vegetable farm outside of Boston.
There we were invited to help weed the fields with a small group of others. I don't remember too many details, like what we were weeding, but I know it was weeding by hand, on our knees and I remember it was Mothers Day. And my mother, not knowing what she would be setting in motion, asked the farmer "So, how did you get into farming?" He responded, "Well, in the '80s I was very involved in the anti-nuclear movement and..." And that got my attention. I had never before considered that a farmer could come from anything but some long line of farming fore-bearers. This guy was progressive-- an activist in fact! And his political activism led him to... weeding a bed of spring greens?! At some point I must have picked my jaw up off the ground and I might have started weeding again, but the turning of gears in my head drowned out most of anything else. It was one of my biggest "Ah-hah" moments.
I am much more careful than that farmer was in revealing my story of how we got our start. After-all, Tuesday and Friday morning, we are there to work, not inspire! I might say, just to cut to the chase: "I don't come from a farming family." Sometime I just blame Stacy for having the longer ranging vision of starting a farm. I certainly try to tone it down if there is anyone too young and easily influenced as I was in the late 90s...
Nevertheless we have lost a few work-share members over the years... to farming.
Two among others...
This week's share includes:
Zucchini, Summer Squash, or Patty Pan
Pac Choi or Chinese Cabbage
Spring Turnips on Tuesday, Radishes on Friday
Hon Tsai Tai

The last one there is an Asian green that we have grown in the past and which I really like. It is supposed to be like Broccoli Raab, but I like it cooked down more than the way Raab is usually prepared. It is still simple though:  Remove any tough stems, and saute the chopped greens in some sesame oil. Add vinegar (cider is best, ume plum is good too, but balsamic is fine), salt, and keep cooking it for a few more minutes until it looks like how people cooked spinach back in the 80s. At this point you can add some cream, some cheese, and/or toasted nuts. Give it a try... Google Hon Tsai Tai Recipes, and you will come up with some links by other people out there in internet-land who also are CSA members! You won't find this one in the grocery store!
The turnips are Spring turnips. ("normal turnips" are fall turnips which keep for a long time and are way less tender.) Chop 'em up and eat these white roots RAW! Along with your Kohlrabi- chop them into strips!
Apologies for a late blog entry.
Happy chopping.
PS Anyone is welcome to volunteer with us on a Tuesday or Friday morning from 8 till noon! No need to call ahead.

1 comment:

  1. Your recipe sounds great.
    And your pics are beautiful.