Earlier this week before the mass exodus of the impending holiday traffic a few of the staff members made a quick trip to Birmingham, AL to check out a similar project: Jones Valley Urban Farm. JVUF’s main urban farm is located downtown just a few blocks (maybe less) away from the interstate. It was an incredibly beautiful drive — only about 6 hours — into what I forget is the foothills of the Appalachians. Much cooler than here but still above the average temperatures for this time of year we arrived late in the evening to stay with the farm manager of the downtown site. After we had stretched our legs and brought our baggage inside, we walked through the towns’ five points to a tasty Indian restaurant, Taj India, for a delicious meal of Sag Paneer, curried mixed veg, curried Lamb, and curried Goat. Katie, the farm manager, was interested to see how we might hold up on the walk back as we were all dressed in shorts and flip flops –completely underprepared–I think we were just happy to brisk cool air between our toes.

After the walk back to house, we sat around the living room discussing food (of course) and food politics (naturally) especially those concerning the disturbing movement of industrial nations buying up insanely large amounts of land in Ethiopia to have enough food supply for their own nation(s). Check out the article on NY Times: Agr0-Imperialism. Soon the conversation started to dwindle as we became enveloped in the soft velvety sofa.

Birmingham has a rich history thanks to the railroad and its transportation of these naturally occurring deposits of iron ore, coal, and limestone. Birmingham is the only place in the world where all three minerals can be found in such close proximity. Let’s not also forget that it was home to the turmoil of 60’s & 70’s as one of they key points in our nation where Martin Luther King Jr. fought to end segregation.

The next morning we woke with sore backs as we passed out nearly mid-conversation from the long day of traveling the day before to meet with the program director of JVUF where through the morning and into early afternoon we discussed both projects, their histories, and  JVUF’s programming. Here’s a few key points:

The mission of JVUF is to provide access to fresh healthy local foods to the surrounding communities and teach the youth of Birmingham about sustainable agriculture as well as nutrition through experiential learning. JVUF offers over 9 programs that are geared towards a greater understanding our fresh fruit and veg by providing a variety of different ways to get involved: Wanna start your own community garden? They have program for that. Wanna intern on a farm for the summer? They have that too. The most popular program they offer is Seed 2 Plate where students engage in an interdisciplinary program with a different theme. Each session has an agriculture component (in the field), a nutrition lesson, and culinary lesson provided by dietitians, chefs, and teachers in the surrounding and greater Birmingham community.

HM&F made the trip because it was a chance to connect with another project similar to ours and for inspiration concerning developing programs that will benefit not only the youth but as well as adults of the Hollygrove neighborhood. If we could– we would have stayed a few days longer to check the other farm sites as well as some the most beautiful countryside that you may ever see in the South. Hopefully in the future we may see some collaboration between HM&F and the JVUF. Pictures to follow soon.


Just a reminder: We will NOT be open Saturday November 28th.

Summer has arrived — its official not only with the sweltering heat but also what’s in season. This past Saturday we were able to provide you with 3 fruits in the box: blueberries, peaches, & plums! This coming week you can look forward to the possibility of nectarines. Summer isn’t truly official without melons, pies, cooking outdoors, roasting corn, and sweet ice tea. So, in the celebration of summer this week’s recipe is a twist on an old classic: blueberry peach pie.

Like eggplant & citrus the peach also hails from Asia. Surprisingly is a distant relative of the almond! The peach traveled West along the silk road and was cultivated in Persia and along the Mediterranean. Its genus species name (Prunus persica) suggests that it originated in Persia but historical accounts have shown that the Persians brought the peach with them from China. The peach first appeared in America in the 17th century. Peaches were not in commercial  production until the mid-19th century.

The nectarine is a cultivar of the peach and has been referred to as a ‘peach with plum skin.’ Not much is known about the history nectarine but what is known is that it quite possibly existed long before the peach.

The mystique of the peach has its place in many cultures, in China the peach symbolizes longevity and possible immortality.  In Vietnamese culture it symbolizes peace and happiness. Its many amorous qualities may have something to do with it nutritional content which has protein, potassium, and vitamin C.

So all that nutritional goodness could be reason enough to enjoy that sweet tempting dessert: the blueberry peach pie.

Recipe:Blueberry Peach Pie

Map of Farms:

Fiddle head ferns, wild-caught sockeye salmon and the insanely rockin’ bluegrass band known as Water Tower Bucket Boys is just a small tidbit of what was available on a recent trip that some of the staff from Hollygrove Market & Farm were able make to the PNW (Pacific Northwest).

lettuceThe Portland Farmer’s Market had several handouts about the local produce and their farms. At least 3 vendors were offering such goods as wild or foraged for items: fiddle head ferns, second break of porcini, morels, dandelion greens, and other assorted flora or fauna. Our winter season of lettuce, swiss chard, garlic, kale, cabbage, and several other items you have seen quite a lot in past Buyers’ Club boxes were just starting to come in.

We spoke with several of the farmers and everyone after a long wet cold winter were definitely ready to enjoy the extra hours of sunshine and enjoy plenty of produce. Also, most of the farmers aren’t able sell all of their produce just through markets and often have a CSA as well in order pay the bills. The average cost of an 18 week CSA in both Portland, Olympia, and Seattle was anywhere between $450 to $550–or $25 week. All CSA’s offered payment plans and some gave steep discounts for purchasing a share (if paid in full) a month before the start of distribution or if you were in a low income bracket (great options for both students & seniors). Most offered delivery if you lived within a certain mile radius of the farm and some also gave reasons as to why it isn’t in their best interest to distribute outside of pick-up (usually at the market) or delivery times. One, the most obvious issues is time — farmers are very busy people especially in PNW with such a short growing seasons. The other reason is (environmental) economy, gas prices are costly with extra taxes and the drive alone just to the markets is enough to cause a dent in the bottom line.

fiddle heads fernsThe environmental economy factoid that someone shared with me is that for every mile you drive your car (even some hybrids) you produce 1 pound of garbage. I thought about how weird it might be, that while driving down the road then glance up into your rear-view mirror to see a one small pound bag of trash fly out of the back of your car every mile. Furthermore, what about shopping for all the other goods you need in your life, the necessities: shampoo, soap, detergent, and so on? How many pounds of trash are you pushing around in your shopping cart when you’re making groceries? Nobody knows yet, per se, because of the logistics involved in manufacturing. Such as manufacturing the item’s packaging whether or not it is made by the same company or if its shipped. How and where the item is produced is also important in measuring environmental economic impact. The warehouses that have contracts with brands that aren’t always in the same state or maybe even the in the same region. We could keep going but I believe you get the point. So, “what’s the answer?” you’re thinking. The answer can be a simple as, moderation, using everything to its fullest extent (not just with food but clothing, computers, etc) walk or ride a bike instead of drive.

Hollygrove Market & Farm is committed to purchasing produce within a 500 or less mile radius and works with our farmers to be more sustainable both economically and environmentally.

One more thing I would like to share is the interesting points of Thurston County’s Direct Farm Sales Map (Olympia, WA)knife skills

Economic Sustainability: farms are in itegral part of a thriving local ecomony. A dollar spent at a local farm or farmer’s market will circulate in the community many times over.

Fresh & Nutritious Whole Food: The faster food goes from farm to table, the longer it lasts, has more nutrients (enyzmes and other vitamins are lost the longer it is removed from the vine), and the better it tastes!

Diversity of Choice: When choosing among many farms and their products they vary in their agricultural practices, the items they produce, and how they treat the people who work for them. When you buy local, you decide where to spend your money and your own standards for the products you buy.

Local Control: The community has tremendous power over the environmental, social, and economic standards of local agriculture because the farmers directly rely on us for their support. We can also stop by and talk to the producer of your food choices face to face. By buying local, we can take back control of our food supply from increasingly consolidated corporations that are responsible almost solely to their shareholders.

Recipe:  Peach Cucumber Salsa

Map of Farms:farmer map

GlobalWarmingThe debate continues on whether global warming exists or not.  Is it caused by humans?  Is it nature just going through its phases?  Or is it a little bit of both?  Whether you believe in global warming or not, it’s no secret that we create a lot of waste and then dump it on other countries.  According to The National Geographic, the average American throws away 4.4 pounds of trash every day.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 27 percent of our trash is food waste, which creates methane in the landfills.  This carelessness is becoming expensive, especially during these penny-pinching times.  So global warming or not, how can we help the environment and save some money?

  • Compost your food scraps/waste or feed it to animals.  You would be surprised at how many dogs and cats love veggies, and chickens will eat just about anything.  You can bring your compost to the Hollygrove Market’s compost bin, or you can feed them to the newest Hollygrove residents — our hens!  Make sure that you don’t throw into the compost pile any bones, meat or oil-based substances.
  • Eat more veggies!  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a meat-based diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.  A plant-based diet requires 300 gallons per day.  You still crave that meat?  Reduction in meat and balance between the two is always a safe bet.
  • You’re already doing this one – buy locally!  On average, produce travels 1,500 miles before finding a tummy.  Buying locally ensures that the produce is fresh and more nutritious since it is picked when ripe, and it supports your local economy!

Here are some other non-food tips:

  • Set your refrigerator to 37-40 degrees.  This will keep everything cool enough without wasting electricity.  Along the wall or in the back is the coldest area for items that require cooler storage.  If it’s time to purchase a new refrigerator, look for an Energy Star rated-fridge.  The 2009 version uses 40 percent less energy than the conventional refrigerator in 2001.  They also consume 20 percent less energy than required by the federal standards.
  • If you have a convection oven, consider using that over your traditional oven.  If you don’t have one, consider getting one.  They cook 25-30 percent faster.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it is full.  This can reduce your water usage by up to 35 percent, not to mention savings on your energy bill.  Here’s a tip that you may not have known: running the dishwasher at night saves even more energy.  Power plants generate electricity more efficiently during off-peak hours.

Above all, eat your food!  We’re all guilty of the need to slow down our schedules so that we not only enjoy our food but also to eat it!  So sit down with your family, call a friend, or have some alone-time and eat your Hollygrove veggies!

And now for your weekly recipe and the Farms Map:

Recipe: Roasted Fairy Tale Eggplant

Map: Farms

IMG_0553Makin’ Groceries nowadays is a tough thing to do. Walk into any local grocer and you may find yourself feeling like you are in a horror movie: contorted faces and a few sighs or even gasps. All the drama you may be witnessing is over the cost of food and other necessary household items-maybe even you catch yourself having those exact same mannerisms like we do sometimes.

According to the media this past week food prices are on the rise again. There several reasons for spikes in the economy of food supply and demand. Some predictions are that long after the recession is ‘over’ the habits we have changed during this (that) time is expected to have a lasting effect.  However, it seems that watching or reading the news is like being on an emotional rollercoaster. Do this but don’t do this. Grow your own food but worry about lead which by all means is important concern but the recent NY Times article bounces back and forth between:

“Harmful even at very low doses, lead is surprisingly prevalent and persistent in urban and suburban soil. Dust from lead-tainted soil is toxic to inhale, and food grown in it is hazardous to eat.

Thanks in part to the influence of the local-food movement and to economic considerations, more households in the United States plan, like the Obamas, to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries this year. . . seven million more households than prior years. . .

Soil is likely to contain high levels of lead if it is near any structure built before 1978, when lead-based paint was taken off the market, or if a building of that vintage was ever demolished on the site. Pesticides containing lead were often used on fruit trees, so land close to old orchards is also of concern. And beware of soil around heavily trafficked roadways; it, too, is probably laced with lead. But environmental engineers and soil experts said any place is potentially tainted.”

That’s just the first page. It almost felt like we were re-living the last eight soil_art_workyears of lives: be afraid, be very afraid.

Okay so now we are afraid what are we supposed to do?

Continue to pay high prices for food with what seems like an ever shrinking wallet?

Grow your own food but be certain that somewhere lead or no lead there may be some other contaminants. Amendments will have to be made–requiring more work and learning about how stirring up the soil in your backyard may be potentially harmful to your children is enough to send anyone over the edge.

One answer may be to make better informed decisions (from sources you may not even like or trust but will help in the decision making process; digesting both sides of the story), make time to learn about gardening, cooking, and eating the food you may have grown or purchased. All of the work it takes to making and applying those decisions are much harder than going to the store to purchase your food.  Sometimes you have to remember there is no such thing a perfect or ideal environment and right now the American public demands control with transparency especially when it comes to food.

Fear and the media’s use of fear is a highly motivating factor so now is the time to take things into your own hands and Get Your Dig On!

For more thought provoking articles check out:

The Jew & the Carrot’s post about Planning Ahead for Sustainability’s Sake.

NY Times: Food Prices: Myth vs. Reality

NY Times: Glorious Food

And now for your weekly recipe and the Farms Map:

Week 31 Recipe:Mushroom Ragout

Week 31 Map:farmer map wk31

Fortunately in life sometimes we find ourselves in a position where we are doing something we love or maybe we loved it all along and never realized we were passionate about it.

Our passion: Food. Everything about it: the culture, the personalities (or the industry slang: Back of House staff, the chefs, dishwashers, prep cooks, line cooks), eating it, reading about it–well, it has moved beyond obsession to possession or at least that’s how it feels sometimes and that is a good thing, ahem, umm. m. .mostly.

Hollygrove Market & Farm works to bring the background players of food production (whether it is growing, harvesting, or preparation i.e. cooking) into the forefront. We have recently completed several garden beds and have food stuffs in limited quantities currently growing on site in our efforts to expose those ideals and test the ideas of the current food system. Slow Food and Slow Money aren’t new ideas they have simply– been out of favor because our current views of logic (economically speaking) have changed because it may be easier to disconnect or dis-associate ourselves with the truth or absolute existence of the current systems and our nature.

George Orwell said it best:

“A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards. A man dies and is buried, and all his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children. I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion. The Great War, for example, could have never happened if tinned food had not been invented. And the history of the past four hundred years in England would have been immensely different if it had not been for the introduction of root-crops and various other vegetables at the end of the Middle Ages, and a little later the introduction of non-alcoholic drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa) and also of distilled liquors to which the beer-drinking English were not accustomed. Yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks, or bacon curers, or market gardeners.”–The Road to Wigan Pier

Strikingly blunt and we couldn’t agree more.

Week 28 Recipe: Not your Mama’s Hash

Week 28 Farms: Farmer Map

This past Saturday you may have been pleasantly surprised to find radishes in your box. Here in the Southeast you may not see too many Spring or Summer radishes; as Spring quickly gives way to Summer you may start anticipate Creole tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, sweet corn, potatoes, and much more.

eatThe inspirations for the recipe for your box this week are simple and inspired by a classic Vietnamese sandwich which is very similar to a Po Boy. The Bahn Mi Pho the term has quit blended with the French meaning: “Salad Sandwich.” This salad sandwich is a product of French Colonialism in Indochina and uses the traditional ingredients of Pho, a gloriously simple and tasty traditional Vietnamese soup. It has pickled toppings such as carrots, cucumbers, radishes along with different choices of meat or tofu. It often includes something else decidedly French on the sandwiches: a spicy version of aloi as well as a thin layer of butter.

In some regions, Banh mi, can also mean bread. The bread, as we all know, is the most important part of the sandwich: it is the frame of the vehicle which is filled with other earthly delights awaiting inside bite after bite.

The Hollygrove Market & Farm has used what nature has decided what is best and in season to fill our bahn mi pho. The recipe includes a unusual sounding use for radishes, which happens to be quite tasty, was offered by Patrick Hamilton, a WWOOF (worldwide opportunities on organic farms), of L’Hoste Citrus in Braithwaite. Radishes are packed with asboric acid, folic acid, and potassium. Radishes also like most other root vegetables are also very filling because while being mostly carbohydrates they offer only 20 calories per bulb which leaves you with a low caloric intake but a satisfied feeling of being full.

We hope you enjoy this simple recipe as much as we did!

Week 26 Recipes: Hollygrove’s Salad Sandwich

Week 26 Produce: Weekly Farmer Map