Pig Pickin’ & Popsicles – Join Us This Sunday, June 22nd

June 17th, 2014

A roasted pig, live music, and popsicles…does summer get much better?  Hope to see you this Sunday at the Farmstead!

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My Father’s Farm – “Our Veggies Don’t Do Drugs”

June 17th, 2014
Dayana and Pedro from My Father's Farm from Seguin, TX showcases their microgreens at UA Community Day // Photo: Travis Lilley

Dayana and Pedro from My Father’s Farm showcasing their microgreens at UA Community Day // Photo: Travis Lilley

Today we’d like you to meet another one of our farmers – Pedro Schambon of My Father’s Farm in Seguin, TX.  My Father’s Farm provides our produce shares with vibrant, organically grown microgreens.  Here’s a little Q&A we did with Pedro so you can get to know him and his wife better…we think you’ll love them as much as we do.

Pedro, why did you decide to grow produce organically and sustainably?

At first, we did it out of necessity.  When we started building orphanages in Colombia, we realized that the kids were not looking to have good quality clothes.  They only needed two basic necessities – love and food.  And that is how it started…

For us, sustainable farming means living within our means.  When we sit at our table, we know that we grew most of what we are eating.   If something is not in season, we wait until the season comes.  Then we enjoy those organic heirloom tomatoes or broccoli even more.

We feel we must be good stewards of our God-given land by treating it with respect and returning to it what we took out of it by composting, using organic, natural fertilizer, crop rotation, and resting the land.  We do not have “dirt,” we have “soil,” which is full of life.  My Father’s Farm veggies don’t do drugs!

My Father's Farm microgreens // Photo: Travis Lilley

Dayana and Pedro of My Father’s Farm with UA staffer James // Photo: Travis Lilley

What does Urban Acres mean to your farm and your family?

My wife Dayana and I could go on and on, but just to name a few ways…

We bring in homeless friends from a ministry in San Antonio to do some of the work on our farm.  Before Urban Acres, we could only afford to bring them in maybe once or twice a month.  Now, we can bring them in regularly on a weekly basis and sometimes even twice a week.  More than 10 beautiful homeless guys come to work, and believe me, they do work their hearts out.  They pull weeds, incorporate compost into the fields, set up new beds inside the greenhouse, set irrigation systems, clean after we harvest, and more.  I really doubt we could bring our produce to Urban Acres without their help.  We’re able to give them a second chance, pay them, feed them, and then send them back with organic fresh veggies and money in their pockets.  It’s great.

Also since partnering with Urban Acres, we’ve been able to buy a new harvester for the salad mix, sealers for the bags, a label machine, new tools, and hopefully soon a refrigerated truck that we’ve needed for over five years.   I was also able to take my wife on a most deserved vacation after so many years of hard work.  THANK YOU to Urban Acres and your members for blessing us so much.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our members?

We believe that our veggies and herbs really come from God’s hands.  Without His intervention and provision we couldn’t bring anything to your table.

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Thank you Pedro and Dayana for your stewardship in bringing such wonderful organic produce to us and our members.  We appreciate you!

Member Highlight: Bre Taylor

June 10th, 2014

It’s time to get to know more of your fellow Urban Acres members!

Bre Taylor

Bre Taylor

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bre Taylor, one of our longest-running members and one of our first employees.  In fact, if you remember our very first store location at Delafuente’s produce stand, Bre probably rung up your total on a calculator (before we even had a cash register!).

Bre is a wife and mother of two who runs the website Nourishing the Home. She’s also a representative for doTerra essential oils. For more info and upcoming live and online classes, contact Bre via her website or follow her on Facebook or Instagram for ongoing oil tips.

We’re so thankful to Bre and her family for their loyalty and partnership through the years.  Now without further ado…

Bre teaching at the Farmstead

Bre teaching at the Farmstead

Bre, what inspired you to become a part of Urban Acres?

My husband, Jon, and I were going through a kind of personal nutrition revolution when we were pregnant with our first child in 2010. Jon read Nourishing Traditions from cover-to-cover (which is no easy feat), and it really inspired us to find locally pastured meats, organic fresh-from-the-*local*-farm produce and even raw milk. We met the owners (Steven and Christine Bailey) when picking up some meat, a friendship formed, and the rest is history. I was also the second ever employee at Urban Acres which was a lot of fun to be a part of it at the beginning. Now, I’m fortunate to be one of the teachers at the Farmstead teaching monthly classes about the benefits and versatility of essential oils.

What is your favorite part about the co-op style produce?

I love knowing that we’re helping support our local farmers. With modern day grocery stores, there is such a disconnect now about where our food comes from. It’s just provided for us with no real thought of how it got there and who did all the work planting, growing, watering and just overall caring for our food. I am trying to plan our family’s meals based on seasonal produce and the co-op style helps me do that too because a majority of the basket is what’s in season.

Do you grow any food at home? If so, what’s growing in your garden right now?

Yes, still a beginner for sure but trying to grow more every season. Right now I have some tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers growing bigger every day and a collection of everyday herbs like cilantro, parsley and basil.

What is your favorite fruit, veggie? Why?

Probably zucchini. There are just so many things you can do with it and so many different kinds of dishes – breakfast muffins, zucchini noodles in spaghetti (love my Spiralizer!) or zucchini brownies for dessert.

What is your favorite site to get recipes from?

Pinterest, Plan To Eat (where I meal plan too) and Urban Acres. I love the Produce Finder on the UA site because it gives me storage tips as well as recipes – especially for that random “what is THIS?” item that can turn up in the produce share sometimes. I used to be the communicator of what was in the share every week in the beginning and wish we’d had this amazing tool then, so definitely take advantage of it if you’re not already!

Do you have any produce tips for other members?

Clean, divide and conquer. As soon as I get home (OK, not every time but I try to) I make my veggie wash with water and Lemon essential oil and soak the fruits and veggies that would benefit from a soak. Then I divvy up what may be needed for a certain recipe or maybe my smoothie/juicing drawer and do the proper drying/wrapping in paper towel/etc to keep it fresh. When we put it off, our produce definitely doesn’t last as long, so taking that extra hour or so after share pickup saves us time in the long run (and our produce!).

Please share one of your favorite “real food recipes” with us.

Nothing fancy but I love a good omelette. I’m not good in the kitchen like my husband is so I like dishes that come together quickly and that are still nutritious. All you need is some great farm fresh eggs (with that delicious dark yolk), some healthy oils/fats and lots of veggies from the bin. Boom.

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Bre’s class this month at the Farmstead…

Summertime Essential Oils with Bre Taylor of Nourishing The Home

Monday, June 16th @ 7:00pm

The sun is high in the sky and Summer is here!  Join Bre Taylor to learn about the amazing versatility of essential oils and how you can use them for summer.  Learn recipes for natural sunscreen, bug spray and even a yummy lemonade mix!

Hands-on class, limited to 10 students.

- Organic ingredients
- Take-home gift
- $30 per person

Reserve seats by clicking HERE.

What’s Green Garlic?

June 5th, 2014
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Green garlic

Looking through your produce share, you might mistake green garlic for the spring onions you’ve been receiving the last few weeks. Green garlic is a rarity in grocery stores but a great addition to farm-to-table cooking.  Green garlic is simply young garlic which is harvested before the cloves have begun to mature. What results is a vegetable with a deep green stalk and a pale white bulb.  The flavor is that of mild garlic.

How to cook green garlic?

Chop or slice the white, light green, and the first few inches of the dark green leaves (as long as they are tender).  Sauté as you would regular garlic.  When cooked, your green garlic will sweeten a bit.

You’ll also love the health benefits of green garlic…

“Garlic is notable for its immune-boosting qualities, is a natural antibiotic and can help the body block infections. If you suffer from anemia or low iron levels, garlic also helps to keep iron levels high. Most people know that vitamin C helps increase iron metabolism, but garlic contains the protein ferroportin that carries stored iron from inside a cell to outside of the cell, assisting the body as needed.

Due to its richness in polysulfides, garlic also helps protect against heart disease. And if that’s not enough, garlic is rich in manganese, a mineral linked to HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol. When manganese levels are high, HDL is high, and vice versa.” ~ FitSugar.com

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Try these easy green garlic recipes…

Spring Garlic Fried Eggs

Courtesy of Sylvie

Image source: thecrepesofwrath.com

Green Garlic Stuffed Mushrooms

Photo by inpatskitchen

Photo by inpatskitchen

Grilled Green Garlic

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Photo credit: 8ateateight.com

>> Get more green garlic recipes on our site <<

Summer Squash From The Morrisons

June 4th, 2014
The Morrisons' incredible squash

The Morrisons’ incredible squash

Summer squash season is about to be in full swing!   Soon, the produce shares will be seeing a bounty of beautiful zucchini and yellow squash, all Texas-grown by our farmers, Jacky and Cindy Morrison of Morrison Organic Farm in Comanche.

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Look for a postcard from The Morrisons in the bin of your latest produce share.  Here’s an excerpt from the letter they wrote…

The Morrisons

“You have no idea how much the partners at Urban Acres help & inspire us!  As a member, when you get your produce from Urban Acres, like us, you become ‘stewards of the land’…We are so grateful for being able to continue to do what we love and promise to strive to grow an abundant supply of fresh organic vegetables for you.”

 

 

They’ll also be supplying us with local radishes and okra.  We hope you enjoy this produce that was grown for you with love!

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To help you anticipate all the fresh summer squash coming your way, we’ve put together some easy recipe ideas.  In case you’re wondering, here are some tips on how to cook summer squash, and yes, they can be used interchangeably in recipes.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Image source: prouditaliancook.com

Image source: prouditaliancook.com

Italian Style Zucchini Boats

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Image source: prouditaliancook.com

Baked Yellow Squash with Mushrooms

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Image source: myvegancookbook.com

>> Get more squash recipes on our site here <<

You Don’t Want “Perfect” Produce

May 29th, 2014
pigtato

Meet “Pigtato”

A potato that resembles a pig, a peach with a nose, and holey greens…these are a few of the “imperfect” items you might see in your organic produce share.  We’re here to reassure you that it’s completely normal and even a good thing!

Why does organic produce have blemishes?

Although it can be an adjustment to get used to produce in your share that’s shaped oddly or has some holes in it, you don’t necessarily want “perfect” produce.  A few holes and imperfections in your produce are a very telltale sign that it’s organic – it means the produce is not sprayed with any chemicals to repel the pests.   If you have your own garden at home, you know that all produce looks different and that a dent or hole in a tomato doesn’t take away any of its amazing, sweet taste.

For more info, read What’s With These Holes In My Kale?

Why does produce look “perfect” at other grocery stores?

Most big grocery store chains – even those that sell a lot of organic produce – are concerned with a perfect “look” to the produce…because customers demand it!  Several of our local organic farmers say they are unable to sell produce that isn’t perfect-looking to many of their big chain accounts.  Sadly, this often leads to unnecessary waste and continues to fuel the expectation that produce should all be waxy, perfectly shaped and unblemished.

According to Beth Mitcham, a post-harvest researcher at the University of California at Davis’ School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, our preference for uniform, camera-ready produce is shaped partly by marketing and partly by USDA regulations that stipulate all commercially grown fruits and vegetables must be at least 90 percent blemish-free.

She places most of the blame squarely on us, the consumers. Mitcham contends that we are ignoring our innate food-selecting instincts and “buying with our eyes” rather than with our noses or our taste buds.

~ Daphne Miller, Daily Herald  – read the rest of the article here

You can be a part of the change by celebrating your imperfect, organic produce and educating others. 

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Member Becky shows her peach with a nose

We love the imperfect look of organic produce straight from our local farmers, and we’d choose delicious over perfect-looking any day.  And we hope you do, too.