A Reflection on Weather

A dear friend of mine, Bryan Stark, once said to me a few years back:

“If you ever feel that in our conversations you must turn to discussing the weather, I’d rather experience an uncomfortable silence than descend to that level of insincere pleasantry.”

No kidding, he actually talks like this, it’s great. Bryan now resides in Edmonton, and not being an Oilers fan, I imagine he spends most of his days and evenings awash in a sea of the most sincere silence.

However, now that our lives at ICF are more intertwined with our chlorophyllic friends, I feel it necessary to devote a small portion of communique to weather. Here in Vancouver, we are experiencing what can be described as ‘less than ideal’ growing conditions; although, this isn’t true for all of our crops: the russian red kale is tickled pink, the gai-lan can’t believe its luck, and the romaine lettuce is holding out like a Canadian front door – unbolted. Even our prima donna tomatoes are happy, covered snugly in their polyethylene shelters.

But in ICF’s gardens, it’s the Cucurbits that are most chagrin. Our summer squash and cucumbers are patiently waiting for a solid week or two of sun and heat to live up to their reputation of fecundity and near intolerable productivity. This time last year, our boxes were beginning to overflow with crooknecks, pattypans, and buttersticks.

So I guess the whole point of this message is to say that, weather permitting, the zucchini and cukes are on their way! Here’s a picture of one of our little troopers, you can almost feel his/her/its frustration (monoecious plants are hard to personify with gender specific possessive adjectives).

And my unfeigned apologies for the topic Bryan. I hear the Oil got Smitty back though, if that’s any consolation.

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Oppenheimer Park Community Kitchen

This season, a significant number of our shareholders took us up on our offer to contribute to a ‘Food Insecurity Fund’. The fund is comprised of an optional $50 donation by our shareholders with the total sum matched by Inner City Farms. We deliver a weekly volume of fresh, local veggies to Oppenheimer Park Community Kitchen every Tuesday morning during the growing season. The produce most often ends up in the giant soup pot and helps feed the fine folks that share a meal at the park.

Here are some pictures from this morning’s delivery:

Camil unloading the goods!

Cam and Jofty (a volunteer at the kitchen) talking shop.

empty bin -> full pot -> empty pot -> full bellies!

Thank you to all of our shareholders who helped make this partnership a reality and thank you to all the volunteers at Oppenheimer Park for cooking great meals for great people. We hope to post a few more pictures and stories from the park’s kitchen as the season unfolds. Stay tuned!

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CSA Box – Week 6

Voted most relaxed harvest yet, we hope you can taste the difference in the plants’ energy and your culinary experience reconnects your chi with that of Gaia (did I quote you correctly Pete?)

Here’s the window dressing shot, design courtesy of Steph Schneider:

And the list:


Turnip: Purple Top White Globe (Brassica rapa var. rapa)

These mild and sweet flavoured turnips are nearly round and smooth.

They have a bright purple tops, and are a creamy white colour in the lower portion.


Beet: Chioggia Guardsmark (Beta vulgaris)

This Italian heritage variety has striking alternating rings of bright pink and

white inside a smooth, light red root. Not a good candidate for pickling.




Beet: Touchstone Gold (Beta vulgaris)

The stunning color of this beet will liven up any meal, and it’s sweet and delicious

flavour will make eating vegetables fun again!




Beet: Red Ace (Beta vulgaris)

This versatile beet has a wonderful texture and a sweet flavour. It contains

up to 50% more red pigment than standard beets.





Kale: Lacinato (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

Also called Black Tuscan, this kale produces long, dark green-blue

leaves that are full of flavour and very tender. Great to serve as kale chips!




Gai Lan: Midwater (Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra)

A fan favorite! The mild flavoured stalks are delicious and easy to cook. Perfect for

stir-frying.



Carrot: Scarlet Nantes (Dauscus carota) Heirloom

This heirloom variety has been grown and adapted to North American conditions

for at least 50 years. It has strong tops and delicious flavour.


Leeks: Tadorna (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum)

These leeks have dark green leaves and a thick, blanched stalk that reaches 15 cms.

A mild flavoured leek that retains its firm texture when cooked.



Potato: Chieftan Organic (Solanum tuberosum)

Oval to oblong tubers with smooth, bright red skin and white flesh. Widely adapted

variety that stores well. Great to use for boiling, baking, and making french fries.




Potato: Yukon Gold
(Solanum tuberosum)

An early season potato that produces oval shaped tubers with yellow skin and yellow

flesh that retains its colour when cooked. An excellent choice for baking, boiling,

roasting and frying. Stores very well.



Swiss Chard: Bright Lights (Beta vulgaris var. cicla)

This beet relative is a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium.

Thick red, yellow, gold, rose and white stems add colour and flavour to any meal.



Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

From the Apiaceae family, another of cilantro’s culinary competent cousins. This

is the common or curly variety that most chefs relegate to garnish rank. But wait!

Let’s be rational actors in this garden plot. Here’s some more info that may sway

your opinion and perhaps make your dishes a little more inclusive. Ok, these

first two facts might not help, but they are interesting:

The Greeks associated it with Archemorus, the Herald of Death, and decorated their tombs with it; and they did not eat it themselves, but fed it to their horses

However,

– The Romans encouraged banquet guests to eat copious amounts to discourage intoxication and to counter strong odours
– A rich source of vitamins, including vit C, also high in iron and other minerals
– A well known breath freshener, being the traditional antidote to garlic breath
– Chewing it raw promotes healthy skin


Counter points
– It was believed that only a witch or pregnant woman could grow it
– If parsley was transplanted, then misfortune would descend upon the household

Good fodder, very persuasive…

Here’s a Kale recipe from one of our longest standing CSA members, Vav Shaw

Ingredients

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup bread crumbs
    3 bunches kale – washed, dried, and shredded (can use pretty much any greens from the box)
    some cheese (asiago, parmesan, old cheddar)


Directions

    Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add onions and garlic; cook and stir until soft.
    Mix in breadcrumbs, and cook and stir until brown.
    Stir in kale, and cook until wilted. Add cheese.
    Serve hot or warm, or enjoy it the next day cold out of the fridge


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Harvest Day Feast

Howdy! After a few weeks of discussion and good intentions, we finally got our act together and had an ICF siesta feast on harvest day. Ironically, the more time we spend amongst the veggies, the less time we seem to have to cook with fresh, whole ingredients. But not anymore (at least not on Sundays)…

The multi-talented Camil makes a quick switch from farmer to chef, grilling up our veggies with some salmon fillets from our dear friends in Haida Gwaii, Judson, Sev and Gunny!

For the veggies, we used gai-lan, wa wa sei cabbage and leeks, generously bathed in sesame oil, canola oil and soy sauce.

For the fish, thin lemon slices, teriyaki, fresh parsley, and red russian hard neck garlic (still green, picked at West 15th and Trafalgar yesterday morning – will be in the boxes soon!).

Everything straight onto the grill, cooked with love. Thanks Cam, delicious! Haawa Suzuki-Browns!


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CSA Box – Week 5

Today’s harvest went smoothly with so much help from some amazing friends. A big thanks to Kris, Steph, Marc and Jean Guy. This weekend’s wetness wasn’t welcome at Jericho but the plants were digging it. Some highlights in the blue bin are the Chioggia and Red Ace beets (see Karen’s creative recipe below, I can vouch for its tastiness but you might have to bring 2 pieces of ID to the dinner table for this one), and cilantro’s handsome sibling: Dill.

Here’s the rest of the crew:

Broccoli: Gypsy (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
This broccoli has an evenly domed shaped and compact head.

Full of flavour and very versatile.




Lettuce: Conquistador (Latuca sativa)

Big, open romaine, great for Caesar salads.



Turnip: Purple Top White Globe (Brassica rapa var. rapa)

These mild and sweet flavoured turnips are nearly round and smooth.

They have a bright purple tops, and are a creamy white colour in the lower portion.



Cabbage (Sui Choi): Wa Wa Sai

(Brassica rapa pekinensis)

This classic miniature napa cabbage is excellent raw or cooked.

It has a lovely sweet flavour and a crisp texture.



Kale: Red Russian

(Brassica oleracea var. acephala) Heirloom

This Siberian heirloom was brought to Canada in 1885.

As with all kale, it is very high in calcium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.



Beet: Chioggia Guardsmark (Beta vulgaris)

This Italian heritage variety has striking alternating rings of bright pink and

white inside a smooth, light red root. Not a good candidate for pickling.




Beet: Red Ace (Beta vulgaris)

This versatile beet has a wonderful texture and a sweet flavour. It contains

up to 50% more red pigment than standard beets.


Collard Greens: Champion (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

Collards, also in the cabbage family, produce fleshy leaves as opposed to heads.

Great texture and flavour can be enjoyed steamed, boiled, or stir-fried.





Kale: Lacinato (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

Also called Black Tuscan, this kale produces long, dark green-blue

leaves that are full of flavour and very tender. Great to serve as kale chips!



Pac Choi: Ching Chiang (Brassica rapa chinensis)

Also called Shanghai pac choi, this chinese vegetable has mild and tender

medium green leaves on pale green, spoon shaped stalks.

Scallion: Ramrod (Allium wakegi)

A Lisbon type that bulbs, excellent flavour, great as a salad onion.


Dill (Anethum graveolens)

A native of southern Europe and western Asia. As a culinary herb,

dill improves the appetite and digestion and can be used generously

as it enhances, rather than dominates, the flavour of many foods.

As a medicine, dill is antispasmodic and calmative. Dill tea is a popular

remedy for an upset stomach, headaches, hiccups or insomnia, for nursing

mothers to promote the flow of milk, and as an appetite stimulant. Back in the day, dill seed

was known as the ‘meeting house seed’ because children were given the seed to chew

during long sermons to prevent them feeling hungry.


Karen’s East Van Beets Recipe

Beets from the boys are delicious. Here’s a yummy summer recipe to

get the night started! Put on some good beats (Freelance Whales

or Broken Bells are great beet beats) and get ready to get your hands pink!


Ingredients:

Beets
Carrots
A touch of Apple Cider Vinegar
A bigger touch of Amaretto
A good dollop of Olive Oil

1) Skin the beets to ditch the bitter stuff. Don’t forget to check

out the cool spirals in the Chioggias as you grate. Beets are beautiful!
2) Grate the beets and carrots
3) Mix the Amaretto, Olive Oil, and Apple Cider Vinegar

together (taste to your liking)
4) Pour the mix over your veggies and mix it up with your hands.
5) Voila!

You can add raisins, chopped apple, and pumpkin seeds for extra pizazz.


L’Chayim!

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Kohlrabi Rebuttal

A kohlrabi’s-eye view of the world. Bonjour Camil et Andrew.

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King Size Kohlrabi

Many thanks to Will for inviting me to take part in our first ever ICF Vegetable Photo Contest!

I can tell what you’re thinking in this photo Will, and yes, it’s the biggest Kohlrabi you’ve ever seen.

Let the voting begin!

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Assembly Line Action

Here’s a short clip of how we assemble our weekly boxes. We are fortunate to have access to the NOWBC warehouse (thanks Steph!). Notice our calm, floaty demeanor. ‘Safety first!’ is our motto.

We also offer a smaller, mid-week veggie box through NOWBC, which you can find through this link (click on ICF Urban Harvest Share).

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CSA Box – Week 4

We had a great time lounging with the vegetables today. First potato harvest, ‘Yukon Golds’ and ‘Fingerlings’, average yields, but look tasty. In the morning, there was slight tension in the team over determining which kohlrabi in the Little Mountain gardens was best. I submit the following image as evidence for my choice (regrettably, it does not do it justice):

I’ll let Andrew post an image of his candidate and we can let the impartiality of the interweb have final say…

Here’s what you can expect in your box on Sunday afternoon:




Broccoli: Gypsy (Brassica oleracea var. italica)

This broccoli has an evenly domed shaped and compact head.

Full of flavour and very versatile.



Lettuce: Conquistador (Latuca sativa)

Big, open romaine, great for Caesar salads.


Hybrid Pac Choi: Joi Choi (Brassica rapa chinensis)

Has a light, sweet flavor, crisp texture and high in vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium.


Scallion: Kincho (Allium wakegi)

Typically referred to as a green onion, these scallions have dark green

leaves and tall, straight stems that do not bulb.


Kohlrabi: Kongo & Greens! (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)

This variety of Kohlrabi is slightly faster growing than it’s purple counterpart,

and some say slightly sweeter tasting and more tender.

Recipe: place in fridge until chilled, peel and cut into 1/4” strips, drizzle fresh lime

and grind rock salt over top, PBR! (Praise the BRassicas). Treat the greens like kale.


Turnip: Purple Top White Globe (Brassica rapa var. rapa)

These mild and sweet flavoured turnips are nearly round and smooth.

They have a bright purple tops, and are a creamy white colour in the lower portion.




Kale: Winterbor (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

Hybrid vigour really shows in this Scottish kale. Plants are very tall and
extremely productive with thick, very curly, ruffled, blue-green leaves. When small,
it allows for multiple pickings for salads. Later, the large plant handles winter well.
This is our most frost hardy variety.


Potato: Yukon Gold (Solanum tuberosum)

An early season potato that produces oval shaped tubers with yellow skin and yellow

flesh that retains its colour when cooked. An excellent choice for baking, boiling,

roasting and frying. Stores very well.



Potato: Russian Banana Fingerling (Solanum tuberosum)

From the Baltic region of Europe/Asia. Has a yellow banana shape with a slightly
waxy, firm texture. Bake, boil or steam.


Radish: Easter Egg II (Raphanus sativus)

A blend of white, red and purple skinned radishes. All varieties have a crisp and

delicious tasting white flesh.





Radish: Minowase Summer Cross (Raphanus sativus ssp. longipinnatus)

This Daikon radish is very popular in Japanese cuisine. The large, mild flavoured

roots are perfect for stir-fries and salads, as well as pickling.



Swiss Chard: Bright Lights (Beta vulgaris var. cicla)

This beet relative is a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium.

Thick red, yellow, gold, rose and white stems add colour and flavour to any meal.


Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

Also known as Coriander, Yuen sai or Pak chee, it is a controversial member

of the Apiaceae family. The controversy in not a matter of phylogenetics but

culinary sense. Here is a great NY Times article on the subject, which begins

with a notable conversation between Larry King and Julia Child:

“In a television interview in 2002, Larry King asked Julia Child which foods she hated. She responded:

“Cilantro and arugula I don’t like at all. They’re both green herbs, they have kind of a dead taste to me.”

“So you would never order it?” Mr. King asked.

“Never,” she responded. “I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.”

As comestibles, they are both dead to me as well, Julia. But as a plant in the garden, cilantro is great. Most cultivated plants in the Apiaceae family, aka Umbelliferae, are known for attracting beneficial insects, which prey on insect pests on nearby plants. Right now, our fennel and dill plants (same family) are official Lady Bug Love Hotels, no vacancy signs all lit up…

Sante!

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CSA box – Week 3

Heyo! First post in a while…we’ve been busy in the soil, tending the wee plants, and making sacrificial offerings to the sun god. It seems that our efforts have been paying off and we are in week 3 of our CSA program. Here’s what’s in the bin this week:



Cabbage (Sui Choi): Wa Wa Sai

(Brassica rapa pekinensis)

This classic miniature napa cabbage is excellent raw or cooked.

It has a lovely sweet flavour and a crisp texture.



Lettuce: Conquistador

(Latuca sativa)

Big, open romaine, great for Caesar salads.


Hybrid Pac Choi: Joi Choi

(Brassica rapa chinensis)

Has a light, sweet flavor, crisp texture and high in vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium.

Scallion: Kincho

(Allium wakegi)

Typically referred to as a green onion, these scallions have dark green

leaves and tall, straight stems that do not bulb.

There is a bundle of chives in this week’s box as well.

Kohlrabi: Kongo & Greens!

(Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)

This variety of Kohlrabi is slightly faster growing than it’s

purple counterpart, and some say slightly sweeter tasting and more tender.

Recipe: place in fridge until chilled, peel and cut into 1/4” strips, drizzle fresh lime

and grind rock salt over top, PBR! (Praise the BRassicas).

Treat the greens like kale.


Turnip: Purple Top White Globe

(Brassica rapa var. rapa)

These mild and sweet flavoured turnips are nearly round and smooth.

They have a bright purple tops, and are a creamy white colour in the lower portion.

Gai lan

(Brassica oleracea)

Looks similar to broccoli with green flower heads at the top, which are considered

sweet. The surrounding leaves have the sharpness and tang of chard or pac choi and

are usually eaten as a leaf vegetable. High in beta-carotene, and contains folate,

vitamin E, iron and calcium.

Kale: Red Russian
(Brassica oleracea var. acephala)
Heirloom

This Siberian heirloom was brought to Canada in 1885. As with all kale, it is

very high in calcium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.

Garlic scapes (Allium ophioscorodon)

The flower of hard-neck garlic is harvested before it matures, sending energy back

into the bulb. The stalk is one of the highlights of late-spring/early-summer,

lasting for about 3 weeks of the year. Be careful, friendships have been created and

lost over this delicacy.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

How can one grow old with sage in one’s garden? Ancient proverb.

This is the best known sage for culinary use. The greeks used it to heal ulcers,

consumption, and snake bites. The romans considered it a scared herb to be gathered

with ceremony (clean clothes, clean feet, and with a sacrifice of food). Sage was held

to be good for the brain, the senses and memory…even used as a toothpaste.

Feel free to post your favourite recipes in the comments section below.

To health!

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