Local Farm Shares – Organic, Unusual Produce

I heard about a local farm share group called Plant It Forward from one of the weekly newsletters put out by the Houston-based blog, Big Kids Small City. (They have gathered an amazing list of kid-friendly events and places in Houston.)

The farm share concept sounded really neat; one of their taglines is “Urban farms for Houston, Small businesses for refugees.” The produce is non-GMO, chemical free, and grown right here in Houston by recently transplanted refugees. It’s then delivered to a local farmers market once a week for pick up.

They don’t tell you in advance what you’re getting each week, since it depends on what’s ready to be harvested. It’s a vegetable adventure!

We signed up for a 10-week period of one share per week, which they say is enough for a family of 3-4. If you could see how little veggies we’ve purchased all year, you could guess how meaningless that estimate was. (So, a head of lettuce and an onion? How will we eat it all??)

We picked up the first share today, and even though it fit in one paper bag, it’s a ton of vegetables.

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In the bag are: four small cucumbers, a bright orange tubular thing, some weird long bean thingys, sweet potato greens (I know this because my husband read the sign), roselle leaves (I know this because I searched “sour greens” after biting one of the leaves) and a small butternut squash. Plus a couple bags of spinach and a clump of basil (at least, I hope it’s basil. I recognize it by smell, not sight, so if another plant out there smells like basil…)

All of this leads me to the conclusion that if I had to forage my own greens in the wilderness, I would have an equal chance of starving to death while searching for lettuce heads, or dying from ingesting a seemingly innocuous plant of death (I’m maybe exaggerating the risk of this one.)

So, what to do with all of this greenery? Search engines, to the rescue!

  • Small Cucumbers – We already sliced one up and ate it. We’ll probably do the same with the rest.
  • Bright Orange Tubular Thing – I wasn’t able to locate what this is exactly. I guess it’s a squash. Once it’s sliced open, maybe the inner structure will provide more revealing details of its existence. Regardless, it’s likely going to end up steamed.
  • Sweet Potato Greens – Add it to a bean soup? Sauteed? This recipe calls for ‘blanching’ the leaves (which is thankfully explained, because the only Blanche I know is a Golden Girl.)
  • Roselle Leaves – I’m trying to find recipes for just the leaves and stems, and so far most of the English ones are about preparing the blossoms. There’s a recipe on Youtube called Gongura Pappu. It seems promising, but it has ingredients I’ve never heard of: tamarind extract, yellow pigeon peas (chick peas, maybe?). But hey, it’s a start! I’m probably not going to follow the recipe much; just toss in some garlic and curry powder, and hope the flavors are agreeable.
  • Small Butternut Squash – This Butternut Bread recipe calls for seven cups of flour and two cups of pureed squash. Since this one is small, I doubt it will make that much. I think I’ll have to cut it in half.
  • Spinach – Sauteed in butter. Yum.
  • Basil – Pesto, anyone?

At this point, I’m feeling overwhelmed enough to buy a 20-pack of Hot Pockets and call it a week.

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