Thanks to The Beet Goes On, a very enterprising group of students who have partnered with Lancaster Farm Fresh Collective, Haverford now has its own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) outpost at 50 Hannum Drive where members of the community who have signed up for a summer share (options include full or half shares of fruits and veggies and eggs, as well as a flower share) can pick up organic produce from family farms — primarily Old Order Amish — that belong to LFFC.
In the photo at the end of this entry, you can see a representative sample of the amazing veggies that came in my share (and my thanks to Hannah, Stu, Jamie, Chris B., and Rachel who helped me sort out a snafu in my order — indeed, it takes a village to support a CSA). In addition to extremely photogenic produce, the benefits of joining a CSA include becoming part of an extended community: I ran into Laurie Allen from the library as we were picking up our shares and got to chat with her about her upcoming trip; when I carried my box into a meeting of folks who teach in the Writing Program, Danielle LaLonde from the Classics department gave me a seasoned CSAer’s perspective on how to contend with the abundance of particular kinds of produce at particular times of the year (turnip print cards for the holidays, anyone?); Debora Sherman, from the English Department, shared stories of her mother’s preferred preparation for rhubarb, and Kristen Lindgren, Director of the Writing Center and noted Disability Studies theorist and activist noted that garlic scape (and a shout out to Sam Shain for cluing me in on the nomenclature) could function as a minimalist centerpiece.
I think about the fact that while I grew up in the fertile farmlands of southwestern Pennsylvania, my close encounters with produce came in the aisles of the A&P where cellophane-wrapped heads of iceberg lettuce and shrink-wrapped packets of green beans were the norm. My mother somehow managed to recreate intricate Filipino dishes from whatever she found in the bins – years later, I discovered that one of favorite dishes – pork with radishes, was actually traditionally a dish made with jicama, which used to be very difficult to get in Somerset, PA.
You can probably find it there now, flown in from the warmer climes where jicama thrives, and what one might gain in “authenticity” one probably loses in terms of an expanded carbon footprint; thus, my contribution to cross-cultural cuisine is to chop a stalk of garlic scape on the diagonal, saute it in a dollop of olive oil, add a medium zucchini sliced in half moons (there were two zucchinis in my share, one of which is hiding behind the kale in the picture since it realizes that its partner has gone to a hot skillet) and cook it until it is all crunchy-tender. If you are me, you then add a couple of teaspoons of bagoong (ask your local native Filipino informant what this is) or you could also try some patis — the fish sauce that Vietnamese know as nuoc mam, or perhaps even chop up a couple of anchovies and throw it in before you let it all simmer down. I’m sure that there is a good vegan version of this – maybe using fermented tofu or fermented black beans? – and will try it next time. All I can say is, that other zucchini is not long for this world…..