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It’s National CSA Day!

How I found my way to my CSA

Emily Akins, Coordinator of the Kansas City Food Circle, reflects on finding her CSA & shares some things that she learned through the process. 

Last year was my 10th season with my Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) with Fair Share Farm in Kearney, MO. I've been reminiscing lately - especially now that my weekly farm fresh veggies are a well-entrenched way of life for me. How did I first get started with my CSA?

It was 10 years ago when I signed up as a Fair Share member, at which time Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle had not even been published yet, much less had I read them. I hadn't heard of the 100-mile diet; I hadn't learned that most food in the industrial food chain comes from 1,500 miles away. Locavore didn't become the New Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year until 2007. "Food, Inc." didn't come out until 2008.

CSA goods

CSA goods

In 2005, my friend and co-worker, Heather, had invited some farmers to the EcoTeam at work, a resource group focused on sustainability. These farmers - Tom Ruggieri and Rebecca Graff of Fair Share Farm - had a lot of interesting and thought-provoking things to say, the specifics of which I can't quite remember now. What I do remember is that the idea of getting food directly from a farm nearby sounded quaint, wholesome, and delicious. And maybe it was a little old fashioned sounding too (and I am just enough of a romantic to feel nostalgia for a time I have never known).

Heather and I were both interested in the CSA and perhaps a little daunted by the notion of subscribing. So we decided to go in together and to share a "full share" - that is, a subscription to a larger portion of fresh vegetables to be picked up each week from May to October. Over the course of that first year, we split the share half and half, which made it easier for us to get into the swing of things. When it came time to sign up for the next year, we were both hooked on the idea of CSA. We each signed up separately for our own smaller "partial share" now that we were both confident about making the commitment.

3183616727_c4a510e6a6_bI have learned a lot and enjoyed food so much in the years since that first season. And I inadvertently became much healthier; I hadn't set out to eat more whole foods, but joining the CSA encouraged me to do so.

It is a big shift in the way you eat, especially if you (like all of us in the modern industrial food era) are accustomed to eating food that comes in a box or a can and that will sit happily on your shelf until you are ready to eat it and that will give you exact instructions on the side of the packaging for how to prepare it.

With each share of my CSA, it is our farmers providing instructions, not a label. This is the beauty of the CSA model; I know the people who grow my food. They have taught me how to store, prepare, and even preserve all the interesting and delicious produce that comes to me fresh from their farm each Wednesday. I can even visit the farm and see with my own eyes where my food comes from. Best of all they have provided me with confidence; I know the farm and the farmers where my food is grown. I know that their sustainable farming practices both enrich the earth and make for delicious, fresh produce that I get to eat every week.

The CSA model is also great for the farmers. Since I pay for the subscription before the season is half way over, the farmers get the capital they need early on so that they have enough to grow all the food for the CSA. They also have the assurance that the food they grow will be eaten by their committed members.Being a member means that I share with my farmers in the ups and downs of sustainable farming in the midwest, which means that sometimes crops struggle but other times they flourish and I get to reap the rewards.

Over the course of my membership, I have revisited favorite vegetables and old beloved recipes (like okra, which I love, or the Strawberry Dumplings of my childhood), and I have explored and come to love new foods, as well (the spaceship-like kohlrabi which is delicious and versatile or kale, the "valedictorian of vegetables"). I have also changed my mind along the way. I used to say I didn't like tomatoes; but after joining the CSA and eating the freshest and most interesting tomatoes I'd ever seen, I realized - I just didn't like bland, plastic-y, flavorless tomatoes at the grocery store. It turns out I love a good heirloom tomato!DSCN1057

Now that I have been eating with the seasons for so many seasons I can barely remember what it was like before my weekly CSA veggies. Lettuce heads so colorful, curly, and flavorful; an abundance of the freshest of healthy foods like spinach and sweet potatoes; tomatoes that were still on the vine only hours before they came to me; pungent herbs and fresh berries - I truly can't imagine my culinary life any other way than this.

 

WANT TO JOIN A CSA?

The KC Food Circle has a variety of farms that offer CSAs. Visit our website to browse our CSA farms and contact the farmers directly if you have questions. Take a moment to find the CSA that's just right for you.

Look for a CSA that has a drop off or delivery point that is close to where you live or work. 

Most offer different share sizes and prices. Some CSAs offer fruit and vegetables, some offer meat and eggs as well. Others are meat only or mushrooms only.  Email us if you need any assistance.

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KCFC Holiday Gift Guide

Would you like some ideas for unique and delicious gifts to give to the food fanatic in your life? Let us help! You can find something to surprise and delight your loved ones while also supporting local farmers, artisans and businesses - these are gifts we can all feel good about! #eatlocalkc



 

KC Food Circle Membership - 2016

Give the gift of KCFC Membership - it's the ticket to fun with good food in the new year. Our members enjoy farm-to-table dinners, discounts on classes and workshops, unique pop up events that feature local, organic food from our member farmers - oh, and farm tours, too! This is the gift that keeps giving all year long and provides your friends and family with a chance to learn about and enjoy local, organic, and free-range food.

 


BADSEED Holiday Fiesta Farmers Market - December 18

1909 McGee St, KCMO 64109 • 4:00-9:00 pm

Party with your favorite farmers at Badseed's holiday market fiesta! "Holiday Cheer" will include (on the house) Irish Whiskey and freshly whipped organic cream - perfect for spiking your locally roasted coffee from Red Headed Philosopher & Cafe Noble! The annual FARM BASKET RAFFLE will take place promptly at 6 PM. The winner receives a mouth-watering Farm Basket full of goodies from ALL the vendors including meats, cheese, eggs, organic produce, rustic bread, baked goods, and more.

Featured Products: Grass-Fed Beef & Lamb, All-Natural Pork, Free-Range Eggs, Gourmet Mushrooms, Artisan Sheep's Milk Cheese, Aged Goat & Cow's Milk Cheese, Rustic Breads, Wholesome Baked Goods, Winter Vegetables & Roots, Sweet Potatoes, Mean Greens, Jams & Jellies, Freshly-Milled Flour, Missouri Pecans & Black Walnuts, Micro-roasted Coffee, Luscious Soaps & Body Products, Hand-made Crafts and more.

Cultivate KC will be on hand selling their new, limited edition Charlie Hustle t-shirts, too; those would make a great gift as well! You can also buy them online here.


Special Offers from KCFC Member Farmers

Green Dirt Farm is offering Cheese of the Season subscriptions - Give the Gift of the Seasons with Four Shipments of Local Cheese all year long. 15% discount until Dec 31 - code available via Facebook.

Schenker Family Farms offers delicious meats, jams, and salsas all year long - and unique gift bundles as well - Summer Sausage Snack Box or the Nature’s Kiss Gift Box (vegetarian).


From Our Featured Retailers

Heirloom Bakery & Hearth 

401 E 63rd St, KCMO 64113 • 816-492-7259 • www.heirloomkc.com

The holidays are in full swing at Heirloom where all of their baked goods are made fresh daily, using local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible. They have a holiday menu online and will be open right up until Christmas Eve morning. They have all the goodies you need for gifts, parties and dinners. 

 

Local Pig

2618 Guinotte Ave, KCMO 64120 • 816-200-1639 • www.thelocalpig.com

In addition to the full array of local and free-range meats, Local Pig also offers great gift ideas including t-shirts, honey, butter, other accompaniments as well as classes like Whole Hog Butchering, Sausage Making, etc. Purchase gift certificates online at www.thelocalpig.com.

 

The Sundry

1706 Baltimore Ave, KCMO 64108 • 816-527-0459 • www.thesundry.com

The Sundry Market & Kitchen is a neighborhood market with a restaurant quality kitchen that offers a complete selection of grocery essentials including high-quality produce and meats grown by local farmers, handcrafted items made in-house, and many other unique, made in Kansas City products. Here you can get food for your feast as well as treats for gift giving. Ask them about their custom gift baskets! PS: Their cheese making class on Dec 20 would make a great gift! 

In fact, here’s a fantastic list of cheese-themed gifts - this holiday go beyond the store-bought cheese basket and give a gift of local sheep cheese, a cheese-making class or a how-to book to make your own. From our friends at Greenability


Our Restaurants

A great gift idea is a gift certificate to one of the amazing local restaurants that sources from our farmers. Check out our full list here. And don't forget - Affäre will be open on Christmas Day and the Eden Alley cookbook would make a great gift, too!

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Celebrate Thanksgiving with our Dining Card partners

Several of our Dining Card restaurants are featuring special menus for Thanksgiving carry out - you can pre order what you need whether you are looking for a full meal, or just a few sides. And if you opt to dine out on Thanksgiving, you can visit Affäre which will be open on Thanksgiving Day!

Whether you dine in, carry out, or pre order, you can celebrate Thanksgiving the local, organic, and free-range way and be grateful that KC has such an assortment of incredible farmers, amazing restaurants, and delicious food!

Enjoy!

 

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Affäre will be serving brunch all morning and afternoon as well as a four-course Thanksgiving dinner including Missouri elk brats and pumpkin cheesecake.

 

Can I Have a Bitecanihaveabite

You can pre order an assortment of delicious sides, soups, stuffing, and relish. The perfect accompaniment to your feast. Vegan, paleo, and omnivore options available. (French Green Beans, Butternut Squash Bisque, Roasted Root Vegetables, Pumpkin Pie, Sausage and Walnut Stuffing, Mashed Heirloom Potatoes and Garlic, Cranberry Orange Relish)

 

Eden Alley

Pre order youedenalleyr vegan and soy-free carry-out Thanksgiving Feast! Seitan roast and creamy cauliflower gravy, mini eight-grain dinner rolls with sweet potato butter and our cranberry sauce, kale stuffing, roasted vegetables, roasted potatoes. Order a la carte or as a whole meal.  Orders must be in by 11/21! 

 

Renee Kelly's Harvestreneekellyharvest

Choose from local and free-range turkey, non-GMO chicken, prime rib or meatloaf as well as an assortment of delicious side dishes.

 

Heirloom Bakery & Hearth

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 4.32.14 PMOur friends at Heirloom Bakery will be taking orders for pies (Chocolate Pecan, Honey Apple Thyme, Cranberry Pear Crumble, and Pumpkin), rolls (Challah, Rye, Rosemary Wheat), and more. All orders are due by 6 PM on Friday, November 20 and orders must be placed by phone. Heirloom will be open (bakery and coffee only) on Thanksgiving Day!

 


The Sundry 

sundryOur friends and Expo Sponsors over at The Sundry are offering Thanksgiving carry out - pre order by Monday, 11/23. You can get an entire meal or order a la carte - turkey, sides, rolls, and pie.

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Honoring our Veteran Member Farmers

November 11 has long been a day to honor the veterans who have bravely served our country.  Of the 118 farmers who are members of the KC Food Circle, 19 farms are run by veterans. In our KCFC family, our veterans are near and dear to our hearts. We would like to pause in recognition and admiration for our farmers’ service to this country. As a way of thanking them for their service, we want to highlight the ways in which their service has contributed to how they feed their neighbors and enrich their community.

One such veteran, Lisa Siegfried of Liberty Hill Farm, gained valuable experience from her time in the Navy from 1993-1997, and then later when she reenlisted and joined the Marines. Her military service has taught her that she is capable of more than she thinks. “It has given me a resilience that I do not see in others," says Lisa. "To be a farmer you have to have grit--and I believe I have that thanks to the military.”

Marie Blankenship, of Marie’s Alpaca Acres, who served in the U.S. Air Force as Logistics Readiness Officer and later Captain, gives advice to veterans who are new to farming: “do your research, talk to other farmers and be willing to take risks to reach your goals. Ten years ago I never thought I would be an alpaca farmer. It has been an interesting journey. I enjoy showing people all the wonderful things you can do with alpaca fleece," says Marie. "Remember, if you decide to start farming there may be a few bumps in the road along the way, but your military service has prepared you to be resilient. Follow your passion!”

Barbara and Bryan Ritter, of Black Dogs Farm, both served as Hospital Corpsmen for United States Navy and offer words of encouragement to new farmers as well.  Bryan believes “with farming comes a great sense of pride in being self-sufficient” as well as being in an occupation where you have the opportunity to feed people. His wife, Barbara, wants veterans to know that becoming a farmer is “soul soothing.  Nothing returns you to nature quite like hands in the soil and tending to animals.”

With sincere gratitude to all our veteran member farmers.

written by Kelsey Hulse, KCFC Intern

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Celebrate July 4th the Local, Organic Way

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 4.34.11 PMGet ready to celebrate your Fourth of July holiday the local, organic, and free-range way! Stop by our favorite farmers markets and retailers this week to get delicious goods from #kcfcmember farmers. And check out a Fourth of July celebration at one of our member farms!

Our list of ALL area Farmers Markets is HERE. And our list of Featured Organic Farmers Markets is HERE. You can shop the Waldo market on Wednesday, 3:00-7:00. There are two markets on Friday: Ivanhoe (3700 Woodland) from 5:00-7:00 and Badseed (19th and McGee) from 4:00-9:00. There are also two markets on Saturday: KC Organics and Natural Market at Minor Park is from 8:00-12:30; Brookside Farmers Market (63rd and Wornall) runs from 8:00-1:00.

11411736_998685796817223_3251952550466598482_oNote: Brookside is offering a special customer appreciation drawing to show gratitude for your continued support of their local farmers! With each purchase you make on Saturday you can get your name entered into a drawing for a fair trade basket filled with $100 of goodies from the farmers and vendors. There will be two baskets raffled off. Stop by and buy for your chance to win! 

There are several grocery stores and shops around town where you can find some local, organic goods. Look for the names of your favorite #KCFCMember farmers at our Featured Retailers as well as other fine grocery stores around town. And don't forget to preorder your baked goods from Heirloom Bakery and Hearth in Brookside - they'll be closing early on Saturday the 4th, but will have lots of delicious local and organic treats for your festivities. Click HERE for their Fourth of July Menu.

Our #KCFCMember Cobinesteinz Farm in Bucyrus, Kansas will be hosting a Fourth of July party on their farm! Come see the farm and enjoy an evening with friends and a spectacular fireworks show. The event starts at 4:00. For more details click HERE.

Last but not least, here are some great summertime recipes, too!

- Red, White and Blue Veggie kabob - http://foodandfam.com/red-white-blue-veggie-kabobs/

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and share pictures of your local, organic, and free-range Independence Day feast with the hashtag #eatlocalkc.

Have a safe, happy, and delicious holiday weekend!

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This Weekend! Maker Faire and Urban Grown Farms and Gardens Tour

Our fabulous KCFC Member Farmers will be participating in two big events this weekend! Won't you come on out and join the fun? We'd love to see you!

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Maker Faire KC - June 27, 28

The 5th Annual Maker Faire is back at Union Station this weekend! Several of our farmers will be on hand - we've got some genuine makers in our midst! There will be a soap demo, info on worm composting, aquaponics, and seed-saving, and a virtual beehive!

Our KC Food Circle tent will feature a couple of our sponsors, markets, and partners - Harvesters, Wood & Salt, Seed Savers KC, Bread of Life, Waldo Farmers Market and Brookside Farmers Market - and a whole bunch of our KCFC Member Farmers, including Buds and Berries (Wisely Farms), Adams Osage Ridge, Antioch Urban Growers, Black Dogs Farm, Homestead Hill, Maries Alpaca Acres, Smoky Hills, Borgmans Dairy, Fruitful Hills, Stony Crest Urban Farm, Small Barn Farm, and Pearly Gates. Old Wood Farm (Antique Woods) will also be in attendance at Maker Faire.

Come make • create • craft • build & play with us! The Faire is 10-6 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. Details at MakerFairekc.com.

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Urban Grown Farms and Gardens Tour - June 27, 28

Cultivate KC has prepared another amazing roster of urban farms and gardens to tour for this year's Urban Grown event! We're proud to have 6 of our folks on the list!

As you're planning your Urban Grown self-guided tour, be sure to stop by and see our KCFC Member Farmers!

  • City Bitty Farm - 9615 Grandview Road, KCMO 64137
  • Gibbs Road Farm- 4223 Gibbs Road, KCK 66106
  • Juniper Gardens Training Farm (New Roots for Refugees) - 100 Richmond Avenue, KCK 66101
  • Niles Garden (one of our Featured Organic Farmers Markets!) - 1911 E 23rd Street, KCMO 64127
  • Urban Farming Guys - 1121 Myrtle Avenue, KCMO 64127
  • Urbavore Urban Farm - 5500 Bennington Avenue, KCMO 64129

Like our friends at Cultivate KC say, Urban Grown is much more than a tour. It's a celebration of the good food growing in our city! And it's an amazing and fun way to get to know the folks who grow your food. Come see for yourself! The Tour is 9-4 on Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday. Details at CultivateKC.org.

Note: KCFC Eater Members get discounted tickets! Single tickets are regularly $8 but you can get a $3 KCFC Member Discount. Email to get your discount code.

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CSA POINTERS and IDEAS

This is an excerpt of an article called "Sharing: How I Found My Way to CSA" by Emily Akins, originally published in Edible KC

 

Community Supported Agriculture - or CSA - is a wonderful way to eat with the seasons and to get to know the people who grow your food. And even though we know that eating locally is rewarding, we also know that sometimes it takes a shift in both mindset and methods. Here are a few ideas to make life as a locavore much simpler.

  • Get the tools you need to process your food. One of the things that makes processed food so easy is that it’s ready to cook and eat. CSA vegetables have to be chopped and prepped. Some things shouldn’t be washed or chopped until you’re ready to eat, like tomatoes, for instance, but many vegetables and greens can be washed and chopped in advance so they will be ready when you are. Take one night a week to prep veggies so they are ready to use. I use a salad spinner, a lot of storage containers for the fridge, a good sharp knife, and a mandoline.
  • Use seasonal recipes and cookbooks. Websites and cookbooks that are focused on local food are helpful, especially if they are organized by vegetable. Particularly helpful are local cookbooks featuring the produce I get in my CSA. Examples: “Rolling Prairie Cookbook” and the University of Missouri extension program’s “Seasonal and Simple” cookbook and website http://seasonalandsimple. info. CSA farmers always have good recipes many of which incorporate several ingredients from each share into one meal.
  • Create a “reverse grocery list.” One of the nice things about food from a CSA is that it’s fresh. But, fresh also means it’s not shelf stable. Hardier greens, veggies, and peppers will last a week or two; tomatoes, peas, beans and berries need to be eaten sooner, etc. Create a prioritized list of all share items based on how long they stay fresh and what needs to be eaten first. Use this to plan meals based on what you need to use. I call this the “reverse grocery list” because it tells me the things I already have – not the things I need to buy.
  • Have the right staples on hand and be flexible. I have learned that I can turn almost any assortment of CSA vegetables and herbs into either a stir-fry or pasta. If you have on hand the right sauces (or better yet – make your own and preserve them!) and the right grains (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, noodles etc.), you will find it easy to whip together a hearty meal using a colorful, eat-the-rainbow assortment of whatever CSA vegetables happened to be harvested that week.

WANT TO JOIN A CSA?

If you are interested in finding a CSA that is right for you, email