Posts Tagged ‘farming’
Posted Wednesday 06 June 2012on:
Our home in Sydney had a small L shaped garden in the courtyard. The previous owners had planted tropical specimens that were coarse and prickly and it took many hours to dig out all the roots. We replaced the grotesque fluorescent plants with evergreen hedges and Japanese maple trees.
We had terracotta pots of herbs and vegetables which yielded produce sporadically. We had a stubborn lettuce that was determined to grow up so all we had were stalks and no leaves. The singular chilli we patiently cultivated was pecked at and spat out by a bird. But we did have an abundance of basil. My only gardening skill is watering. I was excellent at that!
The workshop is the bakery for all the Tom Douglas restaurants. Serious Pie Westlake is on the mezzanine level with a view over the commercial kitchen.
We were greeted with a rhubarb lemonade in a mason jar. Macerated rhubarb was strained and mixed with lemonade, a refreshingly tart beverage.
Our snacks were courtesy of Serious Pie. Buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce and fresh basil, and Penn Cove clams, pancetta and lemon thyme pizzas sated our hunger.
A stack of recipe cards were tied in a bow.
A cardboard tray of Prosser Farm vegetables had asparagus, oregano, Chinese cabbage and mustard green seedlings.
We gathered around Dev as he and chatted chatted with us about farming in Prosser.
We tasted a trio of greens. Clockwise from top: baby mustard greens, mustard greens and Chinese cabbage. The peppery red mustard greens contrasted with the grassy green variety.
An orange coriander vinaigrette was in a spray bottle. A spritz of the citrusy dressing on the red mustard green leaves alleviated the spiciness.
Dev peeled stalks of rhubarb with a paring knife which he reserved for colouring. The yoghurt and asparagus are from their neighbours. There are no asparagus on Prosser Farm as it requires space and takes three to four years for the crops to develop. The sheep milk yoghurt is from Mercer Sheep.
Thick and creamy, the piquant yoghurt balanced the mellow sweetness of the poached rhubarb. Tossed with crunchy asparagus spears, crisp green leaves and slivered almonds, it was a unique salad.
Dev foraged a handful of devil’s club for us to nibble on. There were murmurs as we considered the flavour. It was herbal, like juniper berries in gin. These can be eaten raw in salads or pickled.
Green garlic is straight and garlic scapes are curved. The former is young garlic and the latter are the stalks of garlic. Both have mild, dulcet notes that differentiate them from the pungency of garlic cloves.
These curious curls are fiddlehead ferns. The fronds have to be carefully cleaned, and can be blanched or seared.
We were surprised with chorizo made by former Harvest Vine chef Joseba Jimenez and they were smoky paprika morsels.
Dev explained that hard boiled just laid eggs are difficult to peel. The egg whites thicken after three days.
Coddled in 145 °F water for 35 minutes, the glossy eggs were gently cracked into individual bowls and briefly warmed.
Dev sautéed kale and green garlic, and spinach was wilted in stock.
The greens were puréed.
And simmered with brown butter, and cooled in an ice bath.
Mushroom slides and A ladle of green garlic broth were topped with a coddled egg. Luscious and healthy, the broth was the definition of spring.
Currently Prosser Farm is supplying 300 pounds of food to the Tom Douglas restaurants per week. It will peak at 1000 pounds in summer. There are quince, fig and peach trees on the property. Last year the restaurants did not have to purchase any tomatoes and only had to supplement lettuces. Next will be eggplant and peppers.
Dev answered all our questions with aplomb and recommended rhubarb leaves as rain shields!
Posted Thursday 17 November 2011on:
I attended a panel discussion on food security at FareStart a couple of weeks ago. Moderated by Matt Gurney, FareStart Director of Business Operations, it was a passionate and positive conversation on food security in Washington State.
Located on the border of Downtown and South Lake Union, the FareStart building is a restaurant, catering kitchen, office and classrooms. On the ground floor is the restaurant where lunch is served on weekdays and Guest Chef Night held on Thursdays. As you enter, the feature wall displays colourful plates with names of donors, and framed black and white photos of guest chefs.
The event was held in the banquet room on the mezzanine level. Complimentary lunch was a buffet of salad bowls, make-your-own sandwich platters and potato crisps. I chose a seat at a table at the front with my plate of pasta salad, and a prosciutto cotto and Swiss cheese sandwich.
The panellists were:
* Rachel Butler - Agency Relations Manager, Food Lifeline
* Richard Conlin – Seattle City Council President
* Tim Crosby – Director, Slow Money Northwest
* Sarita Schaffer – Director, Viva Farms; Coordinator, WSU Northwest Latino Program
Megan Karch, FareStart Executive Director, welcomed the attendees. The fourth in a deep dive education series, this is a gathering of leaders of the city to discuss the challenges and opportunities in local food systems. Each panellist introduced themselves and made a brief statement on the issue of food security.
Rachel Butler explained the mission of Food Lifeline, a member of Feeding America, is to ‘end hunger in Western Washington by engaging communities and mobilising resources’. In 2010 Food Lifeline distributed food to 745,000 individuals in Western Washington.
Richard Conlin referred to the Local Food Action Initiative and how they relate to the councils’ core principles of social justice, economic development, environmental stewardship and community. Mr Conlin also mentioned the ‘hunger-obesity nexus’.
Tim Crosby combines enterprise and philanthropy to connect investors with food and farming businesses utilising financial instruments.
Sarita Schaffer declared that ‘farmers are the foundation of the food supply chain’. The average age of farmers in Washington is 57 years old and this is a global trend. Her work is focused on training the next generation of sustainable farmers.
Questions discussed include:
* What is the definition of food security?
* What is food security in a national context?
* What are the trends in food security?
* What is the cost of food to an individual?
* What does food security mean in the Pacific Northwest?
* Food insecurity is about individuals and families ‘not knowing where their next meal will come from’. There is enough food being produced.
* The challenge for food banks is the capacity and cost to distribute.
* In 2010 seventy per cent of food distributed by Food Lifeline was classified as nutritious which equates to thirty five million pounds of fresh produce.
* The Farm Bill is the reverse of the food pyramid. The pattern of subsidies has to change.
* We need to take into consideration emergency preparedness for the inevitable earthquake.
* In the 2010 census the number of farms increased over a decade for the first time in 120 years.
* Of the 14,000 acres designated as farm land in King County, only 3,000 are in agricultural production. There aren’t enough farmers but farmers markets have tripled in the last decade.
* People are going to food banks because of the economy. The cost of input is increasing. ‘We’re exporting food while struggling to feed ourselves.’
* It’s about optimising resources available, not maximising output. Changes to decentralise supply systems has to be gradual and not a sharp turn.
* Diabetes costs the country $194 billion in 2010. It is projected to more than double to $500 billion by 2020.
* The price gap between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food has remained the same. This should to be inverted.
* The centralisation of distribution and consolidation of ownership is affecting the supply of food with the cost and energy to transport magnified. 1.2 million people are producing the food for the entire country.
* The true cost of food has to be paid for. It’s better to pay for the food and not environmental degradation or poor labour conditions.
* Washington has the best soil to grow food in prime agricultural land. A collaborative distribution network with shared transport and storage will support farmers.
* Consumers are empowered, stores will response to demands. It is a ‘new spirit of food consumption’.
Sincere thanks to FareStart for hosting an informative event on food security.