I’m dreaming of a fresh salad...
Unless you count tomatoes brought in from sunnier climes picked way before the sun ripens them, and cucumbers from California and Mexico, Wisconsin’s winter season leaves our dinner plates pretty barren of fresh produce.
But that was then and this is now. This winter, salad bowls of locally grown garden fresh tomatoes and heirloom lettuce are ours for the purchasing, thanks to greenhouse technology.
Two area farmers bringing summer’s best to the dinner table are The Wright Way Farm of Beloit and Living Hope Farm, Bristol. Both are vendors at Kenosha’s weekly indoor HarborMarket.
This Saturday, Living Hope Farm will introduce its winter season community supported agriculture — CSA — shares. These prepaid subscriptions will yield customers weekly boxes of produce that will soon include some of the delights of summer: tomatoes, green beans, yellow peppers and cucumbers.
While customers can purchase some of the items individually, purchasing CSA shares helps finance efforts of local growers. “It is also about developing a relationship with the farmer,” notes Denny Wright, owner of The Wright Way Farm.
At this time, The Wright Way Farm is selling summer CSA shares; Living Hope Farm is selling winter and summer shares.
This is the first year that Living Hope Farm has grown summer veggies for winter sale. Farm manager Bert Jones expects to be able to grow a full complement of heirloom vegetables in the farm’s three greenhouses starting in the next few weeks.
Just last Thursday, he and his crew planted heirloom tomatoes, heirloom cucumbers and yellow bell peppers. Already up for harvest are microgreens of lettuce, beets, cilantro and basil.
Two greenhouses are working and a third will be up and running in the next couple of weeks, Jones said.
Other garden goodies will include golden turnips, beets and purple carrots, green beans and “possibly” English peas, he said.
Wright Way Farm, a HarborMarket vendor for the past three winter seasons, currently offers cold hardy produce, including kale, spinach and some lettuces, as well as fall-picked produce like potatoes, carrots and turnips, freshly milled whole wheat flour, pickles and dilly beans, butternut squash and edible pumpkins, according to Denny Wright, farm owner.
To accomplish this, Wright Way Farm utilizes its greenhouses and boxes with plastic over them covered from below with frost cloth, said Wright. “We’ll get cold-hardy greens as long as it’s above freezing,” he said.
Both farms offer heirloom variety vegetables.
Jones has been concentrating on heirloom species since he began as farm manager with Living Hope Farm last April.
The reasons for growing heirlooms are flavor and nutrition, say Bert and his wife, Jenny. “Because of hybridizing and genetically modified organisms, (commercial) produce is now 40 percent less nutritious than it once was,” Bert said.
Jenny offers a spiritual take on the matter: “(Heirloom) vegetables have been full of flavor for 50 to 400 years — there’s a reason you don’t modify God’s vegetables.”
In the interest of encouraging consumers on how to best use and enjoy the produce in their CSA shares, both farms offer recipes or recipe links and other information on their websites.
For more information about Wright Way Farm, including CSA shares and pricing, visit www.wrightwayfarm.com.
For more information about Living Hope Farm, including CSA shares and pricing, visit www.livinghopefarm.com
The following is the anticipated ripe-and-ready schedule for produce from Living Hope Farm this winter season. All items will be available via community supported agriculture subscriber shares, with extra produce on sale at the indoor HarborMarket, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rhode Center for the Arts, 514 56th St. All estimated times are slated from the week of Jan. 9.
* Baby lettuce: three to four weeks
* Cucumbers: four weeks
* Tomatoes: six weeks
* Zucchini: four to five weeks
* Peppers: six to eight weeks