This is the 3rd year that I've had a share of Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton, and I LOVE it!
Stone Gardens Farm is a family farm, owned and farmed by Fred and Stacia Monahan-- one of the first farms in this area to offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. I asked Fred why 'Stone Gardens', and he told me that at the beginning of the season, it feels like he's harvesting stones. Every spring as he's preparing the soil for planting, he pulls stones and rocks out of the ground. Every winter the frost shoves more up. That's New England farming for you...
Fred grows and harvests much, much more that stones (I've never actually seen any stones in my share, or for sale at the stand. . .). In addition to gorgeous vegetables, lovely plants, and lots of herbs, Fred and Stacia raise chickens, eggs, and offer shares of pork and beef. My half-share fills my 16"x 10"x 8" box to the brim, containing more than enough for the two of us for a week (and we eat lots of veggies!).
Every year, just about the time that Fred is pulling stones out of his fields, I am hitting 'chef block' (similar to 'writers block', but you're more likely to go hungry). Winter vegetables are uninspiring, offering little variety. While the produce aisle in the supermarket offers a wide selection year 'round- everything from baby lettuces to plaintains; apples to kiwis-- all come with a very large carbon footprint. In trying to be ecologically responsible, I find myself stymied with what to cook. Me! So, even better than the freshness of the food, the variety of the vegetables, and knowing exactly how they've been handled and were they've been, is the way my culinary creativity is revitalized by my first share each June. There is something to be said for knowing exactly where your food comes from. I feel connected to the food and my cooking in a way that's missing in winter and early spring.
This summer I am visiting other farms that offer CSA shares throughout New England. I'm excited to meet other farmers and discover what they're planting! I'll share my travel experiences and recipes using the vegetables offered at other farms throughout the summer and into the early fall.
This week's share includes bok choy, more collard greens, potatoes, garlic and summer squash. My Irish roots are happy to have fresh potatoes!
There are two main types of potatoes (hundreds of varieties, though!): mealy and waxy. Mealy potatoes are also called 'maincrop' potatoes-- they are also sold as russet potatoes, or Idaho potatoes. They tend to be larger and oval. They are best for baking and frying, but can fall apart in liquid. Waxy potatoes are also known as 'new' potatoes They have very thin skins, and tend to be smaller and round. Most of the nutrients of the potatoes are in the skin, so try cooking them and eating them with the skin on.
All potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry place. When buying them, try to buy them either loose or in paper bags, as storing them in plastic will retain moisture and accelerate spoiling. If they are sold in plastic bags, take them out of the bag as soon as you get home.
Visit Stone Gardens Farms on the web at: www.stonegardensfarm.com