Archive for the 'Farms' Category

The Country’s Most Famous Garden

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I’ve talked on this blog, from time to time, of my fondness for fresh produce. I volunteer at my local farmers’ market. And I make use of what little sun I have on my deck for a potted garden of tomatoes, herbs, and new this year, peppers (their success is yet to be seen).

My interest in gardening is new – only within the past six or seven years – and has grown progressively. And my interest in vegetables, well let’s just say that still shocks my parents after all these years. I was that picky of an eater as a child.

For Father’s Day weekend, my dad, sister and I took a little road trip down to Washington D.C. to do some museum hopping. With the immense heat, we had committed to air conditioned activities only, until my sister decided that we couldn’t leave town without stopping by the White House. Since this wasn’t my first trip, I was less than excited (not much changes on the outside), until I spotted the White House Garden.

The White House Presidential Garden

From the sidewalk, it appeared smaller than I would have expected (even though it is actually about 1,100 square feet). Last year, the garden produced over 1,000 pounds of food, feeding not only the Obamas, but dinner guests and local homeless shelters as well. This year, the size of the garden has been increased. And in the garden you will find everything from broccoli and rhubarb to tomatillos and Japanese eggplant.

Even though I had stood at the White House fence before, and gazed at the South Lawn (playing spot the Secret Service men), seeing the new garden was extremely exciting. After all, the White House hasn’t housed a garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II.

The White House - Washington, D.C.

In fact, the whole thing got me motivated to consider a plot in my community garden next year – something I had written off this year as too time consuming. (They have a lot more sun then I’ve got in my yard!)

But I’m not the only one. According to the Christian Science Monitor, W. Atlee Burpee & Co (a seed company) saw a 30% jump in vegetable seed sales in 2009 over the previous year. That’s pretty impressive.

And I haven’t even gotten into the real purpose of the garden, which is to encourage more consumption of fresh foods. What started out as a personal mission for her family, has become Michelle Obama’s platform – demanding healthier options and fresh food for our country’s children. This mission is winning favor with parents, and food manufacturers have responded with plans to cut sodium, sugar and more.

I managed to get a picture of the garden, before the Secret Service began to shoo us away. Others in the crowd were certain this meant the presidential motorcade was coming through, or that President Obama was coming out onto the lawn. But, since it was late in the day, I’m certain that it that the high alert was to allow the First Lady, and her girls, a chance to water their garden undisturbed.

The Farmer in the Dell (a.k.a. New Jersey)

Friday, November 6th, 2009

On a recent and chilly Sunday morning, I joined my fellow farmers’ market volunteers for a field trip. We didn’t head to the museum, or to a matinee. Instead, we literally took to the fields, and visited two of our market farms.

Now, I’ve been to a farm before. I’ve picked my own strawberries; I’ve played with sheep; I’ve even pressed my own apple cider. But somehow, this was different. This time I walked through the fields, and picked the majority of my Sunday dinner from the ground.

It may sound silly to say, but sometimes we get so used to the convenience of buying a pack of spring mix in the store, that we don’t really think of where it comes from. In fact, when our group arrived at the “field of greens” and saw the spread of multi-colored greens before us, almost all of us simultaneously exclaimed, “it actually grows like that?!”

mixed greens

Initially, I was expecting our hosts to bore of explaining how farms work. After all, while it may be a foreign concept to a group of suburban volunteers, this is their everyday life. But, they could not have been more gracious, proud, and genuinely excited to explain every possible detail.

basil field

As “Farmer Flaim” drove us through the fields, we stopped periodically to smell rows of dill, cilantro and basil, or to pick fresh eggplants – traditional, Italian and mini. (Have you ever seen the flower an eggplant grows from? It’s beautiful!) By sight alone, he knew whether fennel, radishes or Swiss chard were ready or not. While, to the rest of us, it all looked the same.

kevin picking radishes

We also visited a flower farm known for sunflowers and gladiolas. Again, the sight of rows of gladiolas in the ground, instead of in a vase, was almost shocking.

field of gladiolas

At the end of the day, our hosts sent us home with three cars filled with fresh produce and flowers, more than our small group could possibly eat. Carrots, cabbage, dill, radicchio and sunflowers – oh my! At home, we shared it with friends, family and neighbors. And let me tell you, hubby and I ate extraordinarily well that week – feasting on salads, potato and leek soup, marinated fennel, and dill new potatoes. Delish!

a full trunk of garden vegetables

Sikking Farms and Flaim Farms of Vineland, New Jersey Produce

Working in the food industry, I get to travel to a number of manufacturing facilities, and I LOVE to learn how my favorite products are made. I truly enjoy seeing the assembly lines and how the containers are filled. (Makes me sound like a bit of a dork, eh?) But once in a while, it’s pretty cool to see where it all begins.

Thank you to Sikking Farms and Flaim Farms of Vineland, New Jersey!!

David Michael & Co. • 10801 Decatur Road • Philadelphia, PA 19154 • 1-800-DM-FLAVORS

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