Photo: erin.kkr (Flickr)
Social Connections In The Urban Soil
Cruising down Market Street in downtown Saint Louis, you’re going to zip right by it.
But, if you can’t beat the light just before the I-55 overpass you’ll see a patch of green, filled with farmers wearing neon green T-shirts busy tending to the grounds and filling wheel barrels with fresh mustard greens.
At its heart, City Seeds is a local food system built to tackle everything from addiction to unemployment to homelessness. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program was created by Gateway Greening in 2006, a 27-year-old non-profit focused on community gardening in Saint Louis.
“It gives me a sense of belonging, that I can actually do something,” says one of the farmers Robert Reed, who is homeless and jobless.
It’s tough to know for sure if there’s a link between harvesting local food and recovery from things like addiction or depression. Nevertheless, Ann Rotermund’s gut instinct says yes. She’s senior director of mental health at the St. Patrick Center, whose clients work the farm.
“We have long thought that there was a link with kind of early recovery from drugs and alcohol and mental health issues with putting something in the ground,” she said.
More: Read more about the City Seeds program at Harvest Public Media.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU
“People who are really dedicated to supporting small, local farms sometimes join CSAs,” explains Bobbi Boos, crew leader and CSA coordinator for LIFE Certified Organic Farm. “They pay us in the spring when we need money for seeds and fertilizer and labor before we get to start harvesting and selling our food. We provide a weekly delivery of food, so that’s their share.”
Boos says the CSA boxes get a priority for the produce they sell. “We’re not selling green beans because [the CSA boxes] got all the green beans. We also have watermelons in some of the shares, green peppers, garlic, basil… So, not everybody gets everything. We switch it up because we don’t have enough for all of our members – watermelons go here one week, they go here the next week.”
The CSA box in the Earth Eats office this week is a little different: a couple tomatoes, a bunch of sage, five cucumbers, and a whole slew of potatoes.
We knocked out the tomatoes in no time, but the other ingredients have given us pause. How can we creatively incorporate cucumbers, sage and potatoes into this week’s meals?
One can only eat so many raw cucumbers slices with hummus! With six cukes to eat in one week, we needed a better solution. This recipe uses all the cucumbers and plenty of fresh herbs to transform a traditional gazpacho recipe into something new.
Photo: Jessie Wallner/WFIU
Serving Size: Serves 8-10 folks
- 6 cucumbers
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 5 scallions
- 1 cup assorted herbs (basil, dill, chives, mint, parsley, etc.)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- salt and pepper to taste
- Optional Garnishes:
- 1/2 cup cucumbers, diced
- 1/2 cup herbs, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon green chilies, minced
- 1 cup crab or shrimp
- Combine the cucumbers, garlic, ginger, scallions, herbs, olive oil and yogurt in a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Chill well, Fold in remaining ingredients just before serving and adjust seasoning.
- Garnish bowls with cucumbers, yogurt, herbs and other condiments of your choice,
- Serve the gazpacho at the table from a large decorative tureen.
Fresh juices are a great way to cool down in the summertime and enjoy the bounty of the season, but this is certainly not your everyday glass of apple juice. We’re using cayenne pepper, lemon, and sage.
Photo: moto browniano (Flickr)
Sage And Apple Infusion
- 2 quarts apple juice
- 1 bunch sage, washed and lightly bruised
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (or turmeric)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 small lemons, thinly sliced into rounds
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Heat 1 quart of the juice to a boil and pour over the sage, saffron, honey, lemon, and pepper. Allow to infuse 10-15 minutes.
- Add the remaining juice and chill well. Strain.
- Serve over ice with an apple wedge and safe leaf garnish.
Finding uses for potatoes isn’t especially difficult, but coming up with a recipe that hasn’t been prepared a couple dozen times can be tricky.
So, we dug through the Earth Eats archive to find this recipe for potato pancakes. The recipe for these Old Fashioned Potato Latkes is a favorite in the Jewish food tradition, and they are often enjoyed around Hanukkah.
Old Fashioned Potato Latkes
- 5 large russet potatoes, about 2-1/2 lbs total
- 4 scallions, chopped fine
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or more as needed
- 2-3 teaspoons salt (potatoes need a lot)
- freshly ground pepper
- vegetable oil for frying
- sour cream for serving
- Peel the potatoes and grate them on the large holes of a hand-held grater.
- Transfer them to a sieve set over a bowl and, using your hands or the back of a wooden spoon, press out as much moisture as you can. Starch will collect under the potato water.
- Some cooks pour off the water and add the starch back to the potatoes, as a binder.
- Grate the onion on the same grater and combine it with the potato in a clean bowl. Add the potato starch, if you like.
- Beat the eggs in a small bowl.
- Add them to the potatoes, then stir in enough flour to make a light batter.
- Add the salt and the pepper to taste.
- Fry a nugget of the potato mixture, then taste it to make sure there’s enough salt.
- In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm enough oil to come 1/8 to 1/4 inch up the sides of the pan. It should be good and hot but not smoking.
- Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls or 1/4 cupfuls into the hot oil.
- Gently press on them to flatten them out. Don’t crowd the pan or the latkes will become soggy.
- Fry until golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then turn and brown the second side.
- Remove to paper towels to drain briefly, then serve as soon as you can, with the applesauce and sour cream.