Weekly Farm Update

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I hope you all had a good week back from spring break! Though, let’s be honest, it was hard getting back into work mode. A lot has gone on at the micro farm since the last update. For one, love is officially in the air. While working the farm stand, I get to do  quite a bit of people watching. One thing I noticed is the passers by are a bit cheerier than usual, and I’m loving it. People were picking flowers from the side of the road on their way home from work, and bikers (who very much fit into the cool, Austin stereotype) all smiled and waved. This one guinea even let me get like a foot away from him, meaning we’re tight now. It’s those small interactions that are the cherry on top of working at the farm.

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These bees were def feeling the love

I think the plants sensed all this love, too, and have seemed to all grow three times bigger almost overnight. It took double the time to harvest everything this week! Along with the usual crops we harvest, we also had baby spinach, a mixture of baby lettuces, and a good amount of dinosaur kale this week.

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Ooh, baby

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Have you ever seen baby spinach as luscious as this?

We’ve also created new beds for tomatoes and are working on a patch for pumpkins and watermelon. YAY. There’s been a lot of planting going on, too. I’ll post a list of everything growing at the farm soon, but for now here’s what’s been planted recently:

  • Cherry and roma tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Armenian cucumbers
  • Summer squash
  • A variety of peppers
  • Watermelon

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Stephanie and lovely volunteers hard at work

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American Gothic

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As always, we would love to see your shining faces this Thursday, either to volunteer or buy some produce. Cheers.

Spring Spinach Salad

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If the weather were to stay like this year round, I would be perfectly happy. Nothing is more beautiful than Austin in the Spring. The wildflowers are blooming, the entire campus smells like wisteria, and we can go outside without melting. I love seeing everyone getting out on the trails along Ladybird Lake, taking my dog to Zilker Park, and sitting outside at Mozart’s. After being outdoors so much, I find myself craving something light and cool. This spinach salad really hits the spot and has been my go-to meal lately. The apple gives a nice crunch and sweetness that blends well with the salty-savory tastes of the spinach and chicken. The dressing is what really makes it stand out, though, and is actually a family recipe. It incorporates several food groups and, get this, it’s actually filling. A salad that leaves you satisfied? Crazy, I know. Come and get some spinach from our farm stand tomorrow and try for yourself!

Ingredients

Makes one large salad

  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach*
  • 1 small green apple, cubed
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes**
  • 1/2 cup shredded chicken, warm or cooled
  • Sliced almonds

For the dressing

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh minced garlic
  • 3 Tbs champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

*Available at the micro farm today

**Coming to the micro farm soon

How to

First make the dressing. Simply place all ingredients in a mason jar and shake until well blended then set aside. Then chop the apple and halve the tomatoes, assemble the salad, and top it off with a sprinkle of almond slices and dressing.

  • Pro-tip: Vegetarian? Substitute the chicken with 1/2 cup white beans or lightly seared tofu.
  • Pro-tip: If you have a nut allergy then replace the almonds with sunflower seeds and the walnut oil with olive oil.
  • Pro-tip: This goes really well with a slice of whole grain toast and some cucumber mint H2O ;)

Cucumber Mint Water

DSC_1231 I think most of our bodies could use some detoxing after all of spring break’s festivities. The fun hasn’t ended yet, but I, for one, am going to get a head start with this great flavored water recipe. Cucumbers are full of water and vitamins, which help to hydrate your body and flush out toxins. One of mint’s many benefits is that it decreases inflammation. Put together, mint and cucumber make an extremely refreshing and cleansing drink.

Ingredients

Makes one large pitcher

  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 bunches of mint (Get this at the microfarm)

How to

Thinly slice the cucumber and massage the mint to release its oils. Place at the bottom of a large pitcher and cover with ice and water. Gently stir and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes so the flavors can mingle. Pour and enjoy!

  • Pro-tip: If you aren’t a huge fan of mint, use 1 bunch instead of two.

Weekly Farm Update

Hey everybody,

I want to apologize for not posting an update last week. The weather was so nasty there was nothing to really give an update on. Luckily this past week we were able to get outside in the sun, even on our “snow” day. UT may be the best at a lot of things, but making calls for snow days is not on that list. ~Not complaining~

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Can you spot my animal friend?

As you can see above, our tire plant beds are painted and planted with potatoes. These are actually really cool because as time goes on we will stack more tires on top, which allows the potatoes to grow vertically and give a huge yield in a small amount of space. Also this week a lot of time was spent pulling weeds to clear the way for a new plant bed. I’m pretty sure we’ll be planting eggplant there. Egg-siting right? Sorry not sorry that I still have the humor of a five year old.

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Majestic.

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It’s almost like having a real cow.

In other news, the team met together at Thunderbird Coffee (it’s super cool, check it out) to discuss current and upcoming projects at the farm. Get excited because some big changes are coming that will make the microfarm experience more fun. I would also like to announce the Fertilizing Team Leader position has re-opened. Duties include fertilizing the plants on a weekly basis and researching new sustainable fertilizing techniques. The farm team is full of super fun and chill people, and we would love to have you. Information about the position can be found here, and if you or someone you know might be interested please contact us at microfarm@utenvironment.org.

Food for thought this week:

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It supposed to be beautiful this upcoming week, so I hope to see some new and familiar faces at the farm. Cheers.

Easy Garlic Snap Peas

Before we know it the microfarm will have snap peas available! These flavorful snap peas, courtesy the wicked noodle blog, are super simple to make, and make for a great snack or lunch. Just a word of caution, the garlic flavor is pretty strong. Both mincing and sautéing garlic release its oils for full flavor. If you would prefer a milder garlic taste, then you can slice the garlic (this releases less oils) or simply halve the amount of garlic the recipe calls for. You can even make these with just the salt and pepper.

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Ingredients

Makes 3 cups

  • 1 1/2 tbs. canola oil
  • 3 cups sugar snap peas
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to

Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once heated, add the snap peas. If the oil starts popping uncontrollably at this point it’s ok to turn the heat down to medium. Lil Jon once asked, “Turn down for what?” The answer is turn down for hot oil exploding into your eyes. Toss the peas in the oil for three or four minutes. The peas should still be a vibrant green. Add the minced garlic and stir for another minute. Add the salt and pepper then serve immediately.

Pro-tip: The original recipe called for 2 tbs. oil but I found this made the peas a little too greasy. If that’s the texture you like then use 2 tbs.

Pro-tip: Keep an eye on the garlic! I don’t know how many times I have burnt garlic while sautéing a dish. There is a fine line between browned and burnt here, and burnt garlic taste bitter and nasty. Using a really high heat will not cook the peas any faster, it will only burn your garlic.

Pro-tip: If you’d like a little more texture add some sesame seeds along with the salt and pepper.

Plant Biography: Swiss Chard

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Basic Info

  • Scientific NameBeta vulgaris
  • Taste: Subtly bitter and salty
  • Varieties: White, red, and multicolored stalks
  • Relatives: Spinach, beets
  • Fun fact: Swiss chard actually originated in the Mediterranean region-not Switzerland! A Swiss botanist gave this plant its name  in the 1800s.
  • Health benefits: Fights illness and disease, regulates blood sugar, reduces blood pressure, and promotes eye, hair, and brain health.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size 1 cup (36 g) % Daily Value
Calories  7  
Total Fat     0g 0%
Cholesterol   0mg 0%
Sodium     77mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates   1g 0%
Dietary Fiber   1g 2%
Sugars     0g
Protein     1g
Vitamin A     2202 IU 44%
Vitamin C     10.8 mg 18%
Vitamin E     0.7 mg 3%
Vitamin K     299 mcg 374%
Calcium     18.4 mg 2%
Iron     0.6 mg 4%
Magnesium     29.2 mg 7%
Manganese     0.1 mg 7%
Potassium     136 mg 4%
Zinc     0.1 mg 1%

Now I challenge you to incorporate this super food into at least one meal this next week! You’re tempted to eat it after seeing all those antioxidants, right? Here are some ideas how:

Berry Greens Smoothie

Potatoes in Garlicky Chard Broth

Mac and Cheese with Swiss Chard and Mushrooms

Fettuccine  with Caramelized Onions and Swiss Chard

Weekly Farm Update

Hi Farm Friends,

I hope everyone made the most of the beautiful weather this past week! I know it’s been a long one for a lot of us, so this week’s post will be short and sweet.

Thursday the farm’s first broccoli head was ready to harvest

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Ooh, so fresh

We also found a nasty aphid infestation on one of the plants (see below). For those of you who don’t know what aphids are, they are pests that suck out the sap from the phloem of plants. With punctured phloem vessels, the plant dies, and sometimes the aphids transmit viruses to the plant. They are bad news. But they are preyed on by lady bugs, and luckily we’ve spotted many of those around the farm.

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Aphids are ew

Lady bugs: destroyers of pests

Lady bugs: Destroyers of pests

Saturday’s awesome bunch of volunteers produced really good vibes at the farm. That morning was dedicated to cleaning up the farm, pulling (so many) weeds, beginning the tire plant beds, and finally shoveling the last of the compost hill that obstructed the front gate.

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One last announcement. The lovely Development Director, Stephanie, recently announced the Sustainable Food Center will be offering a Citizen Gardener class over spring break, as well as at other dates throughout the semester. This will be a great way to learn more about organic and sustainable gardening in the Texas Hill Country, and you can bet you will see some of us there. For more information on the program, check out the SFC website.

Have a fantastic week, everyone, we hope to see you soon!