Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Gleaning

We went to Honey Brook Organic Farm on Friday for the annual "Pig Out", whereby farm share members get the chance to troll the fields, following a detailed map, to "glean" the remaining crops there. It's a bit of a daunting task, involves a lot of walking in mud and brush, but the rewards can be considerable. Having just barely recovered from a very painful upper groin strain, I was probably doing more harm than good when I climbed through row after row of broccoli at just a slight incline. Oof. But the kids were along, and they seemed to be having fun.

The clouds were streaky in the sky as the afternoon waned and we trampled first through the broccoli, then toward some dill, celery and parsley. Ben and I clipped a lot of deep green bunches of parsley. Very little in the way of dill and celery.

We brought several large plastic bags of broccoli and parsley back to the SUV, and that's when we noticed the largely unnoticed field of romaine, red leaf and butter lettuces. We quickly filled two large plastic bags with baby romaine heads, even some wild romaine, dense heads of red leaf and a few picture-perfect heads of butter lettuce, as we raced the sun and pink sky toward sunset.

Across the road from where we parked lay fields of raddichio, cauliflower, carrots and beets. When Sophie discovered the short purple and green rows of radicchio, she yelled at the top of her lungs, "Look! Radicchio!" Ben chimed in, hearing the echoes bouncing off the trees, "Radicchio!" They did that for about five minutes, and it scattered the other gleaners to fields farther away. We picked about 18 heads of radicchio (I don't know why), and then Sophie and I retired to the SUV, the nearby porta-john, and a quick nap, while Ben and his mom continued on to the beet fields.

At 4:30 the farm staff began to close the gates to the fields, but there was no sign of any gleaners returning to their cars. I sized up the situation, drove the SUV out of the muddy parking area and headed up Wargo Rd. to look for survivors. I found a bundle of hardy pickers, ruddy-faced and red-nosed, marching toward a still-unlocked gate, and in the bunch were Ben and his mom.

Behind them followed a large tractor, in whose shovel rested a huge bag of dirt-caked beets.

"Too heavy to carry," I was told, so I met the tractor at the far gate and retrieved a heavy sack loaded with red and striped beauties.

We returned to the farm stand to donate a share of our haul back to the farm for donation to area food banks, as is required by the rules of the Pig Out, and they got a big bag of broccoli, the only veggie they were accepting by that late hour.

What we're gonna do with this haul, I don't know. So far I've washed all the beets, discovered not only red beets, but striped and golden ones as well. All the lettuces and broccoli and radicchio have been trimmed and bagged,and it's just overwhelming. Sure, some broccoli and lettuces will be headed north to Moosic, and my mom's for Thanksgiving, but I'm definitely in need of some good recipes for beets, broccoli and radicchio. Thanks in advance for your help!


mybeerbuzz said...

Rich...having just spent two years as members of a farm co-op, we're way too familiar with creating ways to eat fresh produce. I'll offer up one simple one since you have beets.

Simply peeled and boiled (or nuked then boiled), sliced thin with a little sea salt & fresh chevre goat cheese. Yummo!

okbrewer said...

RP, I like to make soups when I have excess veggies. Soups freeze OK too. Or you could send a care package my way!

Rich said...

Bob: Any soup recipes that include broccoli or beets? Cream of broccoli or borscht are soups that do not freeze well.