Fresh from the farm is an experience

Fresh from the farm is an experience

Buying fresh fruits and vegetables from a local farm stand not only demonstrates healthy eating habits to children, it can teach them the value of supporting local agriculture. If we’re lucky, the trip to the farm can result in a few cherished memories. There is no denying that tomatoes or lettuce picked the same day  taste better than the produce purchased from the grocery store. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of harvesting food from a backyard garden rather than a refrigerator, you will agree that the “chore” itself could be as fun as the food was tasty. I remember picking vegetables with my grandfather; he taught me how to choose the ripest and sweetest tomatoes and how to determine when peppers were ready to be picked. Even sweeter than those tomatoes are the memories of the experience that I still carry with me today.


By today’s standards, however, we are not always as diligent about taking time to smell the roses…or as the case may be, the basil. In our rush to complete all of our errands, making a special trip to a local farm, exclusively for the purpose of buying cucumbers and tomatoes, can seem like an added chore and one that could easily be eliminated, if we just purchased our produce at the local grocery store, along with all of the other items on our list. But sometimes, these everyday chores are the same ones that create an experience and in the process, a lasting memory, for children and parents, alike. If we eliminate these so-called chores, we may be denying ourselves and our children the pleasure of true, quality time spent together.


When you buy your fruits and vegetables from Colchester Neighborhood Farm, consider blocking out an extra 15 minutes or 30 minutes for the “chore” because it could easily turn into a fun and wonderful experience. Colchester Neighborhood Farm is a social enterprise in every sense of the word. Employing adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities who are more than happy to wait on their customers at the farm stand, they are also eager to show off their farm, which includes chickens, a friendly donkey named Dapple, and some goats and their babies…yes the kids love the kids! A visit to Colchester Neighborhood Farm is more than just buying fresh fruits and vegetables, it is an opportunity for our children to learn about agriculture, to see how their food is grown and where it comes from. And going home with a few good memories along with some fresh tomatoes, organically grown cucumbers, and a bouquet of fresh flowers isn’t bad either.


Spring Salad with Strawberry Basil Dressing

Recipe courtesy of Randy Lucero and Erin DeMari at Smith House

Salad Ingredients:
6 cups or more of mixed greens chopped
In order to help stretch our salads we add any greens we receive from the farm such as Kale, leeks and swiss chard.
Add any additional veggies on hand such as tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, sprouts, scallions, walnuts (Get creative with whatever is on hand)

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup of hulled and sliced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Combine all of the above ingredients together and puree. (use a blender or food processor)

Combine all the salad ingredients and toss with the fresh pureed dressing!

This salad is high in Vitamins A, C and Iron.

Nutrition info for Arugula, Kale, Mustard Greens & Dandelion Greens

Nutrition info for Arugula, Kale, Mustard Greens & Dandelion Greens

Arugula is low in calories and high in vitamin A and vitamin C.  One-half cup contains about two calories.

Kale eases lung congestion and is beneficial to the stomach, liver and immune system.  It contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from macular degeneration and it also contains indole-3-carbinol, which may protect against colon cancer.  Kale is an excellent source of calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, and chlorophyll.

Mustard Greens are an excellent anticancer vegetable.  They may also be beneficial for colds, arthritis or depression.  While mustard greens sold in the United States are relatively mild in flavor, some mustard green varieties, especially those in Asia, can be as hot as a jalapeno pepper depending on their mustard oil content.

Dandelion Greens are beneficial to digestion and is an antiviral that may be useful in the treatment of AIDS and herpes.  It may also be useful in treating jaundice, cirrhosis, edema due to high blood pressure, gout, eczema and acne. Dandelion is also used to treat and prevent breast and lung tumors and premenstrual bloating.  Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A (in the form of the antioxidant carotenoid), vitamin C, and also contain calcium and potassium.  Dandelion root contains insulin, which lowers blood sugar in diabetics.

Recipe: Sautéed Greens & Braised Baby Bok Choy

Sautéed Greens

This recipe is a great tasting way of receiving the many health benefits of the super food Greens.  The leeks are a delicious complement, and this dish can be made very easily, so you can have it often.  Adding the oil at the end gives it a rich taste without heating it making this even healthier than most sautéed greens.

Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 C. sliced leeks, about 1 leek or Onions
4 C chopped Greens (Kale, Spinach, Mustard)
1/4 C + 1 T. chicken or vegetable broth
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat 1 T. broth in a 10-12 inch stainless steel skillet.  Sauté sliced leeks in broth over medium low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add Greens, ¼ cup broth, cover and simmer on low heat for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
2. Toss with pressed garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Serves 2


Braised Baby Bok Choy (adapted by Carol D’Espinosa)

1 lb. baby Bok Choy or mature Bok Choy
2 T. Olive Oil
1/2 C. chopped Red Onion
1 t. Soy Sauce
1/2 t. Pepper
2 T. Rice Vinegar

1. Trim the base of the Bok Choy, then chop off the leaves.  Cut the base in half lengthwise, then cut the halves crosswise on a diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick strips.  Cut the leaves crosswise on diagonal 1½” wide strips.

2. Place a large wok or a pan large enough to hold all the Bok Choy over medium heat.  When it is hot, add the olive oil and rotate the wok or pot a bit to coat it evenly.  When the oil is hot, add the onion and stir-fry until softened, 2-3 minutes.  Add the Bok Choy and season with the salt and pepper.  Cover and cook until tender crisp, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the vinegar and serve hot.

Serves 2 – 3

“Green” Recipes: Kale & Watercress

We have planted lots more greens than the typical kale and Swiss chard and spinach.
There are Asian greens and other high powered dark leafies coming along; general rule of thumb – the darker the green, the more highly nutritious ~ there is one called vita-green!
In a few weeks you will be seeing Bok Choy and other Choy family greens with beautiful colors and textures; Yukina Savoy, Komatsuna and some with equally beautiful variety names such as Summer Fest, Black Summer, Autumn Joy and Win Win.
For the most part, the greens are great eaten fresh in a salad or also braised or in a stir fry or smoothie.  They are all also easily interchangeable in recipes calling for Swiss chard, kale and spinach. 

From member Jamie…
I found kale and watercress recipes on a website called  They’re all meatless and sound pretty good.  I picked a few to share, but the website (maybe you’re familiar with it already) has lots of recipes using all kinds of good stuff! 

Quinoa with Mushrooms, Kale, and Sweet Potatoes 

Whole-Grain Spaghetti With Garlicky Kale and Tomatoes

Kale with Roasted Peppers and Olives

Kale and White Bean Soup

Chilled Sweet Pea and Watercress Soup

Gingery Sautéed Watercress and Shiitakes


One of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by human beings, these plants are members of the cabbage family, botanically related to garden cress and mustard — all noteworthy for a peppery, tangy flavor.

Enjoy watercress in stirfry, in soup, on pizza, on a sandwich, etc…

There are interesting recipes to be found on the watercress website…

For nutritional information on raw watercress go to

Recipe: Dandelion Greens

Be on the look out for the dandelions sprouting in your yard.  They are best eaten when very young!
This is a great salad with any greens:  keep the recipe handy for when you spot the “dandies”!

Dandelion and White Bean Salad
by Chef Carol D’Espinosa 

3 cups baby Dandelions
1 C. canned Cannelloni Beans, rinsed
¼ C. sliced red Onions
Grape Tomatoes
¼ C. Oil Cured Olives
Salt & Pepper

EVOO & Balsamic Vinegar or any Vinaigrette
Add dressing & toss just before serving.

Any Combo of veggies can be used in any proportion!!

 Chef Carol’s Abbreviations:
(EVOO) = Extra Virgin Olive Oil
C. = Cup     T. = Tablespoon     t. = Teaspoon 

Sautéed Greens and Garlic
by Chef Carol D’Espinosa 

1-3 sliced or chopped Garlic cloves
1 T. of EVOO in a skillet on med. heat sauté until garlic starts to turn light golden (1 min?)
Add 3 C. or so of Tender Greens, well drained but not dried
Toss 1-2 min. until just wilted.  Serve warm. 

I used this recipe on Tender Greens such as Dandelions, Spinach, Beet Greens, Broccoli Rabe, etc.
ENJOY! Chef Carol