Thursday, November 29, 2012

Meals on Wheels: A Piloted Partnership

Delivery for 2nd week of October: Each participant
received a box of cherry tomatoes, 2 large tomatoes,
1 cucumber and 1 green pepper.
Meals on Wheels -- I recently learned -- is a network of over 5,000 feeding programs that daily delivers 1 million ready-to-eat meals to seniors and those with disabilities.  Now we're partnering with our local chapter and helping evolve the model.  Not only are participants receiving ready-to-eat food, some are receiving fresh food from SAGE.

This fall we piloted a program with 15 Meals on Wheels participants who received a small array of produce each week.  Sort of a smaller scale CSA.  I tried to offer seniors a good variety of foods that are easy to prepare, store well and are relatively familiar.  After 5 weeks of deliveries, here are some comments from happy participants....

"I have so appreciated all the fresh produce you have given me.  Somehow, it seems to taste much better than store bought produce.  I truly think that this is because it shows how caring you are about the elderly and/or disabled people.  So, with all sincerity, thank you."

"I thank you so very much for the produce I received.  It was like a Christmas gift with surprises inside!"

Some of the "sweetest" cabbage growing
"I had the cabbage last night - the sweetest I had ever tasted!"  

Next year we're hoping to start the program earlier in the season and offer a bit of educational material for the more oddball items.  I'm excited about finding this new way to partner and collaborate to provide more of our community members with fresh, healthy produce.

Cheers,
Deanna
Garden Manager

Monday, November 19, 2012

Calico Corn



Amoreena, our Food Corps Service Member, snapped this photo when she was separating
kernels from cobs of popcorn grown in SAGE's Children's Garden
 
It is pouring today.  Not just the normal Oregon drizzle, but full on sheets of precipitation pounding down from the sky.  Well, I guess November had to arrive at some point....

Popcorn waiting to be shucked...
Just looks like normal corn until you
open it up!
Our beautiful popcorn!
It needs to dry on the cob
for a few weeks before we
can take off to kernels to pop them.
As I soggily trod around the garden this morning harvesting brassicas and loading up my bike panniers with winter squash and potatoes for the OSU Food Pantry, I was thinking how different the garden looks from not even a month ago.  Then, we still had tomatoes in the field, giant pumpkins to fill kids with glee and corn standing tall.  Now, most of those things went to people's bellies and the remaining plant matter is composting. I say most though, because we still have some popcorn that has been drying.  Our popcorn this year was beautiful.....9 or 10 feet tall (perfect for the corn maze!), colorful and delicious.  Popcorn doesn't take anymore garden work than normal corn (and sometimes less) and is a great thing to grow for a healthy, high fiber treat.  The thing about growing your own though is it doesn't come in a bag with directions!  So for those of you who may not know how to cook popcorn without a bag or popcorn machine, here are some easy directions.  Enjoy!

How to Cook Popcorn on your Stove Top:

1) Heat a Tbsp or two of oil (butter, coconut or veggie) in a pot over medium heat.
2) After a minute or two, when the oil is hot, add 2 Tbsp (for 1 - 2 people) on up to 1/2 cup of kernels to the oil.  Immediately cover with a lid and gently shake the pot to ensure all the kernels are coated with oil.
3) Wait a bit and soon the kernels will start popping!  Once the frequency of the popping starts to slow down, your popcorn is done.  You can easily burn it if you let it go too long...
4) Dress popcorn with your favorite toppings: butter, garlic powder, Braggs, nutritional yeast, salt, hot sauce, soy sauce and more....so many options!

Another beautiful picture from Amoreena.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Work Party Season Wrap Up

Volunteer Randi once again
lending a hand
Last Tuesday was our final Tuesday evening work party of the season.  Just in time too with daylight savings shortening the hours of evening light!  A BIG thanks to the dedicated crew who came out to do one final weeding in the the mild evening and enjoy the harvesting of winter squash.  Sharing the evening with you all was really a wonderful way to conclude a season of work parties.  We have now have boxes full of winter squash to distribute throughout the winter.  The day after the work party, a delivery volunteer was able to take 140+ lbs of pumpkins to the food bank to give out for Halloween.  

Warty gourd, delicata squash and a
blue hubbard squash....all SAGE grown,
all amazing!
Now we're coasting for a bit.  Doing a lot of planning and more time in the office.  There is the harvesting of hardy greens (oh kale, how splendid you are!) and the chasing of ducks away from our spread cover crop seeds (I'm not very good at this as the ducks aren't afraid of much -- especially not a small blonde woman -- after a summer of being chased by kids and dogs), but overall there isn't a ton to do in the garden right now.    

As I walk through the garden now, my mind flickers to future plans and reflections on the past season.  This is a much different mentality than during the growing season when I was constantly creating and revising to-do (now!) lists in my head.  I thrive on being engaged and busy, but I must admit that with the shorter, darker days, my body and mind are appreciating that I'm heeding nature's cycle and taking things at a little slower pace.  It will feel a bit odd having a free Tuesday night....

Thanks for a great work party season!
Hope to see you all out at SAGE in the spring!
Cheers,
Deanna (Garden Manager)