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Area farmers share their pick of the crop

on June 28, 2015 1:54 AM

The Indiana County Farmers’ Market is in full swing and farmers are eager to share what they are growing. Their fresh produce is sold at the Indiana County Farmers’ Market every Wednesday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Wayne Avenue across from the Kovalchick Complex and every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Eighth and Church streets. Two area farmers shared a few vegetables that are in season now and how to enjoy them.

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Meet the Farmer: Chuck Flinn is a University of Missouri-trained forester. He is experienced in plant propagation and nursery management. He is co-owner of Flinn’s Treasure Tree Nursery, which is owned and operated by the Flinn family.

What is it: Kale is a cruciferous vegetable which is in the family brassicaceae. Other cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and radishes. Kale is packed with vitamin C and soluble fiber. In addition, it contains multiple nutrients and phytochemicals.

How its grown: The season for kale starts early and ends as late as November, making it a popular vegetable to grow. Kale can stand light freezes, which is why it can last so late in the year. Kale grows best in cool weather conditions and planted in normal garden soil that is well drained. It also needs at least a half day of sun.

Multiple varieties: “The Siberian kale is a popular variety that has fairly flat leaves with curly tips and edges and is a good producer. The flat leaf parts make it an excellent candidate for kale chips, which are baked in the oven to make a product like a potato chip but healthier,” Flinn said. This year he is growing Nero di toscana, a smooth blue kale that grows slower but produces a premium sweet leaf for eating.

Why eat it: One serving of kale is only 30 calories. That same serving is packed with a daily requirement of vitamin C, seven times the recommended intake of vitamin K and twice the recommended intake of vitamin A.

Serve it up: Kale can be slightly more challenging to prepare than other greens due to its slightly bitter flavor and sturdy texture. Don’t let that intimidate you.

Here is one way to prepare this superfood:

Roasted Squash and Kale Salad

1 butternut squash

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon pepper

1 pound kale, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled and julienned

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons fresh ginger

1 tablespoon water

 

Preheat oven to 400F. Peel, seed and cut butternut squash into 1-inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, brown sugar, salt, and pepper; bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; cool.

Toss with kale, cucumber and red onion. In a blender, puree low-sodium soy sauce, fresh lime juice, sesame oil, sugar, creamy peanut butter, fresh ginger and water. Drizzle salad with dressing; serve.

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Meet the Farmer: Chloe Drew has worked for the Indiana County Farmers’ Market for three years. A mother of two, she volunteers her time marketing, blogging and scheduling events for the community, musician, kids’ and artisan tents. Chloe is a Master Gardener as well as member of the Indiana Community Garden. She started Mother Earth Farm, a small-scale farm, in the fall of 2014. Mother Earth Farm specializes in unique heirlooms and organic seed varieties and takes pride in growing products naturally without the use of chemicals.

What is it: Chard is a leafy green vegetable with a thick and crunchy stalk that is white, red or yellow. Chard comes from the Amaranthaceae family.

Related vegetables include beets and spinach. Commonly referred to as Swiss chard, it is highly nutritious as it is full of vitamins A, K and C.

How it’s grown: Read what Chloe Drew has to say about chard: “Chard is an early spring crop and is a hardy green. It is started indoors at our farm in early April and transplanted once the danger of hard frosts are past. It can tolerate cool weather but tends to wilt once the days are continually reaching the upper 80s. It’s ideal for salads because the stem and leaf veins turn a beautiful red color early on. It also can be harvested larger once the stems are more firm.”

Multiple varieties: Often referred to as Rainbow Chard, chard can come in colorful stems. This year, Mother Earth Farm is growing Ruby Red, or Rhubarb Chard. This type of chard has bright green leaves with a crimson red stem, like the name implies.

Drew said that Ruby Red “is an heirloom variety, meaning the plant and seeds have been unaltered for the last 60 years. Usually these varieties of plants are ones that have been passed down generation to generation among families and neighbors. They usually have superior appearance and flavor.

Why eat it: Chard is rich in antioxidants and alpha- and beta-carotene. Like many dark leafy greens, it has possible links to lowering blood pressure, managing diabetes and preventing osteoporosis.

Serve it up: Chard is often used in Mediterranean cooking but can also be added to omelets, smoothies and sandwiches. It can be prepared similarly to spinach, but most people prefer cutting out the thick stem and either discarding it or saving it for a recipe that calls for the stem.

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