THE COMMUNITY GARDEN: The Impending Harvest

Shovel - FACS

Yes, the garden project is up and running at last. During the winter, Steve Palecki, our Garden Coordinator, planted potatoes and garlic, and we expect to harvest any day now. And, in addition to white potatoes, Steve planted blue potatoes, and we’ve seen the first come out of the ground. They look like lumpy blue amethysts, purple as cobalt, just ready to be peeled and cooked. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, blue potatoes taste and cook like white potatoes, but are far more nutritious. In this special garden issue of the FACS Newsletter, look for a recipe for patriotic potato salad, and we’ll tell our health-conscious eaters why blue potatoes are a guilt-free indulgence. We’ll also talk about what’s going on out at the garden and how the Lord is poised to bless Humboldt County with fresh produce.

NEW PROJECTS, NEW FACES: Why a Community Garden?

The idea of a community garden is certainly not ours to claim. In the past few decades,
community gardens have sprung up all over the United States. The FACS community garden project is a little different, however. Rather than providing land space for individuals to plant as they see fit, our garden is dedicated, first, to providing fresh produce for local foodbanks, and second, to providing education for community groups who wish to grow their own produce. The unfortunate reality is that foodbanks must rely heavily upon processed, non-perishable food items. These tend to be low in nutrition, and Continue reading

Our Giant Pile of Dirt

topsoil - FACS

Photo by Jesse Perry

It seems silly, I know, but we’re very excited about our new pile of dirt. Large gardens have a continual problem: soil must be amend- ed in order to reach its growth potential. For most of us, that means a couple bags of steer manure, but when there’s 10,000 square feet of soil to amend, it begins to get expensive. (Who’d’a thunk that what comes out of the south end of a steer would be so pricey?)

A few weeks ago, Steve was working out at the garden, and a man stopped by, a local businessman and purveyor of premium topsoil (certified organic, no less!). He offered to donate 10 yards of his best, if we could arrange to collect it. After a bit of research to insure that this donation would not interfere with our organic registration, Steve contacted a member of our church (I won’t tell you his name, but there’s an asphalt road at campmeeting named after his grandfather) and asked if he could help us to collect our wonderful pile of dirt. This church member just happened to drive a 10-yard dump truck and decided to donate his time and the use of the truck to our garden. That’s how the Lord blessed us with $1,400.00 worth of premium topsoil for nothing more than a few gallons of diesel fuel. And it’s beautiful stuff to those who know topsoil: worm castings, coconut fiber, bat guano, mushroom compost, rock phosphate, peat moss, steer manure, and other lovely stuff, all composted so there’s no weeds in it.

God loves to get us involved in his blessings. He could’ve made the dirt appear magically, but instead he used a man with too much topsoil, and a generous church member who just happened to have a 10-yard (translated: enormous) dump truck, and now we don’t have to buy soil to get us through the next year. Ain’t it grand?

NUTS AND BERRIES: Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Blue Potatoes

Blue potatoes - FACS

Photo by Jesse Perry

Most of us have heard that potatoes are part of the reason that Americans are overweight. Starch turns quickly to fat and potatoes don’t have much besides starch. What those studies don’t tell you, is that they’re all about white potatoes, the kind we eat in French fries, fish and chips, and mashed potatoes. Blue potatoes are a different story.

Blue potatoes get their color from the same substance that makes cabbage purple, and it is this substance that makes blue potatoes especially rich in antioxidants. Basically, when we eat the purple stuff, it protects us from cancer. Blue potatoes are also ridiculously high in vitamin C, a key part of preventing heart disease. But the best part is that they taste just like white potatoes, only a bit stronger.

Blue potatoes are a medium starch potato which means they’ll mash just fine, but hold their own in potato salad. And blue potatoes, along with all brightly colored potatoes, preserve 75% of their nutritional value even after cooking them to death. And, if that weren’t enough, they’re a bit more tasty than white potatoes, so there’s no need to slather them in butter and salt. So wrap them in foil and bake them, fry them in olive oil, boil them, or do whatever you want to them, they’ll stay nutritious and taste great.

PATRIOTIC POTATO SALAD

Recipe taken from Food.com

Ingredients:
1 lb small red potatoes 1 lb small white potatoes 1 lb small blue potatoes 1 red bell pepper, julienned 1⁄2 small red onion, julienned 4 small radishes, cleaned and sliced thinly

Dressing:
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil 3 tbsp distilled white vinegar 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1⁄2 tsp salt 1⁄2 tsp cracked black pepper 1 tbsp flat leaf/Italian parsley, chopped

Directions:
Boil potatoes until softened. Drain, cool, and cut into 1⁄2” rounds. Whisk together the dressing ingredients except for the oil. Whisk in oil slowly. Combine the potatoes, bell peppers, onions and radishes and gently toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley and serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate until ready to eat. Best eaten at room temperature.