Don’t you just love spring? The desert really shows off her colors this time of the year. Yellows, reds, hues of magenta and orange, each serving their own distinct purpose. They attract our eye, perfume the air, and bring greater appreciation to the desert landscape. It’s not only our eyes that are mesmerized by this spackling of colors, but more importantly the eyes of the pollinators. Hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and bats that bring life to the arid terrain of the valley travel for hundreds if not thousands of miles each year to reproduce. And, thank goodness they do. With this migration comes the pollination of hundreds of thousands of flowering plants, including our food! “More than 218,000 of the world’s 250,00 flowering plants, including 80% of the world’s species of food plants, rely on pollinators for reproduction” (Emblidge and Schuster 1999, Buchmann and Nabhan 1969). We love our pollinators!
Yes, we heavily rely on our pollinators to assist in our food production. So, let’s celebrate spring as it calls forth new beginnings, new crops for harvest, feelings of excitement, and welcome the migratory pollinators to our home gardens, and organic farms! Thanks to these friends, and the hard work of our farm crew, our grounds are producing gorgeous green zucchini, bright and cheery crookneck squash, cooling cucumbers, sweet-as-can-be strawberries, playful ball squash and scaloppini. And, of course the pièce de résistance..artichoke! Easy to prepare gems, full of heart. Artichoke, oh how we love thee…
Almost, and I mean almost as much as we love our friends of the farm! Those who support us at our farmer’s market booths, in our farm store, and through our CSA -thank you! You make our passion come to life! One of our newer CSA members, was brave enough to volunteer to be in our Spotlight this month, sharing why she supports her local farm-Blue Sky! Enter; Diana Barnett!
Diana is a member of our CSA and receives her weekly farm box directly at her community’s recreational clubhouse. Here is what she had to say in our interview.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself (hobbies, super powers, interests, etc.)?
Myself, I just turned 66 last week, happily married for almost 6 yrs now. I have 3 children, 2 stepchildren and 6 grandchildren. My husband and I moved here to Arizona 6 yrs ago from Indiana to start our new life together. I just retired from 40+ years of nursing and loving every minute of retirement. We do have also two wonderful dogs which keep us busy at home.
In my spare time (insert laugh), I enjoy knitting and reading. At this time, I’m the chairman of our community’s Social Community. I’m also VP of the Pet Club and VP of the Bocce Ball Club in our community. So, as you can see there is little spare time right now, but these activities keep life fun! My husband, Henry, and I also love to travel and since most of our family is back in Indiana or Oregon we get away frequently to visit.
We also ride motorcycles and being here in Arizona the places to visit are endless, we are actually planning a two-week trip later this year taking in the Pacific Coast Highway.
*Diana didn’t mention any super powers, but I have sneaking suspicion that she may be holding out on us.
Would you like to share your reason for joining the CSA?
I joined the CSA for these main reasons; home-grown, fresh, local produce. Being from Indiana farm country, fresh home-grown produce was a daily staple in our life and I wanted to have that here. The variety of produce is wonderful, and I know it is fresh from the farm, not something that has been sitting around in a warehouse. I have been so excited and thrilled with the Spring Salad mix, we have had a bag last almost 2 weeks and still as fresh as the day we received it!
What do you favor about being a Blue Sky CSA member?
I like the various size of Farm Boxes and the chance to add extras to the order. I enjoy knowing I have the option to place a delivery on hold if needed. But the most exciting part, the order is delivered to us!!!
Can you tell us your favorite vegetable from Blue Sky Organic Farms?
As for my favorite vegetable, well it’s a tie. I Love the beets and the kale! I usually pickle the beets and I can say they never last more than a few days! And the kale, I cook them the old fashion way with a ham hock and yes, I will make a meal out of this.
Why do you choose to eat organic produce?
I choose organic for many reasons. I know the produce is not loaded with tons of chemicals, the produce seems to last longer and simply for the overall health benefits. My husband was diagnosed a couple of years ago as pre-diabetic and due to this, we totally changed our eating and meal planning. We avoid added sugar and salt as much as possible. Again, so thrilled with how fresh the salad keeps!
Do you have an easy to prepare recipe(s) you would like to share with our readers?
Easy favorite recipe…well (she says a with a big smile)..always the spring salad mix with various toppings. A small salad is on the menu daily. Once a week we’ll change it up and make it into a taco or grilled chicken salad. There are so many ways to use and enjoy the mix.
Also, with the Kale, I just clean it, put it in a pot with a small diced onion, a small amount of vegetable broth and the ham hock. Cook on low for 4-6 hours until ham hock cooked thoroughly.
Do you have any tips for making the most of your CSA Farm Box?
I look on my membership dashboard through the subscription site the weekend before my delivery to see what will be in the box and plan my meals based on the contents. As for storage tips, I have found the produce does last with minimal effort, but I’m so excited to use it there is never a long lapse in time between receiving and using!
Okay, we just have to say how much we love your enthusiasm for Blue Sky Spring Mix! Any last thoughts, before we part?
Again, thank you for this opportunity and the wonderful produce Blue Sky has offered me. My husband’s health and my health are my number one goal in meal planning and the produce we receive helps me to obtain this goal.
Thanks Gillian this has been a pleasure.
And, thank you Diana! What a treat!
~~~Now, it’s time to treat yourself to some farm fresh finds like strawberries, zucchini and artichokes. Check out the quick grill recipe below for inspiration. And, be sure to treat our migratory pollinators with their native food sources, safe natural habitats, and an appreciative eye for all they do.
Enjoy all this color folks! Summer is just around the corner…
Easy to Prepare Artichokes on the Grill:
- Take as many artichokes as you wish, and give them a good wash.
- Use some kitchen shears remove thistle at the end of the leaves.
- Slice artichokes lengthwise and submerge in boiling water.
- Let boil for approximately 5 minutes. In the meantime prepare your favorite marinade.
- After 5 minutes has passed, remove artichokes from boiling water, let excess water drip off.
- Drizzle marinade all over these gems, and gently toss so they have a nice coating of your favorite flavors (if you are at at loss for marinade ideas; butter, salt and garlic go a long way…)
- Once coated, throw on the grill, let her heat up and then add artichokes cut side down. Grill for 5-7 minutes on both sides. *You want a good char on there, it really heightens the flavor of the artichoke heart. Your eyes will tell you when they are done.
- Pop them of the grill, and get them on your plate! Enjoy!