Introducing the Black Spanish Radish

Hello, Winter CSA Members!
This week, we are featuring one of our less familiar, more mysterious root vegetables: the Black Spanish Radish. Here are some notes on this vegetable, including preparation tips and recipe suggestions.

Have a favorite recipe of your own? Share it with your fellow Winter CSA members! If you’ve got a favorite recipe you’d like to share, submit your recipe here!

And now, let’s get the creative (and culinary) juices flowing:

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The Black Spanish Radish (Raphanus sativus niger), otherwise known as the “Black Mooli”, is a uniquely beautiful root vegetable with a robust flavor and fascinating history.

The textured, matte-black exterior of the Black Spanish gives way to a smooth, bright cream-colored interior that is high in Vitamin C. The meat of this radish is firm, yet also tender: this a toothsome, almost velvety radish -- not a crisp, juicy winter radish like the watermelon or daikon.

It has been used by the Europeans, the Chinese, and the Ancient Egyptians as a medicinal vegetable to promote the health of everything from the gallbladder and the liver to the pulmonary and respiratory systems. This radish is known for its ability to help fight off infections, and to promote a healthy digestive system.

To eat raw, we recommend the following:

  • Radish sandwiches! This is the winter version of a French breakfast treat: slice very thinly and serve on a piece of crusty bread with good butter and a sprinkle of salt
  • Serve thin-sliced and tossed with a bit of olive oil and salt over a bed of greens
  • Shred into a sauerkraut mixture or as addition to meat broth-based soups

If roasting, wash and cube the root (without removing the skin) into bite-size pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt, and a bit of dried thyme or chili pepper flakes and roast at 350 until tender. Variations:

  • Adding cubed celeriac and thick-sliced orange carrot to the pan creates a deliciously full-flavored winter roasted vegetable mix that is both savory and sweet.
  • Adding Black Spanish radish cubes to the bottom of a pan of roasting chicken (and allowing the radish to cook in the juices) elevates the complex and savory notes of this vegetable.
  • Enjoy roasted Black Spanish radish as a side, or mixed with rice.

Or try making them into chips! Slice thinly (into ¼ or ⅛ inch rounds), oil well, salt, and bake at 400 degrees until crispy (but not burnt). Watch these carefully as the time between perfect and burnt is very narrow. You can also follow this recipe.

For more recipe ideas, consider making them into soup or check out Cathy Erway’s article, Three Ways To Cook One Tough Radish.

Happy eating, and stay tuned for more recipes for the 2/17 distribution!

Harvest of the Month: Ode to Onions

February’s Harvest of the Month is onions. Harvest of the Month is an initiative of Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s Farm to School program. A different local farm product is served in school meals at area schools each month and we are helping to promote these locally available farm products.

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Ode to Onions
By Allison Herries, Dietetic Intern, The Sage Graduate School

Onions are an ancient crop that has been grown by civilizations for at least 5,000 years.  The onion is part of the genus Allium and is related to other popular vegetables including garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives.  There are over 300 different varieties of onions that vary in shape, size, taste, and smell making this vegetable a versatile addition to almost any dish. 

Did you know that onions are the third most popular vegetable in the United States?  As a nation, we ate around 7.7 pounds of onions per person in 2015.  That’s a lot of onions!  And it is no wonder that we love onions so much when you consider the sweet and savory flavors that they bring to a dish.  However, an onion is so much more than just a delicious addition to any meal.  Onions are also high in vitamin C and fiber, and have only 45 calories per serving.  This means that onions can add tons of flavor to a meal without the additional fat and calories.  Onions are also rich in the antioxidant, quercetin.  This is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect our bodies from free radical damage.  Research suggests that quercetin may help protect against diseases including cancer and heart disease.

Having trouble cutting your onions through all the tears?  Slicing onions makes us cry because of the release of sulfuric acids from the cut onion.  These gases are a natural defense mechanism of the onion used to ward if hungry pests in nature.  When sulfuric acid interacts with the moisture in our eyes, it results in tears. One way to avoid this reaction is to chill the onion in the refrigerator before cutting into it. Another solution is to slice the onion under running water or while the onion is submerged in water.  These approaches will lessen the release of sulfuric acid.  No more tears!

Fun fact:  Onions held a sacred place in the ancient Egyptian culture. Ancient Egyptians believed that the many concentric layers of the onion represented eternity.  In fact, archaeologists have found evidence of onions being placed in the tombs of pharaohs because they were believed to bring luck in the afterlife.

Irrigating the onion crop

Irrigating the onion crop

Mini-onion harvest!

Mini-onion harvest!

Here at PFP, we grow a variety of both yellow and red onions.  We start our onions in the greenhouse around the first week of March and transplant them to the fields at the end of April.  Onions are harvested in the months of July and August, cured (the process where the outer layers are dried out into the papery layers), and then stored for use throughout the fall and winter months. The onions we are eating now are actually from this August’s harvest!

One of our favorite ways to enjoy onions is to caramelize them.  Here at PFP we think that caramelized onions make a flavorful addition to almost any dish.  Caramelizing or “browning” the onions takes away the sharp, raw flavor of the onions and replaces it with a savory, sweet taste.  All you need for this recipe is onions, a knife and frying pan, oil (we prefer olive oil for heart health), and salt to taste.  No added sugar necessary! The secret to great caramelized onions is to cook them slowly over low heat.  Remember low and slow is the way to go! Begin by washing your hands and all equipment.  Thinly slice onions, making sure to separate the layers.  You can make the onions as thin as you would like.  Heat the olive oil over low heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and cook uncovered on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Adjust the heat as needed so that the onions don’t burn.  Finally, add salt to taste.  Try adding caramelized onions to sandwiches, salads, and sides for a flavorful addition!


Grower's Row: Quiescence (and Kohlrabi)

Here at the farm, it’s the calm before the storm.

Already, the light is longer, and the sun is setting later. Soon, the spring seeding will begin. Soon, we’ll be joined by a bright-eyed and eager group of Vassar students, who will be working on the farm as part of a Community Engaged Learning program. Sooner than we realize, the bell curve of the season will slope steeply uphill, and before we know it we’ll be knee-deep in onion transplants and harvesting hundreds of pounds of cucumbers.

But for now, everything is still cold and quiet. Quiet is nice… but it’s also a little lonely.

The woodchucks and wild turkeys are nowhere to be seen. The songbirds are quietly snuggled into their shelters. Rarely these weeks have we seen runners, dog-walkers, or frolicking students around the preserve. It seems only the geese (and, once every two weeks, our intrepid winter CSA members) are braving this cold snap to venture out and visit us!

And so, in an effort to bring some fresh new (human) energy onto the farm, we recently decided to offer a volunteer day.

Our awesome Education team answered our call, and came out with a bounty of positive energy and enthusiasm (along with a few representatives of Vassar College, Dutchess Outreach, and our new Interim Director, Ray Armiter) for some mid-winter farm work. The tunnels were buzzing! In just a few short hours, this amazing group of 15+ completely cleared out and prepped Tunnel 4, removing roughly 200 lbs organic materials to the compost pile and broadforking all three beds to be ready to receive transplants -- and still had time to clear out nearly half the chickweed in Tunnel 2.





For the farm team, it was energizing to have some new (and familiar) faces out working with us -- and everyone who came out to help left with dirty hands and big smiles.

In fact, it was so much fun that we’ve decided to do it again: every Tuesday. We’ll be here, holding open volunteer hours, every Tuesday from 10am-12pm. If you’re interested in joining us, please email me at crew(at)farmproject(dot)org to let us know you’re coming -- or just show up.

Don't you want to have this much fun?

Don't you want to have this much fun?

Or, if “down time” is more your speed, consider getting cozy in your kitchen with one of these recipe suggestions! All this cold weather is a great time to do some roasting, boiling and baking, and to experiment with foods like celeriac, kohlrabi, and rutabaga. Tune in next week for another round-up of recipes to accompany the February 3 CSA distribution.

However you choose to spend the rest of your winter, we hope you find ways to appreciate these darker, colder days (after all, what would the first tomato of the season be without it?) and joy in the little things -- like the harsh honking sound of a flock of geese, flying overhead, or a feather of frost, or the snap of a bright bite of watermelon radish, or a warm bowl of curried carrot soup. 

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Winter CSA Recipe Ideas

Hello, Winter CSA Member!

This week, you may see some less-familiar crops in your share. Featured vegetables for this distribution are celeriac, kohlrabi, rutabaga, Black Spanish and watermelon radishes, Bok Choy and Tokyo Bekana. We’ve pulled together some preparation ideas, as well as links to some of our farmer-favorite and staff-pics recipes.


Have a favorite recipe of your own? Share it with your fellow Winter CSA members! If you’ve got a favorite recipe you’d like to share, submit your recipe here!

And now, let’s get the creative (and culinary) juices flowing:

German’s pick is Mashed Rutabaga, a simple mash of soft-boiled rutabaga with butter, sugar and salt. Reserve the cooking liquid as a base for a pureed squash soup with coconut oil and red curry paste, or add a touch of sweetness to a potato leek soup.

Lauren’s pick is this Celeriac Apple Slaw. Quick and easy with lively sweet flavors, this raw recipe is a great way to enjoy some fresh winter crunch.

LK can’t choose between Kohlrabi Fritters from Early Morning Farm (to which she highly recommends adding some grated Pecorino or Romano cheese and black pepper) and this Root Vegetable Gratin from Smitten Kitchen: a great way to marry your celeriac, rutabaga, potatoes and sweet potatoes into a heavenly, hearty dish perfect for these freezing temperatures.

Zoe’s pick is Japanese Cabbage Rolls, for which you can use regular cabbage or Tokyo Bekana leaves. Enjoy as-is or serve with rice, quick-pickled radishes and carrots, and a bit of sriracha or chili oil.

Here are some additional preparation tips and general serving suggestions:

Asian Greens

Bok Choy and Toyko Bekana are both members of the cabbage (Brassica) family, mild-flavored, crunchy and tender. Wash and chop, keeping ribs loosely separate from leaves, as you’ll want to add ribs first. Then...

  • saute with garlic, soy, and lemon or rice wine vinegar. Enjoy as a side, or...
    • serve over rice topped with pickled vegetables, sriracha, sesame oil and a fried egg
    • add to a chicken- or beef-based broth with ramen-style or rice noodles, chili oil and a poached egg
  • blanch and wrap Tokyo Bekana leaves around ground beef, rice, and pickled vegetables to make wraps (or see this Japanese Cabbage Rolls recipe!)
  • chop and add to kimchi, a fermented mixture made from Chinese cabbage


This celery-flavored knob is from the carrot (Apiaciae) family. With a consistency not unlike a dry, hard potato, this is a most excellent, savory vegetable when cooked. It tends to be a bit “thirsty”, soaking up oils during cooking. Cut off bottom roots and peel to remove rough skin, then...

  • cube and pan roast with bacon fat, fresh thyme, and black pepper
  •  cube (with or without potatoes, carrots, and Black Spanish radishes), toss with a bit of oil, and roast with a whole chicken, basting in the juices
  •  shred equal parts celeriac and potato, mix with a little egg and flour, season with salt and onion powder, and fry into latke-like fritters
  • steam/boil and puree with (or without) potatoes and butter/cream for a mashed side dish
  • This.


This member of the broccoli (Brassica) family is mild, juicy, and slightly sweet, raw or cooked. Use a knife to slice off green skin and any tough-looking white parts at the base. Slice and eat raw, or...

  •  shred raw into salads with apples, walnuts, broccoli and a cream dressing
  • make a raw slaw with shredded watermelon radish and carrots
  • cube and roast simply with oil and salt, alone or with celeriac, potatoes, carrots and radishes
  • cube, steam until tender, simmer with onions sauteed in butter and vegetable or chicken stock, and puree with a touch of cream and a splash of sherry for a creamy soup (great with garlic toast or croutons, or an herb oil swirl!)
  • shred, squeeze excess water, mix with egg, flour, onion and garlic powder and grated Romano or Parmesean cheese, and fry into these little fritters.
  • roast with a whole chicken or piece of beef or venison


This close cousin of the turnip (also a Brassica) is sweet with a savory, earthy undertone when roasted or steamed. Use a vegetable peeler to remove skin, then…

  • cube and roast with carrots and potatoes, or steam and mash with butter and black pepper
  • cube, simmer with water, sugar, salt and butter until tender, and mash (see Mashed Rutabaga recipe!)
  • shred with equal parts carrot and sweet potato, mix with flour, egg, salt, onion powder, cumin and paprika, and fry in coconut oil for a savory-sweet fritter
  • Did we mention this?

Tune in next distribution (February 3) for some suggestions with what to do with all of your winter radishes!

Harvest of the Month: Apples

January’s Harvest of the Month is apples. Harvest of the Month is an initiative of Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s Farm to School program. A different local farm product is served in school meals at area schools every month and we are helping to promote these locally available farm products.

Photo credit: Eilif Ronning

Photo credit: Eilif Ronning

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. A ½ cup of sliced apples is an easy way to add fiber to your diet everyday. Pro tip: apples are best when eaten with the peel, as that is where most of the fiber and antioxidants are found. A ½ cup of apples a day may sound like a lot but, one of the amazing things about apples is that they can be eaten in a variety of ways - as whole (fresh!) apples, unsweetened applesauce, dried apples, or in my personal favorite: apple pie.

At PFP, the apples we distribute through our fruit share during the regular CSA season come from Glorie Farm in Marlboro. Their low-spray apples (and other fruits) also make their way to our educational programs.  Not only are apples good for you, they are a great educational tool for kids. We like to use apples to teach students about pollination, the plant life cycle, and how trees produce the fruits we love to eat. Apples are also also a great addition to many vegetable recipes we use in our cooking workshops from smoothies to salads.

Fun fact: Domestic or table apples are of the species Malus pumila and are one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits across the world. There are over 7,000 varieties of apples (that’s a lot of apple pie) the oldest originating from the mountains of Central Asia. Apples were first introduced to the U.S by European settlers during 1600s to share their cultivation and traditions.

We can’t talk about North America’s history with apples without mentioning one of our fondest folk heroes: Johnny Appleseed. Johnny Appleseed was a pioneer apple farmer in the 1800’s and his dream was to grow so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. Unlike most legends Johnny Appleseed was a real person named John Chapman. In his lifetime  Chapman planted over 1200 acres of apple orchards.

Contrary to common belief, Chapman’s apples wouldn’t be recognizable as the conventional apples we are accustomed to in the grocery store. Chapman grew apples that were very small and tart - nicknamed “spitters” because that’s probably what you would do if you took a bite out of one. However, “spitters” were perfect for hard cider and applejack which was valued more than edible apples. Fun Fact: until the 1920s, most apples in the U.S were used for making cider. Especially in rural areas, cider replaced water because the water often wasn’t safe to drink. The cider they were drinking was what we would not call hard cider.

In the spirit of the true story of Johnny appleseed here is an easy apple cider recipe. This cider may not be what Johnny Appleseed used to drink but it’s non-alcoholic and quick to make and enjoy with kids. All you need is about 6 cups of apple juice or enough to fill a large saucepan, ½ teaspoon whole cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg and 3 cinnamon sticks. Place everything in the large saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Once it begins to boil reduce heat and let it simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Pro tip: Heating the mixture brings out the flavors of the spices. The longer you let cider simmer the more fragrant it will become.

Happy Holidays! - PFP

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Johnny Appleseed Story

Apple cider recipe

PFP Welcomes New Staff

We are thrilled to welcome seven new members of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project team!! Zoe is our new farm crew member and our education department has hired six new team members to run brand new after-school garden clubs in City of Poughkeepsie Schools.

Aozora (Zoe) Brockman, farm crew member,  was raised on an organic vegetable farm in Central Illinois, and spent most of her life planting, weeding, and harvesting alongside her brothers, parents and grandparents. Immediately after graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Creative Writing, she returned home to look after the farm while her parents spent a “sabbatical” year in Japan. Once her parents returned home, she worked as a full-time farm hand for a season before moving to New York to live with her partner, Austin. Zoe worked as a part-time crew member at Glynwood before joining the PFP team. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from PFP’s model of community-engaged farming, and dreams of someday merging her two loves—farming and writing—and operating a community-focused farm of her own.

Maria Cali, garden assistant, is a senior at Vassar College, where she studies Sociology. She has been working at PFP since Spring ’16 with the education team, with one semester off when she went to study abroad in India, Tanzania, and Italy to learn more about food sovereignty and food systems. Maria hopes to be a lead teacher in a classroom, as she thinks education is one of the best ways in which to enact social change. She is passionate about the presence of youth in social justice work, and celebrates the many ways in which food is a part of that.

Sevine Clarey, garden assistant, loves food: cooking with it, studying it, teaching with it, and eating it. If she is not in her kitchen trying finding different variations of cooking sweet potatoes, she is drinking tea, hiking, climbing, or at PFP. Sevine is currently a sophomore at Vassar College and started working at the PFP fall of 2016. She has loved every experience she has had with them. The team is amazing and she cannot wait to see what new adventures lie ahead!

Christine (Chris) Gavin, garden educator, is a lifelong resident of Poughkeepsie with a BA from Vassar College, and she has been working as a farmer and educator in the region for over a decade.  Her passion for agriculture grew from her academic interest in social justice and the desire to create tangible positive change in her local community.  Her educational philosophy is rooted in the belief that we are all stewards of the natural world and that it is essential that we pass that sense of responsibility to the next generation to help build ethical global citizens.  Chris was a farmer and an educator at Sprout Creek Farm for many years and most recently she taught in Beacon public schools as a Garden Educator with Hudson Valley Seed.  When she's not teaching,  Chris dabbles in urban farming in the City of Poughkeepsie with a yard full of veggies and a small flock of chickens.  

Isiah Hawley, garden assistant, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. As a teen, Isiah moved to he moved to Poughkeepsie to live with his older sister. When he was 17, he started working on his GED through Nubian Directions. In his time there, he learned how to do construction work and built many different structures. During his time at Nubian Directions, Isiah earned many construction-related certifications. When he was a child, Isiah and his sister use to eat broccoli all the time together; it is still his favorite vegetable. Isiah’s passion is music and he has an ear for any genre of music. Isiah also makes his own music with his brothers; he says it is "good bonding time." Isiah loves to make people laugh always has a smile on his face.

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Larissa Pitcher-Alvarado, garden assistant, fell in love with PFP after attending the Farm Fresh Home Chefs program they held at Clinton School with her niece and nephews. This program is amazing because it brings families and the community together delivering education about food, healthy eating, gardening, and cooking. She has always had an interest in healthy eating and community. She is thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful establishment and is looking forward to learning and sharing really cool stuff!

Briggin Scharf, garden educator, is thrilled to join the PFP education team and grow sacred gardens with Poughkeepsie youth! After spending several seasons farming in the Hudson River Valley -- at Phillies Bridge Farm Project in New Paltz and Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent -- Briggin is excited to return to the outdoor classroom to share her passions for food sovereignty, celebrating nature and chowing-down on home-cooked delicacies with her new students and co-instructors. Briggin previously managed urban elementary school gardens in San Francisco and New York City, as well as held a range of  jobs from brewing kombucha to milking dairy cows to installing art exhibits in museums. She loves to hike, sing, discover new herbal remedies, draw, and travel!

Grower's Row: End of the Year Recap

By Lauren Kaplan

Winter has touched all parts of the farm, it seems. As of last week, the last carrots of the year are finally (!) out of the ground. The winter-kill oats and peas have been, well, winter-killed into a dense matted blanket that will protect the soil underneath until the spring, while the rye cover crop remains an impossibly lush green carpet. The greenhouse has transitioned to a winter wash station, the tunnels have transitioned from tomatoes to hardy winter greens, and the fields are frozen. 

German and newest team member Zoe encounter a frozen block of soil while harvesting the last of our carrots in December

German and newest team member Zoe encounter a frozen block of soil while harvesting the last of our carrots in December

With the year winding to a close, we've been reflecting on the arc of the season, from the challenges we encountered and the losses we suffered to the overall beauty and bounty of the season. 

The weather this year took us for a ride. On June 1 we were pelted by marble-sized hail, which destroyed our first harvest of zucchini and strawberries and many of our newly-planted pyo peppers, cherry tomatoes and sunflowers. A prolonged wet spring gave way to a wet early summer: perfect conditions for disease, from which a number of crops (our peppers in particular) suffered significantly. And there was significant pest pressure in our early potatoes, and in our cucurbits: first cucumbers and then winter squash. 

But there were high points too!

After weeks of measley pepper harvests and a few weeks where we thought the plants were finished, our pepper plants picked up with the drier, sunnier weather of early autumn; they surged with new growth and new fruit! Amazingly, we found ourselves harvesting poblanos until nearly November. Our carrots, thanks to years of refining a system of direct seeding, rolling (to ensure good seed-to-soil contact), flaming and hand weeding, have been fantastic this year. Red beets and sweet potatoes did very well, the kohlrabi were colossal, and the raspberries and blueberries are always highlights of the season. 

We trialed some new crops, including Sugarcube cantaloupe, rainbow carrots, purple top turnips, sweet corn and speckled chicories. The high tunnels that pumped out some 18,500 lbs of tomatoes over the warmer months, are now providing shelter for a thriving crop of kale, cut greens, and mixed Asian greens such as bok choi, yukina savoy, tatsoi and napa cabbage. 

Overall, we grew over 195,000 lbs of food this season -- and donated nearly 26,000 pounds of food to Poughkeepsie area food banks, schools and soup kitchens. Thanks to our heated high tunnels, we're still growing, and donating. 

And vegetables aren't the only things we grew this season. We grew some wonderful relationships with our fantastic crop of interns this year, and think of Fiona, Liz, and Sarantia (and all the things we learned from them, and with them) often. And we have cultivated some new relationships that have allowed us to provide some of our produce to the Poughkeepsie City School District and to Vassar College students in their brand new dining facility. 

As we take this last week of the year to go home to our various corners of the country and be with our families, I at least am spending some time reflecting on how grateful I am to be a part of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project family. This has been my best year of farming yet, and so much of that has to do with the wonderful people that make up this team, and with you amazing CSA members who go out of your way to bake for us, to smile while you're working, to ooh- and aah- over the produce we've grown, to volunteer over the winter for no other reason than that you like working in the soil, and to thank us: your voices of appreciation are what keeps so many of us going, doing the work that we do. 

Thank you! We look forward to continuing to grow for and with you in 2018. 

Making Herbal Salves and Balms

By Eilif Ronning, PFP MEdia Intern.
All photos by Eilif Ronning!

The second Herbal Home Remedies Workshop with Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s resident herbalist Beatrix Clarke focused on creating healing salves and lip balms using garden herbs. The benefits of herbs are remarkable and the salves made from them are great for any number of ailments.

The two different salves made during the workshop were based on comfrey and calendula. Comfrey is good for your underlying tissue and well as your skin. However, it is should not be used on cuts or infections as it will cause the skin to repair in a tight knit, which could trap infections under the skin. Calendula, on the other hand, is good for cuts as well as sunburns and inflammation. It can also be used to help treat warts, and is generally beneficial for the skin.

The first step to both processes is to make an oil infused with the herbs.

Above: Pre-prepared jars of comfrey and calendula infused oils

Above: Pre-prepared jars of comfrey and calendula infused oils

Above: Beatrix Clarke explaining the beneficial properties of calendula salve

Above: Beatrix Clarke explaining the beneficial properties of calendula salve

The calendula flower is an easy plant to grow in most gardens. Its bright yellow flowers are easily recognizable and apart from being just plain pretty, the flower has many healing properties. The sticky resin found at the base of the flower is what is responsible for these properties. To make this salve, the first step is to prepare calendula infused oil. Beatrix explained to the workshop participants the simple steps to this process. First, dry the calendula flowers either in a dehydrator or in an oven with the pilot light on. It is important to fully dry the flowers to ensure that they don’t mold when steeping in the oil. Second, fill a glass jar three quarters of the way with dried flowers and combine them with extra virgin olive oil, leaving some room at the top for the flowers to expand as they absorb some of the oil. Third, leave this to sit for 4-6 weeks. Finally, once the oil has been infused, strain the flowers out of the oil using a cheesecloth – and there you have it, your homemade calendula infused oil!

Above: filtering the calendula flowers out of the infused oil in preparation for the salve-making

Above: filtering the calendula flowers out of the infused oil in preparation for the salve-making

Above: Workshop participants avidly listening to Beatrix’s salve making instructions

Above: Workshop participants avidly listening to Beatrix’s salve making instructions

Comfrey is also a fairly common herb that possesses healing properties, however, the process for creating this oil is quite different. Firstly, the comfrey plant should be used fresh to ensure the mucilaginous plant juice in the main arteries of the leaves infuses into the oil. To make the oil, fill crockpot 3/4 full with comfrey plant material and top with olive oil to cover by one inch. Over the next seven days, heat the leaves and oil on low heat for two hours each day. After heating for the two hours, allow the mixture to cool down again, wiping the moisture from the lid after each time. When the seven-day process is completed, strain the leaves out of the oil using a cheesecloth until you get your final product!

Above: cheese cloth being cut to filter the infused oils

Above: cheese cloth being cut to filter the infused oils

Once the oils are made, the rest of the process is very straight-forward. There are three components to the salve: infused oil (calendula or comfrey), beeswax, and essential oils. In a mini crockpot or something similar, melt the bee’s wax – simultaneously warm the infused oil, in the workshop Beatrix did this “bain-marie” style.

Above: Beatrix’s salve-making set up.

Above: Beatrix’s salve-making set up.

Once melted and warm, combine 2 oz of beeswax per 8 oz of oil – it is important that the oil is warm enough to ensure the bee’s wax does not re-solidify immediately.

Above: melted bee’s wax being combined with the infused calendula oil

Above: melted bee’s wax being combined with the infused calendula oil

Once combined, carefully pour the mixture into your container. Add 20 drops of an essential oil of your choice per 1oz of salve and gently stir using a toothpick or something similar to ensure the essential oil gets mixed in. Then label your salve and allow it to set.

Above: Comfrey salve being poured into a container

Above: Comfrey salve being poured into a container

The same should be done for a lip balm, however the ratio is 5 oz of calendula oil to 2 oz beeswax. Also, since the tubes are quite small it is easier to add the essential oil to the mixture prior to pouring. Add 56 drops of the essential oil of your choice to the mixture before pipetting it into a lip balm tube.

Above: workshop participants filling their lip balm tubes with the calendula infused oil, beeswax and peppermint essential oil mixture

Above: workshop participants filling their lip balm tubes with the calendula infused oil, beeswax and peppermint essential oil mixture

Above: Beatrix topping off some of the lip balms

Above: Beatrix topping off some of the lip balms

Above: close-up of pipetting the lip balm into their containers

Above: close-up of pipetting the lip balm into their containers

And there you have it - your very own homemade salve! Though these are just two types of salves, there are countless herbs that have incredible properties that can be beneficial for any number of ailments.

Beatrix is amazingly well-versed in herbs! If you want to learn more, and get a glimpse into the magic of herbs, stay tuned for our 2018 herbal workshop series!

Above: a workshop participants notes on herbs and the salve making process

Above: a workshop participants notes on herbs and the salve making process

Harvest of the Month: Nosh on Squash!

Nosh on Squash!
December’s Harvest of the Month is Winter Squash.
By Elyse Canty, Education Intern

Winter squash are an annual vegetable that signals the end of our summer/spring crops: the tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and okra, and welcomes the beginning of our lovely fall greens and winter roots. You can distinguish winter squash from summer squash because winter squash is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage meaning the seeds have aged and the skin has hardened into a tough rind which makes it the perfect winter crop. Luckily, for us the winter squash family comes in many different colors, shapes and sizes from a vivid yellow, watermelon-shaped spaghetti squash to a bright orange, round pumpkin that Charlie Brown would approve of.

Pumpkins, acorn or butternut squash have become symbols for the changing seasons. You know fall hasn’t officially started yet until you’ve had your first pumpkin spice latte. However, there’s much more to pumpkins and winter squashes than fall-themed lattes. Winter squash are great sources of beta-carotene which will help your immune system stay healthy and fortified to fight off any colds that may be headed your way this flu season. Pro tip: beta-carotenes are found in red-orange colored food. Pick a squash with dark coloring. The darker the orange flesh, the more nutritious the squash is.

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Fun fact: squash got its name from the Native American word askutasquash, (try saying that three times fast) which means “a green thing eaten raw.” Now, I wouldn’t recommend eating your winter squash raw. However, winter squash very is delicious when it’s roasted. Roasted squash is very tender and roasting brings out it’s natural sugars so it’s very sweet.

At Poughkeepsie Farm Project (PFP) we grow several different varieties of winter squash including butternut, delicata, acorn, spaghetti squash. The farm crew’s favorite squash is delicate because it is easy to cut into rings and roast; it is delicious and you don’t even have to peel it because the skin becomes tender when you roast it.

One of our favorite ways to prepare winter squash is roasted butternut squash with children is by making it into hummus. Our butternut squash hummus is an easy recipe and fun to make with kids. In fact, it’s a fan favorite in many of our elementary school cooking workshops. This recipe doesn’t have exact measurements it all depends on how much you want to make and how you like your hummus. We like to tell our students that every time we make our butternut squash hummus, it’s special because it will be a little different each time.

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Beforehand, roast the butternut squash until tender. Once cooled scoop the squash into a big bowl. The base of the hummus is roasted butternut squash, chickpeas and a dash of olive oil. The more chickpeas you add the thicker the hummus will be. You can add spices and seasonings for flavor such as paprika, tahini, garlic powder and lemon juice. Now, you can throw everything into the food processor or you can blend it the old-fashioned way which we prefer with a potato masher. You can pass the bowl around and give everyone a turn with the masher. Once the ingredients are blended together, the hummus pairs well with carrots or tortilla chips.

Even though winter is coming, we’ve got you covered! Sign up for a winter CSA share for PFP-grown butternut squash (and other tasty produce!) throughout the cold season.

CSA Members Nourish Their Neighbors!

At the last two CSA distributions of the season, Poughkeepsie Farm Project shareholders participated in the educational food drive initiative “Nourish your Neighbor” (NYN). The program was created by Eat Smart New York, and aims to help provide children who do not have enough food on the weekends with some food assistance in the form of healthy foods from all the food groups!

The previous week, CSA shareholders interested in taking part, picked up lime green NYN shopping bags and a list of suggested groceries to donate. A week later the bags were returned full of nutritious snacks, which were sorted and counted by our awesome volunteers. The donated food will be divided up into appropriate quantities of each food group, and placed into backpacks to be sent home with Poughkeepsie students.

If you are interested in holding your own drive for the NYN program, contact the Eat Smart New York Hudson Valley team at 845-344-1234 or visit their website:

Below are quotes from some of our friends about why they chose to participate in the food drive, as well as some photos of our volunteers:
All photos by Eilif Ronning, PFP Media Intern.