Here’s a conundrum that many in Wallowa County face. It’s summer and you want to eat fresh local veggies. But you don’t have time to grow a season-round garden. And your Saturdays are just too jam packed to make it to the farmers market on a regular basis. What to do?
Beth Gibans of Backyard Gardens has a solution.
Gibans, who has grown a diverse variety of vegetables here for about 20 years, provides a subscription service. You can sign up for her Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and pick up a weekly supply of freshly harvested, seasonal produce at drop sites in Enterprise and Joseph every Wednesday evening. Or you can arrange to pick up your haul at the farmers market on Saturdays if you are going there anyway.
Currently, Gibans has 31 subscribers to her delivery service. She has room for a few more. “We’ll probably max out at 35 total,” she said. “That way we have plenty of produce to deliver to restaurants, for catering, and to sell at the farmer’s market.”
Giban’s farm and greenhouses lie just east of Joseph on fertile moraine soils. She begins the season in early June with harvests of scallions, spinach, chives, radishes, bok choy and a variety of salad greens, and progresses through the season with squash, eggplant, tomatoes and, of course, salad fixin’s. Finally, as the growing season fades into fall, there’s winter squash and hardy greens in early October.
Giban’s CSA memberships come with some perks beyond just convenient access to local produce. There’s a link to Giban’s CSA blog, which includes musings and insights on growing the produce you will receive this week. “Unfortunately the weather was VERY unsettled last Saturday with the hail and lightning storm and we sustained significant damage to some crops,” Gibans wrote on June 2nd. “Our beautiful head lettuces that were almost ready for your bins got shredded. Salad beds and spinach suffered as well…”
And there are other personal notes about what the CSA subscriber will find in their weekly box: “This week you benefit from spinach planted last fall. It’s the last of our overwintered spinach, which did get damaged by the hail, but we found enough to share with you. Also, the scallions were planted in the fall. They are starting to bolt, so they are a little tougher, but we recommend cooking with them rather than eating them fresh. The bok choys are the first of the season, though some are already trying to bolt (send up a flowering stalk). If you catch this early, the heads are still tender and edible. Further along in the bolting process, the stalks get woody and less desirable. It might be a good week for a stir fry with bok choy and scallions!”
Better yet, Gibans provides recipes both in her blog and access to the Cook with What You Have website. Not sure how to deal with bok choy There’s recipes for bok choy with garlic, ginger and fish sauce, or Korean–inspired bok choy with beef and asparagus stir fry. If you want to delve farther into the mysteries of preparing veggies, for her CSA members, the Cook with What You Have website includes more than 900 recipes for seasonally available, garden grown vegetables.
For more information about community supported agriculture, CSA memberships, and Backyard Gardens, visit Giban’s website, www.backyardgardensjoseph.com or give her a call at 541-398-0707 (cell) or 541-432-0930 (home).