5@5 - Bring the farm to your table
September 19th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Around these parts, we talk a heck of a lot about the notion of "scorpacciata" - a term that means consuming large amounts of a particular local ingredient while it's in season. We do our best to eat that way as often as we can, but Blackberry Farm's executive chef Joseph Lenn really puts his money where his guests' mouths are, serving multi-course meals, made from seasonal, farm-fresh products and produce, grown just a few feet away from his kitchen.

Here's how he keeps things fresh on the farm, all year 'round.

Five Ways to Bring the Farm to Your Table: Joseph Lenn

1. Grow It
Anyone can bring the farm to their table every day – whether it is growing herbs and tomatoes on a window sill in an urban environment, or planting lettuce, carrots, squash and root vegetables in shared garden plots or backyards. Always research what will grow best in your climate for the best results. Test out your green thumb with easy to grow vegetables like radishes and turnips and experiment from there – it’s so much fun to get your hands dirty and you’ll love the fresh picked taste!

2. Buy It
If you can’t grow it, the next best thing to do is to buy locally grown, organic products. Look up where nearby greenmarkets are, or sign up to take advantage of a Community Supported Agriculture. Taking advantage of local CSAs has a multitude of benefits, from fresh healthy produce, to creating a relationship with the farmers, and being introduced to products that one may not be familiar with.

Don’t be shy at the greenmarket. Ask how to cook something that looks interesting if you’re not familiar, and worst case scenario, add butter.

3. Research It
Search online for tips – such as at a local university’s agricultural websites – for people that live down South, The University of Georgia has great resources. This will provide tips such as seasonality, how-to and overall advice. Local Harvest is also a good resource as it lists small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources from all around the country.

'Culinary Artistry' is a fantastic reference book that discusses seasonality, ingredients and what pairs well together.

4. Preserve It
I went to our Blackberry Farm Preservationist Dustin Busby for his tips on preserving, since he is the in-house expert. Dustin’s advice is once you develop an initial interest in preserving, the most important thing to remember is to pick or harvest at the peak of the season when the product is at its best. There is nothing like opening a beautiful preserved tomato in the middle of January and getting a taste of summer.

Also, when it comes to preserving, keep in mind that less is more! Choose more simple recipes that allow the fruit or vegetable to speak for itself. Many times folks get into adding too many spices and extras which actually makes the product harder to use in the off season.

5. Make It
Making it is the easy part – when you get to enjoy the benefits of growing the goods. You can look up recipes that incorporate the ingredients you have taken the time and care to grow, whether it is the herbs or tomato plants grown on the windowsill or rooftop, to kale, squash and collard greens out in the garden – preparing the food is satisfying because you can taste how different the items taste when home-grown.

Sweet potatoes are in our garden right now and I like to incorporate sweet potatoes leaves into dishes – here is a recipe for Sweet Potato Kimchee that is easy to make and straight from the garden!

Sweet Potato Kimchee

1 pound of sweet potatoes leaves cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips
4 small radishes, shaved paper thing
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (for more intense heat, do not seed)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Place the sweet potato leaves in a large colander set inside a large bowl. Sprinkle the sweet potato leaves with the salt, toss, and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Discard the liquid that collects in the bowl. Rinse and drain the leaves, squeeze them dry, and transfer them into a large bowl. Stir in the carrot, radishes, soy sauce, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Pour the liquid into a small bowl and stir in the honey and vinegar. Stir the garlic, scallions, jalapeno, and red pepper flakes into the leaves. Pour the soy mixture over the sweet potato leaves mixture and stir to combine.

Cover and refrigerate for at least two days before serving. Store covered and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Farmers with Issues • Farms • Farmstands • Local Food • Think

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Solar Power Water Heater

    That's some significant blog.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  2. real estate

    Wonderful piece!!!

    November 25, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  3. iPad 2

    This post couldnt be more factual

    September 26, 2011 at 6:05 am |
  4. Amayda

    And where exactly are we supposed to get sweet potatoe leaves if we do not grow our own sweet potatoes??

    September 20, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Swinky

      Steal them from your neighbors garden.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • @Swinky

      That's funny!

      November 1, 2011 at 8:00 am |

    Everyone should see Food Inc .

    September 20, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  6. WhoisME

    Hey , Dont get the farm to the table, we wont be having place to sit and eat.Rather get only fruits an vegetables. Soooooo Funny hehe

    September 20, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  7. David

    Regarding the urging to use organicly grown material, I would challenge the writer to look at the sustainability of the production practices. Some commodities grown organically have a larger carbon footprint than the traditionally produced products. Grapes, for example, require a lot of sulfur treatments which are allowed in an organic production scheme. Chemical treatments would require about 8 less tractor trips through the field than organinc. Remember, organic does not mean pesticide free, just that it is gorwn in a certain style as definded by USDA. Do the homework. Organic is not the same thing as sustainable, Most farmers practice an integrated approach to pesticide use, using what is necessary and no more. After all, pesticides cost money and reduce profits. People seem to loose sight of that fact in the process. Besides, on a given year, growing organically would mena that a good portion of the world would go hungry as the reductions in production due to pest/pathogen injury would make the prices rise to the point that a great number of people could not afford them. Look at the proce differences between organic and traditional right now.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • omegarising

      You lost any and all credibility when you mentioned "carbon footprint". So..how long have you been a fan of the lying man bear pig Gore??

      September 19, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • omegarising

      Are you sure you are not a Monsanto employee??

      September 20, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • Melissa

      With all do respect, I live in farm country (rural North Carolina to be exact) and I have seen first hand the health issues caused by pesticide use. I am speaking specifically of babies born with birth defects from mothers who were pregnant working in the fields near my community. I have also seen the ill effects of pesticides on children, our drinking water, nature, etc. Make no mistake, I support our farmers, I know that pesticides are extremely useful on large scale crop production, but please do your homework, they are not as "safe" as you tout. Organics are pricey, but as more and more farmers are going into organic farming, the cost will go down. I buy organics, but I buy it from a farm 5 miles from my house making it more cost effective, not everyone has this luxury I realize. There is nothing wrong with encouraging people to "Go organic" So please do your homework and research the true effects of pesticides, I don't do organics for environmental reasons, I do it for the health of my family.

      Below you will find a link to the news article that refers to the case of pesticide use on tomato farms in NC and the birth defects (specifically babies being born without limbs).



      September 20, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  8. omegarising

    Don't worry folks, soon Monsanto will ensure we can get nothing but GM foods.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  9. jane McCarty


    September 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  10. jane McCarty


    September 19, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  11. jane McCarty

    what ever

    September 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  12. jane McCarty

    nobody is going to change to organic because of our coments

    September 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  13. Derek E


    September 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  14. us1776

    Watch "Food, Inc." to learn just how bad our commercially available food really is.


    September 19, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Jack

      I second this recommendation. Seriously, people need to see Food Inc. Find it online for free.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  15. Ken in NC

    I retired at 60 and started to eat more healthy foods and must admit I wish now I had been doing it al my life. I know that living in the fast lane makes it hard to do but it could and should have been done. Now, I take pride in my healthy eating and pride in saying I prepared the food myself. Sometimes when I experiment they don't trun out so good but it's fun trying and I never walk away from an experiment unfinished. Since I live on the coast it's easy to run down to the docks and buy my fish right off the boats and lots of veggies year round with no beef. Loving eating now and losing weight too on the side and loving that too.

    September 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  16. fob

    We are practicing scorpacciata in our house right now! We went apple picking yesterday and now both bottom drawers of my frig are filled with fresh, local apples. I made the most delicious apple crisp last night and will make it again this week to bring to work. I love this time of year!

    September 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Jack

      If you get some farm fresh carrots and juice about five of them for every one apple, you'll have an incredibly nutrient-packed drink that your body will absorb fully and thank you for!

      September 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  17. jessie75

    Amen Monsatan!! Eating right and healthy should be the highest priority we have!

    September 19, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  18. JosefBleaux

    Yeah, sure. Buy it. Organically grown produce costs like 5 times as much as regular stuff. Yeah, right. Like the average person can afford that nowadays.

    September 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • monsatan

      What's more important than the food you put into your body? If you don't pay the extra money now, you will be paying for it in medical bills later on in your life. Who would you rather have your money going to? Local farmers doing things the right way, or big pharma? Your choice...............

      September 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Dill Weed

      It is not a drrastic as they woiuld have you believe.

      Ever heard of anyone getting sick because there were pesticides on the vegetables? More to the point, have you heard of this happening on a regular basis? I suspect not. It would drive farmers out of business. The furit and vegetables in your supermarket are just fine. Just like at mine.

      When you listen to the oragnic crowd it's always some pesticide or toxin, but ask them which one or how much of it is there and watch them realize they don't know. That's when you'll become the enemy. It is embarassing to be exposed.

      If you want to eat healthy. Do it. Nothing in the fruit and vegetable section of your local store is going to hurt you. Again, think about millions of people like you and me are buying and eating non-organic veggies and fruits.AND, who have been doing it for years, Even young chilkdren are given non-organic fuits and veggies. Are they getting sick, immediately? Are they gettoing sick 10-20 years later? No, it is just NOT happening. If someone brings up one example then ask where are all the others? Remember the saying: The exception proves the rule.

      Like my own health experience, When I have gotten fat and sluggish and in ill health it was because I was eating fast foods. When I changed my diet, especially gettting my greens and other veggies, I got feeling better and started losing weight. If you want to get healthy, go to You Tude and look up Gordon Ramsey and broccoli. He will show you just how easy it is. And you can do what he shows you with other veggies and then start experimenting.

      Be Well. You don't have to eat organic to do it.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
      • Jack

        Dill Weed, it's not just about eating organic. It's about fruits and veggies being genetically engineered and altered. Organic really is best. The organic people just shouldn't be price-gouging "because they can." There's no respect in that. Their motto is, "Be kind to the planet (i.e., our bank accounts. Screw the people!"

        September 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
      • Sarah

        I agree that the reactions to pesticides are over the top. However, it is still better for the environment and your body to go organic whenever feasible. And, yes, I do count budget into whether or not it is feasible.

        September 20, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Jack

      Josef has a point. Organic food should be CHEAPER because it doesn't require all the pesticides and chemical treatments. I'm all for healthy eating and organic food but a LOT of it is just plain GREED! If people who grew organic food REALLY cared about people eating it and being "kind to the planet," they would make it AFFORDABLE and not gouge consumers. The organics industry is JUST as greedy and unscrupulous in their business as other food corporations. They play on people's fears and the whole "going green" scam.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
      • Tombo

        Compared to conventional agriculture, growing organic fruits and vegetables is more labor intensive, disallows the use of SYNTHETIC inputs (there are organic pesticides and herbicides approved for use) and is mostly un-subsidized. Also, the organic certification that is required in order for a farmer to label and sell his products as "Organic" (the phrase "grown using organic methods" is quickly being outlawed) is passed directly onto consumers. Organic inputs are costly and many of the cultural/biological treatments applied to fields and crops require much more time to be effective than simply "spraying and preying" like conventional farmers do. I do agree with you somewhat on your point of greed though, as the high prices you see for organics in major grocery stores is in fact a result of middle men pushing the envelope for the price premiums built into the costs of organic foods. It is easy to become disenfranchised with the "going green" movement, but realize that an organic farmer must operate within the confines of the rules put in place by the USDA's National Organic Program, and are bound by these rules and regulations that do not prohibit the cost cutting initiatives that many small scale farmers would otherwise utilize. My advice is to take a deep breath, turn off the tube, and seek out a local farmer (at a farm, or a farmers market. NOT a retail food market) who is charging fair prices for their goods and befriend this person and support their business. Also, I would suggest asking your questions to an actual farmer, as you may be surprised to find out just how many share your thoughts on organics and greed. I bet their answers would hit more close to home than many of the posters on here taking jabs from afar.

        September 19, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
      • David

        In most cases, the reason that organic produce is more expensive than traditional is that the cost of the inputs per pound of production is more expensive. This is due to a couple of things. There is typicaly more hand labor in orgainc production (hand weeding, etc) secondly, there is typically a yiled reduction that offsets any savings due to reduced pesticide use. Am not saying this is always the case, but farmers have to price for the long run, so any money made on one crop may have to offset the losses on another.

        Also remember that orgainic does not mean without psticide, just only organically approved ones can be used. This does not mean that food pathogens are not present, this is a seperate issue altogether, be it local grown or shipped across the country.

        September 19, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
      • Sarah

        What Tombo said.

        September 20, 2011 at 12:09 am |
      • Sarah

        David brings up a good point. I am anti pesticide, whether it is organic or not. However, for commercial growers, this is not always feasible. That's one reason out of many that I like to grow my own whenever possible.

        September 20, 2011 at 12:11 am |
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