Monthly Archives: January 2014

Plan Now for Fresh Summer Produce


Photo by Grade A Gardens

By: Kelsey Johnson

Key to the mission of Buy Fresh Buy Local is to connect and build relationships between people and the farmers that grow their food, and nothing embodies that mission quite like CSAs. For those who aren’t aware, CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and is a program in which customers participate in both the spoils and risks of the growing season. Members sign up to receive a “share,” or a box of produce each week dependent on the farm’s yields. In essence, CSA participants become members of the farm and thus create a community that revolves around quality, locally grown produce.


The advantages of such a system benefit both the participant and the farmer to varying degrees. The relationship helps farmers gather a network of support, customers, and finances before their work load increases during the busy season. In turn, members get first priority on a range of the freshest produce available. Shareholders are often invited to visit the farm, sent a newsletter and kept informed on farm happenings, and encouraged to utilize ingredients they might not have purchased otherwise. Together, the farmer and customer form a team with the mindset: “we’re in this together.”


There are a variety of BFBL farms that offer CSA memberships, from student to fall to summer shares. Summer shares generally run for 20 weeks and average $500, or $25 a week. Plus, due to the growing demand, many CSA programs have been expanding in recent years. For example, new this year is The Wallace Centers of Iowa’s spring share that they’ve added in addition to their growing summer and fall shares.


Produce varies by season, but Andrew and Melissa Dunham from Grinnell Heritage Farm assure a “wide variety of vegetables and herbs, including the familiar carrots, beans, and potatoes along with the more unusual romanesco cauliflower and celeriac.” While the Grinnell Heritage Farm is strictly a produce CSA, add-ons and features vary by farm. The Homestead focuses a lot of efforts on maintaining their orchard, and shareholders receive a larger volume of fruits than your typical Iowa CSA. Or, if you’re a garlic enthusiast, jump on board with Grade A Gardens, who have the largest variety of garlic available! Raccoon Forks Farm offers pre-orders for eggs (and even chickens!) that run for 26 weeks that can be purchased in addition to, or separately from a veggie CSA.


But while the vegetables might be a large draw, joining a CSA is much more than pre-ordering produce for a season. For Ben Saunders of Wabi Sabi Farm, the benefits of the program are many, “One of the best things is to have that sense of community,” he said. “Growing food for people that I know. People who know me.” On a similar note, Raccoon Forks Farm also “love CSAs because we get to provide locally grown healthy food for our community!” So, if you’re looking for a way to build an intimate connection with both your food and the community that surrounds it, consider signing up for a 2014 CSA. For more detailed information, check out the Wheatsfield Coop CSA fair tomorrow, and look out for updates on another fair scheduled to take place at Campbell’s Nutrition next month!

What’s Fresh: January

By: Kelsey Johnson

You don’t need me to tell you it’s cold outside. If you spent any time outdoors – or even indoors if your house is as poorly insulated as mine – you very well felt the effects last week’s “Polar Vortex.” As I’m sure you can imagine, BFBL farmers weren’t out harvesting the fields. That being said, while you might not find bunches of fresh Iowa produce lining supermarket shelves, there are ways to continue to support the local food scene even as the temperatures dip well below zero. That’s why for this month’s “What’s Fresh” we’re focusing on: Hot drinks.

If sitting down next to a fire and catching up on Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones sounds like your cup of tea, we’ve got the perfect recipe to fill your evening with sweet aromas. (Thanks to allspice, of course.)


Chai Tea


  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup milk – of course we recommend milk from Picket Fence Creamery
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black or Assam looseleaf tea, or 2 tea bags if loose tea unavailable.


Using a mortar and pestle, or a spice grinder [or the handle of a heavy kitchen knife and a sturdy cutting board], roughly crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Put these in a saucepan with the water, ginger, and black pepper, and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let spices brew for 3-5 minutes.

Add milk and sugar to saucepan and return to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add tea to milky spice mixture. Cover and steep an additional 3-5 minutes.

Stir chai, then pour through a strainer into a warmed tea pot or individual cups or mugs. Makes 2 or 3 servings.


For those of you looking for something with a bit more bite, we have some more festive suggestions. Before you give the allspice Irish Coffee recipe a go, make sure to grab some Zanzibar beans Iowa Distillery whiskey, and Picket Fence whipping cream to insure the best results possible. The second is Grape Escape’s Mulling Spice recipe, for wine they say tastes like warm apple pie!


Irish CoffeeIrishCoffee[1]


  • Strong hot coffee – we recommend Zanzibar Coffee Adventure
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar, or 2 sugar cubes
  • 1 jigger (1 oz) good Irish whiskey – try this with Iowa Shine whiskey instead for a BFBL twist
  • 2 Tbsp homemade whipped cream, made with our Vanilla Paste and Honey Powder – try using Picket Fence Creamery cream and you’ll taste the difference


Add 1 jigger Irish Whiskey in a coffee cup [a clear glass Irish Coffee mug is pretty to behold, in which you dissolve 1 tsp sugar.  Fill cup to within 1″ of rim with hot coffee. Top with a dollop of homemade whipped cream, sweetened with our honey powder.  Sip the coffee through the cloud of whipped cream. Yum.


Make-Your-Own Mulling Spices Recipe


  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • Small whole nutmeg
  • 1 star anise (Optional)
  • 1/2 cup whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup whole allspice
  • Grated peel of one whole orange
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger


1. Break up the cinnamon, nutmeg, start anise and allspice with a hammer. Mix all ingredients together and store for a week or so in a glass Mason jar. The storage time allows the flavors to blend. 2. When you are ready to use it, place two tablespoons of the spice mix in a small, muslin square and tie the top with twine.  Add the bag to one bottle of wine and warm (do not boil).


Mulled Wine from Grape Escape

  • 1 Bottle of Kimball Creek
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick

Combine ingredients in a crock pot and heat on low. Do not boil. The quickest, easiest, and best mulled wine ever. Tastes like warm apple pie!




2014 CSAs



Nature Road Farm  – Ames, Owner: Randy Naeve (515) 231 -4495



Raccoon Forks Farm – Redfield, Owner: Laura Glanert (515) 883-2022



Cleverley Farms – Mingo, Owner: Larry Cleverley (641) 363-4299


Blue Gate Farm – Chariton, Owners: Jill Beebout and Sean Skeehan (641) 203-0758



Global Greens Farm – Des Moines, Owners: Lutheran Services in Iowa (515) 271-7351

Grade A Gardens – Johnston, Owners: Jordan Clasen and Thomas Burkhead (515) 554-4306

The Homestead – Altoona, Owners: Eric Armbrecht (515) 689-4796

Hensley’s Farm – Winterset, Owner: William Hensley (515) 468-9689

New Family Farm – Elkhart, Owners: Tony Thompson 515-367-0110

Wabi Sabi – Granger, Owner: Ben Saunders (515) 745-9951

Wallace Centers of Iowa – Des Moines, Diane Weiland (515) 243-7063



Black’s Heritage Farm – Ames, Owner: Norine Black (515) 292-1936


Surrounding Counties

Bridgewater Farm – Bridgewater, Owner: Dale Raasch (641) 745-0319 (Delivers to Des Moines)

Grinnell Heritage Farm – Grinnell, Owners: Andrew and Melissa Dunham (641) 236-4374 (Delivers to Des Moines)

Wimmer Farms – Afton, Owner: Denny Wimmer (641) 278-0735