While we have always used organic practices here at Dandelion Ridge Farm, we are proud to share that we have finally received our Organic Certification from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA)! We felt that it was important to go through the certification process to have official confirmation of these practices and demonstrate our commitment to sustainability.
The detailed process of organic certification includes not only verification that we don’t use harmful chemicals, but also documentation of our seed sources, conservation practices, water sources and use, weed and pest control strategies, buffer zones and road signage, and post-harvest handling practices, just to name a few. Lots of record-keeping details! An inspector came out to the farm over the summer and did a thorough assessment, as well. Farmers reapply for certification each year, keeping KDA up to date on our plans for the season and any other changes.
We’re thrilled to reach this exciting milestone, and look forward to sharing our Certified Organic produce with you this season!
Turmeric, a relative of ginger, is a key seasoning in Indian and other Asian cuisines, adding bright golden color and warm, earthy flavor to curries and more. In recent years, turmeric has been touted as a “superfood” with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other purported health benefits (take it with black pepper to maximize absorption).
Turmeric is a tropical plant with a long growing season, so we harvest it when it is still young, before it has to face much winter weather. As with baby ginger, baby turmeric is more tender than the mature rhizome and lacks most of the outer cuticle, making it easy to use in a multitude of ways!
You’ve likely encountered turmeric mostly in its powdered form, but fresh baby turmeric is a treat! Fresh turmeric is a great addition to smoothies and juices. It’s an essential component of Thai curries, like the yellow curry in the recipe below. It is excellent pureed into soups, or even cut into pieces and added to a stir-fry. And you can use it pretty much anywhere you’d use powdered turmeric—substitute a tablespoon of grated fresh turmeric (about 1 inch of rhizome) for 1 teaspoon of powder. However you use it, be mindful that its vibrant color—sometimes used as a dye—readily turns hands, dish towels, cutting boards, and anything else into gold!
Store fresh turmeric wrapped in a towel in a bag in the fridge. You can also freeze it for long-term storage (to use, grate directly off of the frozen piece; it can turn mushy when thawed).
We’re enjoying playing with fresh turmeric, and we’d love to hear what you make with yours!
Thai Yellow Curry
This classic Thai curry is redolent with the flavors of turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, and chiles. Serves about 4. Recipe by Chef Kevin Archer.
Thai Yellow Curry Paste
This flavor-packed paste freezes well, so we like to make a big batch and freeze it in individual 1 ½ tablespoon portions for many meals to come. Recipe by Chef Kevin Archer. Yield: 1 1/2 cup
1 oz fresh turmeric, skinned and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 oz ginger, chopped
1 oz coriander roots, chopped (optional)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 oz lemongrass, chopped
1/2 oz red chiles, chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1. Place turmeric, onion, ginger, coriander roots, garlic, and lemongrass in blender. Also add chiles and lime juice.
2. Blend to a puree.
3. Add ground coriander, ground cumin, peppercorns, and sea salt. Blend again.
4. Heat peanut oil in heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Add mixture from blender.
5. Fry paste for 5 minutes or until fragrant.
6. Cool and place in a well-sealed jar. Keep in the refrigerator or freezer until needed.
Titles: Master Mower, Belly Rub Connoisseur, Champion Pig Ambassador
Favorite Foods from the Farm: Dandelion flowers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, butternut squash
Winnie joined our family in November 2018, although we didn’t know it at the time!
Kevin and I both have years of experience working in farm animal rescue. In the summer of 2018, this background connected us with a caring woman who was trying to find a home for a potbellied pig who had fallen through the cracks at the farm where she lived. Winnie’s story echoes that of too many pet pigs across the country. People purchase them as cute little piglets and, unaware of a pig’s needs and behaviors (let alone healthy adult size), lose interest or become frustrated as the piglet gets older. Pigs are smart, funny, strong-willed animals, but their intelligence, stubbornness, strength, and natural behaviors such as rooting makes them a challenge for many households. As a result, many pet pigs end up abandoned or surrendered to shelters and rescues. In Winnie’s case, she languished in a dark horse stall without the care or attention she needed.
When we first met Winnie, she was so obese that she couldn’t see or move around well, her overgrown hooves were like flippers, and she was noticeably withdrawn and depressed. We trimmed her hooves, recommended a more appropriate diet, and reached out to our networks to try to find her a new home. It is not always easy to find a good home for a pig, especially one who would need some extra care to regain her health, and so we offered to bring her to our farm to start the process while looked for a permanent home.
It should come as no surprise that we ended up as “foster failures!” After a year of looking for Winnie’s perfect forever home, we finally realized that she had already found one here at Dandelion Ridge Farm!
It has been a joy to watch Winnie blossom—first just soaking up the sunshine, and then gradually venturing farther and farther into her paddock as she gained strength, confidence, and mobility. Now healthy and active, she is a very busy woman, out grazing and exploring, sometimes into the dark of night. Not even thunderstorms faze her while she is out and about! When dandelions are flowering, Winnie works her way around the paddock, eating every flower one by one! We often see her side by side with her pygmy goat friends, Lucy and Alice, as the trio grazes or takes a siesta.
As she has come out of her shell, Winnie’s big personality has come out as well. Pigs have a penchant for drama, but Winnie is as mellow and charming as they come. It seemed appropriate to name our butternut pickles—unique and sweet, seasoned with warm mulling spices—in honor of this sweet lady!
Through our jar return program, jars of Miss Winnie’s Mulled Butternut Pickles support the Pig Advocates League, a non-profit that works to protect potbellies and other pigs through education, advocacy, rescue, and legislation. Find out more about their work at pigadvocates.com.
I know some of you have been patiently waiting for our Roasted Tomato Coulis. Well, you’re in luck—I made some yesterday! I roast our tomatoes, thyme, onions, and garlic for nice deep flavor, then blend it, creating a smooth, versatile sauce. The French word “coulis” (pronounced “koo-LEE”) simply refers to a smooth sauce made from pureed vegetables or fruits.
We use the coulis everywhere—over pasta, mixed into our morning grits (or savory oatmeal!), or in any dish that could benefit from the addition of tomato, onion, and garlic. Add some chiles, smoked paprika, and cumin for a chili base, or add curry powder or garam masala for the start of an Indian-inspired dish. We even have customers who use it in Bloody Marys!
Have fun experimenting!
This Labor Day, we want to hold up all of the frontline workers who put themselves at risk to keep things running and take care of our communities, not only during this pandemic, but all the time. Industrial farmworkers and food processors are some of the most essential workers, keeping the nation fed. Yet many of them face exploitation and health hazards, and are especially at risk of COVID-19.
Farmworkers have been organizing for many years to fight for their rights, dignity, and health, whether through strikes or community organizing. The organizing of workers in Florida’s tomato fields led to the formation of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in 1993. The CIW has been recognized internationally for its achievements in fighting human trafficking and gender-based violence at work, as well as its groundbreaking Fair Food Program, which monitors participating farms for socially responsible practices and partners with national buyers to pay workers more for their work. Other organizations working to lift up farmworkers include Farmworker Justice, Feeding the Frontline, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, and the National Center for Farmworker Health, and I encourage you to support their important work.
If you want to learn more about farmworker issues, these books are also excellent places to dive in:
One of the great joys of the garden is watching all of the small life that inhabits that world and helps the plants thrive. The wide array of bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and flies busily pollinating. The ladybugs, lacewings, and praying mantises helping keep pests at bay. The earthworms, beetles, and other invertebrates turning vegetable matter into healthy soil. Here at Dandelion Ridge Farm, we do what we can to support all of this vibrant life, including avoiding toxic chemicals, using integrated pest management techniques, planting flowers that support pollinators, and allowing for areas of wild space as wildlife habitat. We have been astounded by the number and diversity of bees and butterflies we’re seeing this summer, including a number of monarch butterflies using the milkweed we have planted as a host for their offspring. The sunflowers that line the garden are teeming with more species of pollinators than we can count! We are in awe of the array of small creatures who keep us all fed through their tireless work.
We are particularly grateful for the hum of insect activity because native bees and other pollinators essential to food production are facing enormous threats from pesticide use, climate change, habitat loss, and even competition from non-native honeybees (here’s a great short film on the topic). In fact, insect populations worldwide are rapidly declining—40% in the last 10 years—and up to 40% of the world’s insect species are at risk of extinction, according to a 2019 study. While insects are often framed as nuisances to human society (and it’s true, there are definitely some species I don’t appreciate so much…), it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of insects in ecosystems across the globe, and the worldwide ripple effect of these population losses.
But there are concrete ways we can each support beneficial native insects and other invertebrates. One of our favorite resources is the Xerces Society, “an international nonprofit organization that protects the natural world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats.” Their website contains a vast array of publications, videos, and other materials about these vital species and how to protect them and conserve the ecosystems they are a part of. They are hosting an ongoing webinar series on topics ranging from beneficial predatory insects to the affects of pesticides on pollinators to conservation guides specific to different species and regions of the country. Past webinars are also available online if you missed one. The Xerces Society has an enormous wealth of information, with many access points, including education, community science, habitat support, and advocacy. We urge you to support their work and get involved!
If you don’t have a garden to watch the mesmerizing dances of butterflies, bees, and others at home, we’ll share our pollinator plot with you. We like to watch this video on a loop as a bedtime meditation—we hope you enjoy it, too!
Now I’ll leave you with a celebration of the humble bumblebee by poet and transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Burly dozing humblebee!
Where thou art is clime for me.
Let them sail for Porto Rique,
Far-off heats through seas to seek,
I will follow thee alone,
Thou animated torrid zone!
Zig-zag steerer, desert-cheerer,
Let me chase thy waving lines,
Keep me nearer, me thy hearer,
Singing over shrubs and vines.
Insect lover of the sun,
Joy of thy dominion!
Sailor of the atmosphere,
Swimmer through the waves of air,
Voyager of light and noon,
Epicurean of June,
Wait I prithee, till I come
Within ear-shot of thy hum,--
All without is martyrdom.
When the south wind, in May days,
With a net of shining haze,
Silvers the horizon wall,
And, with softness touching all,
Tints the human countenance
With a color of romance,
And, infusing subtle heats,
Turns the sod to violets,
Thou in sunny solitudes,
Rover of the underwoods,
The green silence dost displace,
With thy mellow breezy bass.
Hot midsummer’s petted crone,
Sweet to me thy drowsy tune,
Telling of countless sunny hours,
Long days, and solid banks of flowers,
Of gulfs of sweetness without bound
In Indian wildernesses found,
Of Syrian peace, immortal leisure,
Firmest cheer and bird-like pleasure.
Aught unsavory or unclean,
Hath my insect never seen,
But violets and bilberry bells,
Maple sap and daffodels,
Grass with green flag half-mast high,
Succory to match the sky,
Columbine with horn of honey,
Scented fern, and agrimony,
Clover, catch fly, adders-tongue,
And brier-roses dwelt among;
All beside was unknown waste,
All was picture as he passed.
Wiser far than human seer,
Seeing only what is fair,
Sipping only what is sweet,
Thou dost mock at fate and care,
Leave the chaff and take the wheat,
When the fierce north-western blast
Cools sea and land so far and fast,
Thou already slumberest deep,--
Woe and want thou canst out-sleep,--
Want and woe which torture us,
Thy sleep makes ridiculous.