Saturday, April 17, 2010

Join Hipster Supported Agriculture

We often see and talk about getting kids to garden. From Alice Water's take over of the Berkeley Public School System, to school gardens all over the place; from Michelle Obama's White House garden to the new Kinder Gardens project at the Inadvertent Farmer.

But there's a missing generation here, of urban and suburban young people whose parents didn't garden, but who are entering adulthood with an urgent need to have this skill.

I decided the Kinder Gardens project needs a companion project for young adults-- why wait 20 years for the newest generation to have gardens of their own, when there's an entire cadre of cynical Millennials who need to get their faces in the sun and their hands in the earth. (That's a couple of them enjoying the garden without doing any work.)

Despite our large sunny yard in the middle of Illinois farm country, my own mother never gardened. With the exception of an uncle who owned a Christmas tree farm, in fact, I come from five, yes five, generations of urban dwellers, as does my husband. We are that rare family with no farmers in our ancestry well past living memory. When I started gardening, I did it all from books and trial-and-error. I had no mentors, and started gardening when the internet was still Al Gore's wet dream and social media wasn't even a twinkle in his eye.

So, introducing the HSA-- Hipster Supported Agriculture (thanks to IceMom for the naming idea).

I've begun inviting my twenty-something friends, plus my own kids, and their friends, to come garden with me one or two days a month-- if there are no garden tasks, or the weather is against us, I'll bring them into the kitchen and we'll cook something. In exchange for the labor, and the companionship, I'll send them home with fresh produce or baked goods.

Update: HSA Schedule
Today (4/18): bed prep and bread making
April 26: snow pea 2nd planting, plant out dill
April 30: greens and roots,
May 14- cucurbits, if warm enough, beans
May 30- plant out ornamentals
June 6- solanums, herbs
mid June, TBD- first harvest (snow peas, lettuce, chard, spinach, radishes)
June 27- garden maintenance, harvest

Cooking days: May 2, May 16, June 13, June 27

I hope we can make things like this, my first garden meal of the year:

Pasta in mushroom sauce with winter turnips and new greens
1 pound turnips, diced, plus their greens
8 oz. fresh spinach
8 oz. mushrooms
1 cup half and half, plus 1 cup vegetable stock (for vegan, use vegetable stock only)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 T butter (for vegan, use a light oil, like safflower or canola)
parsley, salt, white pepper
your pasta of choice (1.5 cups dry for each diner)

Start the water for the pasta, when it boils use it to lightly blanche the turnips (about 5 minutes, until just soft--they'll cook the rest of the way with the sauce) then the greens (2 minutes). DO NOT DUMP THE WATER. You're going to cook the pasta in it. Scoop out the veggies and set them aside. Keep the water at a light simmer for now, you'll put the pasta in presently.

Slice and saute the mushrooms in the butter until all the butter is absorbed. Then add the lemon juice and saute until the mushrooms release their moisture. Add the parsley, salt and pepper and saute for another minute or so. Add a little more butter/oil if it starts to dry out. Add the cream and reduce it to a thick sauce (about 5 minutes), then add the stock and the veggies. Continue adding stock to keep the sauce at a consistency that you like.

Cook the pasta, spoon it up.


  1. That sounds terrific, Xan. Do you grow your own mushrooms, too? If so, I'm coming to live with you.

  2. I do not grow my own mushrooms. I do, however, have a SLOW source (seasonal, local, organic, whole).

  3. What a SUPER idea! I hope we get to peek inside your garden and kitchen. Rock on 20 somethings...Kim

  4. I've got one victim, um participant signed on so far!

  5. You should register the HSA domain before someone else does. :0)

    Very cool idea.

  6. MBT-- I need someone to show me how to do that. Need to grab Xanboni too.