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Cultivating Community: Sharing Favorite Recipes and Stories from Your CSA

June 26, 2024

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Cultivating Community: Sharing Favorite Recipes and Stories from Your CSA

A Farmer’s Journey to the Plate

As a former city-dweller turned passionate farmer, I can attest to the transformative power of diving headfirst into the farm-to-table lifestyle. My name is Andrea Bemis, and I’m the proud owner of Tumbleweed Farm in the picturesque town of Parkdale, Oregon.

It all started back in 2008 when my husband, Taylor, and I packed up our bags and headed east from our hometown in Oregon to work on his family’s 60-acre organic vegetable farm in Massachusetts. We had been living the carefree, minimum-wage life, but deep down, we yearned for something more meaningful. That’s when the lure of the land and the promise of a deeper connection to our food drew us in.

For the past 8 years, I’ve been documenting our journey as farmers and home cooks. Back-breaking days spent hunched over the dirt were followed by evenings in the kitchen, where we’d cook up delicious meals using the very produce we had tirelessly grown. It was a simple life, but one filled with an unparalleled sense of satisfaction.

After three years on the large-scale operation, however, Taylor and I decided it was time to take a risk and branch out on our own. In 2012, we purchased 6 acres of land in Parkdale and named it Tumbleweed Farm – a nod to the wanderlust that had defined our twenties. Tumbleweed has been the biggest undertaking of our lives, testing us in more ways than we could have imagined. But between the endless hours of working the land, producing food, and cultivating a community of loyal customers, we’ve somehow found a rhythm and a good routine.

Discovering the Joys of Seasonal Eating

Working on the farm has sparked a deep passion for fresh, healthy food within me. Handling those vibrant, just-harvested vegetables and pairing them with other local ingredients has made me realize how food truly tastes best when it’s eaten in season. This realization has become the driving principle behind my recipe creations and the core mission of Thornapple Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

As a farmer, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the rhythm and cycles of the seasons. Each one brings with it a bounty of unique produce, from the crisp and verdant greens of spring to the vibrant hues and hearty textures of autumn. And with every new season, I find myself inspired to dream up new ways to celebrate the fresh flavors that grace our kitchen.

Take, for example, the humble carrot. In the height of summer, when the sun is high and the days are long, I might toss those bright orange roots with a zesty lime dressing and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro. But come fall, when the air grows crisp and the leaves begin to turn, I’m more likely to roast the carrots with warming spices like cumin and coriander, pairing them with a creamy tahini sauce and a scattering of toasted pumpkin seeds.

Sharing the Bounty: Recipes and Stories from the CSA

One of the greatest joys of running a CSA is the opportunity to connect with our members and share in the abundance of the land. Each week, as I carefully pack the boxes with the freshest seasonal produce, I can’t help but imagine the delicious meals and memories that will be created in the kitchens of our community.

That’s why, in addition to delivering a bountiful box of veggies, I also love to include a few of my favorite recipes and personal stories. After all, food is not just about nourishment – it’s about bringing people together, sparking conversation, and cultivating a sense of community.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Walnuts

One of my go-to recipes for late summer and early fall is a vibrant roasted beet and goat cheese salad, topped with a sprinkle of candied walnuts. The deep, earthy sweetness of the beets pairs beautifully with the tangy cheese and the crunch of the walnuts, creating a dish that is both visually stunning and utterly delicious.


– 6 medium beets, peeled and cut into wedges
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 4 cups mixed greens
– 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
– 1/2 cup candied walnuts


1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Toss the beet wedges with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them out on a baking sheet.
3. Roast the beets for 20-25 minutes, or until they’re tender and caramelized.
4. Allow the beets to cool slightly, then arrange them on a bed of mixed greens.
5. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese and candied walnuts over the top.
6. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or your favorite salad dressing.

This salad is a wonderful way to showcase the vibrant hues and earthy flavors of the season. It’s a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats or a satisfying vegetarian main course. And the best part? The recipe can easily be scaled up to feed a crowd, making it an ideal dish for potlucks or family gatherings.

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Pasta

As the days grow shorter and the air turns crisp, I find myself craving heartier, more comforting dishes. One of my all-time favorite fall recipes is a simple yet flavorful roasted garlic and tomato pasta.


– 1 head of garlic
– 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
– 1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
– 1 pound pasta of your choice (I like to use a short, sturdy shape like penne or rigatoni)
– 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– Chopped fresh basil, for serving


1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Cut the top off the head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Drizzle the exposed garlic with a bit of olive oil and wrap it tightly in foil.
3. Arrange the halved tomatoes on a baking sheet and toss them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
4. Roast the garlic and tomatoes in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and the garlic is fragrant and tender.
5. While the garlic and tomatoes are roasting, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
6. Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted cloves into a bowl and mash them with a fork.
7. Toss the roasted tomatoes and mashed garlic with the cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
8. Garnish with chopped fresh basil and serve immediately.

This dish is a true celebration of the season’s bounty. The sweet, caramelized tomatoes and the rich, nutty garlic create a flavor profile that is both comforting and complex. And the addition of Parmesan cheese and fresh basil just takes it over the top.

I love to serve this pasta alongside a simple green salad or a crusty loaf of bread, perfect for sopping up every last drop of the savory sauce. It’s a dish that always brings a smile to the faces of my CSA members, and it’s one that I’m proud to share as a representation of the love and care that goes into every item in our weekly boxes.

Spiced Squash and Apple Soup

As the leaves begin to turn and the air grows crisp, there’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of homemade soup to warm the soul. One of my favorite autumnal recipes is a spiced squash and apple soup – a harmonious blend of sweet, savory, and aromatic flavors.


– 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
– 2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
– 1 onion, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 teaspoons ground cumin
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Chopped fresh parsley or chives, for serving


1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute, until fragrant.
3. Stir in the cubed squash, chopped apples, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour in the broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the squash is very tender.
5. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches in a regular blender), purée the soup until smooth and creamy.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley or chives.

This soup is a true celebration of autumn’s best produce. The sweetness of the squash and apples is perfectly balanced by the warm spices, creating a comforting and nourishing dish that’s sure to delight your senses.

I love to serve this soup with a crusty piece of bread or a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds for extra texture and crunch. It’s a dish that always elicits oohs and aahs from my CSA members, who appreciate the care and attention that goes into each bite.

Cultivating Community, One Meal at a Time

As a farmer and a home cook, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the power of food to bring people together. Whether it’s a simple roasted vegetable salad or a hearty, spice-infused soup, every dish I create is a reflection of the love and dedication I pour into the land and the community that sustains us.

Like the urban flower farmer Dee Hall of Mermaid City Flowers, I believe that cultivating community is just as important as cultivating the crops. That’s why, in addition to filling our CSA boxes with the freshest, most flavorful produce, I also strive to share the stories, the passions, and the personal touches that make our little farm so special.

From the roasted garlic that fills our kitchen with its enticing aroma to the vibrant hues of the seasonal vegetables, every element of our CSA is imbued with a sense of love and care. And by sharing these recipes and anecdotes, I hope to inspire our members to not just consume the food, but to truly engage with it – to savor each flavor, to appreciate the journey from seed to plate, and to find joy in the simple act of nourishing themselves and their loved ones.

After all, a bountiful CSA box is not just a collection of ingredients – it’s a gateway to a deeper connection with the land, the seasons, and the community that sustains us. And by cultivating that connection, one meal at a time, we can all become more conscious, more engaged, and more deeply rooted in the rhythms and cycles that make our world so beautifully alive.

So, the next time you open your CSA box, I invite you to let your senses be your guide. Breathe in the earthy aroma of the just-harvested produce, feel the weight of the ripened tomatoes in your hands, and let your imagination run wild with the endless culinary possibilities that await. Because when we engage with our food in this way – with reverence, with creativity, and with a deep sense of community – we not only nourish our bodies, but we also nourish our souls.

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Thornapple CSA: A community-driven initiative championing sustainable agriculture. We connect members with fresh, organic produce, celebrating the bond between land and community.

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