Embrace Freshness, Support Local: Thornapple CSA's New Journey Begins!

Superfood Spotlights: Unexpected Gems from Your Local CSA Bounty

June 26, 2024

Table of Contents

Superfood Spotlights: Unexpected Gems from Your Local CSA Bounty

Superfood Spotlight: Kale

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a kale fanatic. When people ask me what I’m growing in the garden this year, I don’t even have to think twice – kale, kale, and more kale! This nutritional powerhouse has become a staple in my diet, and for good reason.

As I was flipping through the Kale: The Complete Guide to the World’s Most Powerful Superfood, I was blown away by the 16-page chapter detailing all the incredible benefits of this leafy green. Let me give you the cliff notes version – kale is packed with 22 different vitamins and minerals that your body craves, from vitamins A, C, and K to calcium, iron, and magnesium. Eating just 1-2 cups of kale 3 times a week can do wonders for your skin, energy levels, joint health, eyesight, and immune system.

Research has even shown that kale can help prevent and heal conditions like heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer, and liver/gallbladder issues. I’m convinced my border collie’s long life and vibrant health is thanks to all the kale he scarfs down on a daily basis. As soon as he hears the first kale stem snap, he comes running into the kitchen with his head tilted, begging for his greens.

You can enjoy kale in so many delicious ways – blended into a smoothie, massaged with oil and vinegar for a salad, or steamed and served as a side dish. Personally, I swear I feel like I’ve plugged myself into a wall socket after eating a big kale salad. My hair and nails are stronger than ever, and I rarely get sick.

If you’re new to the kale train, I’m so excited for you to experience the benefits of bringing this superfood into your life. And for those of you who have been on the bandwagon for years, I’d love to hear your favorite kale recipes! As the old saying goes, “Eat more kale” – sage advice that farmers have been giving long before it became trendy.

Superfood Spotlight: Garlic

One of the first signs of spring in my garden is the emergence of those determined garlic stalks, pushing their way through the soil even when snow is still sprinkled throughout the yard. Growing garlic has been such a rewarding experience, providing me with not one, but two delicious harvests each year – scapes and bulbs.

I’ll never forget the day a friend asked if I’d be interested in hosting a beehive on my property, explaining that the pollination would increase my harvest by 20%. “Hell yeah, just tell me when they’re coming!” I replied. For the next month, I borrowed a bee suit, read up on beekeeping, and planted a few bee-friendly perennials around the hive’s future home.

When the big day arrived and the 30,000 new girls moved in, I was mesmerized watching them work. The scouts took their job of protecting the hive very seriously, chasing me away if I got too close. But I loved observing their incredible organization and the important roles each bee played, from nurse to undertaker. Knowing how much energy the foragers expended to pollinate my plants made me appreciate the food I was growing even more.

Sadly, my hive didn’t make it through the harsh Vermont winter, but the lessons I learned from caring for those honeybees will stay with me forever. Now, when I see a pollinator in my garden, I think about her life cycle and the crucial part she plays in our food system.

As for the garlic, I’ve really come to treasure this pungent allium and all its wonderful health benefits. Studies have shown that garlic can lower your risk of cancer, improve cardiovascular health, and fight off viral and bacterial infections. I aim to use at least 8 cloves a day, much to the dismay of my coworkers (though they’re too polite to say anything).

The best part is that growing my own garlic couldn’t be easier. I simply plant the cloves in the fall, let Mother Nature do her thing over the winter, and harvest the scapes in late spring followed by the bulbs in late summer. Then I hang them to dry and store them in a paper bag all year long. Fresh, local garlic with all its immune-boosting powers at my fingertips – it just doesn’t get any better than that!

Superfood Spotlight: Beets

I have to admit, beets and I didn’t exactly start off on the right foot. That first year I tried growing them, I ended up with a bounty of sad, stunted roots that were barely bigger than marbles. But I was determined to master this superfood, and over the years I’ve really come to love and appreciate the humble beet.

These vibrant veggies are packed with an incredible array of nutrients, from vitamins and minerals to antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Beets are known to support detoxification, improve digestion, lower blood pressure, and even enhance athletic performance. Plus, they come in such a gorgeous array of colors – classic red, golden yellow, candy-striped chioggia, and my personal favorite, the deep purple bull’s blood.

Thornappple CSA has really broadened my beet horizons, introducing me to exciting heirloom varieties and creative ways to enjoy them. I’ve tried roasting, juicing, pickling, and even using beets to make a rich, chocolatey cake (trust me, it’s delicious!). And of course, no beet dish is complete without a generous dollop of cool, creamy yogurt on top.

These days, I make sure to devote a significant portion of my garden real estate to growing beets. I love the challenge of experimenting with different cultivars and techniques to see what produces the best results. Last year, I tried my hand at growing beets in straw bales, and the yields were incredible! I’ve also found that succession planting – sowing seeds every 2-3 weeks – ensures a steady supply throughout the growing season.

No matter how you slice, dice, or roast them, beets are a true superfood superstar. Their vibrant hues, earthy flavors, and impressive nutritional profile make them a must-have in any CSA bounty. So the next time you find a bundle of beets in your share, I encourage you to get creative in the kitchen and discover new ways to enjoy these unexpected gems.

Superfood Spotlight: Peas

Long before the coveted “Eat More Kale” t-shirts and the battle with Chick-fil-A, farmers have been telling us to “Eat More Peas.” And you know what? They were onto something. These little legumes are true superfoods, packed with plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

A few years ago, I turned to my garden for solace after facing a particularly stressful life event. As I knelt down next to the pea trellis, connecting with the earth and focusing on my breath, I realized that I had a choice in how I was going to approach this challenge. I could either be a victim of my circumstances, or I could find balance and control by working towards a solution.

That day, something shifted within me. I tapped into an inner strength and resilience that I didn’t even know I possessed. And as I watched those pea vines climb the trellis, unfurl their beautiful blossoms, and eventually provide me with delicious green pods, I saw an external manifestation of my own personal growth.

However, the journey wasn’t without its share of pain and triggers. The following summer, just as my pea plants were taking off, I found myself struck with emotion, staring at the trellis and reliving the memories of the prior year. But this time, I recognized that I had the power to reframe my association with those peas – to move the experience from the emotional to the logical, from the painful to the empowering.

This year, my pea plants fill me with nothing but joy and pride. The three-toned blossoms of white, pink, and purple represent the different stages of my personal transformation. The white for the initial innocence and purity, the pink for the universal love and inner peace that followed, and the purple – a blend of blue’s calm stability and red’s fierce energy – for the creativity, wisdom, and magic of where I am now.

Peas may be small, but they possess a mighty nutritional punch. Beyond the protein and fiber, they contain beneficial plant compounds that can help reduce inflammation, support heart health, and even enhance brain function. And of course, they’re delicious – whether snacked on raw, tossed into salads, or simmered into a comforting spring soup.

So the next time you find a bounty of peas in your CSA share, I encourage you to embrace them not just as a superfood, but as a symbol of your own capacity for growth, resilience, and reinvention. After all, sometimes the greatest lessons come from the most unexpected places – even from a humble little pea pod.

Superfood Spotlight: Microgreens

As I was strolling through the aisles of my local food co-op the other day, I stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted a familiar face – my friend Pam, hunched over a crate of vibrant microgreens. “Melissa!” she exclaimed. “Just the person I was hoping to run into. I need to put in an order for some of your gorgeous greens.”

You see, Pam and I have developed quite the symbiotic relationship over the past year. She’s a regular at my little Thornappple CSA farm stand, always eager to try the latest seasonal bounty. And in return, she’s become one of my most enthusiastic customers, happily purchasing whatever produce I have in abundance – whether it’s beets, kale, or, you guessed it, microgreens.

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised when Pam first started raving about my microgreens. I mean, they’re just these tiny little seedlings, right? How much nutritional value could they really pack? But as I started doing some research, I was blown away by just how powerful these mini marvels are.

Turns out, microgreens contain anywhere from 4 to 40 times the nutrients of their full-grown counterparts. They’re bursting with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds that can support everything from heart health to immune function. And the best part? They’re incredibly easy to grow, even in the smallest of urban spaces.

In my garden, I dedicate a few trays to cultivating a diverse array of microgreens – from spicy arugula and peppery radish to sweet and tender pea shoots. I love the vibrant colors, the satisfying crunch, and the way they elevate any dish, from salads to omelets to grain bowls. Plus, they’re a great way to extend the season and enjoy fresh, local greens year-round.

Pam and I have found that our microgreen partnership works out beautifully. She gets to enjoy the nutritional powerhouse that is my homegrown bounty, and I get the satisfaction of sharing my harvest with someone who truly appreciates it. In fact, I’ve even caught her sneaking a few greens straight from the trays when she picks up her weekly order – I can’t say I blame her, though!

So if you haven’t yet discovered the joys of microgreens, I highly encourage you to give them a try, whether you find them in your CSA share or at your local farmers market. These tiny, mighty superfoods are sure to add a serious nutritional punch to your meals. And who knows, you might just find yourself developing a symbiotic relationship with your own favorite microgreen enthusiast!

Superfood Spotlight: Berries

As I was wandering through the garden the other day, dodging raindrops and keeping an eye out for any ripe berries, I couldn’t help but marvel at the incredible transformation happening all around me. Just a few short months ago, those bare, wintry beds were little more than dormant husks. But now, they were bursting with life – lush green foliage, delicate blossoms, and the promise of juicy, nutrient-packed fruit to come.

Berries have always held a special place in my heart (and my stomach). There’s just something so magical about plucking a sun-warmed raspberry or blueberry straight from the vine and popping it into your mouth. The burst of sweetness, the satisfying crunch, the way the juice dribbles down your chin – it’s a sensory experience that never gets old.

But berries aren’t just a delightful treat for the tastebuds. These little powerhouses are also true nutritional superstars, packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can provide a wide range of health benefits. Raspberries, for instance, are known to help regulate blood sugar, improve brain function, and even fight against certain types of cancer. Blueberries, on the other hand, are revered for their anti-aging properties and ability to boost immune system function.

Thornappple CSA has really opened my eyes to the incredible diversity of berries that can be grown right here in our region. Last year, I added several new cultivars to my garden, including golden raspberries, blackberries, and a stunning variety of heirloom strawberries. And let me tell you, the flavor and nutritional profiles of these lesser-known berries are truly mind-blowing.

Of course, growing berries comes with its own unique set of challenges. From managing pests and diseases to ensuring proper soil pH and sunlight exposure, there’s a lot to consider. But for me, the rewards far outweigh the efforts. There’s just something so inherently satisfying about nurturing these plants from mere seedlings or canes and then reaping the delicious bounty.

As I continue to expand my berry patch, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of connection – not just to the land, but to the countless generations of growers and foragers who have revered these humble fruits for millennia. After all, berry picking has been a time-honored tradition in many cultures, a way to nourish both the body and the spirit.

So the next time you find a pint of jewel-toned berries in your CSA share, I encourage you to savor each bite, let the flavors transport you, and marvel at the incredible power packed into those tiny orbs. Whether you’re enjoying them fresh, baked into a pie, or blended into a vibrant smoothie, these superfoods are sure to delight your taste buds and nourish your body from the inside out.


As I look back on my journey as a gardener and CSA member, I’m struck by just how much my relationship with food has transformed. What started as a simple desire to save a few bucks on produce has blossomed into a deep, abiding passion for growing, preparing, and sharing nutrient-dense, locally-sourced ingredients.

Through my trials and tribulations in the garden, I’ve learned that every crop, every variety, has its own unique personality and set of needs. Some, like kale and garlic, have become steadfast allies, thriving under my care year after year. Others, like broccoli and zucchini, have proven to be high-maintenance divas, leading me to break up with them entirely.

But perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned is the power of connection – to the land, to my community, and to myself. When I kneel down in the garden and get my hands dirty, I feel a sense of grounding and clarity that is truly unparalleled. And when I share the bounty of my harvest with friends, neighbors, and fellow CSA members, I experience a profound sense of purpose and belonging.

So, if you’re new to the world of community-supported agriculture, or if you’re a seasoned veteran looking to deepen your appreciation for the unexpected gems in your CSA share, I encourage you to embrace the journey. Explore the vibrant rainbow of produce, from kale to peas to microgreens. Experiment with new recipes and preparation methods. And most importantly, connect with the land, the farmers, and the community that make this all possible.

After all, eating locally isn’t just about saving money or reducing your carbon footprint (though those are certainly noble goals). It’s about nourishing your body, mind, and spirit with the very best that nature has to offer. And who knows – you might just discover a new favorite superfood, one that becomes as essential to your life as it has to mine.

About Us

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

Follow On

Subscrive Our Newsletter
To Get More Updates

© 2023 Thornapplecsa.com. All Rights Reserved