The novel corona virus caused many changes for all of our lives and our markets. For La Colina Linda, we had to find different ways to sell our products. When the indoor winter farmers' market closed, most small farms had no where to sell their produce. Next, when the outdoor farmers' market opened, the spacing needs for social distancing limited the number of farmers that could sell there.
In response, we completed La Colina Linda's web site and set up an online store. From there we take orders and have two days of the week for customers to have curb-side pickup in two different locations. Most importantly, we have developed agreements with two skin-care companies to grow medicinal herbs. #blissoma.com #envibotanicals.com
We have had to reshape our thinking about what to grow. To grow more medicinal plants/roots means that some of our beds may be in a two or more year wait as the perennials' roots mature. We have also learned more about how to grow, use and consume our medicinal herbs in teas, tinctures, baking and more. This differs from planning and growing for a weekly farmers' market.
One great benefit from this new way of growing is the friendships we are "growing" with the two women who run these companies. Julie from Blissoma and Angela from Envibotanicals are dedicated to using the highest quality organic herbs and to the improvement of the soil through organic and regenerative strategies. In addition, they both want to participate in the success of all of us.
Recently we had a visit from Julie when she traveled with her daughter from St. Louis to purchase the Chickweed we had picked and dried. Julie wanted to see the farm in person to connect to the source of the ingredients. Angela is helping with harvesting and will come to the farm this week to pick the Milky Oat tops.
In June we are harvesting and drying Yarrow, Lemon Balm and Milky Oat (heads and straw) for Blissoma and Envibotanicals. The Yarrow plant has milky-white delicate flowers with fern-like leaves. The flowers and leaves emit a lovely aroma and that is the perfect time to harvest and dry. La Colina Linda collects these flowers for skin care products as we did with our Chickweed.
We have always grown a patch of Yarrow because we valued the diversity in the farm ecosystem, but this wonderful herb has many uses. As a tea, an extract or essential oil, the benefits include relieving fever, aiding digestion, and relieving depression and anxiety. Fresh yarrow leaves, as a compress, are good for healing wounds.
Lemon Balm is another herb we have used before and are now harvesting for Blissoma. We cut the stems when the leaves have a pleasant lemony aroma and just before the flowering begins. Lemon Balm is brewed as a tea to provide a calming effect; it helps with indigestion; and, it also aids with sleep.
Both companies use Milky Oats albeit different parts. Envibotanicals uses the fresh seed head when the seeds exude a milky liquid when pressed. Blissoma wants the stalks harvested just after the seed head is harvested and dried. A calming tea or tincture from the tops supports a healthy response to stress and oats have the highest magnesium levels of any plant. Oatstraw also makes a calming tea, benefits the skin and is a good source of calcium.
We have many more organic medicinal herbs growing in our beds. We continue to learn and adapt to the changing growing and market environments. Looking forward to sharing more with you.
You should always consult with your health practitioner or certified herbalist about use of such herbs. Contact the companies for the specific products that use our ingredients.
How about a chilled glass of bubbly elderflower champagne? The flower itself is beautiful on the bush and stays lovely throughout the champagne making process (see recipe at thespruceeats.com). It's amazing how fizzy the liquid becomes with the help of the flower and sugar. The bubbles had already started when we put the liquid into bottles. The first time we "burped" the champagne, the bubbles poured out of the top of the bottles like lava from a volcano. We'll look forward to drinking this magic in only two weeks!
A new product this week is verdolaga or golden purslane, a nutritional powerhouse. It is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and C and has a tangy flavor.There is a native variety that grows in several of our beds, but we cultivate the more delicate golden purslane. This green is great in salads, in smoothies, as part of a stir fry and in soups or curries.
Beautiful strawberries are bountiful at La Colina Linda this season. Last year we moved our plants to a different field and added lots of compost in the fall and early spring. What a difference! Now customers pick up strawberries on "Curb-side Friday Farm Pickup" or on Tuesday afternoons at Murdale Shopping Center parking lot.
What to do with your certified organic fresh strawberries: Eating fresh is always wonderful, but also try them with the green parts and all in smoothies; eat them with our gluten-free, plant-based strawberry shortcake biscuits; enjoy on top of our high protein gluten-free, plant-based waffles; make strawberry jam; daiquiris are delicious with fresh berries, fresh lime juice, a simple syrup, white rum and ice whirred up in a blender, so refreshing.
Harvesting and eating strawberries are not all that we have been up to. We planted bush and pole beans, hibiscus bushes for envibotanicals.com, perennial greens and root vegetables, chamomile, and amaranth. We continue to harvest organic herbs and this week we will cut lemon balm, elder flowers and yarrow for blissoma.com and Our goumi berry bushes are full and we pick them to make syrup for baking and beverages, and to ferment wine and kombucha. We harvested all of our shallots to make room for a bed of cornflowers. Finally, we have our sour dough 10 inch pizza rounds once again for sale in the baked goods section. We can also cater a fully loaded plant-based pizza.
Much needed rain this week is helping all of the new seedlings on the farm get a good start. Fortunately we have had some beautiful sunny weather too. Our hardneck garlic is producing scapes now so we've posted them on our storefront for Friday "farm curb-side pickup." Garlic scapes are a lovely addition to a meal. They are milder than garlic cloves with an array of uses from soup to salads to garnishes and pesto. Scapes are traditionally used in Southern, Eastern European, and Korean cuisine because of the subtle flavor and tender-crisp texture. Add to your favorite stir-fry dishes, chop and add raw to salads, use them in canning recipes, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and put on the grill, add to guacamole and salsas, spread garlic scape pesto on pizza crust or freeze the scapes for later use. These are a just a few of the many ways that we enjoy these delicacies.
We are also featuring freckle romaine and gold tail romaine on our store front this week along with sorrel, variegated chicory, and komi shungiku. Our strawberries are continuing to bear. Keep in mind our carrot top pesto which makes a great dip or topping and our tulsi-mountain mint loose tea which is delicious hot or iced. All produce is certified organic. Last but not least we continue to bake gluten-free plant-based breads, cookies, scones, brownies and shortcake biscuits.
Congratulations to all of the 2020 graduates! A very special congratulations to grandchildren Margaret and Audrey Kinser! Margaret graduated from high school and Audrey from eighth grade! We are so very proud! You will do great things!
It has been a wet week at the farm where we have planted, weeded and gathered around the rain storms. We continue to bake on Tuesday mornings for our online market sales. This week we feature a beautiful array of lettuces for our salad mix (leaf lettuce, romaine, orach, sorrel); tulsi/mountain mint loose leaf tea; carrot top pesto; and, strawberry shortcake biscuits. Our strawberries are starting to come on, so we hope to have the fruit for sale soon too.
In addition to tending all the planted beds, this week we will be planting peppers, ashwagandha and ginger in the high tunnel, and tulsi tea, more self heal, St. John's wort, milk thistle, California poppy, root vegetables, culinary basil, calendula, dandelion root, and asparagus in the field. Our dehydrator is busy drying lots of chickweed and rose petals.
Beginning Friday May 22, we will offer curb-side service at our farm between 12 pm - 6 pm. Please place orders by Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. La Colina Linda is located in Cobden, 610 Heern Road. At farm, orders will be placed in the customer's car, no need for the customer to get out of car.
Kathy and I (Jeri) hope you are doing well during these difficult times. We are keeping our sanity at this stay-at-home time by getting plants started, harvesting and drying chickweed and planting at the farm. La Colina Linda is in the process of harvesting the last of the crops from the winter growth in the high tunnel: leeks, onions, carrots, and greens. We planted tomatoes, latina tomatillos and snow peas already and now there is room for chili peppers, ginger and turmeric. In addition, we planted lots of things outside: potatoes, leeks, chicory, plantain, yarrow, marshmallows, self-heal, red clover, cone flowers, giant solomon seal, goldenseal, common sage, nettle, wild leeks, ostrich fern, white trout lily and quince, mayhaw, and jujube trees. Next week will include New Jersey tea, anise hyssop, Ohio and prairie spiderworts, spotted bee balm and Bradbury's manarda, among other things.
For next week's online market sales, we have many bundles of carrots, various types of onions, green garlic, quelite mix, parsley, sorrel, salad greens, choi, blackberry jam and vinegar and our gluten-free baked goods. See the produce and baked goods links in the menu. Please order by Monday at 5:00 p.m.
Here are some ideas for using the quelite mix: chop finely and use in salads or stir fries; saute with onions for a taco; use as your pesto greens.
Kathy Ward and Jeri Kinser
Kathy is professor emerita of sociology and women's studies at SIU-Carbondale. She is currently farmer and co-owner with Jeri Kinser of La Colina Linda Farm. Jeri has been an educator of K-12 for 40 years specializing in instructional technology and bilingual education.