Hidden Villa will be closed to the public from June 3 through August 3 for the safety of our camp community.

CSA Weekly Newsletters 2024

Week of May 28th, 2024

My name is Maddie Christy and since February, I’ve been working as the Farm Coordinator here. I know many of you have been part of this community for years and some of you are new here just like me – I feel so fortunate to have this role and be working in this beautiful place.

This is my fourth season farming at a production scale and I’m moving here from a farm in Virginia where I grew veggies and milked cows. I’m originally from Alexandria, Virginia, and after college, I taught elementary school in Washington, DC, for three years.

As we jump into the 2024 growing season, I’m reminded of the parallels between farming and teaching – most notably the cyclical nature of the year. A farm in the spring is brimming with limitless energy and enthusiasm just like the first day of school. Recharged by a well-deserved break, farmers and teachers make plans and set goals while also taking on the familiar tasks of starting again. Whether it’s setting up the classroom or finding space in the greenhouse, we’re setting the foundation for when things start to take off. I love these quiet moments and the anticipation of a new year. We never know what unexpected obstacles we’ll face, but we lean on the people we work alongside and the community that supports us to take on these challenges and grow from them. I’m excited for the growth and the nourishment that this season will undoubtedly bring to each of us.

-Maddie


In the Basket

Collards – I love these cooked for a long time, made even better when you add some Hidden Villa hamhock. See recipe for a take on beans and greens.

Hakurei Turnips – These mild turnips are crisp and not too overpowering sliced raw into a salad.

Red Spring Onions – These crunchy bulbs are full of flavor and versatility. Don’t forget you can use the greens blended into a tangy salad dressing.

Rosemary – Just take a deep breath in of this fragrant herb. I’ve been crushing it up and baking it into shortbread, yum!

Hearts of Romaine Lettuce – This crisp romaine variety makes a simple spring salad sing. Try using the onion and rosemary in a light vinaigrette!

Arugula – Time for some spicy arugula pesto?

Radishes – It’s a brief window for this spring treats, enjoy them while they last


Slow- Cooked
Collard Greens & Beans

Ingredients List:

1 bunch of collard greens

2 tbsp olive oil

½ onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup stock (veggie or chicken)

1 cup water

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 can navy or pinto beans (or really any beans you have in your pantry)

salt and pepper to taste

Optional: ½ pound sausage (I used 2 of the HV Garlic Basil sausage links, cut into 1” pieces)

Instructions:

Cut collards into 1” strips (remove center rib of green if you like)

If using sausage, cook in Dutch oven over medium heat just until cooked through then remove. If not using meat, heat oil over medium heat.

Add onion to pot and cook around 2-3 minutes. Add in greens and stir until they wilt, about 3 minutes. Stir in broth, water, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook for about 40 minutes until greens are tender. Add in the beans and sausage and cook an additional 10-15 minutes. Add hot sauce for some kick.


Featured Flower

Nigella ‘Delft Blue’

Nigella papillosa

Named for the famous Dutch delft blue pottery, this variety is unique and lovely. Blue is the rarest color in the flower world, apart from black, of which I can think of exactly zero examples, so whenever I find a blue flower that I like it feels extra special. These delicate blooms have the added bonus of being a flower that we can over-winter here. That means that I sow the seed in December, straight into the field, no greenhouse involved. They sprout in the cold, dark days of January and grow with the increasing light through the winter and spring. Now here we are on the cusp of summer and they are having their moment.

– Lanette



Week of May 21st, 2024

Welcome to your 2024 Hidden Villa Community Supported Agriculture farm season! My name is Jason and I have been helping to run this farm for 18 years now. Lanette and I are happy and proud to be working again this season with a crew of young farmers in training. We are grateful to Hidden Villa for seeing and valuing the need for agricultural career building and for legitimizing the positions that we are offering as full-time, seasonal jobs. I look forward to each of this crew introducing themselves and connecting with you all throughout the season through this newsletter.

I am also thankful for the changes and advancements that Lanette and I have been developing in our positions here. I want to celebrate that Lanette has formally taken the title of CSA Manager meaning that she has oversight of all CSA operations, communications, and supervision of all farm staff. She deserves a lot of praise for growing our program into the bountiful, beautiful, community-connected richness we enjoy today. 

I will definitely continue to work side by side with Lanette and the farm crew this year as my position has evolved into Agriculture Director. This title has me supervising Virginia, our Animal Husbandry Manager and Lukas, our Property Manager in addition to my farming responsibilities. Our vision for this position is to be a clearer statement of Hidden Villa’s commitment to land stewardship through regenerative agricultural activity, fire mitigation practices, and watershed enhancement. I hope to unify the message behind the good stewardship work that we are doing in our property department so that we are welcoming visitors to learn how we steer our management of natural resources to improve biodiversity, sequester carbon, and produce high-quality meat, flowers, and produce. 

This winter’s rains were fantastic but the season did come with a lot of personal challenges for us. My Dad died in March and my Mom is undergoing chemotherapy treatments for the entire summer. These events have brought into sharper focus how healing it can feel to me to be rooted in and attentive to natural spaces and how much I value doing this good work with Lanette. All the wonderful plants, animals, and fungi that we work with and see on a regular basis are such an amazing demonstration of persistence and fortitude that helps me see through darker times. Paying attention to all the dynamic natural things is also so decisively different from being just in my head and that helps too. Makes me happy to be a farmer.

I am feeling really hopeful and pleased so far with how our early season plantings have been going and how our farm team is working. The strawberry plants look great and are just on the cusp of fruiting, you can see the summer squash growing by the minute, the alien-looking nigella flowers are just starting to bloom, and we have multiple, beautiful successions of lettuce at various stages of growth.

Thank you for your participation in our program. We really appreciate your connection and support. 

With hope, Jason


In The Basket

Winter Density Lettuce– My favorite variety of lettuce is an all star baby Romaine varietal for Caesar salads. If you have ever admired Little Gem lettuce on a restaurant menu, the chances are you were actually eating this variety of lettuce which comes from the same lineage as Little Gem but is a lot less of a prima donna to grow. 

Arugula-The march of greens goes on! Recently I have been really enjoying arugula in pasta and potato salads. The tangy, mustardy crunch is a welcome addition to those savory dishes. 

Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale-This big leafed cultivar is called Black Mamba and produces the finest looking kale leaves I think I have ever seen. Roast, saute, steam, or massage the leaves for salads. See recipe

Radishes, French Breakfast or Red Ball– This is also the best crop of radishes that we have had in years probably owing to us planting them in a spot that had been fallow for one year. I like to immediately transfer my radish roots to a tupperware of water in the fridge. That way they keep fresh and tender and you can use them sliced into salads, onto sandwiches or quick pickled. 

Spring onion-Sweet Walla Walla onions are just starting to size up and flavor up. Use the whole thing-greens and bulb for your oniony purposes. 

Baby Carrots– We will keep them coming.

Mint- Our unique variety of mint is delicious freshly chopped into salads, sauces or made into mojitos!


Massaged Kale Salad with Mint Sesame Dressing

One bunch of Lacinato kale, destemmed and coarsely chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt
1/4 cup of quick pickled radishes
1/4 cup of quick pickled carrots
2 green onion stems
8-10 leaves of fresh mint
balsamic vinegar
1 t toasted sesame oil
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly toasted pistachios

 

For quick pickling, chop the radishes and carrots into thin medallions and marinate in 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 t salt. Prepare the kale and put in into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 T olive oil and shake 1/4 t salt onto it. Now get in there. Rub that kale like you mean it, scrunching it lovingly between your fingers. You know you are done when the kale looks really dark green and has shrunk to maybe a quarter its original volume. Now, make the dressing by blending or immersion blending the onion stems, mint, 3 T balsamic vinegar, 1/2 t salt, sesame oil, black pepper and 2 T olive oil. Toss the kale leaves in the dressing, sprinkle with pickled radishes, carrots and toasted pistachios and serve.


Featured Flower

Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas

Alstroemeria

If there’s a longer-lasting cut flower I have yet to find it. These hardy beauties can last 2 or even 3 weeks in the vase. Over the last few years, we have been planting new and different varieties to increase our color choices. I love the brightness of the new white variety and the warmth of the orange. I hope you enjoy them as much as this sleepy bee.


Fun in the Fields!

Work side-by-side with Hidden Villa’s Farm team as they grow Hidden Villa’s organic produce. With your hands in the soil, you’ll learn from our farmers how Hidden Villa practices small-scale organic farming. Typical activities include seasonal planting, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, mulching, pruning, and occasionally building. No experience is necessary. If you are interested, please complete our Volunteer Application and Waiver.

Learn More



Week of May 14th, 2024

Hello All,

Welcome to the 2024 CSA season! Whether this is your first season with us or your 31st, we’re so glad to have you as a part of the farm community and we appreciate your support. For me personally, this season marks the 15th year I have farmed in this beautiful, little valley. I have co-managed the farm for the last 12 years but got my start here as a farmer-in-training for 2 years before that. For those of you who have been CSA members in years past, you’ll know that Jason and I always work together as a team, and that will continue this season, but this year will be my first managing the CSA and our farm crew. When I reflect on my time here from intern, to farm team member, then creating the flower program and now to managing, I can clearly see not only my personal growth here but more broadly how this educational farm fosters opportunities for people coming to this good work and growing in their strength and knowledge.

Our educational positions have changed shape over the years from an internship to an entry-level job position, but I am so proud that we’re still offering these learn-by-doing opportunities. They are a much-needed link in the chain to help cultivate the next generation of young farmers. Our crew this year is a group of wonderful, hard-working, young women. Jason and I have both been enjoying getting to know them and seeing their commitment to this work in the fields daily. I’ll let them introduce themselves in the coming weeks in these pages and hopefully in person too.

New farmer and old hand alike, we have all been appreciating the beauty and feeling the challenges of the start of the season, especially a season so generously graced with wet weather and corresponding growth. I’m reminded of the oft-quoted line by Margaret Atwood, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” In truth, the dominant scent on my hands, clothes and in the air these days is the smell of cut grass, thistle and other weeds. Farming organically in this way includes a lot of springtime weeding. Which means a lot of hours out in the rows, mostly hands in the dirt. It’s a vital step in cultivating our crops and also in cultivating a connection to this place and this moment on the farm calendar. Some of the highlights in the field for me so far include being joined in the rows by a great blue heron, coyote, and gopher snakes all hunting our plentiful rodents, seeing the overwintered crops of chard, carrots, and foxglove flourish in our caterpillar tunnel and tasting the first of the spring crops in our weekly potluck with Wednesday volunteers. I know there are many more beautiful and delicious moments to come, and I look forward to sharing them with you.

-Lanette


In The Basket

Chard- To repurpose the Skittles slogan from my childhood, ‘taste the rainbow’ 😉

Oakleaf Lettuce- Wonderfully delicate and light, there’s nothing that compares to spring lettuce for fresh salads.

Mizuna- A mildly spicy salad green, similar to arugula. It pairs beautifully with a sweet dressing.

Oregano- If you have any frozen tomato sauce from summer 2023, here’s your chance to jazz it up. Also, minced or pureed, fresh oregano with green garlic, especially the greens of the green garlic is a great base for a sharp Italian dressing.

Rhubarb- A beautiful and delicious tart addition to baked goods.

Green Garlic- Enjoy this spring ephemeral while it lasts.

Spinach- Delicate enough to be a salad green this time of year this spinach has a slightly nutty, even sweet aftertaste that I really enjoy.

Baby Carrots- So succulent, I eat them straight out of the ground.


Jason’s Famous Chard Enchiladas

Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh chard

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium green garlic head

3-4 Anaheim or poblano peppers, or canned green chilies

2 T fresh oregano finely minced

1 t finely ground coriander

salt

16 oz can of tomatoes

10 large flour tortillas

16 oz of sharp cheddar cheese grated

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375.

To make the enchilada sauce, chop the garlic coarsely and begin caramelizing it in a medium skillet with oil, oregano, coriander, and 1 t salt over medium-high heat. Chop the peppers, seeds, and all, and add them to the skillet. Saute this mixture at strong heat for 15 minutes, adding and stirring in 1/4 cup of water to the hot skillet each time the vegetables get close to burning.

Meanwhile, chop the chard and begin sauteing it in a large skillet with olive oil and just a shake of salt. When the garlic and peppers are tender and golden brown, remove from the heat to a blender, add the can of tomatoes and one cup of cold water, and puree. When the chard is tender, which won’t take long with this new spring growth, remove from the heat. Grate the cheese.

Assemble enchiladas in a large oven tray or casserole pan. For assembly, spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan to prevent burning and sticking. One at a time, add chard and grated cheese to each tortilla, roll it up fairly tightly and place them in a tight row at the bottom of the pan. It is super easy to add too much filling to the enchiladas so be vigilant about this. When all 10 enchiladas are lined up in the pan carefully pour the remaining enchilada sauce and gently spread it over them all so that the tortilla surfaces are coated. Top with any remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with beans and rice.


Featured Flower

First things first, don’t eat it! I don’t expect that you’re regularly eating your bouquets, but I want to be explicit here that foxglove is poisonous to eat. If you have young children or pets who tend to chew on things, probably best to keep it a counter out of reach. You might recognize its scientific name, “digitalis” as the name of a heart medicine. That medicine is derived from this plant and has been formulated and used in treating heart conditions for over 200 years. In addition to its impressive medicinal value, foxglove is one of my favorite spring flowers. I love its pastel palette and graceful, slender form. Also, I find its “freckles” endearing. In truth they are nectar guides for bees and other pollinators, but they remind me of my sister’s beautiful freckled face and for that I love them.

– Lanette