Greens from Green Youth Farm
Like every proponent of local foods, I often face legitimate questions from my globalvore friends about my dietary choices. The carbon footprint argument doesn’t hold much weight for me – I’ve read too many counterarguments to rely upon this. Also, the suggestion that a fruit or vegetable is “greener” simply because it’s grown within a certain distanc is just plain ludicrous. It’s the quality of the farmer not the quantity of the miles.
My rationale for these friends is twofold. First and foremost, the foods that I buy from the farmers market taste fresher and, in my opinion, better. A second benefit, at least for me, is knowing the story behind my food. It doesn’t come from nameless, faceless, farms, but instead from friends and, in some cases, my heighbors. It was one of these back stories, that made me happy to see the Chicago Botanic Garden stand at the last Winter Market at Ebeneezer Lutheran Church.
I recently learned about the Botanic Garden’s Green Youth Farm program at the inaugural Growing Healthy Kids event. The Botanic Garden operates four Green Youth Farm sites. Students work 20 hours a week for 10 weeks. They participate in workshops regarding topics of food systems, sustainable food production, plant, maintain, harvest, sell and cook with fruits and vegetables, and participate in community events and markets.
The Green Youth Farm program offers students the opportunity to learn all aspects of organic farming — from planting seeds and starts to managing a hive of bees, from cooking with the food they grow to selling it at farmstands and markets.
The Botanic Garden stand staffed by the Green Youth Farm’s students was stocked with pristinely fresh greens: Swiss Chard, Green Leaf Lettuce, Basil, Spinach and a braising mix of Collard and Kale. I bought them all. Late last week, we enjoyed the braising greens with a package of bratwurst from another set of farmer friends, Beth and Jody Osmund of Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm.
Bratwurst and Greens
2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cup tomato puree
1 bag, approximately 6 cups of braising greens, stemmed and roughly chopped
Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Brown the bratwurst in the skillet. Remove the sausage to a plate. Heat the oil in the pan and saute the onion until softened. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Pour in the wine and cook until reduced slightly. Dump in the greens, the tomato puree and a 1/2 cup of water. Salt and pepper to taste and cover. Cook until the greens are softened and the sausage is cooked through. Serve warm.