Dear City Dweller: Here’s Why You Should Grow Your Own Medicine Cabinet. Sincerely, An Herbalist and Farmer

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This article is an updated/revised version of a guest blog post originally published in now-defunct DIY urban gardening website, City Plantz, in February of 2018. Enjoy!

I didn’t stumble upon the health properties of plants—and growing them yourself— in the most obvious way you would think.

At first, my interest in growing plants was all about food: our crumbling food system, our need for more farmers and food growers, and—ultimately—our need to protect our food, health, nutrition, and autonomy by growing food ourselves to ensure that it’s healthy (yes, even in the city). All of this started in college in rural Minnesota, and led me down the path of organic agriculture that I still tread today: in my daily life, in my career, and everything I do on my farm of three years now, Jupiter Ridge LLC. It’s all culminated into a both rigorous and healing lifestyle.

It definitely isn’t news these days that the healthiest food comes in the form of fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables—and specifically vegetables you can grow yourself.

Dill Bouquet | Jupiter Ridge Farm

But as it turns out, there’s a lot more to ensuring your health from the plant world than just growing your own food, especially when growing herbs comes into the picture.

This article is going to be a combination of informative and updating, so let me get the updates out of the way.

For those who have followed my writings and this blog (new and old), you can probably see I haven’t written much over the years about anything, let alone herbalism (To you newcomers: welcome).

This mostly coincides with getting my farm Jupiter Ridge up and running here in Driftless Iowa (Northeast Iowa), an endeavor that has demanded an immense amount of time, money, labor, blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice, pain, healing, beauty, and transformation – so naturally, herbalist projects and everything else have been placed on the back burner.

On that note, too, I felt like I needed a separation period from the world of herbalism: its major figures, celebrities, and influencers; the culture around it and the narrow definitions of what herbalism is in these circles; the increasing patriarchal/cultural appropriation problems in herbalist scenes; and even other herbalists in general.

I won’t get into it too much (and in fact I’ve been mostly silent on the subject), but I stepped into the (for lack of a better word) “cult” following of herbalism and its little extended network in America in 2012, expecting to find “my” people only to find a network that had very little to do with healing and helping others. Instead I found a lot of ego, power, competition, and people claiming they could heal others when they seemed to be in desperate need of healing themselves.

The lesson I learned from this: I think healers in general, not just herbalists, are meant to walk solitary paths to do their work. Identity and purpose get lost in these echo chambers.

So I closed the door on herbalism and instead got my hands dirty with farming, and growing nutritious, diverse vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs for people for the past few years. A different sort of herbalism and work as an herbalist, all the while badly wishing I could redefine these words (herbalism, herbalist) that I feel sort of stuck with, but love the possibilities of what they could mean nonetheless, so I’ll continue using them.

Just some of the culinary herbs we grow at Jupiter Ridge Farm – basil, thyme, oregano, sage, Thai basil. | Photo: Will Lorentzen

Now that the farm is up, running, and established (selling healthy, sustainably grown, and nutritious vegetables, mushrooms, and culinary herbs to hundreds of people in the Dubuque area every Saturday – plus delivering diverse CSA shares with these same contents every Tuesday to members in Cedar Rapids and to a dozen eastern and northeastern Iowa restaurants, too!), life has been doing that funny thing of poking and prodding at me to get me back in touch with my roots and the true, foundational reasons I decided to do this whole thing in the first place.

Owing to a combination of both circumstance and some intention, what we are making off of the land and what we grow for eastern and northeastern Iowa is steadily representing a larger and larger (and more reliable) portion of our income, as other sources of income/side hustles loom less large.

Upon reading this article again, too, I’ve taken it upon myself that the best I can do is redefine what it means to be an herbalist with my current work – and this article puts it real nicely.

So as for the updates: I’m still an herbalist. I still write. I still use plants to help people as a farmer. I may come back around to using those wilder and more esoteric plants (like echinacea, goldenrod, or sumac) again as part of my daily work (and it does seem like life is pushing me in that direction again – and this may spring up in the form of truly awesome, effective, and unique herbal products!), but we shall see.

This article marks the beginning of the confluence of farming and herbalism in my life. The future looks interesting.

Don’t Just Grow Your Own Food: Grow Your Own Medicine

Homegrown foods have a higher likelihood of being more nutritious than any other type of food in the long run (I wrote a piece about this for Rodale’s Organic Life, which has since shut down. If you’d like to read the article I’d be happy to send you a copy, which outlines the science of why this is true, too). These vegetables and plants are at the very foundation of our health; when you think about it, they really are our best source of preventive medicine, in a way.

I learned all about this over a decade ago, which spurred me to become a farmer and establish a farm. Then I learned about growing herbs—for both culinary use and for healing—in addition to vegetables, and I felt like I blew a whole new story wide open.

Amid my post-college travels learning how to farm, I made the strange and unlikely jump: from farmer to herbalist. Today, I’ve managed to fashion myself into both.

Even now, I’m experiencing a renaissance of realization and coming back full-circle to my herbalist roots after throwing my all into the farming path head-on for the past three years. The most important realization of all: that by growing healthy vegetables, culinary herbs, and even medicinal mushrooms (like shiitake and lion’s mane), I haven’t strayed all that far from being an herbalist at all. Instead, I’m seeing the multitude of connections that can take place in the world of plant-based health in a whole new light.

Harvested Homegrown Ginger | Jupiter Ridge Farm

The ability to grow your own plants for both healthy food and medicine—or both food and medicine in one, if you really think about it—is empowering.

It saves money, doctor’s visits, and could even shape the way we view healthcare in the future. I’ve used certain herbs to successfully combat strep throat without any help from mainstream antibiotics. I’ve suggested herbs to others that have eliminated their lifelong acne issues, and I even use herbs today to holistically support my anxiety disorder and PTSD. Sure, these are anecdotal. But they’ve literally worked and I see them work even now on an almost daily basis (and for you more science-herbalist nerds, there’s a very scientific explanation for how all of these herbs work for these separate issues).

But most importantly: just because you live in a house or small apartment with very little money doesn’t mean this is something out of reach to you.

The truth is: it is in reach, more than you know.

If you can grow food in your domicile, you can certainly grow herbs. Together, these form the most preventive health medicine cabinet you could possibly have at your disposal.

Seeing the Connection: Plants as Healers, Whether Vegetables or Herbs

Why should you grow your own medicinal or culinary—or both medicinal and culinary—herbs in the first place?

Isn’t this something reserved for New Age hippies, lifestyle bloggers, witchy mamas, or your grandma?

My answer is best put as a story. I was in Ecuador during my organic agricultural internship when I was first struck by the world of herbalism.

I had an injured and infected foot. It was hard for me to walk.

 I was also in a foreign tropical country where a non-native’s susceptibility to infections was astronomically dangerous. To continue growing the healthy, nutritious food I was so hell-bent on learning about, I was told by locals I must rely on a completely different kind of plant.

They pointed just a few steps away from where I helped cultivate rows of healthy vegetables like kale to a tall, uncultivated plant with broad leaves—a plant called matico.

Kale Row | Iowa Herbalist
Rows of kale at Jupiter Ridge Farm.

Vegetables and Medicinal Herbs: Different Plants, Similar Purposes

Two very different plants, kale and matico.

But they both have a couple things in common: they can strengthen health and, as I would learn soon, matico could save your life (and kale too, though how it might do that for you deserves its very own article in and of itself).

I was instructed to use a medicinal preparation of matico’s leaves by the locals to fight this infection and still be able to walk between planted rows to get work done and continue my education—maybe even to keep my foot altogether..

The nearest hospital wasn’t for miles. There was no local pharmacy, no local clinic, no antibiotics: only plants and the native knowledge of the locals at my disposal.

Years later, I still have my foot—and all because of (well, mostly because of) a plant (a trip to the Ecuadorian beaches swimming and soaking in the salty ocean helped, too). I also found out later, to my shock, that matico isn’t as exotic as I thought. In fact, it’s very closely related to both black pepper (a culinary seasoning I wrote about in depth for Primal Herb here) and kava kava (a widely popular sedative herb from the Pacific), domesticated cultivated relatives that are—you guessed it—grown and produced by farmers.

Garlic Field | Iowa Herbalist
A farmer (My husband and partner, Will) overlooking a garlic field. Garlic is a vegetable, a flavorful spice, and a highly medicinal herb all in one.

It was in making these types of connections between nutritious and medicinal plants—and plants of all kinds, for that matter—that I decided to be an herbalist, and not just a farmer. I also realized how deeply interlinked these roles could be.

Growing Medicinal Herbs: Why Do It? Is it Really Worth it?

So, why grow medicinal plants, you might again ask?

Of course, my story above is extreme. If you think you might lose a foot, definitely wise up and go to a hospital if you can—take advantage of the fact that you’re not in the middle of a South American rainforest. And yet, living in the city— relying only on your apartment or home— can sure feel like surviving in a jungle these days.

So here’s my short answer: you should grow medicinal plants to be smart, self-sufficient, and frugal. But also because it’s a no-brainer.

I’ll risk sounding blunt here: especially in an urban setting and with little money, you’d be dumb not to. Ultimately, growing plants saves you money and possibly your health in the long run. Sure, you can also purchase medicinal in supplement form. But these extracts and capsules can be costly also—and, in some cases, less reliable.

If you’re not worried about losing a foot perse, there’s a lot more beyond foot-saving that herbs do. Some examples are:

  • Improving digestion
  • Soothing sunburns
  • Alleviating stress (or even anxiety and depression)
  • Protecting infected cuts
  • Pain relief

A lot of them make your food taste better as a bonus, too (here’s looking at you, culinary herbs, of which the majority of you are also secretly medicinal).

By the way, if you’re already growing vegetables or even fruits in your house or apartment: congratulations!

You’ve already got your own preventive medicine cabinet. Growing herbs will just expand it even more. In the process, you might save yourself money on doctor’s visits and depending on those costly over-the-counter drugs.

You may also pick up an enjoyable hobby in the meantime that beautifies your home or apartment in the process, too. So why wouldn’t it hurt?

Echinacea at Jupiter Ridge | Iowa Herbalist
Echinacea on Jupiter Ridge.

Culinary and Medicinal Herbs: What Can I Grow? What’s Possible?

 Of course, the theory of anything becomes a lot more complicated when put into practice. Newcomers to growing herbs (or even growing in general) might ask: is growing medicinal and culinary herbs indoors difficult?

In truth, some herbs with healing potential are not any different—or more difficult— to grow than anything else indoors.

If you’re wanting to break new ground and give growing medicinal herbs a try, here are the best to get your feet wet with (and your hands dirty with) for starters.

  • Aloe Vera. May need more sun than most others on this list, but otherwise requires very little water or much else. Leaves from aloe plants can be removed and the gel used for cuts, burns, sunburns, rashes, and wounds. The juice can be consumed for digestive issues and even certain disorders (I wrote for Healthline about aloe vera juice for IBS here).

  • Ginger. Ginger root is incredibly easy to grow indoors from a living rhizome. It also doesn’t need a lot of light as a canopy plant. It’s great for cramps, stomachaches, nausea, and boosting the immune system when dealing with colds. It also tastes great (Oh yeah – I also wrote about ginger for Healthline here and how it’s great for sore throats).

  • Lemon Balm. Great for culinary and medicinal uses. It also doesn’t need a lot of sunlight or water. Harvest sprigs to flavor meals that call for mint or lemon verbena. Or, make a tea from it for stomachaches or bouts of stress, anxiety, or depression.

  • Mint. Spearmint and peppermint are easy to grow indoors with low light in containers. They’re great for bellyaches and can also calm nerves a bit. Mint’s flavors are a must-have for teas and various dishes. A fresh leaf on a cut reduces risk of infection, and the essential oil is amazing pain relief (I use it for my TMJ). (Article on how to grow this herb specifically is coming up soon).

  • Parsley. Take a bite or a sprig of this culinary herb to freshen breath or when you have a stomachache. It is also known to help with seasonal allergies. It’s easy to grow in low light and doesn’t ask much of you and is also a delicious seasoning.

  • Thyme. This squat little mint-like plant doesn’t demand much space, or even too much light or water for that matter. It makes for an adorable ornament on a kitchen window. Thyme is also an excellent herb for immunity and the symptoms of colds and flu.
Aloe Vera | Adrian White, Iowa Herbalist
Aloe Vera.

Keep in mind that the cultivation and use of herbs for health shouldn’t replace common-sense mainstream health care or prescription medications. Talk to your doctor about using herbs, or if using herbs for health would be right for you.

If you’re truly intrigued by growing herbs, don’t feel like you need to stop at this list.

There’s plenty of others you can grow indoors, and which may also be enjoyably tackled by the more advanced or expert indoor grower.

Happy growing—and, ultimately happy, affordable health.

Jupiter Ridge CSA 2019 | Week 13

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Hi CSA Members!

Our first bite of cold (REAL cold!) hit us this last Friday and set us up for a busy week! We spent the entire day (and part of the night, too) pulling in any possible fruit, vegetable, and herb that could be harmed by frost, with temperatures expected to dip to around 29 degrees Fahrenheit (and dip they did).

Sugar Snap Pea | Jupiter Ridge Farm
We harvested our sugar snap peas before the frost to make sure you enjoyed them at their highest quality possible.

What does this mean for all you CSA members? Though hot weather and various other crops have been damaged and/or killed off (such as basil, eggplants, peppers, and more), our walk-in cooler is stocked full of these foods to keep your CSA share varied, interesting, and delicious.

We also pulled in several varieties of winter squash, garlic, and onions into our indoor stores, too! As such, you’ll have plenty of these delicacies to enjoy up until the very end of your share, and even for Thanksgiving!

Without further ado, here’s what to look forward to this week:

  • Sweet (Red and Green) Peppers 
  • Hot Pepper Mix
  • Sugar Snap Peas New!
  • Kale Bunch
  • Small Cabbage
  • Eggplants
  • Norland (Red) Potatoes
  • Red Onions
  • Sweet Onions
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
What’s The Deal With Shallots? | Explanation & Tips

This week isn’t the first time you’ve gotten shallots in your share, and it most certainly won’t be the last.

Shallot | Jupiter Ridge Farm

These alliums (vegetable members of the onion family, which includes leeks, garlic, and onions) have the look and feel of a garlic clove, but a closer flavor to an onion.

When used raw, they are extremely flavorful; the epitome of the pungent onion! When cooked, however, their flavor softens to become sweeter and more mild. They are versatile in this way.

In our experience up here at Jupiter Ridge cooking all sorts of odds and ends, we think shallots go exceptionally well with beef, steak, burgers, shiitake mushrooms, and anything with a savory flavor – shallots really help elevate that. Shallots are especially well-known for being cooked with wine (both red and white) or sherry. 

If you’ve ever been to a grocery store and checked the price tag on shallots: yes, they’re expensive! They’re one fancy onion.

For this reason, take care to use your shallot(s) wisely and well – shallots aren’t like other onions, where they can play a “background” flavor in soups or stews, for example. The flavor of shallots is truly exceptional and divine, and you don’t want it to go to waste. Make sure to use it for a very, very special meal where its flavors can shine!

Wellness Spotlight On: Hot Peppers

Farmer Will here considers hot peppers his favorite “medicinal herb” (or food, depending on how you look at it). Nothing clears you up better than going out for a night of medicinal hot wings.

Hot Peppers | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Jalapeños, habaneros, and hot yellow pickling peppers pictured.

In classic herbalism, most folks might be acquainted with cayenne pepper as the go-to healing hot pepper. In reality, though, all hot peppers are therapeutic in the same way, but in varying degrees according to their Scoville units (heat levels).

All hot peppers also contain “capsaicin,” too, to varying degrees (the chemical in hot peppers that make them spicy) – but this is also the “healing” compound in the fruit. If you haven’t noticed yet, this capsaicin can really help clear out your sinuses! Some other things hot peppers can help with:

  • Boosting immunity
  • Increasing circulation
  • Improving heart health
  • Relieving topical pain (not recommended if you’re not a professional!)
  • Fighting colds and sinus infections
  • Detoxing/cleansing of parasites
  • Breaking fevers

In your share this week, you’ll be getting a good deal of jalapeños (fairly hot), yellow hot pickling peppers (don’t be fooled – these are surprisingly hot too), and a few serranos (about as hot as jalies) and maybe some habaneros (HOT!)

If you want to use these in a medicinal way sometime later (maybe in the winter when cold and flu season really ramps up), try pickling/canning them or drying them to help keep them preserved until you need them. Add them liberally to food when you’re feeling stuffy or a cold coming on – if you’re interested in the more “herbalist” aspects of using these, feel free to send us an email! (Or share with us your own suggestions/recipes!)

–  jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com – 

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 12

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Hello CSA Members –

It finally feels like the cold and rain have officially pushed us into fall!

This Saturday it was so rainy, windy, and cold we decided to skip farmers market – a tough decision, but we’re grateful to have kept our onions dry. In all the time we would have usually spent picking and packing for market, instead we finished pulling in all our squash, picking the last of our heat-loving crops, and even dehydrating some food for winter.

It also means we’ll still have quite a bit of variety for you for the weeks ahead!

*Important Note!* CSA Deliveries will be taking place on Wednesday evening rather than Tuesday evening this week. Be sure to leave out your coolers and ice packs then!

Here’s what you can expect this week:

  • Acorn Squash
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Eggplants
  • Purple Daikon Radishes New!
  • Apples New!
  • Baby Beets
  • Kennebec (White) Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Red Onion
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Sage
Daikon Radish: What Is It? | Explanation & Tips

Never had daikon radishes before? Then you’re in for a real treat – and for a brush-in with some truly beautiful produce.

Daikon Radish | Jupiter Ridge Farm

If you’re familiar with Asian or Middle Eastern cuisine, it’s very likely you’ve had a taste of this radish before. It’s sure to have been a memorable experience: daikon radishes can get HOT! (Though not as hot as horse radish!) Think of your typical small spring radish, but with more of a bite or a kick.

Don’t like the heat? No problem! Try roasting up this spicy root much like you’d roast up turnips, beets, or rutabagas – its heat will vanish through the roasting (or baking) process. (I especially recommend a “daikon radish fries” recipe, fried up in oil, salt, and spices!)

If you love its spiciness: try pickling it as a garnish for future preparations; or, better yet, grating or cutting it into matchsticks for a slaw or salad. It goes well with carrots, cabbage, lettuce, apples (which will also be in your share this week!) and many other fresh-tasting veggies. Mix it up with a creamy sauce, mayonnaise, or salad dressing. It is absolutely delicious.

If you like street tacos, it goes well with mahi mahi/tuna tacos with a bit of red cabbage!!!

Sliced Daikon | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Daikon radish sliced open. Beautiful!

Have any questions or want some tips, guidance, or recipe ideas on daikon radishes? Don’t hesitate to email us!

Also feel free to share your own recipes with us – we love to share!

– jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com –

Apples in Your CSA Share This Week!!! | Explanation & Tips

We have a couple apple trees on our property, and they’re all ripe and ready to go – so expect apples in your share this week!

Apples | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Some info about these apples: they’re a “storage” type, meaning they’re just a tad less sweet and not so much for enjoying as a sweet crunchy snack eaten raw. On the other hand, since they have less sugar content, they last a much longer time in your pantry. They’re best used instead for making stuff like scrumptious ciders, breads, and pies! Since it’s fall anyway, we thought these would be a great treat for you to get ready for the fun baking spirit that usually comes with autumn.

Fun Apple Wellness Tip! Did you know apples have antimicrobial and astringent properties? This means they help kill bacteria/pathogens with some “cleansing” properties. One folk/herbalist tip I’ve gleaned in my studies: if you don’t have time to brush your teeth, eat an apple!

I know it sounds crazy, but apparently its astringent flesh and skins, plus its antimicrobial compounds, have a sort of “scrubbing” effect when you eat it (a bit of a “flossing” effect, too, when the flesh gets in between your teeth). Since these apples we’re sending you have less sugar (which is better for teeth), maybe consider giving it a try….though of course, brushing and flossing is HANDS DOWN better than eating an apple for your dental hygiene.

Apple | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Let us know if you have any questions! ~ | jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 11

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Greetings CSA Members!

We’re wondering if you’re asking the same question we’ve been asking this weather: is it fall yet? Or is it still summer?!

If so, we’re just as confused as you are. It’s been cool and rainy for a good stretch of days, but summer isn’t going quietly – we’re still getting 80 degree days and bright sunshine (October beach time plans, anyone?)!

Anyways, this week’s share will be full of a dazzling array of goodies, very much embodying the weird late summer/early fall season we happen to be stuck in – not that we’re complaining. This lineup of veggies looks pretty good to us, and we hope it looks good to you!!!!

What to expect this week:

  • Collard Greens New!
  • Bunched Spinach New!
  • Tomatoes (Slicers, Heirlooms, Cherries, or Mix)
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash New! (Very Sweet Squash!)
  • Potato Medley (Purple, White, Red, Fingerling)
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic
  • Parsley Bunch
  • Sweet Onion
  • Red Onion

…plus, once in a while, we include some extra surprise items in your share that aren’t listed last minute (we’re sure you’ve noticed!).

As you can see, we have some new produce for you to try mixed with some familiar staples and favorites. Since we don’t have anything TOO exotic or new that we’re sharing with you this week, we don’t have an explanation/tips section (and skipping our wellness section so we can stay on top of some stuff today up at the farm…but it will be back soon, don’t worry).

However….

…if you DO have questions about your share, don’t hesitate to contact us with your inquiries or ideas! We love to hear from you.

– jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com –

Collard Bunches
Collard greens! Use them much like kale as a cooked green (same health benefits, too). Its flavor makes a killer combo with anything pork-related: tenderloin, bacon, ham, you name it.

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 10

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Greetings CSA Members!

Rainy weeks are upon us as we edge into the very first “official” days of fall. We’re happy to report, however, that we still have plenty of summertime produce for our members – and the next couple weeks may be the the last few chances you get to taste it, as well as in this share going out tomorrow.

With that said, we do have some new items for you this week!

What to expect:

  • Summer Squash (Patty Pan, Zucchini, Crookneck, or Mix)
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes (Fingerlings)
  • Shallots (New!)
  • Tomatoes (Heirloom, Slicers, Cherries, or Mix)
  • Spinach (New!)
  • Cabbage
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Ground Cherries (New!)

Lots of new stuff for you to try, as you can see – and scroll down to read about some of the new items you’ll be getting.

Enjoy your share!

Ground Cherries: What Are They? | Explanation and Tips

Meet ground cherries: one of the new items in your share. I can only best describe them as a combination between a tomatillo, cherry tomato, strawberry, and fig in terms of flavor, texture, and use!

Ground Cherries | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Now that you’ve uncovered these in your CSA cooler, you might wonder: what do I do with these??? They may look strange, but using them and enjoying them is extraordinarily simple.

Our first suggestion: just eat them on their own as a treat. Carefully pull away their outer wrapping and munch away. You’ll quickly see why people grow them and why they’re so delicious and addictive on their very own! (The first time Will and I harvested these, we ate about 3/4 of them. 0% guilt, 100% satisfied). We’re sure kids will especially love them, too, as they are very sweet and easy to like.

Second suggestion: make them last: dehydrate them! If you have a dehydrator, slice each of them in half with a sharp knife and place them on your trays. I’d recommend you look up the exact specifications for temperature etc. for proper dehydration, though my guess is that the recommended settings are similar to cherry tomatoes or for homemade raisins/craisins.

Third: add them to a salsa or sauce. Delicious! If you’ve ever made a salsa or sauce with strawberry, you can bet that similar ingredients that pair well with that sweet strawberry flavor go well with the ground cherry flavor, too. Yum…just yum. (We recommend you look up recipes online, too).

Fourth: make a ground cherry jam! We’re not going to give you enough ground cherries in your share this week to make a jam (or jelly) most likely, but we’re almost 100% sure that once you taste these sweet treats, you’ll want to buy more – maybe enough to make a jam with them. (Ground cherries are fairly available, even in Cedar Rapids. Go looking for some more, though we’re sure ground cherry jam is something you can easily find and buy at local specialty stores/farmers markets!)

Wellness Spotlight On: Thyme

You’ve gotten thyme in your share before this year, and we’re sure you’ve probably already cooked once or twice with it, too.

Thyme | Jupiter Ridge Farm
A small sprig of thyme.

For those interested in the health properties of thyme, you’re in for a real treat: thyme may be one of the most important herbal healing remedies out there. It not only imparts great health benefits into the meals you cook using it, but it stands on its own as an amazing herb in and of itself (for teas, steams, bitters, you name it!)

So what does it do? Short answer: so, so, so much. Long answer: too long for a blog post! But, in summary:

  • Thyme is excellent for boosting immunity.
  • Thyme may support health while fighting colds and flu.
  • Thyme tea may help soothe a sore throat.
  • Thyme can help with coughs, especially wet coughs.
  • Did you know? Natural ingredients from thyme are used in Vapo-Rub and similar products (wow!) for helping with congestion!
  • Thyme has also been a popular “folk herb” for women, especially mothers who are either pregnant or post-partum.
  • Thyme can help with nausea and motion sickness, much like ginger.

That’s all for now!

We hope you savor every bit of produce, herb, and berry (er, ground cherry!) in your delicious share this week. It’s a pleasure being your farmer!

As always, let us know if you have any questions – email us your ideas or recipe suggestions, too. We love to share!

– jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com –

Yours,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 9

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Hello CSA Members!

We hope you’ve had a great week so far enjoying the peak of the season’s delicious produce from our farm!

Delivery will return back to the normal day and time this week: tomorrow (Tuesday)! Leave out your cooler and ice pack!

So, last week, you had a little taste of the abundance of fall flavors to come (with squash especially – our garlic and onions too). This week, it’s time to experience something a little different: some spring flavor!

This week your share will contain:

  • Spring Radishes
  • Arugula 
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Red Round and/or Heirloom Slicer Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Habanero Peppers
  • Sweet Onion
  • Garlic
Spring Radishes | Jupiter Ridge LLC
Spring radish bunches – so yummy and crunchy.

When autumn rolls back around, all of the spring greens and other victuals available during the very beginning of the year have the opportunity to come back, too (like arugula and spring radishes, as in this share – though look forward to the comeback of some other spring produce!).

With the cooler weather, vegetables classically considered “spring” vegetables can also have their time to shine. We planted an abundance of spring vegetables going into the fall, but want to make sure you have a taste of them as soon as they are available – specifically our spring radishes and arugula!

In this share too, however, you’ll notice that summer produce certainly isn’t done for the year, either. Enjoy our first big purple eggplants (Italian type) and watch out for those habanero peppers (be very sparing with them – they are hot, hot, hot!)

That’s all for now folks – as always let us know if you have any questions about your share. Enjoy!

– jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com –

Arugula! What Is It? | Explanation and Tips

For me personally, arugula (also called rocket or roquet/roquette), feels like a “standard” veggie (er, green) you’d find just about anywhere because we’ve been growing it for so long. We’ve gotten used to it, and the green is starting to pop up everywhere, even here in Iowa, if only gradually.

Arugula | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Arugula in closeup.

However, it still surprises me and takes me off guard a little bit when people see it at our farmers market stand and don’t know what it is, or they haven’t heard of it, OR (this one amuses me the most) they have heard of it…but they’re scared of it!

This is NOT to make you folks out there who have never heard of arugula feel bad about never having had it before (it’s OK – I’ve just taken it for granted as a vegetable farmer, and it’s not as common yet as I think it is). If anything, it’s just another one of those specialty veggies people need a proper introduction to so they can enjoy it and get to know it in the best way possible (and so they like it, because it’s a wonderful, wonderful green).

Yes, arugula can be sorta spicy. But here’s the thing: once you get it mixed into a salad with a cool salad dressing and other ingredients, the edge of that heat is taken off a little bit. You get more of a peppery-kale flavor, with the tenderness and texture of spinach (even better texture in my opinion).

Strawberries, mustard, fish, chicken, and steak are GREAT ingredients in an arugula salad. Very delicious with Parmesan (goat cheese, feta, or Bleu cheese are also all great candidates), tomatoes, and maybe a bit of basil, too.

Flavor still too spicy for you? Arugula goes GREAT in a smoothie with all sorts of fruit and yogurt ingredients. Give it a try if the “heat” is too unpleasant to you – you won’t taste it once it’s all blended up.

The BEST and MOST POPULAR way to enjoy arugula (which is very healthy, by the way – tons of iron, fiber, B vitamins, and lots more!): throw it on a pizza! It’s a very popular ingredient on pizzas all over the place (including at the Iowa pizza places we sell our produce to: Quarter Barrel Arcade and Brewery in Cedar Rapids, Park Farm Winery by Dubuque, and Luna Valley Farm‘s weekend wood-fired pizzas up in Decorah!) (Oh yeah: kids might like arugula on their pizza, too..just saying!)

Eggplants | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Arugula can also be a great extra ingredient in pesto, and can substitute spinach or other greens in many an Italian pasta recipe (after all, it IS an Italian green!) Got a nice Italian recipe for those eggplants this week, for example? Arugula can be a great addition even to an eggplant Parmesan dish as it melds well with other classic Italian ingredients and flavors.

I’m getting hungry as I’m writing this – so I’ll wrap this up!

Let us know if you have any questions about your share this week. Better yet, share your recipes with us! If you have one you’ve made with your CSA produce and that you’re eager to tell the world about, we’d be more than happy to share it on the website with your name.

Email Us At: jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Have a great week!

Yours,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm