Intern’s Insight #1: Kale

post by: Debbie Fields July 27, 2009

Hello, farm visitors!  Jeremy Fox is my name, apprentice farming is my game this summer, as I work alongside Jim and Debbie at Fields Farm.  My background is in education and outdoor recreation, and before working here I had only some basic knowledge of farming and gardening and the like.  But each day I learn something new at the farm, and I have discovered that farming is--yes--another form of outdoor recreation.  Things are in full swing right now--lots of irrigating, harvesting, and weeding to be done!  I'm going to try and post my insights at least weekly for your entertainment here on the website, so I hope you enjoy!
Insight #1 Kale: the workhorse of the farm
If you're part of our CSA, you know that you've been getting kale in your bag every week since the beginning.  I hope you've been enjoying it (and not getting tired of it!) because kale harvesting is one of my jobs.  In May the leaves were small, maybe six inches long max, but now these plants are leafing out at 12-14 inches!  And it is the same plants that have been producing the whole time!  Maybe this is just exciting and amazing to me, the apprentice who until recently has never been intimate with kale plants week after week, but their constancy and resilience are impressive.  Each week I tear off the lowest and largest leaves; each week those scars scab over and the plant grows taller and larger leaves as if to prove that my harvesting has no effect on the plant.  Head lettuce, spinach, arugula and the other greens come and go, but the kale just won't quit.  The three inch transplants we put in the ground in April are now pushing two feet tall, enough to tower above the outmost, rapidly spreading squash plant leaves.  We've got four varieties: red boar, green boar, purple, and strap leaf kale.  My favorite to harvest is the green boar--it's leaves break off easily with a satisfying "snap!" and gather into full, blossomy bunches.  As far as I can tell, the kale is here for a while, so I hope you've found ways to keep it interesting in your diet!  My favorite is the simple saute in olive oil with some garlic (coming in a couple weeks) and onions (available now!), but kale can also be cooked down to serve as a green layer in casseroles (think spinach!), eaten raw on sandwiches in lieu of lettuce, or brushed lightly with olive oil and a little salt, and baked at 300 degrees for a few minutes to make kale chips.  Either way, it's a healthy leaf--vitamins K, A, C, manganese, copper, calcium and many others essentials.  If you come out to the farm, you must see the kale forests in our greenhouse tunnels.  It's also available in our gray fridge out front, the farmer's market, and often at Nature's grocery store.  All hail kale!