The Gentleman Farmer

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Posted 6/18/2011 12:00am by Kelly Hoogenakker.

Another week of these nutritional powerhouses and you should be ready to blast off this summer!
fresh picked radishes

This week brings a nice mix of cooking greens & salad greens.  I always try to get both raw and cooked veggies in my diet because we benefit differently from both. The raw versions will deliver more Vitamin C (since it's destroyed by heat), digestion-supporting enzymes and cooling effects during the hot summer.  The cooked versions can actually increase the available amount of some antioxidants and carotenoids (like lycopene in tomatoes) and are much easier to digest.  Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends eating raw foods in the middle of the day  and primarily cooked foods in the evening for this reason.


Kohlrabi is a great trickster veggie that masquerades as a root veggie, but is actually just sporting a swollen stem.  Both the bulbous stem and the leafy tops are edible and this cruciferous stallion packs it in with off-the-charts Vitamin C, energizing B Vitamins, Fiber and beautifying Minerals like Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. 


So, we know it's good for us, but what do we DO with it?  The leaves are pretty easy; just sauté them as you would spinach or swiss chard in a little olive oil and garlic or use them in your favorite cooked greens dish. (see recipe below)


As for the bulb-like stems, you can eat them raw, finely chopped or grated, as a nice crunchy salad topper.  Or dice them and roast, steam or sauté them with other favorite veggies for a fresh taste like no other.  Either way, you might want to peel them first if the skins are too fibrous.


And your bonus ingredient this week is Radishes. Did you know that radishes actually melt fat?!  For this reason, radishes are excellent to help the body detox after the heavy foods of winter and the holidays and also help balance out a particularly fatty meal.  For an interesting appetizer, serve radishes (sliced or whole) with delicate dishes of flavored salt. Dipping just a tiny tip of the radish slice in the flavored salt is an unexpected and refined treat!  The addition of butter is an optional added indulgence! Check out Martha Stewart's serving suggestion here.


Greens and Beans Recipe

Less than 30 Minutes (no really!) Makes 3-4 Servings.


3 cups of chopped cooking greens (your choice, or a combination, large stems removed) *try Kohlrabi Greens and Kale or Mustard Leaves with Chard

1 large can of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can of diced Tomatoes with juices

1 clove Garlic, minced

1 TBSP Olive Oil

1 tsp each Cumin, Smoked Paprika, Thyme


Heat oil in large saucepan over med-high heat. Add garlic and sauté about 1 minute.  Add cumin and paprika, stirring to combine.  Add greens and sprinkle lightly with salt. Stir to coat greens in spiced oil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to low.  Allow greens to steam 3-6 minutes or until just wilted.  Add chickpeas, tomatoes and thyme and stir to combine.  Heat over med-low until flavors have combined and dish is hot throughout.


Serve as a thick stew, topped with toasted Sunflower Seeds if desired, and a crusty bread to soak up the sauce. KH


Find out more about Kelly at


Posted 6/9/2011 10:00pm by Kelly Hoogenakker.


Ready to embrace salad season finally?  After our long, cold and wet winter, I found myself just not wanting to eat salads for quite some time.  But now that we’ve been thrust into the high 90s already, nothing could sound better to refuel and cool off at the same time.  And here are a few more reasons why these ‘salad days’ can be such a boost to your daily routine:

1. Did you know that lettuces are a great source of beta-carotene? Most of us only associate orange and yellow veggies with the gift of beta-carotene, but leafy greens hide this amazing immune-booster under the more noticeable green chlorophyll pigments.  The darker the green, the richer the source. Our bodies are able to convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A as we need it and if you’re suffering from illness or allergies during this seasonal shift in weather, chances are your body could use a little extra.

2. As we turn up the heat outside, we need to be sure we’re replenishing fluids, not just with water, but also electrolytes to help us absorb that water on a cellular level.  Lettuce not only has a high water-content, but also a high potassium content – so eating a salad can actually be more hydrating than drinking a sports drink.

3. Lettuces also offer the bonus nutrients of fiber to fill us up, Vitamin C for more immune support, calcium, iron and copper to help build up and strengthen our bones, blood and skin.

4. Salads are quick and simple.  Make your favorite vinaigrette over the weekend and enjoy fresh salads all week.  No need to add a ton of ingredients.  Keep your toppings to 5 or fewer for simple flavor and even simpler prep and clean up.

Serving Ideas

Check out my hearty chopped salad recipe for a delicious and filling way to use those lettuces AND the black beans in the same dish.  Any of the lettuces will work great.

Arugula works well cooked gently like spinach in a light olive oil and garlic sauté or as a nutrient-dense base ingredient on homemade pizza.

Hearty Chopped Salad

1 Head Romaine or other Salad Greens, chopped up fine

1-2 large Tomatoes chopped, or 1-2 cups Cherry Tomatoes halved

1 Jalapeno, minced (optional)

1 Avocado, diced

1 cup (cooked or canned) Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)

1 cup (cooked or canned) Black Beans

1 can Corn or 1 cup Frozen Corn, sautéed in Olive Oil

   --- Drain and rinse all canned veggies. Can use any of your favorite beans.


½ bunch fresh Cilantro, chopped

1-2 Limes, juiced

¼ cup Olive Oil

1-2 tsp ground Cumin

Salt, Pepper to taste

Combine salad ingredients in large bowl.  Whisk together dressing ingredients.  Toss salad in dressing and serve immediately.

You can find more on Kelly at


Posted 6/5/2011 6:07pm by Jessica and Dominic Green.

Just a quick note to say thank you to all of those Logan Square loyalists who helped The Gentleman Farmer sell out by 1pm at today's market!

We had a great time and enjoyed seeing all of you and all of our fellow market vendors. Looking forward to a fabulous season!

Logan Square


Posted 6/3/2011 7:32am by Jessica .

Its been a stinker of a spring. We're all thinking it. And now that June is here and the weather has yet to regulate itself I've lost my patience.

One thing I know for sure is that its been a stinker across the country (well except in North Carolina as I swear everything is always nice there...from what I've heard).

The tornadoes across the Midwest and now in the East have had devastating effects. And on NPR's Marketplace last night there was a story on how farmers in the west are dealing with late frost and continued rain and cool weather. The answer: they are not.

According to the report, strawberries in California are weeks behind schedule and one farmer spoke of his entire cherry crop lost to frost. You will see all of this reflected in your grocery store if you spend enough time in your produce section.

Henry, Ollie and I stopped by Green City Market on Wednesday to see what our local area farmers had to offer. Even the most experienced farmers, ones I've been seeing there for years when asked, said they are suffering from the weather and are at least three weeks behind schedule. Despite this grim report we saw lettuces, arugula, spring onions and radishes all wonderful fixings for a great salad!

Last year during our pilot program, Dom and I had a late start to our season. While most farmers were transplanting their first crops in late April early May, we were only beginning to seed in the greenhouse. We essentially missed spring and didn't experience any of the volatility that this season can bring. But we also had bitter lettuces as a result of planting late, growing greens which otherwise thrive in cooler temperatures. Dom brought our first harvest, a butter head lettuce, to the table last weekend as we celebrated Henry's 3rd birthday. I now know why it goes by its moniker. The lettuce was rich and velvety and I couldn't wait to drizzle a bit of Ina Garten's home made Ranch Dressing (which really should be called basil dressing as there is a load of it in there) on it and indulge. Have you ever thought of lettuce as an indulgent meal? Neither have I until now!

But I digress....

The real question is where is our Spring and who stole it? Is it the same creature that stole seven of our beloved chickens last week?

Our coop door was warped and damaged from the strong storm winds of the past couple of weeks and before Dominic had a chance to mend the hinges, something helped itself to our chickens. Henry has been accompanying Dominic on the early morning feeds and immediately noticed that our one rooster was missing. Dom quickly tried to count our birds (not easy to count randomly moving objects) and after numerous attempts came to the conclusion that approximately seven birds were missing. Those poor hens! 

So now we're looking for replacement birds. We're yet to know how this effects our egg production.

This week brings our first market day: Sunday June 5th at Logan Square in Chicago. Come see us if you have the time and look for The Gentleman Farmer tent!


For more on NPR's Marketplace story click here.



Posted 5/21/2011 2:37pm by Jessica .

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall talks a lot about foraging your local areas for food. Its amazing where you can find edible plants...not that you would always want to eat them especially if found on the ground where the neighbor's dog... well you know.

As part of his commute, Dominic often rides his bike from downtown Barrington's train station out to the farm. It takes him a half hour and he takes the winding back roads. The other day he happened to come across about 8 or 9 Morel mushrooms that were growing on the side of the road. 

Now I am most certainly not an expert mushroom forager and neither is Dominic, so my first question to him as I was coincidentally preparing a mushroom risotto for dinner was "How do you know they're not poisonous?". 

Having anticipated my question (because I am so predictable) Dominic had already investigated and discovered that there is indeed a poisonous alter ego to the morel distinguished by certain characteristics. The two most highlighted features are the cap shape and a hollow interior. False morels have a cotton-y substance when sliced open while true morels are hollow on the inside -- so the story goes...(don't take our word for it, this is just a story!).

Needless to say our morels are drying out on our counter-top until they are verified by an expert; and no I did not pop them into my mushroom risotto, no matter how wild the recipe called for the mushrooms to be (though I was tempted!). 

For more on foraging check out the following link: Foraging with NPR 


Below: True Morel mushrooms.

morel mushroom    hollow interior of a morel mushroom

Posted 5/14/2011 9:07am by Jessica .

If you are looking for something to do this weekend in the Chicago area you are in luck! The Green Festival is taking place this weekend May 14th and 15th at McCormack Place Lakeside Chicago. And its not too late to buy your tickets at the box office!

Ride your bike or drive your hybrid car and explore the many different areas of eco efficiency and information at the fest. For more on the Green Festival click here.

Also for those who want to express the activist inside of them here's an opportunity for you: There will be a GMO food dump at the Whole Foods, Lincoln Park, Tuesday, May 17th at 12 noon held by Millions Against Monsanto. Please let me clarify: I LOVE Whole Foods, it is where we do a lot of our shopping in the off season, but I am not a fan of Monsanto or GMO's and feel strongly that Whole Foods should have stricter policies regarding both! For more on Millions Against Monsanto click here.

Lastly, with the recent Royal Wedding (of which we slept through all but "the kiss") making headlines, Prince Charles' recent speech in Washington regarding sustainable agriculture was all but missed. Between you and me, I have a soft spot for the Prince, generally I believe he is well intended despite his often clumsy delivery. Forgiving him this, check out more on his speech at the Washington Post's Future of Food conference here. Don't forget to make yourself a cup of tea before sitting down to read!

Oh and a little note on The Gentleman Farmer: Dominic has improved his time on getting our hens back in to the coop at night. Starting at 60 mins the first night, followed by 50 mins the next, he has now perfected the art of chicken herding and is now down to 10 mins!! A quick study, that Dominic is. 



Posted 5/11/2011 9:36pm by Jessica Green.

A Huge THANK YOU to our volunteers this week: Kathleen and Dana. We're thrilled to have had your help just in time for the much needed rain today! With their help, we've transplanted broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, most of our lettuces including radicchio, oak leaf, butter, romaine and we've direct seeded potatoes, parsnips, and shallots to name a few.

Looking back, the last couple of weeks in April were frustrating not only for us but also for our seedlings in the greenhouse. They were ready to go, looking amazing and yet we missed the chance-- on the one day of sun before the two weeks of rain-- to transplant them! 

In the meantime we continued to seed in the greenhouse, move some of the more mature seedlings to the cold frame, look after the hens and move forward with other plans as we waited for the rain to stop and the soil to dry out a bit before we could till in order to plant. This caused some of our mature seedlings to get a bit antsy and a bit stressed: a sign of this was the appearance of an aphid invasion! Not good. So the red lady bug army was set upon the aphids with the faith that nature's way is the best way and we let them get on with it.

At last the sun came and we've been hustling ever since to get as much in the ground before the rain. And as luck would have it, despite the week of thunderstorms that were predicted, we've had our first major rain tonight and the crops were more than ready!

Our field slopes downward slightly East to West and therefore at the westerly end water can tend to puddle. Dominic has been working hard to create hilled beds and has thus created drainage for that area. Today was the first test for these "gutters" and as you can see in our photos- they passed!    

Also out on the field we've hooped and covered some crops in order to keep the insects off them and the deer away. Dominic beautifully created two rows of hoop covered crops all by himself and so I though that I'd give it a go. You know how difficult it can be to put your duvet comforter cover on, well imagine that multiplied by half a field's length and a lot of wind and well let's just say it wasn't easy!

The other big news is that the hens are finally old enough and its warm enough for them to go out to pasture! We've wheeled their house into the fruit tree orchard (which is currently blooming beautifully) and they are loving it! So much so that the rain did not deter them one bit; Dom had his work cut out for him trying to get them back in the house for the night tonight. I got the feeling that I had it easier putting our two babies to bed! Anyone know any suggestions on encouraging hens back in their home for the night? We'd prefer to leave them out but we cannot risk the coyotes, raccoons and various birds of prey getting to them-- though we're not denying that this may happen at some point despite the lengths to keep them protected.

It's all reminding me a bit of the movie Chicken Run!


Posted 4/25/2011 4:34pm by Jessica and Dominic Green.

Thank you to all of our new CSA family members! We have filled our subscription capacity this year and are ready to get our hands dirty in the field all season long! A special shout out to Nortons USA, JoAnne Pavin and Idols and Egos for helping to spread the news about our arrival. Also we'd like to thank those of you we've yet to meet for choosing to celebrate your growing season with us; we're excited to get to know you over the course of the next six months! And of course a thank you to our friends and family who have been such a huge support from the beginning!

Stay tuned for our first CSA newsletter coming soon. 


Posted 4/13/2011 12:15pm by Jessica and Dominic Green.

We are no longer offering the Egg Add On for the 2011 season as we have sold out! Still available are Veggie CSA full and half shares but these too are going quickly. Be sure to buy now.

Posted 4/7/2011 3:31pm by Jessica and Dominic Green.

We're thrilled to be partnering with Norton's USA - A Uniquely American General Store- in Barrington. Norton's will be offering our CSA pick- up on Saturday mornings from 10am-1pm at the store. From home accessories to tools and toys Norton's USA is the go-to place for products made only in the USA!