Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Chick Chick Here and a Chick Chick There

by Jas Faulkner 

Here a chick!
There a chick!
Everywhere a chick chick! 

Depending on who you ask, chickens can be cute and fluffy or big and scary or bug-eating fertilizing phenoms or good friends with egg benefits. For people who have never spent much time around them, they are bit of an enigma.  Their presence as part of Nashville's burgeoning localtarian culture has caused some of the more heated arguments in city council over the past few months.  So what is it about these complex, sensitive creatures that incites so much passionate debate?  ENFM sat down with Mary Self, a Middle Tennessee chicken enthusiast who is quickly turning into one of their most persuasive advocates.

According to Self, there are a number of things to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to keep chickens, not the least of which is location.  Some districts opted out of the current ordinance and others placed restrictions based on the amount of space you have available. 
Per Self:  According to the ordinance there must be a minimum of two square feet per hen provided for henhouses and six square feet per bird for fenced enclosures.
In an urban setting, following the ordinance, the chickens depend on the owner for fresh food and water and protection. No free ranging! I visit my girls 3 or 4 times a day for between 10-15 minutes each visit. I bring them fresh food and water in the morning, they get a few treats a day and then I check them at night to make sure they are tucked in and safe. 
No free ranging means you'll have to provide a coop for your little cluckers. There are retailers offering coops, pens and "chicken tractors" that range from budget friendly basic to palatial in scale and ornamentation.  Ms Self confirms that premade coops can get spendy.
 "Well, that is totally up to the person because some coops can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, however we built our coop for $400."
The biggest expenses occur at the beginning.  The chickens seem to cost considerably less and and maintenance is reasonable:
"Our chicks cost $5 each and a 50 lb bag of convential feed costs about $20. A feeder and water bottle cost about $10 each. I have also had a few vet visits with my chickens so that adds up quickly. Over time, I don't think it will feel expensive because they are my pets and I love them."
So. You have the cute little house, the safe place for them to play and stuff for feeding and watering and...chickens.  Where do we get chickens?  Self says you can go the traditional route and buy them locally or shop online,   A quick look at hatchery (chickery?) websites reveal dozens of breeds of poultry.  Some are pretty, others are sleekly practical.   It all depends on why you want chickens. Metro ordinances will allow chickens for eggs only.  Self recommends Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Opringtons, Araucanas, and Marans.  

"I have two Buff Orpingtons, Thelma and Louise, who have been laying an egg almost every day since they turned 6 months old," she added. 

Is it worth it?  Ms Self says the happiness a feathered friend can bring into your life is contagious:
"Where should I start? I love it! I look forward to visiting them during the day. They each have a different personallity and they "talk" to me. Their eggs are delicious. The yolks are a beautiful shade of orange and taste creamy and fresh. I share eggs with my closest friends and some of my husband's co-workers. The girls are not messy and my neighbors love them. I have one neighbor who is currently building their own coop. It's a beneficial relationship, like dogs and cats, but my pets make my breakfast!"
and has inspired an ingenious business idea... 
 "I only worry when I go out of town because it is hard to find someone to care for them. I am actually thinking of starting a chicken sitting service to help others."
Does urban chicken keeping sound like it might be your cuppa?  Join Mary Self and other like-minded fans of our feathered friends at Urban Chicken Advocates of Nashville. UCAN Is a volunteer group that provides education and advocacy for people who wish to keep hens in Metro Nashville. Her hope is that the group can help keep the ordinance alive.  
"Our next meeting will be in September and anyone interested should sign up on our website The ordinance has a sunset clause attached to it and in 18 months it will be up for more discussion and a final vote. If Nashvillains want to have the right to raise hens they really need to communicate with their council members and become a part of UCAN!"
For more information, visit UCAN online at and be sure to say "Hi!" to Mary at ENFM, where she acts as an outreach educator for Nashville Foodscapes.

Recipes for your CSA

By Megan Wicks

Hey East Nashvillians!

This week I got to bring my mom with me and show her around the market. She was fascinated by the variety of offerings and insisted on checking out each tent, which felt like rediscovering the market for me. It was hot, but it was wonderful to see my neighborhood's market again through fresh eyes.

This week, my box from Delvin Farms contained the following:

Two kinds of potatoes
Tomatoes (slicing, roma, and cherry)
Yellow crookneck squash
Bell peppers

If you're like me, you may feel like you're drowning in tomatoes (not that that's a bad thing necessarily)! I'd like to offer you a couple of new ideas on how to use them in tasty ways.

Orzo Pasta Salad

1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 cup spinach
10 leaves basil
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 lemon
2-3 Tb olive oil

Boil water and cook 1 cup orzo according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, julienne the basil and spinach and slice the cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters. I like to use a variety of colors in cherry tomatoes to add to the beauty of the final dish. Place the tomatoes, spinach, and basil in your serving bowl and add the zest from the lemon. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl containing the the basil, spinach and basil. The heat of the pasta will wilt the greens slightly and draw out the oils of the basil and lemon. Add olive oil, squeeze in the juice of the lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently to incorporate. Serve warm. Can be served chilled if preferred.

Caprese Salad
Fresh mozzarella
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

This salad can be served on a bed of greens, but it is perfectly delicious on its own. Slice tomatoes between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick (per your own preference). Slice fresh mozzarella approximately 1/4 inch thick. Lay out tomatoes on serving platter (or on greens of your choice - spinach or arugula are especially nice). Top each slice with a slice (or half slice) of mozzarella. Place a basil leaf atop each stack. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Recipes for a CSA box

Guest Post from Megan Wicks:

Happy July, East Nashville friends!

This week, my market shopping included a CSA box from Delvin Farms and (again) milk fromHatcher’s Dairy. I’m always impressed with the folks at the market and their cheerful demeanor despite the heat or, in the case of this week, the rain. Here’s what was in my box this week:

Medium green cabbage
One gorgeous zucchini
Green bell peppers
Gorgeous tomatoes – some slicing, golden, and either roma or plum (I’m not excellent at differentiating tomatoes – I should ask)

My husband’s favorite part of the cache this week is definitely the cantaloupe – he is a huge fan of summer fruit, and Delvin has provided him with some beautiful specimens this summer. He’s been known to just scoop the seeds out of half a melon and sit down to the rest with a spoon!

Corn might be among the easiest to prepare. If you want to keep it on the cob, you have several options:

•The most common would be to boil it. I think the trick is to add a teaspoon or two of sugar to a few quarts of water (whatever size pot fits the number of ears you’re preparing. Remove the husk and all the corn silk from the ears (twisting your hand around the ears briskly can help with removing the silk). Bring to a boil for no more than 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before removing the corn.

•To grill your corn, you can carefully peel back the husks (not removing – it will just look like you turned the husk inside out) and remove the silk from the ear. Once the silk is removed, pull the husks gently back up around the kernels. Some people soak the husks for a few minutes in water, but I usually skip that step. Place the ears on the top rack of your grill for 15 to 20 minutes. You can let them cook like you do burgers, steaks, or whatever else you like to grill. The husks will char, and the corn will be perfectly cooked. Careful though – they need time to cool before you can remove the husks!

Microwaving is another option when it comes to corn on the cob. If you’re like me, and you’re the only one in the family who likes corn (no, I do not know how this is possible), this is an ideal way to quickly prepare an ear of corn for just yourself. It also comes in handy when preparing corn for yourself at the workplace. Peel back the husks and remove the silk as you would in the instructions above for grilling. Pull the husk gently back into place, and place the ear of corn in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. It will steam inside the husk and come out perfectly tender. This is another preparation where you might want to wait a minute or two before removing the husk – otherwise, you risk a steam burn.

For the tomatoes, when the batches start getting larger, I start putting up tomato sauce. Everyone in our little family likes tomato sauce, and I’m the only one who likes them any other way. (They’re delicious roasted, on sandwiches, in caprese salad or orzo pasta salad . . . I could go on and on!) Perhaps in an upcoming post, I will.

However, I’m going to give you a quick versions of tomato sauce today. Personally, I usually blanche the tomatoes to remove the skin, but when my husband and I were dating, he taught me that you can just core the tomato or remove the stem area, and put the whole thing in the blender for a must faster puree. While the puree is processing, sauté a minced clove of garlic and a finely chopped small onion in olive oil until fragrant in a sauce pan or a pot. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Once you’ve pureed the amount of tomatoes you need (keep in mind that you’re going to lose about a third of the volume of the puree), transfer the puree to the pot on the stove. Stir gently to incorporate the garlic and onion. At this point, you can add fresh or dried herbs to taste. I like oregano, rosemary, and basil. The hubs likes to add dill. There are ready made “Italian seasoning” herb mixes at most grocery stores if that’s easier for you. Salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer until the puree reduces to the thickness you prefer. This will create a very smooth sauce that can be used on pasta or as a pizza sauce. When using it for pasta, I like to dress it up with slice mushrooms, dices squash and zucchini, and/or some chopped fresh spinach. Experiment with different veggies in your pasta, and find out what you like!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Is A CSA Right For You?

by Jas Faulkner

writer's note:  Apologies to readers who might want to see what a share looks like.  The image application for Blogger isn't working.  Check out the links at the end of the article to get a look at examples of each farm's share.  Better yet, come to ENFM and take a look at the boxes and baskets that are picked up each week by happy subscribers.

You see them every time you visit the market, those people walking to their cars or pedaling home, happy as clams.  They're bearing boxes or baskets that would make Martha Stewart fling herself across her perfectly appointed four-poster and weep bitter tears at the perfection that defies all of her lifestyle maven's logic.  What is the cause of all of that peacock-strutting to the parking lot?  Only one thing could incite that kind of feeling: picking up a weekly share from one of the CSAs at East Nashville Farmers Market.

What is a CSA?
CSA stands for Community Shared (or Supported) Agriculture.  They offer consumers a chance to buy a share in dedicated crops that are delivered on a weekly or biweekly basis.  Most farms offer subscriptions that run from late Spring to mid- to late Autumn. Some farms offer Winter CSAs, which are usually shorter and provide whatever produce is available in the cooler months.  The average share per delivery is around a half bushel of fruits and vegetables.

The costs can vary, but you can expect to pay four hundred to eight hundred dollars per subscription depending on the duration and frequency of deliveries.  If paying that much money at once brings on a case of sticker shock, look for farms that offer early subscription discounts and installment plans. Keep in mind that upfront economy might cost you later on in terms of time, convenience, and gas. Some lower cost CSAs require a commitment to helping with the labor or actually driving to the farm or a designated participant's home to pick up your share. If you're in doubt, be bold about asking for the details regarding delivery and whether you'll be picking tomatoes or waiting in line to assemble your box or basket.

Why should I get a CSA?
I can give you four good reasons.  Siddown.  You're going to like this.

  • Quality - Buying a CSA means you know your pantry is going to be filled with fresh, beautiful produce that was grown fairly close to where you live. The person who hands you your share every week is more than likely the person who grew it and picked it.  They take pride in what they sell and frankly, the nature of the business is that you're supporting them and they're feeding you.  It doesn't get more personal than that. 
  • Well-being - Eating produce that is locally grown means eating plants that have adapted to the soil conditions and climate of your part of the world.  It also means eating with the seasons.  While most ongoing studies are still inclusive, there is strong evidence suggesting mental and physical benefits to eating in tune with your environment.
  • Cost - Remember that sticker price that seemed so big at the start of the article?  Do the math.  If you break down the cost based on the weight of your average share, it comes to around two dollars per pound.  Try getting that much produce for the same price at your local market.
  • It's the right thing to do - Supporting family farming in your area keeps agrarian culture alive for another generation.  By enabling local farmers to stay in business, you also help protect scarily dwindling arable land from disappearing and the ecosystems they support along with it. 

Is this right for me?
Could be.  Do you like vegetables?  Have you been trying to find some way to structure your kitchen management that will help you eat a healthier diet?  Do you like the idea of preparing fresh meals?  Are you the least bit adventurous when it comes to trying new things?  If you answered, "yes" to those questions, the CSA pickup will be a bright spot in your week.

However...and there's always a however, isn't there?  If you're a picky eater who has been known to throw out produce once it starts looking like a lab culture, you might want to continue buying your veggies a la carte.  A share means just what it says, a share of whatever the farm produces that week.  Finding out there is an eggplant nestled among your greens and a half-dozen of the prettiest peppers and tomatoes you've ever seen means you have to be a sport. The fat purple guy is going home with you.  The upside is you might get motivated to learn how to make a killer baba ganoush.

Where do I sign up?

Many of the Spring and Summer CSAs are already underway and few (if any) allow for midseason additions to their subscription lists. It's not too late to look into Autumn shares and get into the loop for next year. For more information, take some virtual trips to the farms that provide CSA deliveries to the ENFM.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nashville Foodscapes: A Gentle Approach to Revolutionary Change

 by Jas Faulkner

"I am most proud that more hands are getting dirty, and that more mouths are eating local."
                    -Jeremy Lekich, Nashville Foodscapes

Like many Green visionaries, Jeremy Lekich has a lot of faith in the people he hopes to reach.  Souls on such a mission are often presumed to be impatient, wanting to see big changes sooner rather than later.  Lekitch has taken the time to understand his chosen audience. To him, the pace that Middle Tennesseans take when it comes to change seems about right.  

"Nashville people take their time with it. The Southeast is behind most other areas of the U.S. in terms of moving towards "green" living. I do not believe this is bad or good. It just means we are taking the time to do it well."

Lekich is one of the minds behind Nashville Foodscapes.  He wants to see more people filling  their souls, tables, and pantries by gardening.  Many prospective farmers find anything beyond a planter full of patio tomatoes daunting. Lekich recognizes this.  In fact, he maintains that the perception that you have to know everything from the beginning is one of the more common objections Nashvillians raise when the subject of permaculture gardening comes up. 

"I believe the biggest challenge for people is to not become overwhelmed by all there is to learn. The knowledge base for living a life of good stewardship is wonderfully huge and can be intimidating. But you start with what you are interested in and move from there. Overall, this type of living creates a life with no boring or dull moments...there is always more to learn." said Lekich.

What is permaculture gardening and how does it differ from the Victory Gardens of the previous century and the sustainable household gardens that are touted as the next big thing in the slow food movement?  Permaculture gardening is a far more interdisciplinary approach.  Instead of clear demarcations that separate the form and function of space, the landscaping flows between plants that are designed to maintain the health of the soil, plants that are meant to beautify where we live and plants that are intended to produce food for the household.  Some plants might meet one of those needs while others do double and triple duty.  The goal is to create a synergistic environment that feeds the body, mind, and soul.  

For Lekich, this means thinking beyond the basics of sustainability:  "To be honest, I am not a proponent of the "sustainability movement". We need to move beyond sustainability. Sustainability asks that resources are not depleted and that we put in as much as we take out. Our resources are depleted... and polluted. We need to detoxify our resources and put in more then we take out. That is regeneration. Lets become the regeneration movement."

The spark, or rather the seed for Lekich's ideas began to germinate while he was still in school: "The main inspiration for Nashville Foodscapes comes from a Permaculture garden I worked on at Warren Wilson College. Beauty and food weave together so gracefully in that garden and the abundance and variety of foods is awesome.  It was a long dance with that Permaculture garden that eventually manifested into Nashville Foodscapes

It was the best preparation I had. I came into contact with a myriad collection of fruit trees and shrubs, fruiting vines and canes, vegetable, herbs, and more. I learned how to grow these plants, give care for the plants, propagate these plants, and eat these plants. From there, I have expanded my knowledge by reading, talking with others, and exploring the areas around me. "

To learn more about permaculture gardening, visit Nashville Foodscapes at East Nashville Farmers Market.  You can also contact Jeremy and his team by visiting his website:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thomas Jefferson, Green American

by Jas Faulkner

It may come as a surprise to many Americans that one of the most vocal proponents for the conservation of our farmlands and preservation of agrarianism as a way of life was also a founding father of this country. Thomas Jefferson may be remembered first and foremost as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, but he considered himself to be a farmer by profession.  According to Jefferson, farming was the only truly pure and honest profession.  He reasoned that farmers had to maintain a relationship with the land that did not allow for the byzantine devices put in place that alienated people from what sustained them.  A false promise to the earth accomplished nothing, but hard work and devotion to stewardship of the land could keep a nation fed.  

In Jefferson's own words:
“Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth.” 
                       - from "Notes on the State of Virginia 1781
 Today's organic farmers are looking to the wisdom of older techniques of farming, many of which were borrowed from indigenous people who had cultivated the land long generations before the arrival of the Europeans. Just like those contemporary farmers, Jefferson was very aware of the techniques that had been created by his predecessors.  Their watchful, mindful use of the earth was not lost on the statesman from Virginia, who observed and recorded the effects of everything he tried.

Thomas Jefferson's respect for his profession extended beyond merely practicing within the bounds of accepted vocational wisdom.  He experimented with the combinations of plants within the same plot, crop rotation, seed saving, soil amendment and fertilization, and even inventive ideas for tools.  Most important of all was Jefferson's endorsement of the concept that the land itself was as alive as the plants that grew on it and required just as much care.

On the eve of the 236th anniversary of the US declaration of independence, take a moment to remember the founding fathers, many of whom were farmers themselves.  They're the reason we can celebrate what we enjoy today.  Their lives should also serve as examples of how we should view the land we have been given.

Happy Independence Day! 
(and see y'all next week!)   

Jas Faulkner and everyone at The East Nashville Farmers Market