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CSA, farm news, kale, online store, recipe ideas, veggies

Welcome neigbors in Mordecai & Oakwood!

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Hello and Welcome!

A big welcome to all our neighbors in Mordecai and Oakwood! Ben’s Produce is a fairly new agrarian venture for me, Benjamin Shields, and my partner, Patricia Parker. We offer you fresh, local, un-certified organic vegetables grown in Garner in partnership with Double-T Farm where I work as field manager and apprentice. You may have heard of Double-T Farm and owner Tom Kumpf before. They have a 200 member CSA with distribution in 5-Points on Tuesdays and also sell produce to 18 Seaboard, the Umstead Hotel and Solas.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store We offer pickup of your vegetables at our house, 604 Sasser St., on Tuesday evening from 4pm to 7:30pm only. No online payments are accepted, cash only at pickup. Please see the store home page for more detailed information.

Our vegetables will be for sale all winter as we grow cold hardy varieties in unheated greenhouses. We grow our vegetables with respect to the primacy of ecological and personal health. Organic principles are adhered to on our small farm which allows for such authenticity and quality. We take pride in our principles, growing methods and transparency. We cordially invite you to come see for yourselves by appointment!

Community Supported Agriculture:
We will be announcing details of our 2010 Spring/Summer CSA very soon, in the next week or so. Keep your eyes peeled!

Current vegetable availability includes:
bok choy
chinese cabbage
green onions
mixed greens
mustard greens
sweet potatoes
swiss chard

Future winter vegetables will also include:
baby beets
broccoli raab
brussels sprout
mixed baby lettuce & greens

Some Farm News…

We have been framing up the last of 4 hoop houses on the farm.
We aren’t finished yet because we’re waiting for some calm sunny weather to place the plastic over the frame. Wind creates all sorts of problems as you can imagine and rain and cold are not helpful either. We’ll probably attach the plastic tomorrow, Thursday, with the help of a torpedo heater to stretch and loosen the plastic. After the plastic cools down, it will tighten back up and create a taught skin over the frame that can better respond to snow, ice, rain and wind. Here I am setting the purlin on a bow. The purlin runs the whole length of the house at it’s peak to tie the bows together.

The farm is finally slowing down some. We are not planting much at this time and the weeds have slowed down too. Yay! It’s very nice to have a break from weeding. Chickweed on the otherhand, is a voracious winter annual that does well under row covers and in hoop houses. We did one cultivation of lettuce in a hoophouse late last week to stem it’s growth. If left to it’s own devices, it would over take our winter vegetables and smother them! No rest for the weary!

We have had a lot of rain recently. It has replenished our reserves and more! We had more than double average rainfall in November and we’re almost at average for December and the month is not half over yet! Luckily, this is not such a bad time of year for greater than average precipitation. We did loose our radicchio crop in the field to rot. It was an experimental crop so we’re not at a loss.

I spoke to a good friend last night and he told me about wilting kale with salt! I had never heard of it but it sounds good and we’ll be trying it soon. So here it is.

1 bunch kale
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. salt

Mix a few tablespoons oil with salt. Generously rub whole kale leaves with the oil/salt mixture and allow to sit until and let wilt at room temperature. Rinse leaves after wilting if you wish, then chop or tear to desired size. Eat as is, add other salad ingredients or as my friend suggested, mix with mashed avocado. I know, it sounds a bit strange but sounds good to me.

Thank you for stopping by and stay warm and dry. . We hope to see you Tuesday evening!

food, online store, recipe ideas, vegetables

December Recipes

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Here are a few recipes you can use with our vegetables…

Southern greens


  • 1 to 2 bunches of greens — collards, kale, mustard, turnip, etc.
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Splash vegetable oil
  • Splash apple cider vinegar
  • 1 or 2 hot chile peppers, seeded and minced, optional
  • Bunch of cooked bacon or smoked pork
  • seasoned salt and ground black pepper or seasoned pepper


Tear the greens into large pieces. Wash the greens well in a sink full of cold water, lifting greens out and letting grit stay on bottom of sink. Drain sink, change water and wash again; repeat washings until there is no grit on the greens. Cut away tough stems; roll large leaves and cut in strips or chop.

In a large kettle, sautee onions until translucent, then add 2 cups water, oil, vinegar and chile pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Gradually stir in the greens, allowing each batch to wilt before adding more geens. Put bacon or smoked meat in greens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour if using collards. Cook for less time when using other greens, to your taste. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the greens to a serving dish; serve hot. Serve with cornbread.

Penne Pasta with Spinach and Bacon


  • 1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta, and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place bacon in the skillet, and cook until browned and crisp. Add garlic, and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook until heated through.
  3. Place the spinach into a colander, and drain the hot pasta over it so it is wilted. Transfer to a large serving bowl, and toss with the remaining olive oil, and the bacon and tomato mixture.

Stir-Fried Kale and Broccoli Florets


  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 chile pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 head fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut in thin strips
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt


  1. Heat olive oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Stir in garlic and chile pepper; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in broccoli; cook 1 minute. Add kale, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes. Pour in lime juice, and season with salt to taste. Toss well.

Potato Turnip Mash-up


  • 2 large turnips, cubed
  • 3 white potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Place turnip and potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cook 25 to 30 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat, and drain.
  2. Mix milk and 2 tablespoons butter with the turnip and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Mash until slightly lumpy.
greens, online store, produce stand

It’s not easy being green…Greens, greens and more greens! YUM

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Hi all! It’s another beautiful Friday in October. We’re looking forward to the next two Music on the Porch Friday’s, but we are sad that it will be over so soon. It’s been an awesome season and we’re so thankful we talked to Guy way back in August and were provided this awesome opportunity to offer ya’ll vegetables every Friday. Guy, Will, Wei, and all of you have made this such an awesome experience. Thank you so much for your support, your questions, conversations, and company! As Ben stated in our last blog, we are working on getting an online store up and running so that hopefully there will be no break in your ability to get fresh veggies close to home. We live on Sasser Street and will have a weekly pickup outside our home for anyone that’s interested.

Until then, of course, we will be coming to the last two events. Today we will offer the following produce items:

– Lettuce (summer crisp and bib)
– Swiss chard
– Green onions
– Chinese cabbage
– Tatsoi
– Bok choi
– Mixed greens
– Radishes
– Kale
– Collards
– Turnips and greens
– Mustard greens
– Broccoli
– Black cherry tomatoes
– Roma tomatoes
– Sweet potatoes

We’ve been eating gorgeous salads with all the stuff listed above and we’ve also been eating the heck out of greens. It might not be easy being green, but it sure is easy to eat those yummy and nutritious greens.

This is how we like to cook our greens (collards, turnips, kale and more):
1) Start by peeling and chopping garlic and onions and browning them on medium heat in olive oil (Ben likes to use bacon fat) in the pan (i like big honkin chunks of garlic and onion – when Ben makes his greens, the pieces are usually smaller – cut these to taste).
2) Add about one cup of water to the garlic and onions. this is when you add your seasonings. I like to use vegetable/vegetarian bullion (a half piece or a whole piece depending on how many greens I’m making), a little bit of crushed red pepper, and just a small shot of Bragg’s (or low sodium soy sauce, if we’re out of Bragg’s).
3) Rinse your greens and start tearing them up in whatever size pieces you like and put them in the pan as you do. I do this fairly quickly and haphazardly. Sometimes I include parts of the stalk if they’re not woody. If they’re woody, leave them out. I also like to add a splash of vinegar. You could substitute this for a vinegar based hot sauce if you like spicy foods. Cook the greens until they are wilted and voila, you have delicious greens to eat with rice, on the side with burgers, with shrimps and cheesy grits, and almost anything else really :0).

Thanks for stopping by!