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farm at red hill ginger turmeric

Ginger and turmeric

They’re good for your health and this local family farm


By the Seasonal Roots Veggie Fairy Team:

Ginger and turmeric are both ancient spices known for fighting inflammation and boosting your immune system. Ginger is also an old-time remedy for nausea. Best of all, they do it all with amazing flavor — from ginger’s spicy sweetness with lemon undertones, to turmeric’s gentle notes of lemony mint.

ginger turmeric health benefits

The ginger puree and turmeric puree in our home-delivered farmers market is great in smoothies! And it’s grown by Wendy and Richard on the Farm at Red Hill outside Charlottesville, Va. The husband-and-wife team make a variety of artisan foods to jazz up any meal, and it’s all fresh, with no preservatives, no added sugar, and gluten free.

According to Wendy, they got their start making local artisan food thanks to a bumper crop of tomatoes.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Have you always been farmers?

WENDY:

Nope, electrical contractors! But 12 years ago when our two kids were little we were looking for something that would be more conducive to family life. We had five acres, and luckily Richard is very handy and an electrician. We bought all our equipment at auction or on eBay, built four greenhouses, and started growing all sorts of vegetables.

farm at red hill

I’m not a farmer and neither is Richard, but we’ve learned so much — we literally knew nothing. We’ve learned that the number of mistakes you can make is just incredible! We also learned that if you show up good things happen. We started selling what we were growing in the Charlottesvile farmers market. And we had great success! Until the middle of summer when everyone and their grandmother is growing tomatoes. We wound up feeding a lot of ours to our chickens. They were happy but we weren’t making any money.

farm at red hill all-natural salsa

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Oh no! How’d you stay in business?

WENDY:

Well, Richard started making salsa and gazpacho. We were growing sorrel, too, which is a lemon flavored herb, and a friend bought it to make hummus instead of using lemon juice. That inspired us to start making hummus. One thing led to another. We started making jam because our whole farm is a no-spray zone. We didn’t want to send the kids out to pick things for dinner and then have to warn them to put on gloves just to go in the greenhouse or the orchard. But no-spray means we have delicious but ugly peaches that no one would buy. So we made jam. That was really popular. Pretty soon, the artisan foods we were making got to be more popular than the fruits and vegetables we were growing.

farm at red hill all-natural tzatziki

The English Cucumbers were the reason for our tzatziki and gazpacho. The ginger and turmeric are our newest crops and they inspired us to do the fresh grated vacuum packed items along with the jam. The trick was learning how to make everything in a way that it would have a long enough life without using preservatives, since we’re all-natural.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

What do you use instead of preservatives?

WENDY:

Shutting out the air by vacuum packing is one way. Also, lemon is a natural preservative. Of course that makes things sour, so to counteract that in the salsa we add carrots, which are naturally sweet. We don’t add sugar to anything. You look at salsas in the grocery store and even a lot of the all-natural ones still put sugar in there. Even if they call it stevia or agave, it’s still a form of sugar.

farm at red hill all-natural local food

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Do you still make it all yourselves?

WENDY:

We’ve grown so much we’re able to employ other people, too, to help us make and distribute everything. We’re providing jobs for eight people right here in our community.

the farm at red hill

VEGGIE FAIRY:

So did farming turn out to be good for your family life?

WENDY:

Oh, the kids were mortified when we started out. They didn’t want to be farmers! But now, twelve years later, they like to say their parents have a farm. Now it’s a status thing. But it’s more than that. When our daughter was applying to colleges, for her essay she wrote, “What does a teenage girl and a rooster have in common? The answer is absolutely nothing.” She wrote about how she was tortured and mortified to be the child of a farmer. But in the end, she wrote, “I can’t believe that ten years later, I can now see that when life gives you tomatoes, you can make salsa!”

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Check out Wendy and Richard’s ginger puree, turmeric puree, jam, hummus, tzatziki, and more in the Extras section of our home-delivered farmers market. You can also visit the Farm at Red Hill on Facebook.

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pasture-raised dairy, eggs, and meat, plus wholesome artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

organic vs sustainable vs local

Organic vs sustainable vs local — which is best?

Organic vs sustainable vs local — which is best?


By the Seasonal Roots Veggie Fairy Team:

We get this question pretty much daily: “So are your farms Certified Organic?” When people ask that, we totally get where they’re coming from. We all just want to eat nutritious, safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly food, but it’s not like any of us have the time to research every item we buy. So the government’s “Certified Organic” label has become a convenient shortcut to eating healthy without harming the planet.

If only it were true.

Organic vs sustainable vs local… how do you decide which is best? Here at Seasonal Roots, we’re more concerned about sustainable and local than organic, so we don’t require our local farmers to be Certified Organic. Here’s why:

1. We partner with local farmers.

Many of them are multi-generational. That means they care for their land, crops, and animals with the next generation in mind. They use sustainable practices like rotating their crops to avoid sucking all the nutrients out of the soil. The vast majority of our farmers don’t spray, either, because that would jeopardize the integrity of their land. If they do spray, it’s minimal and only as required. One of our sustainable farmers has a friend who runs a Certified Organic farm not far from him. One year, our sustainable farmer sprayed his yellow squash one time all season because it was necessary. His Certified Organic friend, on the other hand, sprayed his squash on a weekly schedule using a spray approved by the USDA. Our farmer isn’t considered Certified Organic, but his weekly spraying friend is allowed to use that title.

2. “Organic” doesn’t equal “locally grown”.

In fact, it may even be grown in a foreign country and shipped to the U.S. The result? A bigger carbon footprint. That’s not eco-friendly. There’s also no guarantee that the food was produced under ideal conditions for farmers, laborers, or livestock, and an organic label has nothing to do with food safety.

3. The best way to know if your food is nutritional, eco-friendly, and safe is to know your farmer.

That’s not possible for most of us as individuals. But when we come together as a group like Seasonal Roots, that’s exactly what we do. We know our farmers. We talk with them, visit their farms, and develop relationships with them. We share their stories with you so you can know them too, even if you don’t have time to go visit them yourself. It’s not quite as easy as the “Certified Organic” shortcut, but it’s a lot easier than trying to do it all by yourself.

4. Most nutrients begin to degrade from the moment produce is harvested.

The sooner it gets to you the better. Also, many studies have shown that fruit that’s picked closer to the peak of ripeness (rather than being picked green and ripening on the shelf or by being gassed) is more nutritious than fruit that’s picked before or after peak, whether it’s organic or not. This is why we hustle to get your produce to you as soon as possible after harvesting, and why being local helps — it doesn’t have to travel very far. Much of the food in grocery stores has traveled thousands of miles and many days to get there, losing nutrients every hour of the way.

5. There’s no standard definition for “local”.

Our standard is within about 150 miles of our delivery areas in Virginia. So most of our local partners are in Virginia, and a few are in southern Pennsylvania or eastern North Carolina. To maintain a healthy variety of options during the winter, we partner with sustainable farmers in Florida. We call that produce “regional” because it can get to us within a day of harvest without resorting to flying. Members who prefer to eat only what’s in season locally can opt out of our winter-time regional offerings.

We support our local farmers because we know and trust them and their practices. They produce safe food for their families, our families. and your families. Wherever you may be, we hope you’ll join us in supporting your local farmers, too!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS


Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grass-fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.