Why have a lawn when you can have a garden? Thinking back to 2016.

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The picture above is of a garden that supplied multiple restaurants, shops, and people with herbs as well as edible and cut flowers for the better part of 2016. Before that, HBG was envisioned as just one example for what can happen when the land available in our suburban landscape is used for production.

At any given day, you'll find multiple species of bees as well as tons of birds (SO MANY BIRDS), and enough butterflies to lift you out of a sour mood. After turning the yard into a garden, neighbors have slowed as they walk by (so have cars- luckily our street is pretty quiet), children have visited, and lots of people have lended a hand to make this piece of earth pretty great. 

While supplying other businesses with harder to find items they can use to boost their menu is absolutely awesome, it's only part of the point. This garden is the vehicle to connecting to the land available, the people nearby, and a satisfying job and lifestyle that is grounded and meaningful. My hope is that others can see this and be inspired. Do you need to dig up your whole front yard and puzzle your neighbors? No! But, you can grow some food for yourself and our pollinators that are responsible for making so many delicious things possible in the first place. You can step outside and tell yourself that you grew that. You can inspire others to do it too.

Where did the name Hummingbird Gardens come from? First, my grandma, our family gardener was obsessed with them. Second, watch the video below!

 

 

July Happenings

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The blooms are blooming faster than I can pick them. It must be July!


We're well into the season now- so well into it that I completely forgot to do a June newsletter (oops)! It's been such a busy season but I can't complain- we have great customers, new wholesale clients for the salt, and more stem bars coming up! 

This time of year us growers start to get weary- sore muscles and fatigue start to set in and as much as we love being surrounded by flowers all of the time- we need a break! So, at the end of the month HBG goes on vacation from July 28-August 4th. I'll be back refreshed and ready to tackle the last half of the season. But, before we get there, there are lots of opportunities to see us out and about whether you're looking for flowers or herb salt! Check out what we have going on below. Hummingbird Gardens featured on Virginia This Morning!!

We had our first drone footage taken of the garden when Jessica came to interview me for the Made in RVA segment for Virginia This Morning. I had such a nice time showing her around and talking about how the garden came to be and why it continues. If you haven't had a chance to visit or want to learn more about HBG, please watch! 

Upcoming Events!

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STEM BARS!
We have two stem bars coming up this month! Our first is where we had out very first one- Perk! Bon Air! See you there on July 15th from 10-1! We'll also be at Blue Bee Cider on July 20th from 5:30-8:30. AND- they're doing puppy portraits at the same time! We're hoping to make a few puppy sized flower crowns for the event. Facebook event page is forthcoming!

ST. STEPHEN'S FARMER'S MARKET
Come get your salt fix on Saturday, July 28th and meet our workshare, Chloe! All of the salts will be available along with advice for how to use them, recipe cards, and samples galore! It'll be our first time at St.Stephen's and we'd love to see you!
 

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LEMON AND THAI BASIL SALTS ARE HERE!
They're baaaaack and we've got them up at the online shop! Have a taste of summer with anything and everything you cook. Bonus: HBG is donating 25% of July's online sales to Central Virginia Sanctuary Network. "The goal of the network is to create spaces in our congregations and localities where all people are safe and free. Central Virginia Sanctuary Network members meet with local law enforcement, advocate at the General Assembly, and participate in public demonstrations — all in solidarity with our neighbors who are at risk of deportation."

Garlic Chive Salt Crusted Baked Potato

I remember having lunch with Stephanie Ganz at Stella's and telling her that I had this yard that I knew I could produce on but I had no idea what to do beyond that. By the end of lunch, we were not only filled to the brim with delicious Stella's food, there was a much clearer vision for this not-yet-HBG project/business. I credit Stephanie with helping me not only feel like this was something I could do (and make a living doing it) but helped me hone in on what I was going to grow. Now, Stephanie and her biz partner-in-crime Barb (They ARE The Apple Cart, btw) are helping me grow the herb salt part of the business and I gotta tell you, I'm not sure what I'd do without them. Probably be unproductive and directionless. So happy to know them, so happy Stephanie loves the Garlic Chive, so happy she agreed to make a recipe using the Garlic Chive salt, and so happy to share it with you!  Check it out below!

 

I can’t tell you how many baked potatoes I’ve eaten in the last four months. If I did, you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. They’re on the very special list of MOST CRAVED PREGNANCY FOODS right next to spring rolls, Special K, and pork dumplings.

I grew up with a single mom, and baked potatoes were a weekly dinner for us because they were easy and cheap. We microwaved ours, and I still have a sincere affection for an over-microwaved potato, where the ends get all weird and hollow and chewy. It takes me back to eating dinner on the sofa with my mom, watching Jeopardy and Little House on the Prairie.

But if you’re going to eat dozens of baked potatoes within a short window of time, it’s important to embrace variety: microwaved potatoes, sweet potatoes, baked potatoes gilded with caramelized onions and gruyere, and this one: A steakhouse-style, salt-crusted, oven-baked potato made with Hummingbird Gardens Garlic Chive Salt. It’s a no-brainer pairing, with the blank slate ‘tater offering a neutral canvass to show off the salt. I added a little of the salt to the sour cream and whipped it up with some fresh garlic chives, but of course, the great thing about baked potatoes is that you can do whatever you want with them, and they rarely judge you for it.

 

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GARLIC CHIVE SALT-CRUSTED BAKED POTATO

Serves one ravenous pregnant lady

Ingredients

1 Idaho potato, washed and dried

1 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 tablespoons Hummingbird Gardens Garlic Chive Salt

Optional (but who are we kidding, here?)

Butter

Bacon bits

One big dollop of sour cream, mixed with 1 teaspoon garlic chive salt and a few chopped garlic chives

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a plate with a few tablespoons of salt. Pour olive oil over potato, and rub to coat. Roll the oiled potato in the salt to completely cover. Careful, that tuber is slippery! Give the potato a few pokes with a knife, and bake on a sheet tray for about an hour, testing after an hour for doneness. Remove from oven, and commence to topping!

 

HUNGRY? CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR SALT ON.

Cucumber Lime Margarita with Rose Chili Salt Rim

So happy to share a cocktail recipe just in time for Galentine's/Valentine's Day from my friend Arielle. Arielle is a blogger over at Scotch & Nonsense and the inspiration behind my suggesting Rose Chili as a cocktail rimmer to anyone that will listen. I asked her to share her master recipe and she generously agreed!

 Photo by Arielle Goldman

Photo by Arielle Goldman

Forget the bouquet, cards, and chocolate (OK, maybe we keep the chocolate). This Valentine’s day I’d like a vacation. And since I can’t manage to get myself on a plane to a beachy getaway, then I’d like to at least drink like I’m there. So obviously, I’m mixing up margaritas this February 14th. Specifically, a cucumber margarita with rose chili salt. The cucumber and lime combo is refreshing and relaxing. And that rose chili salt garnish, let me tell you. I love it year round, but the floral and spicy blend is perfect for a Valentine’s treat.

 

CUCUMBER MARGARITA WITH ROSE CHILI SALT

 

2-inch slice of cucumber, chopped roughly

2 ounces tequila blanco

1 ounce fresh lime juice, plus lime wedge for rim

½ ounce agave nectar or honey

Hummingbird Garden Rose Chili salt

 

Add cucumber and tequila to a cocktail shaker. Use a wooden spoon to muddle cucumber. Let sit.
Pour rose chili salt blend onto a small plate. Swipe the lime wedge around rim of cocktail glass, then rim the glass with the rose chili salt.
Add lime juice, agave, and ice to the cocktail shaker. Shake well, then strain into rimmed cocktail glass. Enjoy.

 

And hey, looks like we got our roses after all.

Cheers!

Buckets! Of Blooms! For Businesses!

 Photo Credit: Dawn Williamson ( @frenchiewashere )

Photo Credit: Dawn Williamson (@frenchiewashere)

The foundation of my business has been built in partnership with local restaurants. They were the first ones to sign on to what I was doing and that has continued to grow as HBG has grown. Now that we are transitioning to mainly cut flowers, I'm so excited to see our partnerships with other businesses bloom (insert nerdy snort here- I LOVE PLANT PUNS!). 

This year we're growing our Blooms for Businesses program. What started as a question from Jami at The Savory Grain ('Can you bring me flowers for my tables?') has turned into a full fledged thing of its own. Thank you, Jami! 

Here's how it works: Businesses subscribe to either weekly or every other week deliveries. Starting in Mid-May (weather permitting) your business will receive a bucket (like the picture) full of blooms, herbs, and greens grown by us. Deliveries are Thursdays. From there, you get to play! Use them to make arrangements for your office, homes you are showing (hey, realtors!), your restaurant tables, anywhere where flowers are welcome (and where are they not welcome?!). On our next delivery day we will grab the empty bucket when we drop off the new one with flowers. And that's it!

Payments will be split in half so you don't have to lay down a bunch of cash all at once. You pay half when you sign up (either via PayPal or snail mail check) and the other half in April. You can expect 70ish stems in your bucket (this will vary slightly depending on the season). 

Blooms for Businesses is open to all businesses and I welcome any questions you have! If you're ready to sign up, go here! You'll find Blooms for Businesses at the bottom of the page. Come on, Spring!

 Late summer blooms making our stoop beautiful.

Late summer blooms making our stoop beautiful.

Core Values

I've been meaning to get this all out of my brain and into something readable for MONTHS. What are we about here at Hummingbird Gardens? What do we care about and how does it guide us? It's a bit of a read but I hope you will take a few minutes to learn more about our various why's. If you have any questions, as always, we're a quick email away. Thanks for reading! -Amanda

Take Cues from the Environment

I see my yard as an ecosystem and I’ve said that many times. It’s gone from grassy to flower farm and has now been designated as a Wildlife Habitat. I’m really proud of that. As business owners and just humans in general we have to make a ton of decisions daily. Because my business depends on healthy plants, I look to nature to make sure I’m doing the right thing. We do not use any synthetic chemicals on our plants or our soil. We never have. It’s just not worth it to me. Instead, I observe what’s happening and then research how to adjust what I am doing to better the situation. I speak to extension agents, fellow gardeners, or the super duper helpful Flower Farmers Facebook group. This approach means that the ground I grow in is healthy and my plans are thriving. I try to insert myself into that process as little as possible, only intervening when needed. It helps me be a little lazy but also serves to allow natural processes to take place. There’s a saying that goes “the best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow”.  I have to agree, mostly. The other best fertilizer is fish emulsion :).

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Collaboration Over Competition

This has been a work in progress for me. I think we are conditioned to look at someone doing something similar and instinctually side eye them (or at least that’s me!). Because this is my nature, and I’m not particularly fond of that part of myself, I’ve chosen to lean into it...and then do the opposite. There is room for all of us, plenty of it, especially if we are willing to support one another and engage. For HBG, this has led to partnerships like the Richmond Flower Collective. Richmond Flower Collective is a small group of local flower farmers who share this value of Collaboration. 2018 looks like it’s going to be a great year for us as a group. We have a lot of shared challenges and opportunities so that means four heads problem solving and brainstorming instead of one. We are going to do more events, especially in July and August, when there are plenty of flowers but not always plenty of folks to buy them. People who are in Richmond in July and August- we’re going to find you! This shift in thinking has only served to enrich HBG as a business and me as a human. I could have never imagined the partnerships and friendships that could come as a result of working through this.

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The Ripple Effect

I believe 1000% that what you do, what you say, and how you treat everything and everyone around you has a ripple effect. Individual choices DO matter and when you translate that to your business, there’s a unique opportunity there to speak to people’s hearts, minds, eyes, stomachs, noses, whatever! So I as an individual and HBG as a business choose to make decisions and take actions out of hope (and love), not fear. But, please don’t take this as a declaration of perfection. I forget to answer emails, I can feel impatient and frustrated, and I can be short tempered. I can be inflexible. When these moments happen, it helps to look back to the values here and then act accordingly. This can be over the course of the day or it can influence the long term choices I make for the business.

One of those choices is consciously moving HBG towards creating as little waste as possible. For example, our Garden Share program last year, while it was so many great things, used A LOT of plastic bags. This never sat well with me but I decided that it was a by-product of the business and that was that. But it nagged me. In my own life, I have been slowly trying to get to zero waste. That can mean doing things like shopping in the bulk section and bringing my own containers to do so. It can mean calling all of the places that send me junk mail and getting off their lists. I see HBG as an extension of myself so why would I treat it any differently? So, we’re changing things a bit around here. The focus of the garden will vastly shift to cut flowers. Through Flower Club, the only waste that will be created is our kraft paper bouquet sleeves, and those can be composted! I’ll happily take back the rubber bands we use to tie the bouquets, too. For our business clients, nothing really changes. The flowers come in buckets and then I pick up the bucket next time I deliver. Growing flowers brings me more joy than I ever thought possible. Combine that with being able to decrease the amount of waste HBG’s produces and the business feels more aligned with who I am than ever before. Along the same line, we’ll be reevaluating how the salt is packaged, especially the pouches. We will be looking for alternatives that can be reused, composted, transformed somehow. I don’t know what will looks like yet but it’s a journey we’ll be going on this month and I look forward to sharing what we find.

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Being Active in Our Community

You can’t literally put all your business out in the front yard and then not engage with other people. Because it’s out there for everyone to see, I get to talk to my neighbors, invite groups to tour the garden, and provide an education element to what I do. As a Garden Education Coordinator, this makes my heart happy. But, I’m an extrovert and sometimes you just have to get out of the yard. HBG works with and for Girls for a Change, a local non-profit that supports black girls and other girls of color in a variety of ways. I first became engaged with them last year when I found out they wanted an education garden at their new headquarters. Since then we’ve built a strong relationship, working together to see this garden space come to life. We have a coalition of folks involved in making it successful. Making space for this kind of engagement is core to me and to HBG. It’s a privilege to be a business owner and have a flexible schedule and I’m so glad the girls at GfaC have embraced me.

Practically speaking, if Hummingbird Gardens is to grow as a business, it will have to leave the front yard. Not wanting to rent land somewhere a distance away, we’ve adopted a different model. Thanks to two fellow Bon Air folks, we will be farming two more yards this coming season. This allows us to keep things hyper-hyper-local, save on fuel use, and get to know our fellow community members. Again, this choice aligns!

 http://richmondmagazine.com/news/sunday-story/ready-for-the-world/

http://richmondmagazine.com/news/sunday-story/ready-for-the-world/

 

So! I hope this mini manifesto gives you an idea of why HBG exists and what it represents. I hope that you’ll continue to support Hummingbird Gardens (or start to!) if these values resonate with you. I’ll be offering garden tours throughout the season and would love to meet you! Whether you can head to the garden or not I’d love to chat at one of our markets, at Mindful Mornings, or just out and about. Being a mission driven business has been so enriching and in no small part because of the customers and supporters that have been there to give high fives, purchase flowers or salts, or just chat.


 

HBG's 2017 In Review

2017 has treated our fledgling business very well. The work was sweaty and sometimes stressful but mostly very rewarding and full of love and support from our community. HBG experienced a lot of growth this past year and it is with commitment to the work and a dash of hope that we plan to ride the wave of momentum this year and build upon what exists now. 

Hummingbird Gardens was always meant to be more than a business. The products that we grow and create directly benefit our immediate ecosystem by supporting pollinators and wildlife. But guess what? If we didn't have customers, we wouldn't be able to grow as much! So thank you, Friends. I thank you, the bees thank you, the blooms thank you. In addition to the friends flying around the yard, we've also been able to work with and for some non-profit partners this year like Girls for a Change and Blue Sky Fund.  Check out some other highlights from this year below!

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We expanded!

Next year we are farming two additional yards, tripling our growing capacity for cut flowers, edible flowers, and herbs that will be used in our herb salts! We are so thankful to our two fellow Bon Air-ers (...) for their generosity in sharing their yard with us. We can't wait to see everything growing!

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The salts took off!

We increased our market presence AND our in-store presence with the herb salts. We also introduced new flavors like Rose Chili and Forever Summer. We have big plans for the salts this coming year!

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We launched the Richmond Flower Collective!

In partnership with Blue Eye Flowers and Burst and Bloom, we launched the Richmond Flower Collective, a group of local flower growers that value collaboration over competition. We hosted our first event, a stem bar, at Perk Bon Air and were thrilled with the turnout! Stay tuned for more from this exciting venture in the coming year.

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We grew our team!

Britt is a godsend to HBG. Her infectious enthusiasm has earned us spaces in more local stores and bigger dreams for 2018 and beyond. Her official title is Sales & Salt Maven and when you meet her you'll understand. 

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We got some press!

Amanda was featured in Richmond Times Dispatch's Cool and Connected publication and was given a platform to talk about suburban farming and yard ecosystems as well as connecting with customers and fellow humans through social media. We were also featured on a couple blogs and websites!

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We collaborated with so many awesome local businesses!

From the Lavender Earl Grey ice cream sandwich from Nightingale to the bath soaks from Maven Made to the tea from Roots Tea and back again to Nightingale, we were so lucky to share space with these RVA businesses. AND we can't wait to do more of it in 2018!

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Last one! We launched Flower Club!

Before Christmas we launched our new program, Flower Club, a bouquet subscription service starting this season! We've been so excited to see folks signing up in the depths of winter and would love to have you join us! It's a great way to see Spring at the end of this loooooooong winter tunnel we're in right now. We are SO ready to grow flowers for y'all.

Lemon Basil Lime Gin Popsicles

My new friend Kiera came by the other week to take some photos of the garden and grab some herbs to play around with at home. Little did I know how much she meant business! Her photos are beautiful and I'm so grateful for them. I asked her if she wouldn't mind sharing this recipe for her boozy popsicles that sound really good, especially when you're out in this heat. 

Enjoy (and stay hydrated, y'all)!

I’m not much of a drinker, but in the summer I always find myself in the “yay beer” and “yes cocktails!” camp. I love the simplicity of a gin and tonic and was getting hyped at the idea of transforming that into an even cooler treat to get me through the summer heat. Plus this recipe let me play with Lemon Basil for the first time and so I was completely on board.

 

 Lemon basil simple syrup...deconstructed.

Lemon basil simple syrup...deconstructed.

Simple syrups are an amazing way to save seasonal-anything that’s on its way out. I’ve done rosemary ginger, thyme, lemon thyme, mint, and cranberry ginger. I love the buttery smell that happens in an herbal simple syrup, it smells like an out-of-town-cool-cousin version of your fresh, lively green herb friends that once were. A SS elevates cocktails, cakes, sparkling water aaaaaand popsicles.

 

I’m solid on the tear-don’t-chop policy when it comes to simple syrups. There are parts of me that believe you’re wasting less on knives and cutting boards, but the rest of me just likes the way my hands smell.

 

The popsicle mold is pretty important here. When I was shopping for mine, my priorities were something that was easy to clean, could be broken down for storage, and gave me that classic popsicle shape. I would recommend this one from Amazon; all of the cavities can pop out individually and it felt sturdy and ready for fun.

 


 

Lemon Basil + Lime Gin Pops

 

Ingredients

Directions

The Infused Simple Syrup

  • 1/4 cup of lemon basil leaves (or regular basil)

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/4 cup sugar


Wash and dry your lemon basil leaves. I'm not the keenest on chopping herbs for this recipe. I like to tear them because something in my mind thinks I'm keeping more of its important essence from being absorbed into a cutting board.

Now, you'll need to combine the water and sugar over a medium heat and make that sugar disappear to make your 1:1 simple syrup. Once the sugar is fully dissolved I like to tear the leaves in and let them float around on the heat until it just starts to boil.

Give it about 60 seconds with a low boil. Turn down the heat a notch or two if it feels aggressive. You want a nice rolling boil, not anything angry looking. I'm thinking spa-environment, like an herb jacuzzi.

So after a minute or so, take the syrup off of the heat and let it cool. I usually cover it and let it steep for an hour because I love a strong kick in the mouth of herbs, but if you’re feeling worried you can do 30 minutes. But the hour is worth it, I promise.

The Pop Concotion

  • 2 1/2 cups of water

  • 1/2 cup of lime juice (fresh squeezed)

  • 1/3 cup of gin

  • Pinch of salt

So after your patience has run out or you just remembered it's been forever since you left your syrup, run the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a large container with a pour spout (you'll thank yourself later). I use a rubber spatula to smash any remaining moisture.

Add lime juice, gin, and your dash of sea salt to your simple syrup and mix well.

Carefully transfer your liquid into your pop container cavities, leaving a visible clearance from the top (to allow room for mild expansion + your pop stick).

After you've filled everything, allow about an hour in the freezer before inserting your sticks, longer if they still bob around when you put them in. You'll want minimal movement for that A+ stick straightness.

Optional

Zest of One Lime

If you're feeling fresh, you can carefully sprinkle lime zest into each of your cavities and fold into the slush using your popsicle stick. Replace lid, insert wooden sticks and put back in the freezer.

Now you play the waiting game. They should be good around 12 hours, but if you put more gin in "accidentally" (like me) you'll want to add some time to that.

 

HOME Garden Share- What's it all about?

This year we're launching a new program! When I gave a critical look at my offerings as a small biz, it became clear that if you weren't looking to start a garden and you weren't a restaurant, there wasn't a whole lot here for you! So we're changing that as we head into our second season.

HOME Garden Share came from me really wanting to grow more flowers and sell them direct to consumers. I've always been a veggie grower and flowers have been secondary BUT NOT ANYMORE. I am psyched to grow more flowers this year! In addition to growing them, I happen to own an impressive collection of vases so I thought why not provide a service that gives you the flowers AND the vessel. So, that's the main part of HOME Garden Share. Beautiful blooms in cool vases in your house every other week from May-October. That's 12 bouquets! 

But, I grow a lot of herbs. I can't leave those tasty items out entirely! Each share will get two culinary herbs along with recipe ideas and inspiration so you can try some new things in the kitchen this season. Items like Lemon Basil, Vietnamese Coriander, Wild Thyme, and lots of others will give your dishes added flavor and interest. This is delicious stuff! 

Lastly, being a small business has made me more invested than ever before in supporting other small businesses. To make this a really unique service, I'm partnering with other local folks to give you a collaboration item in your share. Every once in a while you'll have an herb salt or something similar from me as your value added but more times than not you'll be enjoying goodies from Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches (Lavender/Earl Grey FTW!), Maven Made, my non-profit buds Community Food Collaborative, Bon Air Naturals, and Roots Tea Infusions! I have a couple spots left for possible collaborations so stay tuned for more :). 

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So, logistically, how does this all work? Easy!

There are two pick up spots: Little House Green Grocery in Northside and Perk Bon Air in Southside. You choose one and every other week on Thursdays (don't worry, you'll get a printed schedule!), I will drop off your goodies. You just pick them up! 

All it takes to sign up is $50 (and you get a Welcome Box!). After that you'll have two more payments of $150 and then $100, totaling $300 for the whole service. I can't shell out $300 for things all at once and I don't expect that of y'all either! You'll get an e-newsletter every other Monday (the week you get a share) telling you what you can expect! You can sign up here at the shop. I'll take care of the rest!

Currently, I have 3 spots left at Perk and 5 left at Little House. I don't expect these to last so if you would like to participate head on over to the shop and let's get you set up!

So, 1 super hyper very local bouquet, 2 yummy herbs for your kitchen, and a local collaboration item from HBG and another awesome RVA business. 

If you have any questions, shoot me an email at amanda (at) hbgrva.com!

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Talley's and Tangerine Sage!

It's time for another blog contribution from one of our Herby Chef CSA partners! This time it's my friends at Talley's Meat and Three! Chef Thomas and his crew have done a stellar job this season incorporating HBG herbs into their specials. I always love running into him when I drop off to check in and hear his thoughts on the shares and how he's using everything. The other night my friends and I ate at Talley's and indulged in ALL OF THE SPECIALS. Vietnamese Coriander on a chimichanga, Blue Spice Basil on a berry crostini (omg), and a first ever for HBG- a dish named in our honor- Hummingbird Chicken! If you've not visited Talley's yet, I assure you you are missing out and you should make plans to go ASAP. The mac and cheese are awesome and the greens are vinegary and delicious. Plus, I'm partial to the specials board. 

 Hummingbird Chicken! Proud gardener, too!

Hummingbird Chicken! Proud gardener, too!

 

Chef Thomas shares his recipe below for (drum roll please)....Tangerine Sage & Apple Compote! Enjoy....and visit Talley's! Give them a high five from HBG!

Ingredients:

1 C (about 1 medium) granny smith apple, 1/4 inch dice
1 QT water
3 C sugar
2 tsp salt
1 stick cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 oz by weight (about a handful) fresh tangerine Sage, rough chop

Add water, salt, sugar, and cinnamon to a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Whisk well to dissolve solids. Reduce by half (about 25 minutes at full boil). Remove from heat, carefully remove cinnamon and discard (cinnamon will be sticky, use tongs). Add ginger, turmeric, and coriander and return to the boil. Whisk well to dissolve spices. Allow to boil for 5 minutes. Carefully add apples and reduce heat. Simmer 8-10 minutes, until apples begin to soften.
Add tangerine Sage and immediately cut heat. Allow Compote to steep unheated for five minutes and then transfer to a separate dish to cool.

To check the consistency of your Compote, place a plate in the freezer for 10 minutes. Apply a small amount of warm compote to the plate and tilt to observe how it will be once it has cooled. If the liquid runs like water after a few seconds on the plate, it needs to reduce more. It should slide slowly across the plate, almost solid. 

Great over pork or with a hearty fish like mahi mahi. Works nicely with cream cheese for an appetizer or simply as a substitute for orange marmalade or apple butter on your favorite breads.

 Photo and Deliciousness by Chef Thomas Black!

Photo and Deliciousness by Chef Thomas Black!

Herb Spotlight: Basil

Herb Spotlight: Basil

Well, I had every intention of blogging a couple times a month going into the season but that has been put lower on the list as the season has gone on. BUT! Luckily I have great friends in my restaurant partners. Kathi, the amazing baker at Perk! Bon Air (and mastermind behind Craft Brew Bread) shared a recipe for Basil Pistachio Pesto that needs to be shared. I grow 12 kinds of basil, though about 9 of them are facing a quick end because of downy mildew. Downy mildew is evil but all the more reason to pull the leaves that are still good and make pesto! Feel free to play around with other greens as well. You can make a pesto with arugula, mint, sage, anything really. 

Thank you Kathi, thank you Perk! 

Have a great week! 

 

Basil Pistachio Pesto

Recipe by Kathi Genett (Perk Bon Air)

"This makes a pretty amazing cold summer salad with peas. Easiest salad in the world."

Ingredients:

1 bag of frozen peas

2 cups basil leaves

1/2 cup shelled pistachios

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

Up to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (start with 1/2 cup and go up as desired)

Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions: 

Thaw the bag of peas.

Put pistachios and salt in the food processor and pulse until they are crushed. Add rest of the ingredients and continue pulsing until you achieve desired texture. Add more olive oil if you want a runnier pesto.

Once the peas have totally thawed, stir enough of the pesto to coat generously. You can top the plate with some parmesan by taking fresh "curls" of it from a piece, using a vegetable peeler. 

Enjoy!

Amanda

 

Herb Spotlight: Chamomile

Herb Spotlight: Chamomile

When I planted a few chamomiles last year, they didn't do a whole lot. They were planted in my herb spiral in the front yard and they sort of just stayed the size of seedlings and then fizzled out. I was puzzled but with the season quickly unfolding, I sort of forgot about them. That was when HBG was just an outline on a page. 

Fast forward to about six weeks ago and what do I see? It's baaaaaack. The chamomile grew, and grew, and GREW. It grew so tall it fell over and kept growing. It's been in the herby CSA for a few weeks and I've dried some to experiment with making sugar. I love harvesting over there because you get to smell the chamomile in the air. It's sweet and a little lemony, but really light. So, it's perfect in other words. I'm so glad it decided to make a big comeback this year. 

I have a treat for you! I asked one of our Herby Chef CSA partners, Hannah from dal-kohm, to send me a recipe with chamomile as the star. Chamomile is mild so usually it plays a supporting role but Hannah in all of her wisdom has come up with a way to spotlight the flower. Behold! Chamomile Panna Cotta! If you make this and Instagram it, please tag @dalkohm and @hummingbirdgardensrva so we can see your work in all its glory! If you'd like to purchase chamomile flowers, please get in touch!

Thanks to Hannah for this awesome recipe!

CHAMOMILE PANNA COTTA
 

INGREDIENTS:

3 Cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder

1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

3/4 Cup dried chamomile flowers
 

METHOD:

1.  In a small sauce pan, combine 2 cups of the heavy cream, vanilla bean or vanilla extract, chamomile flowers and sugar.  Bring this to a simmer and remove from heat.  Cover and allow it to steep for 30 minutes. 

2.  In a microwave proof bowl, bloom gelatin in remaining 1 cup of the heavy cream. 

3.  Strain chamomile heavy cream mixture through a cheese cloth lined sieve and squeeze out remaining liquid (get every bit of that amazing flavor). 

4.  Heat up gelatin mixture in microwave just until it dissolves (you don't want to boil it, as it will mess with the gelling properties) and add to the chamomile mixture. 

5.  Pour mixture into cups or jars (whatever you'd like to serve your panna cotta in) and chill them in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.  Once set, the last step is to enjoy!

I would say you could eat this solo, but I like to add some vanilla or ginger cookie crumbles, maybe a drizzle of honey, or some fresh berries and garnished with fresh chamomile flowers to make it extra pretty :)

 

Herby Chef CSA: The Start of Something Good

It's finally here! Last week was the first week of the Herby Chef CSA, wherein 6 restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries have signed on to receive a box of herbs, edible flowers, and the odd veggie from Hummingbird Gardens. To be able to finally go to the restaurants with a box full of herb wads was pretty exciting. Add to it my oldest friend visiting and harvesting with me! 

The first boxes included; chamomile, winter savory, violas, and lemon thyme. Lemon Thyme is probably my favorite herb but lately I have been snacking on the chamomile greens in the yard. These guys were teeny tiny plants last year and now they've exploded. Chamomile is tasty AND adorable. It's also very mild, as are the violas. The winter savory and lemon thyme add punchy and spicy flavors, making it a well rounded first week. 

I was excited to start seeing what my partner restaurants were doing with the herbs. Hannah at dal-kohm made a viola sugar that looks like the springiest purple. The folks at Toast made a lemon thyme cream sauce for one of their specials (YUM). And, Perk put the chamomile leaves in their salads and flowers on their scones. Everything looked so delicious. It never gets old seeing what you grew on someone's plate, whether it's at a restaurant or in your own home. Nothing compares to how good that feels. 

So! For the remaining 19 weeks of the Herby Chef CSA, please be sure to check out my friends and restaurant partners. See what they come up with for yourself! 

Here's the Herby Chef crew!

Be sure to come see me at the Market at Magnolia Green starting Saturday, June 3rd at 8am! 

Why Herbs?

I'm sitting here at the computer just having finished mixing my seed starting mix. Earlier today, I met with my favorite nursery and florist in town about providing cut flowers and herbs for their floral department. In between now and then I was nervously sitting at the bar of one of my favorite restaurants hoping they'd take the risk and join me for the Chef CSA--and they did! These are all milestones for me. It's my first season and everything feels important. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

There are a few questions I keep in the back of my mind no matter what I'm doing for this market garden business. One of them is "Why Herbs?". I'm a veggie lover and while I also enjoy herbs, they've never been my focus until now.  I've always grown basil and a few years ago I fell head over heels in love with salad burnet and lemon thyme. But, they played a supporting role to whatever veg I was growing; tucked into unoccupied corners, forgotten spaces, or places where not much else had success. Now, they are the backbone of what I'm doing.

 Pineapple sage at the herb spiral

Pineapple sage at the herb spiral

The shift came one day when I was sitting on my patio swing with my dad. We were talking about ways that I could go out on my own. How could I start growing things to sell and become a more active member of our growing food community here in Richmond? Sidenote: I personally feel that EVERYONE is part of the food community because EVERYONE eats food. So, let's place the emphasis instead on the growing aspect. The swing is in the front yard and as I looked around me, the words "I think I could have enough space here to make it work" came out and it was almost like just saying it was enough to seal it for me. The idea never left my thoughts but I did have problems figuring out how this new space would look. 

We have FANTASTIC farmers here in and around Richmond. We need even more but what we have is already really great. From urban to rural growers, we are quite lucky. I knew that I didn't want to attempt to compete with these guys. I couldn't if I tried. What if I could complement the great stuff being grown on our local farms? Flashback to Sneed's Nursery some warm day (I'm there all the time) and I'm buying a Mexican Tarragon seedling to fill a hole in our herb spiral. Little did I know that planting that little guy would lead to all this. Those leaves found their way into Perk! Bon Air's Cherry Tarragon relish that they put with their house made greek yogurt (Have you had some? YOU SHOULD.). Still unclear about how to proceed, I spoke to my friend Stephanie who pointed out that tarragon is hard to come by at the markets and very expensive (and not very good) at your big grocery stores. Why not focus on other herbs like tarragon? With a little under half an acre, I could grow a decent amount of harder to find stuff. 

So here we are. The house I share with my husband and two cats is becoming an herb focused market garden. But, beyond this question of why herbs is another one. Other than selling these tasty morsels to restaurants, farmer's market goers, and other small businesses, why does it matter?

 Fall 2015- Laying the foundation for our sheet mulched beds with cardboard.

Fall 2015- Laying the foundation for our sheet mulched beds with cardboard.

 

Well, I think it matters because we have an awful lot of grass in this area instead of garden spaces and the balance needs to be tipped in the other direction. I hear it all the time; people want to get started growing their own food whether it be one tomato plant, one bed, or going whole hog--but it's intimidating. So, for me, besides growing herbs, offering some sort of example of what can happen when we see our yards as places of beauty but also of production, empowerment, and healing is of utmost importance. You don't have to do it like me. It doesn't have to look like this for you. But, I hope this can become a place where people can come to get ideas and feel a little less nervous about home gardening. Our yards have incredible potential and so do we. My goals and the place I have access to have pointed me in the direction of herbs but everyone will have a different experience. What matters is having the experience.

So, for me, that's why HBG exists now. That's why my house on .45 acres in the middle of a pretty nondescript suburban neighborhood is changing. It's changing me, too. So, long story short, there's my answer to "Why Herbs?". The journey that I take with market gardening will inevitably yield so many more questions but for now I'm looking ahead on the cusp of the most exciting and nerve wracking Spring of my life and I have zero questions that this is going to the experience of a lifetime. 

Come visit me this season at the Market at Magnolia Green on Saturday mornings starting in late May and stay tuned for a small but mighty list of the folks who will be using HBG's herbs in their lovely establishments. And, I see some classes on the horizon that I will be sure to post here. Here's to a great (and sweaty) first year!

 Thanks for taking the thyme (here we go...) to read this long winded first post!

Thanks for taking the thyme (here we go...) to read this long winded first post!