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!