Community Connections

Friends gather weekly to cook and share the farm bounty. I hope you are inspired as I was by this creative idea from CSA member Judie Much, as well as her wonderful recipe for Roasted Fennel with Parmesan.

When my husband, Dave, and I began thinking about investing in a share at the CSA, we realized that the two of us could not eat all of the food ourselves.  Luckily, we have surrounded ourselves with self-proclaimed “foodie” friends.  At least weekly, this group (can be anywhere from 6-13) gathers for food and fun at one of our houses.  The host usually decides and provides the main part of the entree and the rest of those who attend contribute sides, salad, appetizers, or dessert.  We wondered- would anyone be interested in splitting a CSA share?  Two couples voiced an interest, allowing the share to be divided into thirds. 

In our first year of CSA membership, we divided the share into thirds and our group met as usual on a weekly basis with each of the three of us who had acquired veggies contributing as we saw fit.  But alas, separating our food in this manner really restricted what we could provide for a larger group.  So this past year, the suggestion was made that whoever picked up the share, would plan and create a “CSA Dinner”, generally attended solely by the three couples who owned the share. What a wonderful experience this has been. The food amount is easily sufficient for six, and the items not used are divided between the three couples for the rest of the week (and there was ALWAYS a lot left!).

So what kind of meals did we create?  Space does not permit, nor can I remember all of the wonderful meals we had, but one of our most memorable was early in the season and was hosted and prepared by our friend, Dave.  In our share we found cantaloupe, turnips, zucchini, summer squash, beets, fennel, herbs, and spring onions.

First Course: Dave started the meal with cantaloupe, yogurt, and blueberries. 

Second Course: Grilled chicken, grilled turnips and beets (who knew you could grill slices of raw turnips and beets and have them cook in a few minutes?).  Dave also made a potato salad which included grilled summer squash and zucchini, as well as the potato!  And did you know that if you slice fennel very thin and roast it with olive oil, kosher salt and parmesan cheese, that people eat it like candy?  It’s true!

Dessert course: Grilled cantaloupe in a hot caramel sauce served with Owowcow vanilla ice cream.   What more could you ask for?  Perhaps a recipe?  Needless to say, we will continue this fine tradition this year.

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 to 6

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish.

Take 4 fennel bulbs, and cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices, fronds reserved. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then with 1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan.  Drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 teaspoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.

Written by Judie Much, a happily retired Oncology Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ferndale, Pa with her husband David. She and David are members of a group of neighbors who love to cook, laughingly called “The Ottsville Eight.”

This story is the second in a series of articles written by various Blooming Glen Farm CSA members. Please enjoy this submission from CSA member Grace Rollins of Bridge Acupuncture.

It seems like there are ads everywhere for the flu shot these days. Most of us can avoid the flu naturally, or can recover in a normal way from the flu when afflicted. The occasional cold or flu can even be a cleansing event for the body, helping to maintain good health in the long run. A healthy person will fight off colds or flu with ease; inability to do so is a sign of imbalance.

What can you do holistically to strengthen your immune system? To start, there are certain foods known for their immune-enhancing and anti-microbial properties, for example:
Raw, local honey (if you put it in hot tea it will be tasty but no longer raw, so somewhat less beneficial)
Chicken broth and fat (there is now scientific basis to this folk medicine! It has to be naturally pasture-raised chicken to get the most benefit. Simmer the bones from your locally bought bird for 7-24 hours for a highly nutritious broth!)
Coconut oil (take a tablespoon of extra virgin oil to prevent or treat colds) and coconut milk (great for soups and smoothies!)
Ginger, garlic, and scallion (great for soups and stir-fries)
Fermented, cultured foods (like sauerkraut, kimchee and kombucha– help supplant your body’s healthy microbial flora and fight off pathogenic yeasts and bacteria)
Apple cider vinegar (a little mixed in water makes a great tonic drink– use it to gargle for a sore throat)

Fall crops

My favorite tonic food is a good soup made with a quart or two of home-made chicken bone broth, a can of organic coconut milk, garlic, ginger and onion, some cut-up veggies and a squeeze of lemon. Garnish with cilantro or scallion. Delicious, and a strong immune booster!

The many special herbs that can be taken as tea or tinctures to enhance immunity include the famous echinacea, goldenseal and/or astragalus. These can be found in any health food section. My favorite vitamin for preventing or treating colds is a good old Vitamin C and Zinc lozenge.

Getting enough sleep and exercise is crucial for your immune system, as is avoiding stress and depleting foods like sugar, white flour and processed foods. You may find over-the-counter medications or that tempting course of antibiotics unnecessary if you simply rest and eat pure good food for a day or two.

Last but not least, acupuncture and moxibustion can be very helpful for strengthening the immune system, especially if you have a track record of frequent colds/flu or have a hard time getting over an illness. Studies show that acupuncture and moxibustion (the burning of mugwort to stimulate acupoints with heat) have a strong effect in enhancing immune-cell function in the body, even in those with immunocompromised conditions. The folk medicine techniques of cupping and gua sha (cutaneous friction), extremely popular in the Far East, are also something I use frequently in clinic to help my patients clear out fevers, coughs and congestion.

I always reserve pharmaceutical drugs as a very last resort, because they typically mask symptoms and create more problems down the road. Plus there are so many effective “natural flu shot” remedies out there. Since dedicating myself to this approach, I haven’t had to use antibiotics in over 15 years and at most get a minor cold once or twice a year. More than anything I attribute my healthy immune system to eating a nutrient-dense diet year-round, full of organic veggies, healthy fats like butter, coconut and olive oil, fish, pastured eggs and grass-fed meats. The foundation of good health is always high quality organic food, so support your local CSA and organic farms!

Submitted by Grace Rollins.
Grace Rollins, M.S., L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and a candidate for certification as a Nutritional Therapist. She is the owner of Bridge Acupuncture and Natural Health in Doylestown, PA (, leader of the Bucks County Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (, and an avid cook, athlete and martial artist. She joined her first CSA in 2002.

This story is the first in a series of articles written by various Blooming Glen Farm CSA members. Enjoy this glimpse into the past offered by Blooming Glen native, Les Swartley.

When I was approximately 1 year of age, my parents moved from Telford to Blooming Glen.  We moved to a farm house with a large barn on 13 acres at the edge of town on the northeast side of Rt. 113.  My father did not farm but from time to time we did keep animals in the barn.  The barn was also used by other farmers and individuals to raise animals and store crops. 

Blooming Glen was my childhood universe.  Watching and helping feed the cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, horses, ducks and other assorted farm animals were experiences that make me smile as I think about them.  Bottle feeding in the warm basement next to the coal stove some undernourished baby pig unable to compete with siblings for their mother’s milk was a lesson on the fragility of life. Having a dozen little peeps huddling under a hot light bulb in the basement until they were able to survive on the outside is also a vivid memory.    

Les Swartley's great-grandfather, Henry Y. High of Blooming Glen, 1929, "holds county and state records up to this time" with 700 pound harvest.

Watching the crops of corn, wheat, oats and soy beans being planted, raised and harvested, hitching rides on farm equipment to do the various duties associated with crop farming and finally unloading the hay and straw, corn, and oats in the barn were all part of the seasonal progression of life.

My parents, relatives, and neighbors all had gardens and grew most of the standard garden vegetables.  Multi-family gatherings did the canning in the fall.  It was a fun time running around the farm with cousins and friends while our mothers worked. We always had tasty fresh food at the end of the day.  Crushed sweet corn and applesause come to mind as my favorites.

Meat and other supplies came from local farms or we walked to Moyers store at the intersection of Rt 113 and Blooming Glen Road for almost everything else.

I had no idea how difficult it would become as an adult to get real farm grown fresh vegetables raised within walking distance by a local farmer.  As farm land was sold and subdivided, fewer and fewer acres remained available to raise fresh crops.  Serious farmers were even more difficult of find.

What is now Blooming Glen Farm in 1914. Moyer Road, named after the original landowners, was once a dirt drive lined with fruit trees and white fencing.

As CSA’s began gaining a foothold in local communities, my wife suggested that we look into the Blooming Glen Farm CSA at 98 Moyer Road operated by Tricia and Tom, and only a mile from our present home.  The farm also happens to be a place of great childhood memories for me. The large pond was a gathering place for ice skating, with a huge fire warming our fingers so we could take off our skates and ride our bikes back home.  Hockey games, hot shot skating, and crack the whip were the usual activities. 

To be able to participate with the many members of the Blooming Glen Farm CSA and our leaders Tricia and Tom in fostering a healthier lifestyle, maintaining and improving farmland, and building a sense of community through the farm and the lifestyle it promotes, is a way of connecting to my roots and childhood memories.

The circle is complete.

Submitted by Les Swartley — meteorite watcher, backyard landscaper and gardener, and former Industrial Real Estate Broker.

The cold days of winter are upon us. Outside the earth is resting and renewing, and with the winter solstice behind us, the ever so gradual lengthening of daylight promises the eventual return of the warm growing seasons of spring and summer. During the farm’s “off-season,” we want to utilize the blog to offer the unique reflections and perspectives of our diverse and vibrant farm community (you!).   The winter is the perfect time to share stories and articles, about what the farm- the land, the food, the people, and the connections- means to you.  What the farm inspires in you, and your choice to be a part of it, reflects the common ground we all share as active participants in an evolving local food community. We welcome your submissions, and we hope you enjoy reading those from others!