June is when I celebrate my birthday and also when Summer starts – so of course, June is a favorite month of mine! You can’t blame me – there are the fabulous flowers of June: irises (my favorite!), peonies, roses and wisteria (which unfortunately didn’t bloom well this year due to that nasty freeze in March); Spring fruits: strawberries and rhubarb for sauces and pies (which can replace birthday cake anytime for me); and the first luscious vegetables: asparagus, tender lettuces, sweet peas and the mint the flourishes at just the right time, along with the spicy radishes that add a special crunch to salads.
For our CSA members in June, we also grow bok choi aka Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, Spring turnips, kohlrabi (which didn’t make it due to a great wave of flea beetles, we think because of the warm winter), kale, mizuna and Spring raab (bitter greens that are so good for us), Swiss chard, and tatsoi – a type of oriental spinach.
What’s interesting to me, is most of these vegetables are packed with nutrients we all need to stay healthy. Take rhubarb, for instance – did you know that it’s been used medicinally for thousands of years? Folklore credits Benjamin Franklin for first importing rhubarb to America in the 1700’s, but it originated in Asia over 5000 years ago. Its’ roots and rhizomes were used in Chinese medicine to treat everything from liver complaints to senility. More recently, rhubarb’s beneficial qualities have been validated by modern science who’ve found a slew of compounds that may prevent and fight cancer & senility, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, vitamins such as C, K, and B-complex plus the minerals calcium, potassium and manganese.
This brings me to an idea that at first may not seem appetizing – food as medicine! My herbalism teacher Jade Alicandro Mace, of Milk & Honey Herbs, recently introduced me to the concept that what we eat not only provides us our day to day sustenance, but can also actively support our good health. I am so enthusiastic about this idea. In future columns, I plan to start introducing some of the power house vegetables that we can all eat to protect and improve our health!
We still have a couple EOW shares available for a couple of pick-up days even though the season has started! Please call us or stop by the farm Tuesday through Saturday.