Follow Your Food: Radicle Roots

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at Radicle Roots. As I had written in my recipe for Chicken Larb, Radicle Roots is a small, but very productive, sustainable market garden just outside of Sisters, OR. Radicle Roots is run by James Bernston, a first generation farmer from Snohomish, Washington. Farming is time and labor intensive work, even with a work force, and James does it all on his own, with help from his girlfriend Sydney when she is free from her Masters studies in Counseling. Due to the responsibilities of plant care, he operates at a small scale. As a market garden, James does his part to cultivate a variety of select crops for the Central Oregon Food system. Conscious of the capacity of his operation, James focuses on growing superb quality and cultivar diversity in his field beds. This care is reflected in the crops he brings to market; every head of lettuce and every bunch of radishes is a work of living art, full of color, crisp and fresh. He has to be selective about where he sells his food, so that his fields are not over harvested, and run dry. As such, he most often sells directly to his markets of choice, and has built relationships with restaurants and wholesalers around town. We are one of the proud partners of Radicle Roots, but you can also find his produce at the Bend Farmers Market over the summer, in Central Oregon Locavore’s store or on the menus of Drake, Jackson’s Corner and a number of other restaurants downtown.


Small Farms are a cornerstone of building economic diversity in our community, and a critical component of fostering a resilient food system. In any agronomy, at any scale, the key to sustainability is balance. Though small, Radicle Roots is an important piece in the balance of Central Oregon’s agricultural landscape. James’s operation is a testament to the productivity of a small, intensively attended plot of land. Since everything is hand cultivated, James is able to plant densely and maximize the marginal food yield from the land at his disposal. As the human population  grows, our demand for food grows with it; as that population builds its aggregate wealth over time, demand expands exponentially.

In the world of expanding humanity, the agronomy can grow in 2 ways. One is what has been come to known as the “conventional” model; large, specialized farms that focus specifically on producing for economies of scale. While these farms can provide food at an affordable price and over a broad range, is requires large inputs of water fertilizer and land to make these operation function. As we have begun to see, through the years, this leads to some inherent externalities as management is stretched over large acreage; to state it simply, we don’t have that land available. The second model offers a bit more systemic sustainability. This model I speak of is the smaller, diversified farm that has come to define the local food movement in America. These farms do not individually produce food at the scale capable in their larger counterparts, but when working together, they create a diverse network that contributes to the dietary needs of their direct community. Since their operations cater to a diminished scale, they require less infrastructure and as a result tend to be more flexible to the whims of nature. This flexibility also extends into the land they occupy. Since market gardens like Radicle Roots focus on intensive hand cultivation, they are capable of producing high marginal food yields in small places.

While we drive forward into a more crowded world, available farmland is dwindling, and food production has to find a way to adapt to the space that remains. James is a quiet member of the farmers adapting to such a world. His operation ingratiates itself into the neighborhood around him, providing more than just sustenance to his neighbors. In addition to his veggies, James offers his neighbors an opportunity to build their community by hosting greenhouse space for people to start gardens of their own. His presence there is that of balance; holding food production on one shoulder, land care on the other, and community development on his head.

What we hope to do at Agricultural Connections is help this sort of society to thrive by offering a central market to sell their food  so that it can always find a hungry plate. Our hope is that this sort of farming can become part of the larger hegemony in Central Oregon and create a community that is more engaged with the personalities of those who grow for them. This week we will be at Jackson’s Corner on the west side to celebrate the food that James and many other’s bring to our community on a weekly basis. Come out and learn more about these champions of the land.



Follow Your Food: Baked Polenta “Pasticciata”

This week as we were receiving produce from the fields, Gigi from Windflower Farm stopped by with boxes filled with a colorful array of mustard greens, kale, turnips, and mixed chois. While we were stacking the waxed boxes in the warehouse, I mentioned to Gigi my excitement to include such beautiful produce in our shares this week but have a hard time finding recipes for cooking fresh mustard. She stopped what she was doing to recommend pairing the greens with pork. It was just a quick suggestion, but that little bit of sharing got my mind opened up to new kitchen ideas to diversify how I use greens outside of salad lunches. Every farmer that walks though our door wants comes with their own bite sized suggestion to share how they use these crops. The accumulation of these conversations adds up to create a robust foundation of the knowledge required to eat seasonally. These little moments that arise during our conversations with farmers provide access to information that simply does not exist while browsing though the supermarket.

To often, we shop individually. When left to our own devices, our food decisions are often stressed by imperfect information regarding buying responsibly, sourcing and finding a healthy diet. Ultimately this requires more time to read labels, check prices and find a good tomato in February. We have all been there: walking out through the sliding doors of the grocery store, pushing a full cart, wondering if you could have shopped a little more efficiently, a little more responsibly. As we engage more directly with those who live to grow our food, we gain a better idea of what exactly we are buying. By getting involved with local food systems, we know our money is going towards supporting not only personal health, but it helps develop the community around us. As we open up the dialogue around food,  perspective changes from prescriptive dining, to descriptive eating, where meals are flexible and revolve around what is seasonally available. With this shift comes the understanding that there aren’t really tomatoes in February, and instead creates the question, “what do I do with mustard greens?” It is an exciting question to confront because it requires reaching outside of our world to share ideas with other people. That question is an opportunity to learn what others in the community are doing in their kitchen, and try something new.

In talking with Gigi, my confoundment with mustard greens turned into an opportunity to expand my cooking knowledge. So, to continue the trend, I will pass on what I learned. Whether or not you cook this recipe, I hope that it inspires a new way to cook seasonally in your kitchen.

This recipe is pulled, and altered, from a cookbook by Esquire called “Eat like a Man”. Below is the recipe, with my own adjustments marked with an asterisk. The actual recipe does not actually call for mustard, but it seemed an ammenable alteration. The mustard’s bite provides sharp contrast to the rich, nutty flavor of pork. For anyone who does not eat meat, a similar effect could be gained by sauteing an egg with the greens, then baking in walnuts. Who knows, your alteration could make this even better! But i digress… and here is the recipe:



9 cups water

2 tsp coarse salt

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cup ground cornmeal (Hummingbird Wholesale)

3/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Ground black Pepper


2 tbsp unsalted butter (I used olive oil*)

4 garlic cloves, chopped (Groundwork Organics)

2 lb ground pork (DD Ranch)

Red pepper flakes *

1 cup milk (Gerry’s Dairy)

2 cups chopped mustard greens (Windflower Farm) *

1/2 red onion (Cinco Estrellas) *

12 sage, or tarragon leaves (Sakestruck herbary)

Cooking Instructions:

To make the polenta: Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the salt and olive oil, reduce the heat until the water is simmering. Gently rain the cornmeal into the simmering water; add slowly and whisk as you pour to prevent lumps. Cover and set on a very low heat; periodically remove the lid and stir. The polenta will get very thick. After 25-30 minutes, or so, stir in the parmesan, butter, and pepper. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm until ready to stir.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

To make the sausage: In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter until foamy (or heat the oil). Saute the garlic and herbs, onion until the garlic is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage and pepper flakes and stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up any chunks, and cook until the pork loses its pink color and is slightly brown around the edges. Add in the mustard, and sit until it begins to wilt, less than 1 minute. Add the milk,  cover and reduce heat to braise. Cook until almost no liquid remains, 20 min.

Spread oil in the bottom of a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Pour the polenta in first, covering evenly. Spoon the sausage mixture over top. Then, top with crumbled gorgonzola cheese and a bit more parmesan. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let it cool for a bit, and then serve.

If you get the pork and polenta going at the same time, the total cooking period is about 50 minutes. This dish is easy, has simple prep, and it loaded with flavor!



Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary & Garlic


If you are getting a produce box from Agricultural Connections this week, you’ll likely have fingerling potatoes. One of the best things to do with potatoes in general is to roast them. Many of you may have roasted potatoes before; this recipe adds brussels sprouts which is a fun way to add veg to your meal as well. Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables. Don’t let the soggy brussels sprouts from your childhood stop you from trying them roasted. They are really quite wonderful and full of flavor. Today’s recipe is from the lovely Oh She Glows recipe blog. Enjoy!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary & Garlic
Serves 4-5 as a side

1 part brussels sprouts
2 parts fingerling potatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh minced rosemary
1 tbsp + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp Sucanat (unrefined cane sugar) (optional)
3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and scrub potatoes and pat dry. Slice in half lengthwise and place into large mixing bowl. Cut off stem of brussels sprouts and remove loose outer leaves. Rinse and pat dry. Place in bowl. Add the minced garlic, minced rosemary, oil, optional Sucanat, salt, pepper, and optional red pepper flakes into the bowl along with the potatoes and sprouts. Toss with your hands to combine and place on baking sheet. Roast for 35-38 minutes at 400F, stirring once half way through baking. Potatoes will be golden and brussels will be lightly charred when ready. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Read more:

Spaghetti and Collard Greens “Carbonara”


The recipe and photos in the post come from the lovely blog Steph’s Apartment Kitchen. I couldn’t make myself post a recipe for traditional wilted-to-death collard greens … I just couldn’t. Do real people actually like them like that? Well, I found an alternative for the non-adventurous of us. Hope you enjoy!

Spaghetti and Collard Greens “Carbonara”
Serves 2

1/2 lb spaghetti or bucattini
4 oz. guanciale (cured pork jowls) or pancetta
2 large eggs
1 bunch collard greens, washed and dried
1 small shallot, diced
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano and/or pecorino romano
olive oil
lots of freshly cracked black pepper

Bring to boil a large pot of [heavily] salted water. While you are waiting for this to boil, prepare your shallots. Then, your collard greens. Cut the leaves away from the stems. Stack these on top of each other and roll, like a cigar. Chiffonade into thin ribbons. Also, dice up the guanciale.

In a large, shallow pan, heat up some olive oil on medium high heat. Add your shallots and guanciale. Stir until brown and crispy at the edges and the mixture is fragrant. Now, add the chiffonaded collard greens. Sautee around until soft. Add a generous pinch of salt and lots of pepper. Stir it around as it wilts. Once it’s cooked and soft, turn off the heat.

Once the water is boiling, add your spaghetti. Cook until just before al dente. Using tongs, add this to your sautee pan along with a 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water.

Working quickly, add your two eggs directly to the pasta. Pour the grated cheese right over. Using tongs again, break up the eggs and mix it up in the pasta, coating everything. The egg shouldn’t scramble at all, since the burner is off. Be sure to constantly move the pasta around. If it gets dry at all, add more pasta water. It should be nice and glossy, as depicted in the above picture. Another generous heap of freshly cracked black pepper.

The pasta should be nice and creamy, with strong pepper flavor . Taste. Add more salt if necessary. Top with more black pepper before serving.


Roasted Cauliflower, Sage and Almond Risotto


Roasted Cauliflower, Sage and Almond Risotto
Serves 4

5 cups cauliflower, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
¼ cup chopped almonds
1 bunch sage, leaves picked
1.5 liters hot chicken stock
4 Tbs butter
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 ½ cup aborio rice
½ cup dry sherry
½ cup finely grated parmesan
Taleggio or strongly flavored cheese, sliced

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place the cauliflower, oil, salt and pepper on a baking tray and toss to coat. Roast for 15 minutes, add the almonds and half the sage and roast for a further 5–8 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside and keep warm.
Place the stock in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Chop the remaining sage and add to the pan with the rice and sherry. Cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes or until the sherry is absorbed. Gradually add the stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring continuously for 25–30 minutes or until the stock is absorbed and rice is al dente. Stir through parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon into serving bowls. Top with Taleggio (an Italian washed rind cheese available from delicatessens) and the cauliflower mixture to serve.

Let us know what you think!

Recipe is adapted from Donna Hay.

Grilled Zucchini and Squash Flatbread


Grilled Zucchini & Squash Flatbread
Serves 2-4

16 oz. store-bought pizza dough or homemade
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1/2 red onion
1/4 c feta cheese
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil, plus 1 1/2 Tbs reserved
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4-5 basil leaves

Cut zucchini, squash and red onion in 1/4″ slices, add to a shallow dish. Mix 1 Tbs of olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper and pour over vegetables. Marinate 30 minutes. Remove pizza dough from refrigerator, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and insert baking stone in oven. If you don’t have one, insert a baking sheet. Heat up your grill and proceed with grilling all the vegetables.
Lightly flour your work surface and form the dough into desired shape. Brush with the remaining 1 1/2 Tbs of olive oil. Arrange vegetables on top of dough. Sprinkle with feta cheese.
Bake for 9-12 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Chiffonade basil leaves and sprinkle over pizza.



Recipe and photos from Heather Bullard.

Quick Mushroom, Zucchini & Thyme Sauté


Here’s an easy and appealing new way to serve zucchini. You could even add onions, beans or rice to this recipe and make a healthy rice bowl. The proportions of this recipe only serves one person so plan accordingly.

Quick Mushroom, Zucchini & Thyme Sauté
Serves 1

1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup finely diced zucchini
3/4 cup finely diced mushrooms
2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
Salt and pepper, if desired

Heat the olive in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add the zucchini, mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, if desired. You’re done!
Serve on the side of meat, fish, eggs, rice and beans, etc. The options are endless!



Recipe and photos are from Cookin Canuck.