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From the Farm to Their Table - Barbara Finch

Written by Urban Ecology Center
    Monday, 03 March 2014
From the Farm to Their Table - Barbara Finch

“Who knew potatoes could be so thrilling,” says Barb Finch, a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm from Milwaukee. “I grew up eating mashed or boiled potatoes every day, they weren’t that interesting. The potatoes I get in my CSA box are so full of flavor. The Yukon Golds and Reds are incredible. I could never go back to buying a potato from a grocery store again.”

Finch and her husband, decided to join a CSA after participating in the Friends of Real Food group at the Urban Ecology Center and taking the Eat Local Challenge a few times.

“We made a promise to ourselves we weren’t going to waste any of the produce that came in our box. So far we haven’t and we’ve learned to preserve food in a lot of different ways. Also, we have lots of pickled items that we eat regularly with our sandwiches. We took a class at the UEC on food preservation techniques and learned to make zucchini relish, corn relish, pickled beans, ketchup, red pepper jam and chutneys,” she says. Finch also cans tomatoes and freezes tomato sauce. She also roasts tomatoes, onions, garlic together and tosses them into a freezer bag. “That’s my new favorite,” she says. “Recently, I thawed them, mixed them, sautéed onions, broth, hot pepper flakes, and had a wonderful pot of roasted tomato soup” says Finch.

“During the winter I’m glad I did all this food preservation in the summer and fall. I can make dinner from what I have put up from the summer. We do all our menu planning by going down to the basement and choosing from the canned or frozen foods. I just need to go to the Milwaukee County Winter Farmer’s Market for a protein item and we’re all set,” says Finch.

Her food preservation does not just limit itself to vegetables. “I freeze a lot of spices,” says Finch. “I made basil cigars, 10 – 15 basil leaves rolled up like a cigar and put into a freezer bag and frozen for when I need them. Now, I put basil in everything.“ She also freezes sage and cilantro. “With thyme, it is important to cut it when it is at its peak and put it into a small bag and then into a large plastic freezer bag before putting it in the freezer,” says Finch.

Items from her CSA’s cold weather share were the foundation for every meal in her house during the holiday season. “One of my out of town guests commented, ‘Is there any vegetable that you don't get?’ Our CSA also has a network of other farmers that provide items like maple syrup, strawberries, eggs, peaches, and even Texas citrus just before Christmas,” said Finch.

2013 LFOH logoWant to get your food fresh from a CSA? Come to our Local Farmer Open House on Saturday, March 8th at our Riverside Park branch. Meet and sign up with farmers, learn how you can join a CSA farm (purchase a share of the harvest) and get a box of fresh produce each week during the season. Join us for this free event!


This blog post was written by Theresa Lins. Theresa is a Milwaukee-based writer and Urban Ecology Center “groupie”.  She has been active in promoting the Center and its programs for over 14 years.  Other than eating farm-fresh food, her favorite thing is to write about it and the people who produce it.

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