What do you picture when you think of the Northwoods of Wisconsin? Do you think of miles of pine forest, black bears, and cold crisp clear lakes? Do you think of camping, fishing, canoeing, and nights around a campfire enjoying the starry night sky? At least this is what I picture when I think of the Northwoods of Wisconsin during this time of the year.
I have now lived in the Northwoods of Wisconsin for almost a year, and have found that all these things are true about living in Land O’ Lakes where Conserve School is located. So far, I have been able to enjoy hiking through the woods, camping, swimming, and just relaxing to the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. This summer, I have also become more involved with learning more about the local foods grown in Northern Wisconsin. Land O’ Lakes even has a farmers market every Thursday with fresh vegetables, jellies, honey, eggs, homemade bread, and goat milk cheese. There are many other surrounding towns that have weekly farmers makets as well. With the shortened growing season, farmers have to be creative with their farming techniques. Whether that means starting seeds in the middle of winter under plant lights in the basement or growing in solar heated hoop houses; they are making it work so people in the Northwoods can enjoy locally produced food.
At Conserve School, we experimented with mini-hoop houses on some of our raised garden beds over the winter, and we were able to harvest spinach and cilantro at the end of April (which is about a month or so early). We also just harvested broccoli and kale the other day. This year, we are also growing squash, zucchini, asparagus, blueberries, peppers, sweet peas, watermelon, basil, potatoes, onions, and a few other yummy vegetables that will make their way into the school kitchen for our students to enjoy this coming school year!
Here are a couple of my favorite summer recipes using local produce:
Ingredients: 1 bunch of kale, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sea salt for sprinkling
Directions: 1) Cut the ribs (the stem) out of the kale and cut into “chip” size pieces.
2) Mix olive oil with kale in a bowl
3) Place on baking sheet in single layer
4) Put kale chips into oven (preheated to 275 degrees F) and bake for 20 minutes,
flip and bake for 20 more minutes or until kale is crisp.
Spinach and Tomato Salad
Ingredients: fresh spinach, tomatoes (cherry tomatoes are my favorite), fresh mozzarella cheese (goat cheese works well too), Balsamic vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
Directions: 1) Wash and dry spinach leaves and put into a big salad bowl
2) Wash and dry tomatoes and add to spinach
3) Cut up cheese into bite size pieces and at to the salad
4) Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top of the salad
5) Sprinkle salad with a pinch of salt and pepper
6) Serve immediately
~Graduate Fellow Laura