Bring holiday salads to the backyard

Cooking up a celebration isn’t only about firing up the grill and chilling the drinks. Why not bring a healthy variety of salad, fresh veggies and seasonal fruit to the mix. Colorful red, white and blue is as deliciously edible as it is appropriate for summer gatherings from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but they’re especially welcome on the Fourth! Here’s how to do it right without spending all day in the kitchen:

Whether you pick fresh from your own garden or shop at your neighborhood market, choose a variety of lettuce and other greens, fresh herbs that can include mint, lavender, tarragon or sage. Then shop for perfectly ripe watermelon, grapes, cherries or berries — wherever your taste buds lead you. Toss your ingredients together at the last minute, drizzle with a raspberry vinaigrette or a white balsamic vinegar and oil dressing, and top with crumbled feta or herbed goat cheese. It’s a sweet take on traditional; it’s a great side with brisket and fried chicken, or it can be a welcome palate pleaser between the meat course and the brownies.

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For another non-traditional option, create a lighter version of traditional potato salad using leafy lettuce in colors ranging from pale green to deep purple. Add miniature boiled potatoes (skin on) in a mix of white, red and purple, and then choose at least three different tomato families to add zest and more color. Rather than a creamy, mayonnaise-based dressing, whip up a light, flavorful vinaigrette of oil and vinegar, Dijon and either German or deli-style mustard and simple spices. Garnish with fresh parsley and you’ll have guests clamoring for seconds.

We sampled these recipes and have to testify that they’re both good enough to eat! They can also be the base formula for healthy food any night of the week. Just add a hamburger, grilled chicken or fish, and ice cream and cookies. Use what you have at hand; keep it simple and fresh and it’s sure to please. 100_5628

The garden bounty is all around us now — cucumbers, red and daikon radish, leeks, avocado, squash, zucchini, cauliflower and a whole host of others. If you get tired of salad, toss a few vegetables on the grill!

Pull out your colorful linens and serving pieces, and your favorite grilling book, and move to the backyard for a homemade feast, for a special occasion or just for a weekend with the family. It’ll lift your spirits and satisfy your appetite!

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If you’ve been out to The Farm recently, or visited us at either Grand Prairie Farmers Market or Tyler Street Market, you may know that we have two greenhouses with lettuce and other greens in various stages of growth. We are discontinuing our kale and chard for a bit — there hasn’t been a lot of call for them at the markets and they don’t much like the heat. We’ll plant new varieties in the fall.

We also have tomato vines that we’re vining in the demonstration greenhouse. Stay tuned for further information about our “Training Day.”

For now, though, the news we’re just bursting to share is all about salads. Watch for the big announcement next week. Until then, we hope your holiday was safe, and filled with friends, family and good food. Enjoy the rest of the week.

 

Certified Naturally Grown

Exciting News!

There’s a lot of exciting news from The Farm these days, and we’ll share more in coming days.

First, though, DFW Aquaponics Farms, LLC has received official acceptance to the Certified Naturally Grown family of farmers nationwide. We are the first aquaponics facility in Texas, and one of only a few farming operations in North Texas to receive acceptance.

Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) represents a grassroots network of farmers and beekeepers who are dedicated to producing and supplying fresh, natural, healthy food for local communities. It is distinctive in that it does not rely on government regulation, but rather on a model of peer inspections and voluntary compliance known as a participatory guarantee system. It’s an approach that works for thousands of farmers nationwide and in global markets. One of the basic tenets is that peer associations promote networking, advocacy and education efforts, help to strengthen the idea of sustainable farming and provide better access to fresh, locally-grown food.

Certification types include Produce, Lifestock, Apiary, Mushrooms and Aquaponics. The process includes a declaration that indicates a willingness to meet and uphold certain standards. Then, because Certified Naturally Grown is an interactive association of committed farmers, there is a requirement not only to submit to inspections, but also to perform inspections.

WP_20161210_007We at DFW Aquaponics are pleased to be the first in our area, and we look forward to being joined by other North Texas aquaponics growers in coming months. We have always believed that networking is valuable. We now encourage other aquaponics enthusiasts – as well as other local farmers – to get on board with Certified Naturally Grown!

Loretta and I hope that the Certified Naturally Grown label will become widely accepted as a measure of quality – for produce sold at area farmers’ markets and in independent grocery stores throughout the country.

After all, we’re in the business of producing good food. And we’re serious about it! We view CNG as a supplement to the “Organic” label, not as a substitute.

We hope you’ll join us in supporting the Good Food Revolution by looking for and buying Certified Naturally Grown products whenever possible!

We’ll give you more information soon, but DFW Aquaponics Farms has also just been approved as a vendor at the Grand Prairie Farmers’ Market. We’ll be there with our lettuce beginning Saturday, April 1. We’d love to have you come visit us!

David Cohen

Growing , growing, grown!

The frame is finished for our new production greenhouse
— thanks to a great group of volunteers.

It didn’t start out as a wonderful day. In fact, it was chilly and foggy, damp and drizzly.

Saturday, January 14, became a wonderful day, though, in every way!

The new greenhouse frame at DFW Aquaponics Farms in Burleson is now at its full length of 120 feet. The hoops are standing. Over the next week, we will attach the purlins to support the hoophouse covering. It’s a major step along the path toward commercial production of fresh, locally grown produce for our local communities.

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Thank you to all who helped!

We consider ourselves fortunate to have a group of Aquaponics enthusiasts who come out on a regular basis to exchange information, to participate in classes, to share experiences, and to support one another in the effort to grow fresh, healthy food. We are proud to be among the growing number of Aquaponics growers throughout the country.

Our 20 x 50 Aquahouse in Burleson has served us well — just this month we began supplying City Market Burleson with a variety of fresh, leafy greens and the response from the community has been gratifying. But the smaller greenhouse was always intended to be an R&D facility rather than a commercial enterprise. It is and will continue to be available for school tours, ongoing classes and a variety of learning experiences. It has been a great beginning; we also look forward to transitioning into some new areas of urban agriculture. More on that subject later.

Our new 20 x 120 greenhouse will allow us to supply fresh produce in a variety of ways — to local groceries, restaurants and nearby farmer’s markets — as well as to grow a wider variety of greens, fruits and vegetables. Now that the frame is nearly complete, the next steps will begin — building the growbeds and installing the systems, the plumbing lines and the electrical service.

We look forward to upcoming Saturday workdays. Anyone interested in learning about Aquaponics is welcome, both at our First Saturday Gatherings and at other events, including workshops and seminars.

Let’s all work together to assure the success of the Good Food Revolution!

 

 

DFW Aquaponics — Growing the Farm

Preparing to build a 20 X 120 foot production greenhouse at DFW Aquaponics Farm in Burleson. Classes begin in January.

We’re ending the year on a high note at the Farm in Burleson — and we can’t wait for the new year to begin! The land is cleared and our new 20 X 120 foot production greenhouse is about to become a reality!

Want to be a part of making it happen as you learn how to build your own? Enroll in one of our January classes.

Lettuces, cabbage and tomatoes are thriving in our smaller demonstration greenhouse; and our fish are fat and happy. We have more seedlings ready to take their places in the rafts, and a lot of new seeds to plant.

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We thought you might enjoy seeing the crops that are nearly ready to harvest — just a teaser. More to come!

2017 is going to be a banner year for DFW Aquaponics Farms. We hope you’ll join us in the great Aquaponics adventure. Come see us at our First Saturday Gathering January 7. Just sign up through Meetup.

Why not make a resolution join the good food revolution in 2017!