by April Paffrath
This year, we're trying out a new CSA and I'm really excited. Chris Kurth is the farmer at Siena Farms (the one who had the gorgeous radishes at the farmers' market). He's married to chef Ana Sortun of Oleana and Sofra, so you know food is on his mind. The farm is named after their daughter (Siena, naturally), which is pretty sweet. I'm sure that nearly everything he plants has a culinary goal. In fact, his produce is so loved that chefs in Boston and Cambridge use his crops to make the amazing dinners you eat when you go out to the best places. Of course the produce appear in Sortun's restaurants, but also in some of Boston's most stellar places. I'm talking No. 9 Park here, Craigie on Main, Beacon Hill Bistro, O Ya, and more.
The thing that sealed the deal was the produce that we bought last year at the little stand by the Sofra counter, direct from Siena Farms. So much of it was delicious, but it was a single bunch of broccoli that really did it for us. The broccoli was so good that it tasted like, well, real broccoli. It didn't taste like refrigerator, wood, or some vague vegetable that was just green by chance. We didn't think we were eating broccoli just because it looked like broccoli. This bunch tasted like broccoli. This one tasted like it was alive. You could taste the fresh greenness. That's quite a feat when you're often faced with produce that tastes of very little at all. We steamed it and added olive oil and sea salt. That's it. It was so full of flavor that my husband and I joked that night about crying over broccoli perfection. We had to battle our then-2-year-old for it—she wanted to devour it all on her own.
When your dinner conversation is all about simple food that brings tears to your eyes for tasting like it should, or when you thumb wrestle a toddler for another floret (don't worry, we let her win!), you know it's good stuff. Not just good. Great. When I saw the CSA, I jumped at it. Ever since winter I've been anticipating the food to come. Tomorrow it starts, probably with greens and maybe more radishes (yay, radish pesto!). I can't wait to see what else there might be.
All the food we got from that stand at Sofra last year was great. But that one stand-out broccoli told us something very important—that Kurth is paying attention. He seems to care about growing vegetables and he cares about what they taste like when you prepare them.
After the farmers' market last Friday, we saw our neighbors in the building hallway. They're also getting the Siena Farms CSA share this year and it's a topic of frequent discussion—which I just love. One of them talked about going to the Siena Farms booth at the market and he said, gesturing to the remembered stand, "This is ours! Well, not ours, but, you know what I mean." And we do. By committing to a CSA share in the winter, we help farmers buy seeds, supplies, fix machinery and more—right when they aren't getting income from crops. We help the farm continue. So, when we see the gorgeous food at the market, or in our box, we think "We helped do that!" It's a way of making a difference in the way food is grown by saying that it's important to us that our food is fresh and tastes amazing—and that it's grown well. We love farmers and the good food they grow.
Kurth and his team said that I can come out to the farm for a visit. I'm excited to talk to him about his farm, his growing choices, and more. I'll do that soon and I'll be sure to take plenty of photos.
So here we are, waiting anxiously for the foods that will come to our table from Siena Farms. It feels like the night before the first day of school—but tastier. We can't wait and I can't wait to keep you up to speed on the bounty.
If you don't have a Siena Farms CSA box, fret not. They're at the Copley farmers' market twice a week.