The journey to having a building on our farm where we can wash, pack, sort, and store our vegetables is nearly over. Can you believe it?
After a season of dreaming (2016), a season when we truly thought we would be building only to discover that the site location the whole family had settled on was border-line impossible not to mention unreasonably expensive, incredibly inefficient for vehicles and altogether impractical (2017), and a season of making big decisions on the future of this building only to be delayed by rain over and over again (2018), our pack shed vision is almost complete.
Last summer, in July and August the building went up– a beautiful site. In October we added a cement floor and two massive garage doors, but the building remained unusable (with the exception of a really great party) until two huge projects were completed. That baby needed access to water before we could use it for washing anything, and it also needed electricity so that we could move our first cooler over and finish constructing the second cooler.
On April 4th, we got one step closer to the end of this saga. A massive excavator appeared at our farm to dig the 500-foot trench from the well in the middle of my parents’ front yard, through their driveway, in front of their machine shed, and past my mom’s garden all the way over to our pack shed site behind our greenhouses.
We now have four hydrants with running water (!!!): one for the greenhouses, one at the top of the hill for field irrigation, one at the back of the pack shed that my Carrot will use to run water lines inside for washing veggies, and one for my parents for their horse pasture because they did let us tear up their yard and driveway for this massive project after all.
While the excavator was there, my Carrot ran back and forth laying our electric line in the trench so it didn’t have to be a separate project later. Now we’re just waiting on a visit from my uncle– our favorite electrician– to connect the electric to both my parents’ machine shed and our packing shed.
Yes yes, we are nearing the end and with these large projects in motion we have time to focus on the little details.
Last week, my Carrot ran a drainage pipe from the drains in the building to a leach field so that all our produce washing waste water drains away from our production fields. He built some shelving units and found lockers for our crew members and hauled them in there all while he continues to build our second cooler inside the building. This project will continue on rainy days in April and May when the fields are too wet to work.
We’ll get a few loads of gravel that need to be delivered to surround the site and make a better driveway for the monsoon season we expect to be typical of late August and September from now on. Once the gravel is in place, we will move our first cooler over to the site.
Sometimes big projects like this seem so slow. It can feel ridiculous that its going to take nearly three years from the initial dream of having a pack shed to having it completed. But then I remember that we’ve spent the last three years seriously growing our business, settling into our first home, working off-farm jobs, traveling, and nurturing dozens of relationships. And suddenly it feels totally amazing that we went from not a shred of infrastructure in fall of 2015 to having two greenhouses, a building, our own running water, and a driveway in three short years.
Progress is all a matter of perspective. Life can feel incredibly slow or incredibly fast, draining or energizing, tedious or impressive, defeating or inspiring.
It’s that simple. It’s that easy of a switch to make. Will things be easy or hard? Will I be grateful for where I am or impatient because I want more? I say all this because it’s been a recurring theme in my life for that last couple of years. And I also say this because yes, it all does come back to food.
Will eating healthier be a challenge you relish and find inspiration in or one you let drain you? Will eating a few salads a week be something that feels overwhelming or something that brings you back to the basics?
This salad is just that— it’s a salad that nourishes and replenishes, that fills you up without taking much in return. Eating healthy can be that easy. It can also be fancy with all kinds of bells and whistles and advanced techniques but it doesn’t have to be.
For this salad, I smashed some of my favorite dried chiles in a mortar and pestle (it could also be done in a food processor or in a plastic bag with a meat mallet). I tossed it with some unpeeled chunks of storage sweet potatoes from our basement and some rinsed canned chickpeas. I let the oven, olive oil, salt and pepper do the work while I tidied and planned for the days ahead because let’s face it, it’s April and we’ve got some crazy days ahead.
I let the veg cool then threw it over some greens. I shredded some daikon radish that’s still leftover from the fall and sliced some scallions and added that to the top along with whatever nuts I had lying around and chia seeds for good measure. I could have made my own ranch or even a green goddess had I felt more ambitious but I didn’t so I leaned on a favorite bottle dressing in my fridge. Voila! Dinner or lunch or a midday snack. Simple nourishment. Local made easy. Joy instead of stress.
It’s all a mater of perspective.
SPICY CHICKPEA & SWEET POTATO SALAD
I actually prefer the roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas cold the next day so I’ve been roasting up a batch every Sunday, storing it in the fridge, and then eating the salad throughout the week.
Takes 1 hour, most of it inactive
Makes 2 large, meal-sized salads or 4 side salads
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
2 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive oil)
3 dried morita chilis peppers (or other favorite smoky pepper), smashed (about 1 tablespoon crushed pepper)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 daikon radish, shredded
4 scallions, sliced
1 head lettuce, chopped or 8 ounces lettuce mix
1/3 cup toasted nuts (almonds or pecans work best)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Creamy dressing of choice, I love this Classic Buttermilk Ranch or my homemade Green Goddess dressing
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Toss sweet potatoes and chickpeas with avocado oil, crushed chili pepper, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, toss and then roast for an additional 15 minutes until chickpeas are crispy and sweet potatoes are tender.
- Let cool while you shred your radish and slice your scallions.
- Divide lettuce into two or four bowls. Divide the radish and scallions between your salads followed by the roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas, nuts and chia seeds. Drizzle salads with dressing.