Life & Times Locavore: Uncompromisingly local
By IMKE AHLF-WIEN
I almost drove past Blue Berwyn Farm when I visited Stephanie Young on a crisp morning this past November. I had expected fields upon fields of greens and other vegetables. But there it was, a small blue house, surrounded by one-tenth of an acre of vegetable beds and a small greenhouse. How can you supply two area farmers markets for six months a year with vegetables from an area smaller than my backyard? Wow!
Stephanie and her husband, Alex, bought the house in 2016, and Stephanie, who learned to enjoy gardening as a child in her native Vermont, immediately planted a vegetable garden. The yield soon became too much for the couple to consume on their own, so during the pandemic summer of 2020, Stephanie started selling the surplus directly from her curbside.
Her neighbors embraced these offerings, appreciating the hyperlocal access to nutritious foods grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. In 2021, Stephanie had enough produce to sell at the Hollywood Farmers Market, in College Park, and she started selling at the Riverdale Park Farmers Market in 2022.
Stephanie’s eyes light up as we walk around the vegetable patches. In the fall, she grows a large variety of greens, including lettuce, arugula, tatsoi, bok choy, Swiss chard and kale, as well as green onions and garlic, beets, radishes and carrots.
She pulls a tiny carrot from the ground and hands it to me. “These will be ready in December,” she says with a big smile — and right away a recipe comes to mind (see above/below/etc.). “Don’t forget the green tops,” she adds, reminding me that you can eat the greens of many a root vegetable: beets, radishes and, yes, even carrots.
Stephanie, who has degrees in math and physics and worked as a math teacher for six years before tending to her gardens full time, does most of the work herself and by hand. Her husband pitches in sometimes, and since September, she has the help of a volunteer who comes in for several hours every week. This frees up time to dedicate more energy to her other projects: growing flowers (in her neighbors’ yard) and drying them for small bouquets, along with making soap, jam, wreath kits and handcrafted cards, which often include pressed flowers.
Where to buy from Stephanie:
March to mid-December: Riverdale Park Farmers Market
May to November: Hollywood Farmers Market
During the winter months: Join her mailing list (BlueBerwyn@gmail.com) and order à la carte once a week.
Velvety Carrot Soup (serves 4)
This elegant recipe can be served as a simple meal on its own, with a green salad and some fresh bread on the side. The earthy flavors also make it a great prelude to any wintry holiday main dish you may be cooking up this season. The carrots I’ve used here are the winter variety Bolero from Blue Berwyn Farm — known for their sweetness. Other varieties will work, as well.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion
- One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger
- 6 large carrots (about 1¼ pounds)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (or more, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
- pinch of cinnamon
- 2½ cups water or chicken stock
- ½ cup apple cider
- for garnish: sour cream, slivered almonds, carrot green pesto
Carrot green pesto
If you are lucky enough to get your hands on freshly harvested carrots with their feathery green tops, you’re in for a treat. Here’s a recipe for carrot green pesto that is delicious on top of the carrot soup or mixed with pasta or any grain of your choice.
- Fresh greens from 6-8 carrots
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup walnuts
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Wash the carrot greens, removing larger stems and any wilted portions.
- Peel the garlic clove and chop coarsely.
- Cut the parmesan cheese into small pieces.
- Using a food processor, process the garlic, cheese and walnuts until coarse. Add olive oil, carrot greens and salt, and process until smooth.
- Add salt to taste.
- Peel and dice the onions and ginger.
- Scrub the carrots under running water. Remove the ends and cut into ¼-inch slices.
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 4 minutes, until translucent. Add the ginger and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the carrots; sauté for another minute.
- Add salt, cumin, cinnamon and smoked paprika; mix well.
- Add the water or stock and the apple cider. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- Purée the soup with a hand-held blender or in batches in a stand blender.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with sour cream, slivered almonds or carrot green pesto as desired.
Imke Ahlf-Wien is a nutrition educator with a passion for fresh, locally procured foods.