I have to admit that I am not the most daring person when it comes to trying new foods.
I’m usually quite satisfied with the old favorites of a cheeseburger and french fries or a ham sandwich or salad. However, I have begun to expand my comfort zone and try new items, especially those of the more healthy variety.
On June 10, I joined about 10 other area residents who took part in a Franklin County Purdue Extension program at Michaela Farm, Oldenburg, to learn how to prepare produce, including kohlrabi, bok choy, radishes and Swiss chard. Before that, I had never even heard of the first two vegetables.
About 2.5 acres of gardens supply food for the Sisters of St. Francis convent, reported head gardener Becky Miller. “We grow things as naturally as possible. We try to stay away from things that are harmful to nature and the environment. Our goal is to feed the soil. Once the soil is fed, the plants are healthy. Our philosophy is to work with nature to grow food, and that makes very tasty, nutritious foods.”
While giving the group a tour of the gardens, she said, “Adding straw helps add organic matter and keeps the rain from pounding the clay ground.” A thin white cloth covered some of the rows of crops, but it still lets the water and sun through. “It protects the leaves and is a really nice natural barrier.”
All four vegetables to be prepared were freshly picked. Kohlrabi bulbs, small vegetables similar to cabbage, grow “totally above ground,” she revealed. “They look sort of cool like they’re floating. You harvest them before they’re bigger than the size of a softball .... or they’re not very tasty.
“Swiss chard comes in all different colors, but they all taste the same. You can eat the stalk and the leaves.” Bok choy is a variety of Chinese cabbage having pale-green stalks and dark-green leaves.