Tag Archives: produce

Pinehold Gardens – CSA

Hi Everyone. Sorry I’ve been absent for the past few weeks – July ended up being ridiculously busy, and it completely got away from me. How is it possible an entire month can escape you?

But alas, the wait for the next post was worth it. Yesterday I had a chance to visit with Sandy and David at Pinehold Gardens – a little organic CSA farm located 15 minutes south of Downtown Milwaukee. While I’m not an official CSA member with their farm, I have been purchasing their produce over the past four – years. I started visiting their South Shore Farmer’s market stand a few years ago, then last year started visiting their road-side farmers stand located at….their farm. How convenient. It’s actually a 5 minute drive to their farm vs. the 20 minute rigamaroo drive to the South Shore Farmers Market. You have no idea how big of deal that is. Last weekend I ran to their farm stand at 9 am, stopped at the house to bag and store the produce, and was on the road at 9:30 am to photograph a wedding starting at 10 am. There’s no way I could do that if I had to run to South Shore.

So… with that, I’ve been eating their “Juicy Garlic” for the past few years. …and actually, David coined the term “Juicy Garlic” last July when I asked him if I should hang the garlic and let it cure. He said, “Nope.It’s perfect right now – I like my garlic juicy”. He wasn’t kidding. And they have baskets upon baskets of garlic in their storage shed. I have four heads hanging in my pot rack, and will be buying more this weekend.

With their fabulous garlic comes the best garlicscapes you’ve ever eaten. I have three pounds of garlicscape pesto in the freezer so I can have all winter long. I plan on adding to that batch next week, as one of my summer lunch staples is garlicscape pesto crostini topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and shaved caesar blend cheese. It’s so simple and SO good. …Hmmmm. Recipe to come. <<<

Wait! Did someone say “Tomatoes”? OH! Pinehold tomatoes. They are sweet juicy heavenly delights. You can’t find tomatoes like this anywhere else. Last year I started buying their Sungold cherry tomatoes, and my 18 month old got hooked on them. Now he LOVES tomatoes, and that makes a parent VERY happy. The problem with Sungold tomatoes is, the split easily. Which is why you won’t find these kinds of tomatoes in the grocery store. You either need to grow your own, which I’m trying this year. Or find a farmer who grows them, and buy directly from them. …Remember, get to know your farmers and learn where your food comes from.

This year I bought PHG’s larger red cherry tomatoes for the first time, and they’re equally delicious. I have 4 quarts on order for pick-up this Saturday. I can’t wait to make a fresh simple pasta sauce with these sweet tomatoes and their fresh garlic. It’s going to be fabulous.

My wife and I also became PHG winter squash junkies. We ate their Carnival, Delicata, Acorn, Buttercup, Fairy, and Butternut squash on a weekly basis well into March. Sometimes 2 or 3 times a week in December and January. Baked squash + butter + brown sugar is winter eating nirvana. It just warms the soul.

And did you know they have REAL free range chickens delivering the delicious multicolored eggs to their CSA members? No. You can’t eggs like this at the supermarket. Cagefree chickens just don’t have it this good. This little flock actually gets to eat organic produce all year round – and that translates to ridiculously rich delicious eggs. Another little kiddo favorite.

One of the best things I love about Pinehold Gardens is their commitment to sustainability. They harness the power of the sun with their solar panels, they don’t spray their produce with chemical pesticides, and they don’t spread chemical fertilizers on the ground. And that’s why Pinehold continually produces some of the best freshest produce you can find anywhere, and the Milwaukee area is so lucky to have David and Sandy.

Better yet – yes it gets even better – you can find their produce at local restaurants. And the one Sandy and David have built a wonderful Farmer to Chef relationship with is La Merenda. And ironically, that’s easily one my favorite restaurants in all of Wisconsin.

Here’s a little photo tour of their small organic farm
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Trust me, their garlic is MUCh bigger than this. 
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This is their giant solar panel
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Pinehold Gardens fields just after sunrise – their hoop houses off in the distance
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Seedlings ready for transplanting

Luscious fresh Kale, Rainbow Chard, Onions, and so much more…
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Hoop house Cukes 

…and those delicious juicy tomatoes…

The field tomatoes have quite a ways to go, but these hoop house cherry tomatoes are ripening well
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Freckled lettuce and endive

Winter squash – I so can’t wait for October…

The chickens have it so good. SO good…

Did I mention I photographed this entire day with manual focus lenses? …Even the chickens. OUCH!
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And here it is. The garlic. LOTS AND LOTS of garlic. 
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ARM = Armenian garlic. They also have Bavarian, Italian Red and other varieties. I’m partial to the Armenian.

And here’s the washing station so their CSA members get fresh clean produce
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If you’re on the fence about joining Pinehold Gardens CSA, you can always drive up and purchase their produce at their Saturday morning farm stand – what a great way to trial their wonderful product before you dive in. And even if you prefer to be a farmers market kinda buyer, I can’t recommend Pinehold Garden’s Saturday morning roadside stand enough.

Please visit their website for more info: Pinehold Gardens 

…I’ll see you there on Saturday.

Much love, happy eats, and I welcome comments,


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HighCross Farm – My CSA

This was originally a test post as I learned how to use WordPress.com and started building this blog from scratch – I needed something to look at while I was picking through all the templates. Don’t be shocked if it changes sometime down the road.

While technically this was my first post, it feels like my third as I’m going to re-write it after I wrote my second. Huh?!? …I’ve been pondering what I should write for the past few days, as I finished up processing last weekend’s wedding. Meh! Why not go with the obvious? Since my blog is about Local, Sustainable, Farm Fresh Food, and it’s a photographic journey, why not start with what inspired me to start this blog – my CSA.

After jumping into the CSA thingy last year, I’m officially a HUGE advocate of this organically grown and locally delivered gift. The food is incredibly fresh, therefore it’s also incredibly nutritious. Some of the food we had delivered last night was picked from the fields and hoop house that same morning. The rest was picked the day before. Does it get any more fresh than that? Well….yes. If you grow your own – which I do have a small garden. But there is no way I can get this kind of variety grown in my garden. The photo below (taken last summer) is a great example of the variety we get from our CSA, HighCross Farm. I think about the size of the garden it would take just to grow the produce that was delivered in the photo below. We’d need a garden at least five times our current size. It would likely have to be larger if we wanted it to produce weekly, for a family of four, from early June through the end of October – and maybe into early November.


In the photo above there are Roma tomatoes, a giant heirloom tomato (no idea, I’ve never seen this kind of coloring before), cherry tomatoes, red norland potatoes, summer squash (patty pan, yellow and zucchini), eggplant (purple and rosa bianca), jalapeños, green peppers, yellow Hungarian peppers, red oak leaf lettuce, napa cabbage, some long green salsa chiles, purple pole beans, broccoli, fresh basil, and a few cukes. Holy cow, that’s a HAUL. If you read the post CSA Delivery: June 12, 2014, you’ll notice it’s much heavier than the first delivery of the year.
Those norland red potatoes are SO SO good. Cube ’em up, boil until tender, add butter and sprinkle of salt and black pepper. So simple. So good.

One of the big reasons we joined this particular CSA was the option to buy their Spring Share – two deliveries in May, and their winter share – three heavy deliveries from mid-November through late December. The fact they delivered 3 miles from our house as was fabulous perk.

We also liked their online store where you can buy farm fresh eggs right from their personal henhouse. The chickens are free roaming and get to bugs and organic veggies from the farm. The yolks are unbelievably creamy and colorful – such a bright deep orange. Not that sick pale yellow you get from grocery store. Even the cage-free organic eggs don’t compare to those plucked and delivered directly from an organic farm.

As the summer progresses, you can purchase extra farm items. I love spinach and kale, so all summer I loaded up. I was buying an extra 1-2 pounds of spinach and kale a week. I blended kale into Jonas’ (our little one year old) organic yogurt shake with a banana and strawberries. He sucked that stuff down like no one’s business. …Jeez, I even liked it. LOL

As fall hit, I started stocking up on winter squash – we had delicata and hearts of gold squash all the way into March. I can honestly say, I never got sick of it. …and I used to HATE winter squash when I was growing up. Not surprisingly, my Jonas isn’t a fan – yet.

A few other perks for why we chose HighCross Farm. They have host a family day twice a year, and invite their CSA members out to the farm to tour the farm, take a hayride, meet the animals, meet the staff, watch a cooking demonstration by their resident chef, and enjoy a potluck dinner to finish the night. Here’s a few pics from last year’s event. Please note, we never made it to the dinner. Jonas started getting a little cranky after a LONG warm afternoon.




I can’t even begin to explain how difficult it is to capture the eyes of a chicken in perfect focus with a 35mm f/1.4 lens…@ f/1.4. I will be the first to admit this  capture had a LOT to do good luck. But, as Edna Mode suggests, “Luck fa-vuhs da’ pruhpared”. highcross_024

A hoop house full of seedlings getting ready to be transplanted into their fields. highcross_028



Chef Bernie doing a cooking demonstration. Man, that grilled giant zucchini was incredible….highcross_039



….as was this Caprese Salad snacketizer. Tomato slice, fresh mozza, a basil leaf, and a squeeze of balsamic vinegar reduction. highcross_054

So that’s a little photo tour of HighCross Farm during family day.

If you’re in the Milwaukee area, and you’re on the fence about joining a CSA, or even which one to try, I can’t recommend HighCross Farm enough. Check out their website, shoot them an email, ask them questions – and tell them Craig sent ya’.

Thanks for reading, and I welcome comments,



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