Winter Learning

Bryan sports a new pair of pupperalls

Bryan sports a new pair of pupperalls

Fun and Educational

Bryan and I were at the Future Harvest CASA Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed Conference this weekend, and we had a blast! Conferences are a great way for us to reconnect with old friends, chat with agriculture service providers, and learn new tips and techniques for the 2018 growing season. Future Harvest CASA is a special non-profit organization to us because I completed their Beginner Farmer Training Program in 2015, and we were all advanced trainees in 2017. They've provided us with knowledge, support, mentorship, and guidance throughout our farming careers, so this conference holds a special place in our hearts. We'll also head up to the PASA conference in early February to learn even more!

Pam Dawling

Pam Dawling

I heard from another farmer that their goal for a conference is to learn one new thing that they might try. I like this goal because it keeps conferences from becoming too overwhelming. The one thing that I learned and look forward to trying next fall was from Pam Dawling of Twin Oaks Community. Pam is an amazing grower and a prolific author based in central Virginia. I went to her presentation on growing winter vegetables, and she talked about over-wintering Swiss chard plants. In the late fall, she takes off all of the leaves and covers the plants with straw and row cover (pervious fabric to keep snow and wind off of plants.) In the early spring, she uncovers the plants, and because they have such a deep, well-established root system, they get right back to growing new leaves! So cool! Can't wait to try this in the future.

Tasty Idea


I wanted a simple meal that involved few ingredients last night, and here's what I came up with: Sweet Potatoes stuffed with Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas! I didn't think to snap a picture, but here's how the chickpeas looked. I roasted a few orange sweet potatoes in the oven at 400F, and was able to cook the chickpeas at the same temperature. Once they were all done, I sliced open each sweet potato and added a healthy dollop of sour cream. Then I put in a couple of handfuls of the crunchy chickpeas. Altogether this ended up being the perfect combo of creamy and crunchy textures and hearty flavors.

Here's the chickpea recipe from the New York Times.

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar (I upped this to about 4T, do what tastes right to you)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Spread out chickpeas on a paper towel. Pat dry, then let dry for about an hour (I only let them dry for about 30 mins and they still got very crispy)
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a heavy rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper, and spread chickpeas evenly on the pan. Bake in the center of the oven until crunchy, about 30 minutes, stirring and rotating every 10 minutes. (The chickpeas will continue to get crunchy as they cool.) (Also I didn't have parchment paper and just roasted the chickpeas on a cookie sheet with no oil but stirred them often, and they were fine!)
  3. Place hot chickpeas in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, za’atar and salt. Store any cooled leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week.


Hope you have a great week! And stay tuned for info on our regular season CSA coming very soon.


Joanna and Bryan