Fresh From The Farm: Winter Crops Being Harvested


David Bearl



Winter is upon us but that means a lot of activity in our local farming community! The first crops of winter are being harvested. You’ll see trucks of cabbage on State Road 207, fresh cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, beets, kale, collards and more at the County Line Produce stand. If you dig deeper you will also find that many of the local farms have diversified their crop rotations.

Blue Sky Farms is currently harvesting 80 acres of several varieties of table-stock potatoes.  Very few farms in our area grow a fall potato crop and Danny Johns can be commended for doing so. They also added fresh patty-pan squash, onions, beets, turnips, yellow and zucchini squash, and a couple other items to their production. Sykes & Cooper Farms has started farming vegetables for the Asian market. Bok Choy, long beans, flat top cabbage, and daikon squash are all now being produced. The export market for our vegetables is strong and will only get larger in the years to come. The world markets for fresh vegetables is growing as fast as the population of the world. This, coupled with the shrinking number of farms, will be an opportunity for those who choose it.

Sheppard’s Haven Food Pantry is still providing meals, clothing, and other services to those in need. In September they served over 1,095 people and that number has increased exponentially since then. I was there today and a line of folks needing help for the holidays extended to the parking lot. Should you ever want to help them as a volunteer don’t hesitate to give them a call at 904-697-1951.

Our farmers have also started planting both chip and table stock potatoes for the spring harvest. There will be millions of pounds of potatoes produced in our region in the next 4-6 months.

Also watch for the Tour de Farm information to come out in the next few months. I am sure this yearly event will be as large as in past years. Thousands of folks come out to see what our local growers are producing.

The Farm to School program was also renewed in October. This year Farm to School activities have become part of UF’s Family Nutrition Program. We will continue to build school gardens, teach school district personnel how to prepare fresh fruit and vegetables, and how to procure vegetables for the schools from local farmers. This program is working towards every child having the opportunity to eat fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. We will also work with school districts to have fresh vegetables in the summer feeding programs.

Now on to cooking! These are a few of the recipes developed through the Farm to School Program and for folks in the Family Nutrition Program.

Tomato & Rice Soup (6 servings)

Fresh tomatoes                       3 each             yellow onion chopped 1 each

Green or red pepper, diced     1 each             long grain rice             1/2 cup

Water or stock                        4 cups              Margarine                               1/2 oz.

dried basil                               1 tsp.               Green onions, minced 4 stalks

Dice the tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Heat a sauté pan to high heat, add the margarine and vegetables and cook for 5-10 minutes. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a medium size stockpot; add the rice, basil, and water (or stock), simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir the minced green onions into the soup just prior to serving.

Cream of Broccoli Soup (6 servings)

 Yellow onion               1 each minced vegetable oil or margarine     4 tbsp.

Flour                            4 tbsp.                         Chicken or vegetable stock     24 oz.

Low-fat milk                12 oz.                           Steamed broccoli                    1 lb.

Chopped green onions or chives for garnish

Sauté the onions in the vegetable oil or margarine. When translucent add the flour and combine it to make a roux. Add the stock and milk and steamed broccoli. Cook for at least 20 minutes to cook out the flour taste. Using a blender puree the soup. Garnish with chopped green onions or chives.


Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower (6 servings)

 Cauliflower                  1 head cut into florets            chicken stock              1/2 cup

Roasted garlic 1-2 cloves – mashed               sour cream                  1 ounces

Butter                          1/2 ounce                                salt/pepper                 to taste

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan, add cauliflower florets and cover; cook for 4- 5minutes to cook the cauliflower.  Add the roasted garlic and sour cream to the saucepan. Using a large spoon or potato masher mix everything together; season with salt and pepper, serve at once.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. Don’t hesitate to call or email me for additional recipes or cooking tips and ideas.


David Bearl,

Program for Resource Efficient Communities

University of Florida







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