WEST BRANCH, Iowa — As area residents flock to local farmers for their food in the midst of the pandemic, they might be surprised by the odd assortment of vegetables that show up in their box or bags every week. The Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) and local chef Becky Russo Schmooke are here to help.
Schmooke’s Solon-based company, Becky’s Mindful Kitchen, is launching a new online cooking class featuring vegetables of the week from local CSA farmer Corbin Scholz to highlight Iowa’s ability to grow fresh, clean food.
The free Farmers Market cooking series begins Thursday, June 4 at 5 p.m. Participants can cook their farm share vegetables during the class and have supper ready by 6. The series will continue each Saturday throughout the month of June and is a companion piece to the free online cooking classes that are already offered by Schmooke.
“SILT’s partnership with Becky’s Mindful Kitchen comes at a time when there is an abundance of concern and even mistrust about our food supply and plenty of supply chain disruptions,” said Genie Maybanks, SILT Corporate Partner Development Specialist. “People are looking to local farmers for healthy, sustainable food now more than ever before. It’s important that people understand that they can rely on local growers for a variety of delicious foods to nourish the soul.”
Schmooke will use the contents of a weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box from Scholz’s Rainbow Root Farm of Solon to produce the recipes in her Farmers Market cooking class series. Those classes have moved online due to the pandemic and are aimed at highlighting food sustainability and local farmers.
SILT donated the CSA box to Schmooke to give her the opportunity to educate participants about the variety and quality of local produce Iowa can grow when it decides to make preserving land for food farming a priority. Scholz is a young farmer and a board member of SILT. At a time when the public has experienced recent panic buying and grocery store shelves are left bare, many of Iowa’s organic vegetable and pastured meat farmers have experienced a substantial increase in demand while their more conventional peers are struggling, according to news reports and farm groups such as Practical Farmers of Iowa.
“CSAs work because customers pay a local farmer at the beginning of the season to help cover the expenses of raising various fruits and vegetables. In return, they receive a share of the farmer’s produce. It’s a win-win for all involved,” Schmooke said. “Right now, CSAs and farmer’s markets are able to offer Iowans a sense of security surrounding when and if they will be able to access fresh produce, as well as meat, flowers and eggs. I’m excited that partnering with SILT will allow me the opportunity to demonstrate the creative, delicious and often surprising ways to get the most out of what locally grown food has to offer.”
“Becky demonstrates a passion for supporting local and sustainable farmers that speaks to SILT’s message and will help tell the SILT story to an expanded audience,” said Maybanks. “We are delighted to partner with her to provide a greater understanding of Iowa’s food landscape and to further promote sustainable food practices.”
— Sustainable Iowa Land Trust
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