WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield mom Meredith Lehman always loved visiting local farms with her family—so much so, in fact, that she and her husband hope to buy a farm of their own soon. And starting next month, she’ll be working with more than 60 farms in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to bring fresh organic produce to homes in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Clark, Garwood, Cranford and Mountainside via Just Farmed, her Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that delivers to your door.
Previously working in sales, Lehman left the office several years ago to become stay-at-home mom to seven-year-old Andie and soon-to-be five-year-old twins Elliot and Charlotte. Now she’s found a way to merge her business sense with her loves of healthy cooking and local farming.
“It’s been a passion of ours for a while,” said Lehman. “We’re excited, and if other people are too, that’s great.”
Unlike traditional CSAs, Just Farmed is convenient—fruits and vegetables are delivered weekly in reusable boxes chilled by ice mats during a time window of the customer’s choosing. And because produce is coming from so many farms, Lehman is able to include seven to nine varieties of fruits and vegetables in boxes each week. (Local farmers grow far more vegetables than fruit, she noted, so expect the balance to tip more toward veggies.)
“Our aim is to put in the box whatever is at its peak for the week,” said Lehman. During the spring months, customers can expect items including rhubarb, berries, asparagus, zucchini and “every kind of lettuce under the sun,” she said. Hard-to-find ramps are a possibility, too.
Later in the year, “We have a ton of apple varieties,” she said, as well as peppers, onions, eggplants, garlic and possibly specialty items such as scapes and okra. Fresh herbs and microgreens will be included, as well. She expects that all of the produce will be organic, though some items may not be certified.
Also included in each box will be tips and recipes—including many that are kid-friendly and fun for kids to help make.
Delivery for the 2013 season will begin May 9 and continue through the first week in December. Participants pay $34 each week for a box designed to feed a small family. Customers may opt out a total of three weeks a year. Every-other-week deliveries are also an option.
“We’re willing to work with people if they’re outside of our delivery area or if they need special arrangements,” said Lehman.
Delivery windows will be available on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m., or Fridays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Here, Lehman shares one of the recipes customers can expect to find in their boxes:
Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
“This salad is great when you have a bunch of veggies and want to use them all at once,” said Lehman. “It’s a hearty salad with a lot of natural flavor from the combination of fresh ingredients.”
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced into ¾-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, diced into 1-inch pieces
1 red onion, peeled, diced into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 pound orzo or rice-shaped pasta
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
To assemble after:
4 scallions, minced (white and green)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 pound feta cheese, diced into ½-inch pieces, not crumbled
15 fresh basil leaves, julienne (cut into strips)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss veggies and garlic with olive oil, salt, pepper on large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, turning once. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water for 7-9 minutes. Drain and transfer to large serving bowl. Add veggies. Make dressing and add to pasta. Let cool to room temperature. Add scallions, nuts, feta and basil. Serve at room temperature.
Want Lehman’s recipes for Apple Cake and Southwest Frittata? Click here to find them on our Facebook page!