Photo By: Courtesy of Collective Roots
Spring greens are sprouting for local gardeners at Collective Roots’ 2013 Annual Heirloom Seedling Sale, scheduled 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at De Martini Orchard, 66 N. San Antonio Road.
Proceeds from the sale support Collective Roots, an East Palo-based nonprofit group that sponsors garden-based learning programs. The seedlings are from the organization’s greenhouse.
The $4-$5 pots of garden edibles include tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and squash, ready to plant at home.
For home gardeners looking for a tip sheet on hot seedlings this year, Collective Roots Program Director Eron Sandler offered the following picks from among this year’s crop.
• Berkeley Tie Dye is a new and hard-to-find local heirloom tomato from Brad Gates at Wild Boar Farms in Napa. It’s the ideal tomato for anyone who loves Cherokee Purple tomatoes – it’s even beaten Cherokee Purple in tomato taste tests.
• Black Krim is an heirloom beefsteak variety with unique-looking fruit of up to 16 ounces. Dark red-purple-green, the juicy fruit has a deep, slightly salty flavor and is a good choice for containers or small gardens. It always places high in tomato taste trials and is a favorite of many chefs.
• Armenian Cucumbers, technically a melon, are crisp and sweet with no bitterness and a thin skin, even when they grow large. This variety is easily digestible, especially for those who can’t tolerate regular cucumbers or zucchinis.
• Persian Cucumbers are gaining popularity in U.S. markets and specialty grocery stores. They have very thin skins and no bitterness. The prolific vines produce well even in difficult conditions.
Los Altos resident Sally Chaves, member of the Collective Roots board, said the group’s after-school Garden Club now continues its curriculum into the afternoon.
“Students use the garden throughout the day not only to play and for reading time, but for classroom meeting places,” she said. “They also use the garden for science, math and other curriculum. They have cooking classes using the garden produce on Fridays.”
Collective Roots offers classes in Redwood City and East Palo Alto schools, and includes parents and siblings ranging from preschoolers to teenagers. The six-week Cooking Matters program includes both nutrition education and hands-on cooking lessons using produce fresh from the East Palo Alto Community Farmers’ Market.
To inspire some spring cooking, Chaves shares a Spring Pizza recipe, below, that’s beloved by Collective Roots.
For more information, visit www.collectiveroots.org.
• 4 baby artichokes
• 8 dried tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 12-inch prebaked commercial pizza shell (or you can buy frozen pizza dough, roll it out and prebake it or make your own pizza dough from scratch)
• 6-8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
• 10 black, dried Kalamata olives, pits removed
• 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
• 1 cup young arugula (rocket)
• 3/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 500 F.
Cut top 1/2-inch off baby artichokes. Cover with water and simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Cool.
While artichokes are cooking, chop tomatoes coarsely and reconstitute in warm water for 10 minutes
Blend olive oil with garlic. Spread oil mixture evenly over pizza shell.
Distribute mozzarella slices evenly over pizza shell. Quarter cooked artichokes and put them on top of mozzarella. Add olives and tomatoes and sprinkle with oregano.
Bake 7 to 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Remove from oven, cover evenly with arugula and sprinkle with Asiago cheese.
Either serve pizza as is or return to oven for 2 minutes to wilt arugula and melt cheese.
Makes 1 medium-size pizza that serves 2.
– Adapted from Rosalind Creasy’s “Recipes from the Garden” (Tuttle Publishing, 2008)