We first met Megan's husband, Ben, when he came to the farm years ago with a friend in the late fall. We were tearing out pepper plants that had little baby peppers left on them. He asked if he could pick them and donate them to a food pantry--so they hauled away a couple garbage bags full of mini-green peppers that day for donation. Our relationship with Megan and Ben has continued to inspire us to seek ways to get our produce to people who may not have CSA on their radar.
Megan suggested Tricklebee Cafe as a potential partner. The cafe is right up the street and offers a vegetarian "pay what you can" menu. They are glad to receive a regular donation of fresh organic produce from the farm and we are delighted that they know how to put fresh stuff to use in the kitchen and offer meals to community members on a sliding scale. If you choose to donate your share for the week...this is where it will end up.
ALISSA How long have you been a member with Three Sisters CSA Community Farm?
MEGAN I think this is our fourth summer. In our family it’s myself, my spouse Ben and our daughter Cadence who is seven.
What is your dropsite?
We have home delivery in Sherman Park.
Have you ever met Jeff and/or Kelly in person?
Yes it was probably the first season we were with the CSA. I do a lot of after school programming work with kids, and took at group of third graders out to the farm in spring to help turn compost and plant seeds and other tasks to help the kids get a feel for what’s going on on the farm. Ben has also helped out a couple of times on the farm.
What’s one thing you remember?
I remember (Jeff and Kelly) being super kind and gracious, especially since we showed up with a whole bunch of kids. So willing and excited to teach about the farm and what they do, and not just “here’s what we do and how you can help” why they do it and what is exciting and challenging. One of the reasons we stay with Three Sisters is that Jeff and Kelly seem to have an ethic that guides how they think about food and farming and that’s important to us.
In three words, how would you describe the experience of seasonal eating you have through your CSA share?
Lots of squash
When other people ask you what it’s like to be a CSA member or why you do it, what do you usually say?
I talk about seasonal eating and how it’s really important to us that our eating habits reflect what's going on with the land around us. Even though it means that in February I don’t want to look at another sweet potato in my life.
I also talk about the convenience, because it’s delivered.
And that it’s a small step to doing something justice-related within our food system. Saying there is a different way to grow food, rather than dumping chemicals on a lot of land.
What is your favorite CSA food item?
The cherry tomatoes. When those come in the little pint boxes there are literally fights in our household over who gets them. One year our daughter got to them first, and ate a whole pint herself and we were legitimately mad at her for it!
Is there a CSA food item that most confounds or stumps you when it comes to cooking or eating, or used to before you knew what to do with it?
The other thing we really like about Three Sisters is that we can select what we want, so we usually don’t get those vegetables. There are some weeks we forget to log in and then maybe we will get kohlrabi - haven't figured out how to appreciate it.
Radishes are also tricky, but I've done a lot of different things with radishes this week (because I forgot to log in) after soliciting the internet for suggestions. Roasted radishes are actually pretty good. We just try to avoid kohlrabi. We’ve come long way on things like beets and all of the different squash.
What is your favorite thing about being a member of Three Sisters Community Farm?
I really love the convenience of it, that’s really nice. And everything does just taste better. You can tell that it’s so much fresher. We get really sad every fall when the egg part is over and we have to go back to grocery store eggs.
Food is a value for us as a family - both in that we want it to be sustainably sourced and that we want to have a good relationship with Wisconsin’s’ land. And we like to eat things that taste good and the CSA makes that really easy.
Do you have a funny anecdote related to a CSA experience? Confusions, misunderstandings, strange vegetables?
I don’t think so, but Kelly probably has a couple from dropping off the box at our house. Our house is the one in the neighborhood where the kids like to congregate. So I usually hear kids saying things like “what’s that?” when she is dropping off the box. And Kelly’s not going to just drop it off and leave - she wants to take the time to teach this kid about what a farm is.
What about being a CSA member is most important to you?
At this point we’ve been partnering with Jeff and Kelly (as members) for four years and it’s a relationship of sorts - we love our farmers and we want to continue to support them. There are tons of other CSA’s in this area which is really cool, but we love Jeff and Kelly and we want to support them and we think they have a good philosophy of farming. So that’s why we stay, why we continue to do this year after year.
What’s the most delicious meal you have had recently?
The other night - Monday - we roasted up a bunch of the vegetables that we had, including the radishes, and made a big salad with some of the early lettuce. My husband and daughter are both meat eaters so they had some BBQ turkey - it was just really good and mostly plant-based, and all local stuff. It was just delicious and all came from this general area of the country, and there were hardly any leftovers so I guess that was a win.
Do you think your daughter’s eating habits have been affected by being CSA members?
Yes - she’s a pretty adventurous eater - even the other night with the roasted radishes she tried one, she didn’t like it but she tried it. She really likes beets when they come in because if you grind them up with strawberries it turns hot pink. But also we talk a lot about plate composition - rather than “You have to clean your plate” or “You have to eat this” we are more like “have you had veggies today?” She does some self-guidance even when my husband and I aren't around. She’ll be like, “That’s cool that there’s cookies but I haven't had my vegetable today.”
We’ve been members since she was three, so she just assumes everyone has farmers and everyone knows where their food comes from.
What is your favorite place to have a meal?
We love to have people over, so just around our dining room table. We’ve had some really good meals. I like to cook a lot so whether it’s just our family or whether we’re having people over...we’ve had like 30 people in our little duplex dining room.
What is one thing that is bringing joy into your life these days?
Any time it gets warm outside it’s just so joyful to me. I didn’t grow up in Wisconsin, I’m from the south originally. So when my face doesn't hurt when I go outside it’s good.
What is one thing that is giving you pause, or reason for concern?
I think just our inability to see one another clearly. Because we’re never going to all agree on the way things should be and the way we should organize ourselves. But right now it feels like we can’t even be honest about our observation of another person and where they are coming from.
Spinach or Arugula?
Spinach. Spinach is one of my favorite vegetables. As a vegetarian it is crammed with all the things I’m constantly trying to get enough of. It’s mild enough that you can go savory or throw fruit on it. It’s great raw, or wilted. It’s more versatile than arugula. And the winter spinach is the best when it’s more sweet.
Jeff Schreiber has been farming organically for 10 years. In 2011 he started Three Sisters Community Farm with his wife, Kelly.