We met Sophia at the UEC CSA open house the year we handed out "funky onions" free to members. Remember the funky onions? They looked like giant shallots. We blamed ourselves and scratched our heads but found out in the end that it was a seed company error.
A year or two later Sophia connected us with Marquette Law School M-Clinic and we were lucky to have our community loan promissory note reviewed by several attorneys as part of an educational workshop for the law students.
ALISSA How long have you been a member with Three Sisters CSA Community Farm?
SOPHIA We used to buy from them at the Farmers Market when they were doing that. And when I came to Marquette we started getting a share here. Might be five years at the Marquette dropsite?
What is your dropsite?
Marquette - I work at Marquette and they do a delivery to our Wellness department. It’s so nice to be able to pick up right there, sometimes you see other employees so you get to know other regulars. At first I did the every week share, but we had three teenagers at the time. We switched to the every-other week when our kids left.
Have you ever met Jeff and/or Kelly in person?
I did one time, other than at the farmer’s market. We did go one year to the Urban Ecology Center when they had the CSA thing in the spring, we got a bag of onions.
What’s one thing you remember about them?
There are just so charming, they are just delightful. They are people whom you would trust to grow your food, and that you would want to hang out with as well. They are just really kind, and seem like just really wonderful people.
In three words or three phrases, how would you describe the experience of seasonal eating you have through your CSA share?
Convenient, with the online platform.
Something to look forward to every week.
When other people ask you what it’s like to be a CSA member or why you do it, what do you usually say?
We really like to support the local agriculture, you know where your food is coming from, it’s not full of mysterious chemicals or pesticides. It tastes a lot better and it is fresher. It’s fun - we’ve been doing a CSA for at least 18 years, it’s enabled us the opportunity to try things we never would have bought. I’ve learned a lot of new recipes, and our kids are very adventurous eaters because of it. If anyone has kids, it’s a fun way to introduce them to things they never would have heard of.
What is your favorite CSA food item?
It depends what is in season! I get a little excited when the first heirloom tomatoes come out. Or the first sugar snap peas in the spring.
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?
Fennel. I haven’t quite figured out how to get the licorice taste out of fennel. It looks like celery but it’s not! Fennel is one of the most mysterious things to me. Pretty much everything else I’m good with, parsnips and kohlrabi we love.
That’s the thing that’s so great about Three Sisters - you get to pick what you get. I don’t always select the weird things, so there have probably been things I haven’t tried because they are just really out there.
Do you have a “box unpacking ritual” each week? If yes, please describe.
What I used to do, when our kids were around, is I would put it all on the kitchen table and take a picture, then send it to them. I stopped doing that eventually. At this point I just rush to get the cold things in the fridge. Between the selection time (on the website) and the pick up is when I research the recipes so I kind of know what I’m going to do with it. Especially the fennel.
You still choose the fennel, even though it stumps you?
I keep hoping one day I’m going to be like “this is really good.” My mom used to cook with it, she grew up in California so she always cooked with fresh produce. She moved to the Midwest when she got married but she always tried to have fresh food - we were the weird family that had artichokes and avocados.
What is your favorite thing about being a member of Three Sisters Community Farm?
I just like being a part of this wonderful farm - being part of what Jeff and Kelly provide. Appreciating their hard work, I always try and remember to thank them because it’s something I would never want to do in a million years. It’s such hard work. Not to be a wimp but I can barely do a couple garden plots at home.
My husband's mother grew up on a farm and my dad worked in meat packing so we are kind of a food family, we appreciate well put-together food.
Do you have a funny anecdote related to a CSA experience? Confusions, misunderstandings, strange vegetables?
Sometimes when I’m out of town I have a coworker pick up my box for me, and one time this person ate all of it in a weekend. They are single, they don’t have a family. They were just so excited to have it! I find that pretty funny.
What’s the most delicious meal you have had recently?
(For the first box this year) I forgot to pick out my stuff, so Kelly gave me this giant thing of parsley and I made this giant thing of chimichurri. I was so excited because I haven’t had any parsley since the last parsley from the farm, which was probably October, and just having that to put on some chicken and potatoes we made was wonderful. I was happy to see the parsley come back. Last summer there must have been a bumper crop, and I didn’t know much I loved parsley until then.
What’s the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
Octopus in Galicia, Spain. It’s supposed to be the best in the world but to me, it just sticks to your tongue. Everything is so good there but I just don’t love that stuff.
What is your favorite place to have a meal? (Restaurant, your backyard, a friend’s house etc.)
Out on the deck in the back on a beautiful summer day with lots of wine and fresh food and friends and family.
What is one thing that is bringing joy into your life these days?
Summer in Wisconsin!
What is one thing that is giving you pause, or reason for concern?
Oh my goodness, I don’t even know where to start. I guess I’d like to see more of people taking time to listen to each other and not be so judgy and critical. It gives me pause that that doesn’t happen. People just get so critical right off the bat.
Spinach or Arugula and why?
Spinach. It’s more versatile. Arugula is good too, but it’s spicy.
Is there anything you would like to share about seasonal eating, local food, CSA membership or anything else related to these topics that you have never had the chance to say?
Just being part of a CSA, my kids got involved with local food. Maybe more as a lifestyle more than a career but my son got involved in Slo Foods and he lived in Spain for a while, my daughter is now a good cook and a vegetarian, actually her career is in nutrition and public health. The third child likes everything, he’s younger but he’s not particular.
All three of them are really into eating healthy. I don’t know if that’s normal for that generation. When I told my daughter about this interview she said, “you have to tell them that we eat all kinds of weird vegetables because of the CSA.”
Recipes | Sophia's Chimichurri"It’s so good on eggs, chicken, beef, roasted potatoes, pasta salad, and even with crostini. It keeps a few weeks as long as there is an oil seal on top- much like pesto."
SUBSTITUTION DISCLAIMER Sophia admitted that she never follows the recipe exactly and that she also uses cilantro and basil at times. This week since we are harvesting cilantro(and parsley is several weeks out yet) we recommend subbing cilantro for parsley for a slightly different take.
· 1 ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, tightly packed (about 1 large bunch of parsley)
· 1/2 cup diced red onion
· 1 t. dried oregano
· 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
· 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus a little lemon zest to taste
· 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
· ½ tsp sea salt
· ¼ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
· ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
· ½ cup good-quality olive oil ( I like California)DIRECTIONS:1. Add all ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor and pulse a few times until just chopped. Slowly stream in the olive oil, while pulsing the mixture a few more times until the olive oil is combined.
2. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container- it will keep a few days at least.
Jeff Schreiber has been farming organically for 10 years. In 2011 he started Three Sisters Community Farm with his wife, Kelly.