This post was created in partnership with Sub-Zero. All opinions are our own.
Fresh food matters
As you may know, we’re all about the way that eating fresh food can transform your life. Today we’ve got something special for you: an interview with a local farmer who is turning our food system upside down. He believes fresh food should be accessible to all people, not just the ones who can afford typical farmer’s markets. We’ve partnered with Sub-Zero on their Fresh Food Matters initiative to bring you an interview with Jonathan Lawler, Executive Director and Farmer with Brandywine Creek Farms here in Indianapolis. He’s got some strong opinions and a huge passion for his work. Here’s Jonathan:
The interview: farmer Jonathan Lawler
Sonja: The first time we spoke, you made a few bold statements: “I don’t sell at farmer’s markets. I only produce five crops. I think kale should be illegal.” Let’s take a step back: why as a local farmer don’t you sell at markets anymore? What are the crops you grow, and why only five?
Jonathan: Brandywine Creek Farms is considered a large-scale produce farm. Our model serves a much wider market than what farmers markets offer us. Farmer’s markets have their place; they just don’t fit well with a farm model like ours. We grow tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and melons. We grow only five, but we grow them to very large scales and concentrate on quality. As an example, we will put 68,000 tomato plants into the ground. I have found success with these five crops, if we tried to grow multiple crops at our scale we would lose a lot of quality control.
Sonja: And just for the record, and what’s your beef with kale?
Jonathan: Foodie hipsters, who actually make up a lot of my friends and business partners, are always trying to get me to eat kale something. Kale Chips, Kale smoothies, Kale Salad, Stewed Kale. The list goes on and on. I don’t like the taste of kale and all my friends act like it is a super food (which it is) that can be paired or added with anything. I guess I just get tired of hearing about it.
Sonja: You obviously have a passion for bringing fresh food to under-served populations. Why is making fresh food accessible important to you?
Jonathan: As a farmer I am a part of the population that makes up the one to tw percent that feeds the other 98 percent. I view farming as a civic duty. The problem was I really didn’t think hunger existed in my community. My son actually told me about a child at his school that had to take food home from a pantry that had been established in the school. That lit a fire inside of me to address food insecurity in Central Indiana with the one tool and talent I had… Agriculture. There is an entire demographic that wants to participate in the local food system, but are often priced out. Farms like BCF grow to a large enough scale that we can donate large amounts and also sell at a greatly discounted price and still make enough to cover our operations and continue to grow. With our partners at Flanner House we have come up with an entire new market for local food, we call it the Affordable Access Market. It allows anyone who wants to participate in local food to do so without having to spend high prices you find at farmer’s markets and specialty outlets.
Sonja: You have a very exciting project going on to take bringing fresh food to people in Indianapolis to a new level. Can you give us a brief summary of your collaboration with Flanner House and what it will bring to the community?
Jonathan: We are helping Flanner House establish one of the largest urban farms in the city. It will connect that community with real food and real choices. It will also provide jobs in agriculture and it will allow underserved members of the community the opportunity to have in depth participation in food production and everything else that can come with that. Marketing, culinary disciplines, logistics. The possibilities are endless. We are actually bringing interns from Flanner House out to BCF to participate in our 2nd Chance Farmer Program. We hope to turn some of the youth in that community into large scale vegetable producers. Stay tuned, we have some really exciting programs coming out this summer that we can’t announce yet.
Sonja: That’s incredibly inspiring! Thank you for the work you do for our community.
Jonathan: Absolutely. Thank you for helping us raise awareness about food insecurity in Central Indiana.
Hats off to Jonathan for his inspiring work! To go alongside his interview, we’ve created a new recipe: “get your greens” naan pizzas using a variety of spring vegetables and drizzled with a tahini miso sauce. Naan pizzas are a quick and easy way to dinner and get a large dose of fresh vegetables. For one of the greens, we’ve used broccoli, which Jonathan mentioned he used to grow and would be available around this time as an early crop in Indiana. And in his honor, we’ve used rainbow chard as a leafy green instead of kale (though you could substitute with kale if you choose)! Artichokes and radishes round out the spring veggies, and the base of the pizza is a creamy hummus. With all the flavor going on, you won’t even notice there’s no cheese: just lots of fresh ingredients.
A huge thanks goes out to Sub-Zero for encouraging us to spotlight local farmers for their Fresh Food Matters initiative. Fresh Food Matters is about inspiring people to think about their own relationship with fresh food, how they can incorporate it into every day, and how fresh food has an impact on society. We couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of it. For more, head over to FreshFoodMatters.com, which features interviews with experts on the impact food has in their lives, and practical tips for how to purchase and store fresh food from season to season.
Did you make this recipe?
If you make these get your greens naan pizzas, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks and tag #FreshFoodMatters on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free. For gluten-free, use gluten-free naan.
- 1 tablespoon miso
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon maple syrup or honey
- 1 large head broccoli, chopped into small florets (5 cups chopped)
- 1 bunch chard, kale, or spinach (4 cups chopped)
- 2 green onions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 7 ounces canned artichokes (1/2 14-ounce can)
- 2 radishes
- 4 naan breads
- 1 cup hummus
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the miso into the orange juice. Whisk in the tahini, ginger, and maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir until a drizzle-able consistency is reached, adding additional water if necessary.
- Chop the broccoli into small florets. Destem and chop the greens. Thinly slice the green onion. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the broccoli and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the chard and green onion, and cook until the chard is wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and sauté for another minute, until the broccoli is bright green and crisp tender. Taste, and add another ¼ teaspoon kosher salt if desired.
- Roughly chop the artichoke. Slice the radish into matchsticks.
- Place naan directly on the oven grate and pre-bake 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the naan from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- To serve, spread each pita with hummus. Top with greens and broccoli, artichokes, and radishes, and drizzle with the tahini miso sauce.