There was a point last year when pushing a two-wheeled Vermont handcart up the hill near our house for the 1,000th time when I decided that I’d had enough. Since I started farming on my own in 2001 down in Lake Elmo, I transported my harvest bins around by hand. At that time I started I was 25; today I’m 40. I knew farming had already aged my body and continuing with this low-tech form of transportation was only going to age me quicker.
So, this spring I fell in love in with an Italian tiller from Grillo. Sometimes called walking tractors, these glorified tillers are used extensively in Europe where farms the size of mine are much more common. Yes, they have rototillers like any old Troy-Built, but they are designed to fit a huge range of implements from mowers to cultivators to potato diggers. Considering my need for a nimble form of transport and a tiller to fit into the little spaces on the farm where the tractor doesn’t work, I coughed up the $5k to bring this beauty on farm together with a cart.
It seems a bit funny sometimes driving around the farm on a seat behind a tiller, but with the special ‘drive gear’ it makes for a pretty nice ride and I’m confident will save me from early knee and back surgery.
In the box:
- Fresh Basil
- Fresh Fennel: Big bulb with celery-like stalks
- Arugula: Oakleaf-shaped green banded with a red band
- Dino Kale
- Green or Fresh Garlic: Cloves inside just like cured garlic…you could let dry down until papery in a sunny, dry location
- Hakurai Salad Turnips: I just love these things…they are a very mild turnip that is made to eat raw.
- Summer Squash: Both a zucchini and a yellow straighneck or yellow zucchini, which you use the same as green zucchini.
Fennel Parmesan Recipe (adapted from Food Network)
1 fennel bulb, cut horizontally into 1/3-inch slices
2 T Parmesan Cheese
Lightly oil the bottom of a 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then with the Parmesan. Drizzle with the oil. Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 teaspoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis