Kale converts celebrate harvest: Gardeners hold potluck featuring their vegetable of the yearWhen Michael Gabler started seeing kale bumper stickers on cars in Duluth, he knew progress was being made.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
When Michael Gabler started seeing kale bumper stickers on cars in Duluth, he knew progress was being made.
Kale — a long unappreciated and largely avoided leafy vegetable, though it’s jam-packed with nutrients — was starting to get the attention it deserved, says Gabler and others with the Duluth Community Garden Program that’s been behind the One Vegetable, One Community food literacy initiative this year.
A take-off of the One Book, One Community project in which members of a community read the same book at the same time, the vegetable version kicked off its first year in Duluth with kale named Vegetable of the Year.
“I’m pretty attached to kale,” “kale ambassador” Gabler told about 50 avid gardeners who gathered for a potluck dinner Monday in the culmination of kale’s reign as the premier vegetable. “You can grow it a huge part of the year, from March to October. The only issue is it’s not palatable.”
You wouldn’t know it by the spread at Lafayette Square Community Club on Park Point. Nearly every dish — including the veggie loaf, rice casserole, various potato dishes, quiche, stew and desserts — was made with kale.
And it was so good, those in attendance were cleaning their plates and going back for seconds.
“It’s amazing what you can do with kale,” noted Coral McDonnell of the Lafayette Edible Community Garden group, which co-hosted the event.
Bob Peters was enjoying his plateful.
“I like this chili and I like this salad a lot,” he said. “The vegetable meatloaf was delicious. But I didn’t try everything.”
Siegrun Horst was made a kale convert. A member of the Duluth Community Garden Program for more than 17 years, she’s used to homegrown food. But not kale.
“I never was a kale eater, ever,” she said. “Now I can’t wait till I get these recipes.”
Alice Hibbs, 3, ate all her mashed potato kale hot dish, while her brother, Sam Ward, 11, went back for more.
“We grow a lot of kale at home, especially this year,” he said.
That’s because their mom, Jahn Hipps, is the program coordinator for the community garden program. A gardener, she had started both children on vegetables early. But getting her daughter to eat leafy greens has been a particular challenge.
So she started her daughter on spinach smoothies made with banana and yogurt, then tossed in kale and other leafy greens. And her daughter loves them.
Jaime Harvie, who helped come up with the One Vegetable, One Community idea, said their mission to encourage people to grow and eat lesser-known vegetables has been a success.
“We laid the foundation to take it to the next level,” he said. Organizers say the next level is to get their neighbors to do the same.
“When you eat this meal, it makes you strong,” Gabler said.
The group is now looking toward 2012 when there’ll be another Vegetable of the Year. While the winning vegetable is to be announced Jan. 1, beets won in a nonbinding straw vote at the potluck, with parsnips coming in second.
“Kale’s reign will end, but all those recipes will remain in our hearts and our bodies,” Gabler said. The kale recipes will be posted on www.duluthcommunitygarden.org.