Stop by the Mar Vista Farmers Market on a Sunday, and you'll see Joe Rodriguez, Sr. behind the colorful produce at the JR Organics stand. Those fresh fruits and vegetables -- many of them heirlooms -- come straight from a certified organic farm in the hills of Valley Center in San Diego County run by Joe Jr., a fourth generation farmer.
The father-and-son duo have more than 100 years of local farming experience between them, and together bring a taste of that experience to farmers markets throughout San Diego, as well as Orange and L.A. counties -- including the popular Mar Vista and Santa Monica (Virginia Avenue Park) farmers markets.
Many customers shop a la carte at JR Organics' stands, but on-the-go shoppers opt for the farm's Community Supported Agriculture program, paying ahead and picking up a box of in-season produce every week. In addition to tying local customers directly to the farm's production, the CSA program gives its members an additional bonus -- an annual farm tour that includes a feast featuring on homemade dishes created with local, organic farm produce using the Rodriguez family's own recipes.
JR Organics' CSA members often bring their kids to the farm tours to pick and nibble on fresh, organic strawberries and play on the farm. This year, the young ones may get a special treat: A new kid-friendly educational garden. "Children have such a natural affinity for gardening," says Joane Marrero, JR Organics' community supported agriculture director, who plans to plant an educational farm specifically for JR Organics' youngest visitors.
Join the CSA program to see Joane's plans turned reality -- and to get a taste of the farm, on the farm. Or to experience JR Organics at home, stop by a farmers market for a few simple, fresh ingredients and try cooking up this Rodriguez family dish. The old-fashioned recipe doesn't indicate quantities, so use your own experience and know-how and add your distinct cooking style to a JR Organics' classic.
Swiss Chard & Chicken Wings
Sea salt and pepper
Simmer all ingredients together until done, then add salt and pepper.
Photo: Joe Rodriguez, Jr. with lettuce | Courtesy J.R. Organics