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From Wellspring Charitable Gardens this Week - February 23, 2023

From the Garden this Week… Romanesco & Purple of Sicily Cauliflower, Swiss Chard, Baby Carrots, Single Celery Stalk, Arugula, Green Onions, Parsley, Rosemary, Oregano, Dill, Grapefruit, Blood & Navel Oranges

Using your Produce… by Julie Moreno

This week we have more Romanesco coming. This green cauliflower grows in a conical shape naturally. You can use it in your favorite cauliflower recipe. With the chilly weather still upon us, I included this Chickpea and Swiss chard soup. It is similar to a vegetarian minestrone. The soup combines the chard with carrots, celery, and onions. By pureeing a portion of the chickpeas, you thicken the soup naturally without starch. There is enough flavor from the vegetables to just use water in the recipe. If you do use a prepared stock, make sure to taste the soup first before adding more salt at the end.

Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup

(adapted from

2-15 oz cans drained and rinsed

canned chickpeas

2-3 cups vegetable stock, chicken

stock or water, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon salt

Pinch dried red-pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, or 1

tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

1-15 oz can diced tomatoes

½ cup uncooked tubetti or other

small macaroni

4-5 leaves Swiss chard, tough stems

removed, leaves cut into 1-inch pieces

¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

* Puree half of the chickpeas with 1 cup of stock and set aside. In a large pot, over medium heat, add the oil, carrot, onion, celery and cook until the onion becomes translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic, red-pepper flakes, salt, and rosemary, stir for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes, pureed chickpeas, whole chickpeas, raw pasta, and the remaining broth. Bring to a boil and the reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the pasta is tender about 8-10 minutes. Add in the Swiss chard and cook for about 2-3 minutes more. Taste and add salt, if needed, and fresh ground black pepper before serving.

Dear WCG Supporters,

We have moved, not our gardens which are still located between Oakdale and Riverbank off Hwy 108, but our mailing address. After 19 years in central Oakdale, we are now receiving our mail at a P O Box in the main Oakdale post office. Our new mailing address is

Wellspring Charitable Garden

PO Box 96

Oakdale, CA 95361

We thank you all for your ongoing and faithful support! WCG Staff


This recipe adds raisins for sweetness and nuts for fat and texture. If you don’t have pine nuts, walnuts make an acceptable substitute, but really any seed or nut will work. You don’t have to worry about toasting the nuts ahead of time because you’ll cook them with the Romanesco.

Roasted Romanesco with Raisins and Pine Nuts

1 medium Romanesco

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

½ teaspoon seasoning salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ cup golden raisins

¼ cup pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the Romanesco into florets and add to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the oil, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and garlic. Mix well and spread the florets on the baking sheet in a single layer. Cook in the oven about 15 minutes. The remove from the oven and sprinkle the florets with raisins and pine nuts. Return to the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Serve right away.

Metaphors of Soil and Soul …

Stinging Nettle

by Ronda May Melendez

Weeding the Garden this week, I encountered a painful reality. Unseen forces, forces we think we have learned to manage, can cause a surprising amount of pain. “Who is the instructor in this lesson?” you ask. Nettles! In past newsletters, I have written on their health benefits. Today, I will focus on the sting in their reality. Nettles are beneficial when managed properly, but they are painful when encountered unexpectedly. I had not seen nettles in the Garden for a while. Besides, I thought my skin was properly protected to engage weeds in battle; I gloved up, wore long sleeves, long pants, thick socks, and boots. What I had not considered, however, were how my movements among the plants would expose my vulnerability. Focused on my weeding, I had set myself up for an assault. Then it happened: glove and sleeve parted, tender wrist was exposed, and contact made. Sting and pain. OUCHHHH!

It took a mere moment to recognize the culprit, the familiar pain immediately betraying its cause. Isn’t that just like life at such times? We experience a pain that recalls and enlivens hurts from long ago. Sometimes, the culprits are there lurking, yet have eluded our notice, just like the needling nettles this week. Knowing our vulnerability, we do “armor up,” but somehow an enflaming nettle finds a chink and triggers the pain.

My pain-filled reminder this week is two-pronged: survey my surroundings and identify nettles while moving among circumstances or people that could trigger pain; be mindful of my armor and re-secure vital protections my interactions have shifted out of place, leaving tender areas – old wounds, insecurities, fears, failures, and disappointments – exposed to a sting. I need not fear the nettle, but I do need to gird my limbs and guard my heart in their presence.

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having strapped on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17).

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