Last year, 40-year-old Maria Hernandez Cruz and her family were inspired to start growing their own food. So they created Cruz Family Little Farm on their one acre lot in Douglassville to meet some personal needs.
“We have medical issues and are trying to eat healthy,” said Cruz. “We need things that are chemical free and make things grow naturally.”
When it comes to planting and harvesting, it’s a family affair.
“I have a grown son and three daughters,” said Cruz, adding that even though her son is an adult, she has three young daughters at home. “They help me in the garden, with the chickens, honey and the farmers market.”
In addition to providing food for their own families, they also share eggs, honey, flowers, produce and herbs with the community at the Pottstown FARM market.
“All I’m talking about is what we share at our table,” she said, referring to customers in the market. “We sell what we eat from our table, therefore we share from our table. “
Their motivation to grow and sell things at the farmer’s market extends beyond the profits from the sales.
“We’re not doing it for profit,” said Cruz. “It’s more like teaching people that you can eat healthy on a small property – you don’t have to have a lot of acres to eat. You can do it in your garden, you can do it anywhere, and you can produce good, healthy food.
Cruz, who was born in Mexico, moved to Brooklyn, New York, when she was 10 years old. At 24, she moved to Pennsylvania.
“I didn’t like the city and always wanted to live in a place where I could have a garden and grow my tomatoes,” she said. “I’ve always liked natural things.”
The main cook of the house for her husband and her three daughters, these days, Cruz likes to prepare his family “pumpkin blossom quesadillas”, made from flowers that grow on their pumpkin vines.
“We chop them and sauté them with onions, garlic, then we take a tortilla and we put cheese in it,” she said, adding that she uses corn tortillas and mozzarella.
The quesadillas are topped with a green sauce, also known as salsa verde.
“Right now we have a lot of tomatillos and I’m roasting them with jalapenos and mixing them with garlic and then garnishing them,” she said of the quesadillas.
Cruz said her family is currently anxiously waiting for their sweet potatoes to be ready for harvest to make a fall dessert that she also makes occasionally with pumpkin.
“I’m waiting for my sweet potatoes so we can eat honey roasted potatoes,” she said. “It’s our favorite dish for fall.”
To do this, she washes the sweet potatoes and then cuts them in half before adding a few sweet ingredients.
“I put a little cinnamon and a little sugar on top to make it crisp,” said Cruz, adding that she was using white sugar, cinnamon and cinnamon sticks.
After having roasted the potatoes in a casserole dish covered with aluminum foil, then comes the final touch.
“I take it out and pour our honey on it and eat it for dessert,” she said. “You can buy your own sweet potatoes, but when you grow your own they taste better.”
In addition to what they grow for their own family and the farmers market, the Cruz family sells herbs at The Blue Elephant restaurant in Pottstown.
“They love rosemary and Cuban oregano,” she said. “They asked me to grow shiso – a Japanese mint that they use in their sushi.”
One dish that Cruz likes to make at home with Cuban oregano is chicken oreganata.
“You grind the oregano and put in garlic and vinegar and black pepper and you marinate your chicken in it,” she said, adding that when crushed, Cuban oregano forms a paste. that looks like pesto.
Since Cruz spent much of her youth growing up in New York City, she enjoys immersing herself in different styles of cooking given the variety of foods she has been exposed to.
“I cook Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Mexicans and Italians,” she said. “Whatever my kids want that day, I do it for them.”
Learn more about Cruz Family Little Farm
Find them at Pottstown FARM Market
October 2, 16 and 30, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Smith Plaza, Pottstown