Orchard Gardens - the ins and outs

Hello, Amy here: the AmeriCorps member coordinating volunteers at Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm and Community Garden. I could not be more excited to join the truly inspiring 2013 Garden City Harvest crew, to learn and experience all this organization has to offer. As part of our team’s weekly rotation, here’s my attempt at this blogging business.

First off, Volunteer for Veggies  is well underway at the Orchard Gardens and River Road Neighborhood Farms. Volunteer for Veggies is a great deal — in trade for a few hours of farm work, volunteers take home veggies in amounts corresponding to hours worked. Plus, you work side by side with folks like Sarah who have been gardening for years, so you learn a little about gardening along the way.

We would like to thank all of our past, present, and future volunteers for their hard work. Of course, as the growing season advances so do the weeds and the constant stream of farm tasks waiting to be accomplished.

On a different note, I want to share my appreciation for the bike-friendly access available to Orchard Gardens. Many agree, the streets of Missoula can be challenging to navigate. I often find myself avoiding trips out to Reserve Street at all costs. So when I first discovered that Orchard Gardens was located on the west side of Reserve, I cringed at the thought of biking to work. I quickly discovered the Milwaukee Trail that now connects the River Trail system all the way to Grove Street. A quick 15-minute ride from

downtown, the bike path offers a safe, fast and convenient way to access Orchard Gardens for employees, volunteers and CSA members alike. The trail allows people to observe the growing season progress as they pass by; a unique aspect of our semi-urban location. Whether it is just a friendly wave or a full-on conversation about the vegetable crops, the adjacent Milwaukee Trail keeps Orchard Gardens a dynamic work environment. Keep your eye on the fava beans growing along the south edge of the farm as you pass by next time.

Veggie of the Week: Spinach 

This time of year spinach can induce mixed emotions. Its return is exciting; big beautiful, leafy leaves are abundant in just about every garden. High in vitamins A, C, K, iron, zinc, and fiber, spinach is often considered a “super food.” However, when you have too much and are tired of spinach salad variations, it can get old.

Today’s springtime recipe is one of my absolute favorites, and although it is fairly common and simple, it is always a hit. The following recipe for spanakopita is a great way to use up large amounts of spinach in a delicious, flavorful entrée. Although it is not for the calorie-faint-of-heart, using some local butter and feta may decrease your guilt. Note: Don’t be intimidated by phyllo dough. It is easier to use than you think. Just make sure to thaw it out in the fridge and be gentle while assembling.

Spanakopita recipe adapted from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

  • 2 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tbs. flour
  • 3 tbs. butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • 2 lbs. fresh spinach
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 cups (1 lb.) cottage cheese
  • 1 package defrosted phyllo dough
  • ½ lb. melted butter (or less)


  1. Clean, stem and chop the spinach. Salt it lightly, and cook, adding no water, for five minutes.
  2. Cook the onions in butter. When soft, combine with remaining ingredients and spinach.

To Assemble:

Spread melted butter on a 9 by 13” baking pan. Place a strudel leaf in the pan (it will outsize the pan. Let the edges climb the sides) and brush generously with butter. Keep layers of dough coming, one on top of another, brushing each with butter. When you have a pile of 8 or so leaves, then apply the remaining filling, spreading it to the edges. Pile as many more layers of phyllo and butter as your baking pan will accommodate.

Bake uncovered, about 45 minutes-till golden brown at 375 degrees F. Enjoy.