20th Harvest Week September 10th - 16th, 2001
Season 6



"...May we all grow in grace and peace, and not neglect the silence that is printed in the centre of our being. It will not fail us."
- Thomas Merton


What’s in the box this week:

Green beans
Napa cabbage
Sugar snap peas
Mystery Item?



... and if you have an extra-fruit share:
Berries, apples and pears



Sat. Sep 22 - Fall Equinox Celebration,
3pm - 9pm

Fri. Oct 5 tentative next wood-fired
bread oven baking day
(full moon Oct 2nd)

Sat. Oct 20 - Halloween Pumpkin U-Pick,
all day

Our Fall Equinox Celebration is coming right up, and so this reminder in the newsletter is so that you won't miss it! Saturday September 22nd, from 3 - 9pm, come on out to the farm (see website or call us if you need directions) and join us in celebrating the changeover of the seasons. We will have our usual potluck (bring a dish to share) and bonfire, games and pony rides for the children, farm tours, live music, and as an added bonus, we'll fire up "Toastie" and bake some bread! Feel free to bring dough if you'd like to participate in this great fun. See you on the 22nd!.

What's Up on the Farm
As the season is changing so are things on the farm. Soon "Dorle" (our German intern) will be leaving us, since her five-month internship here is almost over. Her boyfriend is coming to visit from Germany, and together they will tour Northern California before heading back. She promises she will share her experience here at the farm in next week's newsletter.

On the drying front: In addition to drying tomatoes we've also dried apples, and soon we’ll try some of the Warren pears. We hope to develop a few products this year which we can then offer more consistently next season. Let us know what you think of the sampler bags we’ll be placing in your shares.

This week we are pruning all our stonefruit trees: apricots, peaches, and plums. This is the first year we've pruned them in the early fall, which should help reduce problems with spring fungal and bacterial diseases. Pruning is an art form and much has to do with understanding the tree's growth habit and finding a balance with one's production needs.

Strawberry fields forever: As I mentioned in an earlier newsletter we'll be preparing our strawberry fields for next year’s crop a little earlier so we don’t get surprised by some unexpected weather system. The first step is to make sure we have the soil well prepared, so this week we are adding about 5 tons of compost to a half-acre field (about 10 tons per acre), and about 2 tons of gypsum. The gypsum helps to add calcium and sulfur to the soil as well as improve the texture by decreasing the compaction of the clay found in the soil. This also keeps the soil aerated and promotes better root growth. This year we will plant three different varieties of strawberries: Seascape (our most popular but most susceptible variety), Diamante, and Aromas which have done very well this year in our trial plot.

Member to Member Forum
Hello it's me, Kristin Schafer again (I work for the organization Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and wrote to you earlier this year about the International Treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants). I'm looking for ideas from interested members on a tough issue we've been wrestling with at work. We're trying to find useful ways to talk about the issue of body burden. Body burden is the chemical load we all carry, some of it from birth. We carry chemicals from the products we and our neighbors use, from the destruction of those products, and yes, from the food we eat. Some of these chemicals pass through our bodies quickly, others find a home in our tissues (especially body fat), stay a lifetime, and are passed to the next generation. Very little is known about the impacts of the combinations of chemicals found in our bodies. We do know that some of the individual chemicals can be quite dangerous at amazingly low levels, especially to a developing fetus.

So the question we've been wrestling with: Is it useful to talk about this body burden we all carry? Will it move us toward solutions, or contribute to a feeling of hopelessness and apathy? Will it make people angry at the chemical companies whose products end up in our bodies without our permission, and will that anger translate into pressure for change?

As members of the Live Earth Farm CSA, we have all chosen to be part of the solution - for ourselves, our families and ultimately for society as a whole. For me personally, the more I learn about body burden, the stronger my resolve to work for change becomes. Thoughts? Please contact me directly at kristins@panna.org, and I will compile any responses I get and post them here in the forum so we can all stay abreast of this issue. And as you contemplate, enjoy those glorious burden-free organic raspberries (thanks Tom!).

• If you wish to communicate something to the rest of the CSA membership, or start a dialog among members on a particular topic, you may use this forum to do so. Please submit info to the editor (see below) by Sunday to get it into the following week’s issue. Keep in mind that members don't receive newsletters until the following Wednesday and Saturday (if you're reporting on a timely event).

Crops and Critters
A story about our pears: Pears belong to the beautiful family of the Rosaceae, same as apples, cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, blackberries, strawberries and of course the mighty rose. Apples and pears are very similar in their culture (i.e. pruning, growing con-ditions, pests and diseases), although pears are rather more fussy, needing extra care and attention. The pears we grow are Warren pears, a French butter-type pear similar to the well-known varieties Comice and Anjou. We inherited about 400 trees when we first started leasing additional land in 1997 and it’s been a learning process ever since. One reason not many pears are grown along the coast is their susceptibility to a disease called "Fire Blight", however the Warrens have shown a remarkable resistance to this disease, and our little orchard is one of the only stands of pears still growing along the Central Coast(!). But everything has a catch. The Warrens are a very early pear, starting to flower by late February/early March. All pears need a partner nearby for pollination, however not many partners are available that early in the season. So since we have fallen in love with these particular pears, we have taken on this responsibility by purchasing pear pollen and puffing it on the flowers ourselves. But I quickly came to realize that we just don’t match the grace and efficiency of a honeybee. So our next step was to place beehives inside the orchard and let the bees disperse the pollen. Unfortunately they have been reluctant to help us out and would rather fly a mile away to visit some wild mustard flower rather than tickle a much closer Warren flower. One of the reasons for this, we’ve been told, is that pears typically don’t have a lot of nectar. So we tried to lure them by spraying sugar water, but with little success. In the meantime we’ve grafted other pear varieties onto the Warren pears, to hopefully get better cross-pollination. Our goal is to perfect this mating dance one day to achieve a more consistent fruit set, however in the meantime we’ll continue our somewhat clumsy role as "puffing" pollinators. The things farmers can get themselves into sometimes!!!

Notes from Debbie’s Kitchen . . . . . . . . Have a recipe you’d like to share? Contact the newsletter editor.

Not much room this week, so how about I just give you a few tidbits on pears and peppers? - Debbie.

Pan-browned Pears (or Apples)

For many years I've made what I call 'fried apples', wherein I core and slice up apples, melt some butter in a large skillet, add the apples in a single layer, and cook over low heat until browned (turning to brown them on both sides). These are great served alongside pork (chops, tenderloin, roast, whatever) and mashed potatoes, or with breakfast sausage and eggs. Well guess what? You can do the exact same thing with pears and it is equally wonderful!

How to roast peppers

I was so happy when I finally learned how to do this, as the flavor added to peppers via roasting is just so amazing. You need a 'hot fire' of some sort: a charcoal grill, gas grill, or broiler. Place whole peppers over (or under, in the case of a broiler) the heat source. Allow skin to char/blacken/blister, turning every few minutes with tongs to char all sides. They don't have to be 100% blackened all over (sometimes there are nooks and crannies that escape blackening), but mostly so. At this point, remove peppers to a plastic or paper bag, seal up and let 'steam' about 15 minutes. Here comes the cool part (the trick to seeding and peeling 'em). Place one of the blackened peppers (after they're cool enough to handle, of course) on a cutting board on its side. Gently hold the pepper with one hand, and grab and pull on the stem with your other hand. The stem and most of the seeds should just ploop right out in one piece. Carefully slit up one side of the pepper and open/lay it out flat, skin-side down. Scrape away any remaining seeds and rib membranes. Turn pepper over and peel off the charred skin. Sometimes this comes off in one big piece (yeah!), but if it breaks or flakes, just use a knife blade and carefully scrape it off. That's it! Cut it in slices or pieces and use it a million ways! Roasted peppers freeze well too. I lay the prepared slices on sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap, on a cookie sheet, and stick in the freezer until they're frozen solid. Then, pop the slices off and seal up in a ziploc and throw back in the freezer (it helps if you separate the frozen slices with plastic wrap so they don't stick together). If you have any questions about this process, feel free to email me! (click on the 'contact the newsletter editor' link, above) - Debbie


*Click Here* for a link to a comprehensive listing of recipes from Live Earth Farm's newsletters going back as far as our 1998 season! You can search for recipes by harvest week OR by key ingredient. Recipe site is updated weekly.