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
Whats in the box this week:
Sugar snap peas
... 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,
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!.
Up on the Farm
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 well 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 well 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 years crop a little
earlier so we dont 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 email@example.com, 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 weeks 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
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 its 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 dont 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, weve been told, is that pears typically dont have a
lot of nectar. So we tried to lure them by spraying sugar water, but with
little success. In the meantime weve 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 well continue our somewhat clumsy
role as "puffing" pollinators. The things farmers can get themselves
from Debbies Kitchen . . . . .
. . . Have a recipe youd 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
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
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.