5th Harvest Week April 24th - 30th, 2006
Season 11
  Want a printable copy of this newsletter? Click here for a pdf file of the paper version.



Nature is loved by what is best in us.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


What’s in the Family share:
Valencia oranges (Bernhard Ranch)
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Red cabbage
Fava beans
Green garlic
Baby lettuce
Green/young onions

and in the Small share:
Valencia oranges (Bernhard Ranch)
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Fava beans
Fennel (Lakeside)
Baby lettuce
Green/young onions

... and if you have an extra-fruit option:
[Extra fruit doesn't start until May]



Sat June 17
Summer Solstice Celebration
field tours 2 - 5
celebrations 5 - 9
with Kuzanga Marimba!

Aug 25, 26, 27
Children's Mini-camp, Friday eve. to noon Sun.

Sat. Sept. 23
Fall Equinox Celebration
3pm until dark

Sat. Oct 22
Halloween Pumpkin Pallooza

Fields of “green giants” right now stand between 4 to 6 feet tall, shoulder to shoulder, covering most of the farm's surface. My son, often with a group of fearless friends, disappears in them for hours, slaying them with homemade swords. These slender giants, now in their final growth spurt, are performing some of the most important and indispensable work for the farm's soil. Once plowed under, they’ll enrich the soil for future plantings; until then they also perform a vital service of preventing erosion. Last week as the first school kids came to visit, bringing with them the long awaited sunshine, we hiked and purposefully lost ourselves among the tall, dense stand of "Giant Bell Beans." Only the adults were able to keep their heads above the dense "canopy" and when we came to a clearing in the middle of the field we sat down and explored the soil where these "Giant’s" feet were planted. I pulled one of them out; the soil particles and roots were all entangled in a dark, rich, moist, ball teeming with earthworms. As I gently broke it open I told the kids that what I was holding in my hands is the farm's greatest treasure, and that life on earth – including ours – depended on it. Anywhere else this would not have worked and I would have probably just gotten a bunch of blank stares, but sitting together in this living laboratory, on the soil with bell beans towering all around, the magnificent relationship that exists between plants and the many types of soil organisms including fungi, bacteria and invertebrates was not just some abstract concept. On the roots of the bell beans I showed them the nodules where the plant and bacteria have established this symbiotic relationship. Specific bacteria, in return for the sugars produced by the bell bean, will convert nitrogen from one chemical form into another. This process, also known as nitrogen fixation, is the principal natural process by which nitrogen is made available for use by living organisms. LIFE DOESN'T WORK WITHOUT IT!  - Tom

Field Notes from Farmer Tom
The fava or bell beans we grow as a cover crop (see above) are not the edible kind, but rather their close cousin, commonly known as broad beans because they are much larger, fat and oval. The favas we eat are highly regarded among people living in countries once part of the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman world. Fava beans, a kind of shell bean, are not as well known in America. When they come into season in Italy, Romans go for countryside picnics where they feast on raw fava beans with cold white wine. The beans are spread out on newspaper, shelled, and sprinkled with Romano cheese.

One of the more tedious aspects of preparing fava beans has always been their shelling and peeling. The naked little beans are worth the trouble, but you still wind up throwing out about two thirds of what you started out with. This year we are fortunate to have a large enough acreage of favas planted that we can start harvest them young and immature, which means you can cook them whole (see Debbie’s recipes). In the next few weeks they will size up to where you no longer want to eat the pods anymore, but for now, just eat them whole and avoid the hassle of shelling.

Since the spring rains have delayed our usual abundant production of strawberries, fellow CSA farmers Julia Wiley and Andy Griffin recommended an organic citrus grower from Riverside County from whom they have gotten delicious sweet navel oranges. I know they are not so local (usually if I need other produce to supplement your shares I use local farms – like the broccoli and fennel in this week’s shares, for example, which are from Lakeside Organic, right here in Watsonville), however since our fruit supply has been so below normal I thought I’d try this, and make the shares a bit more diverse and interesting! Bernhard Ranch sells oranges at San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and I picked up a load on Monday. I hope you enjoy what for us is an unusual exotic treat!! In the not-too-distant future we will have Live Earth Farm citrus for our shares, as we hope to be planting our own trees this year.

Worm Composting and Plastic Bag Recycling Info
By Amy Kaplan, Live Earth Farm's 2005/2006 intern

What to do with this week’s... veggie trimmings? Live Earth Farm has always been a place for agriculture, and it's recently become a place for permaculture, but did you know that we also practice vermiculture? Vermiculture just means growing worms. Here at the farm, we maintain several bins of red worms. We feed the worms kitchen scraps like carrot tops and coffee grounds, as well as old veggies and goat manure. The worms perform some sort of magical, mysterious, and slimy process, and turn these otherwise unused greenwaste into farmer's gold: worm castings. These castings make up a dense, dark, nutrient-rich fertilizer that we feed to the plants. The plants then feed us and the (re)cycling continues. Why not celebrate Earth Day this year by starting a worm bin? They're simple to maintain, low-tech, and can be as small as a five-gallon bucket. Drill a few 1/4-inch holes (for drainage) into the bottom and sides of a bucket or plastic tub and set into another container to collect the ‘worm juice,’ add kitchen scraps, shredded newspaper, and a handful of worms. Keep the contents moist but not soggy – like a wrung-out sponge, store the bin outside in the shade or under your kitchen sink, and watch as those peels and pits turn into fantastic fertilizer for your houseplants, lawn, or garden.

Lately we've been brewing up a potent worm casting "tea" and spraying it on the leaves of the fruit trees and berries. This "foliar feed" not only helps feed the plants, but acts as an immune-booster by inoculating the leaves with disease-fighting microorganisms.

For lots of great info about vermiculture, pre-made worm bins, sources for red wrigglers, and free "wormshop" classes in Santa Cruz county go to: http://www.compostsantacruzcounty.org/Home_Composting/ For workshops and bin sales in Santa Clara county go to: http://www.recycleplus.org/workshops_sales.htm

What to do with this week's… bag? According to the Sierra Club, in New York City alone, one less grocery bag per person per year would reduce waste by 5 MILLION POUNDS, and save $250,000 in disposal costs. While we try to use as little plastic as possible in your CSA boxes, we do need to bag up things like loose greens, beans, and broccolini. Once the bags are torn or no longer useable, recycling is a great way to go. However, re-using the bags is far less toxic and energy intensive. With a small string or wire next to the sink and a few clothespins, it's easy to rinse the arugula or mustard greens bag, hang it to dry, and then keep with you in your car for bulk foods at the grocery store. Thanks for helping the farm reduce its ecological footprint. And happy Earth Day! Oh, and we’re going to have places at your pick-up site where you can leave your bags if you like and we’ll collect them and reuse or recycle.

Great list of sources for recycled materials and recycling info in general: http://www.watershedmedia.org/pop_resources.html

Notes from Debbie’s Kitchen . . . . . . . . Have a recipe you’d like to share? Contact Debbie.
The online version of this week's newsletter (i.e. the one you're reading now) has more info here than the paper version; I had limited space there, so only talked about the favas, but wanted to give folks who made the effort to check this out online a little bonus material! - Debbie

Fresh Young Favas
This is a great new discovery (eating the young favas, pod and all)! Tom talked to someone who clued him in to this, so he gave me a handful to take home, cook and experiment with. What fun!

As with many new veggies, I always like to try them raw. When Tom handed me the pods, we each took a bite out of one. Perfectly edible raw! Although I don’t think I’d eat a lot of them that way, it’s good to know it doesn’t hurt (i.e. no side effects).

How to determine whether the favas you have are young enough to eat whole, or if you need to shell them? I’d say if the pods are up to as fat as your finger (or even a little bigger), with soft, supple and unblemished bright green skin and no obvious lumps indicating big beans inside, they are suitable for cooking whole. You may receive a range of pod sizes in your share bag. If this is the case, just sort through them and set aside the bigger pods for shelling and cooking, then use the tender ones like this:

How Debbie Cooked ‘em
With green garlic and herbs, that’s how! Top and tail the pods, washing as needed, then cut into bite-size segments*. Steam these for about 5 minutes, and set aside. Meanwhile, chop up a stalk or two of green garlic, depending on how many fava pods you’re cooking and how much garlic you like (you can use a fair amount of the green portion of the garlic, I do). Remember to slice them lengthwise and wash out any dirt first. Sauté the chopped green garlic in some olive oil in a skillet or wok. When soft, add the steamed fava pod segments, then salt to taste, then some herbs, and sauté a few minutes more so flavors mingle. I used Herbs de Provence, but thyme would be nice, or leave the herbs out entirely if you like and just eat them with the garlic and salt. I squeezed a little lemon juice over all at the table, but this is optional too.

How Tom Cooked ‘em
Tom says he just cooked them and tossed them with butter and tarragon or mint. Do basically the same prep as I did, steaming or boiling for about 4 to 5 minutes (*heck, you can even leave the pods whole and let people cut them at the table).

Tom also told me about a great way to eat favas which he learned about from the chef of Zuni Cafe (it was a serendipitous find; he was looking up favas online for other reasons and stumbled upon it): lightly oil and salt the pods and put them on a hot grill for just a few minutes on each side (so they get the nice grill marks), then serve. According to the author of the article Tom was referring to (I found it online myself, a story in the LA Times), “The fava pods had just been grilled... and the beans inside were soft and smoky. Essentially they had steamed in their husks; they had turned tender enough to pop like edamame, skin and all. We could even eat the oozy blackened pods.” So this sounds like an either-or recipe; if the pods are young, you can eat the whole deal. If they’re more mature, you can grill and serve them, and people can pop out and eat the inner beans. I know I’ll be trying this!

I'll have other fava recipes for you in future weeks as we'll probably be getting them for a while. Stay tuned!

Orange, Red Onion and Olive Salad
Since I have an orange tree in my back yard I make this fairly often (at least when the oranges are ripe!). I remember the first time I had it - it was served at a dinner party at a friend's house. It sounded so strange, the combination of ingredients so unlikely. But that was 15 or more years ago and the moment I tasted it I was in heaven. So simple, and so good! Here's how.

oranges (peeled and sliced - see technique below)
red onion, cut into paper thin slices (or as thin as you can get)
kalamata olives
good olive oil
good coarse salt (sea salt, or kosher salt)

Slice the top and bottom off of each orange. Set the orange on a cutting board, cut side down so it doesn't roll. With a sharp knife, carefully cut away a strip of the peel from the fruit radially, curving down the outside of the orange so as to remove the peel and pith but as little of the orange as possible, then rotate and continue taking off slices of peel like this until you've removed all the peel and pith (this technique is nice because it removes the membrane too, which makes for a better presentation). Now slice the orange into 1/4" slices, carefully removing any seeds present (the oranges we're getting in our shares are navel, so they won't have seeds).

Serving-wise, you can either do this family-style on a platter, or on individual salad plates. The process is the same: lay the orange slices around on plate or platter, overlapping slices prettily. Separate onion slices into rings and distribute over orange slices. Scatter kalamata olives atop oranges and onion, drizzle provocatively with olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse salt.

That's it! Now when you go to eat it, be sure to have a little each of the orange, onion and olive in each bite and... you'll see how delicious it is!


*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 key ingredient. Recipe site is updated weekly during the season.