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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
10th Harvest Week, Season 12
June 4th - 10th, 2007

(click here for a pdf of the paper version of this newsletter)

In this issue
--BULLETINS: More CSA shares and "Strawberry Bounty" options available...
--Greetings from Farmer Tom
--Future Farmers?
--Farm Work Days!
--Pictures around the farm
--What's in the box this week
--Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
--Contact Information

" Perhaps our most precious and vital source, both physical and spiritual, is the most common matter underfoot which we scarcely even notice and sometimes call "dirt," but which is in fact the mother-lode of terrestrial life... "

~ Daniel Hillel from 'Out of the Earth'

BULLETIN 1: Due to excellent farming conditions this year, we are opening up the CSA to accept approximately 40 more members. If you know of friends, family, co-workers or neighbors interested in joining, send them to our website for the details, and they can sign up!

BULLETIN 2: We are also blessed with plenty of strawberries! If you would like to add a “Strawberry Bounty option” to your share, let us know. There are now approximately 12 to 13 weeks of “Bounty” remaining.

Greetings from Farmer Tom

Big Kubota TractorAs you know from gardening, using the right tools can make all the difference in how well we care for and manage the soil into which we plant. The heaviest and physically most demanding job on the farm is tilling, which is the general term for soil preparation. It includes working the soil, incorporating soil amendments such as lime, gypsum, rock dust, compost, green manures (cover crops), and other mechanical processes. Today, we could not accomplish these tasks without the help of our tractors – the mechanical substitutes for traditional draft animals. We have different tractors for different tasks; the larger and more powerful ones are generally used for primary cultivation, which includes deep tillage. Deep tillage involves pulling 2-3 foot long shanks of steel through the ground to aerate the soil. Ripper blades on back of KubotaDeep tillage is important to break up compacted layers without mixing the subsoil with the topsoil. It improves drainage, rooting depth, and the amount of soil nutrients for the roots, helping the process of topsoil deepening, which greatly increases the fertility of the soil. Then there’s surface tillage. For surface tillage we use a disc or spader, which only disturbs the top 4-6 inches of soil, and is ideal to achieve the right tilth for planting and sowing.

The real art of driving a tractor is in cultivating and weeding between rows of crops that are already established in the field. Here, different knives, shovels and discs are set up in such a way that they cut, remove and throw soil all at the same time, just inches away from the crop that is growing. If the timing is right regarding the moisture and development stage of both crop and weeds, we can cultivate everything mechanically with the tractor and avoid the more time consuming and arduous task of hoeing and weeding by hand. Most of the time we achieve the best results through a combination of hand and mechanical cultivation.

When you receive your share of vegetables every week, I want you to think for a moment, not just of the farm or the farmer, but about the soil. The spader attachmentIt is truly THE fundamental substance and source of life on Earth, and we, like all other terrestrial life forms, depend on soil directly or indirectly for our food. As a farmer, I see the importance of growing good, healthy soil as my most important task. The healthier the soil, the healthier and more nutritious the crops you receive will be. To understand this link between our existence and the quality of the soil is to understand the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. As a farmer, I constantly think of ways to coax a harvest from the soil: when to plow, which crops to plant and rotate, how to protect the soil from the weather so that the forces which put it together cannot take it apart. I strive to fit my needs into the natural systems, which have adapted to the local conditions designed by this place over a long period of time. With every group that visits the farm, I make it a habit to have everyone touch and feel the soil we stand on, to bring their attention to the fundamental substance and source of our nourishment.The disc

Slowly but steadily we are adopting a new consciousness, one based more on agrarian principles. By agrarian, I mean a mind-set of respecting our interconnectedness with the rest of nature, and honoring ways that sustain and perpetuate the commonwealth. You don’t have to get dirt under your fingernails or spend a day pulling weeds, or grow vegetables in your apartment or keep the family cow in your garage. But being more aware of where your food comes from, and of the amount of work that goes into producing it is a start.

Cultivating knivesIf, however, you want to take another step down that path of agrarian awareness, I am going to open the door again to the idea of Farm Work Days. So before making a life-changing decision to quit your desk job to start farming, consider instead swapping a day of working behind a desk (or whatever you do) for a day of working in the field. We have already started a process like this with the local Montessori Middle School (see next story), but due to persistent inquiries by members for the opportunity to help out on the farm, we are going to set up Work Days for this purpose (see Farm Work Days, below).
- Tom

Here is a field of green beans that has just been cultivated:
Newly cultivated field of green beans
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Future Farmers?

Approximately 40 Middle School students from the Santa Cruz Montessori came to work on the farm last Tuesday and Wednesday. I enjoyed the diverse levels of enthusiasm and energy expressed by the group, and was astonished how much we were able to get done in such a short period of time. The entire group descended on the radish patch and harvested 300 bunches for Wednesday's shares, then picked more than 10 flats of strawberries (which were turned into delicious smoothies the next day). They pulled onions and laid them out to dry, planted sunflowers and gourds, and even helped assemble share boxes for Thursday's delivery. We are exploring the idea of integrating the farm into the Montessori Middle School curriculum. This idea would directly follow Maria Montessori's vision: she believed that farm life greatly benefits the development of adolescent children by putting them in direct contact with the land and engaging them in on-farm activities, which in turn serve as the basis for pursuing science, environmental, social and economic studies.

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Farm Work Days!

Get more involved with your farm – spend a day on the land, helping out with any number of farm tasks. Like your CSA box (where you don’t select its contents), you won’t pick the task, but rather it will be whatever needs doing on the farm on the day you arrive. Experience the joy and satisfaction of working in tandem and community with other members to get a job done, and enjoy a day outdoors. We need a minimum of 5 people to hold a Work Day, but could easily accommodate up to 40, so don’t be shy!


<> Work Days will be held on the last Friday of each month, starting now (June) and going through October [Dates: 6/29, 7/27, 8/31, 9/28, 10/26]. You can come just one time, or every month!

<> As this would be a true workday, we would need you to arrive no later than 9am (shoot for 8:45 to be safe!). If you’ve never been here before, directions to the farm are on our website. Want to carpool? Try posting a note on the Friends of LEF Yahoo Group!

<> We will work about 3 hours, then break for lunch, then work approximately another 3 hours after lunch, then quit for the day.

<> Pack yourself a lunch (we can keep it in the cooler for you), and bring water, hat, gloves, sunscreen, and shoes that can get dirty. We will provide any tools, if needed.

<> We need to know you are coming. Call or email Debbie at the farm to get on the schedule for whatever date(s) you would like to work. We will announce in that week’s newsletter if a Work Day is ‘on’ (i.e. we have enough participation).

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Pictures around the farm

First: a quick soil primer – top: our former fava bean field, showing the organic matter which has been worked back into the soil. Middle: a pile of compost, and bottom, a neighbor's field. Note how our soil is dark and rich from the built up organic matter (compare it to the color of the compost).
Rich, brown soil and organic compost
The field of Dinosaur Kale, from which will be harvested the kale in your shares this week!
June's field of Dinosaur kale

Ditto for the beets. At left, the Bulls Blood beets (note the dark red leaves). At right, the Italian Forono beets, with lovely green foliage and long, tapered roots.
Bulls Blood and Forono beets

Here is the yellow Zephyr squash on the vine. Note the honeybee and squash beetle, sharing the same blossom!
Zephyr squash and blossom close-up with bee

The Warren pears are sizing up!!!
Warren pears, sizing up!

For our "Extra Fruit" option members, a peek at what's imminent - red and golden raspberries!
Red and golden raspberries!!!

And for everyone... see the almost-ready green bean, at right, and the tomatoes, small, but getting bigger!
Green tomatoes and green beans

Lastly, a beautiful Pineapple Guava blossom. This is a late season fruit, so we won't see them in the shares until October or so.
Pineapple guava blossom closeup

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What's in the box this week

(Content differences between Family and Small Shares are underlined and italicized; items with a “+” in Family Shares are more in quantity than in Small; anticipated quantities are in parentheses. Sometimes the content of your share will differ from what's on this list, but we do our best to give you an accurate projection. It's Mother Nature that throws us the occasional curve ball!)

Family Share:
Broccoli (LEF/Lakeside)
Chinese (Napa) cabbage

Dinosaur kale
Lettuce +
Mei qing choi (3)
Strawberries (2 baskets)

Small Share:
Broccoli (LEF/Lakeside)
Dinosaur kale
Summer Squash
Strawberries (2 baskets)

***Upcoming in 2 weeks in both Family and Small Shares: potatoes and green beans!***

Extra Fruit Option:
4 baskets of strawberries
[Blackberries or Raspberries start next week!!!]

"Strawberry Bounty" Option:
5 baskets of strawberries!

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Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
(Click here to go to my extensive recipe database, spanning nearly 10 years of CSA recipes and alphabetized by key ingredient. Includes photos of most farm veggies; helpful for ID-ing things in your box!)

What to do with this week’s box
I have so many recipes in the database, I often go there for inspiration myself. So here are a good selection of recipes and ideas from the database for using what’s in the box this week (interspersed with new ideas!). Some of them are little hidden gems, like this first one for radishes, buried in the “Arugula Salad with Pecorino Romano and Toasted Walnuts” recipe. Member Sue Burnham points out how great the dressing for this salad is on sliced radishes! So if you will, think of it as a recipe for ‘Radishes in walnut oil vinaigrette.’ A recipe I’ve made and really liked is the “Pasta with Golden Fennel”, in which the fennel is cooked down and caramelized, like onions. This would be great atop homemade pizza too! For beets, I’d definitely try Farrell Podgorsek’s Beet Salad with Pomegranate Dressing (see recipe, below). Mizuna... I don’t have a lot of recipes for that yet, but really, here’s what I’d do: if the leaves are small and tender, I’d use them with lettuce and arugula in a salad. If they’re larger and more mature, I’d sauté them up in a little olive oil with some garlic or onion (or both!), and splash on a little vinegar and a bit of salt. If you’re an omnivore, they’d be good paired with meat of some sort. Dice up some ham or bacon and include in the sauté, or sauté the greens and serve with meat, fish or poultry. Broccoli? I’m sure you all have your own ways to use it, so I’ll skip along to the Mei qing choi [I just learned last week that there is no ‘u’ in ‘qing’ – first time I’ve ever seen a word with a ‘q’ in it that wasn’t paired with a ‘u’]. Try the Bok Choi in Oyster Sauce (Mei qing choi can be used interchangeably in any bok choi recipe). Summer squash... try this one (an old favorite!): “Sautéed Fennel & Zucchini.” It’s easy to make and really tasty. And if you have that fresh oregano out your back door in your herb garden... here’s your chance to use it! And the kale... oh, gosh – there are so many good recipes for kale in the database... savory: kale with sausage, kale in soups, kale with anchovy and lemon, kale with eggs; and sweet: kale with apple, or orange, or raisins and nuts, the list goes on and on!! You ready for confessions? On Newsletter nights (which are usually long, as there is so much to do), I want to keep dinner quick and simple so I'm not up until o-dark-hundred getting it done, but I still want to include farm veggies in my meal. So what do I do? I indulge in a guilty pleasure: carnitas burritos from Super Taqueria... BUT, while my husband is off picking them up, I cook up some kale or chard, then drain and chop it, and have it standing by for when he gets back. Then we each have our own pile of greens, which we stuff into our burritos as we eat them down, topping it with hot sauce as we go. Hey, try it before you knock it! Oh, and the Chinese (Napa) cabbage – there’s another kimchi recipe, below, or just do like my friend did when I was at her house for dinner the other night: she made a simple fresh salad with shredded Napa cabbage, shredded lettuce, a little sliced green onion from the stalk of one of her fresh onions, a bit of minced fresh parsley from her garden, and a simple lemon vinaigrette. She sliced in some red bell pepper for added color and texture, but that is totally optional. You could always grate up and add some carrots to similar effect.

Beet Salad with Pomegranate Dressing
by member Farrell Podgorsek

Farrell says, “This is my new favorite recipe for beets.”
Beets, roasted until soft, peeled and cubed or sliced
salad greens
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
3 tbsp. pomegranate juice
3 tsp. vinegar -  pomegranate or red wine
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
salt & pepper
Combine dressing ingredients and toss half with the beets. Let marinate for 30 minutes or longer. Mound the salad greens on a plate or platter. Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Top with the beets.
Misc. veggie tips, from Farrell Podgorsek

Beets: "I always roast them whenever I have the oven on. They are ready to use that way."

Veggie storage: "I line my vegetable drawers with the plastic bags that the shares come in. All the lettuce and greens get washed, wrapped in a towel, and placed in one bag. All the other veggies go into the drawer lined with another bag. I pull the bag up over the veggies. Everything stays very fresh for a long time.

Kimchi (not fermented)
from ‘Vegetables Every Day’ by Jack Bishop

This recipe was posted to the ‘Friends of LEF’ yahoo group recently by Lauren Thompson (or was it Noah? They both share the same email address). Lauren says, “I made [this recipe for] kimchi with last week’s Napa cabbage. This isn't the fermented type, but it’s a nice fresh alternative to getting the [commercially prepared] stuff in the jar at the store. It has a nicely balanced flavor. I didn't have hot red pepper flakes so I used Sriracha sauce in the same quantity, which worked well. I also substituted green onions for the scallions.”

1 large head Napa cabbage (about 2 pounds)
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sugar
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. minced fresh gingerroot
2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/3 C thinly sliced scallion greens

1. Remove any tough or dry outer leaves from the head of cabbage.
Cut out and discard the hard core at the base of each half. Slice the
cabbage crosswise into thin strips. (You should have about 10 cups.)

2. Place the cabbage in a colander. Sprinkle the salt over the
cabbage and toss to coat evenly. Set aside, stirring occasionally,
until wilted, about 1 hour. Rinse the cabbage thoroughly to remove
all traces of salt. Blot dry with paper towels.

3. While the cabbage is being salted, combine the fish sauce, soy
sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and hot red pepper flakes in a bowl.
Stir occasionally to help the sugar dissolve.

4. Toss the cabbage with the dressing and the scallions. Serve
immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days. (The flavors actually
intensify and improve as the cabbage marinates.)

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Calendar of Events
(see calendar on website for more info)

<> Fri. May 18, Four Fridays Mataganza Garden Internship (5/18, 5/25, 6/1, 6/8)

<> Sat. Jun 9 “Outstanding in the Field” Dinner

<> Sat. Jun 23 Summer Solstice Celebration

<> July 10-14 Teen Adventure Camp <cancelled>

<> Aug 24-26 Children’s Mini-Camp

<> Sat. Oct 20 Fall Harvest Celebration

<> Farm Work Days: Last Friday of each month, starting in June and running through October. Actual dates are: June 29th, July 2th, August 31st, September 28th, and October 26th. See above blurb for details!

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Contact Information
email the farm: farmers@cruzio.com
email Debbie with newsletter input or recipes: deb@writerguy.com
phone: 831.763.2448
web: http://www.liveearthfarm.net