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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
12th Harvest Week, Season 12
June 18th - 24th, 2007

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

In this issue
--Greetings from Farmer Tom
--Field Notes
--Permaculture at Live Earth Farm
--Summer Solstice Celebration
--Other pictures around the farm
--What's in the box this week
--Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
--Contact Information

" I am in love with this world. I have nestled lovingly in it. I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frosts, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my going and comings. "

~ John Burroughs

Greetings from Farmer Tom

On Wednesday last week, I knew our first heat wave of the season was upon us. The morning was warm, even before the sun rose over the Santa Cruz mountains to the East. The clear skies indicated that no marine layer had formed to cool the coast. When it’s going to be hot, watering is the most important task, to make sure crops – especially the once that like the cooler weather – don't get too stressed. We started watering all our greens Monday and Tuesday, to keep them fresh; we had to make sure the recently transplanted and freshly sown fields got watered as well, so they could withstand the oncoming heat. Everyone was up an hour earlier: first, the strawberries had to be picked for the CSA delivery, because the truck needs to leave no later than 8:30am. When the berries get too hot, they are easily bruised and difficult to snap off the stems.
early morning strawberry harvest
Wednesdays are our busiest days: we have to harvest for the Downtown Farmers Market in Santa Cruz, AND for Thursday's CSA shares. By Noon last Wednesday, the heat was on – it had to be well over 90 degrees F as the final load came in from the field. Fortunately, everything is immediately washed and cooled. As soon as the Market van is sent off, everyone takes a short lunch break; helps us all to catch our breath. After lunch, most stay to help prepare and pack the shares. The shade and cooler temps in the breezeway of the barn are a welcome change from the heat out in the fields. The people responsible for watering head back out though, as they need to change the sprinklers to other parts of the fields. As I walked up the hill to turn one of the water pumps off I felt a sudden ocean breeze... this was a good sign; it meant the worst of the heat was over.

Few jobs are as physically demanding as farming, and the type of farming we do – intensive and very diverse, sticking strictly to organic principles – is especially so. Being a CSA member, your connection to the farm is about ‘food with a face.’ So every week in this newsletter, I hope to capture a glimpse of the diverse tasks that go on here, as well as of the people who are dedicated to bringing to you the bounty this land has to offer. I hope you will join us on the farm this coming Saturday for our Solstice Celebration (details below)! Come and meet the many people who grow your produce, and if you have time, I hope you will participate in some of the activities scheduled for earlier in the day.

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Field Notes

Green Beans are starting this week, and we hope to have enough for everyone! If we run short, we may substitute broccoli, but probably only this week; from here on they will be a regular staple in your share though, one you can expect throughout most of the rest of the season. The summer squash will include a new addition this week: some of you will find a light green, very delicate Lebanese summer squash along with the zucchini and little yellow zephyrs (or possibly in place of one or the other; we mix them around). Again, like the green beans, we will have more for everyone in the coming weeks. lebanese squash on the vineThe Lebanese squash have a wonderful nutty flavor that I think you will enjoy. We should have leeks in 1 to 2 weeks; I’m just leaving them in the field to size up a bit more. Lastly, we are taking a small break from carrots and beets; we should have carrots again next week though, from the latest planting (they’re a little small yet).

Our “Extra Fruit option” members will see a change in their fruit starting this week, with the first of our blackberries supplementing the strawberries. Plums should start around the beginning of July, give or take a week. Raspberries are coming, and there’s a *chance* we may have enough apricots to give all our “Extra Fruit” shares some this year (!), but probably only for one week. If that happens, it’ll be later in the summer.

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Permaculture at Live Earth Farm

Mataganza garden 1The Mataganza Garden Sanctuary at Live Earth Farm is a non-profit agricultural project on the land. It is a place where the community can come to discover, apply, and celebrate the universal principles and dynamics of Nature. Several years ago, the idea of turning a small part of the farm into this special place was conceived. So in collaboration with Temple Guaracy (a nature-based spiritual organization that utilizes a portion of the farm’s land), the intention was set forth to create a space where both the physical manifestations of Nature, as well as the non-physical forces that we perceive in Nature and within ourselves, could be met by those who come to visit the garden. Since then the space has welcomed many individuals seeking such an encounter, as well as many community events of an educational, cultural, and spiritual nature.

Mataganza Garden 2The garden itself is designed based on the principles of Permaculture, a holistic approach to agriculture and all aspects of human settlement. Permaculture design seeks to harness the abundant and renewable forces of Nature – sun, wind, plants, animals, cold, heat, gravity, precipitation, etc. – and compose them in an efficient way, mimicking natural ecosystems, in order to provide for the human needs of food, water, shelter, energy, etc. while simultaneously regenerating degraded ecological processes. The outlook of Permaculture is that every element has the potential to be a positive resource; it is up to the designers and stewards of our human ecosystems to use Nature’s gifts in that way. As an example, both on the farm and in the garden sanctuary we have begun experimenting with on-contour earthworks (see pictures below). Contouring the land slows rainwater run-off, which not only allows water to infiltrate and be stored as groundwater, but also settles the sediments and organic matter into the soil instead of allowing them into the watershed, where they have the potential to disrupt riparian ecosystems.

Examples of swales on the farm and in the Mataganza gardenThe Mataganza Garden project continues to grow and evolve through participation of the community. We will soon announce the next internship program, for those interested in learning more about Permaculture though hands-on garden activities. Also, there are on-going plant sales at the farm, which give people the opportunity to make a donation to the project as well as take home some of the useful and unusual species that we grow.

At the farm’s annual Solstice event this Saturday, feel free to join us in the garden to learn more about Permaculture, check out the plant sale, have a tour of the garden’s ethno-botanical plant collection, participate in a hands-on planting project, or just take a stroll and soak up the ambience of the space. See you there! - Brian Barth, resident permaculturalist at Live Earth Farm

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Summer Solstic Celebration

[this is just a repeat of what ran last week (except for note in orange), in case anyone missed it!]

Spring is almost behind us, and to honor the arrival of summer I want to invite everyone to join us here on the farm to celebrate the change in seasons. For many, especially our children, it means a time to take a vacation; here on the farm, summer solstice represents a moment of hard earned leisure – a short breather between all the hard work already put in and the big harvest months ahead. So mark your calendars and join us for our Summer Solstice Celebration on Saturday, June 23rd.

The day will be filled with activities, from learning about honey bees and extracting honey with Steve Demkowski (Steve has 10 hives right here on the farm), to strawberry and blackberry picking (we’ll have chocolate on hand for dipping!), to milking the goats and cheese making with Bernadette, to face painting, to bread baking and pumpkin seed planting. Tom will of course be giving his usual farm tour, Kuzanga Marimba will again color the air around us with their beautiful marimba music, we’ll light our traditional bonfire at dusk, and last but never least, there will be food, lots of food!

Summer Solstice is actually a time of light and of fire, a time to reflect upon the growth of the season: the seeds that have been planted in the earth and those planted in our own lives. Remember to bring a dish to contribute to the potluck**; it 's a reminder of what nourishes us, and a small offering acknowledging the change of the season. Hope to see you all here at the farm.

Solstice Celebration – the nitty gritty
<> how do I get there? (click here for directions)
***save gas and the environment and carpool if you can! Try the Friends of LEF Yahoo Group for finding carpool buddies if you don’t know other members in your area***
<> when should I get there? Activities will happen between 2 and 5pm, Kuzanga begins playing around 5, then we break for our traditional potluck around 6pm. After the potluck, Kuzanga continues to play, and then we light the bonfire at dusk.
<> do I need to make a reservation, or let you know I’m coming? No.
<> what is the cost? There is no cost; all we ask is that you bring food to share in our potluck.
<> what else should I bring? We encourage you to bring your own picnic plates and utensils in order to minimize unrecyclable garbage. We will have a washing station, where you can rinse them when you are through eating. Also, bring a blanket to picnic on, and it gets cool in the evening so don’t forget sweaters and jackets.
<> can I bring someone who is not a member of the CSA? Yes, certainly! All friends of the farm are welcome! Just remember to bring food to share in the potluck!!

**and bring recipes for the dishes you make! I will try once again to collect them and run them in future newsletters. Last year many of them disappeared before I was able to collect them (wind? overzealous cleaner-uppers?), so if you can, find me and give them directly to me! If you don't know who I am, ask around and someone will know and point me out. ;-) - Debbie

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Other pictures around the farm

Harvesting lettuce... and yes, those are sharp knives they're using; one of the many things our workers must be mindful of daily.
harvesting butter lettuce

And if it's not sharp knives, it's sharp prickers – the needle-fine thorns on the raspberry bushes are nothing to be scoffed at. Remember how dear they are in the picking, next time you eat them!
picking raspberries

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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:
Arugula +
Cauliflower (Lakeside)
Green beans +
Red Russian kale
Lettuce (red leaf and butter)
Potatoes +
French breakfast radishes
Spinach +
Summer squash
Strawberries (2 baskets)

Small Share:
Green beans
Red Russian kale
Lettuce (red leaf and butter)
French breakfast radishes
Summer squash
Strawberries (2 baskets)

Extra Fruit Option:
4 baskets of strawberries and 1 basket of blackberries!

"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 10 years of CSA recipes and alphabetized by key ingredient. Includes photos of most farm veggies; helpful for ID-ing things in your box! Also, FYI, as a rule, I put my own comments within recipes that are not my own inside square brackets [like this] to distinguish them from the voice of the original recipe-writer. - Debbie

What I'd do with this week's box
With potatoes back in the box, I’m definitely making some gnocchi this week! Gnocchi (pronounced “nyo-kee”), if you’ve never heard of them, are little pasta-like potato dumplings. They are great served any number of ways... with your favorite pasta sauce, with butter and herbs, with butter, garlic and herbs, with parmesan cheese and olive oil, in a soup with greens... You can make them plain, with just potatoes, or you can make them with potatoes and spinach (see below) or potatoes and other greens (kale, chard). If you use kale, be sure to cook it long enough so that it is nice and tender before adding to the dough.

Lauren’s cheesy cauliflower chili (see below) sounds good... I just wish I had a crock pot! If anyone knows how to convert crock-pot cooking to stovetop safely – I don't want to burn the house down leaving something on a low burner for hours unattended! – I'm all ears!

I love combining arugula and butter lettuce in the same salad; heck, since we have it, add the red leaf too: the peppery arugula is balanced by the sweet and delicate butter and red leaf lettuces. Use them in Alice McKown’s yummy salad with bleu cheese and caramelized nuts (recipe below), or try my ‘fruit-cheese-greens’ philosophy of salad-making. Alice’s salad definitely falls into that realm. Thinly sliced red onion goes nicely in these kinds of salads too. Radishes? I’ll continue to eat them plain with a little salt, or a little butter and salt, or a little chevre and salt. If you’re interested in more options than that, a couple years ago member Sara Calkins showed me this link to a recipe website with lots of radish ideas http://fooddownunder.com. Just enter “radish” in the search field and peruse them at leisure!

If I’m in a dessert mood, I may try Suzanne Purnell’s Spicy Pineapple-Zucchini Bread with the summer squash we’re getting (yes, you can substitute any summer squash for zucchini). They’re really easy to grill though; slice big zucchini on a long diagonal into ¼” ovals (slice small zephyrs in half lengthwise), coat lightly in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill a minute or two on each side, until grill marks show. Optionally you can add some crushed garlic to the oil, and maybe some herbs. Be creative! Strawberries? Make strawberry agua fresca. The recipe here is not hard and fast; you can use lemon juice if you don’t have limes, you can use more citrus if you like it sour, you can leave the citrus and sugar out entirely and just whir together strawberries and water for a delicate ‘strawberry water’ – serve over ice maybe with a little mint... heck, you could throw the mint into the blender when you’re making the agua fresca too. So many possibilities!

Deb's Spinach-Potato Gnocchi
about 1 1/2 lb. potatoes (I prefer the waxy, creamier potatoes like Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, red, fingerling, or Kennebec, but if all you have are the starchier kind, like russets or Peruvian purple, don't let that hold you back!)
1 bunch or bag of fresh spinach
3/4 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 (possibly more) C flour

Scrub potatoes, cut into pieces and boil in salted water until tender, about 15 - 20 minutes (or boil whole, then cut in pieces). Drain, allow to cool, then mash well (or mash, then allow to cool!). They don't need to be cold, just cool enough so that when you add the egg yolk it does not cook. A note about mashing: whatever you do, do NOT use a food processor to 'mash' your potatoes -- they'll become gluey! Trust me on this. Use a potato masher or a ricer. A note about potato skins: I am a big fan of them -- they're tasty, and a lot of a potato's nutrition resides in them, so I always leave 'em on. Little pieces of potato skin in the gnocchi? You bet! If you don't care for them however, feel free to peel. Okay, moving right along: thoroughly wash and prep your spinach (remove stems if they are tough and stringy, leave on if the spinach is young and tender), steam over boiling water a minute or two, just until wilted. Drain, and when cool enough to handle, squeeze as much water from it as you can, either with your hands, or by mooshing it in a screen colander with a wooden spoon, something like that. Place spinach lump on a cutting board and chop finely. Mix chopped cooked spinach into mashed potatoes. Add yolks and salt and mix well. Work in about 3/4 to 1 cup of the flour, kneading into a dough. Add additional flour to make a firm, smooth dough that does not stick to your fingers. Divide dough into, oh, tennis-ball sized pieces. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a rope about 1/2" in diameter. Cut into 1" segments. With floured hands, round up segments into little egg or football shapes, then roll these under the tines of a fork or wires of a whisk (also dipped in flour) to create ridges (the ridges are a boon later -- nice little crevices for butter and sauces to cling to!). At this point, you can either cook 'em or freeze 'em. To freeze: place gnocchi on wax paper on a cookie sheet (close together but not touching) and freeze. Once frozen, remove them to a ziplock bag and store in freezer. To cook: drop into ample boiling salted water (do not crowd them). If they are frozen, you don't need to thaw them first. They are ready when they rise to the surface. Remove w/slotted spoon. Serve any number of ways: with your favorite pasta sauce; with melted butter, minced parsley and parmesan; with brown butter and sage; with a sauce made from brown butter, a little anchovy paste, garlic and olive oil; with olive oil and herbs; with broccoli in a cheese sauce, or...?

Crock Pot Cheesy White Cauliflower Chili

Another recipe submission by member Lauren Thompson, who says, “I don't know if we are going to be getting any more cauliflower, but I hope so, because I want to make this again. This is a nice recipe for using up a whole head of cauliflower in one go. It's also the first crock pot recipe that I've made that people finished up the whole crock over the course of a day, which is saying a lot for our small family. I wouldn't call this gourmet, more homey, but it is solidly good eats. A nice filing meal made in crock pot that uses fresh ingredients instead of ‘cream of x’ soup!”

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. cumin seeds
1 tbsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
1 can (14 to 19 oz) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 C dried white kidney beans, cooked and drained
3 C vegetable stock
3 C cauliflower florets, cooked for 4 minutes in salted boiling water and drained
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
2 C shredded Monterey jack cheese
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and softened
1 can chopped mild green chilies
finely chopped green onions (optional, for garnish)
finely chopped cilantro (optional, for garnish)

1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, cumin seeds, oregano, chili powder, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to slow cooker stoneware. Add beans and stock and stir to combine.

2. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours, until hot and bubbling.

3. Stir in cauliflower, jalapeno pepper, green pepper, Monterey jack cheese, and cream cheese and chilies, if using. Cover and cook on high for 25 to 30 minutes, until the green peppers are softened and cauliflower is heated through. Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired with chopped green onions and cilantro.

If you prefer thicker chili, mash some or all of the beans or puree in a food processor before adding to the recipe.

Linguine with Pecan-Arugula Pesto
Another recipe from Lauren. She says, “this is kind of an unusual dish - at least I've never seen arugula prepared this way. I wasn't sure what I thought of the flavors at first, but it grew on me. I kind of felt the recipe could use a little extra zing or some tweaking, but I figured the unusual nature warranted posting anyway (I also forgot to add the garlic clove that I peeled, so that may have been a contributing factor!).

“I just finished eating a plateful of leftovers and dressed the pesto-covered noodles with a small handful of chopped pecans, a sprinkling of chevre, and a little salt. This was really good, and gave the kick I was looking for to round things out. Mmmmm.

“If you don't have a food processor you can successfully make this in a blender, it may take a bit more oil to get things to blend, and a little poking and prodding. and now, the recipe...”

[serves 4 – 6...? However many family members you can feed with 1lb. of linguine!]

3/4 C pecans
1 ½ C packed, stemmed arugula leaves
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/3 C extra virgin olive
1/2 C freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for the table
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb. linguine

1 Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot for cooking the pasta.

2. Place the nuts in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast (shaking the pan occasionally to turn them), until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Cool the nuts.

3. Process cooled nuts, arugula, and garlic in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the ingredients are finely ground. With the motor running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube and process until thick and fairly smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl large enough to hold the cooked pasta (the pesto will be very thick). Stir in the cheese, the nutmeg, and salt to taste. (Salt the pesto generously; it has to season a pound of pasta.)

4. Add 1 tbsp. salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente. Reserve 1 C of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Stir 1/2 C of the cooking water into the bowl with the pesto to achieve a saucier consistency. Add the pasta to the bowl and toss, adding more cooking water as necessary to moisten the pasta and help spread the pesto. Serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.

[and garnish, optionally, as Lauren suggested above, with more toasted pecans and crumbled chevre!]

Grapefruit Zabaglione over Mixed Berries
by member Farrell Podgorsek
serves 4

Any fresh berries you want, strawberries sliced or quartered
4 egg yolks
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C grapefruit juice - I used Trader Joe's Ruby Red Juice
pinch salt

Place berries in serving dishes.
Combine egg yolks, sugar, juice and salt in a large metal bowl. Using a hand mixer or whisk, beat until combined and pale yellow in color. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Be very careful that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to beat or whisk until the egg mixture is tripled and is very tick and creamy, about 4-5 minutes. Spoon over berries.

Summer Salad with Caramelized Nuts
Member Alice McKown sent me this recipe, saying “here’s a quick rundown of my best salad. I get rave reviews.”

Caramelize a little brown sugar in butter on the stove. When sugar is melted somewhat and a little browned, throw in a handful of walnuts you have either toasted in a dry frying pan or nuked for 2 minutes in microwave.

Wash the best, freshest lettuces you can find, preferably from Live Earth Farm.

Dressing: Mix a good extra virgin olive oil in equal parts with either raspberry vinegar or other vinegar (fig is really good but expensive). Add a squirt of anchovy paste – unless you are a vegetarian. Add black pepper and salt. (Alternative: use hazelnut oil instead of olive oil and toasted and candied hazelnuts. Walnut oil also works, but be sure it stays refrigerated, as it goes rancid quickly.)

Toss lettuce with dressing and plenty of crumbled bleu cheese, the candied nuts, and dried cranberries, and sliced pears. Yum. [We won’t have pears in the CSA shares until early fall, so keep this recipe in mind for then! Meanwhile, if you do it without the pears, I’m sure it will still be good, and Alice won’t mind! ;-) Debbie]

Quick Minestrone Soup
from member Joanne Domingue, who says, “This is yummy! It is from my October 2006 Gourmet Magazine. The magazine came the same day as my farm box, and I was wondering what to do with the kale when I came across this recipe. It fit perfectly with things in my farm box this [that] week. I know, it's a little hot for soup right now, but I couldn't wait to try it. The recipe is from a regular feature in the magazine called "Ten-minute Mains." So it's quick as well as good. My husband and I both really liked it. Gourmet called for frozen veggies! Can you believe that? I used those in my farm box.”  [I left Joanne’s comments interspersed in the recipe, below.]

1/4 C olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
1 bu. kale, washed and coarsely chopped (~6 C)
sliced zucchini and some green beans, about a cup each
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes in juice (of course use fresh when you have them, if you wish; I save my fresh tomatoes for salads)
1 C ditalini pasta or small elbow macaroni
5 1/4 C chicken broth (42 fluid oz.)
2 C water
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 (19 oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Accompaniment: grated parmesan. I made a loaf of bread so we had fresh, warm bread, too.

Heat oil in 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add kale and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Add zucchini and green beans if using, tomatoes with juice, pasta, broth, water, salt, pepper and simmer uncovered stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile transfer half of beans to a wide, shallow bowl and coarsely mash with a fork or potato masher, then stir mashed and whole beans into soup and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (I added as dash of white balsamic vinegar which was nice with the kale.)

Lastly, here’s a recipe member Suzanne Purnell sent me two years ago, for
Zucchini Oven Chips
¼ C dry bread crumbs
¼ C (1 oz.) grated Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese
¼ tsp. seasoned salt
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. milk
2 ½ C (1/4-inch-thick) sliced zucchini (about 2 small)
Cooking spray [or butter]

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray [or lightly greased with butter – partially unwrap a stick and hold wrapped end like a ‘handle’ then slide end of stick over the wires]; place rack on a baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp.  Serve immediately.


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

<> Sat. Jun 23 Summer Solstice Celebration

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

<> Aug 24-26 ChildrenÂ’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 here for details!

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