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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
5th Harvest Week, Season 12
April 30th - May 6th, 2007

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

In this issue
--Greetings from Farmer Tom
--Crop Notes
--Egg shares start this week!
--How to donate your share
--An important heads-up about beets
--Outstanding in the Field Dinner!!
--Pictures around the farm
--What's in the box this week
--Notes from Debbie's Kitchen

" Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. "

~ Martin Luther

Greetings from Farmer Tom

Hands planting tomatoesPlanting is one of the most fundamental activities that makes us fully human. Planting reflects our ability to have faith, faith in the awesome power of nature that helps sustain us on this planet. Last week during one of our school visits I sat with 20 children on a freshly plowed field; we dug our hands into the soil, planting tomato seedlings and seed potatoes, while all the time discovering that the soil we were planting into was not just a bunch of 'dirt,' but rich in odors and colors, alive with visible creatures such as earthworms, roly-pollies, spiders, and ants. A freshly dug and still open gopher hole was a wonderful opportunity to explore the soils 'underworld.' I stuck my arm elbow deep down the tunnel and pulled out a fistful of rich, smooth, moist soil with a thick, juicy earthworm wriggling in it. Suddenly, many of the first graders were not afraid of sticking their whole arm down into the soil, as if in search of some kind of treasure. In my farmer's mind they had already found the treasure.

Now that the danger of frost is officially over (April 15th) we planted our main pepper crop – more than 10,000 plants of 6 different varieties. My favorites are the thick skinned pimento peppers and the popular elongated 'Corno de Toro.’ We also planted some bell peppers, some 'Chile Poblanos' which are great for stuffing, and a bunch of different hot peppers such as Serranos and the Hungarian Hot Wax. Right next to the peppers, a block of over 4,000 Armenian cucumber seedlings got planted single row as well as a large block of Genovese basil. Now with tomatoes (the cherry tomatoes are starting to bloom!), Peppers, Cucumbers and Basil planted, it is deceiving to think that soon we'll be enjoying the bounty of summer. We must have a little patience. Plants are wonderfully rewarding in that you can witness their progress almost daily (especially in Spring), but like with any living organism everything has a season, and so we must wait for these plants to mature and render their wonderful gifts.

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Crop Notes

green strawberriesThe “Extra Fruit” option starts this week, however the strawberries are still just one or two weeks shy of reaching the kind of harvest quantities we would typically have at this time of year. And it is not just us. Most strawberry growers around here agree that this small delay has to do with the cold February and March weather pattern we had. The plants are really lush though and loaded with flowers and fruit... however most of them are still immature and green. So this week the Extra Fruit shareholders will only get 2 baskets, but they can expect 3 to 4 baskets in a week or two, which will continue until our other fruit, such as the Olallieberries (blackberries), start maturing around the end of May. Then the “Strawberry Bounty” shareholders will start receiving their allotment at that time.

No more Rutabagas until Winter! Many of you must be thinking: "It’s about time and good riddance, I don't want to see those gnarly small roots anymore!" I apologize; I should have stopped putting them in your share sooner (I put the last of them unannounced into everyone’s share a week or two ago, because we had them, but I was unaware how tough and fibrous they had become). So if you still have them in your fridge, feel free to compost them, or as Debbie suggests, use them to make soup stock, but don’t feel guilty about not eating them. I don’t want anyone to be turned off by rutabagas; they are a wonderful tasty root... it’s just that in our case it was my fault to have harvested them past their prime, when many of the plants had already started to bolt. I hope to correct this oversight toward the end of November when they will be back in season again. (They’ll appear in the winter shares, but not again in the regular shares.)

Last year we grew a small patch of what is commonly known as a huskcherry. It looks like a tomatillo, however the fruit inside the husk is yellow and sweet and can be eaten fresh. It is native to the Andes and in Ecuador, and is called Uvilla or small grape. In this country, I have seen them in health food stores sold sundried as "Inca Berries.” Last week we transplanted over 1,000 plants in the greenhouse, and hope to have them planted out in the field by end of May. They are very prolific, and we can expect to harvest them sometime in August.

Bernadette and friend transplanting huskcherries
Bernadette (right) and friend transplanting huskcherries.

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Egg share starts this week!

The long-awaited egg shares are finally here! Although I know I sound like a broken record, please, everyone who is getting eggs: remember that ALL egg shares are in HALF-dozen increments. So next to your name on the checklist it will tell you how many HALF-dozens to take. The eggs will be in a styrofoam cooler at your pick-up site.

How to donate your share

If you ever know you’re going to be away and unable to pick up your share (and don’t have anyone to give it to), if you contact Debbie at the farm a day or two ahead of time, she can arrange for your share to be donated to a needy family. We have a list of eager recipients, plus a few church pantries that welcome the extra fresh produce.

An important heads-up about beets

So that no one else is unnecessarily alarmed by this [we got a few emails last week], we need to alert everyone – especially anyone who’ve never eaten beets before – about this: beets color more than your fingers and clothes. The pigment in beets is actually so intense that it survives the gauntlet of your digestive system and will color your urine and feces, in direct proportion to how many beets you have eaten! Although completely harmless, it can be quite disconcerting to see magenta urine in the toilet bowl! But now you are all armed with the truth, so hopefully no one else will make an unnecessary trip to the doctor’s office.

Outstanding in the Field Dinner!!

The rumors are true ... Outstanding in the Field (OitF) returns to Live Earth Farm on Saturday, June 9! Jim Denevan – the OitF founder who conceived the magical idea of taking diners literally out to the farm while he was executive chef at Gabriela Cafe – will create the menu for this five-course meal celebrating springtime's harvest.

Reservation links should be up on the OitF website by May 1, so check in then at www.outstandinginthefield.com to grab your seats. Hope to see you at the table!

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Pictures around the farm

workers planting peppers
The beds are already formed, the drip tape in place; some workers walk down the rows, laying the pepper seedlings out, and the ones that follow behind dig holes and plant them.

staking tomato plants
Staking the tomato plants entails laying out all the metal stakes, then pounding each of them in with a stake pounder (what Bernadette is doing). As the tomatoes get bigger, twine is run between the stakes to support the plants in a neat row. Bottom photo in this group shows blossoms already on our cherry tomatoes!

Jonathan weeding the radicchio
Jonathan weeding the young radicchio plants.

field of young green bean plants
A field of young green bean plants (foreground).

pastoral farm setting
A pastoral farm setting!

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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 (bagged)
Red beets
Fava beans +
Garlic +
Lettuce +
Mei quing choi
Onions +
French breakfast radishes
Spinach (Lakeside)
Strawberries (1 bskt)

Small Share:
Arugula (bagged)
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Fava beans
French breakfast radishes
Strawberries (1 bskt)

Extra Fruit Option:
2 baskets of strawberies (see Tom's crop notes, above)

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Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
A few new members are starting this week -- welcome! And always remember, there are many many more recipe ideas (and photos of the veggies) in the recipe database on our website. Here are just a few ideas to help you along with what's in your box this week! – Debbie

French Breakfast Radishes and their greens
French breakfast radishesThese are beautiful elongated pink radishes with white tips. Radish greens are edible (I only just learned this myself not too long ago), so if the ones attached to your radishes look fresh and good, feel free to cook with them! I don’t think I’d eat them raw, as they have a fuzziness to them, but steamed or sautéed like you might other greens would be fine (the fuzziness disappears with cooking). On the other hand, feel free to compost them and just eat the radishes. It is optional; I don’t want anyone stressing because they feel guilty about not eating their radish greens! I just want the people who run out of greens before the week is up to know that they can eat their radish greens too!

The radishes are great for just eating! Put a few in a dish at the table at lunch or dinnertime and pass the salt. Pack them into your kid’s lunches along with the carrots.

Another very French way to eat them (at breakfast, no less!) is to spread a little sweet cream butter on them [always use organic butter – I like Straus Organic Creamery butter] and sprinkle with just a touch of sea salt. Delicious!

Try Bok choi or Mei Quing choi in tuna salad!
I made the most fabulous tuna salad the other day; instead of the usual diced celery and mayonnaise, I took a couple stalks of the Mei Quing choi, diced the stems and finely shredded the leaves and added them all to the tuna instead. The texture is really nice! The choi is more tender than celery, so it is succulent-crunchy! You could just make that substitution (choi for celery) and be done with it and it would be fine, but I had to go a little further: I used tuna in olive oil, drained, added a splash of soy sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon, then went out into my newly-planted herb garden and snipped some chives and dill, minced them finely, and added them to the mix, with just a little mayo to blend everything together. Yummo!

Monster Greens
by member Mary Lyn Azar

monster greens!I wanted to try getting more vegetables into meals other than dinner and keep it kid friendly enough for my 3 and 5 year olds to eat them. So this morning I blanched some chard then sautéed it for about a minute with garlic and butter (I do this as a side at dinner). This time, I spread the greens over the bottom of the omelet pan and made two wells in the greens. I cracked an egg into each well for "eyes," put on the lid and cooked until the eggs were cooked through. While the eggs were cooking, I buttered toast and cut it into triangles. Slid the greens and eggs onto a plate and moved them around a little so I had a round face of greens, 2 egg eyes, and a hole in the greens for the mouth. The toast triangles we "hair" or "spikes" and a bowtie. The kids figured out it was a monster right away, and were enthusiastic about helping me "eat the monster." We made breakfast sandwiches by heaping greens and half an egg on each toast triangle and topping it with another. Yum!

Beet suggestion
Sometimes I just roast all my beets at once, then keep them whole in the refrigerator so that I can easily use them during the week. It is the roasting or steaming that takes time (when I get home from the farm and it is 7 or 8pm, I don’t want to spend another hour roasting beets), but if that part is done already, then it is breathtakingly simple to pull a few out, peel them (cut off tops and tails, and the skin just slips off easily), then slice or dice them an serve them warm with a little butter, or cold with a vinaigrette or other dressing (see next recipe).

This recipe is already in the recipe database, but I just had to repeat it for new folks because it is just so delicious, beautiful and screamin’ easy! Simply dice up cold cooked beets, then stir in some plain yogurt, minced fresh dill and a little salt. It comes out a most brilliant shocking magenta, but the dill... oh, it is so good!! Serve it in a little bowl, or put a spoonful on a leaf or two of lettuce for a salad.

Fettuccini with Arugula and Goat Cheese, Arrivederci Style
submitted by member Nancy Trissel, who says, “Quick and delicious!  Originally appeared in my old home-town's local newspaper; recipe from an Italian transplanted to the US.  The article spoke of him growing and canning his tomatoes from plants he grew in pots as that was all the gardening room he had.” Nancy’s comments are in parentheses.

1 lb. dry fettuccini pasta (I used orecchiete as that is what I had on 
4 tbsp. finely chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 C diced roma tomatoes [or diced canned organic; your own if possible!]
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 C white wine
4 C of your favorite tomato sauce
1 C heavy whipping cream
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup tightly packed fresh arugula, stems removed (this would work with BABY spinach as well; adult spinach would be too tough)
4 oz. soft goat cheese
fresh grated high quality Parmigiano cheese to taste
In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet, sauté onions, garlic, and tomatoes in olive oil until onions are translucent and tomatoes are soft. Deglaze with white wine. Add tomato sauce and cream and reduce until sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper.  Add pasta and arugula and toss to mix and slightly wilt arugula. Transfer to individual pasta bowls and top with crumbled goat cheese and Parmigiano. Serve immediately.

Fava Beans: a visual comparison of mature pods/beans (at left, below) with the smaller pods (which can be cooked and eaten pod and all - see last week's newsletter for discussion on this)

mature and young fava bean comparison

Fava Bean and Orzo Salad with Arugula
from “Your Organic Kitchen” by Jesse Ziff Cool
serves 4

4 oz. orzo or other small pasta
2 lbs. whole fava beans [figure your whole bagful]
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced [the red onion is for color, and nice if you have it, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use the onions you get in your box]
2 garlic cloves, minced [if you use some green garlic, keep in mind that it is milder than typical cloves, so use a little more!]
1 ½ tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram
3 tbsp. chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch arugula (about 5 oz.) [or a farm bag-full]

Cook the orzo according to package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Working in batches if necessary, boil the beans for 6 minutes, or until the inner beans are tender but not mushy. Cool slightly. Remove and discard the outer pods. Using a small sharp knife, remove the outer skins of the beans. [I’ve never cooked favas in their pods before shelling like Jesse describes; I usually shell them first. This not only eliminates the need for a huge pot to accommodate the big pods AND having to cooking them in batches, but also the beans cook quicker! In just a minute or two. My suggestion: remove pods first, then cook all beans in boiling salted water 1 to 2 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon or drain in a colander, then peel by pinching one end of the skin and squirting out the bright green bean inside. Have your kids help you with this; it’s a bit time consuming, but fun, and be careful you don’t eat all the beans before you make the salad! They’re tempting to snack on with a little salt!]

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 7 minutes, or until very soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the marjoram, tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the beans and orzo and toss to coat well.

Divide the arugula among 4 salad plates. Top with the bean salad.

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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

<> Aug 24-26 Children’s Mini-Camp

<> Sat. Oct 20 Fall Harvest Celebration

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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