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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
24th Harvest Week, Season 13
September 15th - 21st, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Temptation - A Matter of Choice
What's Up in the Fields?
Heirloom Tomatoes!!
New Farm Education Apprenticeship Position
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
Calendar of Events

There seems to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The
second is by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third is by agriculture, the only honest way; wherein man receives a real increase of seed thrown into the ground in a kind of continual miracle.   - Benjamin Franklin

What's in the box this week

Content differences between Family and Small Shares are in red; items with a "+" in Family Shares are more in quantity than in Small; anticipated quantities, if any, are in parentheses, as are the source of any produce if not from Live Earth Farm (LEF). Occasionally content will differ from this list (typically we will make a substitution), but we do our best to give you an accurate projection.

[go to recipe database]

Family Share
Apples (will be inside your box)
Red beets
Snake cucumber
Green beans +
Sweet peppers +
Poblano peppers (3-4)
Bag of red slicing tomatoes +
An heirloom tomato (possibly two) - see below

Small Share
Apples (will be inside your box)
Red beets
Green beans
Sweet peppers
Bag of tomatillos (with a jalapeño chile inside!)
Summer squash
Bag of red slicing tomatoes
An heirloom tomato - see below

Extra Fruit
(always see checklist at your pickup site for final quantities)
A bag of apples, a bag of concord grapes, and a basket of raspberries!

Fruit Bounty
(always see checklist at your pickup site for final quantities)
A bag of apples, a bag of concord grapes, plus a basket of cherry tomatoes

Temptation - A Matter of Choice.

Grapes may be the Fall season's "best seller" in most parts of the State, but here in the Pajaro Valley right now, it's the Apples, and this is their season. It may be difficult for a visitor to imagine that  by the turn of the twentieth century this Valley was once the largest apple growing district in the United States. Today, most orchards have been pushed over by bulldozers, replaced by more lucrative berry, vegetable and flower crops.
With the farm's new land addition this year, we inherited a remnant apple orchard of Newtown Pippins, planted and managed by the Morris family during Watsonville's appleboom years. Newtown Pippins originally from New York , hold the honor as the oldest commercially grown native variety in the United States and was introduced by settlers in the 1850's to the Pajaro Valley. Here it thrived in the mild cool coastal climate and became the predominant variety, covering almost the entire Valley floor between Corralitos and Aromas.
Faced with managing a larger apple orchard has introduced another level of complexity to our already diverse operation. Although challenging at times, in return I am gaining a deeper appreciation and understanding about the diversity and culture of this classic American fruit. Few experiences are more satisfying to me than biting into a fully tree-ripened apple and it may be this desire which has tempted me to learn more about becoming an Apple Grower. It's a marriage of sorts, between me and the trees one that requires perseverance, attention, and skill,  but maybe most importantly a willingness to always be a patient student with a longterm commitment. There is never a  period in the year when the trees are left unattended, like a family member it needs constant attention. Starting in the dormant season, trees have to be pruned, and dormant sprays need to be applied before and after budbreak on a timely manner to fend of insect and fungal diseases. The timing of hanging pheromone wires is critical to confuse the mating cycle of codling moths in order to prevent worms from hatching and burrowing into the apples. Once the soil dries the orchard needs to be cultivated, both to control weed competition and trap valuable wintermoisture in the ground. In April, Bee hives are brought in to ensure good pollination and after a successful fruitset, the entire months of May is spend hand thinning trees to ensure fruit will develop into a marketable size.  The first seasonal watering happens sometime in June and propping up branches to support the increasing weight load of the fruit is critical during the early summer months. Then it's time to prepare for harvest, bins needs to be placed among the trees in the orchard rows and from early September until late October we hope to be rewarded with a high percentage of beautiful fruit. As soon as the fruit is harvested and windfalls are picked off the ground, it's a race against time to prepare the orchard for the wet winter months ahead, i.e. spreading lime, gypsum and compost, collect the propping stakes and tie them to the trees, and sow a covercrop of barley and vetch. Then it's time to give thanks and start all over again.

It may seem like a long list of chores but in the orchard among the trees the chores turn into a wonderful converstation where mother nature opens her book of knowledge and teaches one how to read through the eyes of an apple tree. I like to believe that by taking a bite out of an apple it's nature's way of tempting us to live closer to her and her teachings.
 It seems ironic that while I am typing these words I am doing so on an Apple computer which uses the same symbolism (copyrighted by the way) tempting us to take a bite out of Apple's apple to use their electronic gadgetry as tools of knowledge. Go figure.....you choose!!!???

What's up in the Fields?
As you can all guess it's Apple harvest time, in addition to Green Bean harvest time, Tomato harvest time, and all the rest that's in your shares...harvest time...Oh blessed summer will you ever end, do we need to dance all weekend to make sure Fall is here. (Remember this weekend is the Fall Equinox). I am not complaining...I am just sharing my feelings....hahaha. Happy Beginning of Fall to Everyone.

Kids are back on the Farm, harvesting, milking, baking, thanks to Jessica and helpers. They tickle the earth with their hands and feet, and surely the whole universe smiles when they cheer with laughter.

More serious reporting next week... Yours sincerely, Farmer Tom.

Heirloom Tomatoes!!
It's that time of year again... the heirloom tomatoes are finally getting ripe!! This week we will have Cherokee Purples and Striped Germans. These magnificent beauties are just starting to be ripe in quantities sufficient for our CSA, however since we're just now bringing them in from the fields, we're not yet sure how many we will have for each share. It will probably be only one for each Small share, and one (or possibly two) for each Family share.

Fabulous in flavor and color as they are, they are also fragile beings, because we pick them ripe. So in order to minimize handling (so as to preserve them in their delicateness), we will NOT be putting them inside your boxes, but rather they will go straight from the field into separate flat boxes which will in turn go to your pick-up site (like we do with strawberries). The quantity of heirlooms you are to take will be listed next to your name, just like fruit.

As always, please only take the amount it says next to your name.

New Farm Education Apprenticeship Position
Interested in spending the school year on the Central Coast of California?

We are offering a new Farm Educator Internship this school year.  This internship will have a unique focus on our education programs.  The intern will spend at least 50% of their time on these activities and the other 50% on farm tasks.  Education programs include: a weekly visit by 7th and 8th grade Montessori students, half day farm tours for students of all ages and two afternoons a week with middle school students from a local charter school.

The position will involve leading farm tours, working with ongoing farm education programs and some office work such as scheduling farm tours and processing deposits and payments.  Farm tasks include vegetable and fruit production and marketing, animal care and greenhouse management.

For details, including how to apply, please click here to download a pdf with complete information.
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Click here to go to recipe database.

Tomato lovers rejoice - it's heirloom time! Break out the fresh mozarella, the balsamic vinegar, and your best olive oil... we're all getting basil too so life is good!! Mmmmmm..... Oh wait, let's see... are we getting anything else? Yes of course - other veggies! I was a little starry-eyed there for a minute but now I'm back. Everything else is wonderful too, of course, but more or less the same as last week, so let's see what I have up my sleeve to get you through another week of fabulous farm veggies...  - Debbie

Savory Smoothie
Okay, I made another one up... and this one's simple too! We always think of smoothies as things made with fruit, but ever since I saw a recipe once for a 'savory' bread pudding, it occurred to me that there could be other cross-over ways to prepare tasty things... why not experiment?

All I did was dice up some of that tasty summer squash and throw it into the blender with some dill (I don't have any fresh, so I used some of the dill I dried earlier this summer), and plain yogurt. Then as an afterthought I added just a bit (maybe 1 or 2 tbsp at most for an 8-oz glass) of the brine from my home-fermented garlic dill pickles, to introduce a bit of salty-sour, along with an undertone of garlic and dill. That's an optional addition though - I actually tasted it and declared it good before adding the brine - then added it later. I think I might add a little salt though, if I didn't do the brine.

Anyway, that's all there was to it, and it comes out a beautiful ethereal green and tastes wonderful. Have a glassful with your sandwich for lunch!

For that matter, why limit it to summer squash? I bet you could make something equally tasty with tomatoes and basil, or broccoli (I'd steam it first) and maybe lemon? What do you think? Certainly with cucumbers, cumin and mint (think: raita). How about with cooked beets and, let's see, what goes good with beets... how about beets and garlic and mint, or beets and dill?

Haven't had a fruit recipe in a few weeks! I like the sound of this one...

Broiled Apples and Pears with Rosemary
modified from an undated Bon Appetit clipping, originally calling for Golden Delicious apples (ick) and Bosc pears, serving 12. I've reduced quantities and substituted our (much more flavorful!) farm apples and French butter pears.
I'd say this would serve 4 to 6 as a side dish

This would go great with turkey, of course, but also with roast chicken or pork chops... and maybe some creamy polenta! Don't forget your side of steamed chard and buttered carrots!

3 tart, crisp farm apples, unpeeled, halved, cored, then sliced [I think in this instance slicing parallel slices rather than wedges will allow for more even cooking under the broiler]
3 firm-ripe farm pears, prepared same as apples
about 3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary

Preheat broiler. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Gently toss apple and pear slices with olive oil and minced rosemary then arrange all in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. [I think I'd sprinkle on the wee-ist little bit of salt too, but that's just me!] Broil until fruit is tender and edges begin to brown, watching closely to avoid burning and turning sheets for even browning, about 5 minutes. Transfer fruit to a serving dish. Serve warm or room temperature.

Grilled Eggplant "steak" hero sandwich
I'm using an old San Jose Merc recipe clipping from a few years back as inspiration here, but modifying it significantly

Make last week's grilled eggplant with mozarella
Roast some sweet peppers
Grill some summer squash (while you're grilling the eggplant)
Slice some fresh tomato (how about those heirlooms??)
Basil leaves, left whole or shredded
Get a fresh baguette
Red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper
Optional additions: lettuce, arugula, or finely shredded Napa cabbage

I think you can see it already: cut the baguette into sandwich-length segments and slice lengthwise through one side but leave the other side attached to act as a sort of hinge which will help hold the sandwich together. It's okay for all the grilled stuff - eggplant, peppers, squash - to be room temp; they don't have to be hot off the grill. Lay the sliced baguettes, opened like a book, on a work surface. Layer eggplant, squash and peppers on top. Scatter on some basil leaves (or shredded basil). Put optional additional greens on top of grilled veggies, then sprinkle lightly with vinegar, drizzle with olive oil, rub some dried oregano between your fingers (to release volatile oils) over all, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Alternatives: use your own favorite Italian-style vinaigrette or similar dressing in place of the vinegar-oil-oregano-s&p; or spread some pesto on the bread instead of topping with basil leaves.

Tomatillo-pepita Gazpacho
another old Bon Appetit clipping, modified to reduce quantity to 4 servings

¼ C (generous) unsalted shelled pepitas [pumpkin seeds; you can get them at Trader Joes]
1 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 small fresh hot chile [poblano or jalapeño]
1 small clove garlic, pressed
½ C vegetable broth
~ 2 tbsp. chopped green onion
~ 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. olive oil
half a small cucumber, diced
half an avocado, peeled, pitted and diced [optional, to my thinking]
1 medium tomato, cored, seeded and diced, or some halved sungold cherry tomatoes

Prepare a barbecue grill. Finely grind pepitas in food processor; leave in processor. Grill tomatillos and chile until tomatillos are slightly charred and soft and chile is charred all over, turning occasionally. [This will be somewhere in the vicinity of 10 minutes.] Add tomatillos to processor. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chile; add to processor. Add garlic; process soup to coarse puree. Transfer to a bowl and stir in broth. Season with salt and pepper, then chill completely, 2 to 3 hours. Mix in remaining ingredients (from green onion down) and divide among bowls to serve.

Lastly, here's a handwritten recipe a member sent to me with her checks at the beginning of the season... but she forgot to write her name on it, and once I'd separated it from the checks I lost track of who'd sent it to me, so thanks to the now anonymous contributor!

Summer Veggie Sandwich/Cracker Spread
from 'Good Eats with Altan Brown', with comments from our anonymous contributor [and my comments, as usual, in square brackets]

2 zucchini [any farm summer squash will do]
1 red bell pepper [doesn't have to be bell; use any sweet pepper]
1 onion
1 carrot
4 - 5 garlic cloves
8 oz. cream or neufchatel cheese

Slice veggies about ¼" thick and put on foil-lined or oiled cookie sheet. sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring every 10 - 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool. Put in food processor with cheese and blend into spread.

Anonymous says, "I vary the veggies with what I have to taste," and "great color with red pepper" [and mixed with the green of the squash and the orange of the carrots, I imagine!]

For details on events listed below, please Click here to go to the calendar page on our website.

Fall Equinox Cob Building Workshop and Campout - Sept. 20 and 21
this event must be registered for; deadline for signup is Sept. 8 (or until full)
see calendar page on our website for details; email Jessica to sign up

Fine Farm Feast - postponed to 2009

Fall Harvest Celebration - Saturday Oct. 11th (more details as it gets closer!)

Fall "Five Fridays" Mataganza Garden Internship - Oct 24 and 31, Nov 7, 14, 21
Cost: $50; email Brian Barth for more info, or call him at (831) 566-3336

Banana Slug String Band Benefit Concert for our very own up-and-coming nonprofit, the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program - Saturday Nov. 22, 11am and 1pm at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz
Quick Links...

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448
[see above text box for emailing the farm]