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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
13th Harvest Week, Season 14
June 22nd - 28th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
A Time to Celebrate
Strawberry Slowdown, Potatoes Emerging, Apricots on the Horizon
Helping Hands
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar
 "A child's world is fresh and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement."

- Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder

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 is the source of any produce 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

Collard greens
Cucumbers +
Garlic +
Green beans
Dinosaur kale
Lettuce (variety) +
Onions +
Potatoes +
Summer squash +
Mystery item! [escarole, cilantro, or radicchio]
Strawberries +

Small Share
Green beans
Dinosaur kale
Lettuce (variety)
Napa cabbage
Summer squash

Extra Fruit Option
Wednesday: 4 to 5 baskets Strawberries
Thursday: Strawberries and possibly blackberries or raspberries
remember, always go by quantities on checklist; things can change!

Fruit "Bounty" Option
***no fruit bounty this week***

This week's bread will be 3-seed whole wheat

A Time to Celebrate
Solstice face painting and fun
It never ceases to surprise me how rewarding it is to celebrate. Last Saturday's Solstice Celebration once again brought the farm alive with joy and excitement, sprinkled with many moments of magic and wonder.  It is one of four seasonal transitions where we stop for a brief moment in our busy lives to experience the interconnected- ness of community through the nourishing food that we grow and receive from this land.

The pictures capture some of the priceless moments of the event. As always the children brought the farm alive with their spontaneous and joyous energy. Besides harvesting sweet and juicy treats around the farm, children engaged in many other fun activities such as face painting, exploring the new strawbale fort, making ice-cream, baking bread, milking and turning the milk into goat cheese. Many were busy decorating paper hats and braiding garlic (see Farmer Tom's picture wearing gifts of handcrafted farm fashion) and of course the most popular was to spent time playing with the farm animals. Our two pigs, new to both the farm and the excitement of so many young visitors, had to endure being chased by small bands of young "hunters", whereas the baby goats enjoyed the attention letting themselves be petted and carried around.

Taylor, our intern, transformed herself into an Oracle (see pictures below), wildly dressed and decorated with colorful vegetables offering her vision of their 'Spirit Veggie' to anyone who cared to sit with her under the old apple tree. As is a tradition by now, both the Banana Slug String Band and Kuzanga Marimaba inspired us with music and lyrics to sing and dance to.  When it was time to eat, four long tables of delicious foods, gave expression to the generosity and appreciation for the land, and it's entire living community.  Thank you all for bringing such generous and wonderfully cooked dishes of food!!

It was nice to light a bonfire again, since last year we abstained, given the many wildfires that broke out all along the Santa Cruz Mountains. As the longest day of the year finally came to an end, Linnea, as in year's past, performed her graceful and inspiring fire dance. Once again the land wove it's magic to revitalize and nourish our bodies and spirits for the upcoming summer season. Many thanks to all who participated and helped to make this another great celebration.  -Tom

PS - Debbie's husband, Ken, has prepared another video of our celebration; not done in time to make this week's newsletter, but should be in next week's so stay tuned!

Farmer Tom's famous tractor hayride

Maggi milking, Molly baking, and Taylor prophesizing
Strawberry Slowdown, Potatoes Emerging, Apricots on the horizon

Red Caribe potatoesOne of my very favorite crops to grow are potatoes. This is the first harvest this year and the red color of these beautiful Red Caribe variety is really stunning.  When I joined the Peace Corps in Western Samoa (South Pacific 1985-1988), I introduced this crop to farmers in the higher elevations of the island. There are several thousand varieties that are native to the Andean mountains. Today the potato is the leading vegetable grown worldwide, cultivated everywhere from below sea level to 14,000 feet above. The Spaniards introduced the potato to Europe, however it was only slowly adapted at first since the potato is a member of the potentially poisonous nightshade family, same as your favorite tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. But soon the potato (considered the poor man's crop) was grown to protect against famine during times of war and grain crop failures. In some countries, such as Ireland, dependence on the potato grew until 1845 when the famous potato blight wiped out most of the crop and catalyzed a severe famine and massive immigration of Irish to the United States. The potato is an excellent source of complex carbohydrate and minerals, particularly potassium (providing the skin is consumed). They are also a good source of vegetable protein. Over the next few months you will receive Red Caribe a white fleshed variety, and Yellow Finn and Yukon Gold two yellow fleshed and creamier varieties. This week we are planting some more potatoes to harvest later in the fall.

Looking ahead....
bizarre strawberry!The strawberries are slowing down, to the relief of some of you I assume, but soon we'll have apricots -- as early as next week -- plums, almost during the same time period, and lots more blackberries.

Helping Hands
Every year apprentices enliven the farm in their own unique way and fill an important niche by helping us with the farm's heavy workload. For apprentices to learn first hand how to run a farm like ours can be overwhelming and demanding, while at the same they are challenged to integrate the new relationships and choices triggered by their intimate work with the land.  This week Molly offered to introduce herself, and just so you know, she will be stepping in as CSA coordinator while Debbie is off on a well deserved vacation.

My name is Molly Culver. You may have met me by the cob oven this past weekend! (See above picture of Molly baking, above, in newsletter.)
I was drawn to organic farming 5 years ago after spending a year in Santiago, Chile, where I saw how our increasingly globalized and industrialized food system was replacing traditional farming and drastically changing the average person's relationship to their food. Beautiful open-air, centrally located markets where farmers sold direct to consumers were becoming a thing of the past while shiny, freezing cold, new supermarkets kept appearing, though only in wealthier neighborhoods.  I wanted to return to the US and engage in work to reshape our food system, with the hopes that by rebuilding a local food system, we might enable other countries and communities to return to more localized food systems as well. I spent my first months back in the US volunteering at an urban farm, and later found work in New York City coordinating a new CSA program in the South Bronx. We also began growing vegetables in community gardens and started a new farmers market to help bring fresh, organic produce into one of the poorest, most underserved neighborhoods in the country. I fell in love with growing my own food and sharing that experience with others.
I love the experience of being on a larger, working farm. Live Earth Farm is an amazing place, because it offers such a variety of fruits and vegetables, but also because of how many people are supporting it, and how many families it is producing fresh food for - so inspiring! I am very excited to start my own CSA farm one day soon. 
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Click here to go to the recipe database.

Fresh dill and potatoes! Fresh dill and beets! Fresh dill and cucumbers!! Dill is a real treat and will go with a lot of things we're getting this week. And spanky new fresh-out-of-the-ground potatoes too... sure wish I was gettin' a share this week! (I'll be out of town by the end of the week so I'll miss out!) But I can still write about them for you. ~ Debbie

So, let's start with the dill, of course! Here are a few ideas to get you going:

Beet, yogurt, garlic and dill salad
from a recipe on the Atlantic online, by Aglaia Kremezi, 4/16/09

Aglaia Kremezi's pink tzatzikiAs the author says, this is like a pink tzatziki. I loved her photo though, so pretty garnished with borage flowers! I just had to include it here.

Makes about 3 cups

4-5 large cooked beets, peeled and diced
(if you like, add chopped, cooked beet stems and greens too)
1 C chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ C fresh dill, chopped
3 C thick [whole milk, plain] yogurt [to get thick yogurt, either find a good Greek yogurt, or you can thicken your own beautifully by laying a few layers of cheesecloth in a colander suspended over a pan or bowl, then putting in the yogurt, sticking the whole thing in your fridge overnight, and letting the whey drip out. Save the whey for making kvass or other fermented items, or for baking with!]
2-3 garlic cloves, minced, to taste
1-2 jalapenos, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sumac to sprinkle (optional)
Borage flowers, for garnish (optional)
[Green something for garnish too: mint, parsley, or more dill!]

In a bowl, combine the beets (and greens, if using) with the parsley, dill, yogurt, garlic, chilies, and lemon juice, stirring well. Add salt and taste. Adjust seasoning with more salt, lemon and a black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Spread on toasts [the author suggests toasting bread and rubbing it with a cut garlic clove - good idea!] and serve as an appetizer, or transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with sumac, decorating with borage flowers, if you like.

Of course the very simplest way is often the best way to try something for the first time (and if you like it, of course, many times again!).

New potatoes and fresh dill
This is very easy; just scrub and boil small new potatoes (cut in half if they are bigger) in salted water until barely done (about 10 minutes when freshly dug like this). You can check done-ness with the tip of a sharp knife: as soon as they pierce easily, they're done! Drain them, return them to the pan and cook, tossing, until completely dry. Serve warm, with butter, salt and snipped fresh dill, or cool to room temperature and drizzle with good olive oil, then sprinkle with fresh dill. I'm kind of a salt fiend, so I'd probably salt 'em too, but you might try them without the added salt first, see how you like 'em.

Cucumbers and fresh dill
Another easy one. Optionally peel - if they're standard cukes I'll peel them as the skin is a bit tough, but if they're Armenian 'snake' cucumbers or the delicate English or Japanese kind, don't peel - then thinly slice them. Sprinkle on a little vinegar (try different kinds, see what you like! Red or white wine vinegar is good, or champagne vinegar or cider vinegar...), add salt and pepper to taste, and of course chopped fresh dill fronds. Mix it all together and allow to sit for a while, refrigerated, for the dill to permeate.

Dill, yogurt and cucumbers is great, as is also dill, sour cream and cucumbers (both with salt and pepper to taste).

You see, the potatoes, the cucumbers, the beets, the yogurt, sour cream, whatever... they're all just carriers that allow the flavor of the fresh dill to sing!

Well the week can't pass without some new recipe for summer squash as well, so here are two new ones:

Summer squash and collards with lemon and garlic
I made this one up a week or so ago, when cooking at a friend's house. Makes a great side dish!

Cut summer squash in half lengthwise then crosswise into half-moons (if you get the Rond de Nice type -- the ones shaped like a ball -- you might need to cut them differently, but basically you want more-or-less bite-sized pieces).

Strip collards from stems (compost stems), cook leaves in boiling well-salted water for about 4 minutes, drain well, squeezing out excess water, then chop and set aside.

Zest a lemon and then mince the zest, so you have a goodly amount. Peel, smash and chop a few cloves of garlic. I like to chop the zest and garlic together in a little pile, get it to mingle.

Cut lemon in half, remove seeds, have lemon standing by.

Heat a wok over high heat. When pretty hot, add a few blorps of olive oil, swirl it around a moment or two, and as soon as the oil is hot, add the garlic/lemon zest and stir/sizzle a few moments more. Now toss in the squash pieces and salt to taste, and stir-fry (keep the pieces moving - stir and toss!) until just crisp-tender. Might be only a minute if you're only doing one or two squash - longer if you're cooking a bigger batch.

Once crisp-tender (don't overcook!), turn off heat, add chopped cooked collards, squeeze on the juice of both lemon halves, salt to taste, and serve!

Here's a recipe from an old (1984) Mexican cookbook someone gave me years ago:

Calabacitas with Beef
from Woman's Day book of New Mexican Cooking, by Jane Butel
serves 6 to 8

"Appropriate as both a side dish or a main course. Try serving it with steaming, buttered wheat tortillas."

¼ C butter or bacon drippings
2 ½ lbs. round steak [or similar], sliced into thin strips, about 2 inches long
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
4 medium-sized zucchini, sliced 3/8" thick
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. Mexican oregano
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 C chopped freshly parched green chiles [canned whole green chiles, although not the greatest substitute, will do in a pinch; pepper season isn't until later this summer on the farm!]
1 ½ C corn kernels, fresh or frozen
¾ C grated full cream sharp Cheddar cheese

Heat butter or bacon drippings over high heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add beef slices and brown quickly, but well. Remove to a plate.

Saute garlic, onion, and zucchini in same skillet until zucchini is crisp-tender.

The cookbook completely left out any instructions for adding the seasonings, chiles or corn (!) so I'd add the seasonings when sauteing the veggies, then throw in the chiles and corn in the below step.

Stir back in the browned beef and heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in grated cheese and serve as soon as the cheese has melted.

Here's a repeat of a recipe from the database, but a good one - one that bears repeating! You'll love this if you haven't tried it yet. Children love these almost as much as French fries!

Crispy Green Beans (sometimes also known as "Ugly Green Beans")
original inspiration by Kathy Keenan

1 to 2 lbs green beans
olive oil
lots of chopped fresh garlic
sea salt

Arrange the green beans in a single layer on baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and coat the beans. Sprinkle with garlic and sea salt to taste. Bake 40 to 45 minutes in a 375 degree oven. They come out looking ugly, but they are delicious!

Alternatively, if the weather is hot, you can cook these in a grill basket over an outdoor barbecue grill.

Make sure in either case they get nice and browned and wrinkled and ugly. That's when they're really good!

Here is the current schedule, and we will update the calendar here in the newsletter regularly. You can also get more information from the calendar on our website.

NEW!! Farm Workshops/Lectures
this is an idea that is still forming...
Possible subjects to include Permaculture, Fermented Foods, Farming with the Wild... stay tuned!

UPDATED!! Community Farm Days
Every month from May through October, 9am - 4pm, on these Saturdays:
  May 30th
   June 20th Farm - coinciding with our Solstice Celebration
   August 1st
   August 29th
   September 26th
   October 24th - coinciding with our Harvest Celebration
Participants are welcome to arrive Friday evening and camp out overnight to Saturday (except on the Friday before our Solstice and Harvest celebrations; we're too busy setting up). Please leave your dogs at home, thanks! The intent of Community Farm Days is to increase the opportunity for members and their families to experience and enjoy a slice of "life on the farm" at different times of the year - kind of like our old Mini Camp, but for members of all ages! Each month will have a different activity focus, and will be announced in advance here in the newsletter. RSVP of number of people attending and whether you'll be arriving Friday night or Saturday is requested. Call 831.763.2448 or email farmers@cruzio.com

NEW!! Live Earth Farm Discovery Program for WEE ONES
3rd Tuesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon
(free for children 0 - 3 yrs; $5 - $10 per adult)
LEF Discovery Program logoMothers, fathers, grandparents, caretakers of any kind... bring the babe in your arms to experience the diversity of our beautiful organic farm here in Watsonville. We will use our five senses to get to know the natural world around us. The farm is home to over 50 different fruits and vegetables, chicks, chickens, goats, piglets, and the many wild members of the Pajaro watershed.

For more information, contact Jessica at the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program (831) 728-2032 or email her at lefeducation@baymoon.com.

Apricot U-Pick Days

two Sundays: July 5th and July 12th
Bring your own bags.

Summer Solstice Celebration
Saturday June 20th <---note new date!
[click here for a short YouTube video of our 2007 celebration]

*** Children's Mini-Camp has been discontinued, and is being replaced with the above-mentioned Community Farm Days. ***

Organic Farm Dinner Fundraiser for the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program
Saturday September 12th ~ don't miss it!!
Farm tour, feast, and silent auction!
Seasonal Cooking for Health Workshop in the afternoon!
click here to download flyer and learn more

Fall Harvest Celebration
Saturday October 24th
[and click here for a YouTube video of our Fall celebration!]

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448