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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
18th Harvest Week, Season 14
July 27th - Aug 2nd, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Hunter and Gatherers a choice no more...
In the fields
August 1 Community Farm Day - this weekend!!
Morris Grassfed Beef
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another"  - Juvenal

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
Napa cabbage
Green beans
Kale or Collards
Mei Qing Choi or Mizuna
White onions (Phil Foster Ranches)
Summer squash

Small Share
Napa cabbage
Armenian cucumbers
Mei Qing Choi
White Onions (Phil Foster Ranches)
Sweet peppers (small yellow and green; mixed)

Extra Fruit Option
Wednesday: Strawberries and blackberries;
Thursday:Strawberries, blackberries and Sungold cherry tomatoes

remember, always go by quantities on checklist; things can change!

Fruit "Bounty" Option
(no 'bounty' this week)

This week's bread will be plain whole wheat

Hunter and Gatherers a choice no more....

Why after 3 million years of successfully hunting and gathering, humans decided 10,000 years ago to start farming and produce food the hard way, is for many scientists still a puzzling question and believed to be the moment when we started down the slippery slope of a non-sustainable foodsystem.

After spending last weekend in San Francisco with the kids, it struck me how people in cities live beyond the sight of where their food is grown and how much cities depend on an uninterrupted supply of farmed food.  Only with the advent of agriculture, even though it meant more work, was it possible to produce enough food to meet the demand of increasing population centers. Urban areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area could not have evolved if farming systems hadn't continuously adapted maximizing their food productivity. For thousands of generations, as hunter and gatherers had a balanced process of giving and taking; with the advent of farming it turned into a situation where more was being taken and less given back.  Today we expect the government to ensure everyone access to an abundant and safe food supply, however with most of the population living in cities, the natural tendency has been to favor non-sustainable, industrialized food systems, which are vulnerable to large scale contamination problems.

With HR 2749, The Food Safety Enhancement Act, Congress is attempting to enforce new sweeping Food Safety Laws that once again focus on one-size-fits-all regulation and technology solutions in support of an already failing industrial agricultural system.  Congress is missing the opportunity to make our food supply safer by decentralizing and helping small scale, local, and regional food systems to flourish. By trying to regulate farms the way meat processing plants are regulated, it will only put small farms out of business and perpetuate the same large-scale industrial farming systems which caused the problems in the first place.  With local and organic farming starting to gain strength it is important we resist such legislation and instead help set standards  which specifically cultivate and protect the wild lands in support of farming that's not disruptive to nature. Food Safety and Food Security can be built around a food system that relies on smaller and widely dispersed family farms, community gardens, Farmer's Markets, CSA Farms, and local enterprises, where the producers and consumers can have a conversation, look each other in the eye, and trust the story behind the product being exchanged.

Such transactions are not only financial in nature, but more importantly help bridge and reconnect people to form stable, innovative, and nourishing urban/agrarian societies.

- Tom

In the fields

The next fruit crop to be harvested will be pears in mid August. Trees have been watered, so now we wait for them to size up and develop the right amount of sugars before picking them still hard off the trees. They will then be stored for a couple of weeks before showing up in your shares. After Pears the first Gala apples will be ready to pick, and soon thereafter, what I believe looks like a bumber crop of concord grapes. Didn't Mark Twain say, "the coldest winter he endured was a summer in San Francisco"? Well it's been foggy and cool, so hang on until next week and tomatoes should finally be in your shares. Maybe after harvesting our first wheat this weekend [see Community Farm Day, below] we can mill enough token amounts of flour for everyone to experiment with, all depends on how many of you will come and help....:-)

August 1 Community Farm Day - this weekend!!
The focus of this weekend's Community Farm Day will be on harvesting wheat, and experience the full cycle from field-to-fork.  The 1/4 acre wheat field which we planted last year is mature and needs to be harvested. As a community this can be a lot of fun. Wheat is cut with small hand sickles, bundled, and threshed. We will thresh enough to mill some flour with our small electric stone mill and bake bread or pizzas in the new cob oven. The location of the wheat field is one of the most beautiful spots on the farm, surrounded by Oak and Redwoods. We also have tomatoes, eggplants and peppers planted there, which we could harvest to make a pizza later.  We will take a tractor ride to the wheat field and return with our harvest to prepare a late lunch 2-3PM. While harvesting the wheat,  I recommend everyone bring a snack, I will make sure we have plenty of water to stay hydrated.

You are welcome to come spend the night from Friday (July 31st) to Saturday; you can pitch a tent.  Be aware it's been foggy and chilly so there is a good chance you need to stay dry and warm.

Please RSVP me (Farmer Tom) at  831-760-0436  or  thomas@baymoon.com. Hope to see you then!

- Tom

Morris Grassfed Beef
Morris Grassfed cattleHi folks, it's Debbie - If you are an omnivore in search of a source of healthy, grassfed, grass-finished beef for your family, search no further. Joe and Julie Morris, of T&O Cattle Company down in San Juan Bautista are your answer. I have gotten my own beef from them for several years now (so have many other CSA members) and can attest to the quality of the meat and the integrity of the Morrises, who raise the animals and steward the land. As Julie will tell you, "Our cattle enjoy a completely organic diet of fresh grass, forbs and legumes, clean water, and better views than most of us do! We use neither synthetic hormones nor fed antibiotics: our animals grow only as fast as their genetics and the range will allow. Their range, of course, serves also as watersheds and habitat for us as well as other biological communities. We manage our animals so that they enhance the diversity of life on the range, as well as the quality of the water that falls on the range and flows to the towns and sea. We believe this web of relationships we are stewarding is an integral whole, depending for its health upon all its members: damaging the health of any member of the "whole" community, therefore, damages the rest. Our desire is to produce health with all we do. Only when this is done are we satisfied that Morris Grassfed Beef is all it can be-the best there is for all of us." Also, all their Morris Grassfed beef cattle are born and raised by them on their ranch in San Juan Bautista; they do not purchase calves and then just finish them on grass. The animals are under Joe and Julie's care from birth to the time the meat is delivered to you.

Here are a few factoids about eating meat from pastured animals, as gleaned from Michael Pollan's book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma": · A growing body of scientific research suggests that many of the health problems associated with eating beef are really problems with corn-fed beef. Cattle are ruminants, not designed to eat grain (organic or not). It makes them sick. This is why most of the antibiotics sold in America today end up in animal feed. The research further indicates that pasture substantially changes the nutritional profile of chicken, eggs, beef and milk. [As an aside: this is why we offer TLC Ranch eggs -- Jim's chickens are raised on pasture.] · The large quantities of beta-carotene, vitamin E, and folic acid present in green grass find their way into the flesh of the animals that eat that grass. · The fats created in the flesh of grass eaters are the best kind for us to eat. Grass-fed meat, milk, and eggs contain less total fat and less saturated fats than the same foods from grain-fed animals. Pastured animals also contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that some recent studies indicate may help reduce weight and prevent cancer, and which is absent from feedlot animals. But perhaps most important, meat, eggs, and milk from pastured animals also contain higher levels of omega 3s, essential fatty acids created in the cells of green plants and algae that play an indispensable role in human health, and especially in the growth and health of neurons - brain cells.

In a nutshell, the species of animal you eat may matter less than what the animal you're eating has itself eaten!

I am writing you all, because Joe still has a few split-halves of his grassfed beef available, and has added an additional delivery date (Sept. 3rd). This is an excellent opportunity to add nutritious, wholesome grassfed beef to your family's diet.

If you are interested, go to www.morrisgrassfed.com to learn more and to sign up. (They have an order form right on their website.) You won't be disappointed.

Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Click here to go to recipe database.

This week, I want to write to you about Playing With Your Recipes. The usual mantra is 'play with your food' - but I think what's really called for here is permission for you to play with the recipes you use to prepare the food from your box each week. Once you start doing this - and the more you do - the more confidence you'll have. This, in turn, will create a positive feedback loop: your eaters (anyone you prepare food for) will be happy because they're not eating the same old thing, and you'll be happy because you're not wasting food because you've come up with innovative new ways to put this veggie into that recipe, and soon you'll find yourself saying things like, "wow, I never thought of that..." and then - voila!! Next thing you know, it'll all be second nature! This, I encourage!

One of the most common, no, I take that back... THE most common reason people will drop out of a CSA (if they're allowed to - some CSAs are a commitment for the season, no buts, ands or ifs) is because they can't use up the food and they hate to waste it.

We have all types of people eating the food from our farm: a full spectrum from foodies and seasoned cooks to newbies who know little about food and cooking but want to learn to eat healthier. Some folks are busier than others. Some choose to dedicate more time to cooking and meal prep than others. So we all have to find our own rhythm and work within it.

Getting your food from a CSA box is the perfect opportunity to really experiment, and innovate... and play. So I'm going to talk about how to go about doing just that!

Your most important 'tool', in my mind, is to not be too married to preconceived notions. Notions as simple (and to some, radical) as 'radishes should only be eaten raw', or 'beets should only be eaten cooked' should be questioned.

Turn other things on their head: who says dishes like pancakes or eggs should only be eaten at breakfast, or greens only with dinner? Who says bread pudding is a dessert? I still remember the amazing 'aha!' moment I had years ago when I saw a recipe for a savory bread pudding - with veggies and herbs in it - what a marvelous idea! Who'd'a thunk it?? Even earlier than that, way back when I was a teenager, I remember my first introduction to a meat recipe... with fruit in it! It was a dried-fruit curry. I had no idea the two would go together so well! Obviously, it has stuck with me since.

Think about textures (crunchy, silky, firm, creamy, crispy, hard) and how they change when cooked; think about flavors (sweet, bitter, delicate, spicy, savory, fruity) and how they interact. And then: think about substituting! Swap this crunchy thing for that crunchy thing (cuz you don't have 'that' this week); or this leafy cooking green for that one, or this fruit for that fruit. I think you get the picture. You will be amazed at how the number of available recipes suddenly multiplies once you begin playing with them...

You can also simply ADD things to recipes. Who says that just because a veggie isn't listed in the ingredients, you can't embellish?

Most importantly: don't be afraid.

Back in 2001 I quoted one of my favorite cooking writers, Edward Espe Brown, and it bears repeating here (click here for original reference):

 "Who says you can't cook? I give you permission. You can look with your eyes and feel with your hands, smell with your nose and taste with your tongue. You can think and create, be inspired, or stumble along. You keep finding your way.

"...You can learn many things about "cooking," about ingredients, cutting, combinations, and procedures, but even more fundamentally you can learn to act on your own experience, outside of recipes, relying on your innate capacity to taste and sense and decide for yourself what you like. By this I do not mean follow your "instincts," which seems to me a rather amorphous concept, but being present, carefully observing the obvious, acquainting your palate with your palette.

" [with regards to 'how' to cook a particular thing] ...clearly there is no definitive answer. You just have to wing it and feel for yourself. You're the expert on whether or not you like something. You have eyes and ears, a nose and a mouth, likes and dislikes (which can be revised sometimes). You can learn to trust your own taste, which will change and develop, get tired or be stimulated, as you go along."

And so, dear readers, I want to encourage you to play this week, if only just a little bit. Let me give you some examples, to get you started. You can use the recipe database if you like, or any recipe source - online or cookbook - it doesn't matter. The recipes gives you a baseline, then you can start playing with them.

Things like mei qing choi and radishes: try dicing or slicing or chopping them up and using them in salads (pasta, tuna, egg) where you usually might put 'crunchy' celery. You could also dice up raw green beans and do the same, or, cook them very slightly, and do the same. Or you could make a chopped salad that has some or all of these things. Or you could cook any of these things in a stir-fry or fried rice!

Have a favorite grated carrot recipe? A carrot salad or carrot cake? Try using grated golden, or even red beets. Or a combination of beets and carrots.

And if you haven't already learned this one, now's the time: so many of your cooking greens can be interchanged in recipes... chard, kale, collards, broccoli (and by extension broccolini). Really. Trust me.

Put mizuna or arugula in your green salad, or put it in your soup or stir-fry. Or fried rice. Or pasta.

Put your Napa cabbage in a slaw, or in a stir-fry.

Use your blackberries in a recipe that calls for blueberries or some other fruit. For sure put 'em in pancakes!

I think you're beginning to get the idea... ;-)

Armenian Cucumbers
The Armenian cucumbers are both beautiful - with dark and light green ridges - and tasty, with delicate edible skin and a crispy/juicy inside. They are also fun, as sometimes they are long and twisty, hence the nickname 'snake cucumbers'. I'm not sure as of this writing if both shares will get them this week; Tom says they are coming in, so we should have them in both shares soon.

Cucumbers of various types

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 too, 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 to Tom with the number of people attending and whether you'll be arriving Friday night or Saturday is requested. Call 831.760.0436 or email him at thomas@baymoon.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.

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