LEF logo (small)
Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
19th Harvest Week, Season 14
August 3rd - 9th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Community Wheat Harvest
In the fields
Discovery Program non-profit status official!!
HR 2749 Update
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

 "To make a great farm one must have a great idea or a great opportunity."
      -inspired from the book of "Zen Gardening" by Veronica Ray

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
Red cabbage
Armenian cucumbers and/or summer squash
Green beans
Lettuce (green and red leaf) +
Mei qing choi
Onions (Pinnacle Farms)
Padron peppers (hot - see recipe section! They'll be bagged separately)
Sweet Hungarian yellow wax peppers

Small Share
Napa cabbage
Green beans
Lettuce (green or red leaf)
Mei qing choi
Onions (Pinnacle Farms)
Padron peppers (hot - see recipe section! They'll be bagged separately)
Sweet Hungarian yellow wax peppers

Extra Fruit Option
Strawberries, caneberries (i.e. blackberries or raspberries), and 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 three-seed whole wheat

Community Wheat Harvest
Early December, of last year, I planted a 1/4 acre with wheat,  as a fast growing covercrop, before the winter rains were about to start. By January, the wheat had all germinated covering the soil like a lush green blanket.  My first intention was to let it grow and plow it back into the soil come spring, but never having planted wheat, I was unaware how much I would enjoy it's lifecycle.  I let the wheat grow to maturity watching how the  colors changed from lush green, gradually to yellow, and finally to creamy brown. For a fruit and vegetable grower like me, a 1/4 acre of wheat,  is a lot of wheat! Unsure what to do with this new crop, my friend Jered, from Pie Ranch, suggested something they do every year -  invite the community to help with the harvest. 

You can all imagine how happy a farmer I was last Saturday, when I cranked up the tractor ready to pull a trailer full of helpers to tackle our first ever wheat harvest. 
Armed with hand-sickles we started cutting the stalks of wheat,  stacking them into small piles which then got tied into bundles. While harvesting the wheat, some of us not yet old enough to wield a knife, picked cherry tomatoes in the nearby tomato patch. It didn't take longer than 2 hours that the  trailer we rode over on, was stacked with wheat bundles. We slowly rode back with kids sitting on top of the wheat stack ready to take on the next, and most unfamiliar, part of the process - threshing, winnowing and milling. 

We took the bundles and opened them up  on a large tarp and started stomping and stepping on the heads of wheat to separate the kernels. Traditional hand threshing would be done with sticks resembling flails, or woodchucks like you see in martial arts.  Not something to be tried with 20 people having an enjoyable Community Farm Day. Once we grew tired of stomping around on the straw (about 20 minutes), the next step was to pick up the straw and move it off to the side. What we had left was a lot of straw mixed in with wheat at various stages of threshing. The easiest way  we found to get the straw out of the wheat was to put it through a very coarse sieve, for which we used our harvest crates, which worked great. We spent trying different ways of sifting and throwing wheat and chaff into the air, like people have been doing for thousands of years, but conditions weren't windy enough to separate the kernels from the chaff, so we had to resort to using a fan which also ended up not being strong enough. With enough air blowing, the wheat, which is a lot heavier, falls to the ground and the chaff, much lighter, is blown away.
We used buckets to collect the wheat kernels and after lots of winnowing sequences, we had a hat full of kernels clean enough to demonstrate how to mill the wheat into a couple of pounds of "precious" flour.   Time was limited to accomplish the complete circle from harvest to nourishing meal.  However, with flour bought the day before, Molly, farm intern and pizza maker extraordinaire, had made a fresh batch of pizza dough  so all of us wheat harvesters got to bake our own creative pizzas topped with goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, pesto, humus and herbs.  Thanks to all who came and made this, the farm's first ever wheat harvest, such a fun,creative, and "enlightening" experience.  - Tom

P.S. Since I didn't take a lot of pictures I have a small request to all who did take them. Please, if you don't mind, send your pictures to me (thomas@baymoon.com) in order to put together a visual sequence, from wheat harvest to pizza eating, in order to share the experience with other members in future newsletters. Thank You!!!!


In the fields
Not much to share from the field, except that everyone getting a share this week should be aware of the Padron Peppers, bagged with a red rubberband.  They where harvested a bit too large and therefore are Very HOT!!!!!!!

This year the one crop which seems very susceptible to mildew among all local growers are green and lemon cucumbers. We will continue to supply you with the Armenian Snake cucumbers, but the regular ones are for all intended purposes a crop failure :-(.

Discovery Program non-profit status official!!
Live Earth Farm Discovery Program (LEFDP)We are very pleased to announce that our Live Earth Farm Discovery Program is now officially a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit! We got our final letter from the IRS confirming our status just last week. This is excellent news: now every contribution to the Discovery Program (including our fundraising dinner coming up in September -- see Calendar, below) will be tax deductible to the full extent of the law!

This in turn has given us a new option for CSA members: in the event you make a change to your share that would result in a refund, you now have the option of donating that refund to the Discovery Program, and it will be tax-deductible to you. We will send you a thank-you letter with our Tax ID number, for your files, and the Discovery Program will get needed funds for supporting its educational programs -- a win-win situation!

HR 2749 Update
CAFF logo (small)Courtesy of CAFF (Community Alliance with Family Farmers), from their July 31 bulletin:

"HR 2749 passed the House of Representatives yesterday on a majority vote. It had earlier failed to pass on Wednesday under rules that required a two-thirds vote.

"During the debate on Thursday, Rep. Sam Farr (D-Monterey) and Rep. Blumenauer (D-Oregon) both held "colloquies" with Rep. Dingell, the bill's manager, which allowed them to read into the record their understanding that the bill was not intended to conflict with conservation and biodiversity efforts on farms, negatively affect small farmers, or conflict with organic rules under the NOP, and to have Rep. Dingell agree. Since we were unable to get the actual language of the bill amended to reflect these concerns, this was the best we could do.

"Rep. Dingell had earlier circulated a memo from the consumer groups that were pushing the bill that speciously argued that all of our concerns had been dealt with. Read the rebuttal to this from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition here."

"As the legislation moves to the Senate this fall, we will once again attempt to keep the FDA off of the farm. While CAFF believes that every farmer should pay attention to food safety issues, by making farmers subject to mandatory rules, testing, audits, and recalls, this legislation threatens to destroy the local food system we have been working to create.

"We thank those of you who contacted your Representatives and we particularly want to thank Rep. Farr and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who were very supportive of our position. We will keep you advised of further developments."

Read more about this bill on CAFF's policy page.

If you have any questions regarding this bill, please contact CAFF's Policy Director, Dave Runsten, at 530-756-8518 ext. 25 or dave@caff.org.

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

Did you have fun playing with your recipes last week? I hope so! This week we're getting a completely new kind of pepper (first time we've grown them on the farm), and so I want to talk a little about them first. - Debbie

Padrón peppers
I couldn't get Tom to be definitive when I tried to find out from him how hot the new Padrón peppers we're getting in our shares this week would be (FYI they will be bagged separately from the sweet peppers, and closed with a red rubberband). Finally he said for me to look it up on the internet, which I did... and now I see why he vacillated. Apparently Padrons are, well, sometimes hot, sometimes not! Wikipedia says, "Most taste sweet and mild, though some are particularly hot and spicy, which gives its character to the dish and is perfectly captured in the popular "Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non" (Galician for 'Padrón peppers, some are hot and some are not')."  Apparently among these little bite-sized peppers, about 1 in 10 (some say 1 in 20) will be hot... and there's no way to tell until you bite into them. It is sometimes referred to as 'Russian roulette with Padron'. They have a lot of flavor and make great tapas. You simply fry them up in hot oil then serve them sprinkled with a little sea salt - and have a cool beverage standing by just in case you get a hot one!

Andy, from Mariquita Farm, believes the heat is related to how big they are when they are picked; that if they're small, there is less likelihood of 'being burned.' [LATE ADD: Tom says we harvested the peppers big, so they will likely ALL be hot; so I recommend using them in recipes where you want a hot pepper like a Jalapeno. Proceed with caution! But enjoy too!!] Andy is a terrific writer, and tells a great story about his experience with Padrons back in 2004. Click here if you wish to read his story. Meanwhile, here is a recipe for simple Fried Padron Peppers, from an Australian blog called "Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once":

Fried Padrón Peppers

Padrón Peppers
olive oil
sea salt

[Photo credit: Andrea Meyers, www.andreasreviews.com]
Andrea Meyers fried Patron peppers
Clean the peppers with the damp cloth and then dry them completely. Leave them intact - don't remove the stalk.

Shallow or deep fry, a few at a time, turning them as the skin starts to puff. Once the skin is all wrinkly, remove and place on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Sprinkle with a little sea salt and continue the process until all the peppers are done. You will notice that the peppers will deflate on cooling.

In the batch I [the blogger] had, the hottest was probably a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, most had a sweetish, fresh pepper taste that went well with a good glass of Shiraz.

Want something cool to have standing by if the peppers are hot? Okay, maybe you'd rather save this for dessert! Member Farrell Podgorsek sent me her recipe for making...

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
from Farrell's kitchen

Frozen strawberries, cut into chunks
Fresh strawberries, hulled but left whole unless very large
juice of half a lemon
Yogurt - any plain or vanilla variety will work

Place frozen and fresh berries in a food processor and process into smaller chunks. Add some yogurt and process to blend. Start with a small amount of yogurt. You can add more as needed. Process until the mixture is the consistency you like.  It will be soft. If you want a firmer texture, transfer to an ice cream maker for a few minutes. Store in the freezer.  If you do not put it in the ice cream maker, it will freeze rather hard. You can scrape across the top to serve.

What to do with all the little sweet peppers?
We will mostly be getting the small yellow Hungarian wax (sweet) peppers this week, though Tom says there may be some other types mixed in ~ it all depends on what comes out of the fields. Mind you, he WILL be sure to bag the hot Padron peppers separately, so any green peppers you receive in your bag with the yellow Hungarian wax should NOT be hot.

I have two current favorite ways for using the sweet peppers:

1) Cut them into biggish-bite-sized pieces and pan-fry them up with potatoes like you were making home-fries. When they and the potatoes are mostly brown and soft, sprinkle with salt, then separate the veggies into little fried-egg-sized groupings in the pan, make a little space in the middle of each grouping, then crack an egg over it so the yolk goes in the little 'hole' and the white spills out over the peppers and potatoes. Then when the white is mostly set, flip it briefly to just cook it on the other side, or not - you could just put a lid on until the egg was set to your liking (I like a runny yolk for dipping toast!) Ever made 'eggs in a nest'? Where you make a hole in a slice of bread and fry the egg so the yolk sits in the hole in the bread? It's kinda like that.  Anyway, I love this for breakfast, and you can use up a lot of peppers and potatoes this way!

2) My other favorite way to eat sweet peppers is dead easy - cut them into little boats and serve with cottage cheese. You can either scoop the cottage cheese with them, or pre-fill the little boats with a spoonful of cottage cheese each. This is really tasty.

For that matter, they're good with any kind of dip, really. Why not use some of your beets to make...

Radka Pleskacova's Fabulous Magenta Summer Solstice Beet Dip
[LEF newsletter, Sept 2008]

cooked, finely grated beets
cream cheese

The beets to cream cheese ratio is 50-50, so figure the equivalent of 2 good fist-sized beets (more if smaller) and 2 pkgs. cream cheese. And the mayonnaise portion is small, so for the above quantity of beets/cream cheese, figure about 1 tbsp. mayo. "Don't overdo the mayo," says Radka. Garlic, of course, is in the tastebuds of the beholder (betaster?), so add crushed (or finely minced) fresh garlic to your liking.

The only other salient bit of info Radka mentioned was that the beets should be cooked until done, but not until mushy. Then grate them very finely (i.e. don't use the coarse side of your grater).

Then it's just a matter of combining all the ingredients and refrigerating. I imagine you can use a hand grater and a bowl and a wooden spoon, or alternatively, your food processor, both to grate and to mix.

Lastly, here's a nice Chinese soup recipe for your mei qing choi:

Mei Qing Noodle Soup
from the website for Abundant Harvest Organics, a CSA in Central California
Serves 2-3 (May be doubled)

1 qt. chicken or veggie stock
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sherry
6 dried wood ear or shitake mushrooms
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C onion, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3-1/2 lb. Chinese egg noodles
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 C cooked chicken
1 Mei Qing Choi, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, julienned [use the sweet yellow Hungarian peppers]

Combine stock, soy sauce sherry, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and onions in a large saucepan.  Season to taste with salt and pepper [if you use packaged stock, check saltiness before adding more; you might not need more, since you're already adding soy sauce].  Simmer for 25 minutes.  Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add noodles, cook until just barely tender, drain.  Toss noodles with sesame oil and keep warm.  Add chicken, mei qing, and sweet pepper to broth.  Simmer another 6-8 minutes.  Place a nest of noodles in each bowl, ladle broth and vegetables over nest and serve hot.  Chinese chili paste may be served on the side as a condiment.

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.

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

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