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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
21st Harvest Week, Season 14
August 17th - 23rd, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Life passing within Life's flourishing
A CSA first! Watermelons!!
Save the Williamson Act
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

" We can carry all the lessons our garden shares with us into every other area of life "
- Veronica Ray  from Zen Gardening
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
Arugula +
Red cabbage
Carrots (topped and bagged)
Eggplant +
Kale or Collards
Lettuce, redleaf and bibb
Sweet peppers +
Spinach +
Summer squash +
Red slicing tomatoes +
One heirloom tomato <--- will be packed outside the box, like strawberries,
Strawberries                    and listed with the fruit on the checklist

Small Share
Beets (topped)
Green beans
Lettuce, redleaf
Sweet peppers
Summer squash
Red slicing tomatoes

Extra Fruit Option
Raspberries, and cherry tomatoes...
and about a third of you will get a watermelon this week! (the rest will get one next week or the following week! See blurb, below.)
But remember, always go by quantities on checklist; things can change!

Fruit "Bounty" Option
a Real Bounty! Raspberries, blackberries, cherry tomatoes AND strawberries!
But remember, always go by quantities on checklist; things can change!

This week's bread will be caraway rye

Life passing within Life's flourishing

So many of our crops are coming into maturity, the tomatoes are finally ripening,
we are harvesting pears, and our first "experimental" watermelon patch has enough sweet fruit to make it into fruit shares over the next few weeks. Just as school vacations are coming to an end, here on the farm summer has arrived, and that means our workload is at it's peak.

Speaking of summer, one place brimming with vitality and abundance is Taylor's lovingly tended education garden.  The place really  caught my attention as I used it as a place to retreat while attending to "Ivy", one of our mother goats who suddenly became ill and passed away this weekend.  The education garden, which only a few months ago was nothing but a bare patch of soil is now so lush, that the paths have all but disappeared.  Every square inch is covered with some sort of vegetable or flower. The green beans loaded with pods next to the lush summer squash leaves no space to walk among the sprawling tomato vines. A freshly planted bed of brassicas is a welcome "clearing" among this vibrant patch of green. Towering 7-8 ft Mammoth Sunflowers with their large brilliant yellow heads stand guard over melons, winter squash, corn, peppers, herbs and a variety of lower growing flowers.  Stepping out of this little "garden of eden" bursting with seemingly endless vitality and heading over to the goat corral where Ivy is ending her lifecycle, I realize just how temporary and perishable life is. Ivy was born almost 10 years ago here on the farm, has birthed many wonderful kids herself, and was by far our most popular and productive milking goat.  Many of you will remember her from visits to the farm.  She was always chosen for milking demonstrations, patiently letting kids squeeze and pull on her udders until milk almost miraculously came squirting out.

Nature teaches the passing of life within life's flourishing. With Ivy's passing I am grateful for the gift which remains: the many years of her presence that have benefitted so many.  She will be remembered through her offspring, may they all turn out as inspiring "caprine" teachers as her.
Molly who left this week to see her family on the East Coast wrote a brief but very fitting description of Ivy when she heard of her passing:

"greetings live earth team,

maggi called with the news about ivy today, and i was very sorry and sad to hear that she had left us. But i believe she had a very good life, she was a very sweet and loving mother to her kids, and that she was a very smart, personable, albeit stubborn goat.
i wanted to send you this picture my mom took during her visit - i think it encapsulates her in a way.

my thoughts are with ivy, you and all of our goats,


- Tom

A CSA first! Watermelons!!
Moon & Stars WatermelonAs Tom mentioned in weeks past, Juan has always wanted to grow watermelons - which he did this year. They are lovely, luscious, REALLY juicy melons called "Moon and Stars" for their green skin with yellow 'stars' and a big white 'moon' from where the melon lay on the ground. But now that they're getting ripe, we find ourselves with a conundrum! Here we have these big beautiful watermelons... but they're too big and too heavy to fit into the share boxes! So we decided to only give them to the Extra Fruit members... but even so, we can't give them to all Extra Fruit members the same week, because we physically don't have room in the delivery trucks for both the boxes and the melons! (And here you thought the hardest part of having a CSA was growing the crops!)
So I'm going to have to work some magic with the delivery database such that Extra Fruit members at some of our pickup locations will get melons this week, some of you will get them next week, and the rest will get them the following week. I and our delivery drivers will keep track of which sites got watermelons which week, so that every Extra Fruit member eventually gets their melon. So please, have patience with our process, and then enjoy your melon when it's your turn! :-)
- Debbie
Save the Williamson Act
Here we go again...! I just learned over the weekend that Governor Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto power to terminate the California Land Conservation Act, more commonly known as the Williamson Act ~ one of the few state laws that is a model of visionary good public benefit legislation. The benefit to the public of this law is enormous, so its loss is equally so. If we want to continue to have locally-grown fresh produce available to our cities and urban communities, the Williamson Act must be preserved.
History: The Williamson Act has been around since 1965, and allows people who want to farm a long-term break in property taxes so they can continue to do so and not be strangled by taxation. In a nutshell, in exchange for agreeing to restrict land use on their property to agriculture or open space, farmers are taxed on their land's agricultural value, instead of its fair market value. This encourages maintaining open space and farms in and around our urban centers, which might otherwise be sold for development. [You can Google "Williamson Act" for more specifics; I'm just summarizing best I can.]
Now remember: property taxes are paid to your county, and the Williamson Act is a contract between landowners and counties, but this is a state law. So this law basically says that the loss of revenue to counties from land in their jurisdiction that is under The Williamson Act (i.e. which theoretically could otherwise be bringing in much higher property taxes if commercially developed) will be reimbursed by the State. To be fair to the state, the law was drafted so that a farmer could not take advantage of the lower rate and then, whenever he or she wanted, sell the land to a speculator. It requires farmers to agree to enter into this contract for a period of ten years. The contract is 'evergreen' in that it automatically renews itself each year for ten more years, and if you want to get out of it prematurely, you have to pay back all the taxes at the higher rate, plus hefty penalties and interest. If you wish to get out of the contract over a period of time, you inform the county that you don't want to renew and it takes ten years to get out. So it really is a fair and valuable law. It keeps the cost of farming down, and in the case of smaller family operated farms this is incredibly important. They don't have the economies of scale that large agribusiness does. It's just about the only reason they are able to continue to operate even as cities grow close to them.
If you care about local food, you care about this law. Since 1965, California landowners have voluntarily enrolled about 16 million acres in these contracts. According to the Department of Conservation, one in three farmers surveyed claim they wouldn't be able to keep their properties without Williamson Act tax savings.
So what to do? I have been told that (you)we should contact (y)our County Supervisors and request their assurance that (y)our county will continue the Williamson Act on its own, despite the actions of the governor. For that matter, contact the governor's office. I don't know what the right words are for the governor, but this is one law that wasn't broken and so shouldn't have been 'fixed' or, in the case of the governor's actions, 'nixed'!
- Debbie

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

Wow, watermelons... heirloom tomatoes... summer is definitely here! This week, just some more recipes; next week, I may continue on my 'everyday cooking' discussion ;-)  - Debbie
Gonna start with another 'cooked radish' recipe. Don't be afraid to try this folks! Maybe I'll yet get our radish nay-sayers to think twice about slipping them into the 'trades' box...
Beef and Radish Stir-Fry
from a recipe in a Canadian online magazine called "Metro"
Serves 4

~ 10 oz. of beef strip, loin, or rib-eye steak [you could try other cuts also; I would!]
1 bunch radishes
1 bunch cilantro [I don't think they mean that much; a tablespoon or two when chopped should be sufficient]
1/4 C fresh or frozen peas [or dice up sweet green pepper]
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. cornstarch [or 2 tsp. arrowroot]
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese five spice powder
1 tsp. horseradish or wasabi (fresh or prepared), according to preference
1 tbsp. olive oil
Slice beef thin. Wash and slice radishes, but not too thin so that they remain crunchy. Mince cilantro and set aside. Blend soy sauce, cornstarch, Chinese five spice, and horseradish/wasabi in a small bowl.
In a skillet or wok, heat oil and saute slicesd beef. Add radishes and green peas [or diced sweet pepper], then sauce. Simmer 30 seconds or so, until sauce thickens. Cooked radishes turn light pink and become milder. Sprinkle with minced cilantro and serve. [I'd serve it with fresh steamed rice, or over rice noodles.]
Tomatoes, Arugula and Feta (or Chevre)
If you haven't eaten this magic combination yet, don't put it off another minute! No dressing is necessary; if you use Chevre instead of feta, perhaps only a little salt... but otherwise, combine the three however you like. You can serve it like a salad tossed together in a big bowl, or individually plated, or even make little tapas with a leaf or two of arugula, a piece of tomato [red, sungold, heirloom, doesn't matter], and a bit of cheese. The most important thing is to have some of each in every bite. Remember (the movie) Ratatouille? It's like that moment when he puts the cheese and mushroom together in the same bite ~ magic happens!
Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad
inspired by an undated Bon Appetit clipping
heirloom tomato, cut into largish triangular bites
watermelon, rind trimmed, seeded, and cut into similar sized pieces
fresh basil leaves, chopped
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
Combine tomatoes, watermelon, and basil in a bowl. Whisk oil and vinegar together [two-to-one, oil-to-vinegar], and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you're good at making small batches of dressing, do so; if you tend to make bigger batches, toss the melon/tomato/basil salad with only a spoonful or two of dressing, to just lightly coat; you'll thank me later for this advice ;-) Too much dressing is a bad thing, in my book. You can always add a spoonful more if you think it needs it, but you don't want them swimming!
Beets with garlic-walnut sauce
by Mark Bittman (New York Times)
serves 4

2 lbs. red beets, about 4 large, trimmed of greens
1/4 C olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/2 C walnuts
2 tbsp. to 1/4 C freshly squeezed orange juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets well. While they're still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. They may cook at different rates [and can take longer if they've been refrigerated]; remove each one when it is done. (At this point, they can be refrigerated, still wrapped, for up to a week.)
Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add garlic cloves and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly and then put in a small food processor; process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice to taste and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.
After beets have cooled, peel off skins. Slice beets into wedges or cubes and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and serve.
Tatsoi with Pickled Onions
from an undated Chronicle clipping; attributed to a restaurant called Chenery Park in San Francisco. In the original recipe, it is to be served with grilled salmon, but I think it will be just fine as a veggie side dish for any number of things!
Serves 4

1 red onion, sliced
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. Champagne vinegar
1 lb. tatsoi
2 tsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Combine onion, sugar and vinegar in a mixing bowl. Let stand for 1 hour.
Cut leaves away from stems, leaving about 1/4-inch of stem attached [I'd leave more than that; the stems are tasty!]. Rinse and let dry.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onion mixture and saute 1-2 minutes. Add tatsoi and saute for 3-5 more minutes, until leaves begin to wilt. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lentil salad with spinach, pecans and cheddar
Another undated newspaper clipping; Mercury News, I think!
serves 4

1 lb. lentils (about 2 1/2 C)
1 small onion, halved
1 carrot, halved
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1/3 C pecans
4 tbsp. red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 C olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. spinach, stems removed, leaves washed well
1/4 lb. aged cheddar cheese
In a medium pot, combine lentils, onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain; discard onion, carrot, garlic and bay leaf.
In a small frying pan, toast pecans over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Chop them.
In large glass or stainless steel bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp. vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Add oil slowly, whisking. Shred half the spinach and put in a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Add the hot lentils, and toss with half the dressing, the remaining 2 tbsp. vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Toss mixture gently until spinach wilts.
Toss remaining spinach with remaining dressing and put on plates. Top with lentil mixture and toasted pecans. Using a vegetable peeler, shave cheese over the top.

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 (sorry, late request: Tom asks there be "no sleep-overs" Friday August 28th!)
   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