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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
3rd Harvest Week, Season 14
April 13th - 19th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
It Takes a Community
Strawberries and Fava Beans
Pictures from around the farm
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

"We want extraordinary food for ordinary people."

~ Will Allen, Vermont Farmer
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
Apples +
Red Forono beets
Broccoli (Lakeside) +
Young fava bean pods + (you eat the pods; see 'recipes')
Green garlic
Leeks +
Mei qing choi
Sunflower sprouts (New Natives)
Strawberries! (1 to 2 baskets -- see next to your name on checklist for qty!)

Small Share
Artichokes (Swanton Berry Farm - see last week's newsletter)
Red Forono beets
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Young fava bean pods (you eat the pods; see 'recipes')
Mei qing choi
Young onions

Extra Fruit and Fruit Bounty Options
(remember: fruit options don't begin until May)

This week's bread will be caraway rye

It Takes a Community
The majority of the pictures I've been taking over the last few weeks tended to focus on the Farm's spring dress of colorful flowers, budding leaves, tender seedlings, and of course (daddy can't resist) pictures of Elisa munching on strawberries or playing and gardening outside. It's easy to romanticize farming when looking at the beauty of an apple blossom, however behind the beauty of every flower, sprouting seedling, tender shoot, root or fruit is a team of dedicated, hard working, skilled caretakers and stewards. They're the ones who make possible the crops grown on this land in order to feed all of you - our community.  We are a family of 32 multi-tasking agrarian acrobats, farming over 70 acres, growing over 40 different fruits and vegetables every season. Each of us wears many hats, whether it's in the field, office or greenhouse, at the market, repair shop, or in the education gardens.  The complexity and scale of the tasks the farm calls upon us to accomplish is only possible because we love the work we do.

Exquisite Gala apple blossoms!A flowering apple orchard is like a theater stage: we are enchanted by its seasonal beauty, but as with all beautiful performances, they are short lived and what goes on behind the scenes is not shown. I believe that one of our responsibilities is to make sure "eaters of food" - that's all of us - know where and how the food we eat is grown. Between apple blossom and apple fruit, a tree is never left un-attended. As I already described in one of last year's newsletters, it all starts in winter, the dormant season, when trees have to be pruned, and organic dormant sprays need to be carefully timed and applied before and after budbreak to fend off insect and fungal diseases. The timing of hanging pheromone wires is critical to confuse the mating cycle of codling moths and 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 winter moisture in the ground. In April, beehives are brought in to ensure good pollination, and after a successful fruit set, the entire months of May is spent hand thinning trees to ensure that the 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; collecting the propping-stakes and tying them to the trees; and sowing a cover crop.  A similar regimen of tasks applies to our other fruit orchards: the pears, plums and apricots.

It appears to me that the more sustainable we want our food to be grown, the more people have to get involved and participate.  How, I wonder, with an aging population of farmers representing just 2% of the population, will we be able to meet the growing demand for food while changing the current food system to a more sustainable one? We may start seeing a reverse exodus, from cities back to the country, where young people will want to reengage in farming to implement the many models and ideas that promote healthier food systems... systems to benefit all people, not just the few.  How we grow our food is at the very core of how we expect to live and exist in the world. In my opinion, it is humanity's most pressing bailout this century.
- Tom

Strawberries and Fava Beans
Strawberries are starting to ripen and yields are increasing. This week all Family shares will get at least one basket, and if the weather holds we should see strawberries in all the shares next week. The fava beans are starting to size up and the tender pods can be cooked whole like green beans. See recipes and instructions as per Debbie below.
- Tom

Pictures from around the farm
fava beans on the hoof!

Here are the young fava pods (field of them in the background). The beans inside are still immature; you want to eat the whole pod at this stage.

newly planted fields of sugar snap peas

Above is a newly-emerging planting of sugar snap peas; below are green beans, also just starting to show their heads. The white cloth the beans are peeking out of is remay, which is a very fine netting that acts like a blanket to protect delicate seedlings from frost. Green beans need the protection; the peas do not.

baby green bean plants

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

Young Fava Bean Pods
The bag containing what looks like giant green beans would be the young fava bean pods (you'll see in the coming weeks that they get MUCH bigger!). At this young stage you do not shell them, but eat them pod and all (just, in fact, like big green beans!).

Prep and storage: These you can just stick in the fridge in the bag they came in. To eat: top and tail the pods, washing as needed, and cut into bite-size segments. Steam about 5 minutes, then eat any number of ways: simply tossed with a little butter, salt and tarragon (or other herb), or sauté up in olive oil with some chopped green garlic and a little herbs de Provence. Or lightly oil, sprinkle with salt and grill pods whole. In the next week or two I'll talk about how to use the favas when they get bigger.

(see last week's newsletter for discussion on artichokes)

Green garlic vs leeks - how to tell them apart
Did you miss this discussion last week? Click here if you are faced with this conundrum for the first time.

Mei Qing Choi
Tom tends to call it 'bok choi' or 'pak choi' but technically this variety is called mei qing choi. The two are totally interchangeable in recipes, so don't be thrown off by the exotic-sounding name. The flavor is quite similar (actually I'd have to do a blind taste test to see if I could even tell them apart); most of the difference is in appearance: bok choi has longer, whiter stems and dark green leaves (below left); mei qing choi has pale green stems and round or oval, only slightly darker green leaves (below right).
Bok choi and Mei Qing Choi compared

A nice stir-fry might include the choi, sautéed green garlic, leek and/or onion, some partially-steamed broccoli, carrots, and pieces of fava pod, and maybe some sunflower sprouts thrown in at the last minute. Scare up your favorite stir-fry recipe, and adapt it to use some or all of these veggies - it'll be great!

I discovered that I also really love chopping and using mei qing choi raw in tuna salad (or chicken salad or similar) in place of celery; the choi is more tender than celery, but still provides crunch... a more delicate crunch, easier to eat in a sandwich! And go ahead and chop up the leaves and throw them into the mix too, or use the leaves instead of 'lettuce' when you assemble your sandwich! Below is the chicken salad recipe I made up, to give you an idea, but even in your basic can-o-tuna-plus-mayo, it is a great addition!

For that matter, try substituting mei qing choi in any recipe where you normally would use celery. Variation on a theme!

Debbie's Chicken Salad with Mei Qing (or Bok) Choi
diced or shredded cooked chicken
diced choi
diced green onion (the tender, juicy green stems on the onions in your shares can be used like scallions)
toasted chopped walnuts
bleu cheese (a little bit, crumbled)
plumped dried cranberries (soak 'em in boiling water a few min.)

dressing (I'll try to give you proportions; they're not exact measurements!):
a combo of walnut oil and flaxseed oil (or a plain canola if you don't have either of these) ~ 2 tbsp.
orange zest/oil* - zest from ½ to a whole orange, depending on how big it is
dab of honey ~ ¼ to ½ tsp.
dab or Dijon mustard ~ ¼ to ½ tsp.
balsamic vinegar ~ 1 tbsp.
some mayonnaise ~ 1 ½ tbsp.
salt and pepper to taste

bed of lettuce or arugula for serving

Combine dressing ingredients. Toss chicken, choi, nuts, cheese and cranberries with dressing, then serve individually, on beds of lettuce or arugula, or make into a sandwich!

*here's a trick: before making the dressing, zest the orange over the cup you are going to make the dressing in. Point the orange/zester in such a way that the orange oil that sprays out when you do the zesting is captured by the cup along with the zest. Remove zest from cup, mince up, and return to cup; add oils and swirl to mix - the orange oil will then commingle with the other oils and enhance the overall flavor!

Here's a recipe I made up this winter, for using chard.

Debbie's Bean and Chard Stew
bacon (optional) or olive oil
leek, sliced thinly and/or chopped
1 lg. clove garlic or 1 stalk green garlic, white and light green part, minced
1 bunch chard, washed, stems and leaves chopped finely, separately
cooked beans, such as white or cannelini (pretty flexible)
sundried tomatoes, chopped
additional water, as needed
minced rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
a little red wine vinegar
parmesan cheese, for grating on top (optional)

Dice 1 or 2 strips of bacon (or pancetta, if you like fancy) and fry up until partially cooked, then add leek, garlic, and chard stems and cook until veggies are tender and leeks are starting to go golden. (If you don't want to use bacon, fry the leek, garlic and stems in olive oil.)

Add rest of ingredients except for vinegar and parmesan, stir to mix, turn heat to medium, cover and simmer until chard leaves have wilted and sundried tomatoes plumped (depending on how much liquid comes with the beans, you may need to add a little water; you need enough moisture for the chard to steam).

Once cooked down (5-10 minutes), drizzle in some red wine vinegar (taste and see how much you like; start with a little -- you can always add more) and stir to mix. Serve warm with optional parmesan cheese for grating on top!

This recipe is another favorite I must repeat for new folks because it is just so delicious, beautiful and screamin' easy! Simply dice up cold cooked beets, then stir in some plain yogurt, minced fresh dill and a little salt. It comes out a most brilliant shocking magenta, but the dill... oh, it is so good!! Serve it in a little bowl, or put a spoonful on a leaf or two of lettuce for a salad.

Lastly, here's a green bean recipe that would be great with young fava bean pods substituted for the green beans:

Lemon Fava Bean Pods with Cashews
adapted from Kristin Jarden's Vegetarian Cookbook
serves 4 to 6

about 1 1/2 lbs. green beans
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. ghee or oil
1/3 C cashews (chopped, broken or whole)
2 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 to 2 whole dried chilies, slit (or 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)
1 pinch asifedita (fairly important)
3 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Trim beans and cut into 1" pieces. Sprinkle with salt and steam or boil until tender, then drain. Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat, lightly fry cashews until golden. Remove with slotted spoon, drain and set aside. Fry mustard seeds in same pan until they pop. Add ginger and fry 20 seconds. Mix in ground coriander, chilies and asifedita, add green beans, cilantro, lemon juice and cashews. Sauté another 5 to 7 minutes to heat through.

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!

NEW!! Community Farm Days
Every 4th Saturday of the month from May through October, 9am - 4pm
Participants are welcome to arrive Friday evening and camp out overnight to Saturday. 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.

'Healthy Cooking' workshop
Saturday April 18th (see blurb in Winter Week 8 newsletter)

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. ***

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

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448