LEF logo (small)
Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
30th Harvest Week, Season 14
October 19th - 25th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Stormy experiences and inspirations
When does the season end? When does Winter start? When do I sign up?
Fall Harvest Celebration - this Saturday!!
Pickling and Fermentation workshop at the farm - November 1st
Amy's beautiful heritage dried beans now available
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

" I have that itch that farmers have had for the past 10,000 years: to plant hope, to work toward success and to accept what comes. "
 - Steve Beck from Esalen's Farm and Garden

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
Gala and Fuji apples
Broccolini +
Collard greens

Green beans
Onions (from Phil Foster Ranches)
Sweet peppers + <--- the last of them; we're cleaning the field
Sweet potatoes!! (from Mariquita Farm)

Small Share
Gala and Fuji apples
Collard greens
Onions (from Phil Foster Ranches)
Sweet peppers <--- the last of them; we're cleaning the field
Potatoes from LEF or sweet potatoes from Mariquita Farm

Extra Fruit Option
Apples (Gala and Fuji), pears (Warren), and a basket of
either concord grapes or pineapple guavas
Remember, always go by what's on checklist; things sometimes change after this newsletter goes out!

Fruit "Bounty" Extension
Note: this is now only for the folks who signed up for the 5-week extension.
Apples (Gala and Fuji), pears (Warren), and a basket of
either concord grapes or pineapple guavas
Remember, always go by what's on the checklist; things sometimes change after this newsletter goes out!

This week's bread will be caraway rye

Stormy experiences and inspirations
Dressed in my yellow raingear and armed with a shovel, I felt like a freshman who just walked into a graduate level hydrology class taught by the ultimate Climate expert, Mother Nature herself. The topic of the day: "What happens when 7.5 inches of rain fall on a farmed landscape over a 24 hour period?"

I spent almost the entire day in the "classroom" last Tuesday, walking fields, shoveling, digging, blocking, diverting, and slowing the flow of water on the most vulnerable sloping fields and orchards as the rainfall intensified and the volume of water flowing on the surface started to increase.  There is a limit to what one can do when an equivalent of 250,000 gallons of rainwater are deposited over a very short period of time on every acre in the landscape.  The volume is overwhelming, defying most "man-made" safeguards. Given the speed at which it rained, much of the water didn't have time to be absorbed deeper into the soil and ended up flowing over the surface carrying debris and soil as it raced downhill to the lower elevations.

Typically, storms of this caliber don't start until later in the season. By the beginning of November (when rains are more expected), we are more prepared: fields are cover-cropped or mulched with straw, and diversion ditches are in place to slow down and carry the water away from the loose, more vulnerable soils. It was a humbling and valuable lesson to better understand the hydrology of the new land we're farming. It will guide our cropping practices to favor perennial over annual cropping patterns and inspire us to continue our current efforts to restore native plant habitat in areas vulnerable to soil erosion.

Many heat-loving crops which typically continue growing late into fall around here under our mild coastal climate conditions, suffered in the storm, bringing production to an abrupt halt. This was especially true for any soft-bodied fruit such as strawberries, raspberries and tomatoes, as well as the more delicate spinach greens.  Peppers and eggplants held up a little better and will probably last for another couple of weeks.   We tried to salvage as much of the mature green beans as we could but generally it was too muddy and the "pickings" were slim. We still have three more plantings, hopefully the weather will be more favorable for them.

After the stormy hands-on-lesson in hydrology early last week, it was a nice change of pace to have the opportunity to attend the annual "Bioneers" conference with my son David. It is a gathering of leading-edge social and scientific innovators who focus on solutions inspired by nature and human ingenuity. David and I, both in our own way, walked away feeling optimistic by having met people at the conference and heard about efforts of millions more who everyday are working to restore the earth. Nature beckons us to be on her side and it is our challenge to listen to her for solutions. Tuesday's storm made me more aware of how important it is to understand our place within the Pajaro River watershed, and that anything we do to the land affects the watershed as a whole. I will never graduate form Nature's classroom but I sure will pay better attention.

- Tom

When does the season end? When does Winter start? When do I sign up?
Its that time of year where I am starting to get questions from people about this, so I thought I'd cover it in the newsletter so we'll all be on the same page! :-)

Here's the scoop:

· Weds and Thurs Nov 18th and 19th (i.e. the week BEFORE Thanksgiving) will be the last delivery days of the Regular season for 2009.

· Thursday Dec 3rd will be the first delivery of the 2009 Winter season.

· The first delivery of the 2010 Regular Season will be Weds March 31st or Thurs April 1st (depending on whether you pick up on a Weds or Thurs).

I haven't signed up yet... when and how can I do that?
If you are currently a member, you should have already received the all-important signup email from me back on Sept. 30th. If you missed this for any reason, please email me at the farm ASAP to let me know and I will re-send it to you. Remember October is reserved for member signup only; you will be competing with waitlisters for shares and options if you postpone until November or later to sign up.

If you are on our waiting list, you will be hearing from me in November with the links and information about signing up. We may still have some winter shares after all; it just depends on if they are all signed up for by members in October or not.

- Debbie

Fall Harvest Celebration - this Saturday!!
fall harvest pumpkins

Don't forget - mark your calendar and come to the farm for our last-of-the-season farm celebration!

Click here for all the details, including schedule of events, Pie-making contest details, and directions to the farm.

Pickling and Fermentation workshop at farm - November 1st
Sunday November 1st Jordan Champagne of Happy Girl Kitchen will lead another wonderful canning workshop here at the farm -- this time on pickling and fermentation! You'll be making sauerkraut and kimchee, as well as cider vinegar brined pickled beets, where you'll learn the hot water bath technique for canning (which can be used for most other fruits and veggies - a useful skill to learn!). Jordan provides detailed handouts as well as expert instruction and welcomes lots of questions (best kind of workshop!). These are always fun and very informative. Workshops run from 10am to 3pm, and the cost includes an organic lunch from fresh local produce as well as two jars of each item made. To learn more or to register for the class, click here to go to their website.

Amy's beautiful heritage dried beans now available
Hidatsa Shield Figure BeansThose of you who remember last year around this time will be happy to know that Amy Kaplan of Barndance Bean and Seed Co. will once again be offering her specialty dry beans.

Here's what Amy has to say about her products, "Dry beans used to be commonly grown in the Pajaro Valley, but have since been replaced by strawberries and cane berries. The Barn Dance Bean and Seed Co. is reviving the old-time bean-growing tradition by bringing delicious, ecologically-grown heirloom beans from our field to your table. We grow heirloom varieties of dry beans, open-pollinated vegetable seeds, and vegetables. Our beans and seeds are hand-harvested, dried in the field, and threshed in our bicycle-powered threshing machine. We grow 100% organically, but are not certified. And we LOVE beans!"

Although LEF won't be delivering her beans through our CSA this year, the good news is, you can still get them! They will be available through the Santa Cruz Local Foods website, and at the Redmond House farmstand in Watsonville, or you can email her at barndanceseeds@gmail.com and she can mail them to you. These are the best beans you've ever tasted. - Debbie

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

Well the rain is definitely keeping Tom on his toes as well as rapidly changing the makeup of our share boxes. The higher moisture/humidity in general is making for a few unusual circumstances, so I'll provide pointers below. - Debbie

Green bean handling
I'd been in a hurry last week and just put them into the fridge in the bag they came in (I usually dump, sort and dry then re-bag, but I'd just run outta time to deal that day). A few days later, when I went to use them, I noticed they had developed what looked like scratchy rust marks. So I asked Tom about this, and he says that was indeed caused by being stored in the bag they came in. He says to definitely remove them from the bag, dry them if at all possible, then store them either in a paper bag or wrapped in a cotton towel or something. If you just leave them in the plastic bag they came in they will develop this rust.

It doesn't appear to affect their flavor; I found they still snapped crisply and tasted fine, but the look can be a bit off-putting, so be aware of this.

Handling and storing, other items
You will want to check for moisture in lots of things this week; things that are normally dry (like the dry onions from Phil Foster Ranches) get wet inside the bag, and should be taken out and dried off before storing. Peel off the outermost layer if needed, but don't continue to store them wet or they will mold quickly.

Sweet potatoes I would say likewise - make sure they are patted dry before storing (and don't store in the same bin with your onions; the offgassing of the onions will accelerate the decomposition of your potatoes!).

Longtime member and frequent contributor Farrell Podgorsek sent this recipe for using our bounty of apples:

Apples in Cider Sauce
Farrell says, "I modified this from a recipe in Cooks Illustrated magazine, one of my favorite recipe sources. The apples are meant to be topped with a pie crust after sautéing, and then baked in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes to bake the crust.  We preferred them without the crust. If you can get it, use the Apple Cider Syrup from The Apple Farm in Philo, CA. It's worth a trip to the Anderson Valley to stop at the wonderful wineries in the region and visit the Apple Farm while you are there. They also have a stand in The Ferry Building in San Francisco."

1 C apple juice, reduced to ½ cup OR 1/3 C Apple Cider Syrup (from The Apple Farm)
1/3 C real maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 lbs. apples -peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk cider, syrup, lemon juice, cornstarch and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat butter or margarine in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples caramelize and are mostly golden brown, 5-10 minutes. If pan is ovenproof add cider mixture and gently stir until apples are well coated. If pan is not ovenproof, transfer apples to a 13x9 pan and add cider mixture.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes. If apples are not yet tender, cover loosely with foil and continue to bake another 10-15 minutes, or until apples are tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove from oven and let the apples cool before eating. Serve alone, with ice cream, or a slice of carrot cake.

And long-time member Jill McCoy sent me this recipe recently - I didn't think we'd have basil again this season, but Tom said he did, so I pulled this out!

Apple-Carrot Salad with Basil
Jill says, "after picking up my veggies the other day, I was inspired by the perfume of basil that filled my car... plus my veggie bin was full of apples and carrots. So I made this salad for dinner and we just loved it!"

Pour 1-2 tbsp. oil into a large bowl (I used rice bran oil, but any lighter oil should work: grapeseed, walnut, maybe even olive?)
- a splash of mild vinegar (white balsamic, rice vinegar, whatever)
- Some diced red onion, rinsed with cold water and drained
- 3-4 apples, cored and julienned
- 4-6 carrots, peeled and julienned
- A squirt of lime or lemon
- A handful of basil leaves, cut into fine strips
- A handful of walnuts, toasted
Toss everything, and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Sweet potato, apple, and sage spoon bread
from an undated Bon Appetit clipping, modified slightly
serves 10 - 12

Spoon bread is a pudding-like bread made with cornmeal; best served warm.

1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled [optional!] and cut into 1 1/2-inch dice
6 tbsp. butter
2 - 3 small apples, peeled [optional!] and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 C whole milk
1 tbsp. (packed) brown sugar
2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
2 tsp. coarse salt
1 C white cornmeal [I'm sure yellow would be okay too]
4 lg. eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Cook sweet potatoe in pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain; transfer to a large bowl.

Melt 2 tbsp. butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add aple; saute until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add apple to sweet potato; mash together. Cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring milk, sugar, sage, and salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; gradually whisk in cornmeal. Cook until cornmeal absorbs milk and pulls clean from bottom of pan, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 3 tbsp. butter. Whisk yolks in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in warm cornmeal mixture. Mix sweet potato mixture into cornmeal mixture. Beat egg whites in medium bowl to medium-stiff peaks. Fold whites into warm cornmeal mixture.

Melt 1 tbsp. butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Pour batter into skillet. Transfer skillet to oven; bake spoon bread until top is golden and puffed, about 1 hour. Serve warm.

Beet Chutney
from this month's [well, November, actually] Bon Appetit
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 C chopped red onion
1 2-inch diameter beet [or equivalent], peeled, cut into 1/4-inch cubes [small!]
1/2 C water
1/2 C red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. raisins
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
Pinch of cumin seeds

Heat olive oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped red onion and beet cubes. Cook until onion is tender but not brown, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 C water. Increase heat to high and boil until mixture is thick, abut 5 minutes. Add vinegar, raisins, sugar, ginger, mustard seeds, and pinch of cumin seeds. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beet cubes are tender and chutney is thick, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool, then cover and chill. Should keep at least a week.

And if you went out and got that smoked paprika for the recipe in last week's newsletter, now you'll have another use for it!
Broccolini with smoked paprika, almonds and garlic
from same issue Bon Appetit [i.e. the Thanksgiving issue!]
originally for serving 8 [I halved the recipe]

1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 C whole almonds, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 tsp. smoked paprika
Coarse kosher salt
1 lb. broccolini, rinsed, stalks cut into 2- to 3-inch lengths
2 tbsp. water
1/2 to 1 tsp. Sherry wine vinegar

Heat 1/2 tbsp. of the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add almonds. Stir until lightly browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and paprika. Sprinkle with coarse salt; saute 1 minute. Transfer to small bowl.

Add remaining oil to skillet. Add broccolini; sprinkle with coarse salt. Add 2 tbsp. water [a goodly splash], cover, and boil until crisp-tender but still bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour off any water. Stir in almond mixture. Season to taste with additional coarse salt and pepper. Mix in the Sherry wine vinegar.

Transfer all to bowl and serve.

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.

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

Canning workshops with Jordan Champagne of Happy Girl Kitchen Co.
held right here on the farm, in the barn kitchen!
go to Happy Girl Kitchen's website to register
September 27th - Heirloom and Dry Farmed Tomatoes.  Learn how to preserve tomatoes safely working on the recipes of crushed heirlooms, stewed dry farms, salsa and spicy tomato juice and take home 2 jars of each recipe totaling 8 jars!
October 17th - Apples, Pears and Quince.  Learn how to preserve fall fruits by making honeyed pears, apple sauce and quince jelly.  Delicious!  Take home 2 jars from each recipe and we will cater lunch for you!
November 1st - Pickles and Fermentation.  Discover the world of food preservation by learning how to make your own pickled beets, spicy carrots, sauerkraut and kombucha.  We will explore hot water bath canning and live fermentation in this workshop and you will go home with your own starter kits for kombucha and sauerkraut along with 2 jars of beets and carrots.  Fun!

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.

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

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448