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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
31st Harvest Week, Season 14
October 26th - November 1st, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
The Joy of Farming is to Celebrate in Community
Red Kabocha squash
Spring Season Signup Reminder - members, don't miss out!
Michael Pollan speaking at this year's Bioneer's Conference
Halloween monster mash
Scenes from the Fall Harvest Celebration Pie Contest
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

"The future depends on reconnecting with the natural world: knowing our food, regenerating our land, and strengthening our communities. We cannot isolate one aspect of our life from another."
- Wendell Berry

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
Fuji apples +
Golden beets
Collard greens
Red Russian kale
Red onions (from Phil Foster Ranches)
Sweet peppers +
Hot red Padron peppers (bagged with tomatoes) +
Tomatoes +
Winter squash (red Kabocha) +

Small Share
Fuji apples
Red beets
Napa cabbage
Red Russian kale
Red onions (from Phil Foster Ranches)
Sweet peppers
Hot red Padron peppers (bagged with tomatoes)
Winter squash (red Kabocha)

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

This week's bread will be whole wheat with flax seed

The Joy of Farming is to Celebrate in Community
This past Saturday the Farm was "dressed-up" in her Autumn attire, decorated with
cornstalks and pumpkins, ready to welcome the community to her end-of-season Harvest Celebration. It was a glorious day -- clear, sunny and warm.
Getting the farm ready for a celebration is always a big task, as it has to fit in with all the other ongoing activities. To give you an idea, on Friday, the day before the Celebration, our first batch of strawberry plants arrived, and this particular variety, called Camarosa, does best if planted within days from the date they were dug-up from their nursery beds in northern California. So on Saturday, shortly before sunrise, the same time the trucks departed for West Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley's farmer's markets, the entire farm crew set out to transplant over 18,000 strawberry plants into the fields. Also, the recent rainstorm delayed our winter squash and apple harvest, so when the weather forecast announced the possibility of yet another storm, my "to-do list" suddenly grew even longer. All-in-all, preparing for the Harvest Celebration seemed like a stretch. However, thanks to our tireless team of interns, Molly and Taylor, and their entourage of visiting family members and friends, the farm looked stunningly beautiful and everything was prepared in time just as the first visitors arrived on Saturday.

New this year was of course the much anticipated Pie Contest, the brainchild of Molly and Taylor, which turned out to be so much fun that we've decided to make it a feature of next year's Harvest Celebration. (see pictures and Molly's story below).
I wish I could have multiplied myself into several Farmer Toms while giving tractor rides to eager apple pickers. I missed out on getting a warm slice of bread, freshly baked in our cob oven, as well as savoring the ricotta cheese made during the goat cheese-making demonstration. Luckily, I got a taste of some of the pies!!

The apple press next to the hayfort by the old Pippin tree was once again a big attraction; sweet cider flowed almost continuously. By my account, there must have been a lot of kids with sore arms from cranking the press, as there were only 300 lbs. of apples left from the 1000 lbs. we started with!

As the sun started setting and light gave way to darkness, we all gathered by the fire circle to enjoy a potluck dinner of delicious food (thanks to all who so lovingly prepared these dishes for all to share), listen to live music by Doug Dirt and his Groove Grass Band, and watch Azalyne's graceful firedance mimicking the flames and sparks of the bonfire.

There is nothing more inspiring and renewing for us farmers than to celebrate  together and experience the joy and magic inherent in the commitment our community has for this farm. The farm is a place we get to express gratitude and more intimately experience our relationship with nature. Thanks to everyone who attended, and who helped make this such a wonderful celebration.

From all of us here at the Farm, we wish you a "boooooootiful" Halloween!

- Tom

Red Kabocha squash
Don't mistake this for a decorative gourd; the red Kabocha squash is definitely an eating squash! Please see Debbie's recipes, below, for more info. You may also store them and wait for a couple of weeks until you have enough for your holiday meals.

Spring Season Signup Reminder - members, don't miss out!
If you're a current member and planned on continuing as a member next season (i.e. next spring, our 2010 Regular Season), please don't forget to sign up by October 31st to reserve your spot! Remember, in November I'll be opening up signup to everyone on our waiting list, which means we will likely be fully subscribed by the end of the year. [Yes you can still sign up after the end of October, but certain limited items like fruit options and such will go quickly.]

If any member did not see the signup email I sent on Sept. 30th, email me at the farm farmers@cruzio.com and I will re-send it to you.

- Debbie

Michael Pollan speaking at this year's Bioneers Conference
Once again, your favorite journalist and mine, Michael Pollan, gives an awesome talk on the topic of food system reform. He eloquently presents how food system reform is at the very heart of the three biggest issues facing our country and the world: health care/human health, the end of cheap abundant oil, and global warming/climate change. Do yourself a favor and set aside a little time to watch his speech; it was recorded in three YouTube segments of approximately 8 minutes each. It is truly inspiring. - Debbie

Michael Pollan - Part 1 - Bioneers Conference (8 min 51 sec)

Michael Pollan - Part 2 - Bioneers Conference (8 min 17 sec)

Michael Pollan - Part 3 - Bioneers Conference (6 min 14 sec)

Halloween monster mash
Member Cynthia Fan sent in this 'gruesome' shot of her son Jack, after having devoured a pile of roasted cubed beets. Scaaarrrrryyyyy!!!!

Jack the beet-faced baby

Scenes from the Fall Harvest Celebration Pie Contest
Pie Contest, LEF Harvest Celebration 2009Pie Contest A Delicious Success!
Apple pie with a golden brown, flaky gruyère cheese crust... A colorful savory pie with potatoes and red peppers... Vegan chocolate pumpkin cheesecake... sound tempting? These were just three out of 11 mouth-watering pies entered in Live Earth's first-ever Pie Contest! At 1 pm, our three red-and-white checkered pie drop-off tables looked sparse, and Taylor and I wondered if anyone would enter a pie. But by judging time at 3pm, we had a table full of gorgeous and lip-smacking pies under our noses.  Our four judges took their seats, donned their official Chef's hats (bejeweled with colorful plastic fruits), and grabbed a plastic fork. One judge, however, went missing... Could he have transformed into the mysterious Pumpkin Man who crept up to the Pie Tasting Table just as Doug Dirt, of the famed Banana Slug String Band, bade all bakers and their friends to come and witness the commentary and reactions of the judges? No one knows for sure...
Pumpkin Man wedged himself between Mrs. Brady (Taylor's mom, who came out for a visit, and to lend her New England pie-baking expertise) and Solar Steve, guitarist for the Banana Slug String Band. A crowd gathered round, and the tasting began. Bakers bravely watched as the judges tasted and offered immediate commentary such as "Exquisite blend of fruits, a crispy crust - a combination that can't be beat!" "This pie is like a pony ride - I am filled with so much anticipation, and my tongue goes on a wild ride from savory to sweet!" Our youngest judge, Alexis, held up index cards with pictures that summed up her opinions: one had 5 hearts, another had nine hearts, one had a big smiley face, another a thumbs up, and another a smiley ghost! Taylor and I shuttled pie slice after pie slice to the judges, while Doug announced the name of the baker and gave a rousing description of the pie. The crowd slapped their knees to create a "drum roll" as the judges licked their chops. Young LEF CSA members inched closer and closer to the pie table, forks in hand, ready to dive into the pies (who could blame them as the judges pronounced such lavish praise?) Finally, when the tasting was complete, the judges conferred privately to decide who would win what prize. In the end, everyone won. Prizes included Best Apple, Best Pumpkin, Best Crust, Most Like Mom's, Best Young Baker, Best Combo Fruit, Most Like Martha Stewart, Most Creative Ingredients, and Most Loving Pie.  Each baker and judge received an honorary "tree cookie" medal for his or her efforts in making this year's Pie Contest a success. Finally, the whole audience was invited to grab a plate and fork and line up to have a tasting of their own - happily, there was plenty of pie for all - even enough for seconds, thirds... even fifths!
Thank you to all the brave and talented bakers for contributing such beautiful and yummy pies this year. We hope more members will enter next year, so we can all eat more delicious pie!
- Molly Culver

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

I think we have a beet theme going this week; first Cynthia Fan sent me that great picture of beet-smoosh-faced Jack (above), and then Cristie Boone sent pictures of her version of my broccoli beet pasta recipe from the database! I'll include the recipe again. And yes, Cristie, it did come out beautifully! I really like your variation of sauteeing the broccoli with the onion instead of boiling it with the pasta (and cooking the pasta in the beet water for color!). I hope Cristie has inspired others to send me their box-veggie-recipe successes, with or without photos. It's so great to be able to share them with everyone! Just another aspect of the 'community' in Community Supported Agriculture. - Debbie

Cristie wrote, "Hi Debbie! I had to share this picture(s) with you, because I thought it turned out so beautiful. I had all these beets piling up from the last several weeks of my share, and wanted to do something new with them. So I perused the Live Earth Farm recipes, and used the "Broccoli, Beet, and Feta Pasta" recipe, which was really more of a guideline that you made up than an actual recipe, but worked fantastically. I changed some very simple things, like sauteing the broccoli with the garlic and onion, instead of cooking it in the pasta water, because I cooked the pasta in the beet water instead, and got beautifully colorful pasta! I swear, the pasta in the picture started out white (rice pasta), and that color is all from the beet water. :) Thank you for the delicious recipe!"

Cristie Boone's version of Debbie's Broccoli, Beet and Feta Pasta recipe

Broccoli, beet and feta pasta
This is from a recipe I made up back in January of 2006. There are no real measured quantities here. This recipe is not that picky!

broccoli or broccolini, cut into bite-sized pieces
a few beets, topped, tailed, peeled, sliced, then cut crosswise into strips
penne pasta
onion, garlic, olive oil
toasted walnuts (optional)
feta cheese
salt and pepper

Cook beet strips in a saucepan of boiling salted water about 10 minutes or until tender. Boil your penne pasta according to package directions, adding the cut up broccoli for the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time so it will be done when the pasta is done. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent or even longer, if you like them a little caramelized. When the pasta/broccoli is done, drain well then add to skillet and stir/toss to combine. Add crumbled feta cheese to mixture and stir/heat until feta melts and makes it all creamy. Add salt to taste, and I like to add a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper. Drain and add beets last, stirring just to mix (so the beets' color doesn't overpower it all). Stir in optional toasted walnuts and serve.

We're getting the first of our winter squash this week -- hooray! Here's a recipe from the latest Bon Appetit that caught my eye, and is perfect for this week as it uses both winter squash and kale. It sounds a bit involved, but... yummy too!

Winter Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding
from Bon Appetit, Nov 09, modified slightly
serves 6 to 8 [recipe could easily be halved]

2 lbs. peeled seeded butternut squash [could also use Kabocha; Kabocha is a little drier, more intensely flavored, so see different handling, below]
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, plus additional for sprinkling [I like a good sea salt]
7 large eggs
2 1/4 C half and half
6 tbsp. dry white wine
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 day-old baguette (do not remove crust) [NOW yer talkin!], torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
1 C chopped shallots (about 4 large) [could get away with using your red onion]
2 bunches Tuscan kale [or Red Russian!], stems removed, kale coarsely chopped
8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss squash with 1 tbsp. oil on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt; bake until squash is tender, turning with spatula occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes. [If using Kabocha: see "on Kabocha Squash" from a 2007 newsletter; I'd recommend steaming the cubed squash rather than roasting. Interesting note: if the skin is in good condition, believe it or not you can leave it on and eat it too!]

Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add half and half, wine, mustard, and 1 1/2 tsps. of the coarse salt; whisk to blend. Add baguette pieces; fold gently into egg mixture. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbps. oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add kale; cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover and stir until kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes (kale will be a bit crunchy).

Reduce oven temperature [if roasting butternut] to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of the bread from the egg mixture to prepared dish, arranging to cover most of dish. Spoon half of kale over bread. Spoon half of squash over bread and kale; sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, squash and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture over all.

Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered until custard is set and bread feels springy to touch, about 20 minutes longer.

Preheat broiler; broil pudding until cheese browns slightly, about 2 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

And lastly, for those of you getting pineapple guavas in your fruit option, if you've never had them before, you're in for a treat! When ripe, they have this intense pineapply-citrusy perfume that is just lovely. You eat them peel and all (the skin has lots of vitamin C). Anyway, here's a blurb I wrote back in fall 2002 -- in that long ago time when not only were we at the Willow Glen Farmers Market, but when Tom manned the tables himself!:

How to eat Pineapple Guavas
Being observant pays off. Those odd little green fruit were an enigma to me until I watched Tom at the Willow Glen farmers market last Saturday as he chatted up customers and snacked on pineapple guavas. What he would do is pick one up, squeeze and roll it a little between his fingers to soften it a bit, then break the skin slightly with a thumbnail and pinch the fruit in half, like opening a cracked egg. Then he'd just bite into the fruit, skin and all, only tossing the very stem end. I studiously attempted to repeat this at home and... it worked! Somehow it was the tastiest way to eat them, better than cutting or slicing. I don't know why. All I do know is that they are disappearing from my fruit basket rapidly now that I know how to eat them...
how to eat pineapple guava
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