LEF logo (small)
Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
33rd Harvest Week, Season 14
November 9th - 15th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
News from other Live Earth Farmers and Educators
One more week to go!
Picking up after dark? Bring a flashlight
Companion Bakers Holiday Baking Class this Saturday!
Winter Season Q&A (repeat)
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

" Once the hand touches the soil it reveals who we are. "
- Farmer Tom

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 +
Napa cabbage

Collard greens
Red Russian kale
Lettuce +
Baby mei qing choi

Winter squash (butternut or kabocha)

Small Share
Fuji apples
Basil or parsley
Red beets
Green cabbage
Collard greens
Winter squash (butternut or kabocha)

Extra Fruit Option
this is the last week of Extra Fruit.
: Fuji apples, jar of jam, and a basket of
either strawberries or raspberries
Thurs: Fuji apples, jar of jam, and a basket of pineapple guavas

Fruit "Bounty" Extension
this is the last week of Fruit Bounty.
Weds: Fuji apples, jar of jam, and a basket of
either strawberries or raspberries
Thurs: Fuji apples, jar of jam, and a basket of pineapple guavas

This week's bread will be plain rye

News from other Live Earth Farmers and Educators
Instead of my usual blurb, this week you get to hear from three others who work hard on the farm: Jessica (our Education Programs Coordinator), and then Molly and Taylor, our two farm interns. Enjoy! - Tom

Ahhhh transition.
from Jessica Ridgeway, Live Earth Farm Discovery Program

It has been a whirlwind fall at Live Earth Farm.  I have been so busy with twice weekly tours -- the Wavecrest Montessori Program, our homeschoolers, Wee Ones and now EA Hall Middle School -- that I have barely done any farming.  And just as the farm approaches the calm between the Regular and Winter CSA seasons, I will find myself with some time to get my hands in the soil. 

I am looking forward to the wet, winter months.  A year from now we might be offering a winter, watershed-themed tour season funded by the BWET grant in partnership with the Wild Farm Alliance.  So this winter is my chance to FARM.  This week we are putting the education garden to bed and planting over winter and cover crops with three school groups.  The following week will be my last week of tours and then out to the fields I go. 

 I look forward to working with our large Live Earth Farm family.  It will be an opportunity to reconnect with the land and the people I have developed quite an affinity for in my time at LEF.  I look forward to practicing Spanish on a regular basis, getting muddy, and arriving home at the end of the day tired and replenished from my time in the fields, away from the computer.

 LEFDP has a lot to celebrate this year.  We received our 501(c)(3) non-profit status, we hosted a successful fundraiser, we began a few new programs, one for infants and one with a local middle school, our tours are more popular than ever and we get to keep our precious Education Intern, Taylor.  With all of this in mind I will have little trouble knowing what to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

- Jessica


Tractor Shenanigans
by Molly Culver, intern

 When I came to Live Earth Farm, I had many objectives and interests: I wanted more experience growing crops on a "field scale" (as opposed to a "garden scale"), practice with crop planning, practice managing goats, and more in-depth greenhouse management experience. But above and beyond these and myriad other skills one needs to become a successful farmer, I wanted to learn how to drive a tractor.

 I think for many women (and I am no exception), the tractor is an enigma.  It's big (weighing in between 3,000 and 10,000 pounds), it's loud, and it's made of steel - making it all together a rather intimidating gardening tool. (Especially for a slight woman, with little upper body strength - no matter how many CSA share boxes I lift on a weekly basis.) I have never even learned how to drive a stick shift, so imagine my nerves once up on that powerful 5,000 lb machine with Tom's precious soil, plants and irrigation materials' well-being hanging in the balance. But the reason I was and still am so motivated to practice tractor skills is because of the fact that on a large scale, your tractor becomes an extension of your mind and body, and if you use it skillfully, you can help create very healthy soil to grow your plants in and save your back at the same time.

Due to the tractor's sheer size, it's difficult to imagine that such a behemoth of a machine (in hand with a skilled driver) could ever be capable of creating the powdery cake-like tilth for planting arugula seeds. It's difficult for most people to perceive the intricacy, skill, and creativity involved in tractor work when you approach it from the outside - it just looks like a cold steel behemoth. It's also easy to condemn the tractor - it runs on fossil fuel, therefore making it less sustainable, and it compromises the workability of your soil through compaction of the soil under its massive weight.

However, when growing the healthiest food on the planet, in the most sustainable way possible, for a CSA with a sizeable membership (let's say you're growing on 2 acres or more), a tractor becomes indispensible.  On a field scale, and with the right implement attached, the tractor is designed to emulate all of the soil fertility, cultivation, and crop growing work we do by hand in a garden. Our principal tractor drivers, Juan, "Juanillo," and Ruben are very skilled and I have learned a lot from them.  For example, around this time of year, in a hand-scale garden, you can clear away the remnants of your old tomato plants by hand, then take a spade and shovel a little compost onto the bed's surface. You can then grab your fork and incorporate that compost. You can then take a couple of handfuls of cover crop seed and broadcast it by lightly shaking your hands over the bed. You can use your fork again to gently sift in that seed. Try that on an acre plot - its probably going to take you a few days if you work 10 hours a day, and you will probably have a very sore back when its over. With a tractor, you can attach a flail mower and mow half an acre of crops in a half hour. You can then attach a disc and drive up and down and across and back, breaking the soil up and incorporating any remaining plant residue - this may take another half hour. You can then attach a manure spreader full of compost, drive across that field as compost flies across the soil (30 minutes). You can then attach a seed drill, full of cover crop seed, along with a ring roller, and the tractor will dispense the seed and the roller will tamp it in nicely so the seed makes good soil contact (again, maybe just over a half hour). In the spring, you mow down that cover crop just as quickly as you planted it. You can attach a ripper, to really loosen the soil a couple feet deep. You can then disc, to break down any clods. You can then spade, a magical implement heralded as the tool that most protects the integrity of your soil (an up-down, up-down motion versus the disc's over-under churning motion). The spader will render your field a soft cocoa powdery texture, though it'll take you twice as long as it did to disc. Attach a lister bar, and 2 steel shovels will hill up the soil, forming long, straight beds to plant into. This takes a lot of focus, as the goal is to drive quickly and as straight as possible. Finally, you can attach a transplanter machine or a direct seeder to get your plants in the ground.  Much can be accomplished with a tractor. Other important tasks tractors perform here regularly include: cultivating between and in rows to remove weeds, field leveling to create proper drainage, hauling half-ton apple bins, lifting bins full of watermelons into CSA delivery trucks, water spraying on roads to keep dust down, and I could go on and on.

Needless to say, I have a lot to learn and practice. Fortunately, I came to the right farm. Tom has been brave enough to let me try almost all of these skills, despite my total lack of prior experience. Over the past 8 months I have become comfortable with driving a tractor and better at determining the proper gear and speed for the task at hand. One aspect of tractor work I continue to find frustrating is the attaching and detaching of implements - this just takes some serious brute strength that I don't have on my own. Often, this part of the job is done in teams. Juan, Ruben and Juanillo work in pairs to make the job easier and also to have a second pair of eyes. It takes tenacity to line up your tractor just right so that the 3-part attachment process goes smoothly. I titled this article "tractor shenanigans" because often the time it takes to find and attach the implement you need takes twice as long as it does to use it.

And even when I really screw up (which I did last Friday), Tom encourages me to keep going. Last Friday, I nearly broke our flail mower trying to detach it by myself; minutes later I almost took down a 5 year old plum tree while disking a field. Not long after, I accidentally broke a 4-inch main pipe with the disc. That was a really bad day. But it goes to show that tractor work takes serious skill, and I am so grateful to Tom for giving me the chance to learn.

- Molly

Hello Live Earth Community!
by Taylor Brady, intern and education programs assistant

It's been one heck of a year here at Live Earth Farm. This month marks my very official one-year californiversary, in which I fled the snowy winters of the East Coast in search of sunny skies and a year-round growing season. These days with the nights getting colder and the sun setting earlier, it's easy to see that things around the farm are definitely slowing down. Suddenly I find myself with a lot more time to reflect upon some of the highlights of this past season.

 When our friends ask Molly and I what a normal day on the farm looks like, we both laugh and pause for a second, having trouble even remembering what we did on the farm that day; our heads still clearly spinning from the days whirlwind activities. One thing's for sure at Live Earth Farm - there's no shortage of projects or farm field tasks to be completed. On any given day Molly and I can be found doing anything from hauling haybales, working farmer's markets, making CSA deliveries, harvesting with our amazing crew, tending to the greenhouses, touring kids around the farm, pruning our orchards, or practicing our tractor-driving skills. Don't get me wrong, I can think of nothing better than running around this farm - digging my hands in the earth and learning as much as I can about sustainable agriculture and organic food practices. Yet as winter begins to settle in I am welcoming a different kind of pace, one that allows space for reflection, planning, and a chance to finally open my journal and write all of my experiences down on paper.

I will elaborate on one aspect of the farm that has been a consistent topic of conversation throughout the season: our goats. The goats are not only an integral part of our daily routine as apprentices on the farm, but more importantly they always seem to provide an added boost of comic relief to an otherwise overwhelming and exhausting day in the field. Molly and I have acquired quite a love for our goats and find their presence an essential balance to the crazy farming lifestyle. I could literally talk and laugh for days about the past year's goat trials and tribulations. To recap briefly, we've witnessed births, deaths, struggled with electric fences, become well versed in the art of 'goat wrangling,' and I've even personally seen stars after our matriarch surprise head-butted me as I was bending down to look for her kids in a wood box in a barn stall. A goat's stubborn nature makes you both laugh out loud and boils you into a bubbling rage - especially as you struggle to herd a momma into the milking pen for her daily routine milking. Molly and I can even distinguish calls from the goat pen all the way in the field and can tell who's hungry or crying for attention. We know these goats inside and out and have become an integral part of our lives here at Live Earth Farm.

Yesterday's journey after our Monday morning meeting took Molly and I on yet another goat adventure, this time to Lynn Selness's Summer Meadows Farm to borrow one of her billy goats to mate with our does. I remember this point in the season last year when one day this strange and odiferous creature entered our pen and visited with our girls for a good two months. A goat must be bred to produce milk and milking our mommas has become an important event and vital aspect of our educational farm tour demonstrations during the summer. Molly and I took off in the van only to return 4 hours later with Jacob, our new stud visitor who seems to resemble more of a buffalo than a goat, but after minutes of being in the pen seems to be doing his job with no trouble at all. Members, mark your calendars, Jacob means business and exactly 5 months from now we will be welcoming a new batch of kids onto the farm. Anyone is more than welcome to come visit with our goats at any point in the season. Molly and I can attest there's no shortage of dull moments down in the goat pen.  I'm sure Jacob's visit will be full of new experiences as he settles into his temporary home for the month complete with 12 new girlfriends by his side.

 As winter creeps in I hope to continue reflecting on this past season and think fondly of all the incredible people I've met along the way. There will be plenty of time to share the many memorable experiences I've had at Live Earth Farm thus far. I'm also happy to announce that I have committed to spending another year as an apprentice. Stay tuned for more goat stories and happenings around the farm!

- Taylor

One more week to go!
Hard to believe, but next week, November 18th and 19th, is the last delivery of the Regular CSA season! Members: we are starting to sign up waitlisters, so be sure to get your own orders in for next season soon. Waitlisters: I have already emailed half of you (everyone that was on the waitlist from July or earlier); the rest of you should be hearing from me by or before the end of the week! Not long to wait now... ;-)


Picking up after dark? Bring a flashlight
A repeat for those who missed my note last week: although our site hosts are supposed to see that there is light for their pick-up site, sometimes they forget. Members should be prepared for this possibility - if you pick up after dark, be sure to have a flashlight with you just in case!


Companion Bakers Holiday Baking Class this Saturday!
Companion Bakers logoErin Justus of Companion Bakers says, "Please join us this Saturday from 10am-12pm for a Holiday Baking class! Learn about the makings for a perfect pumpkin pie as well as fun and easy treats for hosting and giving baked goods away for the holidays!  Please visit out website to sign up at www.companionbakery.com. Classes are taught at our kitchen: Feel Goods Foods, 306 Potrero Street in downtown Santa Cruz. Hope to see you all there!"

Winter Season Q&A (repeat) 
Signed up for the Winter Season (or planning on doing so) but not sure about when it starts or how to proceed? Read on...

Q: When will I get the address, directions and instructions for picking up my Winter Share?
A: I will email everyone sometime between Friday Nov 20th and end of day Monday Nov 23rd with this info. Please look for it.

Q: What's the pick-up schedule? I heard it was not every week.
A: Correct! Pickup Day is THURSDAY only (no Wednesday pickup), and the schedule is as follows [this schedule is also on the "Winter Season" page of our website]:
November 18 and 19 - last CSA shares of the regular season.
<no share Thanksgiving week>
Week 1: December 3, 2009 -- first winter share!
Week 2: December 10, 2009
Week 3: December 17, 2009
<no share for the three weeks encompassing Christmas and New Year's>
Week 4: January 14, 2010
<no share January 21st>
Week 5: January 28, 2010
<no share February 4th >
Week 6: February 11, 2010
<no share February 18th >
Week 7: February 25, 2010
<no share March 4th >
Week 8: March 11th, 2010 -- last winter share!
Regular 2010 CSA season begins March 31st/April 1st 2010.

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

Well, I was as surprised as you were to not have gotten any quince last Thursday... and the bad news is, we won't have any more quince this season (see Tom's blurb about this, above). Apparently the harvest was overestimated, and so we ended up with significantly less than Tom had expected. So you Wednesday folks, savor your quince, because you're the only ones to get it this season! I'm so sorry too, because people sent me some wonderful quince recipes after last week's newsletter. Oh well, let's not dwell on booboos; we must revel in the goodies we ARE getting! - Debbie

Let's start with Pineapple Guavas. Both of the fruit options will be getting them this Thursday again (Wednesday folks had gotten them a few weeks in a row awhile back). Last week I was chatting with Randy Robinson of Vino Locale, our downtown Palo Alto site host, and as enthusiastic a foodie as you could wish to meet. He LOVES the produce he gets from the farm (he puts it on his menu!), and told me about this wonderful idea he came up with for using the pineapple guavas:

Randy's Grilled Pineapple Guava and Chevre appetizer
Randy says he simply cuts the small guavas in half lengthwise [if they're bigger ones you may want to slice them?], lightly grills them to give them a bit of smoky flavor, then serves them on crostini with a dab of goat cheese and a dribble of balsamic vinegar. Can't wait to try this myself! Just remember, as with any recipe you plan on using the guavas in, be sure to wait until they are ripe. They should give off a heady perfume and give slightly under the press of a thumb.

And there's also -- mmmmm, dill! in the Family shares this week. Dill is another one of those fragrant kitchen delights it seems I can never get enough of. I like to use it very simply: snip or chop up a bunch of fronds and add to scrambled eggs at breakfast; snip or chop and add with butter to potatoes or cooked carrots or cooked beets. Get fancy (not really!) and cook up beets, dice them, toss with a little minced or crushed fresh garlic, plain yogurt, and chopped dill. Serve room temperature or chilled. Maybe thinly slice some scallions to scatter on top! Here's a recipe given me by member Kirsten Nelson for making dill butter:

Dill Butter
8 oz butter
2-3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
Leave a stick of butter on the counter at room temperature to soften for about an hour. Chop dill relatively fine to release flavor. Cream the dill into the butter. Scoop onto waxed paper and gather into roll; twist ends closed. Store in fridge for a week or two; to store longer, put the wax paper roll into a plastic bag or other freezer container and freeze.
Kirsten says you can actually make all kinds of herb butter; it doesn't have to be dill (but dill's what we're getting this week!). She said the dill butter was wonderful on salmon.

Drying fresh dill
Of course if you think you won't get to using all your dill while it's still fresh (depending on how you store it, it should keep a week or so in the fridge), you can always dry it so you can have it through the winter. Some folks scoff at using dried herbs, but I think they're just fine -- especially if they're herbs you've dried yourself... from our fresh organic supplies!

One way to dry it is to gather the stems in a bunch and tie with a string (I'd make sure they weren't wet to begin with; spread them out and air dry them on a cotton towel, then do this), then hang them upside down in an area that has good air circulation. The dill leaves are ready when they crumble easily. Carefully untie, and crumble over a bowl, then store in a glass jar out of the light.

You can also spread the leaves out in a single layer on a baking sheet and dry in the oven -- at a VERY low temperature; about 110 degrees F -- for about six to eight hours. [I haven't tried this, so I can't verify the timing; I'd check on them periodically, see how the drying was going.] Once dry, store same as above.

Member Caroline Martin sent in this recipe for carrot souffle. She says she's made the recipe twice and shared with friends, to much success. She says its "simple, with perfect fall harvest color, and yummy."

Sam's Carrot Souffle
from Sam Beall's "The Blackberry Farm Cookbook"
serves 8

1 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking dish
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
Coarse salt
1 C whole milk (Caroline says 1% worked fine too)
1 C saltine cracker crumbs
3/4 C grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1/3 C very finely chopped onion
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (Caroline says she used 1/2 tsp. and liked it better; it brought some heat)
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-qt. shallow baking dish; set aside.

Place carrots in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Generously salt the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender and easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 10 minutes.

Strain carrots and transfer to the bowl of a food processor (or use an immersion blender, says Caroline); process until pureed. Transfer puree to a large bowl; stir in milk, cracker crumbs, cheese, onion, butter, salt, black pepper and cayenne.

With an electric mixer, whisk or beat eggs until foamy. Then whisk eggs into carrot mixture just until combined.

Transfer carrot mixture to prepared baking dish and bake until puffed and light golden brown on top, 40 - 45 minutes; serve warm.

And let's not forget the radicchio! Both shares are getting it this week. My favorite way to prepare it hands-down is pan browned with balsamic vinegar. I love it this way, but thought folks might like some other options as well, so here's a recipe from my clippings file that sounds good:

White Beans and Radicchio
serves 2 to 3 [I halved the recipe because it called for 2 heads of radicchio, and also modified it somewhat]

1 head radicchio
olive oil
1/4 C chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15-oz can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained [or prepare your own beans from scratch if you like - like Amy Kaplan's fabulous heirloom Hidatsa Shield Figure Beans!]
Half a 14-1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes [or your own canned from summer, or diced fresh]
1 tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tbsp. minced fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 tsp. dried)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a baking dish with olive oil.  Cut radicchio into wedges through core and arrange in a single layer in prepared dish. Brush or drizzle with additional olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake until radicchio is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn wedges halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat some more olive oil; add onion and cook, stirring often for 3 minutes or so; add garlic and stir/cook another minute or so, then add beans, tomatoes, parsley and sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, arrange radicchio on a serving platter; spoon warm beans into center and serve hot. [Alternatively, put one wedge of radicchio and a spoonful of beans in individual shallow bowls.]

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