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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
4th Harvest Week, Season 14
April 20th - 26th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Stuck on keeping it straight!
News from the field
What's a 'Mystery Item'?
Waitlisters update
Raw goat milk, yogurt, kefir chevre or ricotta anyone??
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

"The power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries  
to be round."

~ Black Elk Oglala Sioux, 1863-1950
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 +
Broccoli + (Lakeside)

Young fava bean pods +
Green garlic +
Lettuce + (Lakeside)
Tatsoi/Mizuna mix
Young onions
French breakfast radishes
Mystery item
Strawberries - 2 baskets

Small Share
Fuji apples
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Young fava bean pods
Green garlic
Lettuce (Lakeside)
Tatsoi/Mizuna mix
French breakfast radishes
Oyster mushrooms (Ortiz Mushroom Farm)
Strawberries - 1 basket

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

This week's bread will be plain whole wheat

Stuck on keeping it straight!
Last week we christened our newly acquired mechanical transplanter. Everything worked well; the transplant plugs, for the most part, all got tucked into the soil at the right spacing. Most importantly the overall time and physical exertion required for this task was greatly reduced. We did discover, however, that if the rows in the field are not perfectly straight, many of the seedlings end up too close to the edge of the bed, near the furrow. Driving in a straight line may not seem like a difficult skill to master in a car on a paved road, but in the field, on a tractor, it is almost an art form. Working and shaping the soil into straight rows requires excellent tractor driving skills and an almost intuitive understanding of the soil one is working with.

As farming became more mechanized and tractors started replacing draft animals, row cropping, as we know it today, was born. Today's farm equipment is designed around this type of growing system, and because of the inherently close proximity one maintains between equipment (i.e. tractor tires, steel shanks, blades and discs) and the actual crop, it requires a great deal of precision, which can only be accomplished if the spacing between rows is even. Therefore, rows have to be as close to perfectly straight as possible.  Straight rows will result in better weeding, fertilizing and watering, maximizing the efficiency of the entire growing cycle. The obsession of keeping rows perfectly shaped and straight is most extreme among large scale and very mechanized operations, where tractors are equipped with sophisticated GPS-guided systems. The sight of straight rows is generally the image we associate with commercially farmed fields. Looking at a set of straight rows says something about the size, type, and mechanical sophistication of a farm.

As much as the "linearity" of our fields gives a pleasant sense of controlled organization and straight rows testimony to a job well done preparing a field for growing crops, I can't help but look around me and realize how distant this system is from any pattern or model we find in nature. If I look around the edges of fields to where they meet the less disturbed and "wilder" parts of the farm, I see that the trees, flowers, and even the rocks have a tendency to flow. There is the curve of the branch that leads to the blossom, the smooth dip in the rock formation, the gnarled knot in a tree trunk, or the forking of shoots. In nature the general pattern is overflowing with curves, corners, knots, and unpredictable twists and turns. Farming is an attempt to trick nature into a predictable pattern, to influence the natural process into our favor so that we can enjoy the beauty and bounty of nourishing foods. Since both patterns live side-by-side, I am reminded that perfectly straight rows are only important to us humans for growing our food, and that we shouldn't let our "obsession" with this destroy the habitat which other living creatures need in order to get their food. - Tom

Examples of plowing straight rows
News from the field
Nothing is predictable when it comes to farming. Five days ago we had a hard frost that killed some of our tomato seedlings, and five days later we now are battling record heat that is wilting and burning our tender greens. Please be aware that these swings in weather patterns are very unusual, and the more we have of them, the more erratic our crop plants will perform. Over the next couple weeks there may be a few crop failures; it's hard to tell what will be most hard hit. Right now watering is our only way to keep things cool, but even that has its limits. Spinach for example, will only take so much heat and water before it turns completely yellow. So let's all keep our fingers crossed that we don't get another frost, since all our heat-loving tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are arriving to be transplanted out into the fields this week. Still, just in case the heat decides to stick around for the season, I'll be sowing a crop of watermelons and corn...
- Tom

What's a 'Mystery Item'?
The "mystery item" you will sometimes see in the veggie list is a special category; for you it is a sort of 'bonus' item, and for us it is an outlet for items we have or intend to harvest, but which we don't have enough of so that everybody can receive some of it. But rather than leave these items out entirely, we kind of spread 'em around. So that means some of you may get one item, and others may get something else. Hence the 'mystery'!

Please do NOT use this as an excuse to open boxes to see who got what mystery item! Usually all the boxes at one pick up site will have the same 'mystery'; it may vary from site to site, or day to day (i.e. Weds gets one thing, Thurs gets another), but that's usually the extent of it.
- Debbie

Waitlisters update
Many of our waitlisters also receive this newsletter so I thought I'd update you here, since I have not done so by email yet - as I had intended to do the Friday after the season started! (And still intend to do eventually... only other more pressing things have a way of interjecting themselves!!). Anyway, we are working on a plan which will allow us to add a block of additional members starting the beginning of July. So keep your eyes open, as some of you may be hearing from me fairly soon with signup instructions.
- Debbie

Raw goat milk, yogurt, kefir, chevre or ricotta anyone??
Members of our CSA have a rare and unique opportunity to get fresh raw goat milk, cultured products (yogurt and kefir) and handmade artisan cheeses directly from a very small farm where every goat is lovingly cared for and milked by hand! The farm is Summer Meadows Farm, and the owner, Lynn Selness, is ready to start customers with delivery of her products, as many of her does have kidded and the milk is flowing! I have gotten Lynn's products for a couple years now myself, and it is delicious and wonderful. It's like nothing you will ever see in a store - no pasteurization, no additives... And because these goats are so pampered and contented, their milk is sweet and delicious, not 'goaty' or strong like some commercial products. It's just about as close as you can get to owning and milking your own goat! Actually, it's closer to that than you think, as you purchase 'ownership' in a goat and she milks your goat for you (it's a legal thing). Read below for more from Lynn. - Debbie
Goats on Summer Meadows Farm 2009
Greetings from Lynn at Summer Meadows!  We're having an amazing birthing season; both barns are bursting with does and their healthy kids. In one week, 19 kids were born!  How can such sweet, fragile newborns be frisking all over the sunny barnyard within days? What a clamor we hear with protective does "maaing" and chasing their playful kids!

I am ready to start sending some milk out now, and will have more as the supply increases. Click here to download your farm share document which explains all, including how to sign up. If you signed a share agreement last year, you do not need to sign it again! Once you've read the document, e-mail me or call me at 831.786.8966 with your signup information. In particular, please be sure to give me the most reliable phone number for reaching you, so I can notify you when you'll begin receiving your products. This year, to simplify the signup process, I'll be requesting a deposit of $100 to reserve your space, so that once milk becomes available, I can start delivering without delay. Then I'll calculate the rest of your payments from your start-up day and I'll give you a balance due, kinda like Debbie does. We do invite new customers to sample the products for the first month, and we offer farm tours, so come visit us! We're pleased to be sharing our healthy milk with you again this year!  - Lynn

PS from Lynn - please remember to contact me (Lynn), not Debbie or the farm, with your signup and delivery inquiries. She doesn't handle any of that. I just piggy-back delivery of my product onto the CSA's delivery route to their customers, that's all.

PS from Debbie - I do not keep track of which CSA members are also Lynn's customers, so if you receive her goat milk shares, and if you ever change pick-up locations for your CSA share (including when you donate it), it is imperative that you ALSO let Lynn know of the change, so she can re-route your goat milk share. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Too many times last year, people would change locations, but their milk would continue to go to the old location, because Lynn wasn't told. Don't say I didn't warn ya! ;-)

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

How did everyone enjoy their first tender fava-bean pods? They're going to start coming in regularly, and getting bigger, so soon you'll be graduating to using just the beans within! But I think not quite yet... maybe next week they'll be big enough for this? Meanwhile, let's look at what's new this week:

Tatsoi/Mizuna mix
Tatsoi and Mizuna are both Asian greens and what some might call 'bitter greens' - 'bitter' being an actual flavor, not meaning "bad", as many have come to think the term. Tatsoi has little round leaves, and mizuna's are spikey and long, somewhat like arugula only spikier!

If the greens you get are young and tender, they will work great as salad greens; with this heat-wave we are having, however, I don't know how quickly they will mature, and if they are on the mature side, they're probably better as a cooking green, although nothing is set in stone. Sometimes I'll get a bag of greens such as these, and there will be some of each... if that's the case, I just pick out the tender/smaller leaves and throw them into my salad, then keep the bigger ones for cooking!

As a salad green, bitter greens go great with some sort of fruit or fruity dressing. Mix them together with some torn-up lettuce, and maybe some thinly sliced radish; slice up some strawberries or peel and section up some orange and toss them in, maybe with some toasted nuts, maybe with a little feta cheese, and toss with your favorite fruity-dressing! Like what? I can hear some of you saying... like:

Combine some balsamic or fig vinegar, a dab of Dijon mustard a little bit of salt, and a nice nut oil (I like roasted walnut), or olive oil is fine too. Optionally you can embellish this with a dab of honey, or some honey and a squeeze of lemon juice. Or if you're throwing chunks of orange into your salad (which would go well!), squeeze a little of the juice into your dressing. Sometimes just the juice left on your cutting board can be carefully poured into your dressing cup!

A really simple Asian-fruity-compatible dressing is simply seasoned rice vinegar (already has sweet and salty in it), and a little oil. You can embellish this by adding a little sesame oil and sprinkling on sesame seeds. You can put in a small jot of soy sauce. You could even put in a little chili-sauce for a zip!

If you cook with them, steam or sauté them much like you would other dark leafy greens. Here's what I wrote about using them two years ago:

Mizuna or Tatsoi in Coconut oil with Soy and Garlic
Yes I made this one up! - Debbie

I discovered coconut oil for cooking; this healthy saturated tropical vegetable oil contains large quantities of lauric acid (which is also found in mother's milk; strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties) and is stable and can be kept at room temperature for many months without becoming rancid. [For more information about this, and lots of other good information, I recommend a book called "Nourishing Traditions - the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats" by Sally Fallon.] Anyway, the other thing I like about it other than its healthy qualities, is the fragrance and flavor it adds to stir-fried veggies!

So, have your mizuna or tatsoi washed and standing by (a little water still clinging is good). Melt a spoonful of coconut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat (it smells great!); crush a clove of garlic into the fat and stir/sizzle a few moments [or this time of year, since we're getting it, slice up and use some of your green garlic!], then add the greens and stir-fry until they have mostly wilted. Splash in some soy sauce and stir-fry until wilted to your liking. Turn off heat and hold until you're ready to eat. This is so good!

Here's another way to use the mizuna, along with arugula. This is courtesy of Molly and Taylor, our two farm interns this year:

Molly and Taylor's Mizuna Arugula and Raw Beet salad
mizuna leaves
arugula leaves
grated raw beet [though we're not getting any more beets for awhile, you probably still have some in your fridge, don't you?]

olive oil
cider vinegar (or if you want to use balsamic, use a little less, as it is stronger)
dijon mustard (a good spoonful)
salt and pepper

optional: grated parmesan or crumbled feta cheese

Take 2 good-sized handfuls each of mizuna and arugula and toss in a bowl. Scrub well or peel a beet, and grate it into the bowl on top of the greens. Combine dressing ingredients and toss everything together. Top with optional cheese.

I absolutely adore arugula! It is a wonderful peppery green which, like the tatsoi and mizuna, also goes great with fruity things. In the summer, I love it with our sweet, dry-farmed tomatoes or sun-gold cherry tomatoes... but we don't have them right now, so work with what you have: strawberries!! Arugula as a salad green goes great with strawberries too. So feel free to experiment with your arugula and Asian greens in various combinations or on their own. Meanwhile, here is a different way to use arugula, from long-time member and seasoned cook Farrell Podgorsek:

Farrell's Arugula Pesto
Farrell says, "This would be great served on crackers, on pasta or pizza or on top of cooked fish for a nice dinner. The recipe is modified from the 'Hell's Backbone Grill cookbook'. The spinach tempers the sharpness of the arugula. Feel free to use only arugula if you prefer."

1/2 lb. arugula/spinach (I used one bag of each)
1 1/2 tbsp. salt - less if pumpkin seeds are salted
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 to 4 roasted red peppers
3/4 C toasted pine nuts
1/2 C unsalted toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 to 1 C olive oil

Blend everything in the food processor. If serving on pasta, add greater quantity of oil to thin it out. Freeze in ice cubes trays or flat in a plastic zipper bag until ready to use.

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare broccoli these days (though wait until after the heat wave has passed, which is supposed to be soon!):

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Breadcrumbs
Broccoli cut into florets, stems peeled and cut into equivalent pieces
olive oil, salt and pepper for roasting
butter and olive oil
lemon zest
minced garlic [yes green garlic!] or onion
juice from lemon [remember to zest it first!]

Toss broccoli with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven, about 425 degrees, for 20 minutes or so, until lightly browned.

In a small skillet or saucepan, melt butter and olive oil together. Add garlic or onion and simmer a bit; add lemon zest and breadcrumbs and stir/cook until they begin to crisp and brown. Remove from heat.

Put roasted broccoli in a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over all. Add prepared breadcrumbs and toss together, then serve. Oh this is just so tasty!!

<> You can steam the broccoli instead of roasting it
<> Try adding chopped fresh mint to the breadcrumb mix
<> Try adding grated fresh parmesan to the 'toss' at the end

Lastly, here's a 'greens' recipe you can use with chard, green garlic and/or leeks. This recipe is courtesy of member Traci Townsend, yet another enthusiastic cook-eater amongst our membership! (Funny, we seem to attract lots of those!)

Traci's Sesame Greens
Traci says, "I whipped this up last Sunday and it was *marvelous*.  It can be used with any allium [i.e. garlic, onion, leek, shallot] and greens [i.e. chard, kale, collards, beet greens, etc.] combo."
Leeks/onion/green garlic/shallots (this week I used 1 leek and two shallots that I had on hand)
Bunch of greens - big enough to be held in both hands (this week I used chard, kale, & collards - I had a third of a bunch of each, as I split my small share with two other people)
Peanut oil
Dry white wine or sherry
Toasted sesame oil
1. Slice up and chop leeks/onions/green garlic/shallots.
2. Coarsely chop the greens all together.
3. Heat the peanut oil in a large frying pan (1 tablespoon should do it).
4. Sauté your allium choice(s) until translucent.
5. Add another bit of oil, let it heat, and add greens.  Sauté to almost-desired tenderness.
6. Deglaze the pan with the wine or sherry - about ¼ cup or so.  (Smells so good!)
7. Once everything's done to your desired tenderness, finish with sesame oil to taste.
8. Serve over Japanese-style rice.  You can also add leftover cooked meats to this.
This served 2.  Proportions can be adjusted.  Leftovers can be used for a frittata the next morning or as an exotic pizza topping with a very mild cheese (the greens and sesame oil will provide the flavor).

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.

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