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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
16th Harvest Week, Season 15
July 12th - 18th, 2010
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Health and Well-being from Wild Open Spaces on the Farm
To weed it or eat it? That is the question
September 25th...
New Campbell pick-up site opening next week!
New host needed for 2nd Palo Alto site by end of August
Speaking of new sites: San Carlos, anyone?
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
2010 Calendar

" We are still in transition from the notion of man as master of the earth to the notion of man as a part of it. "
 - Wallace Stegner

What's in the box this week
Content differences between Family and Small shares are in red; items with a "+" in one size share are more in quantity than in the other. For any items not from our farm, we will identify the source in parentheses. Occasionally content will differ from this list (typically we make a substitution), but we do our best to give you an accurate projection.

Family Share
Carrots +
Collard greens
Green beans +
Mei qing choi +
Pickling cucumbers or Summer squash (or maybe both!)
Red potatoes
Mystery item

Small Share
Green beans
Mei qing choi
Pickling cucumbers or Summer squash (or maybe both!)
Red potatoes
Mystery item

Bread Option

This week's bread will be plain whole wheat

Extra Fruit
3 baskets of strawberries
1 basket of raspberries
1 bag of plums (Santa Rosa) and apricots (Blenheim)

Fruit Bounty is 'on' this week (floating week #10 of 15)
3 baskets of strawberries
2 baskets raspberries

Health and Well-being from Wild Open Spaces on the Farm
With green beans ready for harvest this week, our workload in the field will ratchet up another notch. There will be a few more notches yet to come, as we add tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos and more raspberries to the harvest load in the next few weeks.  With summer crops finally maturing, work starts at dawn and doesn't stop until dusk, the seemingly endless diversity of tasks mimicking the abundance in the fields.

Many of our fields are surrounded by uncultivated spaces of native vegetation, which not only are important habitat for wildlife and beneficial insects, but also help control soil erosion and improve water quality. One often overlooked aspect of these spaces is that during very busy periods on the farm such as now, these wild sanctuaries become important retreats -- a place to get away from the everyday hustle for all who work and live here. Personally, I like to walk the wooded areas on the farm; if time allows, I sit in the branches of a favorite oak tree, lay down in the shade of a redwood, or enjoy a calm moment by one of our ponds.

Truly beautiful spots on our farm

The intensive large-scale farming landscapes we see as we travel anywhere in California are striking. Good examples are the Pajaro and Salinas Valleys, right in our back yard, where cultivated, perfectly straight rows on laser-leveled fields crisscross the landscape as far as the eye can see. The banks of the creeks and rivers are denuded -- devoid of any natural habitat -- not a shrub or tree in sight poking out through the landscape. Farming has been in place in these areas for so long that we accept it as part of the landscape. We do not realize that these areas used to be covered by lush dense forests, wetlands, and grasslands. The Salinas and Pajaro Valleys are centers of industrialized farming practices producing billions of dollars worth of produce exported all over the world every year. The intensity of these large-scale production systems has destroyed native habitats, displacing populations of native species and polluting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems with agricultural inputs and byproducts.

Part of having a healthy farm like ours is not only growing food organically, but also protecting some part of the farm as "wilderness". Only half of the land we steward is farmed; the other half we preserve as wild and open space (see pictures below). Over the last 3 years we have also worked closely with two organizations, Wild Farm Alliance (WFA), and Community Alliance with Family Farmers  (CAFF), to implement a long term strategy to restore and enhance these spaces by planting native hedgerows and grasses, and assessing their suitability to pasture goats, sheep and chickens.

Crop fields adjacent to wildlands and riparian corridor
Every farm is a small ecosystem unto itself, and I am convinced that by setting aside areas to reestablish riparian corridors, woodlands, grasslands and wetlands, the farm becomes biologically more resilient and financially more secure in the long term.   Often we are so caught up in the economics of food production that wilderness is left out of the equation. It takes time to experience the financial importance of this balance between fields and wilder open spaces. In the meantime I gauge their importance more by their ability to replenish and nourish our spirits than by their economic return.

- Tom

To weed it or eat it? That is the question...
Not all that is wild needs protecting. Some of our weedy friends have learned to adapt in our "highly" cultivated fields, and often get the better of us. Among organic farmers and gardeners alike, we use serious battle rhetoric when it come to weeds: "choke 'em," "burn and eliminate," and "cut their heads off"... i.e. even among those of us who like to cultivate and care for the earth, there lurks a shadow side. However, when I see a healthy and lush patch of purslane, the "weed terminator" in me has a soft spot. Our wild and nutritious purslane is back!
Purslane up close
A few weeks ago we sowed some beets directly into a field. After several waterings, the entire block was blanketed with green: thousands of tiny seedlings sprouted up along with the beets. Upon closer inspection I noticed that I had a solid stand of succulent young purslane. The fleshy stems are reddish in color and the dark green, paddle-shaped leaves grow in pairs along the stem. This succulent plant doesn't grow very tall but spreads quickly and can form a dense mat, which meant resowing the beets elsewhere. Portulaca Oleracea, or common purslane (also known as pusley, pigweed, fatweed, and little hogweed), is an herbaceous annual that's found in most corners of the globe. Some folks call it a vegetable or an herb since it's a common item in their diets. Americans often blaspheme it as a weed, probably because it is so prolific. Purslane will grow just about anywhere, from your lush, well-composted flowerbed to the gravel on the edge of your driveway. Although it does like plenty of sunlight, purslane isn't picky about soil conditions.

Despite its reputation as a weed in this country, it is a common and even popular vegetable elsewhere around the globe. Purslane is often compared with spinach and used similarly. It's been on menus in other parts of the world for about 2,000 years, yet not many Americans are tossing it into their salads and stews. On paper, purslane looks like a highly nutritious vegetable: it is high in potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamins A and C. It also contains higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant.

Native to India and the Middle East, purslane has spread around the world. Cooks in many cultures use its tender, succulent leaves raw in salads, cooked alone and or with other vegetables, or added to soups and stews. It has a slight mucilaginous quality that helps thicken stews. Latin cultures call it "verdolagas", and frequently cook it with eggs. Some cooks actually pickle the thick stems. This plant was one of the species that Gandhi encouraged people of India to grow for self-sufficiency.

- Tom

September 25th...
Hello CSA Members!

Jessica here from the Discovery Program - just a short note this week. Please keep an eye out at your pick up sites for postcards about our September 25th fundraiser. We have secured...

some awesome local chefs:
· The Butcher, The Baker, The Wedding Cake Maker
· Happy Girl Kitchen Co
· Cafe Ella
· Vibrant Foods (Rebecca Mastoris and Karen Haralson)

some great wine:
· Storrs Winery
· Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery
· Chronic Cellars
· Peachy Canyon Winery
· Savannah Chanelle Vineyards

and some beautiful art and music:
· Ashley Lloyd
· Groove Grass
· Josh Kimball Photography

New Campbell pick-up site opening next week!
We will be opening up a new Campbell pick-up site starting Thursday July 22nd. FYI this will be in addition to the one we already have; it will not be replacing it. The old site (Saratoga - Campbell) will be renamed "Saratoga - Westgate", to more accurately describe its location, and the new site will be called "Campbell - Pruneyard" because it is near The Pruneyard, just south/west of Hwy 17 (near E Campbell Ave and S Bascom Ave).

If you wish to switch to this new location, please email me at the farm (mention 'new Campbell site' in the Subject line) to let me know -- farmers@cruzio.com -- and I will set you up and send you the details! :-)

- Debbie

New host needed for 2nd Palo Alto site by end of August
While we're on the subject of pick-up site changes, our Professorville site host is going to be moving out of the area the beginning of September, so we are soliciting a new site and host. We would like to have it in place sometime in August. You do not need to be in that exact neighborhood; we just want to have an additional Palo Alto area pick-up site (we already have one Downtown).

Interested in being a site host? Enthusiastic about connecting to your fellow CSA members? Have easy access (for both our delivery truck and for members picking up), a good shady spot out of the public eye to put the shares, and a willingness to allow people to access your home space once a week for the season? If so, please email me at the farm -- farmers@cruzio.com -- and put 'Palo Alto site' (or similar) in the Subject line, and we'll discuss further. Yes, there are responsibilities, but there are also perks! (You get your share for free!!)

- Debbie

Speaking of new sites: San Carlos, anyone?
Okay, this is the last blurb on pick-up sites for this newsletter! :-)

We are also trying to assess if there is sufficient interest to open up a new pick-up site in San Carlos (just north of Redwood City). Nothing is decided yet, but if there are at least ten of you interested in having a site that far north, we will consider making it happen. Even if you are not a member yet, but would be one if we had this site, let me know. Once again, please email me at the farm -- farmers@cruzio.com -- and put 'San Carlos site' (or similar) in the Subject line, and I'll keep track and update the interested parties if we decide to make it happen.

- Debbie

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

I am excited about this week's box... purslane! fennel! green beans! cucumbers! spinach! All sorts of goodies. I hope by now you are all learning to not be afraid of trying new things. Every year we get more 'converts' to purslane... some are even fanatical about it ("When is the farm going to have purslane again??"). And our green beans... ooh, you will not be disappointed. They are succulent and snappy-fresh. I love to nosh on them raw when I'm preparing them for cooking. Heck, I even use them as a raw veggie for dipping! But I digress... or do I? I don't know; you get me started talking about food and I can go on and on... but then I guess talking about food is my job! Ah, life is good. ;-)
 - Debbie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Purslane Discussion
I know just about everybody knows how to cook with green beans (though I'll still throw in a recipe!), but purslane is another story. Once again, think simple. You can cook it or use it raw; you can add it to lots of things like scrambled eggs, burritos, quiches, sandwiches, stir-fries, potato salad... more, I'm sure. Purslane is a succulent-like plant, with oval, silvery green leaves along a fleshy stem (see picture in Tom's blurb, above). I like to pinch off the tenderer end-of-the-stem clusters and toss them into salads. Both leaves and stems can be eaten, raw or cooked. As with many things, I always recommend simply tasting it, raw and plain, just to see what it's like. Let that guide you. To my palate I taste a hint of lemon. If you're going to cook purslane, it doesn't require long cooking. Probably akin to fresh spinach in timing. It can be chopped and added to scrambled eggs (saute it with a little garlic or onion, maybe some herbs and/or add a little cheese at the end).  Because of its succulent nature, I wouldn't recommend trying to freeze it for later use unless it were already cooked into a dish of some sort.

Two years ago I ran a recipe for
Potato Salad with Mei Qing Choi, Purslane and Dill; we don't have dill this week, but you could substitute dry dill, or fresh basil if you have some from last week (I chopped my basil up and immersed it in some olive oil in the fridge; I expect this should be good for a couple weeks, and the oil will become infused with the basil too!). Here's a great sandwich idea (and I hope this tempts you to try purslane in any sandwich, in place of lettuce!):

Ham and Purslane on Rye
(found online at "the Recipe Cottage")

2 slices rye bread toasted or plain (or whole wheat, pumpernickel, or sourdough)
a few slices good quality ham
handful of fresh purslane, stems included
mustard/horseradish mix
Instead of lettuce or pickles on this ham sandwich, you're using fresh purslane. It's quite flavorful. The slightly crunchy flavor of the crisp, succulent purslane stems helps to make this a satisfying sandwich.

And I've said this before, but it is worth repeating: chop up your Mei qing choi (incl. leaves) and use it where you might use celery, especially in tuna, chicken, and potato salads, or grain salads like tabbouleh. Here's a chicken salad recipe I made up a few years back:

Debbie's Chicken Salad with Mei Qing (or Bok) Choi
diced or shredded cooked chicken
diced choi
sure, go ahead and add some purslane too!
diced green onion
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 1/2 to a whole orange, depending on how big it is
dab of honey ~ 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.
dab or Dijon mustard ~ 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.
balsamic vinegar ~ 1 tbsp.
some mayonnaise ~ 1 1/2 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!

Our other Asian green, Tatsoi, is slightly higher on the bitter green scale than mei qing choi, and it is quite delicious! Here's an utterly simple recipe I made up a few years back as well:

Tatsoi in Coconut oil with Soy and Garlic
This one I made 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 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, 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!

As for fennel, here are some ideas from the April 2008 issue of Bon Appetit, sent to me by Anna S. Certainly good for getting the creative juices flowing:

Four Quick Fennel Recipes

Toss thinly sliced fennel with pomegranate seeds, parsley leaves, your favorite olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Nestle thinly sliced fennel in a buttered baking dish with sauteed leeks, sliced red-skinned potatoes, and grated Parmesan. Add a blend of chicken broth and cream. Bake at 375°F until tender.

Substitute chopped fennel for chopped celery in a mix of sauteed vegetables that serves as the base for stews and meat sauces.

Add thinly sliced fennel to the other vegetables to be simmered and pureed into a leek and potato soup.

And member Piper McNulty sent me the following:

Fennel and Tatsoi salad with lemon-mustard dressing
Piper says, "I adapted this from a 2007 database recipe -- we made a raw salad with slivered fennel and tatsoi, dressed with the following, and it was exceptionally wonderful." [Piper also had mizuna in this salad, but since we don't have mizuna this week, it would be fine to leave it out. If you wanted, you could substitute some... what else... purslane!]

1 + tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. olive oil

Another member, Sue Burnham, sent me this great idea for spicy cucumber popsicles! Read on, and be inspired:

Cucumber Popsicle Idea
"While taking a walk over to the Japanese Friendship Gardens we got popsicles from one of the guys that walk the carts around.  Peter got a tamarind and I got a chile one just because I had never seen that flavor.  It was actually not bad.  Its ingredients were: water, cucumbers, high fructose corn syrup (of course), sugar, chili powder, lemon juice, salt and citric acid.  They did have a bite to them. I would change the amounts of the salt and chili powder and change the kind of sweetener.  This has got my imagination going.  I do have the plastic popsicle forms.  I would never have thought of using cucumber.  It could be an interesting way to use veggies and fruits during the hot spells. Anyone out there with a juicer could have fun.  Kids might even like playing with the idea and eating their creations."

I said I'd include a green bean recipe, so here goes: this was something I made up last summer, when we had fresh green beans and fresh apricots! I know not many folks are getting apricots (I bet this'd be good with plums as well), but if you are, give it a try - you'll be surprised! (And if you don't get 'em, you could substitute cut up dried apricots which have been plumped in hot water.)

Debbie's Green Beans and Fresh Apricots (or Plums)
Steam green beans
Cut apricots into quarters or wedges
Combine beans and apricots, then drizzle with roasted walnut oil and sprinkle with salt.


Lastly, a little something for those lowly, under-appreciated collard greens; again, a favorite from the recipe database, worth repeating...

Dolmas using collards instead of grape leaves
Well I followed through on my intuition and made 'stuffed cabbage' using collard leaves (see Winter08 Week 2 newsletter), and it was declared a success by the friends to whom I served it for dinner! So naturally, as I was eating them I noticed how very much like dolmas they looked... so that in turn inspired me to come up with this week's collards recipe! I think this is a win-win recipe too: everyone loves dolmas, and it's a great new way to use your collards, and I don't know about you but I rarely make dolmas because it's the grape leaves that tend to be hard to come by... so now I'll have no excuse not to make them! And I tell you, people will be hard pressed to notice they're made with collards instead of grape leaves (the only possible difference being that collard-dolmas will be bigger/longer than grape-leaf-dolmas, and the leaves will be a darker green).

1 bunch of collard greens (about 16 leaves)
½ C olive oil, divided
2 C cooked rice
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ C fresh mint, chopped (or 2 tbsp. dried)
zest from one lemon, minced (use the Meyers we got last week!)
juice of one lemon (ditto!)
Salt to taste
½ C pine nuts, finely chopped
(optional filling additions: ground lamb or beef [sauté with onions; reduce volume of rice proportionally]; diced red sweet pepper; cayenne; dill; parsley; another recipe flavored it's filling with cinnamon, allspice and currants!)
(also optional: using chicken or veggie broth instead of water in cooking step)

Prepare collards:
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil; stick the collards in stem-ends up and boil until just softened, barely a minute. Grab them by their stem 'handles' and at the sink, pull them out and rinse under cold water a moment or so to stop cooking. Shake well to remove excess water. Lay leaves one at a time on a cutting board and carefully cut out stem from leaf (only partway up into leaf; don't bisect the leaf, you want it whole).

Prepare filling:
Heat ¼ C of the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and mix in the rice, mint, lemon zest, salt to taste, and pine nuts (and any additional ingredients or different combination of spices - just don't leave out the mint and lemon zest). Mix thoroughly, making sure the rice is well coated with oil.

Assembling the dolmas:
Spread a collard leaf out, stem side up and (former) stem end towards you. The collard leaves will be different sizes, so use your judgment as to how much filling to put in each, but I'd recommend sort of spooning it on in more-or-less a log shape roughly an inch in diameter, perpendicular to the stem. Fold the stem end over the filling, bringing the sides of the leaf towards the center and then roll tightly, forming a cylinder. Repeat until all the filling and leaves are used.

Cooking the dolmas (stovetop):
Place the dolmas close together and seam side down in a large skillet, snugly (so they don't unroll) and in a single layer. Drizzle the lemon juice and remaining ¼ C olive oil over the dolmas and add boiling water (or broth) to cover. Cover the pan tightly and simmer for 1 hour. Let dolmas cool in the liquid, then transfer them to a serving platter. Serve at room temperature.

Cooking the dolmas (oven):
Prepare as described above except in a glass baking dish (or enameled cast iron) and cover tightly with a lid or foil*, then bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) about 45 minutes to an hour.

*you don't want the foil to touch the dolmas; the acid in the lemon juice can pit the aluminum (the same will happen with a tomato sauce) and you don't want to ingest the aluminum. It won't poison you, but you just want to avoid this is all.

Visit our website's calendar page for more details, including photos and videos of past events. This is a great way to get the flavor of what it is like visiting the farm!

Live Earth Farm Discovery Program for WEE ONES
3rd Tuesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon [year-round]
added for Summer: Weds July 21st and Weds Aug 18
(free for children 0 - 3 yrs; $10 - $15 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 LEFDP office: (831) 728-2032 or email her at lefeducation@baymoon.com.
Happy Girl Kitchen's 2010 Workshop Schedule at LEF
(all workshops are from 10am to 3pm and include an organic lunch, as well as take-home items from what is made that day!)
March 6 (Saturday) - Fermentation (sauerkraut, kimchee and kombucha)
April 10 (Saturday) - Cheese and kefir
June 6 (Sunday) - Cherries and Spring Berries
July 10 (Saturday) - Apricots, Strawberries and Blackberries
September 11 (Saturday) - Heirloom tomatoes JUST ADDED!
September 12 (Sunday) - Heirloom tomatoes SOLD OUT
October 2 (Saturday) - Pickles

Contact Jordan if you have any questions

Art on the Farm Summer Day Camp!
July 12th - 16th
click here for more information

Community Farm Days Schedule

(All Community Farm Days are Saturdays unless otherwise noted.)
March 20 - Sheep to Shawl
May 29 - Three sisters planting in the field! Help sow pumpkins, corn, and beans (update 5/24: see Event Schedule in Week 9 newsletter)
June 19 - Summer Solstice Celebration and Strawberry U-pick
July 3 - Apricot and Strawberry U-pick CANCELLED.
July 12 thru 16 - Summer Celebration Art on the Farm Day Camp!
Aug 28 - Totally tomatoes. From farm to fork, cooking with tomatoes and making farm-fresh cheese. Also U-pick raspberry and tomato day!
Sept 25 - LEFDP Second Annual Fundraiser
Oct 23 - Harvest Celebration and Apple U-pick

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763-2448
education programs/school field trips: (831) 728-2032