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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
23rd Harvest Week, Season 15
August 30th - Sept 5th, 2010
in this issue
What's in the box this week
An eventful week
Discovery Program Update
Medicinal Herb Walk classes on the farm
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
2010 Calendar

" Oops."
 - Farmer Tom

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
Arugula +
Napa cabbage
Green beans
Lacinato kale
Lettuce (baby lettuce mix)
Hot Hungarian and padron peppers (bagged separately from sweet peppers)
Sweet peppers (bagged together with summer squash)
Spinach +
Summer squash
Dry-farmed tomatoes +
1 basket Strawberries

Small Share
Napa cabbage
Green beans
Lacinato kale
Hot Hungarian and padron peppers (bagged separately from sweet peppers)
Sweet peppers (bagged together with summer squash)
Summer squash
Dry-farmed tomatoes
1 basket Strawberries

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

Extra Fruitfresh picked Summerfeld apples
Summerfeld apples (just picked!)
Cherry tomatoes (1 bskt)
Raspberries (1 bskt)
Strawberries (1 bskt)
please go by what's listed next to your name on the checklist. Sometimes there are last-minute changes - thanks!

An eventful week
The biological dynamic of farming, by its very nature, requires a state of preemptive, sometimes even spontaneous adaptability in order to cope with diverse and always-changing circumstances. Last week was a good example. This year's summer season was on course to becoming one of the coolest ever on record -- until last week, when we got slammed with a scorching heat wave. Monday morning, the cool drizzly fog which has been blanketing the coast for most of the summer was nowhere to be seen; skies were clear and temperatures were already in their sixties... that's warm, considering the sun hadn't yet crested the Santa Cruz Mountains. By mid-day last Monday, temperatures reached the low to mid 90's, which is hot for us, considering how we're used to farming in the mid 60's to maybe low 80's. By Tuesday it felt as if we were working in a furnace: the thermometer reached 102 degrees. At those extreme temperatures, no matter how much one tries to water to keep things hydrated and cooled, some crops will inevitably suffer heat damage. The first priority was to beat the heat and get the bulk of the harvest in for the weekly CSA shares. We were all up at the crack of dawn -- as soon as there was enough light enough to see, we started by harvesting the most heat sensitive crops, the greens and berries. On hot days, we try to be done in the fields and have lunch around 1 o'clock, when the heat is the most intense. The afternoon can then be spent washing, prepping and packing the shares in the shade of the barn.

Not only are plants, animals and people affected by heatwaves... so is equipment. This time it was one of our walk-in coolers. The coolers are indispensable for refrigerating all our perishable produce. Our main cooler failed in the heat. Luckily we have another, much smaller cooler (the first one we purchased many years ago), and that got us by until the main cooler was fixed. Another indispensable piece of field equipment which should never fail during the height of the season is a well pump. As luck would have it though, in addition to our big cooler, one of our main irrigation pumps decided to stop working on Tuesday, the 102 degree day. I counted my blessings though, because once again there was a "golden" back up: in this case, I was able to switch over to receive water from a large gravity-fed holding tank sitting 150 feet above the fields.

some very sunburned blackberriesOn Wednesday when the worst was over, I walked the fields to assess the damage. The worst affected were the raspberries and blackberries. A lot of fruit was growing on the tips of the canes (the most exposed to the direct sun) and in the intense heat, got sunburned. I became concerned about the people coming for Saturday's Community Farm day, who were expecting to pick raspberries and tomatoes.  The dry-farmed and heirloom tomato patches I was planning to open for community picking were also, after closer inspection, not in good shape. The ripe fruit which normally would have been picked before the heatwave I had purposefully left on the plants for Saturday's event. The heat accelerated their ripening, however, and by Saturday they had turned too soft. So I quickly decided to change the location of the tomato u-pick to another field, one which was a short driving distance from the farm. This was a logistical challenge, but in the end the right choice to make, since everyone got to pick their own fabulous tasting tomatoes and even the raspberry patch (a different one) had recovered just in time for everyone to pick and enjoy a "yummy" sampling.

aftermath of busted irrigation valveOf course the crowning glory of unexpected "excitement" happened during Community Farm Day itself when, during the tractor trailer ride around the fields, I hit an irrigation valve (don't try this at home). The water line, which was actively under pressure for irrigation purposes, created an impressive water gusher. Although not on the day's agenda, everyone got to experience a classic farm "emergency".  Since the main shut off valve was on the other side of the field, everyone got to see how fast a farmer can run a 1000-foot dash in boots.  The water remaining in the main supply line was still draining out of the broken valve when I returned, so a few people in the group were scrambling trying find something to shove into the 1-inch broken pipe; first carrots and apples were tried (unsuccessfully), then someone found the right size stick -- a piece of a broken apple branch -- which managed to stem the flow (no pun intended). After touring the fields, picking sunflowers and stopping by the barn, we ended at the straw bale fort on top of the hill, and then visited the animals and baked pizzas with tomato slices and fresh goat cheese.  I believe in the end, the farm day was a success, in that everyone had their fill of tomatoes and a fresh taste of raspberries by day's end. Thank you all for coming; the community day was a wonderful way of finishing a hectic, hot, and eventful week.
happy raspberry pickers
- Tom

Discovery Program Update
On a crisp Sunday it is easy to start imagining the coming fall season. The Discovery Program has a lot to look forward to. Besides tasting the long awaited first apples, I have been busy scheduling our fall tours and planning for our recurring groups, Wavecrest Middle School, E. A. Hall Middle School, and the Blue Mountain Group. This winter we will be working on a grant with the Wild Farm Alliance to teach kids about the connections between agriculture and water quality.  So, we will spend some time this fall preparing for that.  I look forward to the return of the students to the farm.  There is a new energy brought to our efforts with each new person who joins in the fun and discovery.

There are also some events and things coming up for the greater CSA membership to get involved in.  The September 25th Taste of the Fields event you have already heard about.  Besides making a donation to that event, the Santa Cruz Whole Foods between Water Street and Soquel Drive is featuring LEFDP in their Nickels for Nonprofits program, July through September.  That means every time you bring a bag with you when you shop, you will have an opportunity to donate to our program.  We also are looking forward to support from two local breweries.  On September 30th we will be featured at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing's "Thank You Thursday".  A dollar will be donated to us for every beer consumed all day long.  So please join everyone from the farm for a beer that day.  Does sitting down for a beer with Farmer Tom sound appealing?  Last but not least, Tied House Brewery and Cafe has donated a keg for our Harvest Celebration on October 23rd.  So this year we will celebrate with an Oktoberfest theme, including three-legged races, potato sack races and beer, for those of us who are of age.

Our hopes in all of these small endeavors are to build a sustaining program that will educate local youth about the value of local, organic food systems for our communities, our families and our own bodies.  Participating in any or all of these events will help to support those goals.  We are so lucky to be doing this work in such a great community.  So thank you!

Jessica Ridgeway, director
Live Earth Farm Discovery Program

Medicinal Herb Walk classes on the farm
Hidden in amongst the veges, lurking below the fruit trees, at home in the oak woodlands, and planted in the hedgerows, Live Earth is chock-full of medicinal plants. With literally hundreds of plants useful for treating common maladies and maintaining vital health LEF is an incredible place to go for an herbal adventure. Come join herbalist Darren Huckle L.Ac for a fun, informative, and applicable tour. We will identify, taste and learn how to safely and effectively use medicinal plants common in Northern California.  This is a stand alone class or a great entry to the monthly herbal series being planned for the 2011 season.  Bring a sun hat, water bottle, notebook and your questions for this fun filled class.

plantain weedLive Earth Farm is a paradise for medicinal plants.  In between the vegetables and fruit trees, medicinal weeds thrive on the rich soil, regular water and bare soils.  Purslane, amaranth, yellow dock, stinging nettle etc all have a long history of use as both food and medicine.  One of my favorite "weeds" on the farm is plantain, an extremely useful plant for a number of common maladies.   It can be used to heal wounds when crushed and applied as a poultice.  Internally it can be drunk as a tea to soothe the digestive, urinary and respiratory systems.

In the hedgerows, Live Earth Farm has been planting a number of native species that are great medicinals including; elderberry, fremontia, California coast sage, yarrow and black sage.  One of my favorite native plants found on the farm and in the hedgerows is California Poppy.  I use gallons of the tincture every year in my clinical practice to support patients experiencing anxiety and insomnia.  This plant has a long history of use both in California and of all places Germany, where fields of it are grown and processed into medicine.  In fact California Poppy extracts were once paid for by state medical insurance plans in Germany.California poppy

To some, the use of local plants to heal common maladies seems strange or dangerous.  It is important to remember that all of our ancestors used plant medicines and it is only recently that we have become so disconnected from the use of plants as medicine. Herbs are like strong foods, and like most foods most herbs tend to be quite safe and nourishing. That said, it is important to positively identify the plants you are going to use and to learn the strength of each before you use it.  It is also important to start with small amounts to be sure that the new herb feels comfortable to the body. 

Herbal Medicine, like organic farming, goes back thousands of years.  Both traditions attempt to support and sustain the entire organism (body or farm) while respecting the web of interactions they exist in. The side effects of non-holistic ways of farming and medicine are also parallel.  For example, non organic farms can contribute to pollution of our waterways with nitrate fertilizers, pesticides etc.  Just as these chemicals are present in a majority of our waters in this country so too are pharmaceutical medicines. The drugs that we ingest eventually make their way to our waste treatment plants and eventually back into our water systems.

Herbal medicines surround us in our farms and gardens and await our rediscovery of their healing virtues.  For those of us concerned with the health of our environment they also represent a safe and effective option for many of our medical needs that is in harmony with our environment.

Darren Huckle L.Ac, Herbalist

Darren will be leading a medicinal herb walk at Live Earth Farm on Saturday October 9th from 10:30 am -3:00 pm. Cost: $45 per person.

In the spring of 2011, he will begin teaching a series of workshops (here on the farm) on identifying, preparing, and using herbal medicines.

For more information or to RSVP to the October herb walk, please contact Darren at rootsofwellness@gmail.com or 831.334.5177

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

Whenever we have both arugula and tomatoes in the same week, I always like to revisit my favorite story, "Scout Salad." I have a few other new recipes to share as well -- some of my own, some from others. Meanwhile, I was thinking of bringing back the old "What I'd do with this week's box" thing. I used to do that a few years back, and then began enlisting members to join in the fun and contribute their own 'what I'd do.' Interested? I would email you the 'veggie list' and then you can have at it! Just get in touch with me and I'll set you up with the details. I really believe we learn so much from each other, and this is a great place to share that knowledge.

 - Debbie

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

Here's the 'Scout Salad' story (from way back in 1999!)...

Scout Salad

Our dear friends in Austin, Texas had a cocker spaniel named Scout who (they discovered) loved to sneak into their back garden and chow down on cherry tomatoes when they weren't looking. One evening after a summer thunderstorm [we were visiting them at the time], we all joined Scout in the garden and plucked rainwashed tomatoes off the vine, picked some fresh arugula that was growing nearby, then combined and devoured them on the spot. Ever since that day, we have always dubbed any combination of arugula and tomatoes "Scout Salad". My favorite version is arugula, tomato, and feta. The salty cheese, the peppery green and the sweet tomato are perfect together. For a group feed, arrange the arugula leaves, tomato wedges (or cherry tomatoes), and cubes of feta on a plate and let people assemble their own!

This next recipe is one I dreamed up last week when we got our first tomatillos. But I had to try it first before I sprung it on you. Came out dee-lish!

Roasted Tomatillo and Padron Salsa

garlic cloves
padron peppers
sea salt
lime juice (optional)

Quantities are not all that precise; you can have more or less tomatillos or padrons, the flavor will just shift accordingly but will still be tasty!

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and compost them; wash husked tomatillos in a bowl of water (tomatillos have a weird kind of sticky coating that you want to rinse off; I don't think you ever get it all off -- it probably doesn't hurt anything -- but it helps psychologically to try to!). Cut out core if big (if it is small, I don't bother).

Roughly chop some onion, peel some garlic cloves. Combine tomatillos, onion, and garlic in a pan and roast in a hot (450 degrees) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until tomatillos and onions are beginning to brown (see picture).

While veggies are roasting, heat your comal or cast iron skillet and roast the padron peppers as I talked about a few weeks back. (I didn't try roasting them with the other veggies, because I wasn't sure they'd be really roasted the way I like them to be; feel free to experiment though!)

When peppers and everything else are done, allow to cool some; remove stems from padron peppers (you don't need to peel them or remove their seeds - which makes it nice and easy!), then combine all roasted veggies and a generous amount of cilantro (a good handful; stems and leaves both) in a food processor and process to a saucy consistency. Transfer from processor to a bowl and season to taste with salt, and optional lime juice. Enjoy warm, or refrigerate and eat cold. Good with chips or beans, or as a condiment with meats.

Debbie's Tomatillo Padron Salsa

This next one I made just today for lunch, and it came out so well I decided to share it with you all! Forgot to take a picture though; I was just too hungry and wanted to eat!

Sardine and Summer Veggie Potato Salad
I use sardines a lot; they are easy to keep handy (keep 'em refrigerated), you get your fish-oil Omega 3s, but not so much mercury as these fish aren't around long enough for it to accumulate in their tissues the way bigger, predator fish like tuna are.

These quantities will make enough salad for 3 to 4 people.

3 medium potatoes
1 tin oil-packed sardines
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 small to medium summer squash (doesn't matter what color), diced
half a dozen radishes or so, diced small
a few sprigs of fresh parsley, minced (about 1 tbsp)
fresh oregano or marjoram, minced (about 1 tsp) (or half a tsp. dried)
I didn't think of this 'til afterwards, but it would be lovely to add one small scallion, minced, also! (since we have them this week)

about 2 tbsp. cider vinegar and juice from half a lemon (if you don't have one or the other, use all cider vinegar or all lemon)
oil from tinned sardines
about 1/2 tsp. Dijon (or similar) mustard
salt and pepper

Fresh lettuce leaves and tomato wedges (optional)

Boil potatoes in salted water until done - 10 to 15 minutes. I have a bad habit of over-cooking my potatoes, such that they don't hold together well for dicing; don't sweat it - things still tastes fine!

While potatoes are boiling, dice up your celery, squash, radishes and such. Add them to a bowl along with the minced herbs. Break up sardines with a fork and add, too.
In a small cup, combine vinegar and/or lemon juice, oil and mustard. Whisk together. Note that this is not 'normal' proportions for salad dressings (usually more oil than vinegar); don't worry - the potatoes can absorb a lot of the sour, and that's good; it's what makes the salad tasty!

When the potatoes are done and cool enough to handle but still warm, dice them and add to bowl with other veggies. Whisk dressing again and pour over all, then toss to mix. Season with lots of ground pepper and add salt, to taste (the sardines are already somewhat salty, so that's why I suggest tasting first, then adding more salt as needed).

Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves with a side of tomato wedges for a colorful and delicious meal!

One more tomatillo recipe and then on to other things... this one from longtime CSA member Paula Chacon, who says it is her adaptation of a favorite recipe from Aqui restaurant in Willow Glen.

Tomatillo Avocado Gazpacho

1 lb. fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1 or 2 green peppers, halved and deseeded
(optional celery or cucumber)
5 scallions (or half a red onion)
2 fresh green chilies (for mild use Poblano or Anaheim and for more heat, jalapeno), roasted (optional) and seeded
2 medium garlic cloves, roasted, or 1 raw
2 avocados, peeled and pit removed
2 limes, juiced
1/3 bunch chopped cilantro (optional)
1 C chicken stock or miso (for miso, combine 1 tbsp miso to 1 cup water)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. (Optional) Set aside 2 tomatillos, half a green pepper, and 1 or 2 scallions and dice. These will be added to the soup later.
2. Coarsely chop the remaining (or all, if not doing step 1) tomatillos, peppers and scallions, plus optional celery/cucumbers, chilies, avocado and cilantro.
3. In a blender, puree all the coarsely chopped veggies along with stock/miso, the garlic, and 1 tbsp. lime juice for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth.
4. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional lime juice (if needed).
5. Add the optional diced vegetables from step 1, and garnish with chopped cilantro.

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]
(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

Community Farm Days and Events 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 (see below)
Oct 23 - Harvest Celebration and Apple U-pick

LEFDP Second Annual Fundraiser - "Taste of the Fields"
Wine, Hors d'oeuvres, and silent auction on the farm
Saturday September 25th, 3 - 6pm
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
Tickets are not available at the door and space is limited, so please get your tickets today! All proceeds benefit the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program 501(c)(3)
To order tickets, contact LEFDP at 831-728-2032, lefeducation@baymoon.com

Medicinal Herb Walk on the farm
Hidden in amongst the veges, lurking below the fruit trees, at home in the oak woodlands, and planted in the hedgerows, Live Earth Farm is chock-full of medicinal plants.  With literally hundreds of plants useful for treating common maladies and maintaining vital health, Live Earth Farm is an incredible place to go for an herbal adventure.  Come join herbalist Darren Huckle L.Ac for a fun, informative, and applicable tour.  We will identify, taste and learn how to safely and effectively use medicinal plants common in Northern California.  This is a stand alone class or a great entry to the monthly herbal series being planned for the 2011 season.  Bring a sun hat, water bottle, notebook and your questions for this fun filled class.

When: Saturday October 9
Time: 10:30 am - 3 pm
Cost: $45 per person

To RSVP or for more information contact Darren Huckle at rootsofwellness@gmail.com or 831.334.5177

In the spring of 2011, Darren will be teaching a series on identifying, preparing, and using herbal medicines. Feel free to contact Darren for details.

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