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.
Apples (see "About the apples", from last week, if you missed it)
Asian stir-fry mix (baby mei qing choi and tatsoi mix)
Broccolini + (Lakeside)
Young fava bean pods (see recipe section)
Baby red Russian kale, bagged +
Red leaf lettuce (Lakeside)
Apples + (see "About the apples", from last week, if you missed it)
[extra apples since no strawberries]
(Swanton Berry Farm)
Asian stir-fry mix (baby mei qing choi and
Green cabbage (small heads)
Baby red Russian kale, bagged
Bagged baby red/green oakleaf lettuce
(no strawberries for small shares this week) :-(
This week's bread will be caraway rye
Extra Fruit and Fruit "Bounty" Options
Remember, these options don't begin until May or later.
April Showers Bring Long Hours
I enjoy the vibrant living tapestry of spring colors especially when the apple trees are blooming. Right now Galas and Pippins are at their peak; trees are filled with white and pink blossoms creating a gorgeous contrast against the blue sky and darker green and brown colors of the fields and surrounding natural landscape. Unfortunately last week's stretch of warm spring days didn't last; it's pouring outside as I write this, and cold enough that we got hail mixed in with the rain. We don't know yet to what extent the hail may have affected the apple blossoms; for sure some got knocked off, but they were so thick with bloom we're hoping all will be okay (we usually have to thin apples anyway).
The start of the season feels a bit like the Bay Area stop-and-go traffic. Last weekend we had rain and light frost, and then after "a tease" of sunny and warm conditions we're in the midst of another cold and very wet storm. April's weather is generally unpredictable, and we had to rush and work long hours to get things done in anticipation of each weekend's approaching storm. Although conditions in the field have been difficult, we are generally on track with the timing of our plantings.
We received our first batch of tomato seedlings from the nursery on Thursday and to my horror some arrived diseased with Late Blight, a fungus which can be devastating to the entire crop, and thrives in the kind of cold wet weather we've been having.
I decided to immediately plant out the dry-farmed and cherry tomato varieties which appeared unaffected. Fortunately on Friday, before this weekend's storm, the soil in the beds we "listed" before the prior weekend's storm was dry enough for us to transplant 8,000 tomato seedlings. [See Tom's description in last week's newsletter
if you don't know what 'listing' is - Debbie] It's a trade-off: the seedlings may be cold and wet, but at least they are freed from their confined small "plugs " in the seedling trays. To prevent the spread of Late Blight among the remaining healthy tomato seedlings, we removed all the infected ones and applied a solution rich in oils made from fish and kelp. The next step will be to temporarily plant them into larger containers before they are transplanted into the field. It's a gamble to plant warm weather loving crops right now, however waiting means falling behind in our planting schedule, which translates into a delayed harvest. This is just one example of the kinds of decisions we make on practically a daily basis around here; a peek into the life of a farmer.
[upper left, carrot field on Friday; upper right, same field on Sunday; above bottom, soggy tomato seedlings just transplanted out]
Spring is often a mixed bag when it comes to food. Sometimes locally grown food is early arriving, sometimes the wait is never-ending. Last week someone seemingly unaware of the seasonality of locally grown crops drove up to the barn and asked whether she could purchase tomatoes. Looking into my murky crystal ball I can't see red-ripe tomato until sometime in July.
With an explosion of new foliage and flowers, the germination of recently sown seed, and hopefully warmer and drier days ahead, Spring is filled with promise... nature's promise of bounty and sustaining nourishment. It's a promise we farmers trust when we plant seeds or transplant seedlings into freshly prepared spring soil. Every season is different, everything has its cycles. Sometimes things are more abundant, sometimes less. Farming is a matter of trust and faith in nature. As organic farming pioneer, Denesse Willey of T&D Willey Farms in Fresno says, "To plant a seed and believe that it will germinate, out-compete weeds, bloom, set fruit, and be harvested and sold at a fair price is a great leap of faith."
Launch of new LEF website
We are very pleased to announce the maiden voyage of our new Live Earth Farm website!
If you go to liveearthfarm.net
you should see a whole new look;
all the old info is there, but better organized, and there are lots more photos throughout. We encourage everyone to check it out. If you have a saved link to our website in your browser or 'favorites' page, be sure to click refresh to get the new info.
Seeking new host for Saratoga/Campbell pick-up site
Once again, it seems as though we are in need of a new site host. Our Saratoga/Campbell host will not be able to continue for the season, and so we are seeking a new home to act as host. Interested in being a site host? Enthusiastic about connecting to your fellow CSA members? If you are in the Saratoga/Campbell area within easy striking distance of Hwy 85, and 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, please email me at the farm
and we'll discuss further. Yes, there are
responsibilities, but there are also perks! (You get your share for
Meet the new apprentices
This week we wish to introduce our two newest on-farm apprentices -- "the guys", Jeff and David. David was actually on the farm unofficially last season, as he is Molly's boyfriend. David and Molly are partnering as our first official 'Journeyman' farmers; a two-year commitment program they are developing together with Farmer Tom, the goal of which is to graduate into farming for themselves. Jeff is the only apprentice truly new to the farm this year, but has quickly made himself invaluable. Jeff and David, together with Molly, and Taylor - who switch-hits doing both farming and education - are proving to be a stellar team this year! But I digress. Here now are David and Jeff:David
Hello! My name
is David Evershed, and I will be working here at Live Earth Farm for the next
two years, helping to develop a "Journeyman" program that will assist beginning
farmers get a good start on their careers. I am
originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, where I grew up skiing, then
snowboarding, hiking in the hills behind my house, and every so often being a
little mischievous. After I got
bored there, I decided to come to Santa Cruz to take Environmental studies,
and graduated in 2007. Not quite ready to leave yet, I did a two-year stint as an apprentice at UCSC's Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS, otherwise known
as the Farm and Garden Program).
[This is the same program
Tom went to 16 or so years ago, after which he started Live Earth Farm!] I am still not ready to leave this area yet
(I am beginning to wonder if I ever will be!) and so I have accepted Tom's
generous offer to work here. My hobbies
are playing outdoors, hiking, camping, playing Frisbee, soccer and guitar, bike
riding, origami, and cooking. I
also do a little independent garden consulting and work on the weekends, if
anybody is interested ;-). While working here the past two months, I have also
discovered my passion for animal husbandry. I guess working with ten baby goats will do that to you! I hope to learn the basic skills of
farming and animal husbandry to start my own farm when I leave here. I look
forward to meeting many of you in person when you come to our festivities here
on the farm! Happy growing! Jeff
Hello Everyone! My name is Jeff Boesch and I am a new
apprentice on the farm this year.
I most recently apprenticed on a farm in Nevada City called Mountain
Bounty Farms and I loved it so much, I decided I wanted more. In speaking with Farmer Tom it sounded
like a great fit to come learn farming from him and get a different experience
than I had last year. I am very excited
to learn from others around the farm, as we have a great crew of intelligent
workers; I also love having the freedom to learn on my own. In the future I would love to start my own farm, but for now
I am in the process of learning and figuring out how I can make it happen. I really like how farming connects me
to my natural surroundings and nourishes me at the same time. I absolutely love being outdoors,
working in the California sun, and growing food for friends, family, myself,
and the community I live in. It has its rewards in many different ways...not
the least of which is I get to eat the best food on earth.
At the time of this writing, I just started my 6th week on the farm, and you
won't believe how much has happened already since I've been here. The day I arrived, Ginger, our lovely
mama goat, gave birth to four kids that I have been growing with from day one. The next day, Moonshadow gave birth to
two more... and a couple days later Cabot gave birth to another two kids.
Working with animals this year
was a strong interest and it couldn't have been better having baby goats born
starting the day I arrived. You
can't go wrong with baby goats. I
don't know if any of you have ever raised a puppy and noticed the amount of
attention you get, mostly from women and their puppy voice, well I think if you
were walking down the street with a baby goat the attention would be even
greater. It has been amazing
getting to know these goats this past month, not to mention all the other baby
animals on the farm: the lambs, the 225 chicks we are raising for eggs, and
last but not least baby Chella our Maremma sheep dog -- so cute, but we can't
let her know how cute she is because we want her to be a protector of sheep and
not us. I am in love with the
animals and so glad to have landed with them and everyone else here at Live Earth
Everything else on the farm has been flowing as well. I can't believe how fast stuff happens
around here. I've learned a lot
about fruit tree pruning and pollinating. We built a new chicken pen by the goats, then after a pizza party one
night, at the perfect moment we went out to their old roost and captured all
the chickens, loading them one by one into the van to transport them to their
new home. So far, this has been
the best and most hilarious thing that has yet to happen for me here on the
farm. The last few days I have
spent on the tractor learning how to use different implements to get the fields
ready for planting. I am taking on a trial project of tomatoes and hot peppers
this year because I love them so much. I am hoping to be involved with growing some delicious turnips as well. I am sure many more projects will
come. I am also delivering some of
your CSA boxes - the ones going over the hill to San Jose and south.
I am delighted to be here on the farm with all my fellow
apprentices and other farm employees, not to mention all of you CSA members,
active community members and people interested in the farm. I look forward to sharing the season
and possibly more with all of you. For now back to the good times and hard work!
Ciao! ~ Jeff
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Click here to go to the recipe database.I am very excited to see that we are getting our first young and tender fava beans this week! Sadly because of the rain, they will only be in the Family Shares, but not because the rain has harmed them in any way - only because the fields are so muddy that access for picking is limited. We will all have plenty of favas in the coming weeks!! See below for cooking tips for these darlings. But first, I would like to take a moment to introduce former CSA member and now personal chef, Charity Dasenbrock, who has generously offered to contribute recipes and tips for using what's in the box from time to time. Although not currently a member (she is only one person; "anybody out there want to split a share?" she asks), she very much wanted to connect to the farm and give back to the community in some way, and so offered to write for the recipe section of the newsletter. Since this is her first week, I asked her to introduce herself, so - take it away, Charity! - DebbieA few words from Charity
For several Seasons I was a CSA member and received a small share from Live Earth Farm. I loved going and picking it up weekly. But being just one person, even though I split with a friend, more often than not it was too much food. A delicious problem to have, for sure! I also traveled a lot in those years, and ended up donating many weeks of my share (and love that the farm makes it easy to do that, too). Sadly, I made the decision to discontinue when I lost my share-splitter. I am so supportive of the concept of the CSA though, and am loving seeing the movement grow. It is heartening to see that we are moving away from Big Ag and back to the small farms where we know who grows our food and where exactly it comes from. We know how it is grown and get to witness the love and the work and the dedication of those who bring it to us.
[from Debbie: to get a little more insight on where Charity comes by her love of food and cooking, read "Why I Cook
", on her blog.]
This week's share contains a wonderful amount of greens. Dark green leafy vegetables are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. I was amazed to learn how important Vitamin K is. It helps regulate blood clotting, helps protect bones from osteoporosis, might help reduce atherosclerosis, and might help regulate inflammation. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so make sure to use oil when eating your greens.
You may be less familiar with the Asian greens, the Tatsoi, the Mei qing choi, and the Mizuna. I have a couple of recipes that will make it easy for you to try them. - CharitySteamed Asian Greens with Sweet and Spicy Sesame Dressing
1 - 2 lbs. combination of Asian greens (can include bok choy, and while broccolini is not an Asian green, it would be delicious included here too, as would the cabbage)
3 tbsp. tamari or Bragg's Amino Acid
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. honey or raw agave nectar
1-2 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or mashed
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, finely chopped (if you can find Thai chilis or any of the other hot red peppers, they add a nice bit of color as well as heat)
1 tsp. sesame seeds
Steam the greens for about 5 minutes or until they are tender. In a small bowl, combine the other ingredients. Combine the greens with the dressing, and toss well. Garnish with additional sesame seeds. Serve right away or this is delicious chilled as well.
Some people find the taste of mizuna similar to arugula, so here is a recipe where you could easily use one or the other.Pasta with Mizuna and Walnuts
adapted from a recipe found on ecometro.com
1 lb. cooked pasta (soba noodles or spaghetti are good choices)
3 slices thick sliced bacon, diced, or an equivalent amount of pancetta
1 bunch of roughly chopped mizuna
1 C coarsely chopped walnuts
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small yellow or red onion, diced
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the bacon in a skillet and drain. Dice the bacon and set on paper towels
to drain. Wipe out the pan (or not! I love bacon drippings) [I'm with
ya there, Charity!] and add olive oil, onion, garlic, and vinegar.
Cook for 5 or 6 minutes until the onions start to caramelize. Add the
mustard, walnuts, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Add the mizuna
and cook until it starts to wilt. Add the zest, salt and pepper to
taste. Combine with the pasta and serve.
Charity Dasenbrock, on how to cook Artichokes
Most of the time I boil my artichokes. First cleaning them and trimming. I cut off the top inch or so, and trim off the leaves that don't look so good. If they are quite small, you don't need to worry about the choke. Otherwise remove that inner part. Fill a large pot with water, add salt and bring to a boil. Add artichokes and cook, depending on size, 20 minutes for small ones, up to 45 minutes for large ones. You can add aromatics to the water, such as lemon peel, garlic (green garlic from the share), a half cup of white wine. I also love them roasted. Again, you need to clean and trim them. If they are small, cut them in half. Larger ones, can be quartered. I boil them, as above for 15 minutes. Remove from the water and drain. Place them cut side up on a roasting pan and brush or generously drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, or an Italian herb blend. Roast in a 450º oven for 10-15 minutes. (Again, this will depend on their size, keep an eye on them.) You can also do this last part on your grill, putting the oiled cut side down. This will take 5 to 10 minutes.
Back to Debbie now. Here's what I wrote about preparing artichokes a couple years back, so if you are a newby to cooking them and would like additional info, check this out as well. And for details on how to cook them in a pressure cooker, click here. I, of course, need to try Charity's roasted version -- yum!! Note that I mention in these older newsletter references that the chokes are of the 'thornless' variety. The ones we're getting this year, from Swanton Berry Farm, are a heritage Globe variety, and do have the thorns on their leaf tips, so you will indeed want to trim them off!
Wondering what to do with your apples? How about all those different salad greens... the lettuce, arugula, mizuna? Give this a try!
Debbie's greens and apple salad with honey-mustard dressing
for two LARGE salad eaters, or four smaller ones
Generous handfuls of leafy salad greens (lettuce, arugula, mizuna, in any combination)
a couple radishes (optional)
slivered fresh mint leaves (optional, but a yummy addition!)
dressing (quantities are approximate, as I don't measure):
1/2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. roasted walnut oil
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 to 2 pinches of salt (i.e. to taste)
Put washed and dried salad greens in a big bowl -- the bigger the bowl, the easier it is to toss! I don't know how many people try to toss a salad in a small bowl, and it just ends up going everywhere. Don't feel silly using an unusually big bowl; it works really well! Oh, and be sure to spin and/or blot dry your greens well before using too. Wet salad greens dilute the dressing, and it doesn't stick well and so puddles in the bottom of the bowl. With dry greens, the dressing clings beautifully and everything glistens!
Quarter, core, and cut apple into bite sized pieces (I don't peel them unless the peel is skanky; polish the apple up before cutting and it is good to go). I usually slice the quarters into thirds lengthwise, then holding the sliced quarter together in a bunch, cut crosswise again into two or three pieces, depending on how big the apple happens to be. Add cut apples to salad greens.
Slice up a couple radishes and throw them in with the greens for added color and crunch, if you have them. If you're using the fresh mint, lay several leaves together in a stack, roll them up, then slice thinly crosswise and toss into the bowl with everything else.
Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small cup until blended, then pour over greens, apples and radishes and toss well to coat. Don't dress the greens until you're ready to sit down to eat; that way everything is fresh and crisp and bright. (Dressed salad that sits for half an hour or more can start to get wilty and limp. Still fine to eat, but it just doesn't look as perky.)
Lastly, a little something about those young fava bean pods!
Young Fava Beans
The bag with what looks like giant green beans in your share this week would be the young favas
see in the coming weeks that they get MUCH bigger!). Prep and storage:
you can just stick in the fridge in the bag they came in. To eat: top
the pods just like you would green beans, washing as needed, and cut into bite-size segments. Steam
about 5 minutes,
then eat any number of ways: simply tossed with a little butter, salt
(or other herb), or, sauté some chopped green garlic up in olive oil, add steamed pod segments, a little herbs de Provence, and salt to taste. Or lightly oil whole pods, sprinkle with salt, and
grill or roast them. In the next week or two I'll talk about how to use the favas
when they get bigger.
Visit our calendar page on our website for photos and videos of past events if you would like 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
(free for children 0 - 3 yrs; $10 - $15 per adult)
Mothers, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 12 (Sunday) - Heirloom tomatoes
October 2 (Saturday) - Pickles
Contact Jordan if you have any questions
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
June 19 - Summer Solstice Celebration and Strawberry U-pick
July 3 - Apricot and Strawberry U-pick
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
Understanding Gluten Sensitivity - Lecture and Cooking Class
Saturday May 1st, 11am - 4pm, on the farm (in the farm barn kitchen)
click here for more info