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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
4th Harvest Week, Season 15
April 19th - 25th, 2010
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Rock 'n' Rolling, one day at a time
Is something missing? What to do...
Rain and binders redux; rain and strawberries redux
Savor and Flavor
Cob building workshop
Calling all Slow Food Members
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen (recipes!)
2010 Calendar

We often learn lessons in simple and everyday ways. "
 - Pearl S. Buck, from "Living on Puropose" by Dan Millman

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
Apples - final week (see "About the apples", from week 2, if you missed it)
Artichokes (Swanton Berry Farm)
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Carrots +
Young fava bean pods +
Green garlic
Leeks +
Romaine lettuce (Lakeside)
Mushrooms: king trumpet, oyster, or shitake (Far West Fungi)

Small Share
Apples - final week (see "About the apples", from week 2, if you missed it)
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Young fava bean pods
Romaine lettuce (Lakeside)
Mushrooms: king trumpet, oyster, or shitake (Far West Fungi)

Bread Option
This week's bread will be caraway rye
(we were supposed to get the rye last week, but instead we got the plain whole wheat, so thisweek we're getting the rye!)

Extra Fruit and Fruit "Bounty" Options
Remember, these options don't begin until May or later.

Rock 'n' Rolling, one day at a time
Confronted as I am with a limited selection of harvestable crops for this week's shares, I can't help but think of the supermarkets, just a couple of miles away in Watsonville, where one can just take a shopping cart and choose from fully stocked aisles of a seemingly unlimited selection of produce items, regardless of the season or field conditions outside.

With the continuous storm systems coming our way, the timing to get all our work done is tricky. Everything including mowing, plowing, bedding, fertilizing, weeding, planting and cultivating is directly linked to weather conditions and the biological dynamics of the land. So predicting when a crop will be mature enough to harvest is often more an art in divination rather than an exact science. We do the best we can to plant crops in succession in order to have a steady supply of varied vegetables and fruit, but Mother Nature calls the shots, and one must constantly adapt and do things differently than planned.

As farmers, we pay particularly close attention to nurturing our crops through all stages of development -- from seed to harvest. Like most living organisms, crops are the most vulnerable when they are young. A good example is the baby spinach we field-seeded two weeks ago. If you look at the pictures I took you will notice the plants have developed their first true leaves; under normal circumstances these could be harvested in 10-12 days. However with another cold front forecast to pass over the Central Coast Monday night and Tuesday, I decided to cover the spinach with a "floating row cover", a thin, breathable blanket which lets both water and light through. The row cover will keep the plants more protected, but not delay their growth. Floating row covers are also popular for protecting plants from insect damage, especially early in the season when we often get our first outbreak of flea beetles, a very small shiny black insect which munches holes in any succulent young brassica plant it can find. The arugula and broccoli raab growing next to the spinach were showing early signs of flea beetle damage, so in addition to the spinach we covered them as well.
putting row cover over baby spinach
(baby spinach being 'put to bed' under a row cover 'blanket)

flea beetle damage
(holey flea-beetle damage. Inset: flea-beetle)

To assure a well-rounded seasonal box of produce every week while we continue to get hammered by late season storms, I am glad we are able to rely on a wonderful network of organic farmers in the county. Typically I choose crops we don't grow ourselves, such as the artichokes from Swanton Berry Farms, the Sprouts from New Natives, or this week's mushrooms from Far West Fungi, organic mushroom growers here in Watsonville. Not only do they grow wonderful mushrooms, but they also supply us with their spent mushroom compost -- an important ingredient in the compost we make and spread on our fields. I am convinced that building a healthy vibrant Local Food System depends on having a diverse local network of growers and producers such as this. Instead of predominately large fields of export-oriented, chemically farmed mono-crops, I am hopeful that more awareness and demand for locally grown foods will gradually promote a tapestry of sustainable farming operations, reintroducing areas of grasslands, cover crops, hedgerows and wooded field margins, transected by row crops and orchard operations.

cropland integrated with nature
(above: row crops, orchard, forest, and grassland in a mixed farm landscape)

Last week, a graduate student from San Jose State succeeded in pinning me down for an interview, and asked whether I thought organic agriculture could produce enough food to feed the world. Industrial-farming advocates often hide the unpleasant side of their farming practices behind the battle cry that 'Organic Farming can't feed the world', however more and more research from around the world is finding that using organic methods is actually more beneficial, producing higher yields and livable income for farmers. As we celebrate another Earth Day it is important we speak up about our choices to access locally grown food, and understand how, as CSA members, these choices can help create more sustainable food landscapes.  Local food systems can go a long way towards ensuring food security in our urban centers. Having diversified food belts around cities will attract more young people back into farming, a prerequisite if we want to succeed in growing enough food. City dwellers, in turn, can transform their own yards and vacant city lots into verdant food-producing urban farms. Growing and building local sustainable food systems is not just about feeding the world; it's also a celebration of strong, healthy, interconnected, living human communities.

Happy 40th anniversary of Earth Day everyone!
- Tom

Is something missing? What to do...
If you go to pick up your share one week and think that something is missing, I would like to make three requests:

First, please look around the site carefully! I have had members tell me 'my bread is missing' only to learn from the site host that they had a left-over loaf at the end of the day! We put the bread in different places at different pick-up sites. If only one or two members are getting bread, for example, we'll often put it inside the cooler with the eggs. If there are several loaves, they usually are in their own box. Our delivery drivers make the decision on where best to put things at each site based on each individual situation. Similarly with fruit and berries in the summer: in some locations the flats of berries will be stacked, and so a flat of strawberries may hide a flat of raspberries beneath, or a flat of raspberries might hide a flat of blackberries...

Second, if you have determined for sure that an item you were supposed to receive is genuinely missing, do not wait a week or longer to let me know or I can't follow up properly. It is okay to put a note on the checklist to alert our site host, but please also call or email me right away [i.e. from the pick-up site, that evening, or the morning after], so that a) I know when a site is having problems and b) I can arrange to make it up to you.

Lastly, please remember that if something is 'missing' inside your share as compared to what we listed in the newsletter, we likely have made a substitution because we ran short of that item when packing. Feel free to email me if you think your box is genuinely missing something (we're only human, so sometimes we make packing mistakes), but first look to see if you got something else that wasn't on the newsletter 'in the box' list ;-)


Rain and binders redux; rain and strawberries redux
Binders and rain
It looks like it's going to be raining for this Wednesday's delivery (don't know if it will extend into Thursday, but we should be prepared), so we're going to put the binders inside a big ziploc bag at any location not fully protected from the rain (like we did first delivery week). If a binder sits out in the rain it will become sodden and unusable. If your site is a 'wet' site, please help by wiping your binder down best you can and "zipping" it back inside its bag after you've checked off next to your name.

Strawberries and rain
If the strawberries at your pick-up site happen to get actively rained on, please try to consume them soon. Wet strawberries can 'go bad' quickly (that's why we recommend never washing berries until you're ready to eat them). Since we're all only getting one basket, they'll probably get eaten before you get home from picking up anyway, but we just wanted to give you a heads-up!

Savor and Flavor
a message from Constance Broz (farmer Tom's wife)

Dear CSA members - I would like to present you a great website that my sister in-law, Myriam de Solages, created. [I will second that - it is totally charming! - Debbie] Myriam is a mother of 3 wonderful kids and has a passion for food that matches Tom's passion for growing it! Her website is http://www.saveursenbalade.com and below is her introduction to it:

Because life is made of everyday pleasures...savor&flavor logo
Because eating well is vital...
And easy,
Thanks to seasonal produce
Grown with love and care at
Live Earth Farm!

Discover savorandflavor,
A collection of fun and unique recipes
Whose unexpected alliances among tastes and flavors
Will win you over
Time and time again,
All year long!

French version of her introduction (for those French speakers!):

Par ce que la vie est faite de plaisirs quotidiens,
Par ce que bien se nourrir est fondamental,
Grâce à des produits de saison cultivés avec amour
Par Live Earth Farm.

Trouvez sur Savorandflavor
La  joie dans vos assiettes, et
Des idées d'associations de goûts et de senteurs,
Avec des recettes de cuisine,
Amusantes et inattendues
Toute l'année !

Cob building workshop
Constance's good friend Claudine Desiree, of Sunflower Cob Building of Santa Cruz offers cob building workshops a couple times a year. This coming weekend, April 24th and 25th, she'll be leading one in Watsonville. Please see below for details or click here for flyer.

Cob Workshop Flyer

Calling all Slow Food Members
Your Live Earth Farm Discovery Program is working hard this year to achieve sustainability, especially with regard to it's funding. Just as all the fruits and vegetables in your share boxes need food/energy, sunlight and water to grow and thrive, the Discovery Program needs funding in order to continue developing its programs and outreach.
The mission of the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program is to provide hands-on educational programs on local, organic and sustainable food systems to the entire community, with an emphasis on low-income and underserved members. We would like to form relationships with people and organizations who share similar interests. One such organization is Slow Food. If any of our CSA members also belong to a Slow Food Convivium, please contact LEFDP Board Member Lisa Bautista at lbautista24@yahoo.com. We'd like to talk to you! Thanks.

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

This week, everybody will be getting the young fava bean pods, so I'll talk about them again, below, in case you're new this week! The green garlic is still quite young yet, and as such, the flavor is milder than mature cloves of garlic. Don't be afraid to chop up and use an entire stalk (or two, if small) in place of a minced clove. We're getting carrots again too after a small hiatus (yay!); I've been missing having those crispy sweet babies in my fridge. We're still getting big beautiful leeks, and so I am putting in a braised leek recipe I found in the New York Times. But before I get to any of that, we have another member contribution, this time from Loni Kao Stark, who has a delightful blog, wherein recently she started blogging about what she makes with her weekly box of produce from the farm. Be sure to check it out. - Debbie

Loni's "Play with your food" artichoke and crab salad with strawberry basil vinaigrette
As the weather in the Bay Area warms up, this recipe will transform your artichokes and strawberries in the latest Live Earth Farm shipment into the perfect light, refreshing lunch to be enjoyed with friends and a bottle of Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Main Salad
- 4-5 artichokes (I used five since that was how many came with my shipment from Live Earth Farm)
- 16 oz. of fresh crab meat
- 1 1/2 tbsp. of mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard (I like the kind with whole mustard seeds in them)
- a pinch of grey/sea salt
- a pinch of freshly ground pepper
- some salad greens to dress up the plate

Strawberry Basil Vinaigrette
- 10 strawberries
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. of aged balsamic vinegar (I like to use vinegar that has been aged at least 8 years)
- 1 tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- a pinch of salt

Vinaigrette: Slice up the strawberries and fresh basil leaves. Put into a mortar and pestle. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and salt. Pulverize until the strawberries and basil leaves have infused into the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Main Salad: Steam artichokes. Pull apart into flower shape. Scoop out hearts and chop up.

In a medium size bowl, add the crab meat, chopped artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the strawberry vinaigrette. Mix thoroughly.

Plating: On a bed of lettuce, gently transfer the artichoke leaves so they maintain the flower shape. Place 1/4 of the artichoke crab mixture at the center of the leaves. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top. Add ground pepper if preferred.

For step-by-step instructions including beautiful pictures, click here to go to Loni's blog.

Here's the leek recipe I was talking about. I looked this up because I just roasted my first chicken from Surfside Chickens last night (yum again!), and saved a jarful of pan drippings. Envisioning using those drippings with some white wine to braise a bunch of leeks (still have mine from last week), I went searching online for a promising recipe, and liked the sound of this one; I figured you'd all enjoy it too:

Braised Leeks
from the NY Times, Nov 9, 2005
Adapted from "Sunday Suppers at Lucques"
Serves 6
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

6 large leeks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 3/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 C sliced shallots
1 tbsp. thyme leaves
1/2 C dry white wine
1 1/2 to 2 C chicken or vegetable stock

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Peel any bruised outer layers from leeks. Trim roots, leaving root end intact. Trim off tops on diagonal, leaving two inches of green. Cut in half lengthwise. Clean very well in water to remove internal grit. Pat dry with towel.

3. With cut sides up, season with 2 teaspoons salt and a few grindings of black pepper.

4. Heat pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup oil and wait 1 minute. Place cut side down in pan without crowding them. (Make in two batches, and use more oil, if necessary.) Sear them 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, and turn over to cook 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer them, cut side up, to a gratin dish that will fit leeks and chicken, or use two dishes.

5. Pour 1/4 cup oil into pan and heat over medium heat. Add shallots, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, until just beginning to color. Add wine and reduce by half. Add 1 1/2 cups stock, and bring to a boil over high heat. [I think this is where I'd substitute my white wine and pan drippings, perhaps not reducing the wine, but instead using it to thin the drippings, since they are already, in essence, 'reduced'.]

6. Pour over leeks, without quite covering them.

7. Braise in oven 30 minutes, until tender.

Young Fava Pods redux
Young tender fava pods

The most important thing to remember about the favas you're receiving right now is that you don't need to shell them - you can cook and eat them pods and all! The beans inside are still immature (see picture, at left), and so by peeling and skinning them, not only are you wasting 90% of the veggie, but you're expending an extraordinary amount of time and effort to get a few tablespoons of pea-sized beans. The pods at this stage are still delicate and tender, like a fresh green bean. Whenver the pods are uniformly slender and bright green like they are now, this holds true. In the coming weeks, the pods will get MUCH larger, and the beans inside the pods will begin to swell and bulge obviously through the pod. As the beans get big, the pods begin to toughen. That's when you want to start shelling and composting the pods and skinning and cooking the beans only.

Here are some basics on how to cook with young fava pods:

Cut them in segments, steam them about 5 minutes, until tender. From there, you can branch out --

<> chop up and saute up a bunch of green garlic; throw in steamed pod segments, sprinkle with salt, and cook a few minutes more so the garlic and fava flavors mingle. Serve as a veggie side, just like that.

<> do the same as above, and maybe add some fresh (or dried) herbs and some diced oil-cured sundried tomatoes, and toss with cooked pasta; cheese optional.

Or instead of steaming the pod segments, throw them into a soup and let them simmer for the last 10 minutes or so of soup-cooking time.

Or instead of either of those, leave the pods whole, coat them lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt (and optional herbs, or maybe crushed chilies or similar hot pepper if you like spice), and grill them a couple minutes on each side until brown grill marks appear and pods begin to soften. Then serve 'em up with a knife and fork, so you can cut into your own bite-sized pieces.

I encourage you to experiment! :-) Debbie

End note: I made a modified version of last week's Pasta with Mizuna with Walnuts for dinner tonight and wanted to pass it along, as I think it came out tasty!

Mizuna with Bacon, Walnuts and Apple
(note the lack of pasta - this is just a veggie side-dish. I served it with left-over roasted chicken)
serves 2 (generously) to 4 (in smaller portions)

1 to 2 bacon slices, diced (I used only one, but had to add some additional fat from my bacon fat jar in the fridge)
half a small onion, chopped
3 or 4 small green garlic stalks, white and light green part, sliced like scallions
1 apple, cored and diced
about 2 tbsp. cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar (enhances the apple-y taste of the dish)
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
about 1/4 C of walnut pieces (or coarsely chopped walnuts)
juice from half a small lemon
1 large bunch mizuna, washed and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until mostly browned; add onion and green garlic and continue to cook until bacon is done and onions and garlic are starting to brown as well. Add apples, stir and heat maybe another minute or so (adding more fat or some olive oil, if needed). Add cider vinegar, mustard, and walnuts, stir to distribute mustard. Add lemon juice, then mizuna, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook until mizuna is just wilted. Turn off heat and serve.

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)
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 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

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763-2448