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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
5th Harvest Week, Season 15
April 26th - May 2nd, 2010
in this issue
What's in the box this week
The Call of Spring
Spring growth in the fruit trees
A new member's experience
...and another
Take Action: Rescue Local and Organic Farming in the Food Safety Bill!
Art on the Farm Adventure Day Camp - this summer at LEF
Discovery Program Update
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen (recipes!)
2010 Calendar

We venerate the Three Treasures [teachers, the wild, and friends]
And are thankful for this meal
The work of many people
And the sharing of other forms of life.
 - Buddhist grace from Gary Snyder in "The Practice of the Wild"

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
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Carrots +
Fava beans +
Green garlic
Leeks +
Lettuce + (bagged baby lettuce mix)
Red radishes

Small Share
Artichokes (Swanton Berry Farm)
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Fava beans
Lettuce (bagged baby lettuce mix)
Red radishes

Bread Option
Third time's the charm! Hopefully this week's bread will be caraway rye!!
(Erin the baker apologizes for the mixup again; last week you got the sesame whole wheat which was supposed to be this week.)

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

The Call of Spring
California LilacApril's reputation of being wet and showery will hold true until the end as we finish off the month with yet another storm heading our way. The warm sunny weekend was a mix of work and fun. Tractors and their drivers kept working to catch up with soil preparations. Field beds need to be ready for a large planting of peppers, eggplants, squash, broccoli, and lettuce when conditions are drier towards the end of the week.

Elisa and baby goatIt is irresistible not to surrender to the call of Spring when the weather is as beautiful and warm as it was this past weekend. Like a continuously changing canvas of colors, textures, and forms, the farm is alive and I am seduced by everything around me. I love to work, touch and smell freshly plowed, crumbly  soil; I turn into a 5 year old (easy to do if you are accompanied by one) just to play and run through tall cover crops, and I rediscovered the pleasures of  picnicking with friends by the farm pond in the shade of an Oak tree.

When it comes to smells, the sweet perfume of blooming California Lilacs is currently the most seductive, and few things are more enjoyable than playing and frolicking with Elisa and the baby goats out in the field. I can't help but feel a shudder of joy, affection and deep appreciation for the opportunity to farm this land with a wonderful community of workers who share the same ethic of stewardship.  

Planting out the peppersWith so much life and new growth buzzing and sprouting all around, we are constantly observing, trying to decipher the signs and messages so as to time activities, anticipate events, and adapt to the challenges of this Season's crescendo. For example, I am monitoring the soil temperature to know when to sow green beans; I see that strawberries are developing runners need to be pruned; potatoes are tall enough to be hilled and fertilized; the basil got planted and covered with row covers to keep them warm; recently planted tomatoes are patrolled 2-3 times a week to remove any that still show signs of Late Blight; the hot peppers and tomatillos got transplanted into larger containers in order to size up before being transplanted into the field in a couple of weeks. 

Monday morning is already buzzing with work: one thousand Triple Crown blackberry plants, the last of three varieties, arrived from the nursery and are being field transplanted before the rain.  Jeff, Molly and David (the farm interns) are all busy moving the sheep to new pastures. School children can be heard laughing, exploring the farm. The crew is busy harvesting to avoid having to work in the muddy fields tomorrow morning.

The farm is a small, human-managed microcosm of the natural world. It's always changing, diverse, interconnected, never linear, and difficult to measure in mechanical efficiencies; a place where one life form sustains another. Spring on the Farm is hard work, but is not without its privileges of being surrounded by nature's seductive beauty and joy.

- Tom

Cover cropped field with orchard and newly planted blackberry fields in distance

Spring growth in the fruit trees
Early signs of orchard fruit and grapes! Clockwise from top left: apples, quince, Warren pears, Concord grapes.

Fruit just beginning to form on the orchard trees and grape vines

A new member's experience
Dear Live Earth Farm folks,
While I haven't been a member for very long, I have had only the best experience so far with Live Earth.  I love these newsletters and how personal they are.  I just want to share with you, in regards to your comments on Rock n Rolling [Tom's blurb from last week], that I have been on a couple of conference calls with a group I belong to and we have been discussing sustainability, ecology etc.  Most of the people are from back east, and they don't even start CSA's back there until June, and they don't run past September and October.  I have shared the Live Earth Farm website and my experience with the rest of the group and I must admit, I enjoy some serious bragging rights when I talk about Live Earth. :-)
On the heels of reading both "Food Rules" and "Eating Animals", I can't express the joy and satisfaction I have derived from picking up my beautiful box of Live Earth vegetables.  I have met some vegetables I have rarely, or never eaten and have had so much fun learning all the interesting and unique ways of preparing my little bounty. 
We are getting used to eating more vegetables than before, but still aren't managing to eat them all.  So, when I was readying my veggie drawer to receive the new vegetables, I anticipated finding a few bags of slime, which is what would have happened with my store bought vegetables. Lo and behold, there are my beautiful veggies, hardly the worse for wear and more delicious than ever. So the day before picking up my new veggies I get to store away some great stuff in the freezer, and that old dehydrator my mother in law fished out from the garage (a relic of the 70's) is getting great use.
Thanks to EVERYONE at Live Earth Farm.  You are doing a fabulous job, and I am really thankful to have found you!
Mai Dao-Horton

...and another
I enjoy reading about the growing of the crops.  Several years ago, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  For me, it has been worth reading and rereading to remind me why I want locally grown produce and meats.

My family loves your produce.

Thank you.
Jennifer Gonzales

Take Action: Rescue Local and Organic Farming in the Food Safety Bill!
[This message courtesy of Cornucopia Institute, who says, "There are not enough farmers to have any real clout in Washington or the marketplace -- but our secret weapon in this movement is the dedicated consumers who respect you and other growers." They are referring to you: our CSA members! Please read and take action if you can! - Debbie]

The U.S. Senate will vote shortly on a sweeping overhaul of federal food safety law (S. 510).  The House food safety bill passed last year (HR 2749) included several measures that potentially threaten small-scale local farmers and organic producers, including a blanket application of complicated monitoring and traceability standards -- regardless of one's farm size - and a potential $500 fee for any farm engaged in onsite processing (i.e., maple syrup production, sun-dried tomatoes, salad mixes, etc.).

The vast majority of recent food safety scandals in the U.S. - E. coli on fresh spinach, melamine in dairy products, Salmonella in peanut butter - were all linked to industrial agribusiness practices.  There's no doubt that industrial agriculture and its international supply chain need better oversight.  But, family-scale local and organic farms are probably the safest in the nation -- they are part of the solution, not part of the problem -- and need to be protected!

What You Can Do
Now is your chance, as a supporter of sustainable family farming, to help fix these problems. Senator John Tester (D-MT), a certified organic farmer himself, is proposing an amendment to S. 510 that would exempt small-scale farmers and food processors from the most burdensome regulations.

Please contact your Senators today and ask them to support the Tester amendment to S. 510.  Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to find their phone number.

For the more information on the amendment, go to:


Your Voice Makes a Difference.   Thanks for your support of organic, local and sustainable farmers!

Art on the Farm Adventure Day Camp - this summer at LEF
The Live Earth Farm Discovery Program is happy to announce a "summer-celebration-art-on-the-farm" day camp this July! Our education team would like to invite kids from within our CSA community to join us for a weeklong adventure day camp. Campers can expect to get their hands dirty while exploring pieces of Live Earth's 80 acres in both organic vegetable row crop production and fruit orchards. In addition to learning about life as an organic vegetable farmer, campers will spend time getting to know our herd of goats, our flock of sheep and visit with chickens. Campers will assist in daily chores of our animals while learning about the benefits of humane livestock management. 
Throughout the week campers can also expect to explore the wonders of the farm while creatively expressing their interpretation of the natural world through the visual arts. Activities will include printing from natural materials, musical instrument making, working in the education demonstration garden, cheese making, felting and so much more! Each day we will harvest something from the garden to contribute to our sustainable lunch picnics! We are limiting participation to 15 kids between the ages of 8 and 12, so sign up today!
Although this summer camp will be a day-camp affair, we are also offering an optional Thursday night pizza-making camp-out and sleepover! This option is for campers who wish to carry the fun of daily farm life long into the night. Join us for cob oven baking, s'mores making, and a roaring fire. There is an additional cost for campers who choose to do the overnight, but the cost covers a farm fresh dinner, and breakfast in the morning. Don't forget your sleeping bag!
The Discovery Program is also looking for two counselors-in-training between the ages of 13 -15 to help the education team throughout the week. This is a great way to build work expeience with children and learn about life on a working farm.
Age: 8 - 12
· $325/camper for the full week (not including Thursday sleepover). Cost includes plenty of art supplies and a daily farm-fresh snack!
· There is an extra charge of $50/camper for the Thursday night sleepover.
· We are also offering two partial scholarships to those most needed. Please contact us if interested.
Hours: 9am - 4pm Mon - Fri, plus the optional Thursday night camp-out sleepover.
Dates: July 12th - 16th
For more information contact Taylor Brady at vermontaylor@gmail.comor call the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program office at (831) 728-2032.

Discovery Program Update
from Jessica Ridgeway, LEFDP program director

It is tabling season. Every year LEF and the Discovery Program are asked to participate in many, many community events, and most of them occur in April around Earth Day.  We can only do a few each year, especially when they all fall on a few of the same days.  On Saturday, I set up a booth at Mt. Madonna's Festival for the Environment and some volunteers worked a booth in Willow Glen.  Earth Day table in Lincoln Ave in Willow GlenIn our ongoing effort to educate young and old about what healthy food is and where it comes from, I set up a beautiful display of produce, had strawberries to taste, displayed posters and fliers on our many upcoming opportunities to get involved, and had two fun activities to draw the children in. We stripped popcorn off the cob all day long, and planted spinach and chard in paper pots to take home. It was a fun event and even more so when some of our LEF CSA members and Discovery Program participants came by for a visit.
On Friday Taylor and I are doing a new event, Alianza Charter School's Children's Day.  I am thrilled to participate in this event for many reasons.  We have a vested interest in working with Alianza, because it is our neighborhood elementary school and is attended by several of our crew's children. I am looking forward to connecting with some teachers, who may bring their students to the farm in the future, with some of the children who attend the school, and with the parents who make the families' purchasing and cooking decisions.  In addition to the activities we brought to Mt. Madonna, we will also have a Fabulous Five Plant Needs activity; a Where in the World Does our Food Come From? game, a produce raffle, and nutritional information on the produce we have available.
Tabling is just one more way to get our information out there, and in the future I would be happy to train volunteers to participate in some of the many events we have had to refuse. So here is one more opportunity to get involved.
P.S. Our Community Farm Days start in May and Wee Ones is sure to be packed, so start thinking about whether you will attend, and let us know.

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

I think this week I'm just going to jump right into it! :-)  - Debbie

Fava update
The fava beans are gradually getting bigger, so now we get into that middle-zone, where some folks will want to peel away the pods and just eat the beans inside, while others will still enjoy cooking and eating them pods and all. Your favorite chef and mine, Alice Waters, mentions how when the beans (the ones inside the pod) are still small, they are tasty enough to eat raw [I see this as similar to how I might shell fresh peas and eat them straight from the pod]. In her recent book "The Art of Simple Food" she writes, "The earliest harvests [of favas] offer beans that are tiny, brilliant green, and so tender they don't need to be peeled [she's referring to peeling the skin on the bean, not peeling away the pod surrounding the beans]. When not eaten raw, straight from the pod, these are best cooked briefly with a little water and oil or butter."

We're still getting a healthy crop of leeks, and so I followed through on my plan to braise them using last week's Braised Leeks recipe, modifying it just a little, using the pan drippings from a roasted chicken instead of stock. I then served them over a simple polenta, sprinkled with a little minced fresh parsley... and this was delish! Here are a few pictures of the steps, followed by a recipe for polenta, if you want to try this yourself. (You don't have to do the pan drippings thing, I just mention it because my goal is to encourage you to not be afraid to play around with recipes or modify them; to innovate and use things you have on hand. You still come up with good stuff to eat and feed your family!)

Braised Leeks
From top: browning leeks cut-side down; leeks in braising liquid, ready to go into the oven; hot out of the oven; served over polenta.

Basic Soft Polenta
(modified from a recipe in the Dean & Deluca cookbook)
for approximately 4 servings

[This is a great recipe to know, because you can use it with many different dishes!]

1 C water
2 C milk
[note that you can make polenta with all water if you like, or vary the proportions of milk to water, or try another liquid entirely, or some combo of water and another liquid such as stock]
1 tsp. salt
1 C coarse yellow cornmeal (polenta)
1 1/2 tbsp (or so) unsalted butter [if you only have salted, that's okay, just gauge the amount of salt you add to the cooking liquid accordingly]
~ 1/4 C grated fresh Parmesan

Bring liquid and salt to a boil in a large saucepan and reduce heat to moderate so that it comes to a simmer.

Pour the cornmeal in in a steady stream, sprinkling through your fingers if you like, and stir constantly, keeping the mixture at a bare simmer. Continue to cook and stir, crushing any lumps that might form against the side of the pan, for about 10 minutes. (As it cooks, the polenta will thicken considerably.) The polenta is done when it comes away effortlessly from the side of the pan. Remove pan from heat, and whisk in the butter and Parmesan.

FYI, Alice Waters, in the book mentioned above, also talks about putting fresh fava beans into polenta, saying simply, "For variety, fresh corn or fava beans can be stirred into soft polenta."

Last note on polenta - there are many different ways to make it; this is but one. Alice Waters polenta recipe calls for proportions of 4 to 1, liquid to polenta, and then cooking it slower and longer (an hour!). But the Dean & Deluca recipe is the one I've used as my guide for a number of years. All I'm saying is, I think there is room to be flexible here. Have fun!

Arugula - fruit, cheese, greens redux
Arugula is one of my favorite spicy greens to use in this combo. The salad is as simple as its title sounds. If you have any strawberries left when you get your box home, save a few for this salad!

Optional addition: toasted nuts

Dressing options:
1) you can simply plate the greens, cheese, and sliced strawberries and then drizzle with a good olive oil or walnut oil, and a little balsamic or other sweet vinegar (I have a black fig vinegar I love using for this) and sprinkle lightly with salt
2) you can make a fruity vinaigrette and toss the greens and berries with it (go lightly, you don't want to drown it in dressing), then crumble the cheese on top

Other options:
1) You can 'fancy it up' by toasting the nuts, or using caramelized walnuts or pecans
2) You can add a little thinly sliced red onion
3) You can try other cheeses... what do you have?
4) You can use a combination of arugula and lettuces, or other spicy greens entirely. For example,  I love making this with spicy mustard greens, when we get them in the box.

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 [link updated 4/26/10]

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763-2448