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.
Lettuce (red butter or bagged salad mix)
Pac choi +
Summer squash (magda and zephyr)
2 baskets Strawberries
Lettuce (red butter or bagged salad mix)
2 baskets Strawberries
This week's bread will be 3-seed whole wheat
4 baskets of Strawberries!!
Fruit Bounty is 'on' this week! (floating week #2 of 15)
4 baskets of Strawberries!!
Nature's Pace (and Community Farm Day)
Now that the first plantings of tomatoes are completed, I feel this craving to slice into one of these beautiful marbled red-orange Pineapple heirloom tomatoes. In contrast to our fast paced, instant gratification, addicted-to-growth society, a farm can only move at nature's pace, and tomatoes grow and mature at the same rate no matter if stock markets or interest rates are up or down. The dry-farmed tomatoes we planted 3 weeks ago are barely tall enough to be trellised, and last week we had our first window of opportunity where conditions were just right to get all our eggplants and peppers planted. It is unusual to experience almost winter-like weather in the middle of May, only a month away from the Summer Solstice. Over the last two months we have experienced a pattern of weekly rain and cold weather, to the point that our green beans, cucumbers and basil - all warm weather loving crops - got covered with thin blankets (row covers) to keep temperatures warm enough to stimulate their growth.
A CSA share is similar to growing your own vegetable garden; it gives the opportunity to step outside of today's 'instant' society, reconnect with the outside environment, the seasonal life cycle of the crops, and the complexities of growing them. The pleasure of food is directly linked to our senses, and much of our Fast Food culture has led to sensorial deprivation. Why should any child choose to eat an apple if the only choice is a red or green, waxed and tasteless one sitting next to a bag of cheetos? The senses need to re-discover the pleasures of real food. By preparing and cooking with what is harvested every week we retrain our senses to appreciate and find pleasure in eating locally and sustainably grown foods. I know fava beans are laborious to shell, for example, but by removing every layer I have more appreciation for the myriad of steps involved in growing, harvesting, preparing, and cooking before I eat them. For me the pleasure of farming is in cultivating the many diverse relationships that enhance the enjoyment of the food we grow and eat.
With that said,
I want to remind everyone to take the opportunity to attend our monthly Community Farm Days
. The first one will be in two weeks on Saturday May 29th
, from 10am to 4pm; a wonderful and fun way to get to know the land, the people, the animals, and the crops you enjoy. Feel free to bring friends - we'll be exploring the farm by engaging around a number of wonderful activities; there is something for everyone:
- field planting by hand or riding on a transplanter in the back of the tractor
- plant a hedgerow of native plants and grasses
- If you are interested in U-Picking strawberries this is the day to do it; we have a bountiful crop: $1.50/basket or $15/flat (12 baskets)
- meet all of our farm animals; the goats will need to be milked and you will learn how to make simple farm cheese.
- walk around the farm and explore some areas on your own.
- We will fire up the cob oven for everyone interested in making their own pizzas (please bring your own dough and ingredients of choice).
Be aware it's been foggy and chilly, so there is a good chance you need to stay dry and warm. Please RSVP to me (Farmer Tom) at firstname.lastname@example.org
, so I have some idea of how many of you plan to attend. Hope to see you on the 29th!
Why are the strawberries so big right now?
The size of our strawberries has to do with the variety, the fertility in the soil, the time of season, farming practices, and the number of chilling hours the plants received before they were planted and during the winter. Typically in the spring the plants are the most vigorous. This spring they have been especially so, as we have been picking more often to save them from the rain, or removing fruit that have been rain damaged. Much of the vigor (and therefore size) of the fruit right now has to do with the fact that in the Spring the plants are like young teenagers full of energy; the soil is rich and rested, not exposed to any disease or insect pressure. The plants were very healthy when they came from the nursery, and both of our everbearing varieties, Seascape and Albion, received extra chilling hours which stimulates growth and vigor. The flavor will vary, based on the variety; the Camarosas, which have more of a flat tip are not as sweet right now but have a nice flavor. Later in June or July they will have more sweetness as the fruit grows smaller. The Seascapes and Albions have pointy tips; both are typically sweeter than the Camarosa. To distinguish the Seascape from the Albion just look at the seeds: on the Seascape strawberry they sit on top of the fruit whereas seeds on the Albion are more indented in the flesh of the fruit (above is an Albion).
Hope this helps! Enjoy, since we truly have an amazing bounty right now. If you are interested in picking your own berries come join us on May 29th for our Community Farm Day (see above).
A smiling Clemente displays a just-picked flat of beautiful strawberries!
Farmer Tom featured by Wild Farm Alliance
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~This story was featured in last week's Wild Farm Alliance newsletter as well as on their website. I thought our members would enjoy reading it! - Debbie
"A good farm must be one where the wild fauna and flora has lost acreage without losing existence." -Aldo Leopold
Thomas Broz, a self-described city boy turned farmer, began growing food with his wife Constance as a way to reconnect with his community and the natural world. Interested in the tension between efforts to grow food, make a living, and strike a proper balance with the environment, his fundamental goal remains "an attempt to bring food production and nature back together."
Viewing field edges as opportunities for wild nature to share space with cultivated crops, Tom has worked with Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) and Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) to install native hedgerows on leased fields as well as around their home property. If you ask Tom, he'll tell you that these natural borders have several functions: they improve water quality, provide pest control and pollination services to nearby fields, and enhance the aesthetics for everyone working on and visiting the farm.
Recently, an opportunity came up to acquire 130 acres of land lying adjacent to Live Earth Farm's original plot and the Broz's home. This move away from leased land brings the farm back into a contiguous piece and affords new opportunity to address the question often in the back of Tom's mind: "How can we balance the natural system with our production system?" Through a grant awarded by the Wildlife Conservation Board, WFA and CAFF have teamed up with Tom to plan a network of conservation plantings throughout part of his new property. Efforts are currently underway to restore fertility to the recently purchased land and to increase its value as wildlife habitat. Riparian and upland plantings that promote biodiversity, provide wildlife connections, stabilize soil, and create beneficial insect habitat are beginning to dot the landscape. Native grass filter strips are entering a second season of capturing nutrients and sediment that could otherwise follow gravity to the nearest waterway. Local students have had a hand in several hedgerow plantings to create insect-attracting transition zones between field and forest edge. Volunteers have pulled out invasive species that smother native diversity in natural areas on the farm. Read more
Ode to Arugula, Tatsoi and Spinach
Enthusiastic new member Kelly E. wrote last week just bubbling over with love for her leafy greens:
"Dear Debbie: I thought that maybe, just maybe perhaps, y'all at the farm might like to know from a CSA customer that the ARUGULA we've gotten the past 2 weeks is the best we've ever had! Ever!! EVER!!! Totally love this stuff!!
"We make sandwiches with it (including full stems for crunch & nutrition) with lots of other 'strong' or 'bold' flavored ingredients (ham, country Dijon, Swiss cheese, your radishes, etc, and all on that wonderful stout sourdough bread option we're getting) and it really rocks. Whatever's left goes into salad. OMGoodness! This arugula makes the very best salad fixins!
"Also, we'd never had Tatsoi before last week (never even heard of it before - and that's quite embarassing for me to say since I grew up up on a very small urban organic farm in Berkeley in the 60's & 70's!), but now that we have met the Tatsoi - we are HOOKED!! It's great raw in salad, or cooked like bok (I very gently sauteed it with olive oil, your farm's green garlic sliced super paper thin, with just a drop or two of dark sesame oil, & some pan "roasted" sesame seeds). Wow! Really good stuff!
"Oh!!! And your spinach!! How could I not mention the spinach!! I was cleaning our first bunch from you last week, on the day of pick up, and of course while doing so was thinking about the best way to use it. I thought it looked a bit too mature for salad (because it didn't look like the young leaves I've bought at the grocery before, or had grown myself), but decided to eat a leaf to check. Well... Wow, was I ever wrong! I ended up eating about half of it out of hand right there at the sink, without any dressing, or cooking, or preperation of any kind! I was seriously snarfing down on raw nekkid spinach at the sink, over a colander, while looking over my shoulder periodically to make sure I wouldn't be caught in such a 'compromised position.' It was just sooo sweet and sooo tender, I couldn't help myself - and I've never in my life eaten fistfuls of raw, naked (undressed) spinach before, not even when I used to grow my own! Pop-eye (and my late Poppa) woulda been proud!"
Interested in a Goat Milk Share?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Members of our CSA have a rare and unique opportunity to get
fresh raw goat milk, cultured products (yogurt and kefir) and handmade
artisan cheeses directly from a very small farm where every goat is
lovingly cared for and milked by hand! The farm is Summer Meadows Farm,
and the owner, Lynn Selness, is ready to start customers with delivery
of her products. See what she has to say, below. [Please note that you do not sign up for this through us; Lynn merely piggy-backs delivery of her product to her customers through our CSA delivery, so contact her directly to set this up.]
Summer Meadows Farm is going to have healthy raw goat milk available in the coming weeks. Our new spring kids are ready to be weaned at night from their moms, and we will be milking frothy bowls full of sweet, wholesome milk every morning. It will need homes to go to! We are taking names on our waitlist now for new goat shares (first come, first served). We also make yogurt, kefir, and fresh cheese. For more information, click here to download our Goat Share Agreement
. Read that over, then call Lynn Selness at 831.786.8966
if you are interested in a goat milk share.
(above, Lynn's niece pets a newborn kid, spring 2009. All Lynn's goats are Nubian.)
Another Cob building workshop
Constance's good friend Claudine Desiree, of Sunflower Cob Building of Santa Cruz
cob building workshops a couple times a year. The next workshop coming up is June 6th and 13th in Santa Cruz. Please read
below (click on image for more details).
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Click here to go to the recipe database.This week's treat is the first official appearance of summer squash. Only the Family Shares are receiving it this week, but soon, we'll all be getting it! The first summer squash we're getting are the lovely middle-eastern Magda
squash, and the yellow and green Zephyr. The Magda has a tender, pale green skin, and is one of the most
flavorful summer squash I've tasted. The Zephyrs are a crook-neck type, mostly yellow, with a light green tip. We are still getting a generous variety of leafy greens, so this week, I'm going to let you in on a little secret that will have you easily using them all up each week; a topic I've been saving for just such an occasion:
greens for breakfast! Lastly, longtime members Lora Martin and Phil DuBeau weigh in on their solution for using all the veggies in their box. - Debbie
Errata: last week, I mistakenly listed "Mei qing choi" in 'What's in the Box'. We are indeed getting true
pac choi (or bok choi), which has whiter stems and darker green leaves than the mei qing choi. It's a subtle difference, I know, and the two items are interchangeable as far as cooking is concerned, but I still like to give you accurate info whenever I can! ;-) Below is a picture to show you the difference: mei qing choi on the left, pac choi on the right. Now you'll know how to tell them apart yourself!
**************Greens for breakfast!
Last week, I talked in detail about how to prep and store your greens so they last the week
. This week, I'm going to tell you one of my favorite ways for using them!
Here are all the different greens I have cooked up as a part of breakfast at one time or another:
The list is not exclusive; it's just all the ones I've done so far. I haven't used arugula yet, but that's not because it wouldn't be good, it's just that I love using arugula uncooked in other things, so it never is around long enough for me to cook up as part of breakfast.
Mostly, I love to use greens with eggs - eggs with a runny yolk I can break over the greens and then eat forkfuls of with toast. It is wonderful with a flavorful grey sea salt sprinkled over the top, or, my indulgent favorite (Constance got me a jar of this from France, and I've been hooked ever since!): truffle salt. This is a very fine crystal, dry sea salt blended with ground black truffle, which imparts a heady mushroom-ey aroma when sprinkled over the eggs. Mmmmm.... but I digress!
Note: if you don't eat eggs, just cook up the greens, with other things like onion or mushroom or sweet peppers (I use frozen peppers when they're not in season) and have them, with or without cheese melted over the top, with toast.
If the green you're using is a firmer, hardier green (kale, collards), you want to do the pre-cook and chop technique I've talked about many times [strip leafy green from stems and boil in well salted water 2 to 3 minutes, drain well, squeeze out water, chop]. When cooking chard for breakfast I generally do not use the stems, but you certainly could if you chopped and sauteed them with some onion first, then added the greens. Up to you.
The more delicate greens, mizuna, tatsoi, spinach, you can cook down right in the pan you're going to be making your eggs in. Or you can pre-steam them.
What I'm trying to get across here is just how flexible this is! :-)
Below are pictures from a couple versions I've made in the recent past.
First, the simplest: break a soft-boiled egg over cooked chopped kale. Sprinkle with salt (and pepper, if you like).
Second version: fried egg with sauteed mushrooms, sweet peppers and chopped chard. Saute the mushrooms and peppers first, in olive oil and/or butter, then add cooked chopped chard leaves, stir around to distribute. Make a little opening in the middle of the greens and crack in an egg (note in this example I'm using my small cast-iron skillet; perfect for one serving). Turn heat down to medium low and cook until egg is set to your liking. I'll only put the lid on the pan after it is mostly cooked, as I want to keep the yolk liquid. Alternatively, you can flip your egg-and-greens briefly, to set the white without setting the yolk.
Third version: fried eggs with mizuna and fish sauce. I love any excuse to get flavorful salt into the dishes I make, and often make what I call 'fishy eggs' - fried eggs where I add a little fish sauce around the edges of the egg after it is mostly done (note: this is a messy business - it sizzles and pops and splatters -
so wear an apron!), then cover it and turn down or turn off the heat for half a minute, until the edge of the white gets all crispy and yummy-salty (but the yolk is still liquid). So this version simply includes mizuna! Chop the mizuna first, then saute it down in olive oil until it is about three-quarters wilted (it will continue to cook as the eggs cook). Make little wells in the greens, and crack in the eggs. When the eggs are nearly done, shake some fish sauce into the greens around the eggs (it will sizzle and pop!). Either cover and cook eggs to your liking, or flip them, as I have done here. In all cases, the greens and eggs are wonderful together with bites of toast - especially from the sourdough bread I get from Companion Bakers! Phil's Organic One Pot Stew
by Lora Martin (and Phil DuBeau)
For years we'd find ourselves not using all the vegetables
in our small share. We'd always have things left over, spoiling, in the
bin. Particularly things we didn't
think we liked like turnips and beets (lots of turnips and beets!).
This year my husband Phil decided that was enough
wasting! He has created the
all-in-one organic pot stew! It is
a meal that starts on Wednesday and often can feed our family of three for several
Here's the "recipe".
Nearly all the ingredients in the share box go into one big
soup pot! (We don't add the lettuce and fruit, but everything
else goes in the pot).
Phil starts with some meat in the stew pot. He has used many
different meats and all taste great. You can chose something like a marinated tri-tip (Costco or Trader Joes) [or marinate your own Morris Grassfed Beef
! - Debbie],
chicken-apple sausages, chicken, even ribs. He browns the meat in the bottom of the stew pot with a bit
of oil. After it has cooked a bit
he then starts adding the hardest veggie items on the bottom of the pot. A bit of oil can be put in first but is
not necessary. Onions, carrots,
potatoes, beets, turnips, etc are cut into stew-sized pieces and are piled in the
pot. Then he layers in the softer items from the box like squash, peppers,
broccoli, eggplant, tomatoes, and finally top off with the cut up pieces of
kale, or other greens. He then adds a
can or two of chicken broth [or water or other broth or stock]. Cover and simmer. Stir
occasionally. It takes a long time
to cook down (about an hour) but the wait is worth it! A winter stew perfect for these unseasonable rainy
The best part of the meal: you can add more to it as the
days go by!
We will add different meats and vegetables over the next few
days. It is like a progressive dinner, it keeps changing in flavor. A great way to use up all the great
veggies that come in our box! Before, we couldn't finish a small share. Now, we are considering moving
up to a family share...
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
(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 email@example.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 (update 5/17: see Tom's details, above)
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