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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
5th Harvest Week, Winter Season 5
January 17th - 23rd, 2011
in this issue
What's in the box this week
It's all about the soil
Speaking of virtual... we're joining Facebook
With a little help from our [farm] friends
Winter CSA Delivery Schedule
Web Store - more new items this week!
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
2011 Calendar

" Soil is the ground of our being; along with water and air it is the stuff that life helped to make, maintains and depends on absolutely."
 -  David Suzuki, from "Sacred Balance"

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.

Winter Family Share
Apples (Fuji/Pippin)
Brussels sprouts +
Romanesco cauliflower +
Red Russian kale
Dry onions + (Phil Foster/Pinnacle Organic)
White-fleshed sweet potatoes (Mariquita Farm)
Turnips with their greens
Watermelon radishes (Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Strawberry jam! by Happy Girl Kitchen from LEF strawberries - the jar will be packed inside your box! Support the bag when you take it out of the box.

Winter Small Share

Apples (Fuji/Pippin)
Brussels sprouts
Romanesco cauliflower


Red Russian kale

Dry onions (Phil Foster/Pinnacle Organic)

White-fleshed sweet potatoes (Mariquita Farm)
Turnips with their greens
Watermelon radishes (Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Strawberry jam! by Happy Girl Kitchen from LEF strawberries
- the jar will be packed inside your box! Support the bag when you take it out of the box.

Preserves Option
1 jar pickled sweet peppers
1 jar apricot jam

Bread Option
This week's bread will be plain whole wheat


It's all about the soil
With an extended dry and warm weather pattern in the forecast, we are excited to prepare the soil for the first planting of the year.  I have been checking the fields we purposefully set aside for early planting. They are the fields with sandier and better drained soils.

hand holding soilTo determine when to start cultivating, I like to get a good sense of the soil first. I feel the topsoil and assess how wet and sticky it is. With my hands I like to dig and feel if the soil is mostly crumbly to the touch; even when I squeeze it, it should still crumble. As I was digging around, sampling the field last week, I was happy to see plenty of earthworms wiggling about; that's always a good sign of healthy soil. When holding a clump of soil, my hand instinctively goes up to my nose. The experience of the soil is not complete without a deep sniff. I savor this moment... a bouquet of rich, musky, almost sweet aroma fills my nose.  My confidence in planting a seed and seeing to it that it completes its nourishing life cycle is rooted in this direct relationship with the soil we farm.
Leafing through seed catalogs, selecting varieties, developing a crop plan and ordering seeds - the stuff I talked about last week - is certainly important, but it's all a "virtual" process until the moment I hold a seed in my hand. Now that drier weather is ahead and I have a good, healthy soil under my feet, I feel that irresistible call to plant. It is a call all too familiar, a call to engage once again in the life cycle, to care for and to steward to the best of my abilities the nourishing potential encapsuled inside those tiny seeds. Ultimately though, it is in the soil where my trust lies to grow those seeds into the flavorful and healthy food we put in your shares every week.

Our produce may not be blemish-free like what you see in the supermarket, but it reflects our true farming reality. Our goal is to always bring you the best food we can grow and we are committed to you, our community, to always learn how to do that better. The first crops I like to plant right now are carrots, red and golden beets, sugar snap peas, lettuce, different kind of mustard greens, broccoli, white turnips, and potatoes. Even though we are more than a couple of months away from starting our regular season, right now is the time to plant to ensure a continuous and timely harvest. But we are nothing without that healthy soil to nurture the healthy plants which in turn will nourish you.

- Tom

Speaking of virtual... we're joining Facebook
Last night with the help of my son David, I set us up to be on Facebook. The intent with this tool, as I reflected in last week's newsletter, is to share with you, our supporting farm community, the everyday realities in the field and the many interesting relationships, events, challenges, and achievements unique to the land we steward. As we learn to use this new tool we welcome your input, commentary, and help to make the best use of it.

Find us on Facebook

- Tom

With a little help from our [farm] friends
Right now we are increasing our outreach efforts in order to meet our annual CSA goal of 800 members. I would like to encourage everyone to spread the word about the farm. You, our members and friends, are the most convincing and truthful ambassadors of Live Earth Farm. A good start is to suggest they join our newsletter list. Anyone can get our newsletter, and that's a good way for people to begin to get the feel of our farm and our CSA. [Note from Debbie: to do this, send folks to our website, to the Newsletter page. At the top of that page is a link where anyone can add themselves.] We're open to starting new drop-off sites in new locations beyond our current delivery routes too, maybe even as far north as San Francisco. If you are interested, we can provide you with fliers and brochures to distribute in your neighborhood or workplace. Thank you for your support, and please let us know of any other ways we can help you to help spread the word.

- Tom

Winter CSA Delivery Schedule
I'm going to keep this in the newsletter so folks always have it for reference ;-)

Week 1 - December 2nd

Week 2 - December 9th

Week 3 - December 16th

<3 week break over Christmas/New Year's - happy holidays everyone!>

Week 4 - January 13th 2011

Week 5 - January 20th
Week 6 - January 27th
Week 7 - February 3rd
Week 8 - February 10th
Week 9 - February 17th
Week 10 - February 24th - last winter CSA!

<no deliveries the entire month of March>

The 2011 Regular Season then begins Weds/Thurs April 6th/7th

Web Store - more new items this week!
The web store has been open since Friday morning (did you get Taylor's email?) and will only be open a short while longer - it closes Weds at 6am so we can prepare for delivery. So if you wanted to order something, do it now, before you forget! ;-) Click on the image below to go to the webstore.

Taylor's offering Pie Ranch's Sonora Wheat Flour another week, and we've got lots of tomato goodies this week: pickled dry-farms, juice both mild and spicy, and Happy Girl's thick and fabulous ketchup -- all made from our tomatoes, of course! This'll probably be your last chance at getting sauerkraut though, so if you you're a fan, stock up! It'll keep in your fridge nice and sour for many weeks. Lastly, we are very excited to offer additional Brussels sprouts through our webstore! Clean and beautiful, nutty and wonderful, stock up at this exceptional price!

picture of this week's webstore screen

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

The sleeper veggies this week are definitely the watermelon radishes and white-fleshed sweet potatoes. Sadly neither are not ours, but both are from local, high-integrity organic neighbor-growers of ours, Dick Peixoto [pronounced "pah-Shote"] of Lakeside Organic Gardens and Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm. Now Andy lives a stone's throw from LEF, but farms land in Hollister and Madera; that's how he's able to grow sweet potatoes. Tom says we can't grow them in our cool coastal climate, so we love having this connection with Andy! Dick spoke at last year's Eco-Farm conference, and the stuff he's up to is amazing. Lakeside may be a bigger grower than we are, but they definitely have the 'deep organic' integrity that matters. Both Andy and Dick do actually, so we are happy to include their goodies in our boxes. What's definitely ours though are the Brussels sprouts, and boy are they ever great this year! Tom stewarded and the weather and soil cooperated and we have just the most beautiful Brussels sprouts this season! We've struggled with aphids in them in the past, but hooray, not this year. They're so great that we're offering them through the webstore in case you want to get extra. - Debbie

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

watermelon radishThe most compelling aspect of watermelon radishes is their inner beauty (literally!) -- on the outside they're not much to look at; they are larger than normal radishes - they look a lot like turnips, actually - sometimes white-skinned, sometimes green... But when you slice into them, zowie! They have this beautiful magenta core, and it becomes immediately evident where they get their name from. They are sweet and mild, not as spicy/peppery as regular radishes.

Watermelon Radish ideas
You can cook watermelon radishes like you would turnips or rutabagas, but I think this diminishes their beauty. Although I did find a yummy-looking recipe for radish chips (think: crispy kale) so I'll include that below.

One idea I read and liked was to slice them into circles, then cut them into half moons, dress them lightly with a vinaigrette of some sort (use a light-colored vinegar) and sprinkle them with black sesame seeds (to mimic miniature watermelon seeds) ;-)

Another idea would be an open-faced radish sandwich. Spread sweet organic butter on either a baguette, or some suggest a nice dense pumpernickel, layer on thinly sliced watermelon radish, and (optionally) sprinkle with sea salt.

Of you can 'quick refrigerator pickle' them -- slice then cut them into half-moons, then put them into one of your empty Happy Girl Kitchen preserves jars with optionally a little thinly sliced onion, make a vinegar-brine dissolving a little salt and sugar into seasoned rice vinegar (maybe 1/2 C vinegar to 1 tsp sugar to 1/2 tsp salt) and pour that over the veggies and refrigerate for a day to season before using. Keep them in the fridge, of course; these are not heat canned. They should last a few weeks, easy, in the vinegar solution, but you'll probably eat them quicker than that.

Baked Watermelon Radish Chips
I liked this idea better than the 'fried' chips... deep-frying just takes so much oil!

Preheat your oven to fairly hot - 400 to 425 degrees.

Slice the radishes as thinly evenly as possible. Then lightly coat them with olive oil (or other veggie oil). I'd put them in a bowl and drizzle a little over them then use my hands and massage them around gently to get them all coated.

Spread them evenly on a baking sheet (you can put down some parchment paper if you like, for easier cleanup) - do not crowd or overlap them if at all possible. Sprinkle with seasonings -- option 1: salt and cumin; option 2: garlic salt, paprika and chili powder (or salt, paprika, chili powder and finely minced garlic); option 3: just salt.

Bake them 10 minutes, then check to see how they're doing. Depending on how thinly you sliced them, they may be done, or they may require more time. They should be lightly browned and crispy.

Serve as is for a crunchy snack, or with sour cream or ?? for dipping. Yum!

You know... while you're at it, why not slice up some turnip too, and bake 'em along with the radish slices, so you have crispy pink-and-white chips?

Now regarding those white-fleshed sweet potatoes from Mariquita Farm, I would treat them just the same as regular sweet potatoes, so any sweet potato recipe will do. My favorite, of course, is simply slow baked until completely soft, and then served with butter and salt!

A note off of Mariquita's website about shelf life, which I didn't know (it's advice from Alice Waters): "
Don't plan on keeping sweet potatoes for more than a few days at home. Any needless handling causes bruising and shortens their shelf life. Remember their tropical origins and keep them at a cool room temperature with good air circulation, not in the refrigerator."

Debbie's slow-baked sweet potatoes
Try not to be in a rush when you're baking sweet potatoes... a lower temperature, longer bake makes them so darn wonderful! Especially the skins. I always scrub the potatoes but leave the skins on and bake and eat them skins and all.

One thing that will help is to have your potatoes at room temp before you bake them - and now I know from Alice Waters I shouldn't be storing them in the fridge anyway! So no wonder they didn't last so long in the past. ;-)

Preheat an oven to 300 degrees. Scrub potatoes and trim anything that to your mind needs trimming but otherwise leave skin intact. You can oil them, or not. You can wrap them in foil, or not. The foil or a pan underneath I think is not so much to help them cook (though it doesn't hurt), but when they get good and gooshy, sometimes the sugars in them drip out and this will burn in the bottom of your oven like a bubbling-over pie filling.

Bake 'em for an hour. Check on them. Do they look kinda pooped? When you poke them with a finger or give 'em a quick squeeze (careful, they're hot!) are they nice and soft? If yes, they're ready to eat! If no, leave 'em a little longer. If they seem almost done, but maybe other things you're making aren't done yet, just turn off the heat and let them stay in the oven. It'll slowly cool down, but the potatoes will continue to cook slowly too, and they'll just get softer and yummier.

Ready to eat? Just split them open and slide in some good organic butter and sprinkle with salt and voila! Of course you could even just try them plain if you're anti butter and anti salt. They'll still be awfully good.

Here's a recipe from Mariquita Farm's newsletter for their sweet potatoes:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
3 lbs sweet potatoes
2 C cider vinegar
3/4 C plus 2 tbsp. flour
2 egg yolks
2 garlic cloves
6 sage leaves, julienned
1/2 lb. pancetta [or ham; or you can skip the pancetta/ham if you don't eat meat]
Cover the sweet potatoes with water and bring to a boil with a little salt. Simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool.
Simmer the cider vinegar until reduced to 1/2 C.
Dice your pancetta and fry the pieces in a small skillet until crisp.
Peel the potatoes and pass them through a ricer into a large bowl. Beat in the flour and yolks, then add some salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.
Put the gnocchi dough into a pastry bag (or use a plastic bag and cut a corner off). Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and pipe the gnocchi dough out of the bag, cutting into 1 inch lengths, into the water. The gnocchi are done when they float. Scoop them out to a sheet pan.
In a large skillet, melt a few tablespoons of butter and add the gnocchi and saute to golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and cook for 1 minute more. Finish with the reduced vinegar, and the pancetta. Yummy!

And here's a recipe off the internet which I modified somewhat:

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 to 4 tbsp. softened butter
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
salt to taste

[The reason for the range in quantity is because people's tastes are different. Don't want so much butter? Less is fine. And chipotle peppers can be reeeellly hot, so I'd suggest starting with less and then tasting it. You can always add more!]

Place the sweet potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.

Place the potatoes into a bowl and add the butter, chipotle chiles, and adobo sauce. Mash well with a potato masher, and season to taste with salt to serve.

Lastly, here's a turnip recipe I clipped out of the SJ Mercury News from a few years back. It is very different than the savory turnip and collard greens recipe I ran last week! Since we're all getting turnips again, and it is not something a lot of us are familiar with cooking, thought you would like this:

Turnips with ginger, orange, mint and rosemary
by David Kinch - chef of Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos (modified only slightly)
serves 6

4 large turnips (about 2 lbs)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 C orange juice
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. finely chopped mint
1/2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary

Peel turnips and slice them into 1/2 inch thick pieces [Tom says our turnips are very tender and don't require peeling; you be the judge - peel or no, as you see fit.]

Melt butter in a large skillet (at least 12 inches) over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the turnips until they begin to turn golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove cooked turnips to a plate and repeat until all of the slices have been cooked.

With all the slices now out of the skillet, turn the heat to high and add the orange juice, scraping the bottom of the skillet to dislodge any caramelized bits. Stir in the honey. Return the turnip slices to the skillet and simmer over medium-high heat until the turnips have softened and the juice has reduced to a glaze, about 25 minutes; spoon the juice over the turnips as they cook.

Just before serving, add the ginger, lemon zest, mint and rosemary; stir to coat and serve.

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.

Companion Bakers Sourdough Bread Workshops at LEF

Jan 22 (Saturday) - Sourdough Basics: Companion Bakers "wood fired" Workshop

Happy Girl Kitchen Workshops at LEF
(all workshops include an organic lunch, as well as take-home items from what is made that day -- these workshops are not to be missed!)

Feb 5 (Saturday) - Farm Walk and Pickle Party!

Contact Jordan or Todd if you have any questions:

Community Farm Days and Events

We'll update you as soon as we have a new schedule for 2011!

Medicinal Herb Walks/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 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. Consider joining herbalist Darren Huckle L.Ac for a monthly series of fun, informative, herb walks and classes in spring 2011 where you will learn how to identify, taste and safely and effectively use medicinal plants common in Northern California.

For more info, contact Darren Huckle at rootsofwellness@gmail.com or 831.334.5177

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