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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
7th Harvest Week, Winter Season 5
January 31st - February 6th, 2011
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Beyond labels and government
The real value of pastured chickens
Winter CSA Delivery Schedule
Strawberry jam? Strawberry-lavender jam?
2011 Farm Events Calendar dates now set!
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
2011 Calendar

"Eating is an agricultural act."
- Wendell Berry
"We are not just consumers, but active participants in creating the food system that nourishes us." - Tom Broz

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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
Fuji apples
Broccolini +
Brussels sprouts +



Romanesco cauliflower

Celeriac (Lakeside Organic Gardens)

Red Russian kale

Meyer lemons +
"Little gem" baby lettuce (several small heads, bagged)
Parsnips (Mariquita Farm)
Turnips with their greens
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

Fuji apples

Red beets

Brussels sprouts
Celeriac (Lakeside Organic Gardens)


Meyer lemons

"Little gem" baby lettuce (several small heads, bagged)
Parsnips (Mariquita Farm)
Turnips with their greens
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 quince jelly
1 jar pickled dry-farmed tomatoes

Bread Option
This week's bread will be 3-seed whole wheat


Beyond labels and government standards
Why do we call "conventional" or "normal" the type of farming that uses pesticides, genetically engineered seeds, synthetic fertilizers, raises animals in confined animal feeding operations, fumigates soils and irradiates our food? There is nothing conventional or normal about the production - or consumption - of such foods. It just never seems to stop that we are constantly called upon to preserve and protect our food and environment from corporate and government abuses. It happened again last week when Tom Vilsack, our USDA secretary of Agriculture, announced that all restrictions on Monsanto's Genetically Engineered (GE) herbicide resistant alfalfa are now lifted... which means the USDA has given the green light for its nationwide distribution and cultivation.

Genetic engineering is not allowed under US National Organic Standards. The organic label assures consumers that they will not not be exposed to genetically engineered organisms. Herein lies a problem: alfalfa - the fourth largest crop grown in this country after corn, wheat, and soybeans - is an essential feed for livestock. But by allowing the introduction of GE herbicide resistant alfalfa, organic and non-genetically engineered alfalfa will inevitably be contaminated from cross-pollination. Which means, in turn, that organic dairy and meats will ultimately also be contaminated if the animals consume the contaminated alfalfa. Albert Straus, owner of Straus Family Creamery, the first organic milk producer in California, the one that supplies their organic milk in glass bottles with lots of cream on the top, was quoted in a statement opposing the decision: "As an organic farmer and an organic dairy processor, the decision to deregulate genetically engineered alfalfa is devastating for our industry and it could put our business at risk." It is sad to see how the same agency entrusted with implementing our National Organic Standards simultaneously makes decisions that jeopardize their integrity.

How is it that large corporations like Monsanto, hand in hand with our government, somehow keep defining the terms by which we, the public, can claim our rights for clean healthy food, water, air, and soil? The terms are clearly based on corporate greed and economic profiteering, not the common public good. The value of food is not only defined by dollars and cents; its true value needs to be measured in much broader terms. Food has nutritional value when we eat it; it nourishes our bodies and personal well-being.
Jeff and chicken
Farm apprentice Jeff holds a Buff Orpington
Food has social value when families enjoy preparing a meal with locally and sustainably grown in-season ingredients, and then sit around a table to share that meal with family and friends. There is also social value when farms provide their community the opportunity to directly experience how their sustainably grown food is produced. Food has ecological value when it is grown in harmony with nature, protecting the landscape and its natural resources and honoring the diversity and relationship with other life forms.

Such food can only come from farms that are managed as whole, living organisms. No label or government-enforced standards should undermine such farms. On the contrary, these types of farms should be held up as models for building healthy food systems. At Live Earth Farm my guiding principle is to steward the land; to treat it like a dynamic living organism where everything plays a part, like cells in a body. The food we grow and which you eat is really an extension of this living organism. We who care for and help grow the crops you receive every week work as a community of individuals weaving our expertise into the larger fabric of the farm. Likewise, the food we grow for you - our CSA members, for farmer's markets, school children, food preservation enthusiasts, restaurants, and many other customers - provides that direct connection between you, this land, and people who work here.

- Tom

The real value of pastured chickens
Anna Vinitsky, one of this year's Young Farmer Program apprentices here at the farm, has written up the research they made into the costs and benefits of producing pasture-raised chickens for eggs. As you will see, it is difficult to quantify everything merely in financial terms; she explains the broader social, ecological, and nutritional benefits as well. chickens in battery cagesThe dollar cost of producing eggs holistically suddenly seems fair as  compared to the narrow, commodity-focused approach of eggs produced by hens in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), stacks of battery cages in row upon row where nine chickens are crammed into each 16 inch by 22 inch cage their whole lives, never able to even stretch and extend their legs and wings. The true cost of these eggs is seldom analyzed or explained to customers. - Tom

The Real Value of Pastured Chickens

Here at Live Earth Farm we currently have 600 chickens, divided into three different flocks. Each flock has their own coop, and their own wide range of pasture to graze on. Every week we rotate their pasture areas using electric fencing, so they always have access to fresh grasses, legumes, and bugs. We supplement what they can't find in the pasture with an organic layer feed and crushed oyster shell, to make their eggshells strong and the eggs nutritious. They also regularly get produce left over from the CSA or our farmers markets. There is no such thing as food waste on the farm. 

Our hens live a lifestyle in sync with the natural world, which keeps them very healthy and happy. Every morning around sunrise we open their coop doors to let them roam free and forage for what they need throughout the day. They are curious by nature, so they wander far and wide eating and scratching at the soil. Little do they know it, but they are also helping the farmer and the environment by fertilizing the soil, controlling the weeds, and keeping the pest problems at bay.

Our chickens out on grass; January 31, 2011
 (picture of our chickens taken by Anna Monday January 31st)
A clutch of eggs; some rich orange yolks!
Another benefit of pasture-raising chickens is the notable difference in the quality of their eggs. Their shells are strong, their yolk is the most vibrant orange I have ever seen, and their taste is so deliciously rich and creamy. And that's not all. In a study done by Mother Earth News Magazine, it was shown that eggs from pastured chickens, when compared to conventional eggs, contain:

3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta-carotene
2 times more omega 3 fatty acids
2/3 more vitamin A
1/4 less saturated fat
1/3 less cholesterol
4 to 6 times more vitamin D

With all that being said, how do you make pastured eggs economically viable? Have you ever wondered what the real cost of raising chickens are? And how that impacts the price of eggs? Well the apprentices at LEF got together and did the calculations on raising 200 chickens from birth. Below is a summary of the cost breakdown.

Labor: 2 hours a day = $20/day
Food: organic layer pellet, scratch, oyster shell = $30/day
Supplies: straw, egg cartons = $4/day
Chicks: $1.60 each = $320
Infrastructure: land, coop, roost, nest boxes, electric fences & battery, food & water containers, and 5 months of chick feed (before they began to lay) = $7,839
Income: average 9 dozen eggs a day at $7.00/dozen = $63/day*

*[this is an initial estimate; production fluctuates over the course of a year - Tom]

Spend $54.00 per day on food, supplies, and labor
Earn $63.00 per day in egg sales
Total Income= $11.00/day
Take the $320 for the chicks plus the initial start-up costs of $7,839 and divide that by $11 per day and you realize it will take 742 days of selling eggs at $7.00 per dozen just to break even - that's roughly two years. What's more, a hen only lays productively for approximately two to three years. So the first batch of chickens is an economic loss.

Many people have no idea of the amount of time, labor, and capital that goes into raising a flock of pastured hens. To many people, $7 per dozen seems outrageous as compared to grocery store prices. Hopefully this cost analysis demonstrates what it takes to produce a healthy egg, and hopefully now you'll understand why it's worth it.
You may also wonder why we do it. Why would we invest so heavily in something that is not economically sound? That answer is easy: it's because we love it.

- Anna

[Sub-note from Debbie: Another thing people rarely realize when comparing the cost of conventional vs. pasture-raised animal operations is that those conventional producers are in essence subsidized, because they externalize the cost of polluting our air, water, and land. I.e. they get to pollute for free, and we ultimately pay the price via such things as increased health care cost, to name just one example. If conventional CAFO producers had to work the environmental cost into the price they charged, and farmers who raised their animals on pasture were actually compensated for their contribution to environmental health, the picture would be a lot different!]

Addendum: for those of you that get the Winter Eggs, your eggs are from Surfside Chickens (Surfside is using up the old TLC Ranch half-dozen-sized egg cartons, since they took over TLC's flock). Sarah and Aurelio of Surfside Chickens are dedicated to raising their animals on pasture just like we are. Currently the eggs our chickens produce are all going to Farmers Market. Come the start of the Regular Season 2011 though, our eggs will be among the ones provided to Egg Option members, along with Surfside's and Lisa Knudson's. - Debbie

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

Strawberry jam? Strawberry-lavender jam?
Hullo everyone - just a quick note to say we had a little mix up in the communication chain between our preserves inventory and CSA share-packing, and this newsletter. Happy Girl Kitchen produced two types of jam for us this year: plain strawberry, and a lovely new strawberry-lavender. Two weeks ago, we said we put "strawberry jam" into all your boxes, but upon a subsequent inventory check, it looks like you actually received the "strawberry-lavender" jam. So this week, you will be getting the 'plain' (but still equally delicious!) strawberry jam.  ;-) Debbie

2011 Farm Events Calendar dates now set!
Tom has finally worked out the dates for this year's events, so they are now in our Calendar of Events on our website, but I will repeat the highlights here. Be sure to mark your calendar - it's going to be a rich full season! - Debbie

April 23rd - Sheep to Shawl
May 28th - Community Farm Day and U-pick strawberries
June 18th - Summer Solstice Celebration
July 3rd (fingers crossed for this year's crop!) - Apricot U-pick
Aug 27th - Community Farm Day and U-pick tomatoes (our "Totally Tomatoes" day)
Sept 17th - LEFDP Fundraiser
Sept 24th - Community Farm Day and U-pick apples
Oct 22nd - Fall Harvest Festival and U-pick pumpkins

Now that's just the farm events; don't forget the on-farm workshops! Here are the two on the calendar so far, but there are more to come (we'll of course let you know!):

Feb 5th - Happy Girl Kitchen Farm Walk and Pickle Party
Feb 13th - Companion Bakers Sourdough Bread Workshop

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

Wow, we're getting a beautiful array of winter root veggies this week! Parsnips, turnips, celeriac, beets, carrots... combined with some onions or leeks, we've got the makings of several fabulous winter root veggie concoctions! - Debbie

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

Before I forget, I have to remember there are folks out there who have never seen celeriac before, so here's Celeriac 101: that scary, hairy, gnarly root bulb would be the celeriac, also known as 'celery root'. Sometimes it comes with celery-like stalks attached, sometimes the worst of the gnarly-hairy is trimmed off by the nice folks at Lakeside. Appearances aside though, celeriac is so delicious!! It has the flavor of celery, with the texture of a turnip or rutabaga. One of my favorite ways to use it is in mashed potatoes: peel and cut into large chunks then boil and mash along with the potatoes. So good! You don't actually eat the celery-looking tops (if present); they're pretty bitter, although used sparingly, they can be substituted for parsley in some dishes. Taste a wee bit and decide for yourself.

Let's start with a recipe I've had around for several years, more or less waiting for when we had all the root veggies at one time:

Winter Vegetable Cobbler
Serves 6
modified from a SJ Mercury News clipping from January 2004 (original source: "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook" by Marion Cunningham)

1 large or 2 small turnips, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized wedges
1 to 2 potatoes, peeled and diced [I know we don't have potatoes, so leave them out if you don't have any]
1 celery root, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 C)
1 onion [or 1 or 2 leeks] coarsely chopped
[the equivalent of] 3 carrots [ours are small!], peeled and diced
[I'd include a few small beets, scrubbed or peeled, and also diced]
[...and though we don't have them now, diced rutabaga would be good in this dish as well!]
1/2 C chopped parsley
1 C vegetable broth [or chicken stock], chilled
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp. butter

Cobbler dough
1 3/4 C flour [use some of that Sonora Wheat flour from Pie Ranch if you got it!]
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
3/4 C cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put cut up root veggies in a 2-inch deep, 8-cup ovenproof baking dish (you should have about 6 cups of cut up vegetables). In a small mixing bowl, blend broth into cornstarch. Pour over vegetables and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix to blend. Dot top of vegetables with butter.

To make cobbler dough: Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Drop pieces of chilled butter into flour mixture and rub quickly with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using a fork, slowly stir in cream, until roughly mixed. Gather dough into a shaggy mass and knead five or six times. Roll dough out on a lightly floured board to the size of the top of the baking dish. Dough should be about 1/4-inch thick.

Place dough on top of vegetables. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through and crust is browned. Test vegetables for doneness with the tip of a sharp knife.

Penne with Lemon and Root Vegetables
a vegetarian main dish from Bon Appetit (undated clipping)
serves 4

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 C peeled, cubed assorted root veggies such as parsnips, carrots, celeriac, beets etc) [Bon Appetit suggests cutting the veggies into 2x1/2x1/2-inch sticks, to sort of mimic the size of the penne pasta]
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 celery stalks, cut crosswise into half-inch wide pieces, plus 6 tbsp. chopped celery leaves, divided
8 oz. penne rigate or whole grain penne
3/4 C finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon peel [yes, you could definitely use the Meyer lemons!]
1/4 tsp (scant) ground nutmeg

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add diced root veggies; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute 9 minutes. Using garlic press, squeeze in garlic. Add sliced celery stalks. Saute veggies 1 minute longer. Add 1 C water. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 C cooking liquid.

Add pasta to vegetables in skillet. Add 3/4 C reserved cooking liquid, the Parmesan cheese, lemon peel and nutmeg, plus 4 tbsp. of the celery leaves. Toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding more cooking liquid if pasta is dry, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowls; sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp. chopped celery leaves.

Herb Roasted Root Vegetables
modified slightly from a cookbook called "Recipes from the great chefs of Santa Cruz County" - this particular recipe was from Bittersweet Bistro
serves 4

The original recipe calls for potatoes, carrots, turnips and rutabagas in half-pound quantities, but really you can use what we have: celeriac, carrots, turnips, parsnips and beets. Figure roughly 1 1/2 C large dice or wedges or equivalent of each.
4 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch diagonal slices
3 tbsp. olive oil
salt and white pepper
1/2 tbsp. or so chopped mixed fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, Italian parsley, chives)

In a bowl, toss all vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay vegetables out in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast in a 450 degree oven for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Turn and stir vegetables every five minutes. Roast until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

When vegetables are almost done, sprinkle with chopped herbs and return to the oven for several additional minutes.

Colorful beet-carrot-greens saute with honey-mustard sauce
I made this tonight as a quick side-dish to go with some pan-fried Monterey Bay snapper I'd gotten at the farmers market yesterday morning. Wanted something colorful to offset the 'white-on-white' of the fish and steamed rice. Came out great!
Serves 2

3 small (large golf-ball sized) beets
2 or 3 carrots
1 small leek
beet greens or chard, or a combination of both
salt and pepper
a squeeze of honey (about 1 tsp)
some Dijon mustard (about 1 tsp)
butter and olive oil for sauteeing

Scrub and trim beets - don't peel them, just cut away any of the hairy root bits and of course the tops and tail. Cut into thin wedges. Scrub or peel carrots, and cut them diagonally into similarly sized segments to the beets so they'll cook in a similar time frame. Wash and coarsely chop chard/beet greens. Slice leek.

Oops, left this step out when I sent the newsletter: partially steam beets about 10 minutes, throwing carrots in after about 5 minutes. This doesn't cook them completely, but gets them started, then you finish them in the saute step, below.

Melt a bit of butter together with a couple blorps of olive oil in a skillet; add leeks, partially steamed beets and carrots and saute over medium-high heat 5 minutes or so. Add chopped greens and toss; sprinkle with some salt, add a splash of water or white wine or vermouth, then cover and cook another 5 minutes or so, checking and stirring occasionally, until greens have wilted and beets/carrots are just tender but not mushy. Remove lid, add honey and mustard, and a splash more liquid if needed, and stir to distribute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Okay, now I'm going to completely change gears and recommend my favorite use for the Happy Girl Kitchen pickled dry-farmed tomatoes you got in your share last week.

"Summer" Salad to cure those Winter Blues
This is exquisitely easy, and a superb showcase for the flavor of those pickled dry-farmed tomatoes. Simply wash, spin dry, blot dry and tear fresh lettuce leaves into individual serving salad bowls. Put a couple pieces of pickled dry-farmed tomatoes on top. Spoon a little of the sweet and delicate pickling juice from the jar over the lettuce and tomatoes like a salad dressing. Now drizzle your best olive oil over this. Then finish with a sprinkling of sea salt and a grating of black pepper. That's it!! This is so much better than using ethylene gas-ripened 'flavor-free' winter tomatoes! Try it and you'll see!
Salad using HGK pickled dry-farmed tomatoes
Note: the juice is delicious too! If I use up the tomatoes, I like to save the juice and sip it from a small cup; you could also plump sundried tomatoes in it, or use it in other salad dressings, or create an interesting new cocktail... use your imagination, just whatever you do, don't pour it down the drain!

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

February 13th (Sunday) - 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

April 23rd - Sheep to Shawl
May 28th - Community Farm Day and U-pick strawberries
June 18th - Summer Solstice Celebration
July 3rd (fingers crossed for this year's crop!) - Apricot U-pick
Aug 27th - Community Farm Day and U-pick tomatoes (our "Totally Tomatoes" day)
Sept 17th - LEFDP Fundraiser
Sept 24th - Community Farm Day and U-pick apples
Oct 22nd - Fall Harvest Festival and U-pick pumpkins

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