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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
8th Harvest Week, Winter Season 5
February 7th - 13th, 2011
in this issue
What's in the box this week
It's Warm and We're All Buzzing...
Creating Balance between Wild & Cultivated Land
CSA Delivery Schedule
Please spread the word about LEF CSA
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
2011 Calendar

, lying all around, with such beauty and such affection for
her children ... and yet we are so early weaned from her breast to society, to that culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man..."
- Henry David Thoreau 

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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 +



White cauliflower

Celery (Lakeside Organic Gardens)


Red Russian kale

"Little gem" baby lettuce

Turnips with their greens

Chili-Apricot Jam by Happy Girl Kitchen - the jar will be packed inside your box! Support the bag when you take it out of the box.

Winter Small Share

Fuji apples
Brussels sprouts
White cauliflower
Celery (Lakeside Organic Gardens)


Red Russian kale 

"Little gem" baby lettuce
Chili-Apricot Jam by Happy Girl Kitchen - the jar will be packed inside your box! Support the bag when you take it out of the box.  

Preserves Option

1 jar strawberry-blackberry jam
1 jar crushesd dry-farmed tomatoes

Bread Option
This week's bread will be whole wheat with flax seeds

It's Warm and We're All Buzzing...
blooming CeanothusWhile most of the country is blanketed in snow and ice, here on the farm the first signs of spring are already evident. Like the bees buzzing all over the flowering California Lilac bush (Ceanothus) in front of our house, the warm weather has jump-started a flurry of field activities. The record warm temperatures have the plums and apricots breaking dormancy; the buds are swelling and some have even started to open - about two weeks earlier than last year. We have been busy pruning the plums, quince, apples, pears, and grapes. Seedlings of broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower got transplanted into freshly prepared fields. The first field sowings of arugula, mustard greens, radishes, spinach and sweet Japanese turnips have all germinated, and sugar snap peas, carrots, and beets are surely all going to emerge through the warmed soil surface this week. The sheep and chickens got rotated to new blocks of lush green pastures, and welders and grinders are busy repairing implements and tractor parts. The new greenhouse is coming along nicely; it should be finished just in time to shelter the thousands of seedlings we will be propagating for early spring planting, when all danger of frost is behind us. Four hundred bare-rooted Warren pear trees are waiting in the cooler to be planted. The soil of the new pear orchard, a heavier clay-loam, should be dry enough to time the planting with the next arrival of rain, forecast for this weekend. And the potato seeds came in. We like to sprout them before planting, however it's very tempting to put them in the ground now, to give them an early start. Maybe our best option is to plant the red potatoes now and save the other varieties for planting later in March.  

- Tom

Creating Balance between Wild & Cultivated Land
After years of farming, working, walking, and observing the land one gradually develops a "knowledge of place" and a bond to the landscape. No matter how many times I walk the same path or work the same field, I am always discovering something new, whether it's airflow and temperature variations, differences in drainage and soil types, areas where water seeps and should be left undisturbed, or subtle changes in the vegetation depending on the direction the landscape is facing (exposure to sun).

The longer I farm, the more I recognize that land stewardship is a lifelong learning process, one that requires balancing the many diverse relationships between the cultivated and non-cultivated environments around us. In the last few years we have been very fortunate to work closely with Sam Earnshaw from Community Alliance with Family Farmers, and Jo Ann Baumgartner, director of Wild Farm Alliance, both of whom bring passion, experience and that necessary understanding of how wilderness and farming are mutually supportive. Sam was kind enough to describe the collaborative projects we've engaged in here on the farm, and to reflect on the importance of the work we are doing. If farmers everywhere could have inspiring mentors such as Sam and Jo Ann, I've no doubt that the role of farmers as land stewards would receive a more deserving recognition in society.

- Tom

Farming in Nature/Nature in Farming
by Sam Earnshaw

When you come to Live Earth Farm, have you ever wondered about all of the native shrubs, trees and grasses growing in profusion within and around the fields of your crops? Have you ever noticed that some have been there a long time and others are recently planted? These outgrowths of vegetation are all part of Tom and Constance's vision for a farm that incorporates all of the benefits and values of nature. In more formal terms, they can be called "conservation plantings" and they provide what is known as "ecosystem services". These services include pollination, pest predation, soil stabilization, and weed replacement, among others. That all sounds very scientific, and in fact, nature and biology are at the heart of Live Earth Farm.

A little bit of history: In 2007, Tom and Constance began talking with Jo Ann Baumgartner from the Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) and Sam Earnshaw from Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) about habitat restoration. Tom knew Jo Ann and Sam from the 1980's and 90's when they had their own 10-acre farm, Neptune Farms, from which some you may have bought produce at Farmers' Markets and local stores (remember Community Foods and Stapletons?).

Tom and Constance wanted to increase the farm's biodiversity so that it would not simply be crops, crops, crops. They were concerned as well about areas that were formerly farmed - areas very steep and prone to serious soil erosion. Some of the land management resource options include hedgerows, grassed filter strips and waterways, and willow plantings.

Hedgerows can have multiple functions: they serve as habitat for beneficial insects, pollinators and other wildlife; provide erosion protection and weed control; serve as windbreaks; stabilize waterways; reduce non-point source water pollution and groundwater pollution; increase surface water infiltration; buffer pesticide drift, noise, odors and dust; act as living fences and boundary lines; increase biodiversity; and provide an aesthetic resource. Diversity in hedgerow species, especially when using natives, assures a range of attributes, such as multiple kinds of insects and wildlife attracted, positive effects to soil and water resources, and success of individual plants under site-specific climatic and other environmental conditions.

Grassed filter strips and waterways hold the soil, prevent erosion gullies from forming and provide cover for insects, spiders and other small wildlife. Willow plantings on the steepest slopes help to anchor soils in place with their network of extensive roots.

So, with much input from Tom and Sam, Wild Farm Alliance applied for and received a restoration grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board to design and implement conservation plantings on many areas on Live Earth Farm.

Tom and the team developed and are constantly refining an overall restoration plan for the whole farm, and together, with help from the Live Earth apprentices and farm workers, many areas are being planted to trees, shrubs and grasses. These plantings are increasing the biodiversity of the farm: bird life, beneficial insects, pollinators, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, the whole range of biological life of a Central Coast mixed evergreen forest and grassland ecosystem with a functioning farm throughout.

The diversity of activities, educational projects, people, crops and events happening at Live Earth Farm is truly inspiring, as perhaps you have felt. This diversity carries over into every part of the farm and farm goings-on. The farm is an embodiment of how nature and agriculture can coexist in a healthy and productive way.

Planting a grass filter strip on Live Earth Farm, June 2009

Instead of planting crops from fencepost to fencepost and up to the very edges of roads and streams, at Live Earth Farm, Tom is increasing the amount of natural habitat in order to prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat. Above, we are planting a filter strip, June 2009.

Same filter strip, Sept 2009

Same filter strip, three months later.

Planting native shrubs and trees on steep slope, Aug 2009

Here we're planting native trees and shrubs on a steep slope for both soil retention and habitat, August 2009.

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


Please spread the word about LEF CSA
We still have plenty of space for new CSA members for the season which starts this coming April, so please feel free to let friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers know about us. We would be happy to mail you brochures for giving out to people, or you can simply direct them to our website... just remember to inform them that we are at "live earth farm dot net" not "dot com" [i.e. www.liveearthfarm.net ] ;-)


Oh, and if you haven't renewed yet yourself, you do so by "joining" -- just go to our website and click on "Join" or "Become a member" and look for the "Sign up!" button. Or just click here to go directly to our signup wizard now!

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

Thought I'd run a recipe a member sent me just last week for using a lot of what's in our boxes. It includes some of the root veggies from last week, but many of us still have them on hand, so I'm very pleased to be able to share this! - Debbie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
Celery Root, Parsnip and Apple Casserole
by member Barrie DuBois

Barrie says, "It's my own creation because I hate following recipes. Most people don't know what to do with celery root. I didn't. So I read a bunch of recipes, stole a few ideas and then did my own thing. It was great because it used several things from my box. And it turned out awesome! Sweet and savory, creamy and elegant yet earthy and satisfying. I can see serving it to guests and having them try to guess what it is!"

[See everyone? This is exactly the kind of thing I want to inspire you to do! :-) Don't be afraid to mess with recipes; they're just guides. - Debbie]

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Caramelize (saute slowly in olive oil): chopped fennel, leeks, and onions, garlic.

Peel then chop celeriac [celery root], parsnips, and an apple (no need to skin) and steam them in a basket until soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer to casserole dish and add the caramelized fennel, leeks, garlic and onions.

Grind a generous amount of nutmeg over it. Add a good helping of ground sage, salt and pepper and mix it well.

Add cream or milk to about 1/4 of the way up the casserole dish, maybe a bit less. Dot everything with some stilton or blue cheese. Top with finely ground breadcrumbs.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.  YUM!!!

And here's a message from Todd Champagne of Happy Girl Kitchen, on yet another way to use those wonderful pickled dry-farmed tomatoes:

Todd says, "I like to drain the brine and save for stock, then put the chunks of tomatoes under the broiler for a short time - then serve them hot on top of pasta or baguettes with some good cheese. Also, they do superb with cannellini beans for a soup."

Meanwhile, we've been getting a steady stream of leeks these past several weeks, so if you'd like a recipe that'll make great use of lots of leeks in short order, here are two champions from the recipe database:

Crispy Leeks, step-by-step with pictures!

3 to 4 big leeks (or more, if smaller)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and have two racks in your oven, one up top, and one in the middle. You can use as much of the white and light-green part of the leek as you can get; just trim the root end away and cut off the dark green leaves. Be sure to check between the layers at the leaf-end of the leeks for dirt, and wash away then blot dry as necessary. Cut leeks in half lengthwise, then into 2-inch-ish segments. If the leeks are big, cut these pieces in half again lengthwise.

Separate the leeks into their individual layers and accumulate in a bowl. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss well to coat. Spread leaves in a single layer (don't crowd them) on two baking sheets. Sprinkle modestly with salt.

Put both pans in the oven (one on the upper rack, one on the lower) and bake 10 minutes, then swap the pans top/bottom (and if you can, rotate them 180 degrees too - my oven is hotter towards the door end, so this helps even the cooking). Bake another 8 minutes and then check on them. If some pieces are done and some are not, with tongs or a spatula, remove the done ones to a bowl and return pan(s) to the oven for another minute or two, keeping a close eye so they don't burn.

They should be light to medium brown and crispy when done. Totally addictive as an appetizer-snack like popcorn or potato chips!

Crispy leeks step 1: cut and separate layers

Step 1: cut leeks in segments and separate into leaves

Crispy leeks step 2: spread thinly on baking sheets

Step 2: spread in an uncrowded single layer on baking sheets

Crispy leeks step 3: brown until crispy!

Step 3: bake until brown and crispy!

Here's a leek recipe I made last year using the pan drippings from a roasted chicken (from Surfside Chickens, naturally!) instead of stock. I then served them over a simple polenta, sprinkled with a little minced fresh parsley... and this was delish! Below 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, as I mentioned above, 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. It's all about using what you have and coming up with good stuff to eat and feed your family!).

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 [I used pan drippings from a roasted chicken]

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. 

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!

Lastly, it's high time I ran a dessert recipe, don't you think? We've been getting these fabulous jams and preserves from Happy Girl Kitchen; here's the perfect recipe to showcase them! It's also a really fun recipe to make with kids. [It's a recipe I ran back in 2008. Those are my neighbor's kids in the picture - very proud of their creations!]

Thumbprint Cookies

from Joy of Cooking

makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch cookies

(can easily be doubled or tripled)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

mix together thoroughly:
½ C soft shortening
¼ C brown sugar
1 egg yolk (save white)
½ tsp. vanilla

sift together and stir in:
1 C flour
¼ tsp. salt

Roll dough into 1" balls, dip in slightly beaten egg white and roll in finely chopped nuts (3/4 C). Place about 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Quickly press thumb on top of each cookie [to create the divot for the jams!] Return to oven and bake 8 minutes longer. Cool. Once cooled, add a dab of jam or jelly in each 'thumbprint'.

Debbie, Angel and Jenny and a fresh batch of cookies!
That's me behind Angel (left) and Jenny (right). Note the spots on the cutting board where cookies are 'missing'
. Mmmm... I think these are my favorite cookies ever!

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 a big success! 

Next HGK/LEF workshop coming soon - stay tuned!

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