A few words from Farmer Tom
First of all a happy and wet start of Spring to everyone. We are about to embrace our 16th growing season, and it never fails that at this time the farm stirs within me that irresistible desire to work the land and release the soil's fertile and nourishing bounty. With most of the fields still covered in lush green cover crops and the pear and apple trees in full bloom, it is as if the farm has put on her spring dress, like a dancing partner, arms held out, inviting me to join her. Farming is like stepping into nature's arms, following her lead, allowing her rhythm to guide me, step by step, paying attention to the unique conditions every season offers to grow and harvest her flavors and bountiful gifts.
Wendell Berry's quote is a reminder that the choices we make (our food growing and food buying choices) can improve the conditions of the world around us. It is an encouraging time, what used to be a small fringe movement has now entered into the mainstream; access to organic and locally grown food is increasing rapidly.
I am excited about the opportunities this coming season has to offer for everyone to engage with our Farm. Beyond the diversity of fruits and vegetables you will start receiving in your shares in a just a few short weeks, we are also hosting an extensive number of hands-on educational programs and workshops, in addition to the monthly Community Farm Days and traditional seasonal farm Celebrations. As eaters and producers of food everyone participates in the stewardship of the land; the farm is a resource where we have the opportunity to experience and revitalize our connection to the source of our nourishment and the seasonal cycles of nature. A quick update from the field:
Although we have been getting a lot of rain lately, we fortunately planted many of our early spring crops during the drier periods this winter. So at this point, the beginning of the season looks bountiful. My worries right now go out to the blooming trees which of course need sunshine and bees to set a good crop of fruit. The chickens are laying happily, and will wander the green pastures once the worst of these rains are over.
On a non-weather-related note, we still want to encourage everyone to help spread the word about our CSA; we haven't quite reached the targeted number of members we hope to have for this season (see below for more from Taylor about this). Thanks for your help, and hope to see you all here on "Our" Farm this season.
Can you help put the word out?
Hello all friends and members of the farm! As Tom mentioned above, we are still working to spread the good word about Live Earth Farm and our CSA program, especially in the neighborhoods in which we deliver. As such, we are reaching out to you, who know your local communities best. Would you would be willing to lend a hand? I would be happy to send any willing member brochures or flyers for giving to friends, neighbors, schools, churches, community centers or businesses in your area. Even if you know just one person or place, I'd be happy to send you one flyer or one brochure. As few or as many as you like. It's that connection that counts. If you have helped us in the past and are now out of brochures but are willing to distribute more, let me know and I'd be happy to send you more. Either way, just contact me at email@example.com
and I'll set you up with what you need.
Thank you so much for supporting us in our vision to build a greater local food community!
Taylor Brady and the rest of Live Earth Farm
PS - We'd like to thank everyone who has already helped in our membership outreach efforts - we greatly appreciate the outpouring of support you have all shown! This is such a great community!
Heads up! CSA delivery schedule changes afoot!
Briefly: due to the increase in member demand "over the hill" on the peninsula, Live Earth Farm is expanding to THREE delivery days per week -- Wednesday, Thursday, and now Friday. This means some of you will be picking up on a completely different day than you are used to. We have also changed the routes around, so your pick-up time may also have changed, even if your day did not. I plan to email all members a reminder, but please, be pro-active and log into your account, click on the "Pick-up Directions" tab (or look at your Summary) and make note of your site's day of week and time of day for pick-up! Thanks! ;-) Debbie
New member feature: the Live Earth Farm Web Store
Taylor here again! For those of you who were not
members during our Winter Season (when we first debuted it)... I'm very excited about introducing you to a new and wonderful feature: our online Web Store! This is a perk of membership,
i.e. it is not available to the general public. I'm the one in charge of all things Web Store, and my vision is to provide members with an enticing array of artisan goods from producers in the local area; goodies designed to complement your box of fresh produce. We are proud to support these local producers, and stand behind the quality and integrity of any item of theirs we offer. The Web Store will also be the place to get additional fresh fruit from our own farm (this replaces last year's "Fruit Bounty" Option).
Here's how it works:
Each Friday during the CSA season I will be sending out an announcement (like this one, only shorter!), reminding everyone when the Web Store is open, and highlighting the items offered for the coming week. To view the Web Store and place an order, you simply log into your member account.
The Web Store is "open" three days a week -- Saturday, Sunday, Monday -- and then "closed" Tuesday through Friday, so we can organize all your orders for delivery to you that week. That's right, your Web Store orders are delivered to you along with your CSA shares -- that's what makes this feature so cool!
Here are some of the things you'll be able to order through the Web Store this season (this is not a complete list, but gives you an idea):
, scone mix
, and sourdough rye bread
will be staple offerings throughout the season from Erin at Companion Bakers (the same woman who bakes the loaves for our Bread Option).
<> Members can also expect to see a variety of Happy Girl Kitchen preserves including an array of uniquely flavored marmalades
, dry-farmed tomato goods
, and pickled products
<> The Web Store will also feature local honey
(Bee Humble or Aptos Apiary), BBQ sauce made from scratch
(Rib King), and freshly ground wheat flour
from Pie Ranch!
<> Of course there will also be supplemental offerings from Live Earth Farm too - look for lots of fruit including but not limited to strawberries
(soon!) and raspberries
(a little later in the season) while stocking up on extra vegetable items too. Any time we have a bounty of something, we'll make it available to you via the Web Store. The opposite is true too: if we've grown something but there's not enough of it to give to everyone in their shares... look for it in the Web Store!
<> Know someone you want to offer a gift subscription to? Someone you want to introduce to the CSA concept by having them try it out? Through the Web Store you can purchase our lovely Gift Certificates
for 4-week trials of either a Small Share, or go deluxe and give them a trial of a Share plus Eggs plus Fruit! These make great wedding presents!
<> I am especially excited about sourcing local sea salt
from Monterey, as well as offering freshly roasted coffee
from Alta Organic Coffee and Tea Company in Davenport (Winter Members please note: this is a different coffee producer).
There's no need to go to the grocery store, just check out the Web Store!
I look forward to bringing the whole CSA community a bounty of local, organic and most importantly delicious
foods to supplement your Share and nourish your family. If you have any questions, email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I welcome any and all feedback.
Only a little less than two weeks before the first CSA delivery... look for my corresponding first Web Store announcement on Friday April 1st!
PS - here's what the Web Store looks like (items change weekly):
New CSA Option: Pasture-raised Meat Chickens!
Tom, Taylor and I have been working on this all winter, and we are pleased to announce that it has finally come to fruition!
Effective today, you can now sign up to receive monthly meat chickens with your CSA delivery. Some of you may remember the survey we sent out in January; interest was very high until people got to the price. We had mis-calculated, and so folks were (naturally!) a bit taken aback by $9/lb chicken! Well the good news is, we have gotten the price down from the stratosphere and into the competitive range with other pasture-raised meat chickens -- $6/lb. -- without compromising on quality.How it will work
: the birds are initially priced at $24 each, based on an average of 4 lbs at $6/lb. (There will be six deliveries, May - Oct, so one "option" will cost $144.) The actual birds will range between 3.5 and 4.5 lbs apiece. Birds will be delivered frozen to a cooler at your pick-up site. Each bird will be labeled with the producer (see below) and weight. What you'll do is select a bird (or birds, if you're getting more than one) from the cooler and then write the weight of the bird(s) you have selected on the checklist next to your name.
I will keep a spreadsheet tracking every member with a meat chicken option, and at the end of the season will do a reconciliation. If the sum-total weight of chickens you received is greater than 24lbs, you'll owe the farm a small balance; if it is less, we'll credit you the difference.Want a meat chicken option?
There're two ways to get them. If you haven't yet signed up for the season, just select the option in the sign-up process. If you are already signed up and want to add
it, log into your account
(see "Member Log In - Web Store" in lower-left corner of our website
) and then click on "Add Subscription" below your Summary and this will take you into a "mini-wizard". Just step through until you see the meat chicken option and proceed from there.
Now, a little about the producers who will be raising the chickens. We will be getting them from two sources: Surfside Chickens right here in Watsonville, and Lisa Knutson, whose ranch is out in Hollister. I have roasted and eaten chicken from both of them, and they are flavorful and delicious! Head and shoulders above the (what I refer to as "flavor-free") chicken sold in pieces and parts in the store. Here's some info about both producers:Lisa Knutson
Self-titled 'pasture-chick', Lisa raises chickens, goats, and sheep on 250 acres of rolling, rotational grassland in Hollister. Working the land and tending to its inhabitants at her ranch for the past 16 years, Lisa has a true passion for animals and pasture. She has always raised livestock, but more recently has developed a passion for chickens as well. Her meat chickens are Cornish-cross hybrids. (She also raises egg-layers, and some of the eggs in this year's Egg Option will be from her as well, but I'm digressing!) Lisa raises all her chickens organically (certified) - giving them organic feed, scratch and vegetable scraps, plus all the fresh grass and bugs they can handle! The chickens are raised outdoors with guard dogs for protection from any predators that might wander through the ranch. Among her devout customers are Jesse Cool
, renowned bay area chef and cookbook author dedicated to sustainable, local organic food production, and Phil Foster, a master farmer and owner of Phil Foster Ranches and Pinnacle Organically Grown Produce
. We feel very fortunate to be able to add Live Earth Farm's CSA to her list of customers.Surfside Chickens
Sarah and Aurelio Lopez are dedicated chicken farmers, raising both layers and broilers with care and compassion. All their birds are raised ourdoors on pasture where they are free to forage for grass and other green things, bugs, mice and even frogs (not everyone knows this, but chickens are omnivores). They also get organic veggie scraps and certified organic feed from Modesto Milling, and of course plenty of fresh water. You can read more about Surfside's farming practices
on their website, but we have been working with Sarah and Aurelio for the last year when they took over producing eggs for us from TLC Ranch, and I personally have gotten meat chickens from her for two years now and every one of them has been fabulous!
This year's Bread Option - fresher than ever
Erin Justus of Companion Bakers makes amazing artisanal organic sourdough loaves, and we have been offering them to our CSA members through our Bread Option for a couple years now... but getting them to you as fresh as possible has always been something of a challenge. This year, however, we have worked some real magic (more like sweat and ingenuity) and the loaves you receive will have been baked fresh the morning of delivery!
We are very pleased with ourselves ;-)
So if you were on the fence about the bread, maybe now's the time to jump off and go for it!
You can add Bread -- and any other options -- to your subscription by logging into your account
and clicking on "Add Subscription", underneath your account Summary. This will take you to a 'mini-wizard'. Follow the steps - it's very easy.
People sometimes ask me how I keep my loaves of bread fresh. After all, they're the real Magilla; there are no preservatives in them to keep them 'soft' on your counter for a week like typical store-bought bread. What I do is this: I simply pre-slice the loaf the day I get it home (eating any I want fresh that day), and then put the rest in a plastic bag and freeze it.
It will keep a couple weeks this way easy; then I just pull out frozen slices as needed and pop them into the toaster oven and voila! Yummy sourdough toast for breakfast or sandwich-making, fresh as the day I got it!
Happy Girl Kitchen's 2011 workshop schedule at LEF
Come join Jordan or Todd Champagne for a new round of food preservation workshops at the farm!
Jordan says, "Live Earth Farm really puts the community back in Community Supported Agriculture, as they have many wonderful programs on the farm for their members. They have a barn that has been converted into a kitchen and dining space which is perfect for our workshops. This will be a great experience, to learn how to preserve the bounty of the harvest on the land where it is grown."email@example.com://www.happygirlkitchen.com
Come visit us in the kitchen on Twitter! @happygirl_coHere is their 2011 workshop schedule:
April 16 - Sauerkraut, Kimchee and Kombucha
May 7 - Cheese
June 11 - Jam with Available Berries
July 9 - Jam with Apricots and Berries
August 13 - Pickles
August 14 - Pickles
August 20 - Tomatoes
August 21 - Tomatoes
(To sign up for any workshop, simply click on the workshop's name.)
If you have been mulling over whether or not to do one of Happy Girl Kitchen's canning or cheese-making or fermentation workshops here on the farm, mull no more, and get yourself signed up - these workshops are great! Last winter's fermentation workshop put on by Todd was a total blast. Todd and Jordan (one or the other of them does each workshop) are not only enthusiastic and inspiring, but also provide a wealth of information about food preservation and canning techniques. You get hands-on experience, detailed recipes and instructions, as well as 'ample samples' of what you made that day to take home with you. And they always put on a marvelous spread of homemade goodies for lunch too! You feel very well taken care of. Workshops are geared towards preserving what is currently in season, and often include a walk on the farm to harvest some of the ingredients you will be working with. How cool is that?? Take a workshop yourself, or give it as a gift to someone else... or do both! Last year there was a mother-daughter pair in attendance at the fermentation workshop; mom had bought the workshop for the two of them to take together in honor of her daughter's birthday. What a great gift!
Below are some pictures from that workshop: Todd giving his introduction and overview; the spread of ingredients for the sauerkraut and kimchi; mom and daughter gleefully squish and massage cabbage for sauerkraut; Todd adding some juniper berries to the sauerkraut for spice.
Medicinal Herb classes at Live Earth Farm
CSA member Darren Huckle is a licensed herbalist and accupuncturist, and starting in April he will be bringing his knowledge here to the farm for a series of classes on learning how to identify, taste and safely and effectively use medicinal plants common in Northern California.
Last fall Darren offered a 'preview' herb walk on the farm, and this is what attendees had to say:
"Darren Huckle's medicinal herb walk on Live Earth Farm was fun and informative. We covered about 30 herbs all together, tasting many, smelling, touching and learning about their varied uses. Most of the herbs we found and discussed were "volunteers," but many were cultivated as well. Many of us recognized herbs that we see growing in our very own yards as "weeds." It was exciting to learn of their practical uses in our lives. As an example, one of my personal favorites was plantain, which hides in almost every lawn and grows as a weed in many yards. It is great for myriad of skin irritations and infections, and the seeds can be used as a laxative. One of the prettiest was echinacea, a popular immune activator. We all walked away with new knowledge about many of the plants that happily grow in our local environment." - Linda Rae Mays
"I went on Darren's Herb walk and it was terrific. Darren is a knowledgeable, generous, joyful soul and it was delightful to spend time on the farm with him and the others who attended the workshop. I now think of herbal remedies instead of off-the-shelf remedies. My husband came home with a cut on his head and I immediately thought of using plantain herb compress to treat it. I'm considering taking more herbal remedy workshops from Darren." - Laurel Pavesi
Here is the schedule of upcoming classes:
(this first one is coming right up!)
April 2nd (Saturday 10-3) Herbs of Live Earth Farm - take a fun, informative and flavorful walk around Live Earth Farm meeting common medicinal plants found in the fields, hedgerows, orchards and pathways. You will learn practical uses and identification of plants that will have you feeling empowered for years to come. $40 in advance $50 day of class if space is available Payment Options
May 14th (Saturday 10-3) Herbal Basics of Stress Management - Herbal remedies have so much to offer us in these intense times. In this class we will learn about categories of herbs that support the body systems most affected by stress (nervous, endocrine, digestive, muscle systems). We will discuss the energetics of stress and how to use common herbs, foods and lifestyle choices to decrease the ravages of stress on our body and mind. You will leave class empowered with tools and perspective to help you keep breathing deeply in stressful times. $50 $60 day of class if space is available
June 25th (Saturday 10-3) Herbal Preparations - Let's make some really effective herbal products. In this class we will discuss the basic theories of herbal medicine making; from garden to jar. We will make herbal salves and tinctures to take home. The basics of herbal teas, tinctures, oils, vinegars, baths, poultices, etc will be discussed. This is a really fun and hands-on class where you will learn some great self-care strategies. $75 pre registration is required. No sign ups day of class.
Space is limited, so pre-registration is strongly suggested.
Register for the entire series ($165) by March 25th and receive a 2 ounce tincture free.
Bring a friend and you both receive $40 off your registration ($125 each)
For more information about Darren Huckle L.Ac see RootsofWellness.net For any questions or to register, call Darren at (831) 334-5177 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
<> Credit card is accepted. By phone only, please call 831.334.5177
<> Mail a check to Darren Huckle: 343 Frederick St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062. You will receive a confirmation via email upon receipt of your check.
<> Hold your space with a credit card # (over phone) and then pay in cash or check on the class date. Refunds will be given in full up to 2 weeks in advance of class date, and 50% refund from 2 weeks to the day before class. No refunds will be given for cancellations or no shows the day of class. True emergencies will be taken into account for flexibility of these refund policies.
Outdoor Educators Workshop - next Saturday April 2nd
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
When the season begins about two weeks from now, this is the place to come for ideas on "what to do with what you get in the box." Although generally structured in the form of recipes, my focus is on helping to teach people how to cook with what they have, so I will often digress, inserting my own two cents when I feel it helps. I especially aim to help the 'newbies' get over their fear of new and sometimes unfamiliar bounty. It's so great when people discover a new recipe and want to share it with the rest of us too! We can all learn from each other, so I always welcome contributions for this space.
If you're curious, I also keep an extensive database of all the recipes I have ever put in this newsletter. Since I've been doing this since 1998, there are a LOT of recipes in there! Easily hundreds. They're all sorted by 'key ingredient' so you can browse for ideas quickly. Wanna peek? Just click on the link above where it says "Click here to go to the recipe database."
Talk to you all the first week of April!
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)
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 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!)
April 16 - Sauerkraut, Kimchee and Kombucha
May 7 - Cheese
June 11 - Jam with Available Berries
July 9 - Jam with Apricots and Berries
August 13 - Pickles
August 14 - Pickles
August 20 - Tomatoes
August 21 - Tomatoes
(to sign up for any workshop, simply click on its name, above)
Contact Jordan if you have any questions:
Follow Happy Girl on Twitter! @happygirl_co
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 Sept 10th - 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
April 2nd - Herbs of Live Earth
May 14th - Herbal Basics of Stress Management
June 25th - Herbal Preparations
For more info, contact Darren Huckle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831.334.5177 or visit his website at www.rootsofwellness.net