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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
3rd Harvest Week, Season 16
April 18th - 24th, 2011
in this issue
What's in the box(es) this week
CSA - helping to connect the "Networks of Growing Relationships"
What's up in the Fields: A week of Lots of Planting
Sheep to Shawl event this Saturday!
Where's my "Extra Fruit"?
How do I know how much Fruit to take?
"Small Shares" are NOT the smallest boxes
Still more new pick-up sites!
"You never know with internet"... Bernard y Nati - a heartwarming CSA story
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
2011 Calendar

" To plant a seed and believe that it will germinate, out-compete weeds, bloom, set fruit, and be harvested and sold at a fair price is a great leap of faith.
- Denesse Willey of T&D Willey Farms (as quoted in MIchael Ableman's book: "Fields of Plenty.")

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What's in the box(es) this week

Occasionally content will differ from this list (typically we make a substitution), but we do our best to give you an accurate projection.

Generally speaking, the Family share will get larger quantities of certain items than the other two shares, so even though lists look similar, they are actually getting more.

For any items not from our farm, we will identify the source in parentheses. 

Family Share
Artichokes (Swanton Berry Farm)

Broccolini (LEF or Lakeside)

Carrots (Lakeside)

Green garlic


Oyster mushrooms (Far West Fungi)
Bunching onions (scallions)
Dry onions (Pinnacle Organic)




Small Share
Artichokes (Swanton Berry Farm)

Broccolini (LEF or Lakeside)

Carrots (Lakeside)

Green garlic


Meyer lemons (Marsalisi Farm or LEF)

Dry onions (Pinnacle Organic)


Watercress (Santa Cruz Aquaponics)


Budget Share


Carrots (Lakeside)

Green garlic

Meyer lemons (Marsalisi Farm or LEF)


Bunching onions (scallions)

Oyster Mushrooms (Far West Fungi)

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

Extra Fruit Option

The "Extra Fruit" option does not begin until May (see story below).

doesn't start until May; see story last week.

CSA - helping to connect the "Networks of Growing Relationships"
It struck me the other day how sophisticated farming tools have become when we hired Bob, a local farmer, to help us grade a field (which used to be an old apple orchard) that was suffering from poor water drainage.  In order to get the entire field to drain evenly on a 2-percent slope, Bob used a GPS (Global Positioning System) to first survey the field, and then programmed that information into his on-board computer to guide the tractor and a hydraulically operated scraperbox to cut away or fill soil, depending on the topography and terrain of the field.

It is impressive how much we are "plugged" into the global, wireless world of instantaneous information. Just like any other business, we at Live Earth Farm have adopted today's information age technology to network, store and process data at mind-boggling speed. At the same time, we also depend on a much slower-paced living biological network held in a thin layer of soil that covers the surface of our planet and stores the evolutionary, life-renewing intelligence of an unimaginably large and sophisticated network of living organisms. Every cubic inch of organic soil teems with billions of microorganisms that play many different parts in the soil's cycle of fertility. These interacting organisms, ranging from the visible to the unimaginably minute, perform important functions which drive most of the activity in the soil and specifically the transfer of nutrients to the plants we grow. So when we plant a seed or transplant a tomato seedling into this biotic network called soil, we trust that it will reward us with food; similarly we expect a search on the internet to feed us the desired information when we hit the return key.
Hands in the soil 
It is inevitable that these two networks, one technological the other biological, will grow increasingly closer. Our hope is that along the way we are able to build a meaningful sustainable food system.  If this merger of networks helps us reconnect and rebuild our relationship with food, Community Supported Agriculture takes on a whole new meaning where we nurture, enhance, and celebrate the healthy webs of connection with the land, the soil, and all the members of the biotic community.

- Tom

What's up in the Fields: A week of Lots of Planting
Now that the danger of frost is over, we are busy planting peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, basil and green beans - all main season crops. I am glad we didn't rush these plantings over the last few weeks as I was contemplating, when conditions were still uncertain and less than optimal. Patience paid off; the seedlings we are planting are now being tucked into crumbly soil that has rested under lush winter cover crops, soil that has been cultivated and amended with plenty of gypsum (high in Calcium) and compost.

Six different varieties of sweet peppers got planted last Saturday, among them my favorites: the thick-skinned pimento peppers, and the popular elongated "Corno de Toros".  Among the spicier peppers we are again planting Poblanos and the irresistible Spanish Padron peppers.

By end of day today (Monday) we should have finished planting a large block of dry-farmed Early Girl and New Girl tomatoes. Our heirlooms - Striped German, Cherokee Purple, Yellow and Red Brandywine - got planted with the peppers on Saturday. The earliest maturing tomatoes we can expect in our shares considering our cooler coastal climate are the "toe-curling" (as Debbie calls them) and mouthwatering Sungold cherry tomatoes. My guess is, we'll see them the first or second week in July.

This year we're planting three Eggplant varieties: two classic Italian with dark purple skin, and one with an attractive purple-white variegated color. It is deceiving to think that soon we'll be enjoying the bounty of summer, but like with any living organism, plants have their seasons.  So this is just a current field report and a teaser of what's to come. Over the course of the next few months I will keep you all posted on the progressive maturation of each of these crops.

- Tom
Two tractors work the fields at once
Juan and Juanillo preparing a field for tomato planting.
Tractor spreading gypsum and lime
Tractor with cone spreader applying gypsum and lime.
LEF crew planting peppers
The LEF worker crew planting out the peppers.
Chella hunting gophers
Chella, the farm's Maremma, hunting gophers in a newly plowed field.

Sheep to Shawl event this Saturday!
Hello Members!

This Saturday, April 23rd, join us on the farm for our Sheep to Shawl event.  Shearing will begin at 11 am. In addition we will have hands on demonstrations of scouring (washing), carding (combing), spinning, dyeing, felting, knitting, crocheting, and weaving until 3 pm. Meet our sheep, and help us craft with their wool. This event was very popular last year (see pics below) so please RSVP if you plan on attending: Jessica Ridgeway 831-728-2032, lefeducation@baymoon.com. This event is free for CSA members and $10-$15 per carload for non-members. (The parking fees go to LEFDP, so it is for a good cause!)

Also, look for flyers in your boxes this week for our fundraiser next week.  Bring a flyer to Saturn Cafe next Wednesday, 4/28 and 10% of the cost of your meal will be donated to LEFDP, our not-for-profit educational organization.
LEFDP logo
Jessica Ridgeway
Live Earth Farm Discovery Program (LEFDP)

Pics from our 2010 Sheep to Shawl event
Where's my "Extra Fruit"?
Every season during the month of April we have the same problem... there are members who call or email me saying they signed up for our Extra Fruit Option, but then they complain that they're not getting what they paid for. And they're almost right: they're not getting what they paid for... yet.

The story is, our Season begins in April, but the Extra Fruit Option does not begin until May. [If you click on 'View Details' for the Extra Fruit option when you sign up, it states this.] So any fruit you are getting during the month of April is fruit that comes with your share, it is not your "Extra Fruit" fruit.

- Debbie

PS - the first several weeks of the season -- at least until mid-June -- the fruit will be only strawberries. Sometime in June is when our other fruit starts happening. ;-) 

How do I know how much Fruit to take?
Since I have everyone's attention regarding fruit -- this is the perfect time to explain how our fruit 'works' in general.

<> Both the Family and Small Shares receive some fruit. So even if you didn't sign up for "Extra Fruit", you will still get some fruit (Family Share always, Small Share, almost always). [The new Budget Shares do not receive fruit... except for maybe on rare occasions if Tom decides to give you some anyway. ;-)]

<> Any "Share" fruit (as opposed to "Option" fruit) you see in the "What's in the Box" list above that we don't pack inside your box will be listed beside your name on the checklist.

<> The Extra Fruit Option, as its name implies, adds additional fruit to any fruit you may already be getting with your share.

<> The rule to remember is: only take the amount of fruit listed next to your name on the checklist. DO NOT TAKE FRUIT BASED ON WHAT YOU REMEMBER READING IN THIS NEWSLETTER. Why? Two reasons: 1) sometimes fruit type and quantity may change between the time the newsletter goes out and the time we deliver the shares. 2) Because the system we use adds together any fruit from your "Share" with any fruit in your Extra Fruit "Option" to come up with a TOTAL amount of fruit to take.

Example: You get a Family Share plus Extra Fruit. One week, the Family Shares are getting one basket of berries, and Extra Fruit is getting three. It will say "4 baskets of strawberries" next to your name on the checklist. Another week, we may have a higher production of berries, and so the Family Shares might get 2 baskets, the Small Shares one basket, and Extra Fruit 4 baskets. So in this case if you get Family Share plus Extra Fruit, it will say "6 baskets of strawberries" beside your name.

If you ever take more than what is listed beside your name you will be taking fruit that belongs to another member at your pick-up site. Please do not do this. Remember: we are a community, and what we do impacts others in our community. Thanks in advance for everyone being mindful of this!

- Debbie

"Small Shares" are NOT the smallest boxes
We seem to have had a rash of members who signed up for a "Small Share" coming to their pick-up site and just taking the 'smallest box' they see... but this is not correct. You are actually short-changing yourself when you do this, because the new "Budget" shares are actually the smallest boxes! We used to only have two sizes of share -- this is the first year we've had three, and we have made every effort to communicate the difference to everyone.

So to recap:
Family Shares are our largest share. In the biggest boxes.
Small Shares are the middle-sized box.
Budget Shares are the smallest boxes.

The following picture is inside every binder for reference. If you ever send someone else to pick up your share for you, please have them refer to this before taking a share:
How to tell the different sized CSA shares apart

Still more new pick-up sites!
We keep adding pick-up sites, so I want to be sure everyone knows about new site availability, in case they want to switch.

The new site I want to feature this week is:
West Santa Cruz - Companion Bakers

This pick-up site is actually inside Companion Bakers new storefront, which is located in the former "Brendan's Bakery" (some may remember it as the old "Beckman's Bakery") on Mission. Companion Bakers are the same folks that bake the bread for our Bread Option, as well as a couple other goodies that Taylor makes available to you via our Web Store. 

This would be a wonderful way to 'supplement' your share with still more Companion Baker goodies if you want to, when you pick up your share!

Please note one thing: we are waiting until we have five members picking up there to 'activate' the site, so if you are already at another site but want to switch, when you go to the "Change Location" button in your account, you have to scroll down to the bottom of the list to find the 'waitlisted' sites. So please DO waitlist yourself so I'll know of your interest, and I'll notify everyone as soon as we reach critical mass. If you're signing up new, be sure to waitlist yourself first, and then choose another site as your temporary 'active' site until the change-over. All we need is two more people and we're there! 

Here are the other new sites this year:
Prunedale-Royal Oaks - on San Miguel Canyon Rd.
Salinas - south side, near Blanco Rd and S. Main St.
Pacific Grove - inside Happy Girl Kitchen Cafe!
Marina - easy access from Hwy 1
Palo Alto - Barron Park neighborhood
Redwood City - Mt Carmel neighborhood
San Francisco - Bernal Heights
Oakland - Temescal neighborhood

So if you know of anyone in any of these locations that you think might be interested in a LEF CSA share, please spread the word and let them know that they can now sign up and pick up there!

Oh, and YES, if you would like to switch to one of the above locations, just log into your account and click on "Change Locations" during the normal window of time allotted for making changes to your share i.e. Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

Sites in the works (coming soon... stay tuned!):
Naglee Park 
Moss Landing

- Debbie

"You never know with internet"... Bernard y Nati - a heartwarming CSA story
Sometimes it just goes to show that our movement to spread the gospel of local and CSA is truly taking wing. Late last fall I received an email out of the blue - with the intriguing subject line, "You never know with internet." Turned out to be from a woman in Puerto Rico who says she stumbled across our newsletters on the internet years ago and followed us, engrossed and happy, because at the time there were no CSAs in 'her country'. [Yes Puerto Rico is a US territory, but to her it feels like her own country, Nati says.] Anyway, she wrote me all excited because she was about to pick up her very first CSA box ever. We have kept in touch, and I asked her more recently if she'd be willing to share her story and a picture with you. She was, and here it is! - Debbie

"I don't know which year it was, a decade or more ago, New Year's eve; I don't know what I was searching for, but I found Live Earth Farm's newsletters on the internet. I spent the day copying all of them to my old second-hand Palm device. I wanted to read them over the holidays in our cabin on our small land in the mountains of Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. I furiously worked until late at night to get them all in the Palm, and I did. So I spent that New Year's holiday reading and dreaming about Farmer Tom and these groups of youngsters in California planting, and creating community. I loved every part of the newsletter, found it inspiring and lively. From then on I kept reading it, sometimes five or six newsletters at a time.

"Then six months ago in 2010, an article in our local newspaper described two young women here in Puerto Rico, Tara and Olga, who were starting a Community Supported Agriculture group, called El Departamento de la Comida, and they were going to be delivering fresh local produce to pick up sites in the metropolitan area of San Juan. Immediately I checked their web page and called them to sign myself up. Somehow, maybe because of my enthusiasm, in spite of the waitlist, I began receiving my box immediately. Getting my box every Tuesday afternoon is one of my happiest moments. I feel like a child with its treasure. Luckily after having read all the Live Earth Farm newsletters, when I needed information about how to prepare my produce to keep it in the refrigerator for at least a week, recipes etc., I knew where to look ... Debbie's suggestions. One day I emailed and presented myself to your sweet Debbie, and here we are.

"Puerto Rico being in a tropical region, our land produces year 'round. I imagine that fresh leaves will be scarce in the peak of  Summer, but maybe hydroponics will step up then. So far since signing up for my CSA I've been receiving in my box, among other things: grapefruits, oranges, mandarines, juicy limes, cucumbers, tomatoes, different sprouts, cassava, plantains, sweet chilis, yams, sweet potatoes, taro, chayote, local apio (a type of arracacha, yellow, gingery, delicious!), eggplant, bok choi, carrots, okra, onions, green onions, pumpkin, papaya, all sorts of green leaves, herbs ... This week's bread was a slightly sweet yam and coconut bread, good!

"I wish Live Earth Farm and all you members a good happy Summer!"

- Nati (and Bernard)

Nati's tropical CSA share in Puerto Rico

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

The first strawberries of spring!At long last... the first of the strawberries are here! I think this is the latest we've had strawberries; we usually start the season with some for everyone, but our cool wet spring had delayed them. Now remember: these are not yet your "Extra Fruit" fruits (see above story)... these are just a teaser, i.e. fruit that is part of your regular share (Family and Small Shares, not Budget). Not to worry; soon we will be awash in berries!

But people don't need recipes for strawberries. What I want to talk to you about this week is the doppelgangers: green garlic and leeks. - Debbie

PS - with three different share sizes now, I won't always be able to address everything in every share, so my main thrust will be new items (in any share), or unusual items. If you ever need inspiration for a 'what's in the box' item and I don't provide it here, just go to the recipe database for a copious archive of ideas to choose from! If you're new this week, check the recipes in the last two week's newsletters, as we've been getting similar box content [Week 1, radicchio ideas; Week 2, turnips and watercress].

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

Green garlicGreen garlic vs leeks - how to tell them apart. Every year about this time I get to talk to folks about how to tell green garlic and leeks apart... and the truth is, you can't - at least not just by looking at them. The green leaf of both garlic and leeks form the same "V" shape when cut crosswise, and the leaves of both have a kind of left-right branching structure, so that's no help either. You just have to use your nose. Scratch 'n' sniff. The green garlic will smell like garlic. If you still can't tell them apart, take comfort in the fact they are both in the same family (the alliums), so if you accidentally ended up using 'the wrong one' in a recipe [potato-green garlic soup instead of potato-leek soup, for example], it is not like you will suddenly have something inedible! It may be different, but will taste just fine. I believe this may be the last week we're getting leeks, so this conundrum won't last too long!

The other thing to know about cooking with green garlic is that in this early stage of its development it is quite mild, so you can chop or slice up and use a lot more green garlic proportionally in a recipe than you might if you were using the mature cloves. And you can use the light-to-middle green portion of the stalk as well as the white, you just don't want to use the dark green leaf-parts which branch away from the main stalk (you can trim them away and use the inner stalk, however). If you haven't ever cooked with green garlic before, you're in for a treat.

. . . . . . 

So I got my May issue of Bon Appetit last week (a long-standing gift subscription from my folks - thanks guys!), and this issue featured Italy and Italian cooking. Lots of different stories and recipes from different regions, yadda yadda... but they had a nice article on pasta which I wanted to summarize for you all, because it will make for timely use of your green garlic (as well as other veggies).

Bon Appetit's steps for perfect pasta

The key to making "perfect pasta", they say, is 1: don't dump the pasta water and 2: finish it in the saucepan, not the pot. Here is their step-by-step 'cheat sheet', and then I'll suggest how I'd apply these principles to what we are getting this week:

Salt boiling water. Add pasta; cook until just shy of al dente. [I've been vindicated on my "seawater" description of salting water! Bon Appetit said, "Mark Ladner, executive chef at Del Posto in NYC says the water should taste 'almost as salty as seawater.' For him, that's about 1 tbsp. salt for every quart of water, but you don't have to be so particular, just throw it in there."]

Save some of the pasta water. Right before it's done, scoop out some of the starchy water with a coffee mug or measuring cup. [The starchy water is used to create that magical emulsification that coats the pasta.]

Saute olive oil, garlic, and whatever vegetables you've got on hand until vegetables are tender.

Pour some reserved pasta water on the sauteed vegetables and simmer to create a pan sauce.

Transfer pasta to the pan and toss with tongs until thoroughly coated in sauce. Cook for about two minutes over medium-high heat, until pasta is al dente.

Add more pasta water to loosen up the sauce, if necessary.

Stir in butter or olive oil and freshly grated cheese off the heat. [Cheese is not just a garnish, they say. It enriches pasta sauces too.]

Sprinkle in fresh herbs, if using. [They also had a sidebar about topping or tossing with bread crumbs.]

Toss it, twirl it, plate it.

So, how would I apply the above principles to what's in the box?

Debbie's Broccoli Pasta with garlic-lemon breadcrumbs, Bon-Appetit-style

What you'll use from the box:
Green garlic
Meyer lemon (zest, and juice)
Carrot (optional)
Oyster mushrooms (optional)

Also you'll want:
Olive oil
Sea salt
Pasta of some sort (Fettucini, Linguine, Capellini, Spaghetti; any would be fine)
Fresh Parmesan or Romano, or similar hard-grating cheese
Bread crumbs (see below for how to make your own)
Fresh parsley (optional, for breadcrumbs)

to make the garlic-lemon breadcrumbs
To make breadcrumbs, tear fresh or day-old (but not dried out) bread into pieces and pulse in a food processor. Finely mince up about 1 to 2 tbsp. of green garlic. Cut zest from lemon (i.e. the yellow part of the skin only) and finely mince up 1 to 2 tsp. Mince up some optional parsley. In a small skillet or saucepan, melt some butter and olive oil together (don't skimp!). Add garlic and lemon zest and simmer a moment or two, then add breadcrumbs and toss/stir to mix with the fat/garlic/zest, then cook until they begin to crisp and brown, stirring in optional parsley near the end. Remove from heat and set aside.

to make the pasta
Cut broccolini into small floret tidbits (i.e. quarter the florets if they are bigger, leave 'em whole if they are small, and cut stalks into inch-ish or smaller segments if they are long). Slice up all the white and light-to-medium green of a large green garlic stalk (use two if small). Be sure to check for dirt between the leaves, just like you would with leeks.

Optional carrots: if you want to add color, scrub or peel a carrot, slice it lengthwise, then crosswise on the diagonal into thin half-moons. (You can leave it out and this will be just fine.)

Optional mushrooms: chop some into tidbits. (Ditto)

Bring well-salted water to a boil; cook pasta about 2 minutes less than package directions. Scoop out a cupful of the cloudy, starchy pasta water and save before draining pasta.

While pasta is cooking, start sauteeing the green garlic in olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat (make sure this pan is big enough to hold all the ingredients, including the pasta). Add broccolini (and mushrooms and/or carrots, if using), sprinkle with a little additional salt (optional) and continue to saute for a few minutes, adding pasta water in splashes and maybe covering for a minute or two so the steam from the water hitting the pan will begin to cook the vegetables. 

Drain the pasta, transfer it to the pan with the veggies, and toss everything together with tongs, adding more of the reserved pasta water and juice from half a Meyer lemon. Keep cooking, tossing, etc. until the pasta is al dente and veggies are just barely tender, and everything has that light, unctuous coating formed by the emulsification of the olive oil and starchy pasta water. Remove from heat, grate in a generous amount of cheese and toss some more to incorporate (it will melt quickly and become part of the sauce). Plate the pasta and top with garlicy-lemon bread crumbs.

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 (LEFDP) activities 

Wee Ones

3rd Tuesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon [year-round]
(free for children 0 - 3 yrs; $10 - $15 per family)
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. RSVP requested.

Art on the Farm Camp 

Three weeks to choose from: June 13th-17th, June 20th-24th, or July 11th-15th
all camps from 9am - 4pm daily

(click here for cost and scheduling info)
We'll be engaging campers in creative expression among our 100 organic acres of fruits, vegetables, farm animals, and wild spaces. During the week campers will plant, harvest, and create in the kitchen and beyond; make cheese, make masks, print, paint, and sculpt with natural materials.

For questions about any LEFDP event or activities, contact Jessica at the LEFDP office: (831) 728-2032 or email her at lefeducation@baymoon.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

this calendar was revised 4/11/11; please note changes
April 23rd - Sheep to Shawl
April 27th - Community Night @ Saturn Cafe for LEFDP
May 28th - Community Farm Day - U-pick strawberries
June 18th - Summer Solstice Celebration
July 3rd - Community Farm Day - From Seed to Bread (no apricot u-pick) :-(
Aug 27th - Community Farm Day - U-pick tomatoes (our "Totally Tomatoes" day)
Sept 24th Sept 10 - "Taste of the Fields" wine and hors d'oeuvres fundraiser for LEFDP
Oct 22nd - Fall Harvest Festival and U-pick apples and 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 rootsofwellness@gmail.com or 831.334.5177 or visit his website at www.rootsofwellness.net

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