|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.
The Family share will get larger quantities of certain items than the other two shares, so these items will be marked with a "+" sign.
For any items not from our farm, we will identify the source in parentheses.
***Click here for a picture of how to tell share sizes apart at your pick-up site***
Broccolini (LEF or Lakeside)
Carrots (new planting! bunched, with green tops)
Fava beans +
Lettuce (romaine or butter) +
Bunching onions (scallions)
Fresh red onions
Sugar snap peas +
Broccolini (LEF or Lakeside)
Carrots (new planting! bunched, with green tops)
Lettuce (romaine or butter)
Bunching onions (scallions)
Sugar snap peas
Watercress (Santa Cruz Aquaponics)
Broccolini (LEF or Lakeside)
Carrots (new planting! bunched, with green tops)
Watercress (Santa Cruz Aquaponics)
This week's bread will be whole wheat with flax seed
Extra Fruit Option
3 baskets of strawberries is the plan. Please always go by items/quantities listed next to your name on the checklist though.
First delivery not 'til mid-May; see below if you would like to order this option.
Happy and Proud Parents
When it comes to farming I have no expectation that either of our children will feel inspired to make a career of it, but I have to admit it feels extremely uplifting when they do end up following in your footsteps. Constance and I were a little emotional when David, our almost-17-year-old, together with two of his friends, Noah and Rowen Limbach (children of fellow CSA members Sara and Charles), crossed the finish line in the Big Sur Marathon last Sunday. It was 20 years ago when I chose this same race as my
first marathon. This is a formidable feat for a teenager; as the saying goes, it takes lungs, legs, and lots of determination. As a junior in high school, David is in the process of looking at colleges, trying to figure out his future and how to engage with the larger world around him. It doesn't matter to us whether David will choose to farm or not; he is, however, choosing to trust in his own ideals and beliefs, to share them and help others to achieve their own. As parents, that's something to be thankful for, And who knows, maybe some of dad's love for farming may still rub off on him someday...
Picking up the tempo as we start Spring's Crescendo, or, weeds and critters and bugs, oh my!
With the wonderful warm weather, irrigation is kicking into high gear. Now that most of our fields have been plowed and the first big spring planting is behind us, there is no time to slack-off; the warm weather not only favors the growth of crops, but of weeds as well. Weeds, if left unattended, will easily get the upper hand. They need to be kept under control mechanically (with the tractor) or by hand.
Before a crop gets harvested and delivered in your shares, it is of course also a tasty target for a whole range of critters. To list a few of the bigger ones: gophers and deer. The gophers in our strawberry patch seem to be particularly voracious this year, which means we have to set traps every day. And although I don't like to put up fences, I had to build a 7-foot one around our newly-planted pear orchard, because the young trees got completely mowed down in a few nights by a large group of deer, and no other deterrent would work. The deer ignored a makeshift fence, a radio left playing during the night, even the scent of mountain lion urine. Nothing worked until we built the permanent fence.
When it comes to insect pests, constant monitoring and early control is key to preventing outbreaks. Some of the insects that are particularly problematic at times are aphids; they are attracted to all of our cole crops: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, and cabbage. Our best control is to interplant flowers that attract beneficial insects such as predatory wasps, flies, lacewings, or ladybugs. This will never eliminate the pest insects completely, since biological control methods depend on an established balance between both pest and beneficial insect populations. I stay away from organic sprays as much as I can, since they throw this balance out of whack. With a healthy beneficial insect population in place, aphid populations stay acceptably low.
In the strawberries we keep a watchful eye out for the two-spotted spider mite which is controlled by timely releases of red spider mites early in the season. The best way to control cucumber beetles, another pest which can be particularly damaging with young summer squash and cucumber plants, is to place row-covers over them, or spray their leaves with a sticky clay like substance (kaolin) until the plants are large enough to fend for themselves.
In recent years a fruitfly, Drosophila Suszukii, has established itself here in the Pajaro Valley, affecting soft-bodied fruit such as cherries, raspberries, and strawberries. Currently no effective organic control method(s) have been identified. The only way to keep the problem to a minimum is through field hygiene, by not dropping any ripe fruit to the ground where the flies are able to breed.
With the onset of warm weather, flea beetle populations tend to go through explosive cycles and devour any young leafy greens belonging to the mustard family, in particular arugula, pak choi, tatsoi, kale, etc; they chew small holes into the leaves leaving them pock-marked. Not the nicest looking when they're "holey", but they are still very edible (i.e. the pests are long gone; all that's left are the holes).
|A ladybug munches on aphids in the favas; sweet alyssum rows amid the broccoli; flea beetle damage on last week's Asian green (the lance)|
|Mechanical cultivation of weeds by tractor|
|A thin veil of remay (row cover) blankets a planting of summer squash to protect it from squash beetles.|
Farming is not a linear process, especially here at Live Earth Farm, where we grow such a large diversity of crops. Nature calls the shots, and as farmers we are asked to adjust and plan our work to harmonize with any range of constantly changing, diverse, and interconnected conditions. Although we anticipate bountiful harvests to supply all of our members throughout most of the season, I am less stressed knowing I can rely on a wonderful network of local organic growers to back us up when we're caught in a production lull, whether it's Far West Fungi with their mushrooms, Santa Cruz Aquaponics with watercress, or Phil Foster Ranches or Lakeside Organics with vegetables. As I hope you know, we always strive to bring you the best the season and the land has to offer. Still, sometimes the pests can sneak by even our watchful eyes. So as always, we welcome your feedback; if you feel you got buggy veggies for some reason, let us know right away, and we will try to compensate as best we can.
Share issues? Please let us know right away.
On the heels of Tom's dialog about organic farming and pest management, this seemed like as good a time as any to remind you of this:
If you ever experience any issues with your share or at your pick-up site - in particular if you feel like you were shorted, or something was wrong - ideally let me know right away. The sooner I know, the more helpful it is, because sometimes I can nip problems in the bud. If I don't hear from you until a week or two after the fact, I am not always able to make up shortages or address problems appropriately. A quick email or phone call is all that's needed; be sure to let me know who you are (and what name a share is under, if you split with someone, for example).
As Tom says, we will do our best to compensate you if there was a problem.
Spread the word: CSA shares still available!
Have a friend or neighbor you know might be interested in our CSA? Please continue to let people know that we are still accepting signups for this season, even though it is already underway. Subscription cost is pro-rated at sign-up, so no one pays for any weeks that have already passed.
Taylor is going to see that there are brochures inside the front pocket of every pick-up site binder, so please feel free to take one (or a few) and give them out.
Why you want to eat pastured meat chickens (and have you signed up for yours yet)?
From an April 27 Editorial in the New York Times entitled Hiding the Truth About Factory Farms:
"A supermarket shopper buying hamburger, eggs or milk has every reason, and every right, to wonder how they were produced. The answer, in industrial agriculture, is "behind closed doors," and that's how the industry wants to keep it. In at least three states - Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota - legislation is moving ahead that would make undercover investigations in factory farms, especially filming and photography, a crime. The legislation has only one purpose: to hide factory-farming conditions from a public that is beginning to think seriously about animal rights and the way food is produced." (click here to read the rest of the article
The industrial model of meat production is not a healthy one, and so conventional growers will do everything they can to hide this (as the above legislation demonstrates). Sure, you can pay 99 cents a pound for chicken at a supermarket... but make no mistake, the true price is being paid in environmental degradation, inhumane treatment of animals, the impact on human health, not to mention "flavor-free" meat that lacks in all the nutrients present in properly pasture-raised animals. As Denesse Willey of T.D. Willey Farms says, "people are asking the wrong question. They shouldn't be asking 'why does organic cost so much?', they should be asking 'why is conventionally-produced food so cheap?'.
Enter Sarah and Aurelio Lopez of Surfside Chickens and Lisa Knutson of Pasture Chick Ranch. Both are completely transparent in their operations, and both are dedicated to raising healthy poultry outdoors on real pasture (i.e. not the lip-service of "free range" - those birds never set foot outdoors). $6/lb may sound like a lot, but that is only because we've been marketed to for a couple generations now that being able to buy something "cheap" is the highest achievement. And look where that has gotten us. I would like to add that if you think this is a steep cost, then the solution is to choose to eat less meat, not buy cheaper stuff. Nuff said.
We are very fortunate to have been able to partner with Surfside and Pasture Chick in order to offer you their top-integrity, top-quality meat chickens through our CSA. A small nod of thanks also goes to the developers of Farmigo, our CSA management software, which gave us the ability to manage monthly deliveries of the chickens. We otherwise would not have been able to do this. There are still pastured meat chicken "Options" available
- and still time to sign up for them if you like. The first monthly delivery of chickens will be mid-May, the 18th, 19th and 20th. Remember: one "option" equals one (approx. 4 lb) bird per month, so if you think you will eat more than one per month, you are free to order more than one "Option". The birds are delivered frozen, whole (like a normal 'whole' bird you'd get at the store; i.e. no feet, head, innards, feathers, etc). If you would like to add a meat chicken option to your subscription
, you can do so easily by logging into your account
and clicking on "+ Add Subscription" -- this will take you into a 'mini-wizard' where you can step through until you find the chicken option. Then just follow the rest of the instructions and you'll be all set!
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Spring is finally getting springier! This week we're seeing both fava beans and sugar snap peas... and of course the Extra Fruit option starts this week too, so all you patient (or not so patient) fruit-lovers should finally begin getting your fill. I'm going to focus on the favas this week, as those may be totally new to some of you newbies out there (and everybody's getting them). This year Tom held off on giving us 'early' favas (the young, tender versions where you can cook and eat the entire pod), so the pods we're getting should be fully mature.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Basic fresh fava bean preparationMature fava beans look like giant green beans - large pods, sometimes a little warty, with telltale swells where each bean resides inside. There are three parts to the overall bean: the outer shell, the bean skins, and the tender bean inside the skin. Depending on how large the beans themselves are -- and to a certain extent according to your preference or the recipe you're making -- you can remove the skins, or leave them on.
To shell the beans, try the 'zipper' method: grasp the stem end of the pod and snap it backwards... this usually pulls away a string (anyone remember 'string beans'?) which makes the pods easier to open along one edge. I say usually... but then again they can be finicky, and sometimes you just end up breaking away the pod in pieces. C'est la vie. But I'll always try the zipper method first, because if it works, it makes shelling go much quicker.
Don't be overwhelmed by the 'large' bag of beans... most of the volume is in the pods; once you shell them you will have a more manageable quantity of favas.
If you want to skin the beans, it's simple. Drop them into a pot of boiling salted water for a minute or two to loosen the skins; remove them from the boiling water (if you don't want to cook them further, run them under cold), pinch a slit in the skins on one end (sometimes even this is not needed as the boiling can also split the skins) then squeeze from the other end and they squirt right out. Be sure to have a bowl handy to collect them in!
If you're going to be making a fava puree or spread, you will definitely want to peel them, but if you're using them whole in a pasta or some other vegetable dish, again, to peel or not to peel - it is up to you. Taste them both ways, see what you think.
Usually the first week I get favas I end up peeling the beans into a bowl and just sprinkling them with a little good sea salt and noshing on them while they're still warm, like shelled edamame. They are just so darn easy to eat this way! They are also a beautiful bright green. You will find they disappear quickly.
Cook peeled (or unpeeled) fava beans into all kinds of dishes: pastas, stir-fries, as part of a mixed-vegetable side dish; or cook and puree them, and then season different ways and used as a dip or spread on bread (hm, a fava puree and chevre or feta cheese sandwich or wrap? with some chopped up oil-cured sundried tomatoes perhaps?). How about fava bean hummus?
There is a completely different way to fix fresh favas though which is absolutely fabulous: grilled! Here is a compelling recipe for just that, from a blog called "101 Cookbooks" by Heidi Swanson:
Grilled Fava Beans
serves 2 - 4
The beautiful photo, above, is Heidi's (she's a photographer as well as food writer). In Heidi's blog she talks about being served grilled favas at a little restaurant in Japan, where "I knew we were in for a great meal when chef Koichi Nakajima started our night with two deeply charred fava beans served on a piece of paper. We split the pods open with our fingers, slipped each fava bean from its skin and popped them in our mouths one after another. It doesn't get much better - simple, smoky, perfectly cooked, and fun to eat. If you haven't tried grilling fresh favas, you must! You can make them on the grill or in a grill pan, then toss them out onto a newspaper where people can dive in and make a bit of a mess with the pods and skins." She goes on to say, "Here's the secret: any seasoning you put on the pods will stick to your fingers. In a good way. Toss the pods with a few glugs of olive oil and some sea salt before placing them on the grill, you can certainly play around with ideas beyond that. I sometimes add crushed red pepper flakes to the olive oil, or finish the favas with lemon zest or freshly chopped dill (or chives) after they come off the grill. The key is getting the grill (or pan) the right temperature - too hot and the pods char before the beans have time to steam in their pods." I certainly like the way she thinks! Okay, here's the recipe:
1 pound of fresh fava beans, still in their pods
a couple glugs of olive oil
a few pinches of salt
optional: crushed red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and or chopped fresh herbs.
In a large bowl toss the fava bean pods with olive oil and salt. Arrange them in a single layer on a grill over medium-high heat. If you're using a grill pan, you may need to cook them in batches. If I'm using an outdoor grill I don't bother covering the favas, but when I use a grill pan, I typically cover the pan with a flat baking sheet to keep more of the heat in the pan and circulating. Grill until blistered on one side - 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and grill for a few minutes more on the other side. If you aren't sure when to pull them off, take a pod off the grill, open and taste one of the beans. You want the fava beans to be smooth and creamy when you pop them out of their skins - not undercooked. But keep in mind that they'll keep steaming in their pods for a few minutes after they come off the grill, unless you eat them as soon as you can handle the pods without singing your fingers - which is what I encourage you to do :) Season the grilled favas with a bit more salt (if needed) and any herbs or lemon zest if you like. To eat: tear open the puffy green pods, take a fava bean, pinch the skin and slide the bright green fava from its slipper. Eat them one at a time and be sure to lick your fingers.
Here's a recipe I made up last winter for a vegetarian friend of mine, which would be really good with added fava beans (I would go ahead and peel them in this instance):
Barley Loaf (with Fresh Fava Beans)
(I didn't measure anything, so measurements are approximate)
<> 2 to 3 C cooked pearled barley (I cook mine in my rice cooker)
<> 1/2 to 1 C peeled fresh fava beans
<> about 1/4 to 1/3 C roasted tomatoes**, chopped (could substitute plumped sundried tomatoes - if so, add thyme and oregano to recipe)
**see "Sue's Slow-Roasted Tomatoes" in recipe database:
<> couple tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme and marjoram cuz they're in my yard; oregano or basil would be good; so would parsley)
<> sauteed leek and celery (one med-lg leek, thinly sliced; 1 lg or 2 small stalks celery, thinly sliced; saute in olive oil until translucent)(could easily do onion and celery if you don't have leeks)(could also easily substitute green garlic for the leeks!)
<> feta cheese (1/2 C or so - more or less to your cheesy-delight-meter)
<> 1 to 2 beaten eggs (probably two, with the addition of the fava beans)
<> salt and pepper to taste
Generously coat the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with soft butter (soften about 2 tbsp. butter and then smear it evenly -- when the loaf bakes, this helps to give it a crispy-butter-browned crust)
Combine all ingredients and mix well, then turn into buttered loaf pan.
Bake, uncovered, in medium oven (350 degrees) for 30 to 40 minutes, 'til it looks done (and is bubbly and browned around the edges). Allow to cool a little, then invert onto a plate. Serve warm or room temp.
Here's one more fava recipe - from an 10-yr-old San Jose Mercury News clipping I've kept in my files... just for such an occasion!
Fava Beans Vitali style
4 lbs. fresh fava beans, shelled
1/2 lb. smoked bacon, diced
2 tbsp. minced scallions (white part only)
1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. flavorful olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large pot of boiling water, cook fava beans for 2 minutes. Immediately plunge them into ice water to halt cooking. Slip skins off each bean. Put beans in a large bowl.
In a small skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Add bacon to bowl.
Add scallions, mint, vinegar and olive oil to bowl. Toss together. Taste for salt and pepper, as desired. Serve at room temperature.
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 Ones3rd 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 KombuchaMay 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 EarthMay 14th - Herbal Basics of Stress Management
June 25th - Herbal Preparations
For more info, contact Darren Huckle at email@example.com or 831.334.5177 or visit his website at www.rootsofwellness.net