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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
21st Harvest Week, Season 17
August 20th - 26th, 2012
in this issue
What's in the box(es) this week
Living on the Water's "Edge"
Technology to the Rescue
Grilled Padron Peppers
Tomato U-Pick This Saturday!
Rebecca's Recipes
2012 Calendar

"Of all our natural resources, water has become the most precious..."
- Rachel Carson, from Silent Spring

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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.


Quantities of certain items will be more in the larger shares. Delicate items which are part of your share, like strawberries, are packed outside your box. Quantity to take will be spelled out next to your name on the checklist at your pick-up site. 


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***


Family (Large) Share
Basil or cilantro
Bok choi
Cabbage (red or green)
Green beans
Padron peppers
Pickling cucumbers or summer squash
Sweet peppers
Cherry tomatoes
Dry-farmed tomatoes

Regular (Medium) Share
Basil or cilantro
Bok choi
Cabbage (red or green)
Green beans
Padron peppers
Sweet peppers
Cherry tomatoes
Dry-farmed tomatoes

Budget (Small) Share
Basil or cilantro
Bok choi
Cabbage (red or green)
Green beans
Pickling cucumbers or summer squash
Sweet peppers
Cherry tomatoes
Dry-farmed tomatoes

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

Extra Fruit Option
Last-minute addition: Summerfelt apples! Also cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and raspberries or blackberries


  Summerfelt apples on the tree     

Summerfelt apples  

Living on the Water's "Edge"
Last week while accompanying our son to the east coast to start his journey as a college student, we saw large tracks of corn and soybeans severely stunted from this year's record-breaking drought. I am so used to irrigation agriculture that I had to remind myself that the vast majority of this country's farmland is rain-fed, and therefor at the beck and call of nature's caprices. Climate change will inevitably expose us to more such frequent climatic extremes and oblige us to rethink our current system of mono-cropping. The challenge will be to develop food systems that are more resilient by focusing on diversification, less fossil fuel dependency, optimum nutrition, and most importantly, create accessibility to food through diverse decentralized regional and local distribution networks. The idea of building local and regional foodsheds may still be in its infancy, however it is an exciting one; such a shift would result in consumers becoming more aware of where their food comes from, leading to more active involvement in building a more sustainable food supply in the long term.  

Driving along the highway in Illinois and Indiana, looking at mile after mile of desiccated crops, I am relieved that our farm's harvest does not directly rely on water falling from the sky. Most farms in the arid west, especially here in California, depend on stored water - either from man-made reservoirs or vast underground aquifers. Here in the Pajaro Valley, farms like ours all depend on groundwater, which has to be pumped from wells, some as deep as 500 feet or more. A failing water pump, on a hot day, will immediately bring us face to face with the essential importance of this life-giving resource. Knowing when and how much water to apply to a particular crop is both an art and a science. There are many variables to consider, such as soil type, specific crop requirements, delivery systems and weather patterns. To conserve as much water as we can we use drip irrigation, mulching, and dry farming. An intricate system of tanks, pumps, pipes, hoses, sprinklers and valves transport this limited and increasingly costly resource to our crops. On average, we have to put about an inch of water on our crops every week. Water requirements vary from crop to crop, for example spinach may need more but green beans much less. Also, a mature crop will need more water less frequently whereas a recently planted crop needs less water more frequently.

 Overhead sprinklers watering broccoli and carrot fields 
Overhead sprinklers watering carrots and broccoli

At the current rate, more groundwater is being extracted from our aquifer than is being replenished; in some cases along the coast, this overdrafting of groundwater is causing saltwater intrusion. We are living on borrowed time as we pump unsustainable amounts of water. It may seem surprising to some, but over 80% of water used in California is used in Agriculture. Conserving water is everyone's responsibility, especially we farmers who are using the bulk of it. We will need to come up with ways to conserve more or even grow less or different crops to lower our current consumption.

- Tom 

Technology to the Rescue
Overwhelmed with the amount of harvesting going on at the moment it's been tricky to stay on top of propagation and planting schedules. Most of our crops are raised from seed, grown into seedlings and hand transplanted when they are large enough to thrive under the more challenging field conditions. The moment a seed is sown the clock starts ticking. Field preparations need to be timed so as to overlap with the maturity of the seedlings which then need to be planted on a specific schedule. Lately we have been falling behind on our fall and winter plantings and needed serious help. Luckily, I held on to a seedling transplanter I bought a few years ago and was about to sell it since it was ill suited for our small diversified farming operation. The entire implement was too heavy for even our largest tractor and too long to make the tight turns at the end of our fields. This particular transplanter was best adapted for perfectly level fields where rows are long and soils are light. But as it often happens, necessity triggers the most creative solutions and we changed the set up so as to only plant single rows instead of double rows, which ended up cutting the length and weight of the implement in half. We suddenly were able to plant what would normally take 16 people to plant in two days only 5 people in half the time. It was a welcome relief, not only on our bodies but it also saved us from falling behind on our planting successions and harvests later in the season. I am glad that I am by nature one who resists throwing away or selling anything here on the farm that may still have a potential future use, even if that use may not yet be identified. It sure paid off this time.

- Tom

The transplanter 
Transplanter attachment for tractor  
Grilled Padron Peppers
Hi everybody, Debbie again!

Last newsletter I talked about how to cook Padron peppers - and how I never prepare or use them any other way. Well... since we've been getting them rather regularly, I must admit I branched out a little. Not much.

It was still really hot last week, and so not having A/C, firing up a blistering hot cast-iron griddle in my kitchen was the last thing I wanted to do. But I had this bag of padron peppers... so I figured if Tom can roast padrons in the farm's wood-fired oven, I could probably grill them (outdoors - yay! no added heat in the house!). So I simply double-skewered them with bamboo skewers (see picture - makes them easier to 'flip' 'cuz they don't spin around when they get floppy this way) and popped them on the grill, just a few minutes per side, enough so they blistered and got soft... then I just treated them the same as always: remove to a bowl, drizzle with good olive oil and coarse sea salt and eat while still warm.

Padrons on the grill

Okay, I know that's not branching out so very much, but this was:

Instead of roasting or grilling I just rough-chopped the raw padrons, seeds and all (did cut off stems though), chopped up some onions and garlic, and some tomatoes... sauteed the onions and padrons until soft and starting to brown (fairly high heat, stirring), added garlic and cooked another minute or so, then threw in the chopped tomatoes and cooked them all together until the tomatoes just started to get hot and soften. Can't remember if I threw in any herbs but your certainly could... if you get basil this week, chop up and add a little. Anyway, that's it! Less than ten minutes! I just put that over pasta and ate it. Yum! I like to drizzle my pasta sauce with additional "good" olive oil at the table and sprinkle on some salt as well, so I got the padron 'olive-oil-coarse-salt' thing going on after all; all I added was some onion, garlic and tomatoes. Oh, and pasta. ;-) You definitely got that "padron" flavor in the sauce though - it was lovely.

LEFDP Fundraiser Mark your calendars and get your tickets to the Discovery Program's 4th Annual Fundraising Dinner, "Dig!" - you won't want to miss it!

Take a unique guided tasting "tour" of the fields while noshing on specially made goodies from their bounty and sipping wine from local wineries; following that, there will be an elegant 'en plen air' sit-down, four-course dinner, complete with more wine pairings... and there's sure to be something sumptuous for dessert! And no need to leave the kids at home either: there will be a children's program with pizza-making and games, so you can still relax and enjoy the evening, no babysitter necessary!

When: Saturday September 22nd, 4 - 8pm
Where: at the farm (click for directions)
How Much: $150 per adult; children's program $25 
Why: your donation will directly help support farm visits, transportation costs and garden supplies for the 1500 students who will visit the farm in 2012.
How do I get tickets? You can by them directly from our website by clicking here, or call LEFDP or email Jessica (see below).

for more information:

Tomato U-Pick This Saturday!
 the U-pick field, ripe and ready! 
This year's tomato U-pick field. Lots of tomatoes ripe for the picking sez Tom! Come to the farm this Saturday August 25th and stock up! Here's the skinny:

When: Saturday August 25th, 9am - 4pm
Where: come to our "Main" Green Valley Entrance (1275 Green Valley Rd. - see pictures below). Follow signs for parking. The U-pick field is just across the ditch from the barn this year, so, very easy to find.
Cost: $1.50/lb (1st 5 lbs. free). No harvest limit this year!
What else:

<> Tom will do tractor rides

<> Bring hats, sunscreen, etc. for protection from the elements

<> Bring your own lunch and picnic on the farm if you like! 

<> Bring your own bags or boxes for harvesting (LEF will not provide them)

<> Don't forget to bring cash for paying (exact change helps!)
<> Bring extra cash for Taylor's farm stand, which will be open! 

<> Bring your own salt if you want to snack on tomatoes in the field! :-)
<> Feel free to walk the farm and explore
<> Other harvest opportunities: apples, peppers and cherry tomatoes 

<> We ask that you do not bring dogs to our farm; please leave them at home - thanks!  


Which farm entrance?

Rebecca's Recipes
Click here to go to Debbie's recipe database. Rebecca's recipes will be included in the database as well. [What happened to "Notes from Debbie's Kitchen?"]  


I was tired Saturday from a long day and evening with my students final showcase: a 5-course sit-down dinner for their family and friends. I had been to the Farm to gather some garnishes and a few flowers for the event the day before, just wandering and being filled with gratitude for this amazing land so revered by Tomas and all the family, and I started thinking about my Grandma's green beans - a super comfort food. My parents came from the San Juaquin Valley which was so rich in produce. I remember many evenings gathered around the large family dining table, eagerly awaiting the bounty from the harvest and the loving and caring cooking from Grandma and whoever else was there to help. I got specific jobs, like trimming the beans and shucking the corn. Perks were I got to hear the grown up talk and eat as much of the vegetables that I wanted. You could smell the amazing aromas floating from the kitchen, from a day's labor of love and big pots brimming and simmering our dinner! So I reminisce about my Grandma's green beans, which I made, minus the bacon. DELIGHTFUL, simple, and ever so satisfying. I hope you enjoy this recipe from my head! And soak in these beautiful days of the summer's passing. Blessings, Rebecca [email Rebecca]

[Rebecca Mastoris is a chef/teacher at Bauman College, and a partner in Vibrant Foods Catering along with Karen Haralson. Both Karen and Rebecca teach cooking classes at the farm and in town locally - see our 2012 Calendar, below.]
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

2 large handfuls of green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 large onion, medium dice
1 clove garlic, minced
several tomatoes, stems removed and cut into chunks
sea salt (to your taste)
freshly ground black pepper
balsamic vinegar
fresh grated nutmeg
olive oil

1. Saute the onions in a large pot, the bottom covered in olive oil, about 2-3 tablespoons. Saute onions on medium-high heat, until almost caramelized, about 10 minutes. You will need to watch them while sauteeing, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute more until softened.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and and reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered for about 7 minutes. You want the tomatoes to break down and create juices. Stir a few times while they are cooking. If you like the flavor of bacon (and it is yummy) you can add a slice of chopped bacon now to cook with the tomatoes.
4. Cover tomatoes and reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes begin to come together in a chunky sauce. It takes about 5-10 minutes; you want to still have some liquid in the pot.
 5. Remove the lid and add the green beans and sprinkle in sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, and a few gratings of nutmeg (fresh nutmeg!). Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until beans are just tender. You will want to test them after about 8 minutes for your desired doneness. I like them almost crunchy, but if you want them tender, continue to cook a little longer. My Grandma cooked them much longer, leaving them very soft.
6. Remove from heat and serve warm! Hope you enjoy a taste of the past...

Makes about 2 cups
Roasting peppers imparts earthy flavor. To roast, put them on a baking sheet and place under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat. Turn them until they are blistered and charred, about 10-12 minutes. Enclose peppers in a brown paper bag and let them steam until they are cool enough to handle. Starting a the blossom end, peel the peppers under cold water, discarding the stems, ribs and seeds (if you like the heat, leave the ribs and seeds). [Note from Debbie: I talked with Rebecca; these are her instructions for roasting typical peppers. Padrons are a little different, however, in that a) since they're so small and tender they really don't need to be peeled, and b) they are mostly not hot. And when you do get a hot one, the flesh itself will be hot, so you won't rescue yourself from the heat by simply removing the seeds and ribs like a typical chili. Since this recipe calls for 10-14 padrons, even if you have one or two hot ones in the mix, you shouldn't be overwhelmed by the heat in the overall recipe as it will be ameliorated by the non-hot ones. But do roast them though, as this really does bring out their flavor! Either roast as Rebecca describes above, or on a dry griddle or comal as I described in the last newsletter, or on a grill, as I describe above.]

2 cans sliced black olives
10-14 padrons, roasted (peeled and seeded if desired, but not necessary) de-stemmed and chopped
3 scallions, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 small tomato, quartered and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until just barely blended. Serve as a dip with sliced jicama and/or tortilla chips. Good with chicken and fish, too.

serves 4-6

4 cups squash, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sliced scallion tops
3-4 tablespoons dry sherry
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

1. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add squash and scallions. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes
2. Stir in sherry and salt and cook over low heat 3-5 minutes more until squash is tender.
3. Stir in walnuts and serve.

Serves 4-6

1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Seasoning Mixture:
1 bunch thinly sliced scallions, including tops
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2-3/4 cup pitted and quartered Greek olives, to taste
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled

Salad Ingredients:
2 large cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1-2 sweet peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2 -inch dice
4 large or 8 small tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch dice and well drained

chopped fresh basil

1. Prepare dressing by combining its ingredients and set aside.
2. Combine seasonings in a small bowl.
3. In a deep, large glass serving bowl, alternate a layer of chopped raw vegetables with the seasoning mixture, beginning with the cucumbers, then peppers, and finally tomatoes, so each vegetable has a layer of seasoning mixture between the next vegetable.
4. Whisk the dressing and pour it evenly over the salad.
5. Garnish with chopped basil and refrigerate salad for at least 1/2 hour to let the flavors blend.
You can prepare this salad up to 8 hours before serving.

Serves 4-6
Wickedly delicious...

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 small clove garlic, minced
large pinch white pepper (black is fine)
1/ 2 cup olive oil

Salad Ingredients:
2 small heads lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cupo coarsely chopped cilantro
1 large orange, peeled and cut into segments
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

1. Combine dressing ingredients, whisking oil in thoroughly.
2. Put lettuce in a bowl, add cilantro, and add orange slices over lettuce.
3. Sprinkle salad with sunflower seeds.
4. Whisk the dressing again to be sure it is well combined. Pour over salad, toss and serve.

Serves 4

4 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
1 large cucumber, or several small, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

chopped chives

1. Put scallions in a large glass or wooden bowl, then using the edge and bottom of a heavy drinking glass, smash the scallions and salt thoroughly.
2. Add the lemon juice and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the cucumber and radishes; mix well.
4. Add sour cream or yogurt and mix well.
5. Garnish with chopped chives and serve.

Serves 4-6
A traditional side dish for roast pork, beef, or chicken.

2 bunches washed kale, stemmed, leaves cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or stock of choice
4 medium potatoes, quartered
1 stalk celery, chopped
Sour cream or plain yogurt for garnish (optional)

1. Blanch kale leaves in lightly salted water for 1 minute. Remove from water and set aside.
2.  Saute the garlic and onions in a skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned.
3. Add the stock, potatoes, celery, and blanched kale.
4. Simmer together until potatoes fall apart and lose their shape.
5. Stir; season with salt and pepper, garnish with sour cream or yogurt and serve.

Serves 6

8 plus cups of fresh assorted greens (arugula, lettuce, kale, basil or cilantro, spinach, and cabbage), mixed together in any combination you desire
6 radishes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vermouth
1 scant tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sweetener
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Wash, dry and tear greens into bite-sized pieces.
2. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.
3. Pour into salad bowl.
4. Place greens and radishes in bowl on top of dressing but do not toss.
5. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or so.
6. Just before serving, toss after adding one or all of the following:
1 apple, diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
4 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds or sesame seeds, toasted

Servings: 24 pieces

2 pounds fresh spinach
1 bunch curly endive, dandelion greens, or green of your choice
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch green onions
6 mint leaves
1 tablespoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
6 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
3/4 pound feta, crumbled
1/2 pound ricotta
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
12 sheets filo dough
6 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Wash greens and pat dry thoroughly. Finely chop the spinach, chicory, parsley, onions, and mint, and pat dry again.
2. Place in a large bowl and mix in salt, pepper, olive oil, eggs, feta, ricotta, and nutmeg.
3. Lay out filo and cover with a slightly dampened floursack cloth to keep from drying out. Line a buttered 9-by-13 baking pan with one sheet filo dough, brush with melted butter and letting filo overlap sides of pan. Cover with 5 more sheets of filo, brushing each with melted butter, and letting filo overlap sides of pan.
4. Place greens mixture in filo-lined pan and smooth top. Fold any overhanging filo back over the greens.
5. Arrange 6 more buttered sheets of filo back over the greens. Cut or fold in to fit top of the pan, one at a time.
6. Using a razor or sharp knife, cut squares through the top layers of filo only, making 3 lengthwise  and 5 crosswise cuts.
7. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40, or until greens are tender. It will get brown and a bit bubbly. Remove to rack and let rest a few minutes then finish cutting into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Calendar2012 2012 CALENDAR
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!

LEF Discovery Program 4th Annual Fundraiser - "Dig!"
Sept 22nd, 4 - 8pm - click here for more info and to buy tickets

LEF Discovery Program "Wee Ones"
3rd Tuesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon [Apr-Nov, weather permitting]
($10 - $15 per family)
Mothers, fathers, grandparents, caretakers of any kind... bring the babe in your arms [0-3yrs] 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, and the many wild members of the Pajaro watershed. RSVP requested.

LEFDP office: (831) 728-2032 or email lefeducation@baymoon.com.

New! LEF Discovery Program "Small Farmers" 
2nd Wednesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon [Apr-Nov, weather permitting]
($10 - $15 per family)
Similar to our Wee Ones program, above, only designed for 3-6 year olds. 

LEF Discovery Program "Art at the Farm" Summer Camp!
Enroll your child in an art and adventure-filled week-long day camp at Live Earth Farm. Designed for kids age 6-12 yrs. Is your child 13 or older yet interested in getting involved? They may be a candidate for becoming a Leader in Training! Click here for all camp details on our website. (note that if Firefox is your browser, this link behaves oddly and you may need to scroll up on the page to locate the 'Art on the Farm' details.)
Session 1: June 18-22
Session 2: July 16-20

Community Farm Days and Events

We've set aside the dates (so you should too!), and will fill you in on what we're going to do as their time draws nearer. Stay tuned!

Apr 28 - cancelled
May 26 - Strawberries!
July 28 - From Seed to Loaf
Aug 25 - Totally Tomatoes
Sep 29 - TBA    



As anyone who's attended them in the past will tell you, our farm celebrations are not to be missed! Chock full of activities, farm tours, music, always a pot-luck and bonfire... bring the entire family and enjoy!

<> June 16 - Summer Solstice Celebration (click here for a youtube video of 2009's!)
<> October 20 - Fall Harvest Celebration

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!

Apr 15 - Cheesemaking
May 20 - Whole Foods workshop with Stephanie Stein
Jun 9 [Sat] - Cherries & Apricots
Jun 10 [Sun] - Cherries & Apricots    

Jul 28 [Sat] - Pickles!
Jul 29 [Sun] - Pickles!
Aug 11 [Sat] - Tomatoes!
Aug 12 [Sun] - Tomatoes!    


"Cooking-from-your-box" classes in Los Gatos

Join chefs and CSA members Rebecca Mastoris and Karen Haralson on the last Sunday of each month at Williams-Sonoma in Los Gatos for this fun and informative session on making great food from what comes in your Live Earth Farm CSA box. For info about the latest class, see "Upcoming Events" on Karen and Rebecca's Vibrant Food Catering website.


Contact Information
Farm/CSA Office phone: (831) 763-2448
LEF Discovery Program Office phone: (831) 728-2032
(This newsletter is edited and organized by Debbie Palmer, former LEF CSA coordinator.)