Today’s CSA Box – Week of December 5, 2016

*Click on produce above for more information and Recipes

Winter Break

Full Belly Farm is taking a 4-week break in December/ January. We will NOT be making any CSA deliveries from December 11, 2016 through January 8, 2017. We appreciate and Thank You so much for your support this past year!

Happy Holiday Blessings from everyone at Full Belly Farm!

Veggie Tips

Kohlrabi:  Peel the outer green skin off.  It is the crisp center that you eat. Our web site has recipes for Kohlrabi Fries, Kohlrabi and Walnut Salad, and Kohlrabi Fritters.

Lettuce: If it looks a little bit wet in your plastic bag and you aren’t expecting to use it in the next few days, it doesn’t hurt to shake out the excess water before putting it in the refrigerator.

Tokyo Turnips: Separate the greens from the roots for better storage of both.  The roots can be cut into rectangles, lightly salted (to wilt) and served with a bit of lime or lemon juice.  They are crunchy and mild enough to eat raw or in salad.

News From the Farm | December 5, 2016

About 32 years ago, we started farming the fields that make up Full Belly Farm. In each of those 32 fall seasons, we have taken time to reflect a bit on the year past and think about ways to tweak our program so that we can do better in raising the quality of the food that we are sending to you – our farm supporters. 

2016 was indeed an eventful year… There may be too many moments lived where summary doesn’t do them justice – but of course we can try.

We celebrated Rye and Becca’s beautiful wedding under the deep shade of our walnut orchard; introduced some young full bellies into this life – Hazel, Clementine and Waylon; sent Ellis off to the University of Wyoming; purchased land adjoining the farm which we had been farming for years; held farm dinners; made pickles and olives and bouquets; hosted guests from around the globe; became an overnight camp for big-eyed third graders and chaperones; saw our truck driver, Pancho receive a new kidney and return to work 6 months later; planted trees, cover crops, sheep, cow and chicken feeds, new asparagus; and managed to get through it all with but a few bumps and bruises.

We spent time enthusiastically advocating and promoting organic and regenerative farming; educated ourselves about new rules – labor laws, soil humus, organic standards, worker protections, food safety, bar codes, air and water quality rules, local ordinances and many other new rules that we are supposed to interpret and integrate into all of the rest of the work we do.

We hosted French farmers, Danish farmers, Bulgarian farmers, Swiss farmers, Chinese students, UN delegations, farmers from all parts of the United States, high school students, Japanese students and teachers, executives from Whole Foods, FFA State Officers and many others. The boards of the National Corn Growers Association and the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance came to visit, arriving as skeptics about organic agriculture. After a tour, talk and plying them with our farm food and plenty of wine, they left with a different perspective on how a farm might approach economic and ecological survival… We walked and talked with many new aspiring farmers, French film crews, Environmental groups, USDA folks, local county supervisors, researchers, and many others. We found that feet on the ground and a few words translate the complexities of a working farm better than a thousand pictures or any virtual tour. 

The farm became a place for celebration with nine weddings, company meals, birthdays, farm dinners, camper skits and a Family Camp weekend. The Hoes Down was another great weekend of dance, workshops, circus, straw fort, farm tours, camping, breakfast for 1,000 and great organic food! It is our annual open house that allows guests to crawl over and through the farm, examining its ongoing evolution and dancing to make vibrations that feed our earthworms and celebrate our harvests. Thank you to those of you who came, and the more than 400 volunteers who helped out. It was a wonderful fundraiser that benefits many local rural groups and statewide non-profit organizations that do good work in our region.

2016 was a year with its curves. Weather curved in a good way last winter, and we had enough rainfall in a couple of storms to charge our underground aquifers and raise our well water levels. We had a couple of plantings of melons fall victim to cold weather that came after planting causing poor germination. We had some blossom problems in our early tomatoes—perhaps we rushed things too much or perhaps we are too intent to have those crops early and hurried our soil before it was warm and dry enough.  Rain at the wrong time doomed the almond crop, but a wonderful walnut crop offset that. On balance, the year was again abundant and filled with blessings far beyond the challenges.

But we had flowers – lots of flowers – and we had a florist blossom along with those beautiful blooming bouquets. Hannah with Full Belly Floral did more than 40 events in 2016, a wonderful new enterprise for the farm. The flowers brought bees in abundance, beneficial insects in bumper numbers, butterflies, songbirds, hawks and owls, even spiders, as the beauty of a bloom enhanced the buzz of a living farm. This life fed on daytime color while our bats worked all night to corral insects and feed on the night fliers. It is a wonderful example of the resilience of life. Making a place for diversity attracts life and vitalizes a place… We just need to provide that life with a home and the food it needs to be here.

There were new lambs and new calves and new piglets and many young hands that visited the farm to pet, milk, feed, collect eggs, and commune with the lives of the four-legged (and two legged, two winged chickens) – oh, those babies start out so much on the cute side…. We had UC Davis researchers out to study if animals can be safely incorporated into a vegetable operation. There were other researchers studying dung beetles, spiders, avian life, and soils. We are learning all the time as we begin to understand that there is a balance between what we do and what we restrain ourselves from doing and then see who shows up – first of all, do no harm. 

We had a spring of flat-out days filled with too many tasks to finish in a day, and a summer with more tasks than that – just when you thought that you were working your hardest there was another task… (made possible by a few more hours of daylight). Central to those tasks was a great crew, dedicated to all of the processes that make this farm work. We sent out more than 86,000 csa boxes, representing about 17% of what was picked and packed.

We have many employees who have been part of creating this farm for many years. We are thankful for their dedication and knowledge – and their relentless good cheer. Our model here is a labor-intensive farm where we finish all that we do and grow to its highest value. A farm of 400 acres can productively employ many with steady work. Those employment checks are spent locally and help to fuel a regional economy.

We also had some great interns who helped out here on the farm. We are intent on growing more farmers. They ‘learned by doing’ the many tasks that a farm like this undertakes in a year. They spent some chilly time at night looking over new piglets and doing lamb check at 3 AM. They loaded, washed, marketed and weeded vegetables, flowers and fruits. They started for farmers market early and returned 14 hours later. Our interns overcame the initial ‘deer in the headlights’ look and developed the skills and judgement to feel the initial singe of ‘seasoned’. I think that they all learned that farming can be what you put into it. Our interns became our friends and we were fortunate to have their enthusiasm and energy here. We will graduate a few new farmers, some activists and all who know how to pull a stuck piglet from under a sleepy sow at 2 am, or how to listen in the dark for a new mother ewe on pasture bleating to its newborn and checking on them both to see if all is okay.

Where we are headed would depend upon who you asked here on the farm… We are subject to the laws of entropy in that equipment gets older, bones get older, and things fall apart. So there is a lot to fix and keep running. Some would say that we aren’t growing enough flowers, others would like more chickens – maybe a few meat birds. Wheat is now turned into pizza dough, tomatoes to sauce, fruit into pastry, wool into yarn, red and green and blue corn to cornmeal, pomegranates to juice, and green grass to beautiful eggs. We learned that our farm children have become adults invested in seeing this place become more interesting, diverse, and creative in ways we never would have imagined some 32 years ago.  A larger community will now determine new directions over time.

This time of the year is our time to reflect and line out changes and improvements for the coming year. When we started many years ago, we had little inkling that the farm would be what we are living today. This next year, we are looking to close some of the nutrient loops and grow more indigenous energy though more vibrant soil microbiology. We hope to tailor our cover crops to our field’s biological needs. This is another amazing frontier that we will explore in order to deepen our understanding of this complex universe under our feet. Our task is to feed this universe and understand how to store more carbon in the soil. 

We are grateful for those of you who were part of the year. We thank you for your commitment. The real economic change that the CSA movement represents is part of a larger awakening of the richness that can be lived when we take control of the simple act of choosing what we eat. We thank you for choosing Full Belly. Our enduring commitment to this planet is to make a place that is vibrant and healthy, a small part of a much larger healing. Thank you for your being a part of our whole. 

—Paul Muller

Stop Waste Boxes

Please remember to return any of our green or grey Stop Waste boxes to your pick-up sites this week that  you may have around your home.  We need to get all of them back to the farm so that we can do an inventory and deep cleaning.

Farm Events

Full Belly offers a wonderful location for events like birthdays and weddings.  We have a full-service kitchen and can make a farm-fresh organic feast for you.  We also love to prepare beautiful organic flower arrangements for your special day.  If you are thinking about dates in 2017, you should secure a reservation soon.  Contact Jenna for information on catering and events. For a quote or consultation about floral arrangements, contact our in-house floral designer Hannah.

Home Delivery now available in Davis

Our CSA program provides delivery to your home or work place in Sacramento and the East Bay.  We recently added Davis as one of the available home delivery locations.  The cost is an additional $7/ box.

Special Order Add-ons to Your Box

It is so easy to increase the amount of Full Belly in your life! CSA members can special order almost anything from our farm to be delivered to your pick-up site. Sorry, no Virginia Street special orders. If you would like to order the following items, please contact us at 800-791-2110 or csa@fullbellyfarm.com.

Almonds – Raw $15/ pound 

Walnuts – $12/ pound 

Popcorn – $5/ pound 

Cornmeal – $5/ 1.5 pounds

Quince Sauce – $12 for a 24-oz. jar (Like apple sauce it can be used on meat.)

Tomato Sauce – $12 for a 24-oz jar

New Girl Tomato Jam – $8 for a 12-oz jar

Peach Jam – $8 for a 12-oz jar

Sun Dried Peaches – $5/ half pound

Sun Dried Tomatoes – $5/ quarter pound

Almond Butter – $17/ jar – Crunchy or Creamy – ask about bulk orders

Almonds –  Roasted $8/ half pound 

Iraqi Durum Wheat Flour – $4/ 1.5 pounds.

Iraqi Durum Wheat Berries – $3/ 2 pounds.

Cotton Bags (11.5 x 12.5 inches) – $8 for 5 bags (includes sales tax).

Please place your order at least five days prior to your intended delivery date. 

Minimum order of $8.

Veggie Tips

Dino Kale: Also called Lacinato or cavolo nero, this kale has been part of Italian cuisine for  centuries.  Put it in your minestrone or ribollita.

Lettuce: If your lettuce arrives very wet, it is a good idea to shake it out before storing it in the refrigerator.

Scarlet Turnips: These turnip greens are more tender than the dino kale (also in your box) and need less time cooking.  Don’t peel the tender skin off the roots – it is part of the appeal of these beautiful turnips.  Take a taste of the raw turnip root – some people enjoy it in salad.  The turnips could be roasted along with the beets and carrots.

News From the Farm | November 28, 2016

In April of 2015, a professor asked me what I planned to do after college. I replied, “I’m going to do farm work.” She paused and then smiled, “So you’re going to give your brain a break for a little while?” 

My professor meant no malice by her comment. Rather, her comment reflects a societal misunderstanding of farming. According to this misunderstanding, farm work is a purely physical occupation. It is not intellectually creative work. Innovation in farming comes from the outside, from geneticists and engineers, not from farmers. Therefore, one can contrast farm work with “brain” work, which occurs in white-collar offices and is reserved, predominantly, for people with a college education. The latter is considered intellectual; the former is not. 

I graduated the following month. The timeworn ritual of college graduation, with speeches, awards, and obscure Latin calligraphy, gives students the impression that they know something. They certainly do—I deeply value my education—but it took me little time at Full Belly to realize precisely how little I know and how misled it is to apply the adjective “intellectual” exclusively to white-collar work.  [Read more…]

Holiday Treats

Our Fall Kitchen angels have been busy, offering additional treats for you to add on to your CSA boxes.  Email  if you want to add to your veggie box. Note that our minimum order is $8.

We have pomegranate syrup, in 250 mL glass bottles ($12) or 500 mL glass bottles ($20).  The pomegranate syrup is only made in small quantities and is available fleetingly each year. Think of it as the local analog to maple syrup.

We also have pizza dough made with Full Belly organic flour, a bit of additional fine pizza flour, and local organic olive oil from Pasture 42 (right down the road from Full Belly). The pizza dough will be frozen when it goes into your box, and then will be allowed to thaw.  When you pick it up, put it in your refrigerator and use it within a few days.  $6 per pizza dough ball.

Yarn Gift Boxes

Full Belly is proud of our flock of approximately 200 sheep (Merino, Rambouillet, Lincoln, and Suffolk breeds) that are raised organically on open pasture eating a diet of post-harvest organic crops.  Rotating the sheep through each field after harvest aids in breaking down plant bio-mass, and increasing the fertility and biological activity in the soil.  In this way, the sheep play an integral part in our sustainable farm system. [Read more…]

Veggie Tips

Roasted Roots:  Your box this week contains several items that you can use in your Thanksgiving roasted roots.  Combine the Carrots, Butternut Squash and Potatoes.  Aim for soft interior and crispy skin, with a deep roasted sweetness and flavor.

Broccoli: Check out this fun 2013 article about broccoli in the NY Times.  Advertising executives gave their first impressions of broccoli: “Overcooked, soggy.” “Hiding under cheese.” “Told not to leave the table until I eat it.”  Full Belly CSA members beg to differ, right?

Carrots: These are variety called Nantes.  At this time of year, with cold weather, they are absolutely terrific.  Make sure to just try some of them straight from the bunch.  If you’re going to store them, remove the tops.

Peppers: These are the last of our Spanish Bells, with flavor like a bell pepper.  They are suitable for stuffing.  Our recipe calls for parsley (in this week’s box) and tomatoes (not!)  Some cooked cubes of the winter squash might be a good substitute.

News From the Farm | November 21, 2016

Full Belly Farm started offering veggie boxes in 1992 and from the very start the program has had an influence on the farm that was perhaps bigger than might be expected from the number of boxes we pack each week.  Along with the economic relationship, it has created a source of constant feedback about what is working or not working. We can trace changes in the farm directly to comments and suggestions we received from our members — increases in  the diversity of fruits and vegetables that we grow for example. 

Some of our long-time members have always had a fierce desire to support our farm through thick and thin. We remember some of our first “work days” on the farm when small groups of members would arrive with their work boots and gloves, ready to take on whatever we had in store.  Now, faced with too many legal and liability complexities, we have morphed the work days into farm visits and tours, but the sense that we have of ready support and commitment as well as a two-way relationship with our membership hasn’t gone away.

We still have many members who joined the program when it started all of those 24 years ago. The farm now offers a summer camp to CSA members, and some kids tell us that they were raised on Full Belly fruits and veggies from day one, spent many summers at Camp Full Belly, became camp counsellors, and now take on responsibilities volunteering at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival in October every year. These are the kind of long-term relationships between a farm and its community that go deep and mean a lot to us, your farmers.  

In addition to the members for whom the program “works,” and who continue to be a part of the farm, we have, at any point in time, a majority of new members, trying out the CSA program to see if their busy lives can incorporate the challenge of cooking out of the box, sometimes with products that they might not have chosen to buy at the supermarket.  Hoping to make the CSA more accessible, we created our member portal, so that all of our members can create their own accounts, (and soon be able to add-on special orders through those accounts).  Our recipe archive (accessed through the recipe page of our web site) is built around the fruits and vegetables found in the box. Every day we respond to questions and concerns of members unsure how to use a new vegetable.

Each week, when we choose what we will put into the box, we think about and discuss the diversity, quality and value of the CSA box, knowing that our members are putting their trust in us — allowing us to choose.  The whole thing turns the modern food system topsy turvy — in the supermarket vegetable aisle, products from all over the world are on display! In fact just one bag of salad mix from the store almost surely contains greens grown in several different states, and hamburger meat from the meat department probably contains meat from cows that grew up in several different countries! Asking our members to build their meals around the products from one small farm facing the vagaries of our own local climate and weather, is actually a revolutionary concept, put in the context of the global food system.

It is Thanksgiving week, and we are thankful for many things, including the loyalty, flexibility and open-mindedness of our CSA members, both long-term and new-to-us. In this newsletter we are announcing a modest 5% increase in the price of our CSA boxes for 2017.  The last time we increased our prices was five years ago! We will, in future issues, perhaps talk to you about the significant increases in the cost of labor that lead us to make this change in our prices.  We may describe the challenges we face as we try to grow smallish quantities of such a diverse spectrum of fruits and vegetables in a food system focussed only on narrowly defined “efficiencies.” We may tell you about our commitment to soil-building with compost, cover crops, crop rotations, animal grazing and other experiments that we think will increase the flavor and nutrition of your fruits and vegetables.  For now, we hope that our price increase will not present a hardship to any of our members, and we trust that you understand that it is a necessary change.

We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving week.

—Judith Redmond

New Prices for 2017

Boxes purchased 4 in advance will be $19 per box or $76 for 4 boxes (was $18/box)

Boxes purchased 12 in advance will be $17.50 per box or $210 for 12 boxes (was $16.50/box)

Boxes purchased annually will be $16.50 per box or $792 for 48 boxes (was $16/box)

Our flower season starts in April.  Flower prices will be $8/bouquet for the entire 26-week season, or $8.50/bouquet if you purchase 4 bouquets in advance. In addition, we will be charging sales tax on flowers.  In the past we have backed sales tax out of the price of the flowers after purchase, but we will be doing it the more standard way (adding it on top of the purchase price) from now on.

These prices will go into effect for any renewals starting from December 12th, 2106 forward.  (Remember that the farm is on winter break from December 12th through January 8th.) The last time that Full Belly raised our CSA prices was in 2012!

Thank you.

Veggie Tips

Pomegranates: Free the seeds from the fruit the easy way. Eat the seeds straight out of the bowl, spoonfuls at a time.

Bok Choy: Bok Choy, garlic, vegetable oil, a splash of sesame oil and you have a delicious stir fry.  Serve it over some rice!

Potatoes: These potatoes are young and creamy.  Remember to refrigerate them like a fresh vegetable and keep them out of the light. Make them into potato soup, or Spanish tortilla. The dill that is in your box should go well in most dishes that you make with the potatoes.

News From the Farm | November 14, 2016

Guest contribution from our friends at the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN)

Healthy soils not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration, but also provide tangible benefits to farmers’ bottom lines, their communities’ health, and the wildlife around them. So wouldn’t it be great if farmers could get paid to improve soil health? Thanks to new groundbreaking legislation, they can.

California is launching a first-of-its-kind program to pay farmers to adopt agricultural practices that enhance soil health and mitigate climate change. The state legislature established the Healthy Soils Program in late August and provided $7.5 million in start-up funding. The program will provide grants to growers for on-farm demonstration projects and soil management practices that provide clear climate benefits such as applying compost, mulching, and planting hedgerows.

img_0945Food “waste,” or food production? [Read more…]

Veggie Tips

Napa Cabbage: In Asian cuisines, Napa Cabbage can be made into a salad by shredding the cabbage and combining with some roasted almonds, and sesame seeds, flavored with soy sauce, oil and vinegar. This web page has some great ideas for using your Napa cabbage.

Watermelon Daikon Radish:  Daikon radishes are used all over the world in many ways — not just on top of salads.  Slice them lengthwise with lime or lemon and salt, add them to miso soup, roast them with other veggies or place them in thin slices on top of a buttered baguette!  

Fennel: If you are using fennel in salad, you  might want to think about slicing it fairly thin.  Here is a recipe for Portuguese Fennel Soup that uses the fennel fronds and the bulb, as well as other veggies common in your CSA box at this time of year — garlic, cabbage and potatoes. Anthony’s Fennel Slaw, using lemon and a hard cheese is probably one of our all time favorite ways to use fennel.

News From the Farm | November 7, 2016

As the season of autumn abundance is upon us, I am checking in from the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic (CMC), where I have the privilege of working as a volunteer, providing free holistic and integrative healthcare to underserved women who are living with cancer. For the past 25 years, CMC has offered a wide range of holistic services to women who could not otherwise afford them: therapeutic massage and other kinds of bodywork, acupuncture, Chinese and western herbal medicine, exercise classes, as well as referrals to medical and social services. For many of those 25 years, the Full Belly Farm community has delivered produce boxes to CMC though the Farm Box Donation Program.

Women whose lives are often complicated, hectic, and difficult enter a serene healing space that is entirely dedicated to their own health and healing when they arrive at the Clinic. They are greeted by caring, compassionate staff and hot herbal tea.  And the first thing they see when they walk in, is a beautiful display of Full Belly fruits and vegetables, free for the taking. They are always taken – by the end of each shift, the fruits and veggies are gone. [Read more…]

Veggie Tips

Pomegranates: There is a video on our web site showing you one easy way to seed a pomegranate.  You can keep the seeds in the refrigerator in a covered container, or leave them out as a snack.  If you get your box every other week, you are on the pomegranate schedule — let us know if you would like to get on a different plan…

Karinata Kale: This is a very special kale grown only by two Capay Valley farms. It is a cross between red Russian kale and Mustard. Lately I’ve been chopping up my greens, then cooking them in a bit of water flavored with apple cider vinegar, or some other acid like lemon or wine vinegar.  When they’ve absorbed most of the water, you can add a bit of butter and stir fry them for a few minutes. 

Leeks: Cut the leeks lengthwise to clean them.  Then put the two sides back on top of one another to chop and you have pretty, perfect sized half rounds!

Potatoes: These potatoes should be treated like a fresh vegetable rather than a storage vegetable — put them in the refrigerator and don’t leave them in light.  The skins have not ‘set,’ so don’t worry if they get scuffed up— the potato is tender and creamy.

Salad Mix/Lettuce: If your salad mix or lettuce is wet when it arrives, you might want to shake out some of the excess water — we do try to do that at the farm, but sometimes we don’t have time to dry the lettuce properly.  At some time we may invest in an industrial-size salad mix drier.  The salad mix is one of the most fragile things in your box this week — eat it first!

News From the Farm | October 31, 2016

We have been enjoying rain and the forecast for unsettled weather has created a marked difference to the start of this fall rainy season compared to the past 5 years when there was no fall rainy season. We have surpassed 3 inches here, creating a hue of soft green emerging from the straw-yellow hills. All edges have come alive as warm temperatures double plant growth in a great start to Fall. 

Fall work includes tomato fields to clean up, cover crops to plant, hoeing and cultivation of our greens and winter crops, hard squash in the fields to be picked up, pruning, early grasses to till in ahead of November grain planting, and repairs to equipment that is limping toward the year-end finish line.

This rain is a blessing that requires a bit of adjustment on our part. The more that it rains, the more the calculus changes. Little or no rain means that we adjust with pumped water, providing the moisture needed to grow crops. A lot of rain creates muddy fields where the crops that we harvest are carried to the edges. Picking slows down, tractors stop and raingear-clad crews carry 5 lbs of mud on each boot.  [Read more…]

Happy Halloween From Full Belly Farm!

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Veggie Tips

Mizuna: This is an Asian green, very mild and can be eaten raw or cooked.You can add it to your salad or put it in a miso soup. Or you can steam it very lightly and toss it with your pasta and fresh parmesan.

Golden Nugget Winter Squash: You can store your squash on the counter in a cool dry place.  It should be good for several weeks if you don’t use it right away.  

Salad Mix: If your salad mix looks wet when it arrives, it wouldn’t hurt to shake out some of the excess water — we try to do that at the farm, but sometimes we don’t get it all out.  The salad mix is one of the things that you should think about eating earlier rather than later in the week.  We don’t treat it with chlorine like they do the bagged mixes in the stores.

Tokyo Turnips: Separate the green tops from the bottoms.  These mild turnips are delicious cut up in rectangles, lightly salted (to wilt them like a quick pickle) and then served with a little bit of lime or lemon juice.  The turnips, once separated from their greens will store well.  The greens are delicious — don’t forget them in your refrigerator!

News From the Farm | October 24, 2016

Our news this week is very specific to those of you who are members of our CSA:  Full Belly has launched an on-line portal that will allow you to manage your CSA member account yourself.  This program has been a long time coming and we’re very excited that it is ready!

Once you have activated your account you will be able to look at your upcoming schedule for CSA boxes and special orders, check your account information, view your payment history, and submit an updated credit card.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-4-30-13-pm [Read more…]

Veggie Tips

Beets: Beet greens are very similar to chard.  The roots will store longer than the greens, especially if you cut the greens off before you store them.

Pomegranates: There is a video on our web site showing you one easy way to seed a pomegranate.  You can keep the seeds in the refrigerator in a covered container, or leave them out as a snack.

Leeks: We usually provide a vegetable from the allium family year-round.  We have heard that a few of you have had enough of the garlic, and our onions are a little bit small, so we’re moving on.  A good way to clean the leeks is to cut them in half lengthwise and rinse out any soil that was trapped in the layers. We have a nice list of recipes that use leeks on our web site and the Leeks Vinaigrette features them as the main attraction.

News From the Farm | October 17, 2016

Seasonality is a characteristic of agriculture.  Some seasons are busy, others less so. Busy times mean more employees — and less busy times – well, seasonality in farming is why it has always been hard for farm workers to find year-round steady work. Most people still think of farm workers as migrants, moving from one part of the country to the next, following the harvest as crops mature. For migrant farm workers from time immemorial, there have always been periods of time when work is scarce. This is unlike almost any other profession.  Sure, teachers have traditionally had time off in the summer.  Landscaping and construction are also kind-of seasonal.  But I think not to the extent that is built into the very nature of farming.  Harvest time is fraught with urgency — the crop must be in the barn and out of the rain, or at the processing plant and out of the field, in a short window of time, or it will be lost. All the effort of keeping the crop safe, growing it from a seed to a grain, or from a bud to a fruit, can be for naught, if the harvest fails for one reason or another.  

That popular conception, of farm workers as migrants, isn’t in fact, accurate any more.  The number of farm workers who migrate within the US has fallen by 60% since the 1990’s, just as migration back and forth from Mexico has fallen.  Now, as documented by agricultural economists, only a small percentage of farm workers migrate within the U.S. and this is true for both undocumented and documented workers, and in all areas of the country, in all demographic groups. There are several reasons for these changes at the macro level, and one is that the agricultural workforce is now older, and more experienced in farm work.  Workers are more likely to be married and living with their families, with kids in school, and a car in the garage. As farm working immigrants put roots down in their new communities, they are less willing to migrate.  Another important part of the changing picture has to do with immigration policy. While there are still workers moving in and out of the country from Mexico and Central America, that flow has diminished.  In our Capay Valley, we have seen all of these factors at work. [Read more…]

Veggie Tips

This is a wonderful moment in the march of the vegetables through the seasons — we have summer and fall vegetables at the same time in your Box…

Watermelon Radish (also known as Red Daikon): It is probably not quite time to make roasted vegetables (red daikon is very good roasted), so you may want to try our Miso Soup with Kale and Daikon, a simple, quick recipe.  Daikon radishes are ubiquitous in Asian cuisine and a worthy vegetable to get to know.  

Bok Choy: Another Asian green, also easy for you to use.  Bok Choy is often served with rice.  The stalks are meant to be a little bit crisp after you cut up the leaves and stir fry them.  Salt, garlic and a little sesame oil (if you have it) will make this a delicious vegetable dish.  Add some tofu and you have a complete meal.

Buttercup Squash:  We grow many different varieties of winter squash. There are smaller varieties like Sweet Dumpling and Delicata that have lighter colored flesh and thinner skin (you can eat the skin on all of the winter squash, but especially these two).  We also grow the well-known varieties like Butternut and Acorn, available in most stores.  For several years we have grown a smaller version of butternut, called honeynut — you are likely to see that in your boxes soon.  Green Kabocha and Red Kabocha have deeper colored, earthier flesh.  Your squash this week is Buttercup — more like the Kabocha than the Delicata. It is a hearty squash that can be eaten straight out of the oven after roasting, or made into a soup.

Parsley: Chimichurri sauce, green sauce (with avocados, cilantro, jalapeño, lime, olive oil, nuts), or as a flavoring for the greens, or veggie bowls that you make during the week.  Parsley is a superfood — very nutritious.

News From the Farm | October 10, 2016

This week we are sharing some correspondence that we received:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Recently, my 8th grade history teacher had my class and me give up one of our favorite foods for five days.  The purpose of the experiment was to show us what it might have been like for Europeans to go without some luxuries when they searched for new lands. [Read more…]

Veggie Tips

Green Beans are very high in many disease-fighting micronutrients, antioxidants and phytonutrients.  They can be cooked very easily — For example, you can blanch them  in well salted water, drain them and then fry them in a bit of oil, lemon and butter.

Grapes: We feel that this has been an exceptionally good year for our grapes.  We hope that you are enjoying them as well.  We have repeated them in the boxes for several weeks in a row and received no negative feedback…

Mizuna: This is a light green that can be eaten raw as in this recipe.  Mizuna is also a great addition to miso soup.

News From the Farm | October 3, 2016

Last weekend’s, Hoes Down Harvest Festival was a wonderful celebration of the abundant vegetable, fruit, flower and nut harvest from the farms of California.  After a few very busy weeks of preparation, we are now focussing back on production. Many thanks to all of you who participated. Here are a few photos to give you a flavor of the activities.

garden-ballerinas

Garden Ballerinas [Read more…]

Veggie Tips

Basil: This basil has a few flowers, but don’t throw them out! Basil flowers can be sprinkled on salad or pasta. They are totally edible and taste similar to the leaves — perhaps a bit milder. Don’t store your basil in a wet bag. It needs to be cool and dry. You can even put it in a jar like a bouquet, on the counter (in a cool place).

Acorn Squash:  The first of our hard squash harvest is in your box this week.  Later, you will get butternut, red kabocha and other varieties. At the beginning of the squash season we often simply bake the squash, slice it up when it comes out of the oven, and serve it.  Once at the farmers market a gentleman said to me, “I just need food in the CSA box that I can cook quickly and serve for dinner to my kids.” I think there were some obscure things in the box that week and he wasn’t sure that they qualified.  Well, acorn squash probably does qualify.

Tokyo Turnips: Mild and tender with just a little spice.  These are good raw or lightly cooked.  They don’t need to be peeled.  When they are raw, you can have them with a dip, or dice them into a salad..  Don’t miss out on the delicious greens — they also cook quickly. Try this soup.