Today’s CSA Box – Week of July 18, 2016

*Click on produce above for more information and Recipes

Veggie Tips

Basil: The basil needs to be stored dry and cool (not cold).  One way to do this is to put it in water like a flower bouquet in a cool part of the kitchen.  The leaves will turn  black if they are wet and in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Corn: In the class we had last Saturday with Bradley Ogden, he showed us how he takes the kernels off the corn cob.  He boils the corn IN ITS HUSK for 8 minutes.  Then he removes the husk and wipes down the corn with a kitchen rag to remove the silks.  Then he cuts the kernels off.

Flamingo Peppers: This variety is yellow right now — and tastes like a bell pepper.  Soon the peppers will turn orange and then red, getting sweeter every week.

Potatoes: You can make potato salad without mayonnaise if you want.  Cook the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Then sprinkle them with a good olive oil, plus salt and pepper.  Cut corn kernels off the cob and add them to the salad, with a bit of basil and even some of the cherry tomatoes (halve the cherry tomatoes first and flavor them directly with a good salt).

News From the Farm | July 18, 2016

Several months ago we reported on a bird diversity survey being done here at Full Belly Farm by researchers from Washington State University. They are interested in understanding bird species diversity on farms and how the layout of farms and landscapes affects birds. They just completed their second survey and one of the researchers shared her thoughts: 

“Full Belly had the highest diversity index of the California farms for both surveys. (I haven’t calculated it for Washington and Oregon farms yet and will do this once we survey them again.) Full Belly also had very high species evenness without any particular species really dominating. Interestingly, the Capay Valley farms all had high evenness. I’m planning to explore further how the surrounding landscape is affecting the species we find on the farms and what the potential implications of this are.

“There were about 1.25 times more birds observed in our first survey (in early May). There were four more species in survey 1, but a lot were migrants using Full Belly as a stop-over site to refuel (cedar waxwings, black-headed grosbeaks, and American goldfinches).

“I observed American robins, brown-headed cowbirds, black phoebes, Brewer’s blackbirds, Cassin’s kingbirds, house sparrows, lesser goldfinches, red-winged blackbirds, and western bluebirds in row crop fields. Hopefully we will have some results by next field season from our diet analysis to see who is controlling pests. Brewer’s blackbirds have been cited as good crop pest control agents, and lesser goldfinches have been cited to eat lice. I’m sure the brown-headed cowbirds are doing a good job eating pests off the sheep and cows.

“Now the important stuff: birds I saw that were super cool. The second coolest sighting was a California thrasher by the river. The coolest sighting by far was a golden eagle I walked up on just finishing eating another bird. It was in the hay field the cows just moved out of into the brassica patch.

Thank you again for allowing us to survey Full Belly!”

— Olivia M. Smith, Washington State University

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week is a mix of colorful Amaranth!

New Site in Oakland near Lake Merritt

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Full Belly Farm is opening a new pick-up site starting this week, July 20th at the Bay Grape Wine Shop in Oakland.  The site will be open from 12:30 to 9:30pm on Wednesdays and is across from Lake Merritt at 376 Grand Avenue.  You can sign up to pick-up your box at this site through our web site.  

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.

Tomato Sauce – $12 for a 24-oz jar!

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

Apricot, Peach or Strawberry Jams – $8 for a 12-oz jar

Sun Dried Peaches – $5/ half pound

Almond Butter – $17/ jar – ask about bulk orders

Almonds – Raw $15/ pound  -OR-  Roasted $8/ half pound  -OR-  Tamari $8/ half pound

Iraqi Durum Wheat Flour – $3/ 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.

Veggie Tips

Peppers: The peppers in your box are called Gypsy Peppers.  As the summer continues, their color will change from yellow to orange to red, getting sweeter each week.  Gypsy peppers have slightly thinner walls and skin than bell peppers.  They are great for roasting, grilling and stuffing.

Tomatoes: We grow many types of tomatoes, but a lot are heirlooms – they come in many colors and shapes, each one an individual.  Heirlooms are often this way – with a lot of natural variation in the plants in the field.  Some of you have asked why it is that Full Belly sends the more ‘regular’ and standard-looking tomatoes to our store accounts.  It is true that the stores demand those tomatoes – but we discount the more interesting ones and send bigger bags to our CSA members.  We hope that you enjoy them! These are best stored in a cool place, but not so cold as your refrigerator.

Cucumbers: Who needs lettuce when you can make your salad with cucumbers and tomatoes? I usually add chopped fresh herbs like basil or parsley.  Diced onion, marinated for a few minutes in the vinaigrette salad dressing is also delicious.

News From the Farm | July 11, 2016

Hard at work for several years, regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been writing rules and regulations that some say are the most sweeping reform of our ‘food safety’ laws in 100 years. ‘Food Safety’ in this context refers to prevention of food borne illnesses, and the Produce Rule (finalized in 2015) sets on-farm standards that will apply to all farms growing fruits and vegetables.

Many farm-based organizations like National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and California’s Community Alliance with Family Farmers, mobilized volunteer and community leaders to advocate standards that were realistic on the ground and consistent with principals of sustainability.  These groups argued that there was too much focus on keeping wildlife off of the farm; too great an effort to eliminate the use of animal-based soil fertility (like compost); and unrealistic requirements to document every detail of vegetable production. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week is Ammi (a Queen Anne’s Lace type) and Amaranth!

Veggie Tips

Cabbage: This Blue Vantage variety of cabbage is coming out of its storage in our cooler. We hope that you agree that it is nice to have something green along with summer sweetness.  Think about shredding up the cabbage to use in some fish or vegetarian tacos.  Sprinkle it with salt and lime/or lemon and let it marinade and wilt for a few minutes prior to using it in the tacos. The cabbage will last for some time in your refrigerator.

Corn: Last week we wrote about the corn earworm (go to the Farm News page of our web site and look at last week’s newsletter).  There will sometimes be earworms in the tips of your corn.  Just cut off the tips if you feel the worms there.  Here is a good way to cut the corn off the cob.

Tomatoes: They have arrived. Full steam ahead.

News From the Farm | July 4, 2016

The peak of summer is almost here! It was super-hot all of last week, over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day, and we had so many cherry tomatoes, melons, green beans, and sunflowers, to pick…  So last week I spent a lot of time bunching sunflowers, picking cherry tomatoes and truck loading. In terms of truck loading, during the summer we struggle to get everything into our trucks. The pallets of tomatoes and melons are very tall and heavy so it’s hard to move them and our beautiful flowers take lots of space because we can’t stack them. Needless to say, working all day under the crazy hot sun is very hard.  However, after work, you can find the best melon ever, which encourages us to go to the next day.

This kind of summer work reminds me of my first summer at Full Belly Farm. I arrived here end of May, 2015 and started working as one of the interns. I’m Shohei Shimizu, from Aichi Prefecture in Japan. I’m still a student of Hokkaido University because I took 2 years off after I finished sophomore year. At that university, I studied Agricultural Economics. When I was looking for some interesting books in the library to kill time before the next class, I happened to find a book about CSA. That’s why I’m here, in Guinda California. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week is Zinneas!

Our Apologies

Our wonderful delivery driver of many years, Francisco Tello Segura (our photo of him is several years old), is at home convalescing after a kidney transplant. This is wonderful – he had been waiting for a kidney for several years and the new kidney should improve his quality of life immeasurably. However, it caught us a bit flat footed at a time when our truck routes are very complicated and our trucks are very full.  As a result, our alternate drivers have had a hard time getting to some of our CSA sites on time. This has inconvenienced many of our members and we sincerely apologize.  We are working hard to solve these logistical problems.

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Veggie Tips

Basil: Store your basil dry in the refrigerator or in a vase with a bit of water in a cool place on your counter. This is one of the more delicate items in your box so you may want to think about using it towards the beginning of the week.  Besides making pesto, you can chop the basil to add flavor to the green beans, eggplant or summer squash when you use them.

Eggplant: Keep it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Eggplant absorbs flavors of herbs and sauces when you are cooking.  If you have a grill  just rub a bit of oil on the sliced eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill it quickly on both sides. 

Onions:  Our members who get a box every other week will have noticed that there are certain things that alternate regularly during the year — garlic and onions are an example.  The result can be that our every-other-week members are getting one or the other in every box!

Summer Squash: We are only growing two types these days, zucchini and yellow crookneck.  They can be used fairly interchangeably.  They store well if kept cold, in a bag in your vegetable crisper in the refrigerator. The Full Belly recipe archive contains an easy recipe for Roasted or Grilled Eggplant, Squash and Onions as well as a recipe for Summer Squash Basil Soup. Both of those recipes use items in this week’s box.

News From the Farm | June 27, 2016

We know that many of you are wondering where the tomatoes are and why you are “still getting beets and cabbage in your boxes.”  We also note that some of our members are happy to continue getting something green for awhile, like a cabbage…   As one of our members commented, “every single selection is someone’s favorite or someone’s least favorite.”  Even though the CSA boxes sometimes have the same vegetables in them for a few weeks, taken as a whole, the variety of fruits and vegetables in the boxes from season to season results in a remarkably diverse cuisine, providing healthy inspiration to your creativity and ingenuity in the kitchen.

June is always a month when the CSA boxes reflect a transition from cool weather crops to summer crops. You can follow that transition from afar… In June, the summer crops are growing so fast that you can see changes from day to day, but on the other hand, the spring crops are slowing down and starting to be a little peaked. By the end of June, the greens are long gone and the first ripe tomatoes and melons can be found if one goes on a determined search from one end of the row to the other.  By July, the yield of tomatoes is growing exponentially, from one or two cherry tomatoes, to a few boxes that go to farmers markets, to enough that we could literally fill your kitchen with them, multicolored and vibrating with summer heat and energy. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet is a variety of black-eyed-susan that we are excited about this year, called Cherokee Sunset.

Please Sign Off When You Pick Up Your Box

Please use the sign-in sheets when you pick up your box.  If there is a box left over at the end of the day, we can use the sign-in sheet to let us know who might not have picked up their box.  If some people have taken a box but not signed the sheet, it can be difficult to figure this out.

Veggie Tips

Green Beans: Your box contains 1/2 pound. You can make a quick stir-fry to go over pasta by cutting the beans in half and frying them with garlic or onions, some herbs, a little bit of lemon and maybe some roasted nuts and cheese on the top.

Green Cabbage: Time for cole slaw, braised cabbage or a cabbage-based soup. Even a small batch of sauerkraut is pretty easy to make If you don’t eat your cabbage right away, no worries. It will store well in your refrigerator. 

Potatoes: These will store in the refrigerator, so if you haven’t been using them up each week, don’t worry. There are many great recipes for potatoes in the Full Belly recipe archive.

Sweet Corn: We haven’t grown much sweet corn for the last few years because of the drought. This year we are venturing back into some small plantings, with a bicolor variety that we have enjoyed in the past. There are yellow and white kernels. We do not grow the ‘super sweet’ varieties because we prefer the old-fashioned corn flavor. You can eat this raw right off the cob, or steam it for a few minutes. See this article for tips on cutting the kernels off the cob. Eat the corn early in the week – the sweetness turns to starch quite quickly. Store it in your refrigerator with the husk on. 

News From the Farm | June 20, 2016

It has been a busy week at Full Belly! Summer came a’knockin with full force and brought the arrival of melons, tomatoes (we picked our first heirlooms!), more peach varieties, plums, apricots, eggplant, cucumbers, and corn – hooray for summer flavors! For most of us at the farm, we hold off eating summertime fruits and vegetables until they are in season which makes this time of year especially mouthwatering. In addition to the new harvest, we also welcomed our first group of summer campers to the farm yesterday – eager youngsters who will spend the week working, playing, swimming, laughing, and farming. Their first task: to care for the 11 new piglets born less than 24 hours before their arrival. 

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These little piglets are busy eating – and growing! Their mother, Blueberry, will provide milk for them for a little over a month before they start to eat Full Belly grains and veggies! [Read more…]

Flower Notes

Your CSA bouquet this week is a beautiful Black Eye Susan and Safflower mix!

Veggie Notes

Basil: Basil is delicate.  If it gets too cold in the refrigerator, the leaves will turn black.  Try putting the basil in a jar of water, just like a bouquet of flowers.  Then loosely cover it with a plastic bag and leave it on the counter.

Green Beans: Green Bean Salad with a Shallot Vinaigrette and Homemade Croutons, Buttery Garlic Green Beans, Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic – these recipes are all available in the Full Belly recipe archives.  Green Beans store well in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper.

Red Beets: So nutritious – Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A, B & C, beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid.  Let’s make some borscht!

Red Cabbage: Try it braised or baked slowly with butter, onions, apples, a bit of vinegar and some spices – You may not buy red cabbage at the store regularly, but once you discover some favorite recipes, you will realize that it can serve as the basis for a versatile and economical main dish.  Red cabbage stores well in the refrigerator. 

News From the Farm | June 13, 2016

The weekend has nearly run out on me – 9pm on Sunday evening and a Beet is due by tomorrow morning at 6am. There is simply a lot to report in the short space of a few paragraphs… The farm update: Spring is done and Summer has arrived. Our early peaches, though small, have been pretty tasty. We have run through the first four varieties with another 12 or so to go. The Royal Blenheim apricots are a couple of weeks early so you should see them in your boxes – at least this week. We have Santa Rosa plums, basil, beans, the first sweet corn is ripening, summer squash, goddess and orchid melons – all so early, and, the crème de la crème, the first pick of cherry tomatoes. It is getting too hot for the collards, kale, chards, lettuces, broccoli, cabbage and carrots. Spring has sprung out of here and summer is upon us. 

We have the ongoing tasks of preparing ground for late summer plantings – last tomatoes, summer cover crops, flowers, winter squash, leeks, celery root, and the final melons will go in the ground until the first of July. Planting will then take a break for a month as we focus on harvest. Indeed, we often have so much to do during the summer months that we are challenged to get it all picked, sold, packed and shipped. It is a period when the farm earns about 40% of our annual income as all of the springtime work of planting crops shifts to the harvest. This season it seems that things are a couple of weeks early so we are shifting to a yet higher gear to bring it all in.  [Read more…]

Flower Notes

Your CSA bouquet this week contains beautiful Black Eyed Susan!

Veggie Notes

Green Beans: The first green beans of the year!  This Blue-Lake-type variety is called Savannah.  If you cook them, just do it for a short time!

Cabbage: What a perfect size this green cabbage is! Cabbage is one of the vegetables that really grows on you once you realize how versatile and easy it is.  It will store well for awhile in your refrigerator.  It can be wilted for a crowd-pleasing salad, made into coleslaw, added to soups, or braised as in the simple recipe on our web site Butter Braised Cabbage.

Peaches: This variety is called Brittney Lane, a yellow-fleshed early maturing peach.

Garlic: The Full Belly garlic crop of 2016 has completed its journey from clove, to green garlic, to bulbed-but-not-fully-dried garlic, to a cured garlic head that you find in your CSA box. These bulbs will be fine stored on the counter.  For a special treat, roast them in the oven and squish them out of the skin when they are soft and delicious.

News From the Farm | June 6, 2016

Guest Contribution  –  Soil as a Carbon Sink

Due to climate change, scientists predict that California will experience weather extremes that will put a huge strain on our communities and on agriculture. Farmers and ranchers are among the first to experience the effects, including erratic weather, pest pressure, drought, yield decreases, and heat waves that impact worker safety and comfort. 

California’s farms and ranches produce two potent greenhouse gases: methane (mainly from livestock) and nitrous oxide (from fertilizers)—as well as the ubiquitous carbon dioxide from fossil fuel-powered equipment and pumps. Farmers can reduce emissions in a number of ways: replace synthetic nitrogen fertilizers with organic materials such as compost or manure; improve water use efficiency so less energy is required to pump water; produce on-farm renewable energy; and more. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

Your CSA bouquet this week contains Sunflowers, Safflowers and Scabiosas.

Feedback From Our Members

Q: Would you please consider not distributing cling peaches? They are suitable for canning, but are nearly impossible for eating out-of-hand, which is the use that your subscribers will make of them (who is going to can 7-8 small peaches?)

A: Full Belly grows (or has grown) nearly 25 different varieties of peach, most of which are freestone. Generally a clingstone peach has fruit that does not fall off the pit and a freestone peach has fruit that does fall of the pit.  Freestone peaches usually ripen a little bit later in the season than clingstone. Both types can be delicious. Some people don’t like to eat clingstones, because they can be a little messy.  Grandma Lois (Farmer Dru’s mom) used to call them ‘bend-over’ peaches!

Please Return our Green Boxes

If you have any of our Green CSA Boxes at your home, please return them to your pick up site as soon as possible.  If you get a home delivery of your CSA box, please make sure that you return all of our Green Boxes.  Every one of those boxes is important to us.  Last week we had to use quite a few of the waxed cardboard boxes because some of our Green Boxes had not been returned.  The waxed cartons, sadly, end up in the landfill. Help us to Stop Waste!

Veggie Notes

Beets: Loose beets, without their leaves will store well for several weeks in a bag in your refrigerator.  We have some great recipes for beets on the Full Belly website.  One of my favorites is Pasta with Roasted Beet Sauce.

Peaches:  As far as I’m concerned, smallish peaches are the way to go — perfect size for a snack.  I often make breakfast smoothies with the ripe peaches.  Chop them into the blender, then add milk, ice and maybe a bit of sugar.

Parsley: This culinary herb is rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber with no cholesterol or fat. Is is native to Europe’s Mediterranean region. Use it fresh as a garnish, or dry to use as you would any other culinary herb.

News From the Farm | May 30, 2016

What’s happening at Full Belly Farm, as June and the official beginning of Summer approach? A morning’s walk around the farm reveal a patchwork of activities, just like the patchwork of fields — all getting sewn together to form the season’s quilt.  Young tomatoes, corn and melons in clean fields, as yet untouched by the onslaught of daily harvests. A crew pounding stakes into the ground, preparing to trellis the growing tomatoes.  Netted fence that has been put up around the orchards to protect the ripening fruit from hungry deer. Onions in burlap bags sitting in the beds, curing. Trucks, forklifts, backhoes and tractors, all at work on various projects.  We’re expecting some hot weather in the next few weeks, so the pace is likely to kick into even higher gear very soon.

GarlicHarvest

Yesenia Gaxiola Vega, Wendy Arita Paz, and Maria Machado Castro harvesting garlic. [Read more…]