February 2016

This week I wanted to show what it’s like on harvest days at the farm. Right out of the gate everyone is working together to get the produce harvested, cleaned, boxed and ready to go. It’s a joy to be apart of the team and I love the coordination I see happening.

I also show a little bit about lady bugs and clips of Rishi’s lesson he gave to us interns.

This week I was able to become more “hands on” with the CSA box prep. From harvesting, to cleaning/organizing, and recording, it was good to feel useful while also learning the Wednesday harvesting operation. Friday was spent making compost; adding woody (carbon) organic matter as a base, to softer (nitrogen rich) organic matter and making several layers of each. We also prepped a few beds and planted some lettuce starts.

I collected the eggs on Friday, of which we had almost two dozen. Right now we are experimenting with soaking the chickens’ feed in water a day in advance before feeding it to them to make the feed easier to digest, and also to cut down on our usage. Two chickens were introduced to the coops this week also and it was nothing short of chaos for the new chickens in their new community as they figured out the new pecking order.

The fruit trees in the back of the farm are flowering different shades of white/pink to dark magenta. On the neighboring lot, it looks as if there is a beehive in the shed which houses thousands of bees. I am happy that the bees are right next door to keep all the plants on Sarvodaya pollinated while at the same time, far enough so as not to directly interfere with our operation.

For our “classroom” session, we learned the importance of watering fruit trees via the surrounding areas around the trees rather than onto the trunks (to prevent mold and disease). We also discussed how to promote the well-being of the microbes in the soil and the methods of keeping soil “fed”. I am excited to see if the rain this week will help out the starts we planted last week.

JD_SmallThis week I started the first part of a series of videos I’m going to make for my Farmer’s Journal. This week I gave a short tour of the farm and a few edible plants that I find fascinating!

Check it out!

Prior to my first day, I did a quick YouTube search of Sarvodaya to see what the farm looked like, familiarize myself with the personnel and layout, and get a general understanding of the operations. Being that this is actually my first internship at anything at all, I wanted to gather as much information as I could to make sure this was a good choice. When I showed up on the first morning and saw the land and all the vegetables growing, I was pleasantly surprised (despite having just seen the videos on YouTube the night before) and knew immediately that my farming journey had begun.

The farm was actually a bit hard to find at first, even with Siri’s help. Being that it is an urban farm, it was still a bit hard to conceptualize a farm in the middle of the city. I don’t know why exactly, but I had the idea that the farm would be off in some back road, or through some rolling hills, or that there would be a big red barn somewhere. When Siri notified me that I had arrived I was confused as I didn’t see a red barn anywhere, in fact, the farm is located on a busy street with an elementary school down the block which makes for pretty busy morning traffic. I recognized Rishi and followed him to the back lot (the farm has a private residence in the front, facing the street) where all the beautiful vegetables were growing.

After a quick introduction to all the personnel and a quick briefing of the farm, we began to harvest vegetables for the weekly CSA boxes. I harvested two different types of kale, cilantro, arugula, and daikon (my favorite vegetable to harvest so far). I fed the chickens and the quail and oriented myself with their daily needs and egg harvesting protocol. I washed vegetables and organized (the daikon at least) them into the boxes. By noon, I prepped two beds with compost and feather meal and planted lettuce starts. The heat picked up quite a bit, and by noon everyone was deservedly tired.

There was a lot of work to do and a lot of concepts to learn, but I knew beforehand that it would be a barrage of new information and that everything would become easier with time.

The second day I spent with Lynn (the resident compost master!) and learned how to compost, where to source organic matter that would otherwise be thrown out into the trash, and the process of vermicomposting. I did some maintenance and cleaning of some beds and Rishi even showed us how to go about working with PVC and sprinklers.

Overall the first week was an awesome learning experience; I was most satisfied with finally getting back into gardening but this time around with a more organic-production based emphasis. The personnel on the farm were all helpful and knowledgeable which was a great resource to pull and learn from. daikon

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Hello CSA members!

We had a very exciting week out the farm! This week we had 3 new interns start in our farmer training program, and 2 more interview. All of our intern candidates have been exceptional and we are looking forward to training them for the next few months and having them become part of our community. The farm is growing beautifully with all of the winter greens and vegetables, and we are beginning to prepare for the summer season (which looks like it may come extremely early). The warm weather this week has been very worrying, and we are hoping for a drop back to some cooler temperatures next week. Either way, we are planning for an early spring and will be planting some summer crops within the next few weeks.

We are very excited this week to host our 3rd Coffee, Compost & Conversation event on Saturday, we hope you will join us for the event. We have had a really fun time at the last two, and this time we are scaling up a bit & are happy to be having the event on the weekend when more people can attend. We hope you will join us for the event, and enjoy your produce this week!

-Rishi

This week’s CSA Box

(Please click each item below for a larger photo, description, and preparation instructions.)

NOTE: There are many new items this week and it may take us a bit to update all the new item descriptions. We will update descriptions for unusual items first.

Vegetables:
– 1 daikon radish
– 1 russet potato (from a local farm)
– 1 bunch beets
– 1 bunch turnips
– 1 bunch chinese broccoli
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix*

Greens:
– 1 bunch Premier kale
– 1 bunch red russian kale
– 1 bag arugula
– 1 bunch bok choy*

Herbs:
– 1 bunch cilantro
– 1 bunch parsley*

Fruit:
– 1 lb sweet limes
– 2 lemons
– 1 lb grapefruit*

*LARGE VEGGIE BOX ONLY

Storage Instructions

Leafy Vegetables
In case your greens are wilted by the time you pickup your box, please follow these instructions:

– Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 to 2 inches of water
– Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
– Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
– Leave the greens in the bowl overnight and by morning they should be rehydrated

Wrap your rehydrated greens in a towel and store the in the fridge. Summer greens like water spinach, moringa, and yam leaves don’t last long either way, so eat those as soon as you can.

Herbs
The best way to store your herbs so that they keep longer is to cut the stems a little and place them in a glass filled with about an inch of water. Cover the leaves loosely with a bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Replace the water inside when it gets cloudy. This works great with basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and many other herbs.

Please feel free to share your recipes with us and also any storing tips you may have. 🙂

JD_SmallHello! My name is J.D. Cerince, one of the new interns this year. I’m very excited to finally be involved with the Growing Club and Sarvodaya.  I met Rishi and Manju last year at Permaculture Voices 2 and have been following their work ever since. I’ve always been inspired by their initiative to integrate farming into the urban environment and how they’ve done it through community development.

I joined the internship to gain hands-on experience growing food for a CSA. So far, in just a few days, I have gained a much deeper appreciation for what is going on here at the farm. From compost-to-produce box, the farm is managed as a whole system, or rather a community of organisms, including humans. Very quickly I felt at home with everyone on the team. Each person takes great pride and ownership over their role, and everyone is eager to help one another. No matter the age or experience everyone seems open to learn from everyone else.

csabox

The other thing that I was humbled by was the patrons of Sarvodaya. These are people who know the value of what they’re getting. Not just fresh holistically grown nutritious food, but a whole community. And they have an excitement in knowing that they’re helping an important cause.

I am very proud to be here and I hope to share more of my thoughts and the lessons learned here on Sarvodaya Farm.

Thank you,

JD

One of the things I love about the farm is that things are always changing. Sometimes the differences are obvious, and sometimes they happen in the subtlest of ways. There are always new things happening, new horizons reached, and new ideas tested in the moment. New seed varieties, new vegetables ready for harvest, new seedlings peeking through the soil surface, nodding their baby leaves to the sun. No day on the farm is ever the same, no moment is ever a dull one. All of my skills are put to use, and all of my wits are needed for the task.

We’ve been brainstorming ways to expand our CSA program to reach more people. We grow some of the healthiest food from the healthiest soil in town, and more people need to know about it. One idea we had was to do something fun on social media to showcase our produce. Before packing the vegetables into the CSA, I play with them to create mandalas and art pieces. It’s been a fun way to celebrate the harvest before it leaves the farm for its new home, and also generates a unique presence on social media. Social media is popular in LA, so hopefully veggie art can be one way to inspire people. Last week, the baby lettuces and kales that were transplanted a few months ago were finally at a harvestable size, ready to be transformed into something more than leaves:

babylettucemandalababylettucewave

Lots of new things are blossoming for the compost program. We have several applications for the Master Composter Internship program, and teaching opportunities continually arise. Hopefully with a few extra hands on the compost, we can bring in more waste materials, and create more nutrient rich soil for even more luxuriously healthy veggies.

The sun has been shining hotter these days, and while I’m not looking forward to the 90º heat, I am excited about spring and summer crops.