March 2016

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Farm Update

Hello CSA members!

We reached a historic moment at the farm today. After lots of hard work for the last year and half, our farm is producing more healthy food than ever, and this month we reached a total harvest of 1000 lbs of produce for the month of March. For a farm of our size, this is quite an accomplishment, especially considering that we have reached this goal without the use of any petroleum products, tractors, or other gadgetry. We would like to take this time to once again thank all of our supporters, especially Members of The Growing Club and our CSA members for supporting this work. We really appreciate all of you in supporting us to make the changes we think our community needs. We are now looking forward to a bountiful summer. We just got nearly 400 tomato plants out of the nursery which will be planted in the next two weeks, eggplants are in, and peppers will follow soon. Expect to see the first zuchinnis in your box in about 2 weeks too!

Until next time!

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Glenn, our Pasadena delivery man, picks up his boxes

Glenn, our Pasadena delivery man, picks up his boxes

Lynn packs up our beautiful carrots

Lynn packs up our beautiful carrots

Chickens roam in our beautiful pasture.

Chickens roam in our beautiful pasture.

This week’s CSA Box

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

NOTE: We are trying to get around to update vegetables descriptions. In the mean time, for items without a provided description, feel free to Google uses and recipes.

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch carrots
– 1 bunch daikon radish with edible tops
– 1 bag snow peas
– 1 bunch broccoli

Green Vegetables:
– 1 bunch mixed kale
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 head lettuce
– 1 bunch mibuna*

Herbs:
– 1 bunch garlic chives*
– 1 bunch lemongrass

Fruit:
– several oranges
– several lemons*

*LARGE VEGGIE BOX ONLY
**SMALL 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 inch 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. 🙂

With our CSA and vendor list growing steadily with every passing week, it was only a matter of time until our capacity to process boxes full of beautiful produce was seriously tested- and this week it certainly was. We had boxes and coolers spread over every available inch of table/counter space, and even on makeshift platforms. Fortunately we anticipated this growth and had just enough boxes and ice packs to complete our week’s order. To quote Katie (our intern manager), “it’s a good problem to have.” I couldn’t agree more.

The vegetables themselves seem to be responding with the warmer weather- I’ve seen light pink carrots and bright red beets that I’ve never harvested before, and they’re just beautiful! The leafy vegetables (especially lettuces) have grown huge heads the size of volleyballs. The different kales are still providing a consistent and reliable crop every week and parsley is really starting to take off.

Our composting program with Lynn has produced so much beautiful and healthy loam that we’ve had to begin moving some of our piles to the back of the farm for stockpiling in order to make enough space for our new batches. We’ve been adding juice pulp on a weekly basis along with rotting citrus and horse bedding and the results are top quality, organic compost packed with nutrients and worms. Watching the compost “cook” and breakdown with every passing week is a real eye opener, and a testimony that we can all reduce our waste significantly if only we compost table scraps and other biodegradable material (newspapers, cardboard, cotton).

On Friday, fellow intern Alex, Lynn, and I went to a local horse boarding facility and filled up Alex’s truck with FREE horse bedding… FREE! Not only was it a local source (only a few miles from Sarvodaya), but also a renewable and free source since the horse facility has a stockpile of used bedding and will continue to have that stockpile for the foreseeable future. We brought the horse bedding back to Sarvodaya and added a good amount to our new compost pile to boost the “cooking” process as well as to enhance the variety of ingredients in our compost. This horse facility is a great resource for people to take advantage of for their own homes as well, as store bought compost can become very costly.

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The compost mixture we made in our class has all the elements needed, it has started to become compost. We are using it in the vegetable beds for new plants. We had to go back to the horse stables to get more horse bedding to make more compost. This trip proves to be more labor intensive work for our class. The tractor was out of commission and we has to load the truck by hand, with shovels. The whole team pitched in to load the truck. Team work what a difference it makes, when it comes to hard work.
I am also practicing what I learned in the compost class at home. I am starting to make my own compost. I contacted a source for wood chips. A tree trimming company agreed to deliver a free load of mulch to my house. This is a win win situation for the tree trimmers that do not have to pay the dump fee to trow away the tree they just trimmed. I win because I do not have to pick up, load and unload my truck and pay for the mulch. I will also be picking up a load of horse bedding soon for my compost. I love all the new information I am getting. I now can make compost to nourish my garden at home.

Hello all! This is Karin Gredvig and I am a new intern here at Sarvodaya Farms!! I started interning in early February and regrettably have yet to post here. Better late than never I guess! To start off I am from Altadena, CA and am 20 years old. I am in my second year of college at Pasadena City College. I am taking general education classes in hopes to transfer to the University of California, Davis for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (aka this internship is really up my alley). I became interested in general gardening when I went to school in Chicago last year at DePaul University. I joined the Urban Farming Organization with a friend and instantly knew I was in the right place. I was fascinated by all the plants being grown and the community the club created. I learned a lot of broad concepts about urban farming and the urban farming scene in Chicago. When I came back home I knew I had to get involved with gardening or farming somehow, so I searched the internet!

I found the Growing Club, and through the Growing Club I found the Sarvodaya Farms internship. I thought it would be the perfect fit, and here I am today! Almost two full months into the internship and I love every second of it. Everyday I come home exhausted from all the work I have done, which is only a fraction of what everyone else is contributing! For this first blog post I want to talk the overarching attitude of the farm. This is one of my favorite aspects of the farm because you can see it with your eyes and feel it with your emotions. At the farm there is this attitude or mentality that everything that we see and touch here has a vital purpose and role. From the soil, to the water and plants, to the farmers and interns we all have a purpose. We are creating this food system that is cultivating and inviting nature to live and thrive. Rishi and Manju have made soil that fosters microbes, plants, and trees to grow. They have irrigated the fields to replenish this life and put water back into its cycle. They have created a local community to educate and share this love and nurture for earth. I witness this commitment to life everyday at the farm and it is never forgotten. It is pure and humbling. I am blessed and grateful to be a part of such an incredible endeavor. This internship has really introduced me to nature in way I have never experienced before. It is hard to put into words.

Next time I will be sure to leave you with some specific details of my daily duties on the farm and what I learn. I hope I have left you with some inkling to know more about Sarvodaya or at least to come visit the farm! Here is a picture of me which I think is very fitting because I totally look like a farmer! I took this picture while harvesting the various peas we have growing (the peas are my FAVORITE!).

Best,

Karin

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Description

snow peas are also known as Chinese pea pods since they are often used in stir-fries. They are flat with very small peas inside, and the whole pod is edible although the tough “strings” along the edges are usually removed before eating. snow peas are mildly flavored and can be served raw or cooked.

In the Kitchen

snow peas are delicious eaten raw in a salad, or lightly sauteed or stir fried. Cook them whole or chop them up. They are lightly sweet and keep their crispy texture when cooked.

Recipes

Quick Sesame snow peas

Ingredients:
1-tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 pound fresh snow peas, washed and patted dry
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Coarse kosher salt or flaky salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
1. Heat the sesame oil in a large sauté pan.
2. Add the snow peas and turn the heat down a little so they don’t burn. Cook, shaking the pan and tossing, for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until just barely warmed through and tender-crisp.
3. Remove from the heat and toss with lemon juice. Set aside to rest for a few moments, partially covered with a plate or splatter screen. Test after 5 minutes; they should still be crisp but tenderer.
4. Toss with salt and pepper and eat immediately.

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Description

A leafy green that is a close cousin to mustard greens, cabbage, and arugula. watercress has been cultivated in Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas for millennia and is used as both food and medicine. It contains more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals – more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and more vitamin C than oranges.

In the Kitchen

One of the best culinary aspects of watercress is it
versatility. It can be used as a salad green (a very nutritious one!) with Romaine lettuce or fresh spinach, steamed and eaten as a vegetable, and in soups for a subtle, peppery flavor. It’s also a standard ingredient for sandwiches in Britain for both common and high tea.

Recipes

watercress with Garlic and Scrambled Eggs
watercress Sambal
Ingredients:
watercress
¾ tablespoon sesame oil
1-tablespoon sambal (chili paste) or fresh chili
Salt to taste
Method:
1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the sambal chili and fry till fragrant.
2. Throw in the watercress and stir-fry briskly for a moment or 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
3. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately over rice.

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Farm Update

Hello CSA members!

Welcome to spring! Spring Equinox officially came and went, and we are so blessed to have the time and space to enjoy the beauty of spring in our farm. The wildflowers we planted last fall have finally grown up and begun to flower, and they are adding another layering of color and vibrance to the farm.  Along with the wildflowers blooming, we are seeing some wonderful (and not so wonderful) changes in our fields. The increasing heat and sunlight has made many of our vegetables grow huge (notice the 2lb heads of lettuce in your boxes and the larger size beets), but has also brought along a few issues like increased aphid pressure and caterpillar pressure. Luckily our ladybugs are hard at work chomping down on the sap-sucking buggers, so we haven’t had too much of an issue. Our farmer trainees are now entering the end of their 2nd month of training, and are continuing to build their farming skill-sets and knowledge.  In our Wednesday classroom session with them, we have now gone over the basics of soil, how to build soil health, water flows and cycles, and irrigation design and installation. By the end of the 4 months, many of them will have the knowledge it takes to develop a farm just like ours. We thank you all again for supporting this grand endeavor in urban farming, and please do come and visit.

Until next time!

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Chickens enjoying our bountiful pasture

Chickens enjoying our bountiful pasture

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Wildflowers blooming in our hedge rows.

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Our team packs up the CSA boxes for the week.

This week’s CSA Box

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

NOTE: We are trying to get around to update vegetables descriptions. In the mean time, for items without a provided description, feel free to Google uses and recipes.

Vegetables:
– 1 stalk celtuce
– 1 bunch beets
– 1 bunch broccoli
– 1 bag snow peas*
– 1 bunch baby daikon (edible roots and leaves)*

Green Vegetables:
– 1 bunch mixed kale*
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 head lettuce
– 1 box watercress

Herbs:
– 1 bunch parsley
– 1 bunch mint*

Fruit:
– several oranges
– several lemons*

*LARGE VEGGIE BOX ONLY
**SMALL 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 inch 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. 🙂

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Hi,my name is Alex I am a new intern at Sarvodaya Farms. My interest in organic farming comes from wanting to improve the health of my family. Everyday I learn new reasons why eating clean organic food is so vital to good health. In working in this farm we have learned how good soil health is very important to grow healthy crops. We are learning how to compost.
To make good compost you need different types of organic waste. Brown Carbons like wood chips, saw dust and hay straw. Nitrogen Greens like coffee grounds, food scraps, plant cuttings and manure are all very good for compost.
Making your own compost can also be expensive if you have to pay for the materials, part of the work is to to locate free sources for your waste products. A sources was located for our composting class that provided us needed waste for free. A horse stable in Chino let us have free horse manure and horse bedding all we need to do was pick it up.
Time for a group field trip. We went on my truck, to pick up the horse bedding. It was quite an experience it took a team effort to load the truck. The horse bedding was in a massive pile, it would have been a very labor intensive and messy work to load the truck by hand. We got lucky they had an old tractor that would not start. Our first task was to get it to work. We had to jump-start it. Once we got it to work loading the truck much easier, faster and not so back braking.
Once we loaded the truck we had to unload the was done by hand with shovels, it took the team 1 hour to unload the back of the truck. Now we had a pile of horse manure one of the main ingredients for our compost to show for our had work.

GMO-free, pest-free lettuce going to LA Burrito Project

Look at how we don’t have GMO’s, because we don’t have pests or weeds! Beautiful heads of lettuce going to LA Burrito Project

We pride ourselves on not growing GMO foods. All of our seeds are organic, often heirloom, and often saved by gardeners and farmers themselves. It’s interesting how charged this topic is – many scientists are neutral on the topic, mostly because they are coming at it from an extremely scientific point of view. The technology of genetically modifying foods is a pretty neutral thing in itself. Any attributes of the food can be modified – flavor, disease resistance, color, durability – but it has overwhelmingly been used for pesticide resistance on major commodity crops. Over 90% of the corn, soy, and sugar beets grown in the United States are genetically modified. This has been the most destructive use of GMO technology, effectively increasing overall pesticide use, which antagonizes pollinator populations and soil microbiota, and encourages the evolution of super weeds.

Government organizations declare that GMO foods are safe for human health and consumption, but the people are still wary of GMO foods. Vermont has been the first state to pass a GMO labeling law, stirring a political uproar, but has quietly defeated Big Food. On July 1 this year, there will likely be some products on grocery store shelves in Vermont that read in small fine print near the nutrition label, “produced with genetic engineering.”

Still, there are some exclusions to the Vermont labeling law, such as dairy, meat, and certain other products. Primarily an agricultural state, most Vermont cattle operations grow GMO RoundUp corn for feed. Because of the exemption on dairy and meat, Vermont will likely continue to grow GMO corn. Despite these exclusions, the effect on mass produced food is huge. Because of the complications in providing different food labels for different states, the easiest thing for Big Food to do is change their labeling for nationwide distribution.

Regardless of all the controversy around GMO’s, I know that GMO labeling will have major impacts on our collective awareness of food and health. It’s definitely a major step forward in taking back control of our food system, and another nudge towards a gentler, more ecological way of growing food.

The magical thing about the farm is that we pretty much don’t have weeds, and we barely have any pest problems. So we really have no need for pesticide resistant GMO crops. It looks magical, but it’s really because of thoughtful ecological design. The next step for us is to test our practices on a larger scale. Our approach depends on more labor, but that seems a small price to pay for preserving our livelihood on this planet.

The main argument for GMOs is that it is rooted in the belief that we need to grow more food to feed our growing population. However, the truth is that we throw away about 40% of all the perfectly edible food that is grown, and it does not get distributed fairly or efficiently to the people who need it, instead finding itself sitting on a landfill emitting methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. John Oliver’s bit on Food Waste is at once tragic and hilarious, and paints a perfect picture of the idiocy of the situation.

At the farm, not only are we building our market, we are exploring ways to increase access to healthy food. We have sold our produce to LA Kitchen, an organization the prepares healthy meals and snacks for people in need, we have donated our produce to the LA Burrito Project that provides free burritos in downtown, and we are currently in the process of accepting EBT payments for our produce. We would never ever landfill any of our produce – anything not sold or donated would get composted.

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Description

celtuce is an Asian lettuce that was bred for its stem. The whole plant is edible, stalk & leaves, but the stalk is the most valued part. celtuce has somewhat of a celery taste, hence the name. Stems and leaves can be cooked together or separate.

In the Kitchen

Peel the leaves off the stalk and use them for a quick stir-fry. All that’s needed is a clove of garlic and some oil. It can be combined with tofu, shrimp or chicken.

The stems are similar to celery. You need to peel the stem and discard the outer skin and cut the stock up into pieces. The stock is often eaten by itself as a stir-fry with garlic and onion. It has a rich flavor so you don’t need to do much with it.

celtuce likes butter. The taste of celtuce is strong, but it can be easily be overpowered by too many ingredients, simple preparations taste better. You don’t have to do much to it, just let the celtuce be celtuce.

Recipes

Simple recipe for the leaves: celtuce goes best with organic sesame oil but you can use any good quality oil. Peel & slice garlic, sauté lightly, without browning the garlic, just enough to infuse the oil. Add your choice of protein. When protein is done, add the celtuce leaves and heat enough to wilt. Season with salt and pepper then serve over rice. Eat over delicious brown rice or brown rice noodles.

Simple recipe for the stalk: Give the peeled stems a quick poach in some seasoned vegetable broth, dry them off and fry the stalks in butter. The flavor is amazing. You might think that cooking a vegetable in liquid and then frying it would be counter-intuitive, but after it’s been poached the flavor of the celtuce blooms, and comes alive. Even after cooking for 10 minutes or so in the broth, the stem’s flavor is intense. It’s a little hard to describe, but imagine a root vegetable with a silky texture that tastes intensely of something along the lines of toasted nuts or sunflower seeds. It’s really special.