November 2016

Farmers’ Update

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

Today the farm glistened white with little magical crystals scattered across the soil and leaves of plants. Although the weather stations tell us that the low temperature is in the low 40s, the farm tells us a different story. A hundred feet from the nearest building and away from the radiant heat of asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks, the temperature drops much lower and the moisture of the air freezes into clear gems. As the day warms, those crystals melt, and the farm’s soil soaks up what was previously air moisture. Elsewhere (on concrete, asphalt, and compacted soils), this daily rejuvenation of water is lost to the air, available to no plant and no soil microbe.

Although this quantity of water may seem minuscule, it is the difference between an ecological farm such as ours and the common industrial-efficient farm. We take the time to care for the small details and microbes. On a tour of the farm last week, a student from Cal Poly Pomona asked about the mini-ponds around our farm, “How can such a small pond make any difference?” I responded in question, “If you were an insect, where would you find fresh drinking water in our urban areas?” Who, in their busy lives, takes the time to give water to wildlife? It’s the least we could do after we’ve drained all the wetlands, channeled all streams and rivers with concrete, and built malls over ponds and lakes. (I’m all for tearing down Walmarts to put in water storage lakes, who’s with me?)

Our farm does grow incredible food, but really we are trying to demonstrate the value and importance of our connections to the living beings we share this Earth with, from the microscopic protozoa to our friends and neighbors. To be good at any task, one must understand all its nuances. To be good at farming one must understand the nuances of Earth and it’s boundless connections and diversity. That’s where the flavor is.

Until next week,

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Cindy, a farm intern, smiles for the camera between farm chores.

Salad greens display a kaleidoscope of colors.

Susan, a farm intern, harvests yukina savoy.

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.

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Large Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch daikon radish (eat the roots and leaves)
– 1 large head black summer pac choi
– 1  box of snap peas
– 1 Waltham butternut squash
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 bunch yukina savoy
– 1 bunch yard long beans

Herbs:
– 1 bunch of holy basil
– 1 bunch garlic chives

Fruit:
– 1 lb pomegranate
– 1 lb sweet limes

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Small Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch daikon radish (eat the roots and leaves)
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 large head black summer pac choi
– 1 bunch collard greens
– 2 beets

Herbs:
– 1 bunch garlic chives

Fruit:
– 1 lb pomegranate

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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Description

is a type of winter squash that grows on a vine. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp with a compartment of seeds in the bottom. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, and potassium; and it is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin E.
Although technically a fruit, butternut squash is used as a vegetable that can be roasted, toasted, puréed for soups, or mashed and used in casseroles, breads, and muffins.

In the Kitchen

One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is roasting. To do this, the squash is cut in half lengthwise (see pictures), lightly brushed with cooking oil or put in a thin layer of water and placed cut side down on a baking sheet. It is then baked for 45 minutes or until soft. Once roasted, it can be eaten in a variety of ways.

The fruit is prepared by removing the skin, stalk, and seeds, which are not usually eaten or cooked. However, the seeds are edible, either raw or roasted, and the skin is also edible and softens when roasted.

Recipes

Fresh butternut squash Pie

This recipe makes one deep-dish old fashioned glass pie pan. It generously serves approximately 5 adults, or can be cut into eight medium-size servings.
– Bake at 400*
– Pre-bake of the squash adds 1 hour to total preparation time.

Ingredients

2 cups baked organic squash (Butternut, Sugar Pie)
1 cup organic heavy cream (Humbolt, Straus)
½ cup local organic honey
2 eggs from organically pastured hens
1 teaspoon ground organic cinnamon
½ contents of a fresh organic vanilla pod (or 1 teaspoon extract)
½ teaspoon finely ground sea salt

Variations:
½ teaspoon freshly ground organic nutmeg
½ teaspoons organic ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon organic ground clove

Directions:

1 – Cut open the squash, remove the seeds and set them aside in a covered bowl (see recipe below for toasted seeds).

2 – Place the squash open-side up on a non-reactive (not aluminum) baking sheet, and bake in the oven at 350* until you can insert a fork in the flesh and it feels soft. During baking, water will evaporate and concentrate the flavor, and the sugars will develop a caramelized aroma.

3 – Let the squash cool just until you can take off the rind.

4 – Place the baked squash into a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork (or you can add the eggs at this step and use an immersion blender).

5 – When the consistency is smooth (and if there are any strings, you can draw two knives in an X pattern through the puree to cut the filaments), add the cream, honey, eggs, vanilla, salt, and spices.

6 – Pour the custard batter into a glass or ceramic pan, with or without a crust.

7 – Bake at 400* until the center is set and you can insert a toothpick or stainless steel knife into the center and it comes out clean.

Note: some honey browns on the surface more than others, and if you increase the amount of honey, the top will certainly brown more, reflecting any hot spots in the oven (rotating the pie 180* in the oven after fifteen minutes of baking may ensure an even baking process).

Toasted butternut squash Seed Snack

Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, an element the body uses for internal organ tissue, and new cell generation needed in growing and healing.

1 = Briefly rinse the seeds in water, removing any strings. Lightly salt the seeds while they are still wet, and mix in the salt.

2 – Spread the seeds out on an enamel-coated pan, or on a silpat so the seeds will not stick.

3 – Bake at 250*, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are crunchy and delicious! (The water can be evaporated for a while at the lower temperature 250*, then the temperature can be raised to 350* for ten minutes to finish the roasted flavor).

Further Reading
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Description

A sunchoke is a tuber, like a potato, and is often prepared and eaten as a root vegetable. Light brown and bumpy on the outside and white inside, the sunchoke looks somewhat like a small potato or ginger root. It is native to North America and was cultivated by Native Americans prior to the arrival of European settlers. Also called a Jerusalem artichoke, its name can be a source of confusion because the plant is not closely related to the artichoke; rather, it is a member of the same flower family as the sunflower. With a nutty, somewhat sweet flavor, many cooks enjoy adding bits of the crunchy, raw vegetable to salads or salsas, while others prefer them roasted or mashed.

In the Kitchen

There are many recipes that showcase this tuber on its own or with other ingredients. Eaten raw, it is crunchy and very slightly juicy, like water chestnuts or jicama, and is often a welcome addition to salads, crudite platters, and fresh salsas. When cooked, it may be simply tossed with oil and salt and roasted, or boiled and mashed like potatoes. Sunchoke puree is another popular dish, and the tuber is a favorite soup addition, particularly in Europe.

The tuber has been embraced by the home cook and famous chefs for its unique flavor, and as part of a culinary movement to eat locally grown, seasonal ingredients. Many recipes that don’t specifically call for a sunchoke may benefit from the addition of the root’s texture and flavor. Its taste is frequently described as something between an artichoke heart and a sunflower seed.

Recipes

Easy Roasted sunchokes
Crispy jerusalem artichokes with Aged Balsamic

Further Reading

Why You Might Want to Take It Slow With sunchokes

Farm Update

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

Today the crunch, crunch underfoot from dried up leaves and branches finally turned into a softer and quieter squish, mush, goosh with the first penetrating rain of the season, along with (hopefully) sustained cooler temperatures. For the warmth to have lasted this long is really quite disheartening for me, as I worry about how quickly the weather is changing year after year (although I have been eating homegrown papaya in my breakfast oatmeal all this month). Still, I am grateful for the rain, and beginning to begrudgingly put on my sweater and socks (and shoes, did I mention I bought and am wearing shoes?????). Today, we worked with a limited farm crew, as many of our farmer trainees and volunteers have already left for Thanksgiving breaks.  The day was beautifully slow, and I actually got to harvest some of the veggies since we were missing some people. Every moringa stem we picked left us showered with water still held up their canopies, leaving us ready for a warming tea break. After rejuvenating our bodies, we head out again for more harvest. Walking the fields, the farms current state of utter beauty leaves one short of breath. Every bed teases with it’s winter bounty, from lettuce to broccoli to daikon. I am relishing these few weeks of relative calm at the farm. Without the strong heat and longs hours of daylight, every plant grows much slower, which means less maintenance, less planting, and less clearing for us. I tell our current farmer trainees they are lucky to have gotten accepted into the fall class, which is so much slower and gentler than the rush of spring and summer (I also tell trainees in our Summer class that they applied during the hardest season). I wonder if our Fall Trainees will think farming is fun and easy and if our Summer Trainees think farming is all sweat and itch and exhaustion. I guess only our staff know the full truth of the full season.

CSA Members: This week you all have received a basket of sunchokes (aka jerusalem artichokes). If you are unfamiliar with sunchokes, please see the link below for suggested use and recipes.

Until next week,

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Cecile taking care of the babies

Cecile taking care of the babies

Fields full, customers ready?

Fields full, customers ready?

Susan and Cindy, mother hens of the flock.

Susan and Cindy, mother hens of the flock.

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.

Large Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch medium daikon radish (eat the roots and leaves)
– 1 large head black summer pac choi
– 1 basket sunchokes
– 1 Waltham butternut squash
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 bunch moringa greens
– 1 bunch moringa pods
– 1 bunch yard long beads

Herbs:
– 1 box thyme
– 1 boxsage

Fruit:
– 1lb pomegranate
– 1 lb guavas

Small Box

Vegetables:
– 1 large head black summer pac choi
– 1 basket sunchokes
– 1 Waltham butternut squash
– 1 Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 bunch moringa greens
– 1 bunch moringa pods

Herbs:
– 1 bunch garlic chives

Fruit:
– 1 lb pomegranate

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. 🙂

Farm Update

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

For me, the last week has been all about affirmations. Last week, my mom and I attended a conference focused on urban farming called Grow Local OC. The conference aimed to promote local food production in Orange County and I was invited as a panelist. During the conference, much of the conversation focused on high-efficiency soil-less farming systems such as hydroponics or aquaponics, as well as indoor growing. I have always been somewhat averse to these kinds of systems, finding them to be full of whizz, but not much bang. I feel like these farmers think too little of themselves. Instead of trying to understand the incredibly complex technology of soil, they dumb everything down to pipes, pumps, and lights. Easy to understand, but not very smart. These hydroponic growers promoted how “efficient” and “productive” their systems are, politely ignoring their heavy reliance on electricity (coal generated), external fertilizers, and plastic infrastructure (very eco). Still I sat and listened, and on Friday we went on a tour of four soil-less urban farms in OC. I was not impressed. The farms had a number of obvious problems, from a heavy reliance on external inputs (electricity, labor, nutrients) to obvious nutrient deficiencies. The indoor “farm” we visited just grew microgreens (do those even count as food?), but had required literally millions of dollars of investment.

In contrast, today I walked into our farm started by my mom and I. The only money we had to start the farm was the little I had saved working at gardens the previous two years. With no investors, no pumps, no nutrient solutions in plastic bottles, we have developed a farm far more advanced than any we visited. Each day, I walk into our farm to find the fields brimming with most luscious, vibrant, and healthy produce you can find in Southern California. Every single bed fully planted, every plant full of life, and every person smiling. The refreshing morning dew collected on their leaves, the health of the soil and the food we grow is unmistakably, undeniably visible in each plant. And we do it all with technology that is far more complex that LED lights (what light is more technologically advanced than the sun?) and electronic pumps (again, the sun? pretty advanced pump).

Even more beautiful and affirming was my realization today that all of the farm’s current vibrance has been the handiwork of our trainees. Our current class (Brooke, Elinor, Cecile, Krysta, Cindy, and Susan) has melted into the farm like butter into toast. They have been filing all the gaps and making everything better. Krysta and Cecile have been delivering baby plants from our nursery every week like seasoned midwives, Susan and Cindy have been caring for the chickens like their own children, and Elinor and Brooke have been watching over our bountiful fields as if they were born into farming. I can’t wait to see what all of these special people do when they complete our program!

My hope for the future is that more people (maybe even all people?) can come to understand the magic of soil, plants, animals, insects, birds, and people. We have all worked together in a balanced way for many thousands of years, and it’s not so difficult or strenuous for us to live that way again. In fact, it’s quite fun, quite beautiful, and quite tasty.

If you read this far through this post, I appreciate your determination. Maybe you should apply for our Farmer Training Program? Applications are due Jan. 1!

Special note for CSA Members: You will notice that as we transition to colder temperatures, your boxes will contain more and more greens. This is the nature of winter, where the focus is on leafy greens and root vegetables. There will be plenty of broccoli, cauliflower, and other meatier vegetables soon, as we are just getting them in the ground.  This is also a great time of year to hang dry some of the basil you have been receiving as it is coming out of the ground very soon.

Until next week,

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Bins out to be filled. CSA harvest in progress.

Bins out to be filled. CSA harvest in progress.

Beauty is a radish.

Beauty is a radish.

Brooke and Elinor harvesting our beautiful salad greens.

Brooke and Elinor harvesting our beautiful salad greens.

Susan with the last of the rampicantes.

Susan with the last of the rampicantes.

Cecile, master of swiss chard, picks through the chard forest.

Cecile, master of swiss chard, picks through the chard forest.

Elinor + arugula = good salad.

Elinor + arugula = good salad.

Celtuce interplanted with pak choi.

Celtuce interplanted with pak choi.

Cecile walks the fields.

Cecile walks the fields.

radish peek-a-boo!

radish peek-a-boo!

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.

Large Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch medium daikon radish (eat the roots and leaves)
– 1 bunch yard long beans (a few boxes have beans mixed with young moringa pods
– 1 bunch mixed squash (rampicante or butternut)
– 1 box Sarvodaya salad mix
– 1 bunch cucumbers
– 1 bunch water spinach
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 bunch beets

Herbs:
– 1 bunch garlic chives
– 1 bunch parsley

Fruit:
– 1lb pomegranate
– 1 lb guavas

Small Box

Vegetables:
– 1 box mixed squash (rampicante or butternut)
– 1 bunch yard long beans (a few boxes have beans mixed with young moringa pods
– 1 bag cucumber
– 1 box stir fry mix
– 1 box mixed salad greens
– 1 bunch swiss chard

Herbs:
– 1 large bunch garlic chives

Fruit:
– 1 lb pomegranate

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. 🙂

Farm day.

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Cecile waters the nursery – a part of farm chores.

 

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A beautiful smile despite the cold.

 

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Cindy and Susan collect eggs from the coops.

 

A chicken in mid-flight.

A chicken in mid-flight.

 

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Teamwork.

Teamwork.

 

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Cindy a farm intern attempts to pet the chickens.

 

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Mint never dies.

Mint never dies.

 

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Farm meditation.

 

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Water break.

Water break.

 

An immature Chinese long bean continues to grow.

An immature Chinese long bean continues to grow.

 

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Preparing boxes

Preparing boxes.

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A bird feather found in the field.

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The farm is always a place of beauty especially in this crazy election year!  I am so glad to have it all over and we can accept the journey we are to go on with our new president, good or bad.

A great quote by Mahatma Gandhi to remember…”When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always. ”

Journey forward in beauty and love…farm pictures to inspire!

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Last week I wrote about cover cropping and sure enough Rishi had us cover cropping an area back by the fruit trees and chickens.  Sections were planted in the past seasons and we were filling in one section that was still barren.  A seed mix of peas, flaxseeds, vetch, rye, wheat and clover were used.   They came in premixed bags and one that Rishi made on his own.  As a follow up to last my last entry and testimony that it was quite easy, here is what we did.  First we just racked the soil to even it out and break it up.  Then spread some seeds and covered with manure and mulch.  Now it’s just a waiting game to see some seeds sprout.  That was it!  On our road to help with soil erosion, soil fertility, soil moisture, curb weeds and pest and increase biodiversity.  Wow, so helpful and so easy!  It is always enriching to read about something and then do it!

Here are some pictures:

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Seed mix

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Rishi showing us the seeds that spouted before…

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New area we planted!

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This is what we should see soon!

 

 

Farm Update

Hello Growing Club Members & CSA members!

This week we sing the swan song for the summer vegetables, the last of which will be coming out in our next few farm days. I always feed a little bad cutting down the vines of rampicante squash, the trusty steeds that form the base of our CSA for so many months. But the seasons change, and the same plants that once flourished in our fields start to look raggedy, their leaves yellowing and browning, some branches dying off and looking sad. So we move on, convincing our Farmer Trainees that cutting down these plants is the right thing to do, event if it is star-performer like the rampicante. Luckily, we have prepared well for the fall and winter season, and many thousands of plants are ready and waiting to be planted from our nursery into our rich planting beds. Broccoli, caulifower, cabbage, parsley, mibuna, kale, spinach, and more sit waiting patiently, growing in their tiny pots, craving the open sky and the cool breezes of the fields. It won’t be long before these vegetables fill our mouths with sweetness and stuff our CSA boxes.

With the transition of the seasons, also comes a transition in the the learning and work for our farmer trainees. Tasks that were imperative in the summer, now become occasional or optional, and new tasks fill their daily routines. There are no more fast growing vines like pole beans, cucumbers, or squash to trellis. Daily harvesting of squash, okra, beans, zucchini, tomato, eggplant, and peppers, is now reduced to just a few items and even those will soon stop. Instead we take up new tasks, like the continuous planting of hundreds and thousands of small bok choy, lettuce, and spinach transplants. With some of our extra time, we work on infrastructure projects, like an upgrade of our irrigation system (long in the planning). And we do everything more slowly, adjusting to the cold air and our numb hands.

Special note for CSA Members: You will notice that as we transition to colder temperatures, your boxes will contain more and more greens. This is the nature of winter, where the focus is on leafy greens and root vegetables. There will be plenty of broccoli, cauliflower, and other meatier vegetables soon, as we are just getting them in the ground.  This is also a great time of year to hang dry some of the basil you have been receiving as it is coming out of the ground very soon.

Until next week,

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

CSA boxes being packed up for distribution.

CSA boxes being packed up for distribution.

Susan shows off her daikon radish find.

Susan shows off her daikon radish find.

Beautiful red radishes being washing and prepped for our salad mix.

Beautiful red radishes being washing and prepped for our salad mix.

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.

Large Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch medium daikon radish (eat the roots and leaves)
– 1 bunch yard long beans (a few boxes have beans mixed with young moringa pods
– 1 box nopales
– 1 box stir fry mix
– 1 box mixed salad greens
– 1 bunch zucchini + cucumber
– 1 bunch swiss chard

Herbs:
– 1 large bunch basil
– 1 bunch lemongrass

Fruit:
– 1 box jamun
– 1 lb guavas

Small Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch medium daikon radish (eat the roots and leaves)
– 1 bunch yard long beans (a few boxes have beans mixed with young moringa pods
– 1 box stir fry mix
– 1 box mixed salad greens
– 1 bunch zucchini + cucumber
– 1 bunch swiss chard

Herbs:
– 1 large bunch basil

Fruit:
– 1 box jamun

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. 🙂

Cover crops in the most basic sense are crops grown for protection and to enrich the soil between harvests.   They are planted to work hard at managing soil erosion by keeping valuable topsoil in place hence increasing soil fertility and quality.  The cover crop keeps moisture from leaving and therefore, managing water intake.  Cover crops help in suppressing weeds, controlling pests and diseases, as well as, increasing the biodiversity and wildlife in a crop by attracting more species that would not have come before.

Since the 1900’s farmers have been using cover crops to restore soil fertility.   This old method was lost with the introduction of fertilizers and then plots of land were left barren between harvests.  But in recent times with worried farmers with declining soil health, cover cropping has increased in usage.  In 2012 the Census of Agriculture report for the first time asked farmers to report using cover cropping.  The finding showed only 10.3 million acres (133,124 farms) out of 390 million acres reporting using it.  The next census will be in 2017.  But between 2012 and today we have seen a positive and encouraging increase just through the sale of cover crop seed and other intermitten surveys.  The White House has even recognized cover cropping as Climate-Smart Agriculture.  Good to hear this news!  We need more positive news in this current news climate.

This method is not just for farmers but can be used by small scale gardens and urban farms.  It’s an easy task to undertake and requires little care.  With a little planning you can cover crop this fall for a more productive and healthier next season.   The right cover crop for your gardens depends on looking at the time of year and the species you are growing.  A few I have found in general to research are rye, field peas/oats, sorghum-sundangrass, buckwheat, turnips, hairy vetch, sunflower and clover.  Try this in your garden and reep the benefits of increasing the health of your soil and production!  Let us know what happens…
-Farmer Susan

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