March 2017

Nearly every day, my children hear me exclaim something like, “Look how beautiful this is! Look at the patterns!” as I chop vegetables or fruit.  To me, the every day eating and cooking we do is a form of art and experience of the sublime that nourishes the soul.  I am literally in awe at the complexity and intricate beauty of all plant life.  So it was not surprising, yet still poignant to me, when Manju sliced this orange and we saw hearts in it.

Yes, of course, on the farm the fruit (the produce, the soil, the people) is filled with LOVE.

I also love my dirty fingernails in this pic. This is my new normal. I have stopped apologizing for soil in my fingernails. Instead I think of the healthy microbes there hitching a ride from Lynn’s fab compost to my world, inoculating us.  (This also helps me, when my five year old refuses to wash the dirt out of his nails)

And here we are!  These sprouts unfolding beautifully into the unique bloom that they are meant to be. And the vegetables they are holding are amazing too 😉  I’m so proud and impressed at the way they have each made and are making this experience their own.

And as I look behind us and reflect on that this is just a half acre in the midst of an urban environment…I am hopeful for all of our future happiness together and wherever each of our roads lead us individually. I know that our time here will always be with us.

For me, the closer I feel to true joy and connection (within, with the plants, with others), the more palpable my YES is, the more all the other distractions fade away.  I resist less and smile wider.

 

Working with the compost crew

This pic says it all 🙂

Photo bomb!

Hanging out with Sara 🙂

Sunday, for Spring Equinox, we went to the local trail.  It was so cool to see all the plants in full bloom. We harvested chickweed, mallow, wild radish and nettle. And took them home to eat. All these things are also growing everywhere at the farm.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the definition of a weed is just ‘a plant that is unwanted somewhere.’ In our family, we eat the edible wild plants (what others call weeds). They are actually very nutritious. And if you prepare them the right way, they can be tasty too. For instance, we took the nettle (that we harvested with gloves on) and sauteed it in coconut oil.  It develops this crispy, buttery flavor that is very tasty!

 

(Maya will add text soon)

I was surprised when we started at the farm how uncomfortable it was for me to squat and plant seedlings in the fields. So honestly, when I moved to the field team I was worried…but also ready for a challenge.  Recently, I have been very inspired by John Robbins’ book “Healthy at 100”  which challenges our limited views of aging and explores features of centenarian culture, including; plant centered (but not vegan) eating, exercise through lifestyle (i.e .farming and walking), community, rest, balance.  Before this, I was starting to consider myself ‘old’ at 42 and settle for limited physical ability. After reading the book, I am embracing an attitude of youthfulness and seeking every opportunity to incorporate exercise in my life.

So with that in mind, when Katie asked me to plant this entire seed tray of cilantro, although I freaked out a bit internally, I breathed into it. I should mention, I have an injured muscle behind my right knee that makes it even harder to squat/kneel. So I paced myself.  Usually, when we plant a bed, it is with a few of us and the many hands make light work.  But this time, it was just me. Though it really was a challenge, I felt proud of myself when I was finished, and relished another opportunity to grow out of patterns of ease and inactivity into purposeful, wholesome action.

You can’t get me to walk a treadmill or go for a run…but I will gladly rake, garden, shovel mulch…and now ‘plant seedlings.’  All of these forms of exercise that are connected to the earth, and include the sensual experience of the earth…hands in soil, woodsy scent of mulch, beauty of all plant and insect life, satisfaction of being part of the earth’s innate processes….are fun and therapeutic forms of exercise; my kind of bootcamp.

I’m hoping in time, to be able to squat like Manju and Chika 😉

Sabriel has not been wanting to be interviewed lately and we are respecting his wishes.

He continues to enjoy the farm, asking excitedly every day, “Is it a farm day?” and when it is, hopping out of bed, eager and purposeful.

He bounces around from team to team throughout the day, and likes to help wherever he can. He also assumes his own activities.  Here he is washing the oranges he has foraged from the fruit to be composted. He washes the oranges then shares them with all interns.  (The other day he even brought an orange from home for Melissa because she had admired an orange he brought the day previous. )

He tends to prefer the chicken team and spends alot of time with them!

He has been watching the Romanesco grow nearly as tall as him!  We are looking forward to watching it burst into seed production.

This week on the farm we built a shade structure. It was a week long process.  Monday we did the math to figure out how long the poles needed to be.

Then we got to work cutting them with a hand saw. Once we had finished we began assembling.  It took us a couple tries to figure out why the structure’s top was slanted, but once we figured it out it went pretty fast…until we asked manju if it was too wide.

On our second go, after we had adjusted the length accordingly, it went a lot faster and by the end of the day we had finished the frame.  So we popped on the shadecloth and mounted the poles.

Friday went alot faster since we already had the measurements and knew how to do it. By 10:30 we had finished and mounted it.  We then connected the gap between the two structures to make them one. After that, since we still had time, we dug up the tree in the nursery and moved it to the raised bed with the flowers. It was a productive week and I definitely enjoyed myself!!

!!

Farmers’ Note

Hello Growing Club & CSA members!

As I walk through the fields, I am struck by the absolute beauty of the farm that our community has conjured together. The vegetable fields are full of luscious produce, the fruit trees are setting their fruits (and more fruit trees are being planted), the chicken pasture is chest high in grass, the nursery is full of cute baby plant people, and to top it off, we have the most stunning flush of California poppies gracing our farm. After some months of turbulence and change, I am finding some peace in the gifts of our collective work and imagination. I am also full of gratefulness to all of those who support our farm: the Growing Club members who donate to our work on a monthly basis and are the base of support of our organization; the CSA members who enjoy our produce on a weekly basis; the Farmer Trainees who bring fresh eyes and willing hands to our soil. We have created a magical garden of enchantment that continues to surprise and astonish.

This month, this farm has also has a list of good news to share. First, we were successful in our grant application to the Fruit Guys Community Fund. We will receive $5,000 for a project to install fruit trees and perennial California native plants throughout the farm as an ecological hedgerow for attracting beneficial lifeforms and growing fruit. The fruit trees have already been purchased (see some photos on our Instagram) and are being planted now. Second, we flew by the 1,000lb harvest mark this month, harvesting 1,244 lbs of food from the farm (and we have two days to go!). We are on track to break last years 10,000 lb annual harvest record already! Third, our now 28-week Urban Farmer and Composter Training Program application is now open. The application is due by April 14, with the new class starting on May 8. Tell your friends, co-workers, nephews, nieces, cousins, and grandparents to apply! We are looking for those yearning to make a difference.

Until next time,

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Farmer Trainee’s Journal

This week’s CSA Box

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

Notes for This Week’s Box

See the notes below about celtuce!
Tip: Use the swiss chard stalk the same way you would use celery in soups and stews.

Large Box

Vegetables:
– 1 bunch beets
– 1 lettuce heads
– 1 broccoli head
– 1 bunch radishes
– 1  bunch chrysanthemum greens
– 1 bunch magenta spreen
– 1 bunch collards
– 1 head cauliflower

Herbs:
– 1 box parsley
– 1 garlic chives

Fruit:
– 2 lbs citrus fruit (oranges and lemons)

Small Box

Vegetables:
– 1 head broccoli
– 1 bunch red russian kale
– 1 head lettuce
– 1 bunch beets
– 1 bunch chrysanthemum greens
– 1 head cauliflower

Herbs:
– 1 bunch garlic chives

Fruit:
– 1 lb assorted citrus fruit (oranges and lemons)

Chrysanthemum Greens 

If you aren’t sure how to eat this tasty Asian green, click on the links below.
Chrysanthemum Greens with Sesame Seed Dressing
Quinoa with Chrysanthemum Greens, Preserved Lemons, and Toasted Walnuts
Other Crysanthemum recipes

Magenta Spreen

Use just like spinach! Magenta spreen is high in vitamin C and E.  The underside of the leaves and top of the new leaves are covered in a fine pink dust. Resist the temptation to wash it off as it is full of calcium and protein.  It contains even more protein than kale, which contains more than the recommended daily intake of protein.
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. 🙂

Jennifer’s Ayurveda Tip
Following a vata-balancing diet and routine throughout the winter, as it is Vata season. Vata qualities are dry, light, cold, rough, and Mobile. To pacify and help balance Vata favor sweet, sour, and salty foods. The diet should include plenty of fresh, warm, well cooked, and unctuous (oily) food as Vata is cold and dry.

“Are plants intelligent?  Do they have consciousness?  Awareness?”

 

Back in January, when I first began this internship, if you would have asked me any of the previous question I would have looked at you with a sort of cockeyed stare.  “Are plants intelligent?  Of course not!”  In my former way of thinking intelligence goes like this: people are intelligent, animals like dogs and cats have some intelligence depending on the species, and plants and intelligence don’t even belong in the same sentence.  Sure plants grow and produce fruit and seeds and they definitely have a cycle, but all of that is just a part of their genetic expression.  They don’t have any say in how that expression manifests.  Boy was I wrong.

Plants have feelings!!! No, no, no, I’m not saying they cry or anything (but honestly I’m not saying they don’t) Plants sense their surrounding environment they way any living being does.  For example on the farm,  many of the winter greens have began to bolt in anticipation of the warmer weather to come.  Each season they have different expressions, because each season they respond to the volume of rain, the amount of sunlight and the temperatures in the air.  They are supremely intelligent, and I would argue much more intelligent than the domesticated animals that live at my house.  In my time at the farm I have seen how all life, animals and plants, are both supremely intelligent and aware.  My idea of this world is shifting as I start to see intelligence filling everything around me.

 

Yikes! It has been awhile since I posted something. School, work and the internship has kept me very busy but I think I finally am getting into the groove of things. Hmm so what’s new? Well I started a tractor driving course at Mt. San Antonio college. I learned about different tractors and got to drive one. Oh and I learned how to use a clutch! When I first learned how to use a clutch it was in a intro motorcycle driving 3 day course. I caught on pretty quickly but I was still pretty clumsy on the motorcycle. In my mind I really thought that I was going to get the certificate of completion and be on my way to the dmv to get a motorcycle license. Unfortunately, on the third day those dreams got shattered. The instructor designed the course so that the trainees could practice how to go left and right on the motorcycle? I think was trying to make a left turn but instead I cranked the throttle and blanked out on how to stop the bike. So I was literally driving myself in full speed to a pile of rocks ahead of me. I crashed and luckily the only injuries I sustained was a small gash on the knee and my right toenail ripped off. But, hey! Other than that I was A OK!

A couple of weeks ago I became part of the nursery team. At the same time my nursery management class began and I learned a bit about Luther Burbank. The city of burbank is named after him and he was a pioneer in agricultural science. He created the Russet Burbank potato which has become the world’s predominant potato in food processing. He was really good friends with Thomas Edison and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. I also learned a bit about Kate Sessions who created Balboa Park in San Diego.

Well I hope everyone had a great week! I will see everyone on the farm tomorrow! Have a great night!