April 2017

How does one go about saving the planet?  Is that even a ‘thing’?  What I mean is, can someone really say they are saving the planet and actually really mean it?  And what about holidays like Arbor Day and Earth Day?  Do such national holidays make an impact, can they make a difference?

Earth Day started as a grassroots movement in 1970 and since then it has become a universally celebrated event.  Today over a billion people celebrate the event.  Although saving the planet seems to be the ‘cool’ thing to do these days (or at least to tweet/gram/snap etc) it doesn’t seem to me like there’s really much change going on.  According to recent Gallup polls, 42 percent of Americans still believe that the dangers of climate change are exaggerated, and less than half say that protection of the environment should be given priority over energy production (livescience.com).

I feel my own inner struggle in all of this.  How do I balance knowing what’s right and doing what’s right?  How do I begin to live authentically.  This last Friday I rode my bike to the farm and it was kinda hard.  I really missed the convenience and efficiency of my car.  For me I have a choice to either drive or ride and every time I go anywhere I choose between the two.  Everyday I have the choice to help my environment heal or I have the choice to contribute to the destruction.  And its really easy to go unnoticed doing both.  It’s the little things that lead to big changes either way.  I guess this week I am really feeling how authentic and inauthentic I can be.  I am feeling the weight of the catastrophic ecological disasters that are already taking place and I am feeling the weight of my addiction to convenience and comfort.  I never like to leave things on a sour note, but this week I am feeling a little heavy, for if I can’t rise above my own destructive patterns, how could I ever expect anyone else to do the same.

I am enjoying being stationed in Sarvodaya Farm’s groovy, new and improved nursery.  Like a little seedling, I am soaking up as much of Farmer Rishi’s seed starting knowledge as I can. I feel a bit like the plug trays we use to start seeds: sometimes the water is slow to absorb and pools on top, other times the water immediately drips down and out the bottom of the tray . Likewise, I occasionally feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information I am receiving and compiling in my head on the farm (Eg. Do you remember how to harvest fill in the blank and answer in 2 seconds?), while other times I can’t get enough knowledge about a particular aspect of farming (Eg. compost, microgreens, microgreens, and, well, microgreens.)

Okay, so yeah I am particularly excited by the microgreens. They are relatively straight forward to grow and seem kinda hard to screw up from what I can tell. Another plus is that they have a quick turn around time (10 days I think with our first batch) which appeals to my sense of impatience. But most importantly, microgreens are highly nutritious and rightfully valued by healthy eaters and high end restaurants. Microgreens are basically one inch stems consisting of the cotyledon leaves (the initial leaves from the seed).  The flats of microgreens sit low to the ground so they resemble a lush, green carpet. For an admitted looks-ist like myself, microgrens are very appealing to my sense of style. Could a microgreen station at the farm be next? Melissa, please try to restrain me lol.

Our first batch of microgreens at the farm were grown from daikon seed. They packed a powerful punch of a taste. I am already plotting to use daikon microgreens instead of daikon root the next time I make Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. But that’s the tip of the iceberg, I see so many possibilities for microgreens in my future!! There’s just SOMETHING about one inch microgreens.  Do you agree?

As the spring season has rolled in I have been seeing new flowers springing up around the farm. They add a very nice pop of color to the farm and sometimes when I walk by them my instinct is to stop and take them in (look at them, take a picture, admire). There is something aesthetically pleasing to me to see the bright colors in such rich green vegetation. I like the brightness it adds to the farm and they are growing fast. Below are some pictures of some of the flowers that have come up over the past weeks. Enjoy!

The cabbage has been coming in nicely and Wednesday I was lucky enough to harvest some for the CSA. I have been secretly keeping a tally of all the cool vegetables I want to harvest the most. cabbage was one of them. Seeing them in their early stages when I first started my internship I thought it was so cool to see them in the early stages and how I really wanted to see their process and harvest them. Every time I harvest something new I feel a very happy rush come over me. I get really eager because every vegetable has a different technique of knowing when it’s ready to when to harvest them and how. It’s very specific and unique. The cabbage for example you have to feel to make sure the head was ready. Some of these cabbages were huge! At first my thought was the size determined that they were ready to harvest but that wasn’t the case. It’s all about the feeling of the head and making sure it is hard. You can feel if the cabbage is ready to harvest.

Besides harvesting the cabbage I also got to harvest some red beets. These beets were beautiful to harvest. They had such interesting shapes and color. I was able to take some these beets home after the harvest and I made them as a stir-fry with some dino kale as well. It was delicious. The beets were so rich in color when I cut into them they bled such a pretty red color. It was almost alarming since I have not seen that before (I’ve only had canned beets). The final production was great and it was quite a satisfying meal. It’s safe to say beets are now my favorite new vegetable.

This week my team and I started Nursery duties and I was excited. I wanted to start the nursery for the longest (since I started my internship). The nursery team seemed to be the most relaxing of the teams. I mean being gentle and tending to little plant babies is something you have to do with care and patience. I liked the idea of slowing it down and taking your time because in the fast pace I tend to love to be in it is good for me to learn to slow it down. The nursery was originally smaller and as my internship has progressed the station started to grow and come into full circle. Seeing the growth and progression of the nursery was exciting and I couldn’t wait to start my time in the nursery.

The most important part of duties is the watering the plants in the nursery. My first instinct was to not water as much and to be frugal with the amount of water I was giving to the plants/seedlings, but as I learned it is better to be generous with the watering. It is important to also note that as rishi has stated so many times, the soil must be moist, not wet. This is important to keep in mind and having a general idea of how much you should be watering. By making sure your plants/seedlings aren’t being over or under watered. Again this means taking your time when watering (slowing it down).

I’m also excited to see the growing of seed to seedling; it fascinates me being able to see the growth of a vegetable in such early stages. So happy to be in nursery , saved the best for last !

Farmers’ Note

Hello Growing Club & CSA members!

Although we are well passed Spring Equinox, I finally feel like Spring is here. Today we harvested our first zucchinis (they are in the Large Boxes), after they had been languishing in the ground for weeks with our cloudy days and (SoCal) cold nights. During the last week, we also planted our first few beds of tomatoes and eggplant. In previous years, we had these plants started by the Cal Poly Pomona nursery for us, and it was so exciting to see us grow these plants in our brand new nursery. The nursery had really been the missing link in our farm ecosystem, and seeing it flourish under the care of our trainees has been very rewarding.

I also wanted to share today some astounding photos of the leeks we are now harvesting from what we planted wayyyy back in November (yes, it is a long season crop). Most leeks you see at the store are not planted the correct way, so they don’t have the long blanched stem they should have. We planted our the old-fashioned way, and we have extraordinary results to show for it. Our largest leek today was 2.4 pounds and taller then an average child. Here’s a photo of Elinor after harvesting (for small boxes) today.

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Until next time,

Farmer Rishi
Founder/Director, The Growing Club

Photos of the Week

Image credit: Brooke Ramos

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

– 1 salad box
– 1 head cabbage
– 1 bunch broccoli
– 1 fennel bulb
– 1  box turnips
– 1 bunch zuchiini
– 1 bunch lacinato kale
– 1 bunch Asian Greens

– 1 bunch Egyptian onions
– 1 bunch radishes

-2 lbs loquat

Small Box

– 1 salad box
– 1 head of cabbage
– 1 box of broccoli
– 1 fennel bulb
– 1 box of turnips
– 1 leek

– 1 bunch Egyptian Onion

– 1 lb loquat

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.

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. 🙂


Mayela’s name means ” Earth, mother, nurse, goddess.” Her name came to me as I connected spiritually and asked for the name that would reflect her essence. She has been Sabi’s second mama since birth and a tender caring soul to me throughout our journey together, she tends to the earth with a natural wisdom…and is most definitely an earth mother/goddess.  (She also helps me practice my squatting!)

My name means, “mother of the forest.”  I used to dislike my name, especially because I was actually the only one in my family not named based on the Catholic Saint days and instead, after a novela (soap opera) actress! But now, I find it interesting.  My mother changed her very fixed pattern, to ‘randomly’ or perhaps intuitively name me in keeping with my essence.  It wasn’t until many years after malls, beauty indoctrination, the american consumer dream…that I kept connecting to what felt alive for me;  green/nature in all shapes and sizes.  Somehow, my mother and sisters (who advocated for this name)…got it right after all.

It’s all very interesting…

I believe that our souls all chose to share this journey with one another.  I don’t understand it all, but what I do know is that I treasure every moment sitting out in this field, watching Maya plant literally 6 seedlings to my 1.  Chuckling with each other about all manner of little things.  Holding the precious baby seedlings in the way a mother just knows.  Giving them the best start with the best of hopes.

And the delight, simply, the delight of being together on this earth.

It reminds me of part of the poem by Kahlil Gibran that we read at their blessings and which has inspired us ever since:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday…

This is me with Sabi and my cousin that we brought to visit the farm.

These two chickens Falla and Sweetie both have passed away.  I am very sad because these two were my favorites.  As you can see we brought them both out to get the bugs that day.

I’ve had chickens almost my whole life and it’s always hard to have a chicken die.  Especially the bantam hen, because I had a bantam hen when I was younger.  She was a big puffball, a black silkie hen, and so of course, I named her, “Puffy.”  The other chickens picked on her, so I had her in a separate little area.  She had one chick and the chick’s name was Millie.  She was very loving and caring and great mom.  I would put food in my hand and she would pick it out right from my hand.  One day after a long time of having her, she went missing.  A few days later, my mom found her dead in a plastic bag that had hay in it.  She had pecked her way in but could not get out.   My heart was broken, because she was my special chicken.  I drew a picture of her and me with a heart up above it and I put it on my wall.  I still think about her often.

So when the bantam hen at the farm, died, I felt really sad. All my other teammates, me, Sabi, Manju and my mom picked flowers and said a little something about her, above her resting place.

Falla was an Americana hen, and me and Laurette named her Falla because she had Fall colors.  She died because she got sick and lost her voice.

This picture is a great memory picture. I’m glad I really got to know them for as long as I did.

I think we should call him Lightning because he runs as fast as lightning!


This week we switched stations. My team went to nursery! We learned about the watering, and how to make the finished soil (which is my favorite job)