August 2017

Farmers’ Note

This week the sun decided to burn away any doubts we had that summer would continue. Although I love working outdoors and getting a good sweat on, this week’s temperatures rocketed us from the slightly uncomfortable temperatures of the rest of the summer into the categories of either unbearable or uninhabitable. Looking at the forecast earlier this week, the 5 days straight of over 105 degrees had me legitimately concerned that we might not having anything left at the farm by the end of the week. Luckily when your farm soil is 13% organic matter, it’s so well insulated that 105 degrees above ground translates to a balmy 70 degrees in the soil. Still, if you had any doubts that the climate is changing, our local heat wave and Houston’s flood should have thoroughly erased those.

This heat wave also signals our transition into what would have traditionally been the “famine” season of Southern California. After several months with very warm temperatures and no rain, plants, animals, and humans would be moving further into a survival mode, conserving energy, food, and moisture until the reinvigorating moisture of fall. On the farm, this season will signal a transition to some of our delicious survival foods: nopales, moringa, yam greens and water spinach – resilient plants that don’t mind the extra heat. I hope you enjoy the seasonal foods of the CSA!

Farmer Rishi
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.)

We don’t have a photo of the large box this week ūüôĀ . Sorry for the inconvenience.
Large Box

Vegetables:
– zucchini
– cherry tomato basket
– suraj eggplant
water spinach
– cucumber
– gita long beans
– purple bok choy
– pumpkin

Fruit:
– mix of grapes, jujubes, sweet limes, or mangos

Herbs:
–¬†basil
– garlics chive capes

Small Box

Vegetables:
– zucchini
–¬†cherry tomato basket
– suraj eggplant
– purple bok choy
–¬†cucumber
–¬†gita long beans
+ (extra) water spinach

Fruit:
– grapes

Herb:
garlic chives scapes

Notes

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

‚Äď Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
‚Äď Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
‚Äď Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
‚Äď 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.

Farmers’ Note

The summer rolls on and though we have enjoyed our time swimming in tomatoes, a darkness looms as we know that tomato season will not last much longer. But we don’t end the summer in gloom, for we remember to remember the deliciousness that awaits us in during the bounteous fall season. The crisp, sweet taste of broccoli (which we seeded this week), the clean crunchiness of sweet peas (seeding in 2-3 weeks), and earthy snap of freshly pulled carrots (seeded last week), all grown in a soil that has received the love and care of farmers with purpose. Still, knowing that the weather is increasingly erratic, we hedge our bets. The day we seeded the broccoli, we potted up peppers and planted tomatoes into the field. Who knows? It might be hot until November and we’re gamblers in search of a feast.

On another note, today we say farewell to Farmer Katie. Katie joined Sarvodaya Farms two years ago as a Farmer Trainee. She has slowly, thoughtfully, purposefully cared for our farm and our bellies for 8 seasons, and now she is taking what we has learned in her extended apprenticeship to her new position as Head Farm Manager at GrowGood in Bell, CA. We deeply appreciate all of your contributions to our community Katie, and wish you all the best in your new adventure. May heirloom tomatoes guide you to your life’s purpose and may your footsteps leave behind forests of kale and sunflowers.

Farmer Rishi
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.)

Large Box

Vegetables:
– zucchino rampicante
– shishito pepper basket
–¬†cherry tomato basket
– cucumber
–¬†purple bok choy
–¬†gita long beans

Fruit:
–¬†grapes, figs, jujubes

Herbs:
–¬†basil
– garlics chive capes

Small Box

Vegetables:
– zucchini
–¬†cherry tomato basket
–¬†tomatoes
–¬†shishito pepper basket
–¬†cucumber
–¬†gita long beans

Fruit:
– grapes, figs and jujubes

Herb:
garlic chives scapes
– extra: basil

Notes

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

‚Äď Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
‚Äď Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
‚Äď Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
‚Äď 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.

Plain Peaches. For Will. Reshama Laughed.

We’ve switched teams here on the farm. I’m exiting the chicken coop duties and entering the land of compost. Oh compost…You…seven…letter…word..with equally stenchy attributes as the four letter ones. I’m two weeks in and I still have a gross factor reflux when I work in the compost piles. I’ve been watching my fellow trainees (Iris, Kim, and Will) tend to this department from afar, somewhat dreading my inevitable journey into it and thinking about my strategy to deal with the stench, sounds and looks of rotting fruit and veggies. Will told me to just dive in. Iris cheered me on and swears I’ll be the compost queen by the end of it. Kim ensures that it’s not so bad once you get over the hump. I believe all of them, but in the meantime I¬†try to think of it as a chance to practice sitting with discomfort. I figure it’s a skill I could definitely benefit from at any point in my life. To not trying to resist the discomfort, but to welcome it¬†and accept it¬†subjectively (foul) state. Not gonna lie, it’s difficult, but there’s something Elinor said to me yesterday¬†that made sense. Essentially, she said, the compost is just another form of something we value so much, Food! It’s first this nice, tasty piece of nourishment, then decomposes and rots, and then after a process is turned back into this hearty¬†smelling earth that will once again be fruit or some other food and that’s a beautiful cycle. It’s true. I’ve been thinking about the things in my life that appear so juicy and tasty at first, then break down and decompose into what feels like rotting flesh, only to reappear again in this new form that builds the foundation of a world of new possibility. Could breaking down be a blessing? Could all that green, moldy, back-of-your throat gripping¬†stench be the necessary components¬†to the best stuff on earth? Before Monday composting days on the farm, I never thought I’d agree with this. But, I do…now. Well okay, what I really mean is that I play ping pong with this idea from moment to moment. When I’m on the farm, I ask myself “What the FARM¬†I doing in a compost pit! FARM this!” (*note* FARM: an alternate four letter epithet…for the kids) and when I’m off the farm, I turn into a philosopher.

So, at present, I’m wearing my¬†philosopher hat, but deep down I know¬†that composting is¬†the Mecca for human existence and understanding its process is the blueprint that will probably solve most of the problems we create on earth, be it environmental,¬†social, or emotional.

I saved a baby…tortoise, today. And he actually isn’t even a baby as he’s about 100 years old and one of the few family pets of my next door neighbor. I heard it’s nails scraping the cement¬†and saw a weird ganging up of reptilian flesh out of the corner of my eye as I passed the gate. He was turned¬†over on his shell and two other tortoises were beating up and snapping at my poor flipped friend. My neighbors weren’t home at the time, so I tried to slide¬†a broom through the slits of the gate to lever him over. No luck. So I just left it alone. I figured¬†this couldn’t be the first time he’s ever been flipped over. He’s in a big backyard with two other male tortoises and they are all bickering and fighting all the time anyway. They push up against each other and some how, somebody falls first and flips over. It’s fine. They’ll live. That’s all he’s been doing for 100 years anyway. He’s¬†turned himself around before at least once in this last century, right?

Resolved, I ignored their kerfuffle and decided that nature would probably allow him to find a way to flip over. And then I heard this squirt. I looked over to a pool of liquid coming out of him and he sat there, still squirming. Oh no. That doesn’t¬†sound right. I mean, a 100 year old tortoise that’s trying to keep his water conserved under this heat and in his little body and all of a sudden it comes squiring out. Hmmm. No, that’s not good. I decided I had to do something and I went in to rescue my little friend. I climbed my neighbor’s¬†fence (like I used to do when I was 12 years old), shooed the bully tortoises away, flipped his rock hard shell, and patted his leathery head¬†before he crawled away. As I climbed back over the fence,¬†I couldn’t help but wonder, what would have happened had I not seen this¬†little guy¬†struggling¬†for help? And on a larger note, what would happen if humans weren’t here at all, looking after the earth and animals and the lot? It’s a question I’ve been dancing around with at the farm too. What if we weren’t there to tend to the vegetables on the farm? What other forms of food would arise otherwise? Well, the answer is that humans can do a lot of good and a lot of bad and we can make a lot of work for ourselves if we plant really high maintenance foods¬†(or diva dicots as I like to call them) or we could work with nature as part of a relationship to the earth. We can do our job and then let it do its job. We can work as a team together and encourage growth, feed it nutrition, give it space and time, and act as equal partners rather than as dominators with the earth. I often think about how to make life more pleasant, productive and revolutionary¬†by¬†learning to maximize my¬†partner’s¬†(in the case of the farm, the earth’s) strengths. I think opportunities for partnership are often masked as conflict or hurt feelings or negative thoughts and are always out there waiting to be turned around.

Like the flipped tortoise, we could just turn a blind eye to the conflicts around us assuming¬†that it will all just work out. That nature will “take its course.” Sometimes that might be the answer. It’s entirely true that “staying out of it” is loads better than “getting involved”. But in my experience, there are also many moments when we remain blissfully blind until a small, but noticeable change occurs¬†and we realize that we need to get in there,¬†flip it over and rescue that life form¬†from a slow and painful reality¬†that they can’t handle¬†on their own. I feel it’s part of my role here on the farm and also my role in the world. As I move into the field team duties, I think of about my role¬†quite often. My¬†role to love, care, give¬†thanks and encourage wholehearted progress. I mean, that’s why we’re all here, right? To help make things better than the way we found them.

National and international events this year have been increasingly stressful.  Unlike many people, I can’t unplug and ignore them.  My job as a social scientist and educator means that I have to stay engaged, even when I find the world anxiety-producing.

The farm has been my anti-anxiety medication.  I often arrive at the farm with muscle tension and a sense of stress, my mind mulling over all the issues of the world and my small place in it all.  And then I pick up my pruners and harvest some squash or plant some kale and I feel better.

Gardening for food is a whole sensory experience that demands presence.  It makes mindfulness easier.  I don’t have to push away distracting thoughts if my mind is already engrossed in a farm task.  Yet these tasks are repetitive and soothing, and so they become a form of moving meditation.

One of these days in the summer, in the height of plum production, I was having a difficult day.  National news was disturbing and my own family was having some challenges as well.  I went back to the orchard with my bucket to pick plums.  The anxiety melted away as I reached up and stretched toward the sun, looking at the plums for the perfect color, touching their smooth taut skin to feel for ripeness.  Beetles buzzed occasionally past, their hum momentarily taking over.  Midmorning hunger was soothed by a bite into the perfect plum: sweet but tart, juicy, with crisp skin.

red, purple, and yellow plums

Delicious plums at Sarvodaya Farms

There is increasing research that suggests that soil microbes help our bodies stave off anxiety and depression.  At least for more mild anxiety, the cure may lie literally in the earth.  But in my experience at the farm, gardening is offering us more than just contact with soil.  It’s a total sensory experience that gives us moments of being fully present and joyful.  It reminds us, with just the right balance of ease and demand, to notice the earth and to be grateful for it.

The world’s stressful events, large and small, march onward.  But so does the garden.  I’ll keep looking for those perfect plums and in finding them, find inner peace.

Farmers’ Note

After many months of being busy with wedding planning and worried by the neighboring development, my life at the farm has finally returned to a relative peace. The last week, I’ve had time to re-introduce my full attention to the farm, the farmer trainees, and all of the beautiful living beings at the farm, and it feels incredibly soothing to be in this space again.

We had a beautiful weekend on the farm as well, with two events/concerts being held at the farm on Saturday. First, with our Brews and Blues event, we shared some delicious beer from Homage Brewing in Pomona with our guests as we listened to some great music by the local band, The Half-Measures. In the evening, we hosted a concert organized by my brother with the Indian Classical and Fusion group, Paul Livingstone and the Arohi Ensemble. Around 50 people gathered at the farm at night with blankets, picnic baskets, food and drink to listen to music under the stars and enjoy each others company. It was really a beautiful night (video on our Instagram).

I hope to see many more of you at the farm in the coming months! Please do visit and enjoy your vegetables this week!

Farmer Rishi
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.)

Large Box

Vegetables:
–¬†squash
– large tomatoes
–¬†cherry tomato basket
–¬†kale
–¬†gita beans
– cucumber
yam leaves
nopales

Fruit:
–¬†grapes, figs, jujubes

Herbs:
–¬†basil
– garlic

Small Box

Vegetables:
–¬†squash
–¬†nopales
– assorted tomatoes
–¬†gita beans
– kale
– cucumber

Fruit:
– grapes, figs and jujubes

Herb:
–¬†basil

Storage Instructions

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

‚Äď Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
‚Äď Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
‚Äď Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
‚Äď 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.

I am but a part of the whole,

a single piece of the grand, living organism we call nature.

I flow with the dance of life,

carried by ancient and eternal energies,

extending infinitely into the past and future.

Who am I but an observer of this great spectacle,

a dancer in this cosmic dance?

 

I am infused with the responsibilities of a human being,

but I am not in control.

As an animal has an intrinsic nature,

so too do I have my place in this scheme.

I am here to assist in the will of the divine,

and so granted abilities of the heavens.

But I recognize my limited capacities,

my necessary finitude.

With understanding comes the unknowable.

Always, there will be a higher power.

 

My body is mortal, and one day it will die.

The patterns of nature are ever in flux, going and returning.

I am not separate from these realities,

and my being will go just as it has come.

But as I flow from life into death,

the energy given to me on loan will be transferred

back into the reservoir of abundance from whence it came.

And by this transmutation, new life will emerge,

as alive and conscious as I am when I record these words.

I will pick up where I left off,

continuing the flame of being, the will of the eternal.

 

Death is only real

to the extent you identify with your current permutation.

Do not be afraid,

we are part of the greatest show the universe has yet seen,

and the best adventures are always yet to come!

 

This week Katie taught us interns about the magical world of honey bees. And I have only one thing to say – bees are trippy! This is not the first time I have learned about these fantastic little insects, but this time I was able to see them with a new perspective. Not only do I appreciate them much more after learning about their crucial function in any healthy ecosystem (as well as our human food production) as major pollinators, but I am also fascinated by how they display characteristics of a “super-organism.” This term not only implies that a single bee cannot survive on its own, separated from the colony, but also that each “unit” of the organism exists for the survival and benefit of the whole, rather than itself. The worker bees, the most numerous of the three major categories of bees, work non-stop their whole lives, executing the major functions that allow the hive to survive. Two behaviors (or beehaviors, as Katie would put it)¬†in particular amaze me. The first is that each bee larvae, upon hatching from its birth cell, gets right to work! They have such deep-rooted instinct that they know exactly what to do the second they are alive – no training needed. This phenomenon gave me the impression of the super-organism as being an incredibly well-oiled, efficient machine. How impressive! The other behavior that amazed me was that when swarming and looking for a new hive site, bees will do a little “waggle dance” to communicate potential locations to other bees. This dance contains directional information relative to the sun so that other bees can go check out the location. When enough bees have seen the location and a consensus is reached, the whole swarm will move to the new site. WHAAATT??? Amazing…

Obviously, bees are incredibly intelligent creatures. Life continues to amaze me with its variety, complexity, and dazzling beauty. This particular example gives me ever more certainty that nature is intelligently organized beyond all human comprehension, and that we should trust its abilities to thrive and provide our needs!

Farmers’ Note

I’m back! Actually, I’ve been back for over a week, but I’ve been re-accustoming myself to the LA urban farming life, and so I didn’t get to writing a message last week. First, I’d like to thank Katie and Sara, who have been covering many of my responsibilities while I’ve been gone (including writing this Farmer’s Note). I think you all would agree they did a great job. As many of you know, I am now married to the wonderful Farmer (wanna-be) Arthi. We had (what Indian people call) a super-fantastic wedding with all sorts of dancing, laughing, and an un-countable number of pictures (there are some on my Facebook if you’re friends with me – Farmer Rishi Kumar). The wedding was followed by a very relaxing honeymoon in Baja, where we both got a serious tan (do you still call it a tan when you turn the color of burnt toast?).

While we were away, we were both able to clear our minds of many of the entanglements we have been in in LA, but as soon as we returned my mind went straight-back into “fight development” mode. Luckily, I received new and amended plans¬†on Wednesday, which showed a new building layout that drastically reduced the shading effect on the farm. After all the high-drama over the past 9 months, the plan was approved¬†on Monday¬†evening by the City Council without much excitement. While having high-density housing next-door isn’t our ideal situation, we are happy to have found a middle ground which won’t damage the farm too much.

There are other changes coming to the farm which I will keep you all abreast of as well, but I think that was a lot to share for one journal! Enjoy your tomatoes! Aren’t they the best?!?!?!?!

Farmer Rishi
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.)

Large Box

Vegetables:
–¬†squash
–¬†shishito pepper basket
– tomatoes
–¬†amaranth
– gita beans
– cucumber
–¬†cherry tomato basket

Fruit:
–¬†grapes and figs
–¬†jujubes

Herbs:
– onion
– basil

Small Box

Vegetables:
–¬†squash
–¬†eggplant
–¬†shishito pepper basket
–¬†gita beans
– tomatoes
– cucumber

Fruit:
– grapes, figs and jujubes

Herb:
–¬†basil

Storage Instructions

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

‚Äď Fill a small bowl or tub with 1 inch of water
‚Äď Cut a 1/2 inch of the bottoms of the stems of your leafy greens
‚Äď Place greens, with stems down, into the bowl of water
‚Äď 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.