Category: Cindy Soto

A couple of posts back I talked about some seedlings I started with my kids. The farm was the reason why I decided to try and grow my own, since we are also learning how to start seedlings at the farm. Although I may not have all the supplies/amendments that the farm has, like vermiculite, coconut fiber etc., I wanted to give it a try :). So, for this week with the kids, we dissected a seed, and learned a little anatomy of the seed, and talked about the cotyledon and first true leaves. I took some of the seedlings with me so they can see for themselves, and see how their seeds grew!

Here are my seedlings from home:

Here is a dissected bean that my kids did:

Up close to what the kids got to see, the purple arrow is pointing to the cotyledon leaves, the ones that come out of the seed first. The orange arrows are pointing to the first true leaves of the plant :

We have been having some rainy days at the farm and on Wednesday since it’s CSA day, we all worked in the rain with the interviewees, it was actually pretty fun!

Farmers hands working with wet soil <3 :

Broccoli looking beautiful in this rain:

Peas enjoining it too:

Mushroom finds at the farm during the rain:

Another delicious lunch at the farm.

We’ve been eating lots of sprouted, sourdough, fermented and soaked foods in our lunches that Elinor has prepared for our nutrition class lunches. Before this, I didn’t exactly know why these foods are so good for us, if made a certain way like being fermented, sprouted, soaked etc. On Friday we dug into why sprouting/soaking/ souring/roasting and fermenting seeds and grains are beneficial, and the reason why we should do it.

Reasons why seeds and grains shouldn’t be eaten raw or without a process like soaking or roasting, is that they contain Phytic Acid and enzyme inhibitors, which make it difficult to digest these foods. Phytic acid is Phosphorus stored in Nuts and seeds. It binds to minerals like, magnesium, zinc and calcium in our bodies, which can stop absorption of nutrients into our bodies. It also inhibits enzymes like Pepsin and Amylase, which are enzymes needed for digestion. This can later contribute to deficiencies in the body, for example: poor bone growth, anemia, and even osteoporosis! So, to keep enjoying seeds and grains, and their amazing nutritional value, we can just simply ferment, soak, sprout or roast to break down phytic acid, and make the nutrients available and digestible to us. Soaking reduces the phytic acid by about 20 %, sprouting about 50%, and Fermentation about 80 %.  This is just some of the info that Elinor has shared with us. Really appreciate her for the cooking and knowledge she has passed down in these nutrition classes. I feel like there’s still a ton for me to learn! I have seen how I have started to choose certain foods, or why I avoid certain foods. I haven even tried making some different things when I get to cook!

One of the main dishes that was made by Elizabeth and Elinor, lasagna. This one in the picture is the vegan version, with Fermented Coconut/Potato CHEESE. All I can say that it was AMAZING! Vegan or not all everybody loved it! 

 

Some homemade chocolate:

With some granola mix and cashew butter:

A shot of how our lunches usually look like, full of nutritious real food (it’s not even all of the food brought out that day):

There is a side dish that Elinor has made a few times, that I really loved. So, I tried it at home. Purple Sweet Potatoes, baked in the oven with coconut oil, salt and pepper. (Mine don’t look as good as hers though):

After class, Elizabeth showed us some cooking books that would be a great start for many of us:

Monday morning felt like a mellow morning, relaxing, cold, cloudy with only a few of us at the farm, as some are gone for the holidays. The compost pile was smaller than usual as well, but it just looked so beautiful to me, must have been the pink hues of the dried leaves that were used.

Our nice little pile of compost.

As we went out to the field on Wednesday to harvest for the CSA boxes, I happen to notice some steam coming from the compost area. I got closer and I was so amazed at how it looked, as one the beds was really showing off its heat in this cold morning.

Steaming compost pile!

Just a quick little video that shows the steam of the pile:

Farm looking beautiful on CSA day.

For class, we learned about the Plant life cycle, and when I got home I remembered how my seedlings were starting to look at my house in terms of what we just had talked about in class. Part of what we talked about was Monocot vs. Dicot plants. Corn and bamboo are Monocotyledons, which have one cotyledon, the baby leaf of the plant. Leaves grow in the center, and up, and push out the outer leaves. Plants like Kale, lettuces, peas, basically most veggies other than orchids and grasses, like bamboo, corn, cereal grains etc., have two baby leaves that come out when the seed splits apart and sprouts. They grow on the outside, and keep extending just like a tree. That’s when I noticed “oh that’s how my baby spinach looks!” I started some seedlings with my kids at work, before they went on to winter break and this will be a good observation and lesson to talk about with them. I took some close up pictures of two of seedlings to show what I am talking about!

Spinach and Cilantro seedlings pictured here:

The seeds are inside the purple circle, and the blue arrows are pointing to the first two leaves of the Spinach!

 

These are my cilantro seedlings, you can see the seed and the two leaves as well.

Love,

Cindy

It may be very cold in the mornings, with many of our green veggies leaves with frost but how do I enjoy it, just because I’m simply here at the farm. Monday was compost day, fruits like apples and persimmons going into the pile, brewery waste, branches put to make a nest for these fruits and veggies, browns and stable bedding creating a nice big pile once again.

Very frosty leaves.

On Wednesday, my boyfriend finally had a chance to come and volunteer. I have been wanting him to come so he can see what is most likely to be a huge part of our future. We started off by harvesting lemongrass, in which neither of us have harvested it before. We had to ask a few people first before doing anything, so we would’t do it wrong. We got to harvest some radishes and daikon as well, which I think are the fun ones! Our class was on irrigation this week, afterwards I felt pretty confident that I could go home and install one for the house when I put in the garden!

Susan, my boyfriend and I, making sure we are harvesting the lemongrass right. 

The roots of the radish, just proving how rich and full of life this soil is!

Kale looking nice after some rain.

A beautiful companion of planting, Pac Choi and lettuce.

 

New day on the farm, and new set of tasks! Susan and I are now on the compost and nursery tasks for the remaining time of the internship. Which made me realize we are already about 3 months in, with about a month left :(. BUT I am so excited to gain more knowledge on compost, especially from the compost queen, Lynn! Although I had the chance of managing compost on my campus last year, I only knew the simple basics, and know that I still have some knowledge to gain. On our first day, we got to build a nice HUGE pile of compost. I kept thinking, “OMG this thing is BIG, should we keep going?” We sure kept building up the pile until we were done! We had the chance of also screening some of the finished compost, we were so amazed how rich it was.

New big compost pile!

Screened compost.

On Wednesday for class, we talked about water in LA, and the cycle of water. In the end I was thinking to myself, well why aren’t there more urban farms with rich soil? Why are we destroying our soil, up to the point it has no life? Why have we covered up the ground with concrete and not let rain get to the soil? Why do people waste water on lawns rather than growing food? Why are we letting so much rain water go to waste!!?? Rishi showed us an example of soil that had no organic matter or much life to it, vs soil that had organic matter and was rich. When water fell on the dirt it didn’t filter though at all, which means it either runs off to the ocean or evaporates. When the same amount of water fell on the rich soil, there was no run off, and it filtered though, meaning that it would become ground water and become part of the water cycle. There was much more we learned about this, but sharing a bit so you can get the idea. If there were more urban farms, or simply good rich soil with organic matter, I honestly don’t think the drought would be as bad as it is, we would have local water and of course, local food.

Run off on soil that has no organic matter, or much life.

 

 

Water went through the soil slowly, as it should be!

 

We have been experiencing cold mornings at the farm that even some plants have little ice crystals on them.

Foggy and chilly morning at the farm.

Daikon hugging each other 🙂

Love, Cindy

Susan and I started with the tasks of harvesting. I enjoyed learning when to harvest certain warm weather veggies, Manju teaching us how to harvest an eggplant depending on how the whole plant is doing, or where on a long bean to cut/not to cut so it keeps producing.  Then we moved on to chickens. I never really handled any chickens, or took care of them, so at first I was a little nervous with the chickens. Now I’m consistently trying to pet them, so they can get used to us and know we are there to take care of them and not there to harm them. As the weeks have gone by, we have also been trying to train them to go into the coops by themselves when it’s time to go back in. When it’s time to go in the coop, we give them yummy greens, like wheat grass (which they love) in the coop. On Monday when it was time for Susan and me to get the chickens back in the coop we were surprised that most chickens were already in the coop, only a few were out. We were so happy, we thought, “wow it’s working!” We are a little sad that we don’t get to keep taking care of them as we move on next week to a new set of tasks, but it’s fine because we still get to see them either way 🙂 .

Giving some love to the chickens!

What droplets on the very top of the wheat grass.

Picture taken by Brooke. How our Friday Nutrition class started, great whole foods by Elinor. Can you tell how happy I am!? 🙂

love,

Cindy

It’s been a while since I have posted something, but I’m here with some dated pictures I have taken at the farm in the last couple of months. Enjoy!

10/19/16
Radishes for the CSA boxes!

10/21/16
Bees pollinating the Rampicante flowers.

10/26/16
A nice little bouquet of Basil!

10/28/16
Sweet Potato right from the ground!

11/02/16
Misty cucumbers on this Fall morning at the farm.

11/07/16
Love getting my hands in this soil. Seedlings going in!

11/11/16
The first Snap Pea of the Season!

11/16/16
Finding the spirals of nature in the Yukina Savoy.

11/16/16
Also finding them in the Pac Choi!

11/21/16
The farm really loving the rainy weather!

11/21/16
Pac Choi ready to go in the CSA boxes.

11/30/16
Simple as pulling out these Radishes from the soil to make me happy! Thanks Susan for this picture!

Love, Cindy

Food waste or organic waste today is a big problem in the US. Although some places do compost, or some people compost at home, the majority doesn’t. From my personal experience of going to restaurants, or anywhere to eat, one small mistake on the dish means trash, or a half-eaten plate goes to trash. Even one bad cherry tomato in a bag gets thrown out at a Grocery store. It’s unfortunate how disconnected we have become from food, as people don’t realize that the bag of tomatoes took tons of resources. For example, those resources include hundreds of gallons of water, energy, and a farmer’s hard work.  So all those resources and nutrients from just that one bag of tomatoes, are just going out to the trash. Including the nutrients that don’t even get a chance to go back into the soil because they get end up in a landfill.

With some online research I was able to find some numbers. According to several articles, in the US alone, 40 percent of food ends up in the landfill. According to CalRecycle, in California we throw away about 6 million tons of food waste or scraps each year. This waste impacts our ecosystem in a couple of different ways, one is the methane that is produced from the landfills, which is more potent then Co2 as a greenhouse gas, leaking into our atmosphere. The other one I mentioned already was that nutrients don’t return to the soil, and as one of the articles from the Sierra Club states, this means loss in fertility for the soil, which equals to farmers having to use pesticides and fertilizers to fill the gap.  But from what I have learned those pesticides and fertilizers then pollute the environment, which are also going into our and animal’s bodies. We need to move towards not wasting so much organic waste and doing compost everywhere!

Some beautiful purple and green bush beans we know  didn't go to waste but to our CSA boxes!

Some beautiful purple and green bush beans we know didn’t go to waste but to our CSA boxes!