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Farmers’ Note

Hello Growing Club & CSA members!

Great news! Today we received word from the FruitGuys Community Fund that our grant application for a fruit tree and CA native perennial hedgerow project has been approved! What’s a hedgerow you ask? Well, before industrial farming took hold across America, farmers would keep strips of land surrounding their annual growing fields planted with native and perennial plants as areas for beneficial insect, bird and wildlife habitat. These habitat areas would attract life forms that would provide benefits to the main crop, and usually produce some kind of minor crop as well (squirrel meat anyone?). When Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz encouraged farmers to industrialize in the 1970’s and plant from “fence row to fence row,” farmers removed these hedgerows to increase areas under main crop (corn, soy, canola, wheat, cotton, etc.) production. To make up for the pest control provided by hedgerows, farmers had to start spraying pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides instead. Now, as common sense makes its way back into farming, hedgerows are becoming popular again, and we are joining the movement to bring them back!

We have had hedgerows on the farm since we started, but we’ve primarily had them planted with annual wildflowers that only provide limited benefit during part of the year. With this grant, we now have $5000 to do our hedgerows right. We’ll be filling them up with over 30 fruit trees, planting the understory with over 200 California native perennial plants, and increase the variety of wildflowers that are growing. This is going to be a very exciting project for us and a real capstone to all of the work we have done at the farm up till now. It won’t be long until we have the trees and natives planted, so come by for a visit and check them out!

Also, check out the video we made as part of the grant application below:

 

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 swiss chard
– 2 lettuce heads
– 1 broccoli head
– 1 bunch turnips
– 1  celtuce stalk
– 1 box spinach
– 1 bunch sweet peas
– 1 head cauliflower

Herbs:
– 1 box watercress
– 1 bunch cilantro

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

Small Box

Vegetables:
– 1 box spinach
– 1 celtuce stalk
– 1 bunch swiss chard
– 1 broccoli head
– 1 box sweet peas
– 1 arugula box *not pictured

Herbs:
– 1 box watercress

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

celtuce 

  Ingredients:
-1 qt water or vegetable stock
-3 TB high quality unsalted butter
celtuce stalk
-salt to taste
-1/4 of lemon squeezedHow to prepare:
With a sharp knife, peel the stalk so the light green translucent part is showing. (celtuce tastes bitter raw so make sure to cook it first!)
Next bring 1 quart of water or vegetable stock to a boil. Add the celtuce and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until tender when pierced. (Do no over cook the celtuce – because it will fall apart!) Remove the celtuce from the water or broth and pat dry with a clean towel. Heat 3 TB high quality unsalted butter in a saute pan, when the butter begins to brown, add the peeled celtuce and cook When it begins to brown add the celtuce and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned on each side. Remove the celtuce from the pan and keep warm while you quickly cook the leaves, for about thirty seconds or until wilted. Place the wilted leaves on a plate, place celtuce stems on top of leaves. Add lemon to the remaining butter in the pan, swirl to warm through. Pour some of the lemon butter over the celtuce leaves and stem, add salt to taste,  and enjoy immediately.

Place the leaves on the plate, top with the celtuce stems, then add the lemon to remaining butter in the pan, swirl to warm through. Drizzle on some of the lemon butter and serve immediately, finishing with a touch of salt.

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.