Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

3rd Annual National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa Next Week

Happening next week is The National Heirloom Expo! http://www.theheirloomexpo.com/

Adam and Paula will be giving a workshop there on Wednesday, September 11 at 2:00pm on “Whole Farm Planning for On-Farm Fertility.” There is sooo much to see here, we suggest you go over to the website above to see the lineup and make it south to Santa Rosa next week!

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Venga a la Granja

Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA – Tuesday, August 27

In Your Share This Week

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Mixed Summer Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant (depends on your pick-up site)
  • Swiss Chard (depends on your pick-up site)
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Beets

The summer squash and cucumbers are still pumping out lots of fruits. We should have green beans starting next week, and unfortunately, the sweet corn never germinated well. We’re not sure why; it may be the particular spot in the field.

So, while we don’t have much sweet corn, we have a lot of heirloom Indian corn which we are growing at a different property in Potter Valley. We’ll start harvesting some for this Saturday’s Tamale Making Party. We hope everyone got the Eventbrite invitation last week. It’s this Saturday, August 31 from 1-4pm at the home ranch, Heart Arrow Ranch, near Redwood Valley. For tamales de elote, we harvest the corn at just the right stage of maturity, where it isn’t drying out and getting hard yet. Here’s a fun instructional video to inspire you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so0K7KB5SVI We made plain tamales over the weekend, without sugar, and they were quite delicious.

We found this yummy-sounding recipe on FOOD52 (link below), which was inspired by the author’s CSA share. Of course, we need to share it and try it ourselves this week. It uses beets, summer squash, and cucumber, as well as figs. In the next couple weeks, we may have enough figs from the home ranch to harvest for the CSA. We have one very large and generous Black Mission fig tree here.

http://food52.com/recipes/973-roasted-beet-and-summer-squash-salad-with-figs-chevre-cucumber-relish-and-a-balsamic-reduction

winter squash, melons, watermelons in early August

winter squash, melons, watermelons in early August

Notes from the Field

This past Sunday, the Trials Manager from High Mowing Organic Seeds in Vermont came by for a field visit. In the spring, she sent us various melon seeds, mostly from Vitalis Organic Seeds (owned by Enza Zaden) to try. The seeds were free, so, of course we were happy to try them! For their trials, we are growing 1 canary, 2 cantaloupe, 2 Charantais, and 3 Galia melon varieties. We are also growing a couple melon varieties we have grown before, as well as watermelons. The melons will start ripen and be ready for eating in a couple weeks, and we look forward to feedback on the different varieties! The seed industry is interesting being so global and happening at various scales.

We are still following and participating in stakeholder meetings as the county develops its Approved Source Program. If you don’t remember, this is the program to institute food safety regulations for produce farmers who sell to processors (restaurants, institutions, etc.) and retail stores. Water testing and standards are one of the issues being sorted out. This is also addressed in the Food Safety Modernization Act at the federal level. While everyone wants food to be safe, things like water tests and filtration or treatment systems for irrigation and/or washing can be expensive, potentially driving the cost of farming and food up. In case you are wondering, we do use a UV filter on the wash water for our vegetables, so all potential coliform bacteria and E. coli in the spring or well water are killed. A UV filter system is not locally available, but you can purchase one online for about $500.

We are still feeling the stress from lack of staff/workers on harvest days, but we are doing our best, aiming to get the freshest produce to you on time for distribution. The fall seedlings sprouted very well on the coast, and we have them back at the farm, ready to go into the ground once we have the vegetable beds prepared. Now that we are able to make meat deliveries to San Francisco again, our drives to Eureka or Petaluma or Occidental for beef/pork/lamb processing are very regular again. To continue supplying Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op, caterers and other local customers with cut-and-wrapped meat, we usually have to go to Redwood Meat Co. in Eureka as the processor in Santa Rosa is booked. As you can imagine, all this driving is taking away time or labor on the farm each week. So, we continue to try to find the right balance.

We are designing a couple small insectaries in the vineyard for Golden Vineyards at Heart Arrow Ranch, and the new livestock barn is really taking shape now. If you make it to the Tamale Making Party this Saturday, we’ll give you a quick tour. If we don’t see you this weekend, have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Eat well,

Adam & Paula

corn cut from the cob, ready to go in the food processor for tamales

corn cut from the cob, ready to go in the food processor for tamales

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CSA Newsletter: Week 11

fried eggplant

fried eggplant

 

Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA – Tuesday, August 6

In Your Share This Week

  • Carrots (depends on your pick-up site)
  • Cherry Tomatoes or Slicer Tomatoes
  • Mixed Summer Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Dino Kale
  • Red Potatoes

Looking at our harvest logs from last year, we started getting cherry tomatoes two weeks early this year! It’s a mix of Sungolds, Chadwick, and crosses thereof. A big misconception about tomatoes is that they ripen when it is hot out during the day. However, it is the warm nights that ripen tomatoes. Have you noticed that evenings have been warmer than usual? We have noticed verasion of Heart Arrow Ranch zinfandel earlier this year as well… We are big fans of chopping up tomatoes and tossing them in our cooking, whether it be pasta or a mixed veggie dish.

Here is an unusual recipe – zucchini butter! This is great for breakfast on toast.

Jennie Cook’s Zucchini Butter

From Jennie Cook by way of The Kitchn

Here is a recipe for eggplant that we are excited to try from Spain…A Culinary Road Trip (HarperCollins 2008) by Mario Batoli and Gwyneth Paltrow – Fried Eggplant. The book notes that eggplant becomes very crispy on the outside and very creamy on the inside when you fry it. And of course, they recommend that you use Spanish olive oil, but we’re sure a Mendocino olive oil will work, too. This recipe calls for one large eggplant, but you just need enough to cut into a big pile of “sticks.”

Serves 4

  • 6 to 8 cups extra-virgin olive oil, for deep frying
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 3-inch-long, 1/2-inch thick sticks (with the skin)
  • Coarse sea salt

Heat the olive oil to 365 in a large deep skillet. Beat the eggs in a wide shallow bowl. Put the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Working in batches, dip the eggplant in the eggs and then in the bread crumbs, turning to coast, and add to the hot oil, without crowding. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and serve.

Notes from the Field

If you haven’t noticed, we have inadvertently started to send newsletters every other week instead of every week. We hope that you don’t mind. Farmers are not super busy just because we have so much to do in the fields on the farm. The unromantic side of farming requires just as much time and attention – fostering good relationships with our landlords, talking with other farmers or our local UC Cooperative Extension agent for advice, and catching up with bookkeeping are just a few of the things that have to get done but aren’t directly related to production.

Last Tuesday, after the Ukiah deliveries, we took 30 trays of fall brassica seedlings to Noyo Food Forest in Fort Bragg. It was nice to catch up with the farmer/educator, Gowan, and hear how things are going with her own farming pursuits and Eat Mendocino. Then on Wednesday, we drove south to San Rafael to pick up a used 2004 Dodge Sprinter van with a refrigerated cargo space. We actually did today’s Ukiah deliveries with this van! The walls are that white plastic food grade material, and the floor is stainless steel, so the whole interior is washable. With help from Golden Vineyards, we need this van because we do not have a distributor for our meat to San Francisco anymore. This has been terrible for our farm sales this year, so we will now be delivering that meat ourselves. One of your fellow CSA members, Kathryn Quanbeck, wrote a good backgrounder on this distribution issue that affects many small-scale sustainable ranchers in the North Bay and North Coast. http://civileats.com/2013/04/17/distribution-problem-hinders-local-beef-in-ca/ With new investments into our meat enterprises – new barns, new hay mower, hay baler, and now a delivery van – this raises a question for us as to where it is more worthwhile for us to invest our time and labor in the future.

Finished compost made at Heart Arrow Ranch was moved to 3WG Ranch in Potter Valley. We will be amending the fall vegetable field with the compost. We just sent in a water sample of the well water at that property; we are required to test our wash water for organic certification every year, to ensure that your organic produce is “safe”. We are falling a little behind in trellising all the tomatoes, along with weeding, so we need to catch up. The winter squash, melons, and water melons are growing well but not close to being ready yet. We also mulched the field cucumbers so that when we flood irrigate, the fruits aren’t resting on the wet soil, which would rot them.

Have you checked out this Local Food Time Ticker info graphic? http://www.thelandconnection.org/resources-for-producers/infographic/#.UgGrBGT0YbA Share it with your friends – it depicts the nutritional value we reap in eating freshly-picked local produce. Everything in your CSA share was harvested either this morning or on Monday. Once you harvest a vegetable, it starts to die and lose nutritional value. We take post harvest handling very seriously, so once a crop is harvested, washed, and packed, it goes into refrigeration asap to slow the vegetable’s “dying.” The refrigerated van also ensures that in transit to Ukiah (okay, it’s only 12 miles), your CSA shares stay cool.

 

Until later, eat well,

Adam & Paula

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The Corn Crib

tonia teaching workshopIn case you missed Tonia’s fun and informative workshop at the Not-So-Simple Living Fair, “Making Tortillas from Whole Corn,” we wanted to let you know about her new website and venture, The Corn Crib!

corn crib card side 2

We are currently growing Oaxacan Green Dent Corn and Abenaki Calais Flint Corn in Potter Valley. If you are interested in organic corn, cornmeal, hominy, or masa consider getting some of this beautiful, locally-grown heirloom corn.

corncorn close up

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Local Food Time Ticker

From The Land Connection http://www.thelandconnection.org Instead of comparing prices between locally-grown and non-local foods, let’s compare nutritional value and indirect economic benefits to the community!

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Just a reminder...we have amazing Pork & Lamb!

Hey, Mendocino County! This posting is for you! Westside Renaissance Market has a small selection of our meat as well. Try it, and then go all in for an amazing value by purchasing in bulk directly from Paula and Adam :) Pork is available now, and Lamb will be available the 1st week of August.

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Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA – Tuesday, July 24

In Your Share This Week

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Potatoes
  • Summer Squash
  • Kale
  • Chard

We have a late edition of the weekly CSA newsletter! This week’s harvest was a lot for the three of us to harvest, minor farm injuries and all. Apologies if you got to the distribution site on time and the vegetables were not there yet! This time of year, harvest is a big job, and we are feeling the labor pinch. Since we did not have as many CSA sign-ups as hoped for, we had to trim our budget, including not hiring part-time labor to help on busy harvest days. But, with better planning and time management, we should have next week’s harvest done on time.

Now that summer squash is here, expect it to be here for a bit. Aside from mixing them in with stir fry dishes, have you tried a summer squash sauté? Check out this easy one from Bon Appetit. Not only a mandolin, but a regular grater with medium-sized holes works well.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/quick-recipes/2013/06/summer-squash-saute

Need more ideas for the cabbage? We found this great compendium of 10 Recipes That Remind Us Why Cabbage Is Awesome

http://www.thekitchn.com/10-recipes-that-remind-us-why-cabbage-is-awesome-183169

The big cabbage leaves are perfect for rolls!

Notes from the Field

While it is hot hot hot out, our cool-weather crops are still producing well, thanks to lots of irrigation. We would very much prefer that it were in the 80s and 90s, rather than the 90s and 100s we’ve been having. We did not anticipate such early high heat, hence no ripe tomatoes yet, but they are on their way! We usually get ripe field tomatoes in August at the earliest. Right now, we are keeping them weeded and trellising them with highway posts and twine. Since our first foray into baling hay, we have a lot of hay twine from badly made bales to repurpose.

If you know anyone looking for cheap certified-organic hay mulch, we have a lot for sale. $5 per 70-lb bale. It’s cattle-filler quality, so probably not good for any pampered horses.

We finally got our sheep moved out to Potter Valley irrigated pasture, guardian dogs in tow. The four boer-cross goats went with them; they had a shocking experience learning about electric fence, but everyone is very happy to be on fresh green pasture. And construction on the new sheep barn and corral are well underway. Many thanks goes to Golden Vineyards for financing this much needed infrastructure. This barn will be very important for the vegetables. With ample cover from the winter rains, we can keep the sheep barned while the majority of them lamb. After a month or two, we can collect their manure, make compost and put nutrients back into the land, feeding the soil which will feed the crops. While the sheep are barned, we will feed them much of the hay that we just made this summer. A few years ago, we used to have to buy hay to feed our sheep, and now we are much more sustainable, spending less money on land rent and pasture/hay management instead.

We have many seedling trays with fall crops seeded and will start them in a different way this year. Usually, we really struggle to get broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc. to germinate and thrive in the high heat of Inland Mendocino summer. Plus, at Heart Arrow Ranch, we are surrounded by wild spaces with birds and mice looking for anything green during the dry summer that they love attacking the seedlings. It’s usually very management intensive starting fall seedlings, with constant misting and pest control. So, we’re taking about 30 trays (over 3,800 seedlings) to Noyo Food Forest in Fort Bragg to live in their propagation greenhouse for a few weeks. There, in the coastal climate, we should have much better fall seedling germination. Just for comparison, Accuweather says that it’s currently 91F in Redwood Valley while it is 66F in Fort Bragg. There is a reason why many of the organic greens you see in the grocery store come from the Central Coast of California, and Salinas is called America’s Salad Bowl. We are figuring out a trade-for-rent of some kind (possibly supply meat for a fundraiser) with Gowan, the farmer and educator at Noyo Food Forest. They have lots of workshops and community events, and we encourage you to check them out.

Mutually beneficial relationships among biodiversity on the farm and in the community are everywhere, and that’s what keeps our farm going!

 

Eat well,

Adam & Paula

sheep barn construction

plums ripening at Heart Arrow Ranch

plums ripening at Heart Arrow Ranch

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Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA – Tuesday, July 9

In Your Share This Week

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Green Cabbage
  • Tuscan Kale
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes

We hope that everyone had a great July 4 holiday! We had a fun barbecue last Thursday with folks from a San Francisco restaurant, Bar Agricole, that has an RSA (Restaurant-Supported Agriculture) arrangement with us. Community-supported agriculture comes in many forms, and we are truly grateful for the commitment and support.

This last planting of spring broccoli has magically b(l)oomed this week! Cabbage and other brassicas are also in abundance.

Seeing that there is so much fruit in season, mix it up with your vegetables for a healthy summer dish! We love the strawberries at the Ukiah Saturday Farmers Market and are anxious to try this gem of a recipe from “The Diva Dish”:

Strawberry Broccoli Salad

  • (For the Salad)
  • 1½ c. chopped strawberries
  • 1½ c. broccoli, cut with most of the stems removed
  • ¼ c. salted cashews, chopped
  • 2 TB (or more) toasted coconut
  • (For the Dressing)
  • 2 TB. greek yogurt, plain
  • 1 TB. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TB. honey
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Add salad ingredients to a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a separate small bowl whisk together salad dressing, then pour over top of salad.

Can serve immediately, or will do great in the fridge for when ready to serve.
(If serving later, add in coconut just before serving)

Have you tried making green smoothies yet? If you have a blender, give it a whirl! Rather than juicing, with green smoothies, you still get the good fiber from your veggies. It’s so easy to get berries (fresh, then freeze them; or frozen already), peaches, and other fruit, and blend them with a combination of your CSA vegetables. We don’t recommend the potatoes for the smoothie, though.

More about green smoothies: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kipp-stroden/the-green-smoothie_b_135390.html

Field Notes

The big 22-acre field of hay has finally gotten cut and is getting raked today. Then it will get baled and picked up out of the field. We are soooo relieved that our certified-organic grass hay will not go to waste. Driving tractor can get pretty boring, but it’s also a good time to meditate and think about the farm.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we are giving a workshop to the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians about farm planning, marketing, CSA, and more. This is part of a grant that the Tribe received to revive agriculture in their communities. We are excited to make new connections and share our knowledge. Adam will also be giving a workshop at the Not-So-Simple Living Fair at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville on Sunday, July 28. NSSLF is a weekend of hands-on workshops and demonstrations celebrating rural living and homesteading skills, July 26, 27 & 28. Adam will be discussing “Whole Farm Fertility Planning” – designing your farm to be fertility self-sufficient. The schedule has yet to be posted, but you can see what workshops and events will take place http://www.notsosimple.info/ Tonia, the woman with whom we are growing field corn, will be leading a tortilla-making workshop!

The first of the tomatoes are just starting to ripen, and looking into our crystal ball, the summer squash should be ready soon, too. We are battling spider mites on the cucumbers in the high tunnel, but the field cucumbers are growing fine. It looks like it will continue to be warm – 80s and 90s Farenheit. Hope you are enjoying summer!

 

Eat well,

Adam & Paula

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Whew, it’s hot! Since our office has no air conditioning and it’s just as warm in here as it is outside, we’re going to keep this brief.

In Your Share This Week

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Dino Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Cauliflower
  • New Potatoes
  • Green Cabbage

We have greens – perfect for refreshing salads. Chop up the kale with the cabbage for a yummy coleslaw. I can’t remember where I got this Coleslaw Dressing recipe, but I love it. After you chop up your cabbage (and kale, maybe?) mix these ingredients together and dress it:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed

Chill it in the fridge, and voila, a crunchy light meal or side dish.

It might be too warm to do try this Cauliflower-Cheese Pie recipe during the week, but if it cools down enough to use the oven, this sounds delicious. It’s from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook (Ten Speed Press Berkeley, 1992).

Convenience Tips: Use food processor with grating attachment to grate cheese, potato, and onion in that order. (No need to clean in between.) Prepare the filling while the crust bakes.

Crust:

  • 2 cups (packed) grated raw potato
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • flour for your fingers
  • a little oil

Filling:

  • 1 tbs olive oil or butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 medium sloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 medium cauliflower, in small pieces
  • 2 eggs (or 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white)
  • 1/4 cup (packed) grated cheddar
  • paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Oil a 9-inch pie pan.

Combine grated potato and onion, salt, and egg white in a small bowl and mix well. Transfer to the pie pan and pat into place with lightly floured fingers, building up the sides into a handsome edge.

Bake for 30 minutes, then brush the crust with a little oil and bake it 10 more minutes. Remove from oven, and turn the temperature down to 375 degrees.

Heat the olive oil or butter in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs, and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add cauliflower, stir, and cover. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally (about 8 to 10 minutes).

Spread half the cheese onto the baked crus (OK if it’s still hot). Spoon the sauteed vegetables on top, then sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Beat the eggs and milk together, and pour this over the top. Dust lightly witih paprika.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until set. Serve hot or warm.

Next week, we will harvest carrots and beets again. There will probably be more cabbage, as well as potatoes. The summer squash should be coming on very soon.

Field Notes

It is hot. We keep wondering when it will cool down.

In other news, we have decided to go out and purchase our own hay making equipment as we have been very unsuccessful in finding someone to reliably make hay for us. This way, we can cut our hay exactly when we need it to be cut, which will benefit the whole farm – the livestock waiting for pasture, our friends wanting to purchase quality organic hay, and our cashflow (in the longrun). If it weren’t so hot, we would probably start cutting our second field this week. In the meantime, we are keeping everything well watered.
Eat well,

Adam & Paula

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Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA – Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In Your Share This Week

  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Tuscan Kale
  • New Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers (depends on your pick-up site)

This week’s harvest comes on a very unusually wet June day. We harvested half of the vegetables, including the potatoes, on Monday, and did the other half today, Tuesday.

You have Colorado Rose new potatoes – a pretty red-skinned potato with yellow flesh. We did not wash or rinse the dirt off of them this time, as they seemed to have especially delicate skin when we were harvesting them. As mentioned last week, it is generally recommended that you don’t wash new potatoes until you are ready to use them.

We have an abundance of kale again this week! Here is an easy Kale Chips recipe that uses apple cider vinegar! http://food52.com/recipes/567-kale-chips

This rainy weather motivated us pull out the crock pot Sunday night. We simmered lamb breast (you can find it at UNF Co-op in the frozen meat section), some potatoes, chopped carrots, broccoli, and kale with various seasonings. Crock pots are great for those root crops, including the beets, although the beets might turn the dish magenta ;)

Try roasting the beets, slicing them, and tossing them on a salad! Not sure how to roast beets? Here is a random website with good direction on howhttp://whatscookingamerica.net/Vegetables/OvenRoastedBeets.htm

Field Notes

As we write, the rain is really coming down now. We have not stressed enough how unusual – how out of rhythm – the weather has been. If periodic rain in the summer is going to be normal, we wish someone could tell us so we can plan on it. We are a little worried about our durum wheat in Ukiah getting rained on, but the days are supposed to heat up as the week goes on, and we’re crossing our fingers that the grain will dry out quickly. Once again, just like with the hay harvest, we are relying on someone else to harvest our grain as we don’t have a combine yet. We are in the process of purchasing one in Humboldt County and just need to pay it off and do a little mechanical work on it. But for now, we are talking with a couple local people who can either harvest it for us or let us use their combine.

Last week, we sold and delivered some hay to the Philo Apple Farm; Sophia, who is about our age, manages draft horses there. Talking with her father, Tim, the apple orchard is doing well. He brought us up to date on some organic practices that are costly management-wise, but over the next few years, they should see an increase in fresh-eating apple production. (They make cider with the cosmetically-imperfect apples. Selling fresh-eating apples is more profitable than making cider.) He mentioned that even after farming for 30 years, they still struggle with cashflow – covering production costs before they’ve sold any product. So, if you signed up for a Pome Fruit Share, you are helping ease that cashflow crunch for another local farmer!

Last we looked online, the temperatures are going to rise significantly over the course of this week. Even after all this rain, we’ll probably be irrigating a lot this weekend to keep crops cool!

Eat well,

Adam & Paula

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