CSA 2010 – Week 7: Small Town, USA

Philomath, Oregon

Year-round population of about 4,500. We have a library, post office, diner, bar, a great annual rodeo, and a museum that spotlights local history. There used to be one main street that split the town, but now there are two, one going in each direction. Other then that, not much appears to have changed in the last couple of years. The schools are still full of kids, and even though the economy is down, most of the small businesses managed to keep their doors open. Sounds ordinary, right? Classic small town America. But when compared with overall rural growth trends, its really not. All over the United States, small towns like this are packing up their bags and dragging their feet into the urban sprawl of the nearest big city, but strangely Philomath is growing – its population is up 17% since 2000. What is the glue that holds small towns like this together? And why are so many place like it falling apart? Maybe its not glue that sticks communities together, but food.

Canned goods, honey and herbal supplements come from local Willamette valley producers

In what we always seem to idealize as the golden years in our nation’s history, the 1950’s, about 12% of the total labor force claimed farming as their principle occupation. The total number of farms back then (as counted by the government) was 5,388,000. In the last 50 years that number has fallen to where it is today; now less than 1% of the labor force claim farming as the way they make their living, and the overall number of farms in the United States is about 2 million. Could this shift away from small scale farming be a big factor in the break-up of so many small communities?

Kali Lamont stocks produce at the farm stand.

While I don’t completely believe that the sole reason for this small town’s growth is Gathering Together Farm, I think it is undeniable that the presence and success of our farm has and will continue to build community support and connections that positively effect the area. Communities are built on issues of common ground or interest, such as local politics, or town development. But farms affect us on a level that goes beyond our petty differences: they produce food, and everyone has to eat. The greatest obvious commonality in a small town is the fact that the food source is shared. John and Sally have farmed here since 1987; they have sent their children to school here; they know their neighbors, fellow business owners; they know their customers; and in return everyone knows them. I think this investment in community goes beyond economic or demographic growth. It fills a need that we don’t always recognize because it is rapidly disappearing: the practice of looking out for the best interest of the people you share space with.

Regular customer Irene picking up GTF sausage, a favorite among her grandchildren.

Take our Farmstand for example. The diversity of local products reflects how community bonds are strengthened. Of course we sell vegetables that are grown on the farm, but there are also fresh eggs and cheese from neighbors, free range meat from several local providers in the greater Corvallis area. Canned goods from Sweet Creek farms, seeds from our sister company, Wild Garden Seeds, wines from local vineyards, and honey from both Blodgett and Corvallis. The list goes on, but the point is that all the people who produce these products have something to bring to the table. These small producers are given a venue to sell their wares, and we in turn have something special and unique to offer to the public that we otherwise would lack. When people help each other out like this, everyone benefits. It’s a lot harder for communities to fall apart and individuals within the community to fail, because people are literally invested in the health of a community, because of this they will go to greater measures to make sure that both issues and people aren’t falling through the cracks.

One of the original activists for a local food movement, Wendell Barry wrote on the idea that farming should be done by the measure of nature, that is, the nature and history of a place. This means that farmers tend farms that they love, farms that are small enough to know and to love, using tools and methods that they know and love, in the company of neighbors they know and love. Historically farming has been at the heart of small communities, and neighbors whose efforts help to feed other neighbors are going to care a lot more about each others’ well-being. With society changing like it is, it seems most communities could use a whole lot more of this food for the heart.

Devon Sanders, CSA Coordinator

What’s in the box?

  • 2 medium Siletz Tomatoes
  • Pint of Blueberries – Thank you Wilt Berry Farm, Corvallis, OR.
  • 1.5 lbs Yellow or All Red Potatoes
  • 2 Cucumbers – See recipe.
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Beets – See recipe.
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Baby Onions – You can use every bit of these onions, from bulb to the tasty green tops, just slice then into little rounds, sauté, or sprinkle on top of potatoes, eggs, or salads.
  • 2 Zucchinis
  • Summer Squash – You should have one of either the cocozella (a long striped green variety), magda (pale green and eggplant shaped), yellow crook neck, yellow patty pan (resembles a space ship), or zapallito (a round green variety).

Recipes:

Veggie Salad Wraps

These wraps are so easy to make, plus  they are light and refreshing on hot days when you don’t feel like turning on the stove. All you need are spring roll rice papers or wraps, which you can find in almost any Asian market, or co-op, or even the Asian foods aisle of many grocery stores. They are made out of rice flour, so no cooking is necessary. Just soak one at a time in a shallow container of luke-warm water (I use a pie pan) for about 15 – 20 seconds, until they are soft, but not too soft. Once the wrap is soft, remove it, and move to a flat plate to add your filling, then roll it up. Below are some suggestions for fillings, but you can put whatever you like in them. To really fancy them up, try shrimp and chopped mint, or cilantro on top of what I’ve suggested below.

The number of  wraps you want to make will affect the amount of veggies needed. The below suggestions will make between 10 and 15 wraps depending on size.

4-5 carrots (grated)
2 cucumbers – sliced into long thin strips
Green tops of one bunch of baby onions, chopped into 1/4 inch rounds
One head of lettuce, shredded thinly
Your choice of dipping sauce – Spicy peanut is my favorite

Place a line of veggies down  the center of one of  your  pre-soaked wraps, just like a burrito, leave about one inch on either side, and enough space on the top and bottom to roll closed. Carefully fold the bottom of the rice paper wrapper over the vegetables. Turn in the sides and keep it rather tight as you continue rolling up from the bottom.  Slice in half and serve with dipping sauce.

Roasted Beet and Beet Green Salad

1 bunch beets with greens
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
a sprinkle of feta cheese
a sprinkle of chopped green onion tops

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Wash the beets thoroughly, leaving the skins on, and remove the greens. Rinse greens, and set aside.
  • Place the beets in a small baking dish or roasting pan, and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Cover, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a knife can slide easily through the largest beet.
  • When the roasted beets are almost done, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Add the garlic and onion, and cook for a minute.
  • Tear the beet greens into 2 to 3 inch pieces and add them to the skillet.
  • Cook and stir until greens are wilted and tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cut beets into bite sized pieces, mix with greens and vinegar, this is great warm or cold,  garnish with a sprinkle of feta cheese, and onion tops. Yum!

Tomato, Zucchini Caprese Salad

2 vine-ripe tomato 1/4-inch thick slices
2  thinly sliced zucchini
1 pound fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick slices
1 bunch (or a little less) fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse salt and pepper to taste

  • Layer alternating slices of tomatoes, zucchini, and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each, on a large, shallow platter.
  • Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

CSA 2010 – Week 6: Tomato Rising

The plants will be more than double overhead by this time next week, and it will require someone taller than our compact innovator Rodrigo Garcia to continue the highly laborious process of pruning and training the tomatoes as they continue on their upward journey. The knowledge and labor that holds these plants up isn’t outwardly apparent, but what is obvious is the feeling that you get when you first walk into one of our tomato houses. The space here is being completely utilized, heat radiates between the rows of tomatoes that stretch from wall to wall, and from floor to ceiling of the hoop house. If you’ve ever seen a tomato plant before then, your second thought is that these burly plants do not look the same as your run of the mill backyard tomatoes, and they’re not. Oh no, these are super tomatoes. Before working with them, I’d never given much consideration to the fact that there is more than one way to grow an organic tomato. Isn’t it all just cultivate soil, transplant, stake, prune, and harvest? Wrong again. It turns out that in order to grow super tomatoes, you have to provide some super attention.

Back in early January, seeds went in for heirloom varieties with names like Pink Beauties, Black Cherokee, Brandywine, and Japanese Black Trifle. Heirloom seeds mean that they come from open pollinated varieties,  and that the seeds are saved for generations because the fruit had traits that the grower deemed valuable. Unfortunately many of the heirloom plants themselves are fragile, and vulnerable to diseases, meaning that often they under produce or die off before they have a chance. To combat this, in the last few years, Jolene, Paula, and Sara  (our dedicated greenhouse women) have taken on the challenge of grafting tomato plants. That means taking the bottom half (the rootstalk) of a hearty strong tomato, and more or less fusing it with the top cutting of an heirloom plant. After considerable healing, and seriously special care, by  early April the new bionic version is ready to move outside.  These ultra- exotic varieties are even more beautiful than their names, but for now most of our heirlooms are still hanging green on their sinuous skyward twisting vines. So why exactly is there a gain in all this work, why train tomatoes how to climb, and just how do you do it?

Last Thursday I worked with Rodrigo and some of the crew in one of our tomato houses doing some hands on learning about the process that will produce some of the most plentiful and best tomatoes that we’ve ever grown at the farm. By the time that they reach the tomato houses these plants have already been seeded, weeded, watered, grafted, and transplanted with the utmost care. Over the last 10 years we’ve been moving away from growing our tomatoes in the  conventional manner, but during the 17 years that he has worked on the farm Rodrigo has amassed considerable knowledge regarding how to maximize tomato production. As we made our way down the first row he took great care to show me the difference between the thick main tomato stalk (which is what we train to grow ever higher), and so called “sucker” offshoots that grow out of the joints in the plant. These suckers are aptly named; every bit of new plant growth takes energy, and these suckers will just continue to draw fuel until they grow to be just as large as the main stalk. The problem is not that they grow and grow, but that they don’t produce much fruit, and in the process they take massive amounts of energy away from more productive growth such as fruit ripening.  You also have your fruit producing branches, which will unfurl and open into blossoms, and if all goes well mature into fully grown tomatoes. And finally there are leaf branches, which are just what they sound like, these are necessary to shade and protect the tomatoes as they ripen.

Once you get the hang of identifying the difference between all the different types of branches, it’s still an enormous amount of work to keep these plants pruned. Once the weather gets warm, and they really start to grow, it is necessary to go through and cut back the suckers on each plant once a week, every week for a span of about four months. Not only do they need constant pruning as they flourish, but it is also necessary to routinely wrap a guide rope that hangs from the ceiling around the main stem to help it grow straight and tall. If you’re like me, you may be beginning to wonder how all this work can be possibly be worth it… Luckily it is also the part that Rodrigo is rightfully the most proud of; Where one plant grown under different circumstances would produce about 20 pounds of fruit. One of Rodrigo’s specially grown tomatoes plants yields closer to 100 pounds of fruit per plant. I imagined how many acres we would have to plant with tomatoes to get the same yield if we didn’t grow them like we do…..and then I realized once again, that thankfully there is always more than one way of making something work.

Devon Sanders, CSA Coordinator

What’s in the box?

  • Siletz Tomato – Your first of the season,  and the inspiration for this weeks newsletter, woo-hoo!
  • 1.5 lbs Yellow Potatos
  • 2 Cucumber – see recipe
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce – Red leaf
  • 2 lbs Fava beans – did you eat your first ones? A reprint on how to cook these is included.
  • Baby Onions – great for grilling, or shish kabobs
  • Broccoli
  • 2 Zucchini
  • Summer Squash – you should have one of either the cocozella (a long striped green variety), magda (pale green, and eggplant shaped), yellow crook neck, yellow patty pan (resembles a space ship), or zapallito (a round green variety)
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Garlic
  • Fennel – slice thinly and enjoy raw,  add to soups, or  bake whole in the oven. The greens can be eaten also, they make a great flavor or color addition to pastas, salads, potatoes or eggs

Tzatziki Sauce

This tzatziki sauce is an easy take on the classic Greek sauce, you can use real Greek yogurt if you like, but I always just make it with the ever present Nancy’s plain yogurt that I have in my fridge. This sauce is great pared with curry, falafel, or rolled into pita style bread with a salad of cubed tomato, cucumber, and onion. I have estimated amounts, but mostly I just taste as I go until texture, and flavor suit me, I suggest you do the same.

2-3 cups of plain yogurt
2-3 tablespoons  of lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cucumber, also finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Put yogurt, and lemon juice in a bowl and mix together. Wash and finely chop cucumber and cloves of garlic and add to yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you don’t use this all at once it will keep well for several days if you cover it in the fridge.

Baby Onion & Summer Squash Kabobs

It’s finally sunny, which means time to roll out the BBQ again! Over the weekend I made some delicious kabobs for a fourth of July party. If you eat meat , you can add steak, chicken, or fish, the marinade works for all three.

Remember when making kabobs to pre-soak your wooden sticks in water, this will prevent them from burning when you put them on the grill.

Marinade:

1-2 cups water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Soy sauce
1/2 cup Lemon juice
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon of crushed ginger
A handful or so of chopped onion tops

Mix together thoroughly your marinade ingredients in a long shallow pan. Your container needs to be long enough and deep enough to partially submerge your kabob skewers in.

Slice summer squash into 1 inch size pieces, and cut the tops off of your baby onions. Skewer pieces (adding meat if you like), and let marinate for at least an hour before grilling. Once on the hot grill, they should only take 6 minutes or so on either side. Enjoy!

Fava Beans

Fava beans have a delicious buttery texture and lovely nutty taste. Although they require a bit more work to prepare, take the time to try this old world favorite.

When preparing fava beans you need to first remove the beans from the pod. After you have shucked your beans, dispose of the pods and start a pan of water boiling so that you can  boil the beans to make removal of the outer shell easier. Most people choose to remove the outer shell of the Fava bean before they eat them. So after 5 minutes or so of boiling, let your beans cool, or run them under cold water so you can remove the shell. Fava beans have what looks like a little seam on one side of the bean. Make a slit with your fingernail in the seam at one end of the bean and then squeeze the bean out. It should pop right out of the skin.  The boiled  beans should be bright green and are now ready to use in any recipe.

Suggestions: A cold pasta salad, with fava beans, parmesan, lemon juice, diced garlic, parsley, oil, salt and pepper.

Polyculture: Strength in Diversity

If you’ve had a chance to get out and visit our farm, when you walk through the restaurant, farm stand, the barn, the fields, you’ll notice one of many things.

Everywhere you look different looking people are doing different things. Women, men, old and young, white, Latino, some dressed in dirty work clothes, others dressed to present themselves to the public. Some of us plant seeds, some harvest food, some of us wash and pack, some sell, and some cook. What we all have in common is that regardless of what our individual job is, we are never really alone in our work. We belong to a greater system where we are just a piece of a bigger picture.  In agriculture this is called polyculture, a style that works to imitate the diversity of natural ecosystems, because nature has a way of making everything a little different in order to better its chances of survival. The basic principle being that diversity is strength, and when you think about it, you can apply this logic to almost anything

One tour through our fields and you can see this ideal reflected; we have tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos plants growing side by side, and while we may have many rows of lettuce, or squash, they are different varieties. This mixture among our plants makes them more resistant against pests and disease, even though the various pieces may seem separate and different, really everything is interdependent. Nature very rarely is stagnant, when one plant dies; a different one grows up in its stead. We try to keep with the same principle, when one crop finishes, we replant with something different to replenish the soil so that we can keep farming. Just a week or so ago John cut down all oats that had been growing as a cover crop in one of our fields to make room for the corn that is going in now. The oats cut back on harmful weed growth, prevent erosion, and will help to revitalize the soil for the corn. A general observation is that if a plant grows well somewhere, there must be something in the soil that it likes or needs, however if you constantly push that plant to grow in the same soil again and again, without the natural rotation of other plants, over time the soil will lose what it had to give in the first place.

The opposite of poly (many or multiple) is mono (one or single). You’ve probably heard the term monoculture thrown around, what it really means is that diversity is eliminated in favor of large scale identical production. Planting monocultures is less labor intensive because you can use machines to systematically work your fields, but it destroys the natural biodiversity, depletes soils, and requires heavy treatment with pesticides so that plants aren’t wiped out by a single threat. That being said, there is definite danger in monotony. When variety is eliminated from anything, it becomes much easier to figure out where weaknesses lie because they are more apparent.

I’d like to draw the analogy that a well planted field with a good variety of plants is not unlike a town, or even a society. The differences that set us apart are also what make us strong. The next generation of plants will carry the knowledge and resilience that helped their parents to survive, so how different is that from people? The variety of plants in a field is just another type of community. Every community needs certain dimensions; its farmers, teachers, leaders, musicians, bakers, and brewers in order to continue to grow and prosper. Natural selection has designed us to be different, because a multitude of differences bring a wider set of skills, and a greater chance of survival. Those different human faces, and abilities, or different plant varieties and traits, are what ensures that the life that we love can continue to be possible.

Devon Sanders, CSA Coordinator

What’s in the box?

Pink Fingerling Potatoes— 4.50$

Cilantro—2.00$, to keep your cilantro fresh, cut the bottom of the stems off, and put them in a glass of water and keep them on your counter, looks and smells nice, lasts a long time!

Arugula—2.50$- you can store Arugula like cilantro, it will last longer. The spicy flavor is great when set off by lemon juice  or oranges in a simple salad with olive oil, a dash of vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Cabbage—1.00$ a pound

2 Cucumber—3.00$

Carrots—3.00$

Lettuce—2.00$

Summer Squash—2.75$ a pound,  everyone should have a long striped squash called Cocozelle, and another variety, either a light green Italian round squash called Magda, or little yellow crook necks.

Walla Walla Onion—1.50$

Zucchini—2.25 a pound

Strawberries—3.00$

If you were shopping at market this box would cost you between 27.50 and 30.00$

Recipe Suggestions

Grilled Summer Squash

Summer squash is going to start coming out your ears soon, and for me one of the easiest and most delicious ways to eat it is simply to marinate and toss it on the barbeque. You can use whatever kind of squash you have, in whatever quantity you like.

Summer Squash-(for zucchini shaped squash slice length wise into quarter inch thick pieces)
Extra Virgin Olive oil– enough to coat both sides of the squash
Balsamic vinegar– about 2/3 as much vinegar as olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
A sprinkle of herbs like rosemary or thyme (optional)

– Slice your squash first and set it into a large bowl.

– Pour olive oil and vinegar over the squash and gently turn and stir your squash slices until they are fully coated.

– Sprinkle salt, pepper, and herbs over your coated squash and make sure that there is enough oil and vinegar in the bottom of the bowl to allow the squash to marinate a bit while you get your barbeque going.

– Light up your grill, and wait until you have good coals, or until it is hot.

– The squash are thin and will cook very quickly once they are on the grill, have a plate ready at your side for cooked squash, and a set of tongs for pulling them off.

– It shouldn’t take more than 3-5 minutes on each side.  A little black is a good thing.

These make a great side dish for any meal, or filler for a sandwich, but my favorite thing to do is to serve them alongside toasted French bread, fresh tomato bruschetta, and cheese for the perfect light summer meal.

Strawberry Skillet Jam

2 cups of Strawberries, tops removed
1/4 cup of sugar
A teaspoon of lemon juice
A splash of vanilla extract (optional)

– In a bowl, roughly mash your strawberries with a potato masher (you may need to lean into it at first, to get them going) or squeeze them with your fingers.

– Put them into a large skillet (cast iron is perfect!) with the sugar and lemon juice and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often and breaking up large chunks of berry with your spoon, until it thickens and your spoon leaves a trail across the bottom of the pan. (It should take about 10 minutes.) If you like, stir in the vanilla.

– Let cool, and store in  clean glass jar in the refrigerator

This will keep well for about two weeks, it’s great as a jam, poured over vanilla ice cream, served with scones, whatever you like really. But the best part is that it’s quick, and unlike many jams doesn’t require a huge commitment of time, fruit, and energy. Enjoy!

Cool Cucumber and Onion Salad

This salad is great because you can make up a dish of it and eat it for a couple of days. Just prepare in a plate with a slight rim around the edge, and store covered in your fridge.

2 cucumbers, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
Walla walla onion, thinly sliced
White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

– On the plate arrange a layer of cucumber rounds, and then on top a thin layer of onions.

– Repeat  alternating layers of cucumbers and onions until you are out

– Lightly drizzle vinegar and even less oil over the plate, sprinkle with pepper and just a pinch of salt

– This refreshing salad is best slightly chilled, so cover and set in the fridge until you are ready to eat


Thicker than Water?

Monday the 21st was summer solstice, the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year. It seems hard to believe because it just doesn’t feel like it should be the end of June.  I checked out the official NOAA website and they confirmed what we can all feel, precipitation totals are well above normal. All this wet has me thinking about how much of our bodies, and how much of what we consume is water. We know that drinking contaminated water (even in small amounts) can have lasting harmful or deadly effects on humans. Our bodies are largely water, and so are many of the foods that we eat. It seems that we often  deceive ourselves into thinking that we are something stronger or greater than our chemical components. I wonder why we are not more cautious overall about the purity of all the water that surrounds us, because it directly feeds the seeds that will become us.

In your box this week, you have Cucumbers (95% water),  Carrots (84%  water) Lettuce (96% water) and strawberries (90% water), and a handful of other water dense vegetables…You’ll take these home to eat, and they will become a part of the water that makes up 60 % your body, and 83% of your blood. These vegetables are fed by the soil, air and water. Soil itself is 25% water the (rest is composed of 45% mineral material, 5% organic material, and 25% air) . We can greatly alter how a plant grows by boosting the minerals in the soil by using fertilizers, mainly nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It makes sense that people would need a type of fertilizer to grow also, but we don’t because we get everything we need from the plants we eat, and plants take everything in from their environment. Plants do all of the work to process the basic elements of life and make them available to us. But what about when our plants are feeding from an environment that has lingering chemicals left by pesticides or herbicides?

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the USA; but you may recognize it by its other name, Roundup. While it’s claimed that Roundup becomes inactive quickly in the soil, a study in the Ecologist found that it is more accurate to say that it is usually absorbed into the different components in the soil (water, mineral, organic, and air). That means it’s still active. So active that glyphosate residues have been found in lettuce, carrots, and barley that were planted a year after the field was treated. A different article in the journal, Environmental Pollution, showed that glyphosate also leaches through the soils; so the molecules may be potential contaminants of groundwater.

This brings us back to the idea of water purity. Now I know I’m preaching to the converted, but even if you go out of your way to eat organic produce, if your neighbor, or farmer across town uses a glyphosate based herbicide, the odds are it will slowly make its way into our soil and groundwater. When you eat vegetables that have grown from soil & water that have been exposed, do we really have any idea what the long term effects are?

Naturalist John Muir once said,  “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”.  And that seems to be the case with the water system. Maybe the unusual amount of rain we are having this year is connected to a greater issue. Either way, the water that keeps falling down on us is the same water that keeps your cucumber crunchy, it’s the same water that is rising out of the ground, and running into our rivers; it’s the same water that is circulating through your body.  Nothing is separate from everything else, and we ourselves are, no thicker than water.

Devon Sanders, CSA Coordinator

What’s in the box?

Fingerling Potatoes— 4.50$ (these are real gems, bake and enjoy with butter.)

Garlic Scapes—2.00$ (see recipe)

Fava Beans—3.00$(see recipe)

Basil—2.00$

Black Kale—2.00$

Cucumber—1.50$

Carrots—3.00$

Lettuce—2.00$

Walla Walla Onion—1.50$

Radishes—2.25$

Strawberries—3.00$

If you were shopping at the market, this box would cost—26.75$

Recipe Suggestions

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 bunch garlic scapes
1 tablespoon of  lemon juice
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
enough extra virgin olive oil to blend smoothly
coarse salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Blend garlic scapes, parmesan cheese, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Slowly drizzle in the oil with the motor running, and blend until smooth. Add a little more oil if you like yours a little looser, Taste and add coarse salt and pepper as needed. Mix this into your pasta,  use for a dip, or spread.

Fava Beans

Fava beans have a delicious buttery texture and lovely nutty taste. Although the require a bit more work to prepare, take the time to try this old world favorite. When preparing fava beans you need to first remove the beans from the pod. After you have shucked your beans, dispose of the pods and start a pan of water boiling so that you can partially boil the beans to make removal of the outer shell easier. Fava beans have a outer shell that needs to be removed before you eat them. Boil the beans until they turn bright green (about a minute or so), then remove them, run them under cold water until they are cool enough to touch. Now you need to remove the skin surrounding each bean. Fava beans have what looks like a little seam on one side of the bean. Make a slit in the seam at one end of the bean and then squeeze the bean out. It should pop right out of the skin.  Then the beans are ready to use in any recipe.

1.5 cups shelled fava beans (roughly 1.5 pounds unshelled)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic chopped finely
salt & pepper to taste

In a skillet on medium heat, add oil and garlic and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add fava beans and sautee for 7– 10 minutes, or until they are done to your preference. Add salt and pepper to taste, and these beans are ready to eat!           Good ideas include an Italian inspired cold salad with goat cheese, olive oil, lemon juice , and parsley.

Or throw your cooked beans in a food processor with lemon, garlic, and olive oil and spread them on a piece of toasted French bread. Yummy!

Black Kale Salad

1 bunch of black kale
Several baby onions, thinly sliced
A handful of pitted kalamata olives, chopped or ripped into quarters
1/4 cup of feta cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of grey poupon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash your kale and remove the bottom stalk.  Chop the rest into 1 inch sections and put into a large bowl.  Chop onions and kalamata olives and add to the kale.  In a separate bowl mix or whisk the mustard and olive oil together until they are emulsified, pour mixture over the kale, olives and onions.  Coat kale leaves completely with the dressing,  then and add feta cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

This salad is best when you make it in at least 6 hours in advance, so that as the kale wilts, it absorbs the dressing. This makes it more tender and easier to eat.


From Seed to Supper

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the entire life of the vegetables that we pack into your CSA boxes every week; from being seeded into the soil, to its demise in your kitchen. It might not be directly apparent, but an enormous amount of time and care go into planning, planting, fertilizing, watering, weeding, harvesting, and packing a single item that is produced on our farm.  I decided to take a closer look at onions, something that is called for more often than not, and generally overlooked for being ordinary. What is story behind the Walla-Walla onions that are in your box today?

Walla Walla Onions

Your Walla-Walla seed was ordered way back last fall from a seed company by our seed and irrigation manager, Jolene.  She maps out the whole farms planting schedule a year or so in advance. Jolene compares records, and draws from her considerable past experience, and then she decides what and when to plant. This year the first week of September was when your Walla-Walla seeds went into the tilled soil. These onions take about one to two weeks to germinate, (or sprout) and then the real work of keeping them alive begins. These onions will over winter outside, which means that they are very vulnerable to the elements, to animals, insects, and disease.

If the small plants don’t succumb to any of the above threats they still must compete with the growth of other plants, namely weeds. Weeds are serious competitors, I talked with Rodrigo, our Field and Production Manager, and he said a crew of six weeded the onion field three times. Each time it took a six day work week, of 12 hour work days. That’s 72 hours per person for each onion weeding session, a total of 1296 man-hours of just weeding! That same crew also fertilizes the field three times, 12 hours a shot, for 36 more hours, all that on top of how long it takes to originally prepare the field. Whew. In addition to keep the onions from rotting this year, Colin has been spraying oxidate, an OMRI Tilth approved spray that basically works like hydrogen peroxide for plants. This spring the plants really needed extra protection from fungi that thrive in the cool, wet weather we’ve been swamped with. Not all of them make it of course, this year we lost about 30% of what we seeded, but that’s a risk that you have to be willing to take.

So after all this, how long does it take our surviving onions to reach maturity? We are just beginning to harvest our first Walla-Walla’s and its now mid-June. In a year with better weather we may have seen them sooner, but as it is its 10 and a half months out from the time that these baby’s went into the ground.  For this time, the field doesn’t produce anything else, but it consumes a great deal.

The end of the line comes when we harvest the onions. They come in off the field, we spray them off, and send them down our old conveyer belt to be washed again, and then we pack them away into tubs that either get loaded into trucks, and sent off to market, or we carefully arrange them into CSA tubs and send them off to you. Regardless, when it reaches the consumer, a lot comes down to cost.

So how much did the individual onion seed cost? What about the gas for the tractor that tilled the field? How much did all the labor cost? What are the other farmers charging? How much did we charge last year? How much human thought and energy went into this single onion? And how do you really put a fair price on that? I’ve glossed over the whole process a bit, but I’m willing to bet that the onion that you’ll slice into your pan has a far more detailed and delicate history then you may have thought. People often talk about how expensive organic food can be, but when you think about all that it took to make the delicious, local, pure items in your box, think again, because really, these onions are priceless.

Devon  Sanders

CSA Coordinator

What’s in the box?

Beets—3.00$- try baking the root, and then sautéing the greens the same way you would chard or kale

Carrots—3.00$

Fennel—2.00$-see recipe

Chard—2.50$-see recipe

Lettuce—2.00$

Kohlrabi—1.00$-see recipe, Kohlrabi has a flavor similar to broccoli, peel it raw,  slice and  add to salads, or use for dipping into creamy sauces.

Red Potatoes—4.50$

Zucchini—1.25$

Walla Walla Onion—1.50$

Strawberries—3.50$

If you were shopping at the market, this box would cost—24.25$

Recipe Suggestions

 Fennel and Kohlrabi Salad

1 medium head of Fennel
1 medium kohlrabi
1 large handful small capers
The juice of 1 large lemon  (1/2 is  for crisping the fennel)
1 large garlic clove
Twice the amount of extra virgin olive oil (as lemon juice)
Black pepper
Sea salt
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard

– Slice the fennel as thinly as you can and add to a bowl of cold water and the lemon juice. Slice the kohlrabi and then pare strips off each slice with a vegetable peeler (this is to get wafer thin slices). Add to the bowl with the fennel.

– To make the lemon-caper dressing: Crush the garlic with a generous pinch of sea salt in a pestle and mortar (or in a mug with the base of a wooded spoon). Add some black pepper and a heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard. Stir together.

– Add the juice of 1 large lemon, the capers and twice the amount of olive oil. Whisk to mix.

– Drain the water from the salad and place in a bowl . Add the dressing and stir to coat.

Chard Frittata

1 lb. Swiss chard or spinach, stems trimmed and chopped
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 tsp. summer savory, minced (optional)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup your choice of cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

– Turn on broiler. Place Swiss chard in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Cover and cook 3-6 minutes or until just wilted. Drain, squeezing out excess liquid. Set aside.

– Melt butter in a heavy ovenproof 10 inch skillet over medium high heat. Sauté potatoes and summer savory about 3 minutes or until potatoes are light brown. Stir in onions and sauté another 2 minutes.

– Combine remaining ingredients, except chard and cheese, in a bowl. Stir in chard and grated cheese. Pour over onion potato mixture.

– Cook over low heat about 10 minutes or until top is slightly runny and bottom is set. Place under broiler about 2 minutes until top is set and golden. Cut into wedges to serve.

– Serves 6

How easily happiness begins by dicing onions,

A lump of sweet butter slithers and swirls across the floor of the sauté pan, especially if its errant   path crosses a tiny slick of olive oil.

Then a tumble of onions.

                                                                                                        ONIONS, by William Mathews