CSA 2011 – Week 13: Melons, Melons Everywhere!

The theme of the past few weeks here at the farm has been melons! I personally have been trying to eat at least one melon a day for the past couple of weeks, and I think that I’m succeeding. We plant four staggered plantings of melons in the season, intended to spread out our melon season for four weeks or more and assure that we will get a good harvest.

This year we transplanted them into the fields a little late and the lack of warm weather seemed to drag us behind with the melons, resulting in our first good melon harvest the last week of August. The amazing thing about all of this is that our 3rd and 4th melon plantings are both ready to be picked now! The hot weather ripened up those melons in a hurry. Thank you to Joelene and Sarah for spending their Sunday and other countless hours of their time devoting to the melon picking and boxing. We grow several different varieties of wonderful melons here. Those of you who attended our tasting last month got to try them all. For the melon type, we grow charentais, honey orange, honey pearl, and gaila. The watermelon varieties are sunshine, little baby flower, starlight, new orchid, and sorbet swirl. These melons are very special and are treated with special care. This week’s box contains the 4th melon for you all this season, and there will be more to come!

Assorted Veggie Casserole from CSA member Ruth:
1 lb potatoes
Several tomatoes
2-3 summer squash, chopped
Cheese (optional)
Herbs (marjoram, or thyme)
Salt
Olive oil

Slice the potatoes thinly, salt them, and layer in a casserole dish. Layer the dish with the tomatoes and squash, or any other appropriate vegetables. Sprinkle some layers with chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs. Add some shredded cheese if you’d like in the layers – mozzarella works well. Drizzle with a significant amount of olive oil so that the layers all get some. Bake at 400 degrees covered for about 45 minutes– 1 hour.

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Nicola or Colorado Rose)– steam, roast, or mash.

Beets, bunched – They are great raw, roasted, or boiled.

2 onions– chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. Try them caramelized.

Watermelon, assorted types– Eat just like it is!

2 jimmy nardelo peppers– Chop and put on salads. (see recipe)

2 colored peppers— Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are very sweet. (see recipe)

1 lipstick pepper– Chop raw for salads, add to a sauté or potato salad. (see recipe)

1 globe eggplant– Roast with olive oil, salt, and garlic. Try sautéing with tomatoes and onions.

2 Japanese cucumbers– Chop and add to a salad. Marinate and combine with tomatoes! Try combining with melons and eat together.

Bok Choy-Sauté with squash, and onions, serve with rice or quinoa.

Squash (zucchini and cocozelle)– Grate and make fritters, or zucchini bread. Bake or sauté with onions, olive oil and salt.

Romaine, Cardinal, or Red leaf lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps!

Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs)- Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.

Cucumber Melon Soup
1 watermelon, rind removed and cut into chunks
2 cucumbers, peeled, cut in half, seeds removed
Pinch of salt
Spoonful of honey
Few sprigs of mint and/or cilantro
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. For an even
smoother texture, strain after blending. Serve this soup cold. Add some
club soda or sparkling water before you serve for an extra kick!

Assorted pepper “slaw”
2 colored peppers
1 lipstick pepper
2 jimmy nardelo peppers
Aioli or mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Cut the colored peppers in half and then remove the seeds before slicing. Then, cut the peppers into thin strips (julienne). Mix with Aioli (recipe below) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Aioli
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4-1 cup extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil, or a combination of the two.
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped.
Pinch or two of salt

Place egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, while the motor is still running. Taste for seasoning. At this point you can add herbs if you’d like. Once the mixture gets thick it is just about done. Scoop out of the machine and into a container and put it in the fridge. Add to the peppers once they’re ready and chopped.

CSA 2011 – Week 12: Sugar Beet Case #3

Many of you know of Frank Morton, owner of Wild Garden Seed. Wild Garden Seed and GTF have been working together since 1994. Not all of you may be aware of the current court case going on between Frank Morton (represented along with others by the Center for Food Safety), the USDA, and the Sugar Beet Industry (Monsanto and other companies that financially benefit from the industry). The Center for Food Safety (CFS) originally filed a suit against the USDA when Frank and other growers of beet seeds realized that some growers in the Willamette Valley switched to GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) sugar beets. The USDA had allowed farmers close by to start growing these GMO sugar beets without any sort of testing. They sued the USDA simply because they did not want the sugar beets to contaminate their beets by cross pollinating.

Frank and the CFS wanted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be done in order to protect organic growers and farmers from contamination. The Judge ruled in favor of CFS and Morton. However, then the USDA changed the rules and issued special permits to allow the commercial sugar beet growers to continue despite the judge’s ruling. The CFS and those who they represent decided to sue again after they had won, when nothing was going to be enforced. The goal was to make the growers remove what they had illegally planted. In this second case the Judge ruled in favor of Morton and the CFS again. Although, once again the USDA had completed a preliminary environmental assessment and said that the GMO sugar beet growers did not have to pull up the stecklings (roots of transplanted beets) because of safe guards (from cross-contamination) implemented by the USDA. The judges ruling was considered to be moot, or not valid, because of the rules being rewritten once again.

Following the second ruling, Morton and the CFS were getting ready to try again. Before they had time to file again, the sugar beet industry decided to sue CFS and the USDA for making it too hard for their industry. This means that the sugar beet industry got to choose where the case would be heard, and they chose Washington D.C, as opposed to San Francisco, where the previous cases had been heard. The D.C location makes it a bit harder for CFS and Frank, but I think that was their intention.

Contamination of Frank’s seed by the sugar beets would be terrible. The sugar beets could not only cross and contaminate his beets, but also chard seeds since they are all in the Beta vulgaris family. This threat of contamination could scare off customers, and he believes it does. Sugar beet contamination could affect his seed stock and future plantings. The whole thing is a sticky situation as well because of the patents that Monsanto has on the genes in the GMO sugar beets.

Because of these patents, no one but Monsanto can actually do any safety testing on their crops and publicize it. This patent also poses a threat to Frank and other growers like him; what if his crop does get contaminated? Does Monsanto own the rights to those seeds, or just the contaminated ones, or what? It’s not very clear, but one thing is – the USDA is obviously making up rules to keep the sugar beet industry in business while leaving Frank and many other growers like him feeling unprotected and unheard by the government. Hopefully the third time will be a charm!

What’s in the box? 

  • 1.5 lb Potatoes (nicola) – Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile.
  • Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
  • 3 onions(1 walla, 1 superstar, 1 red ) – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. They are very good caramelized.
  • Honey Orange Melon – Eat just like it is!
  • Charentais melon – Very flavorful French melon. Try salting it slightly before eating.
  • 1 colored pepper – Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are very sweet.
  • 1 poblano pepper– Grill, roast, or add to a sauté for an extra kick. These can be slightly spicy and have a great flavor.
  • 2 Japanese cucumbers– Chop and add to a salad. Marinate and combine with tomatoes!  Try combining with melons and eat together.
  • 1 lb green beans– Blanch them and then sauté with olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs.
  • Squash (zucchini and cocozelle) – Grate and make fritters, or zucchini bread. Bake or sauté with onions, olive oil and salt.
  • Celery– Snack on raw, or use in soups!
  • Green Leaf lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps!
  • Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs)- Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.
  • Corn– Grill in husk or steam. Add some butter and salt if you’d like.

Stuffed Onions
4 large onions
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole grain bread crumbs or brown rice
1/4 cup toasted nuts (almonds work well)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sea salt and pepper

Cut onions in half along the equator and remove the inner part of the onion, leaving a shell two or three layers thick. Make a small slice on the bottom of each onion shell so that it will stand upright. Place shells in a buttered glass oven dish.Chop the onion taken from the centers and sauté in olive oil until tender. Add rice or bread crumbs, nuts, oregano, cheese and parsley and mix well. Remove from heat, stir in the egg and season to taste. Fill the onion shells with the stuffing. Add a little water to the baking pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Stir Fry Green Beans with Cashews
1 pound string beans, each end cut off
1/2 cup crispy cashews, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup filtered water, orange juice or chicken stock
1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed with 1 tablespoon filtered water
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Combine ginger, soy sauce, water or stock, honey, sesame oil, garlic and rosemary. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk. Heat the oil in a skillet or wok. Stir fry the beans until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add cashews and the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add the arrowroot mixture and simmer until the sauce thickens and the beans are well coated.

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.