Saturday, June 27, 2009

Newsletter week #4

OOPS - looks like I forgot to post this last week!

Red Springs Family Farm
June 18, 2009, Week #4

This week’s selection:
Romaine lettuce, and others Swiss Chard
Carrots Patty Pan squash Zucchini
Sorrel Basil Thyme

Passing storms and steamy heat – dog days will be here soon!

The green tomatoes are swelling, and we noticed the first cherry tomatoes blushing today. It was a great relief to have finished mulching them all down, right before the last storm. Rows of clean hay beneath healthy green plants are a satisfying sight. Once the watermelon and cantaloupe vines are just a little longer, it will be their turn. The water table has been restored by the spring’s gushing rains, and we’re hoping to help preserve that moisture through the coming summer heat.

The carrot bundles are small today, with a fair share of lumpy two legged roots in there, but the crunch is still just right. This was the first planting of carrots, and the ground was cold and wet. The next planting is hilled, in the hopes to help the carrots grow straighter with greater ease.

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses Romaine Lettuce to treat alcoholism. As medicine goes, it’s a pretty easy one to swallow. Here’s one distinctly un-Asian preparation.

Caesar Salad (from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon)
Dressing: ½ - 1 tsp Dijon-type mustard 1 Tbsp. raw wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice 1 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp flax oil (optional)
1 egg yolk 2 anchovy filets
1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed Puree all ingredients in a blender or processor until smooth.
Sauté 1 ½ to 2 cups of cubed stale bread (your choice what kind) in an herb or garlic infused olive oil until they are brown and crispy. Reserve them. Remove outer leaves of 1 or 2 heads of Romaine lettuce, carefully wash and dry the leaves and slice them across at one inch intervals. Freshly grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces) is preferred – tossed with the lettuce and the dressing. Add the croutons after tossing, as they will absorb too much oil and moisture otherwise. Enjoy!

Another good idea for Swiss Chard:
EGGS IN A NEST (This recipe makes dinner for a family of four, but can easily be cut in half.)
2 cups uncooked brown rice
Cook rice with 4 cups water in a covered pot while other ingredients are being prepared.
Olive oil – a few tbsp 1 medium onion, chopped, and garlic to taste
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil in a wide skillet until lightly golden.
Carrots, chopped ½ cup dried tomatoes
Add and sauté for a few more minutes, adding just enough water to rehydrate the tomatoes.
1 large bunch of chard, coarsely chopped
Mix with other vegetables and cover pan for a few minutes. Uncover, stir well, then use the back of a spoon to make depressions in the cooked leaves, circling the pan like numbers on a clock.
8 eggs
Break an egg into each depression, being careful to keep yolks whole. Cover pan again and allow eggs to poach for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over rice.

Or you might try a quick pasta we enjoyed last week:
Cut a patty pan, zucchini, or both, into ½ inch cubes, and sauté in olive oil a few minutes. Toss them with al dente Angel Hair pasta and some pesto (frozen from last year’s harvest, or whipped up quick from today’s) and it’s a fast and delicious meal that even a three year old will eat. This might be delectable as a pasta salad with the sorrel and some feta cheese crumbled on top, as well.

A few of you have asked some questions about how we grow this food. We are happy to talk about it – answer specific questions, or general ones, and even show you around. You’re welcome to visit our place and see the gardens that feed you. Some questions may be stimulated because we do not use the word “organic” in our name or any of our literature. Our practices are completely free of man-made chemicals, fertilizers, and poisons. We fertilize with composted animal manures and hay gathered from our farm and from neighbor’s free ranging animals. We use biodynamic compost preparations and field sprays, and we foliar feed with an organically certified fish and kelp emulsion. We do what we can to facilitate a diversity of life in the soil. Most of our pest control is done by hand-picking and careful crop rotation, but we, like most certified organic growers, also use BT, a bacteria that kills cabbage lopers, on some brassica crops.

The short answer to why we do not use the term “organic” is that we’re not allowed to. Because we have not yet chosen to pay the fees and fill out the immense amount of paperwork demanded to be certified by the USDA Certification Program, we are legally disallowed from using the word “organic”. Until last year, we were not a large enough farming operation to even have to file the paperwork. Now we are opting to not. We would rather have YOU as our organic inspectors. From our perspective, as conscientious growers, the organic standards leave a lot to be desired.

Here’s what renowned grower, and author, Eliot Coleman, has to say on this topic. For the most part, we agree with him, and hope that his commentary will be meaningful to you as well:

“The transition of "organic" from small farm to big time is now upon us. Although getting toxic chemicals out of agriculture is an improvement we can all applaud, it only removes the negatives. The positive focus, enhancing the biological quality of the food produced, is nowhere to be seen. The new standards are based on what not to do rather than what to do. They will be administered through the USDA, whose director said recently, "Organic food does not mean it is superior, safer, or more healthy than conventional food." Well, I still agree with the old time organic pioneers. I believe that properly grown food is superior, safer and healthier. I also believe national certification bureaucracies are only necessary when food is grown by strangers in far away places rather than by neighbors whom you know. (emphasis ours)
…Responsible growers need to identify not only that our food is grown to higher, more considered standards, but also that it is much fresher because it is grown right where it is sold. Therefore, we have come up with a new term, one we define to mean locally grown and unprocessed, in addition to exceptional quality. It's a term we hope will be used, as "organic" was used when we began, by those local growers who accept that if you care first about the quality of what you produce, a market will always be there. We now sell our produce as "Authentic Food." We invite other serious growers to join us.”

In other news, we are establishing a relationship with Hidden Springs Nursery/Orchard. They grow organic fruits, and fruit trees. If you would be interested in receiving seasonal fruits (blueberries are one of their primary crops) with your basket, please let us know. We will have more details soon.

Next week – yellow wax beans and probably beeeeeeeets!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about the contents of your basket. Remember that there is a new entry on the blogsite ( with photos to help you identify the harvest.


“It’s a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and to find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than “Try to be a little kinder.” ~Aldous Huxley

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