|GOOD FOOD NEWS
Volume 8 Number 31 August 02, 2016
FIELD NOTES: Casa de la Pradera, Fiddletown
I'm not even going to go into the cliché that I can't believe it is already August.
In our climate summer has an odd trajectory. After a mad flurry of planting warm weather crops, usually in May or even April, there is a pause, when weeding, watering and fertilizing are the main requirements, and the summer vegetables gradually begin coming in, in a predictable sequence based on days to maturity, tolerance of cool weather, and varieties chosen. We are just now coming into the fullest harvest, when more is ready to pick each day. Summer, and summer abundance, will continue for another two months. It feels like it will last forever.
I am now harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatillos, green beans, summer squash, the first eggplants, okra, and peppers. Some of the melon plants look good, some are being tormented by moles.
And yet something else is also happening. The longest day of the year is the summer solstice, and after June twenty-first the days very gradually begin to shorten. The plants are very sensitive to day length, and fruiting plants are stimulated to produce while they can, while leafy crops begin to slow down. We are six weeks out from the solstice now, and dawns are already noticeably later and dusks earlier. By the end of September it can be very frustrating, because we lose those long cool early morning and evening hours, and it is still quite hot in the middle of the day, and there is still a lot of work to be done!
It is now time to begin planting crops for the fall and winter, and it not only feels counterintuitive to be planting flats of broccoli and cabbage and lettuce and Swiss chard and onions on these hot days, it can also be difficult to get them to germinate, despite the fact that most annual vegetables germinate at higher temperatures than they like to grow in. I have been resorting to putting the flats directly on the cool earth of planting beds, covered with shade cloth and watered a couple of times a day. They are twenty degrees cooler than they would be in my summer shade house. The seedlings will be ready to plant out in a month to six weeks, and then it will take them another month or two to reach maturity. Timing really is everything this time of the year.
If we were in New England, or France, the day length and the temperature would be much more in synch, and we would feel nature begin to shut down for the winter even as we are preparing crops that we can harvest in late fall, or overwinter--in those places, the autumn equinox on September twenty-first really does signal a transition that has already begun . Cabbages, carrots and other root crops, and many greens will withstand cold and hold for harvesting given some protection, yet everywhere the trick is to get them mature before the decreased day length stops their development. Here it is more of an intellectual exercise--knowing that we must plant those crops now despite the challenges, because the shortening day length will slow their growth even as we sweat through hot September afternoons.
October is a transitional month. We don't typically get our first rain storm until Halloween, followed by the first frost. Then there are the two months when Demeter shuts everything down and nothing grows. That is unimaginable to me on the first of August, even after sixty-six years. I am here, now, still getting up as early as possible to work in the field while it is healthy, and thankful that I have a market garden that is in a north-facing meadow, with big oaks that give me morning and afternoon shade.
il faut cultiver notre jardin.
Article of Interest:
When Community-Supported Agriculture is Not What it Seems
Summary of an article by Guillermo Payet, President, LocalHarvest.org
By now you are probably aware of the recent conversation in the media about Venture Capital (VC) funded "Farm Box" businesses taking the wind out of real CSAs' sails. I wanted to share with you what I think is going on and how we can take a stand to preserve the integrity of the CSA movement.
As the Good Food movement started to go mainstream, starting in 2006 VC investors began flocking to "local food" startups. For a few years, we at LocalHarvest received dozens of calls from hungry investors wanting to fund us. Our response was always the same: Pretty much by definition, "maximization of profits" as the investors' top goal will never be compatible with the Good Food movement, which is driven by the health of farmers' livelihoods, communities, and the environment.
Since then, VC-funded companies have attempted a takeover of the CSA market painstakingly developed by small farms and the local businesses who collaborate with them. 10 years later, and with most of the capital spent, we're now seeing these ventures fail. Good Eggs, Farmigo, AgLocal, and other heavily-funded businesses have failed to take over the CSA space. They all learned the hard way that you cannot squeeze 20% to 30% profit margins from CSAs. We believe this trend will continue, and that the space will finally resettle into the steady grass-roots-driven growth it had during its first 20 years, before the VC money flooded in.
We at LocalHarvest.org have been dedicated to helping CSAs thrive since 1999, and we are here for the long run. Our goal is not to sell out to the highest bidder, but to provide a livelihood for our small and dedicated crew, while providing tools and services needed by CSAs and family farms.
Just imagine what could have been achieved if those billions had been invested in promoting family farms and locally-grown agriculture. We encourage you to choose your business partners wisely and to collaborate with those that share your vision of the future of food.
3 lb firm-ripe 2- to 3-inch tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/4 cup golden raisins (1 oz)
2 tablespoons light rum
1/3 cup sushi rice*
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1/2 cup pine nuts (2 oz), toasted
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
Granulated sugar to taste
Ground cumin for dusting
Special equipment: a 1 1/2-tablespoon ice cream/cookie scoop with a release lever**
Roast tomatoes and make sauce:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 300°F.
Cut an X in bottom of each tomato with a sharp paring knife and blanch tomatoes together in a 3-quart saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds. Transfer tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to cool. Drain tomatoes and peel off skin, using paring knife and beginning from scored end. Cut two thirds of tomatoes into quarters and arrange, cut sides down, in a lightly oiled shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with half of garlic and 1/2 teaspoon thyme and roast until tomatoes are caramelized, about 3 hours.
While tomatoes are roasting, seed remaining tomatoes and finely chop. Cook onion and remaining garlic in 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until all moisture has evaporated, about 2 hours (mixture will resemble a thick purée). Drain tomato sauce in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, then discard liquid in bowl. Discard bay leaf.
Macerate raisins in rum 30 minutes.
While raisins macerate, bring rice and water to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat to low and cook, tightly covered, until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rice stand, covered, 10 minutes, then transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with vinegar. Toss rice gently with a fork and cool. Stir in tomato sauce, raisins (with any liquid), pine nuts, and mint. Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar.
Scoop rice mixture into ice cream scoop, packing it by pressing against side of bowl. Press lever to release "sushi" onto a platter. Top each piece with a roasted tomato, smooth side up, then lightly brush with oil and dust with cumin.
Spiked Chocolate Plum Jam
This recipe made me 3 half-pint jars and one 4-oz jar
1 lb. plums, perfectly ripe (this is key)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons cherry bourbon (or Kirsch)
Sterilize your jars and put the lids in a bowl of hot water. Keep jars hot.
Dice the plums into a large bowl, and add the lemon juice. Toss to coat. Combine them with all the rest of the ingredients (all except for one teaspoon of bourbon KIRSCH- leave that out for now) in a large saucepan. Turn the heat up to high, stirring occasionally (or else the fruit will scorch).
Cook this way until the mixture reaches 220° degrees on a candy thermometer. Turn off the heat. Stir in the remaining teaspoon bourbon or Kirsch. Ladle the mixture into your hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Check seal.
Can Organic Farming Feed the World?
Organic farming can yield enough to feed the world while helping to protect and regenerate the ecological basis of food production, according to a new report by Friends of the Earth.
“The weight of four decades worth of scientific evidence tells us that organic farming is critical to feeding ourselves, now and into the future,” according to the Friends of the Earth co-writers Kendra Klein and Kari Hamerschlag.
Their research found that organic farming can yield enough to feed a growing population while protecting the health of consumers, farmers, farmworkers and rural communities by eliminating and regenerating water, soil, the pollinators and the ecosystems that sustain all life.
Read the entire story online at:
World’s first urban bee highway helps save pollinators
The world’s first urban bee highway is a route filled with green roofs, plant corridors and nectar-bearing flowers,designed to support bees living in Oslo, Norway.
In 2015, ByBi, a local environmental group, designed the highway project to connect the green zones in the city and protect the pollinators. One-third of Norway’s 200 wild bee species are endangered, according to this online EcoWatch article by Tasnim Abdi.
Businesses, schools, organizations, government agencies and individuals share information on how they want to contribute to the project through an interactive website. Participants are encouraged to build bee-friendly feeding stations and accommodations.
Read the full story online: