Why Bother?

I think when we act we are making our best attempt to meet our needs.  We try to use what we’ve got to get what we want.  I believe we try to make the best use of our resources to achieve happiness.  We have ideas of our limits and try to get the greatest utility from our efforts.  So why might someone go out of their way to come to the farmer’s market or CSA distribution instead of going to the grocery store where we often find ourselves looking for things that might be hard to get locally?

For me there are so many needs met by eating local organic food that I have made my life out of it.  Many of those needs are met immediately in the wellbeing of body, the connection to family friends and community and the pleasure of experiencing the thriving life of a place that come from that choice.  But there is a less immediately rewarded need that many folks feel which is met by bothering over these things; contribution to life capacity of the place from which we meet our needs, contribution to soil.  For me, the lasting gift to ourselves and to the life of the future, is one of the best reasons to choose to bother to support local organic agriculture.

The world is complex and it is hard to see all the impacts of our actions.  Hard to know if our attempts at well being are effective.  I don’t know if your work building soil here will make a difference in the long run to peace and health and resilience for life, but I know it does here and now.  -Willy



August 13, 2013

Thunder and lightning send us scrambling out of the fields from picking greens this morning.  We shift gears and work on greenhouse projects and wait for weather to pass. One of the challenges of farming is meeting weekly deadlines while working with whatever conditions arise.  Flexibility is a required skill for a farmer.  Patience is another quality that is required of a farmer, as we wait for things to shift, as  we complete tasks and fulfill commitments.  And wonder, .. on the farm there is always more to know and not know.

Many days pass leaning into task.  I am surprised by the cool weather, the morning crickets song and the cornflowers and queen anne’s lace edging the fields.  It is mid august already.  Hope you are enjoying the surprise sweetness of the beginning of summers end.  Claudia

July 30, 2013

Mid season and we are enjoying the shift to some pleasant 80 degree weather.  Tomatoes are looking good and will be in shares weekly until frost if all goes well.  Yellows and oranges are ripening first and other varieties are coming along.  High summer crops like beans, eggplants, summer squashes and cucumbers and soon peppers will appear in shares in different combinations over the next month and a half.  The first summer onions in the share are the Elsa Craig heirloom white onions.  They are sweet and good on the grill, or halved and roasted.  Our families favorite onion. 

We are currently between plantings of summer squash and cucumbers… first plantings are ready to be tilled under and new plantings are just starting to produce

First potatoes are being picked today.  Not sure what the potato crop looks like yet this year.  But the potatoes we picked today will be delicious mild and delicate new potatoes.

 We have had some troubles producing basil this year.  We trialed a new transplant technique using paper pots for our basil plants which was a flop, hence the lack of basil thus far in shares but, perennial herbs will start to show up in shares from a newly established herb garden. 

If you have experienced a bitter cucumber apologies. In our usual slicing variety we haven’t had much of this except in nubbins, misshapen fruits.  A variety of pickling cucumbers we are trying seems to have more tendency towards this and in general, pickling varieties tend to have more bitter fruits than slicing varieties. The compounds that cause bitterness in cucumbers are cucurbitacin B and cucurbitacin C. These compounds are likely to be more concentrated at the stem end than the blossom end of the fruit. The bitterness, if it’s there, is always in and just under the skin. It’s not deep into the fleshy portion or in the seed cavity. Peel deeply at the stem end, since this is where bitter compounds penetrate most deeply. The bitterness level in cucumbers varies from year to year. There are many theories as to why.  Okay enough about that.

The baby nante carrots in the share might be some of the best flavored carrots we have ever produced mid summer.  They taste like candy, not quite as sweet as a fall, post frost carrot, but pretty up there in the carrot goodness scale according to me. 

On the farm we are in a nice steady weekly routine of doing things and getting things done.  Days feel long and I am often putting something very simple together for dinner in the evening and wanting to go to bed early.  Sunday rest day has been much better for Willy and me although we still miss our Rhinebeck farmers market and the people there. 

Hope you are all well and enjoying easy summer eats.  Thanks for all the love and devotion you offer by supporting our work!  Claudia

July 23, 2013

Compassion…I think our underlying beliefs and values regulate our actions. Our emotions guide us toward behaviors that support what we care about. When we act consistently with our beliefs we can experience well being even in challenging situations. When our deep values are in conflict, coherent action becomes difficult. We are meaning driven terrestrial organisms. Our need for meaning can overcome many of our physical needs. We value life and awareness of reality fundamentally. Caught in the animal need to eat other beings to live, we still avoid the waste of life, and judge utility of actions that we would not desire to experience ourselves. That felt concern for the living creates a structure to organize action. I have come to farming through the desire to understand the impact of my needs on others, and to better understand what it is to live. After nineteen years of living by the cultivation of crops and tending livestock, I have deepened an early belief in the primacy of the soil. I see the living fraction of the soil, only inches deep- but supporting more weight of beings below its surface than can be supported above, as the fundamental condition allowing the possibility of earthly life. Without fertile soil no other human need could be met. Disregard for the importance of soil as a cultural foundation is the value choice common to the unraveling of the agricultural civilizations of history. The incoherence of our attempts to mitigate the cultural decline accompanying development-Thoreau’s ” hacking at the branches of evil” instead of striking at the root, is the struggle to simultaneously hold two irreconcilable beliefs. The validity of self-ownership of the individual and the legitimacy of ownership of land.
Today, we finished making our winter feed with the help of friends. The long hay was cut from pasture grazed during the spring lush and then allowed to grow until our first spell of good drying weather in July. It will be fed back onto the land that grew it, allowing us to take beef and milk and also to add to the fertility of its place. What this means to me is the fulfillment of the desire to live while contributing to the ability of the place that supports me to support more life. The measure of my life. -Willy

july 16, 2013

Preparing for a week of hot weather.  We are into the heart of the season with warm weather crops ripening.  Expect more summer squash, cucumbers, first eggplants.  First tomatoes are starting to ripen but we don’t have enough yet to distribute.  I think by next week we will be able to distribute first tomatoes.   Beans soon. Peppers are coming along slowly, it will be a few more weeks before they appear in shares.

 Willy is working on making hay this week for winter feed for the cows.  We usually just make one batch of hay per year, and the forecast this week looks good and dry.  The crew is getting a good workout as harvests increase and pressure to get field work intensifies.  At home, we have a spell of quiet time as visiting friends and family depart. 

If you get a chance please tour the gardens.  We are falling a little behind on weeding due to all the perfect weed growing rains but things look pretty good despite this. Garlic is looking strong in the back corner of the farm.  Our new herb garden is getting established nicely though it is also waiting for some weeding, but a better variety of herbs will be showing up in shares soon! 

Thank you all for your support.  While we market to CSA, wholesale and farmers markets, our CSA distributions are a bright spot in our week.  Please let us know how the share is working out for you.  Are you getting enough choice in the shares?  Too much vegetable or too little?  Enough variety?  Enjoy! -Claudia

June 11, 2013

Lots of rain.  We are in the part of the season that feels like fast forward.  We go into the fields in the morning and they have been transformed.  Seedlings seem to go from a seedling to a mature plant overnight.  This rapid growth phase starts a few weeks before solstice and ends a few weeks after.  The to do list has a similar rapid growth pattern this time of the year.  The rain slows us down a bit.

I strained my back and am having an opportunity to reflect and to attend to other, non physical aspects of the farm.  In our nineteenth year of farming this work still provides a good challenge and lots of opportunity for learning to align ourselves with the natural cycles.

Yesterday I attended a food safety webinar for vegetable farmers.  I always learn something we can put into practice in these sessions.  On the farm we strive for best practices and there is always something we can improve.  While these seminars are useful, I am often surprised by content or lack thereof.  It is shocking to me that sewage sludge can be applied to crops as a fertilizer, and that there is no waiting period required between application and harvest in the new proposed Food Safety Modernization Act. In addition nothing about GMO’s or chemical applications to crops are addressed in these “food safety” best practices.

“Food is not only the basis of our health but it is also at the basis or traditions, customs and culture that bind us together as a family and a community.”  (from thefoodcommons.org).  We hope the food we grow generates health for you as individuals but also contributes to the health of our common culture.  Claudia

June 4th

Warm welcomes to you all for the 2013 season!  This is our 19th year farming.  We grow about 15- 20 acres of certified organic vegetables and keep a small herd of rare breed Randall cattle which we sell for breeding stock.  We love to have CSA members and farmer’s market customers visit the farm any Tuesday evening between 4 and 6:30 and please feel welcome to walk in the fields, ask questions etc.

Most of our crew is back from last year.  Our children, Otis (age 20) and Mae (age 14), will be helping out this summer along with some of their friends.  Our greenhouse manager, Maria Gomez will in her 13th season here.  Elia Gomez returns for her third season.  Lauren Jones returns for her fourth season.  Aliyah Brandt returns for her 3rd season and Jenny Parker, harvest and pack manager, her second season.  With an experienced crew we anticipate a productive season.

This year Willy is working to train Ruth and Sophie, our Suffolk horses, to make hay and silage for winter feed.  Ruth’s new baby Henry gets hitched to the side of Ruth so he is also getting some early training.  We are excited about this project and will keep you posted as things progress.  Like us on Facebook for picture updates of the work horse project and all of our other projects too.

The spring has been a little cool and dry to start so crops are coming in a little slowly.  Beginning June shares consist of lots of green leafy vegetables. For those of you new to CSA it can take a little getting used to cooking with the share.  Salads this time of year have a delicate flavor and I tend to use dressings very sparingly, if at all.  Cooking greens are also in their most delicate adolescent phase and can be cooked just to wilt in the spring.   Please check our blog for a recipe index (littleseedgardens.wordpress.com).  I will also be sending out a few recipes each week and will try to introduce vegetables that may be more uncommon in the newsletters.  If you have a recipe you love and want to share it with the Little Seed community please send it to me via email and I will post it on the blog!

All of our vegetables are grown with 100% love!  Thanks for joining and supporting us in this work.  Claudia and Willy

Hot Bacon Dressing for greens

adapted from Gourmet | February 1999
Water, rather than oil, serves as the counterpoint to vinegar in this rich and savory dressing, which is wonderful spooned over shredded Napa cabbage or any of the dark spring greens or bitters like dandelion, escarole or endive.

1/2 pound bacon
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
In a large skillet cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp and with tongs transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. Add water and vinegar and simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Crumble bacon and add to dressing with salt and pepper to taste just before using

The winter stash – August 4, 2008

harvest knives

harvest knives

Using your share:
The beginning of August is a good time to start thinking about putting a few things in the freezer for winter. It is the time when social life is in full swing and many home meals are missed. The time when shares are bountiful. I am not yet ready to admit that winter exists but I am beginning to sense the light fading. It is a good time to begin to put a few things in the freezer as an extension of dinner preparation. Even with a small freezer you can tuck a few items away for later. Here are a few easy items I start to freeze.

Herbs Butter: with parsley, dill, cilantro and scallion greens
Herb Pesto: with cilantro, basil and parsley (can be frozen in small ice cube squares and transferred to a plastic bag.)
Green Beans: extra can be blanched for 2 minutes in boiling water then chilled for 4 minutes. Dry and freeze.
Peppers: Can be sliced thin and either boiled for 2 minutes and chilled for two minutes dried and frozen or just frozen raw.
Vegetable Stock: This is really wonderful to have on hand when fall soup season rolls around. It can be made with vegetable scraps, extra greens, onions, herbs, scallions, almost any extra vegetable. Cool before freezing in ready to use portions.
Vegetable Soups: Summer soups really hit the spot on cold fall days when life is too busy and there is not enough sunlight. Make a pot for dinner and freeze the leftovers immediately after soup cools to room temperature. This is a good way to use your share up if you won’t be around for much of the week.
Zucchini: The summer squashes do not freeze well. A big zucchini is enough to make a double batch of zucchini bread or muffins which freeze very well. If you are more ambitious, zucchini relish cans easily (recipe below).
Beets: These become rubbery when frozen. Yuck. But a spicy beet relish canned if you are more ambitious is delicious.
Carrots: These freeze well but a simple carrot soup with a melting patty of herb butter is a real treat and almost as easy to make.

On the farm we are waiting for dry weather to begin the onion harvest. Summer onions that you are getting in shares now are best kept in the refrigerator. If you’d like to keep carrots snip the carrot from the green, wash well and keep in a bag or container with a lid in the refrigerator. We will be distributing green beans, roma beans and dragon tongue beans for a few weeks now. They can all be used in any green bean recipe and all be frozen as described above, If you find yourself tiring of them do take the effort to blanche and freeze, its easy and you’ll appreciate them later. Happy eating. Claudia