Saturday, October 31, 2009

Para los Campesinos

This is a great article I came across while browsing the net.. written by fellow CSA farmer Zoe Bradbury. One of the reasons I got into farming was from my experience working side by side with Mexican farmers in California. The passion they have for their work and the tireless way they toil to put food on our tables for no recognition and no word of thanks will always be an inspiration to me.

Hand Picked - Row by row, day after day: The story of the American farmworker

Zoë Bradbury
For Summer 2008

“Strawberries are too delicate to be picked by machine. The perfectly ripe ones even bruise at too heavy a human touch. It hit her then that every strawberry she had ever eaten — every piece of fruit — had been picked by calloused human hands. Every piece of toast with jelly represented someone's knees, someone's aching back and hips, someone with a bandanna on her wrist to wipe away the sweat. Why had no one told her this before?” — Alison Luterman, “What They Came For”

At the end of Oregon’s winter, the orchards and vineyards need tending: pruning, spraying, thinning. The months advance and heat waves start to belly-dance above the soil. Row crops are planted: Onions and watermelons take root near Hermiston; beans, peas, squash, lettuce, potatoes — an almost endless list of crops — are planted in the Willamette Valley. Irrigation pipes are moved in the mint fields of eastern Oregon. Weeds fall flat behind the sharpened edge of a hoe. Berries are picked, one by one, and packed into plastic clamshells.

Oregon’s agricultural diversity is profound. It is a state that produces some 220 crops and livestock commodities — a greater variety than any state except Florida and California — totaling more than four billion dollars in agricultural production each year. Oregon agriculture is labor intensive, every berry and every pome fruit must be picked by human hands, which explains why Oregon’s agricultural payroll expenses are the fifth highest in the country, despite the fact that the state ranks twenty-sixth in total agricultural production.

Ours are farms that rely on opposable thumbs and an eye for ripeness, on manual dexterity and skilled use of tools. In short, on something so advanced, so complex, and so capable of movement and learning that no amount of engineering has managed to fully replicate it with a machine: the human being.

The Farmworker Experience
There are approximately four million migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the U.S. today, with Oregon agriculture reliant on up to 90,000 each year, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Roughly half of Oregon’s farmworkers are settled in state and half migrate to Oregon for all or part of the growing season. For the migrant population, including 14,558 migrant children and youth, the year might take them from winter reforestation work in the coast range, to spring pruning in the vineyards, to the autumn apple harvest in Hood River, to a Christmas tree farm in the Willamette Valley.

According to the National Agricultural Workers Survey, more than 90 percent of all farm workers are Hispanic, primarily from Mexico. Most are young men under the age of 35. An estimated 70 percent are undocumented to live and work in Oregon.

It’s impossible to generalize the farmworker experience, but interviews conducted by the League of Women Voters for the Farmworkers in Oregon report (2000) reveal a common storyline. From Mexico, a young man borrows money to pay a “coyote” to help him cross the border illegally. He may get caught once, twice, even five times before making it into the country.

Three thousand miles distant from his home and family, his first season will likely be punctuated by a string of migrations, labor camps, and labor contractors. Like every single farmworker in the United States — documented or not — he will not enjoy 15-minute paid breaks, receive overtime for a 12-hour workday, or get benefits.

In a year, he will earn less than $7,500 in Oregon’s fields. He’ll pay his share of taxes, including Social Security and Medicare — none of which he’ll ever see again when, or if, he turns 65. The average life expectancy for a migrant farmworker is 49 years, compared to 73 for the general U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Each day, as he moves irrigation pipe or travels back and forth to work, he’ll live with the worry of la migra (the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS) and the risk of deportation. What money is extra, he’ll wire home to his family, who may have to wait two, three, or four years to see him again, since the border crossing has become difficult and expensive.

America has prided itself on a history of basic worker protections and rights, including minimum wage, overtime, Social Security, unemployment insurance, child labor protections, and the right to organize into a union. These labor reforms, put in place by the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NRLA), apply to everyone except farmworkers.

Such a pointed exclusion of farmworkers from basic labor protections has been blamed on various influences, including powerful agriculture lobbies that insisted the industry needed to be insulated from harvest strikes and high labor costs in order to ensure food security for the nation. The other theory is that the NRLA’s omission was an entrenched expression of racism against African-Americans working on farms in the South.

Despite the historic campaigns of farmworker rights advocates like César Chávez and ongoing efforts to improve farmworker protections over the decades, the disparity in labor law has never been fully reconciled in the U.S., creating an ugly double standard.

Among the inequities in Oregon: There is no clause that requires employers to pay overtime to farmworkers, even though a typical workday is 10 to 12 hours long; farmworkers are exempted from Oregon laws requiring minimum meal and rest periods; and farmworkers are not automatically granted the universal right to organize, strike, and collectively bargain with employers. On top of all that, unemployment insurance laws are written such that fewer than one-third of all farmworkers receive unemployment benefits, despite the fact that the average farmworker is employed for only 24 weeks of the year.

Oregon law does mandate certain protections for farmworkers — things like workers’ compensation, minimum wage, and workplace safety — but poor enforcement and uneven power dynamics meddle with their efficacy.

In the U.S., inadequate enforcement of safety laws contributes to the 300,000 acute pesticide poisonings that occur among farmworkers each year. Documented incidents show that farmworkers — particularly recent immigrants and those who aren’t proficient English speakers — are vulnerable to underpayment, especially when being paid piece-rate (by the pound or other unit). On-the-job injuries often go unreported, and workers’ compensation benefits go unclaimed, for fear of being fired — or worse — reported to the INS.

All together, it adds up to a set of working conditions that makes farmwork one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S. and farmworkers the most indigent population in the country, according to a General Accounting Office (GAO) survey.

This is an uncomfortable story. But not a new one.

The History of the American Farmworker
“The American agriculture industry has always relied on marginalized workers,” says Daniel Rothenberg, who has written extensively on farmworker issues. First it was African-American slaves in the South, then indentured Chinese in the West. Around the time of World War II, Mexican workers became a major part of U.S. agricultural history after the passage of the Labor Importation Program. Commonly known as the “bracero program,” it brought 4.8 million Mexican workers to the United States, establishing a pattern of Mexico-to-U.S. migration that persists today across the 1,969 mile-long border, one of the world’s longest land borders separating a rich country from a poor one.

Under the bracero program, at least 15,000 Mexican workers were brought to Oregon to work on farms before the program was terminated in 1964 under public pressure by unions, churches, and community groups that exposed stories of worker exploitation and mistreatment. Since then, lawmakers have taken various stabs at immigration reform, none of which have met farmers’ needs for an adequate legal workforce or quelled the tide of immigrants crossing the border undocumented.

The reality behind the production of our food cracks against the conscience. It makes most people yearn for a broom and a rug. It pits farmworker activists against farmers like bears against bulls and annoys the hurried consumer, who resents the fact that he is an unwitting accomplice: Let’s just eat the damn cheeseburger and get on with the day.

The problem with the debate around farmworkers is that it’s instantaneously polarizing and automatically demonizing, like a Vaudeville play in which farmers are cast as the villain and the farmworkers are tied to the tracks. It is, in reality, a whole lot more nuanced than that.

Farm Labor in Oregon
In Oregon, the majority of farms are family-owned operations, some of whom have been in agriculture for three generations or more. They face a collision of issues, including $4 per gallon diesel and rising prices for feed and fertilizer. Land prices are going up as development pressure increases. Market volatility and global competition leave the bottom line awash in uncertainty. Add to that Oregon’s high minimum wage. At $7.95 an hour, compared to $5.85 nationally, Oregon’s farm labor costs top the charts.

Yet farmers are also beginning to grapple with labor shortages each season as the immigration controversy boils over and demographics in Mexico shift. Clark Seavert, director of Oregon State University’s North Willamette Research Station, predicts that labor shortages will become the norm in the future. “As Mexico’s economy thrives, they’ll have more demand for their own labor in restaurants, in construction, in other sectors of their economy, just like in the U.S.,” he says.

At the same time, families in Mexico are having fewer children and the 2005 World Migrant report predicts that half as many 15-year-olds will enter the U.S. workforce in the next ten years. The combination suggests that Oregon farmers could become increasingly short-handed in the next decade.

There’s another chorus, though — comprised of unions in particular — arguing that there is no labor shortage, only a shortage of good wages and fair working conditions on farms. A 1997 GAO study supported this argument, but for one major oversight: The GAO failed to distinguish between legal and undocumented workers. As it stands today, if only legal workers were available, the entire country would be facing a severe labor shortage.

While farmers stress about whether they’ll have enough workers to pick their crops this season, they are simultaneously dealing with increasing pressure from the INS in the form of “no match” letters. For those farmers with workers on payroll, their mailboxes have started to see a rash of mail from the INS indicating that workers’ names and Social Security numbers don’t jive. If farmers ignore the letters, they’ll be subject to sanctions and fines. The alternative — “clarifying” each employee’s information with the INS — could leave them in a tight spot: Either fire every employee whose documentation turns out inadequate — up to seven of every ten farmworkers on the books — or face fines.

“It’s an impossible situation,” Senator Gordon Smith has said, “to have farmers as felons and farm workers as fugitives.” And yet that is where much of Oregon, and U.S. agriculture, has found itself precariously cornered today, hemmed in by a long history of failed agricultural and immigration policies.

One Oregon Farmer's Story
Finding a way through all of this to a fair, affordable, legal food system has a lot of folks stumped.

Jim Bronec, a third-generation conventional grass-seed farmer turned organic squash grower, has spent the past decade trying to tackle the challenge on his farm. Bronec’s operation, Praying Mantis Farm, rolls across 50 acres near Canby. He grows cover-crop seed and pumpkins, but almost half of his ground is planted with a variety of giant butternut squash that gets turned into soup and baby food by local processors. For labor, he maintains a contract with Oregon’s only farmworker union, PCUN (Piñeros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste). His is one of only four contracts PCUN has in the state, three of which are with organic growers.

Nine years ago, when Bronec started growing organically, he hired through a labor contractor who would deliver a crew to hoe weeds in the summer and harvest squash in the fall. As time went on, though, he became uneasy about the situation. “The problem was, I was paying $10 to $11 an hour for those workers, but I knew the contractor was only paying them minimum wage, covering the insurance, and pocketing the rest,” he explains. “I wanted to know that the money I was paying was going to the people who were actually doing the work on my farm.”

Convinced that there was a better way to afford hired help on his farm, Bronec was motivated to seek out a contract with PCUN. Now his workers, all unionized, are ensured a fair grievance process and a seniority structure that creates opportunity for job advancement. Bronec pays take-home wages that are at least one dollar above minimum wage and takes care of the payroll withholdings. Although it’s not in his contract, he also provides his workers a paid lunch break and time and a half for overtime.

Bronec says it pencils out for the farm, even selling squash at ten cents per pound to the processing market.

That said, there are still things he is uneasy about — for instance, the fact that his farm only provides short windows of seasonal work. As a result, he’s unable to provide year-round employment and health insurance. He can imagine creative solutions, though — like a fund that he and other farmers could pay into to cover worker health care in proportion to the number of labor hours they hire each season, or establishing a “crew-share” system among a group of farmers who together could create year-round employment for workers.

But he’s discovered that these kinds of ideas don’t always fly with other farmers when he brings union labor into the conversation. “The thing is, a lot of farmers see the unions as the enemy,” he explains. “Maybe it’s an ingrained thing — don’t give an inch or you’ll have to give a mile.”

Cheap Labor = Cheap Food
Bronec’s observation about the stereotypical antagonism between farmers and farmworker unions is something that Ramón Ramirez, the head of PCUN, believes is tied directly to the economics of farming. “Growers and farmworkers need to work together. The bottom line is that a lot of farmers can’t make it — the way they’re compensated is totally out of whack. We need to see more money going to growers and trickling down to workers,” he insists. “At the end of the day, there has to be recognition that we’re not paying enough for food.”

The idea that food should be more expensive flies in the face of decades of U.S. farm policy engineered to make America’s food the cheapest in the world, relative to income. Americans spend a smaller percentage of our paycheck on food than any other nation on earth, ever, even with the recent jump in prices for staples like bread, milk, and eggs. In 1900, it was 60% of our income; today that number is closer to 8%, at the same time that the English spend 14%, the Japanese 20%, the Indians and Chinese 50%, and an even greater fraction in developing nations. And of every dollar that is spent on food in Oregon, only about 20 cents makes it back into the farmer’s pocket to then trickle down to farmworkers, berry by berry, row by row. Cheap food rests on the back of cheap labor.

Market forces and the power of concerned consumers are one fulcrum being leveraged these days to address farmworker injustices. The Agricultural Justice Project formed in 1999 by groups disappointed by the omission of labor standards from the U.S. Organic Program, has created social justice standards for agriculture. The new certification system is being piloted by farms in the Midwest, and will soon expand to other regions in the country as part of a larger effort to enact domestic fair trade standards in the U.S. Similarly, here at home PCUN is working to help market union label products from the farms it contracts with in Oregon.

Not that paying a dollar more for a pound of broccoli will solve the immigration crisis, an issue that even presidential candidates are stumbling over on the campaign trail this year. Higher prices also won’t resolve the tension inherent in trying to achieve a food system that is both fair and affordable. If food costs more, what do you do about the 28 million near-poverty Americans who are reliant on food stamps, the highest number since the aid program began in the 1960s? And in the bitterest of ironies, how do you ensure that farmworkers themselves can afford food, given that illegal immigrants, the poorest in America, can’t access the food stamp progam?

The complexity of it all is no doubt part of the reason that we haven’t yet met the challenge of building a food system that is fair, affordable, and legal. It might also be because our concept of affordable doesn’t extend far beyond our individual pocketbooks. For instance, can Oregon afford to provide social services to the thousands of farmworkers and farmworker families who are living below the poverty line, 10% of whom are homeless and 55% of whom have no health insurance? Can it afford not to? Can farmers afford to be short-handed at critical points in the season? Can we afford to have our food supply precariously balanced on the backs of workers whose tenure in the U.S. is unpredictable? Can consumers and policymakers afford to remain morally, economically, and politically complicit in a racist system that externalizes the social cost of food?

This past spring, Governor Ted Kulongoski issued a proclamation declaring the first week of April to be “Farmworker Awareness Week” in acknowledgment of the contribution farmworkers make to Oregon’s agricultural economy. Whether or not his proclamation manifests into political will is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain: It’s going to take the governor — and the president, and the farmers, and the unions, and the nonprofits, and the people pushing carts through grocery stores — to find our way through this to fair food.

Zoë Bradbury is a Kellogg Food & Society Policy Fellow. She lives, writes, and farms on Oregon’s southern coast.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CSA Harvest # 22

Happy Halloween everyone! Since we did not provide you with pumpkins we thought we would share our jack o' lantern with you! The trick to making it look artistic is in the carving kits from the store (and having a dad with a dremel tool to carve it out!) The only time I've grown pumpkins was when I was operating a school farm in Monterey County, Ca. The kids loved it but the pumpkins took up a fair share of the garden and besides squash like butternut and delicata taste so much better! If we had an endless land supply pumpkins would definitely be on the list.. but alas we are a bit land short. We hope you were able to find your perfect pumpkin at one of the other local farms.
Instead of pumpkins this week we are giving you one of my (other) favorite winter squashes called the red kuri. This is a Japanese variety and they are sweet and delicious! They make a wonderful pie and soup. I have included quite a few recipe ideas below. Also this week more butternut!

In farm news the garlic and cover crop seed that we planted two weeks ago are sprouting with gusto after the rains we've been having. It is great to have the rain but we still have more cover crop seed to plant so we are looking forward to a few more days of sunshine before the clouds encase us for good.

At this time of year you would think that there is not a lot going on at the farm but there is! There are all of the fruit trees that will need to be sprayed with a winter dormant oil to protect them over the long winter from disease and assorted pests. Our 42 peach trees will be coddled as much as necessary so that we can have the only organic peach orchard in Douglas County! Also we have nearly 30 apple trees planted at our folks place up Big Lick Lane in Myrtle Creek. As much as we wanted to have everything together in one place we did not want to sacrifice this wonderful, loamy, flat river bottom land for apple trees. They seem to be thriving on the hillsides at 1,200 feet.
We also still have more garlic to plant, weed mat to pull up, crop residues to clean up with our tractor... and 300 pounds more of cover crop seed to go in... oh yeah and 1/4 of our roof on our house needs to be torn off and redone.. come on sunny weather!

I promise I will be working on those email surveys for each of you so don't give up and start thinking about what you've enjoyed this year and things that you maybe could have lived without..

Don't forget about the free showing of the movie Food, Inc showing Friday Nov 6th at 6pm at the Douglas County Museum (next to fairgrounds) there will be a panel of speakers and free locally grown popcorn too! You can find out more about it by checking out Think Local Umpqua's blog at

Also we would like to offer holiday gift cards for friends and family that can be redeemed at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market next season or if you'd like a gift card redeemable for a CSA share you could give the gift of wonderful, healthy produce and at the same time support your friendly, local farmer! Email us for more details on this!

Here's to four more CSA deliveries!

Suzie & Asinete with the help of our volunteers extraordinaire~ M.A, Violet & Robin

“Recall that whatever lofty things you might accomplish today, you will do them only because you first ate something that grew out of dirt.” Barbara Kingsolver

Harvest This Week Includes:

Red Kuri Winter Squash

Butternut Squash


Red Zeppelin Onion

Bull's Blood Beets

Rainbow Chard

Potatoes (we're not sure yet which variety to put.. surprise!)

Dill (good with those taters!)

Radishes (Easter Egg or Daikon)

Tomatoes (Black Krim and Sweet Cluster)

Recipe Ideas

Red Kuri Squash Gratin (Gratin de potimarron)~recipe and article courtesy of the Boston Globe.
Serves 4

Like many varieties of winter squash, red kuri squash (also known as Japanese squash, orange hokkaido, or uchiki kuri squash) offers a promise of nourishing dinners. With its bright orange skin, and small teardrop shape, you'll easily recognize kuri; inside, the firm flesh has a creamy chestnut-like flavor. Baked, braised, steamed, or pureed, this squash tastes wonderful; serve it as a side dish or use it as a base for soups. For this simple gratin, you don't need to peel the squash. Roast, steam, or boil it with potatoes, then puree them, and stir in grated zucchini. Add ricotta, parsley, and a flavorful cheese (blue works well), or a milder one (Fontina, which melts nicely). After half an hour, you have a delicious side dish that will make you rejoice over fall's harvest.

Butter (for the dish)
1 small red kuri squash (a generous 1 pound), seeded and sliced
2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small zucchini, grated
2/3 cup ricotta
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for the top
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Fontina or crumbled blue cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter, cut up (for the top)
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

2. In a large saucepan fitted with a steamer insert, combine the squash and potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, and steam over high heat for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a skewer.

3. Using a food mill or ricer set over a bowl, work the vegetables to form a puree. Or mash them with a potato masher until they are coarsely pureed. Add the zucchini, ricotta, nutmeg, parsley, 1/4 cup of the Fontina or blue cheese, and plenty of salt and pepper.

4. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Smooth the top. Add the remaining 1/4 cup cheese, butter, and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

5. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden. Let the dish rest for 5 minutes before serving. Béatrice Peltre
© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.

Red Kuri Squash Risotto~ I actually made this one and it was delicioso!

1 red kuri squash (or butternut)
1/4c olive oil
2c Arborio rice
4c hot chicken or veggie stock
1/2 c grated parmesan
1 onion
1/2 c white wine
1/2 stick unsalted butter

Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on the squash and roast it in the oven at 380F for about 1hr. Meanwhile, cook the onions and rice in a pot for a few minutes until the rice is toasty and opaque. Add wine and stock slowly as the rice absorbs it, for about 15 minutes until al dente. Stir in butter and cheese and squash last. Add salt, pepper, and parsley to taste.

Oven Roasted Potatoes With Fresh Dill


12 small roasting potatoes
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. coarse salt
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. fresh black pepper
Freshly chopped dill to taste


Wash and dry potatoes thoroughly. Place in a large rectangular baking dish. Add olive oil, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, salt & pepper and dill. Toss until potatoes are completely coated with olive oil.

Bake in oven at 35o° for 1 hour or until potatoes have formed a crispy golden crust.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CSA Harvest # 21

Garlic time at Big Lick Farm! I love this photo! You may recognize my hands in the photo, calloused and dirty just the way a farmer's hands should be... this picture was taken last summer by our good friend and fellow CSA farmer Sandee Mcgee of Oh My Gato Farm in Winston. Roseburg is a pretty special area to have the choice between three different CSA farms (us, Oh My Gato and the Lehne Farm off Garden Valley). Despite the fact that we all run similar business we have become good friends along the way. Secrets, potatoes, and garlic seed are passed back and forth between us and we always love to check in on each other and see how the others CSA is progressing.. also it helps to keep us on our toes so we can do the best job we can.. because if we don't there will be other CSA farms to join. Even though each of our farms run a CSA we all offer something a bit different. It's funny that for years there were no CSA's in our area and now starting at the same time there are 3!

This fall marks our second year farming in Oregon... hard to believe it's only been two! When your farming months can seems like decades and years centuries! It has been challenging to adjust to the long, wet Oregon winters (me coming from Southern California and Asinete coming from the equator) but now we could not imagine a better place to be.

This time of year allows us time to reflect on how the season has gone.. we do feel the CSA has been much better this year. We will be sending out an email survey in the next week through email so please keep an eye out for it. We would really love to hear from each of you on what you liked and what you did not like during the CSA deliveries and how we can make our business even better. Of course we would rather have constructive comments than lose CSA members so we value your comments and your time to fill out the survey. Again please keep your eye out for it hopefully before next Thursday.

We are breathing a sigh of relief as half of the farm has successfully been seeded with the fava bean cover crop. Still 300 pounds of fava bean seed to go!

Harvest This Week Includes:

Concord Grapes


Peppers (sweet and spicy)

Tomaotes (green ones will ripen if left at room temp for a week or more)

Tomatillos (hopefully you all know how to make salsa verde now!)

Daikon OR Easter Egg Radishes

Delicata Winter Squash

Rainbow Chard OR Lacinato Kale


Delicata Winter Squash This oblong festive colored squash is one of my favorites. They are easy to work with and one squash is a perfect meal for two! The delicata will not keep as long as your butternut so use it first. And remember to store at room temp, not in your 'fridge please! Delicata Squash is also called Peanut squash and Bohemian squash. This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like corn and sweet potatoes. Size may range from 5 to 10 inches in length. The squash can be baked or steamed. The thin skin is also edible.

The delicata squash is an heirloom variety. It was originally introduced by the Peter Henderson Company of New York City in 1894, and was popular through the 1920s. Then it fell into obscurity for about seventy-five years, possibly because of its thinner, more tender skin, which isn't suited to transportation over thousands of miles and storage over months. But this one was brought to you straight outta Myrtle Creek!

Baked Delicata Squash


1 delicata squash

1-2 Tbsp. butter

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut off the ends of squash, cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Leaving the skins on, cut the squash into 1/2-inch wide lengths. Place these on a baking sheet, dot with butter, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degree F. oven until soft. This is the basic recipe. You can add herbs, spices or honey to it if you wish.

Delicata Squash Puree


One 2-lb. Delicata squash

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 cup heavy cream or half and half

2 tbsp. butter or olive oil

1/4 c. finely chopped fresh chives

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Split the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel the outer skin and cut the squash into 3-inch pieces. Place squash and potatoes in a large saucepan and fill with water and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil and cook until both the squash and potatoes are fork-tender (30-40 minutes). Drain liquid (reserving about 1 cup) and add in cream and butter. Using a potato masher , mix well. Add chives and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cooking liquid if you want it a bit thinner consistency.

Roasted Delicata With Fresh Thyme

Halve the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut each piece in half again. Drizzle the squash with olive oil. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and sugar. Top with cracked pepper and fresh thyme sprigs. Bake at 425º for 30 minutes. These will hold well in a warm oven if they finish before you are ready to serve them. If they look dry, you can “refresh” them with a little drizzle of olive oil.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CSA Harvest # 20

Whew! What a deluge! Our plants have been re hydrated on the farm and new seedlings that we planted weeks ago are popping up with renewed vigor. Last night as the rain hammered away on the roof I realized that our water pumps were still down there at the rivers edge and debated about going out at 4 am to check on them. Luckily when we went out to check them later we discovered the pumps were still high and dry although their time of use seems to be over for the season.

We were not quite ready for the downpour as we scurried around the farm on Sunday to get about a hundred things done before the storm.
First we had a wonderful time planting garlic with CSA members, friends and family (my mom who came with oatmeal cookies!) Thank you to CSA members Russ and Zory and their two young friends.. also thank you to our regular volunteer crew M.A, Robin and Violet who showed up to lend a hand in garlic planting. We planted and mulched 7 rows with three more to go!
When we ran out of garlic seed to plant we moved onto the butternut squash scattered in the field. We snipped them, piled them and then put them into wheelbarrows to the truck.. where they were then loaded into the truck, driven to the barn and then unloaded again.. all that for your butternut squash this week!~ They have passed through our hands several times and been sweetened along the way!

We had big plans for Monday as well until the sore throat I'd been fighting on Sunday turned into the full fledged flu by Monday morning.. bad timing to be laid out with the upcoming storm! So we did not quite get to our 100th thing on the list but we are crossing our fingers that the ground will dry out enough for us to till in all of the remaining crop residues and then get our cover crop seed in and then we will welcome the rain with open arms!

Exciting news in the Umpqua!!
There will be a local showing (with local popcorn!) of the movie Food,Inc playing Friday November 6th at 6pm at the Douglas County Museum. This event is being hosted by our good friends at Think Local Umpqua.. please mark your calendars!! This is a great movie for all of you who are obviously concerned about where your food comes from!! We'll see you at the movies!!!

Harvest This Week Includes:


Norkotah Russet Potatoes

Red and Green Tomatoes (green tomato recipes below!)

Concord Grapes

Butternut Winter Squash

Daikon Radish (the long white root)


Napa Cabbage OR Kohlrabi

Yellow Onion

Sage (to help with butternut lasagna recipe below!!)

Butternut Squash Time!!

Your butternut squash will keep best at room temp and will keep for over a month. It only gets sweeter as it ages so do not feel compelled to cook it at once. When your ready here are some ideas:

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

* 3 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 medium onion, sliced
* 1 leek, sliced
* 2 cloves garlic, sliced
* 2 (49.5 fluid ounce) cans chicken broth
* 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup sherry wine
* 1 cup half-and-half cream
* 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Pour a thin layer of water in a baking dish, or a cookie sheet with sides. Place the squash halves cut side down on the dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the flesh. Cool slightly, then remove the peel. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leek and garlic, and saute for a few minutes, until tender. Pour the chicken broth into the pot. Add the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft. Add the squash, and mash with the potatoes until chunks are small. Use an immersible hand blender to puree the soup, or transfer to a blender or food processor in batches, and puree until smooth. Return to the pot.
3. Season the soup with cayenne pepper, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, salt and pepper, then stir in the sherry and half-and-half cream. Heat through, but do not boil. Ladle into bowls, and top with a dollop of sour cream.

How to Bake Your Winter Squash

Cut smaller squash (like acorn squash) in half; scoop out the seeds. Place 2 teaspoons honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup and 1 tablespoon butter into their centers. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.

Roasting Method

Cut in half and seed squash. Place the squash halves, cut-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub the flesh with softened butter or oil, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with brown sugar, maple syrup or orange juice. Flip the squash over and roast them for 40 to 45 minutes in a preheated 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) oven. Roast the squash until the skin is blistered, browned and the flesh tender. Insert a fork or knife under the skin to test that the flesh is tender. When the squash has cooled the skin should peel off easily.

Roasting squash helps to maintain squash's delicate flavor. Once roasted and cooled, there are a plethora of cooking options available. One option is to mash the squash and use it in any recipe calling for squash purée. Roasted squash freezes extremely well and reheats easily. Don't be afraid to roast several squash at once and freeze it for use during the holidays

Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna- thanks Martha Stewart for the heads up on this one! Butternut lasagna is fantastic!! Dino's Italian Restaurant made a batch of it last year for one of the Think Local Benefit Dinners.. believe me I'm going to dust off the old apron and give this one a whirl!!


Serves 8

* 3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 2 large egg yolks
* 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (2 cups)
* Freshly grated nutmeg
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
* 1 1/4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
* Fresh Lasagna Noodles, (you will need only 1/2 of the batch), cut into 4-by-13-inch strips and cooked, or store-bought dried noodles, cooked
* 4 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/4 cups)


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash, oil, and 1 teaspoon salt on a baking sheet. Season with pepper. Bake until light gold and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool.
2. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Combine ricotta, cream, yolks, mozzarella, and a pinch of nutmeg in a medium bowl. Season with salt.
3. Melt butter in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. As soon as it starts to sizzle, add sage, and cook until light gold and slightly crisp at edges, 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Place squash in a medium bowl, and mash 1/2 of it with the back of a wooden spoon, leaving the other 1/2 in whole pieces. Gently stir in sage-butter mixture and stock. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Spread 3/4 cup of ricotta mixture in a 9-cup baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1/2 of the butternut squash mixture over noodles. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of ricotta mixture over noodles. Repeat layering once more (noodles, squash, noodles, ricotta). Sprinkle Parmesan over ricotta mixture.
6. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until cheese is golden and bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

From Martha Stewart Living, October 2008

Concord Grapes:Concord grapes are a grape variety developed in the Eastern United States during the 19th century. The grapes have a number of uses, and often appear in jams, jellies, grape juice, and sweets. Concord grapes are extremely high in antioxidants and I love to just pop them in my mouth like table grapes. They are crisp, refreshing and even taste purple... pop one in your mouth and you'll see what I mean! They are seedy. Seeds can be squeezed out or spit at your spouse, kids if they're acting unruly.

Daikon Radish The Daikon radish comes to us from Japan where it is used raw to complement the taste of oily or raw foods and, more importantly, to aid in their digestion. Laboratory analysis has shown that the juice of raw daikon is abundant in digestive enzymes similar to those found in the human digestive tract. These enzymes - diastase, amylase, and esterase - help transform complex carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into their readily assimilable components. Traditional Japanese restaurants serve grated daikon (daikon oroshi) in tempura dip to help digest oils, or shredded daikon with raw fish to help digest the protein. Grated daikon is a wonderful aid to people with a weak digestive system. It is important, however, to use grated daikon immediately. In just thirty minutes nearly 50 percent of its enzymes are lost. Daikon is also

To Prepare for Eating:

Scrub or peel removing only a thin layer of the outside. It can be grated, or cut into cubes, sticks, or thin slices. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Cooked daikon is used like a turnip in soups and stews. Raw daikon can be used to add some crunch and spice to salads and relishes.

Beijing Radish Salad

1 medium daikon radish
2 tablespoons rice or balsamic vinegar (or a combination)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Wash and julienne radishes. They can be peeled or not as you like or you can grate them. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and dress the radishes with the dressing.

1 lb.
3 tbsp.
4 tbsp.
1 tsp.
1/4 cup
daikon radish
dijon style mustard
olive oil
wine vinegar
minced fresh parsley leaves

Cut the daikon into 2-inch-long fine julienne strips or grate it coarse. Rinse a large bowl with hot water, dry it, and in it whisk the mustard with 3 tablespoons hot water. Add the oil in a slow stream, whisking until the dressing is emulsified, and whisk in the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Add the daikon strips and the parsley and toss the mixture well. Serves 6.

Gourmet, April 1991

Napa Cabbage~ Another treat from the Asian world! Napa cabbage is also know as Chinese Cabbage.

How it Stacks Up Nutrient Wise:
1 cup raw shredded contains:
calories: 20
Vitamin C: 46% RDA
Vitamin A: 26% RDA
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 1 g

Sesame Noodles with Napa Cabbage

Vegetarian Times Issue: February 1, 2007 p.65 — Member Rating: 1111
This easy dish is equally good hot or cold, and leftovers make a great take-along lunch.

Ingredient List

Serves 4

* 3 Tbs. reduced-fat peanut butter
* 2 Tbs. roasted sesame oil
* 2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
* 2 Tbs. sherry or mirin (rice wine)
* 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
* 1 Tbs. sugar
* 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes or 1/2 tsp. chile sauce
* 10 oz. long noodles, such as udon or spaghetti
* 1/2 lb. napa cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
* 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


1. Whisk together peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes in saucepan.
2. Cook noodles according to package directions.
3. Meanwhile, place cabbage in colander over sink. Warm sauce over medium-low heat.
4. Drain noodles over cabbage in colander to wilt cabbage. Transfer noodles and cabbage to serving bowl, add sauce, and toss until combined.
5. Sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

Nutritional Information

Per SERVING: Calories: 408, Protein: 15g, Total fat: 13g, Saturated fat: 2g, Carbs: 59g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 553mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 7g

Green Tomato Time:

Classic Fried Green Tomatoes
* 4 to 6 green tomatoes
* salt and pepper
* cornmeal
* bacon grease or vegetable oil

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 - 1/2-inch slices. Salt and pepper them to taste. Dip in meal and fry in hot grease or oil about 3 minutes or until golden on bottom. Gently turn and fry the other side. Serve as a side dish - delicious with breakfast!

Baked Green Tomatoes:

* 4 large firm green tomatoes
* salt and pepper
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 3/4 cup coarse buttery cracker crumbs
* 4 tablespoons butter

Cut green tomatoes in 1/2 inch slices; arrange green tomato slices in a greased baking dish. Season sliced green tomatoes with salt and pepper and spread each with about 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar. Cover sliced green tomatoes with crumbs and dot with butter. Bake at 350° until green tomatoes are tender but still firm, or about 25 to 35 minutes.
Recipe for baked green tomatoes serves 6.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CSA Harvest # 19

Hooray that Fall is really here!
Early this week during our vigilant weather watch we heard that we would encounter our first frost. We immediately started out into the garage to find every box, container, crate and bag that we could to store the crops in to get them out of the field. We labored over the tomato vines picking everything.. red ones in one box, green ones in another. The most rotten ones of course we had to throw at each other while we worked. Soon we looked like we were extras in a bad horror movie, tomato pulp dripping off our backs like fake blood. Tomato vines we didn't pick were covered with reemay. Reemay (also called agribon) is a fabric very similar to cheescloth. For farming purposes it comes in long rolls, wide enough to fit over the garden beds.
The two main functions of reemay are to protect a crop from frost and also to allow water and sun through to the plant but not pests. It is remarkable at how much better plants do when grown under it (except during really hot weather than you can actually cook your plants!) There are a few drawbacks to it though. The biggest is that it is expensive, the other is that for the high cost it is very delicate and tears easily. The worst is when we carefully cover a bed with the reemay and the next morning we wake up to find that deer have come through and poked holes all through it when passing through. Yes.. we are probably the only farmers in Oregon without deer fencing! For those of you who don't know the farm sits at only about 25 feet above the South Umpqua river. This makes for wonderful loamy soil but also there is always the chance that the river will flood and would take our deer fence with it! We have had much better luck this year than last with the deer and for that we are thankful. Of course now that hunting season is upon us that may change as the deer come down out of the hills to set up camp in the safe zone.
By the way we ended up not having a frost as warned although last night we had a small one. Last night's frost was cold enough to kill the uncovered basil, cucumbers (you're breathing a sigh of relief I bet!) and the winter squash.
Yes we do have winter squash (3 varieties) which we are hoarding until next week.

This week you will find tomatillos or husk tomato.. a very favorite treat of mine used in the Mexican specialty called "salsa verde" (or green salsa) sounds better in Spanish! So please read below on how to prepare and store them!


Harvest This Week Includes:



French Fingerling potatoes

Gypsy Peppers (sweet)

Jalapeno Peppers (spicy)

Red Zeppelin Onion

Heirloom Tomatoes

Sweet Cluster Tomatoes

Sungold Tomatoes OR Grapes


Rainbow Chard

Recipe Ideas and Storage Tips:

Tomatillos:The tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) is a plant of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, related to tomatoes, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. I took a photo of them above. Tomatillos, referred to as green tomato (Spanish: tomate verde) in Mexico, are a staple in Mexican cuisine.

Storage: Fresh ripe tomatillos will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks. They will keep even longer if the husks are removed and the fruits are placed in sealed plastic bags stored in the refrigerator.[2] They may also be frozen whole or sliced.

Roasted Tomatillo and Garlic Salsa

* 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed
* 1 head garlic cloves, separated and peeled
* 3 fresh jalapeno peppers
* 1 bunch fresh cilantro
* 1/2 cup water, or as needed
* salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven's broiler. Arrange the whole cloves of garlic, tomatillos, and jalapenos on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler, and cook for a few minutes. Remove garlic cloves first, as soon as they are toasted, to avoid developing a bitter flavor. Continue to roast jalapenos and tomatillos until evenly charred, turning occasionally. Set aside to cool. Don't remove the charred parts of the tomatillos or the peppers. They add a really nice flavor.
2. Place peppers and tomatillos in a blender with the garlic and cilantro. Add a little water to the mixture if necessary to facilitate blending. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until serving. Grab your favorite bag of tortilla chips or spoon over quesadillas..yummmmmmm

Chicken soup with tomatillos adapted from Splendid Soups.

1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
1 lb tomatillos coarsely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
3 c chicken broth
2 T chopped cilantro
salt and pepper

Brown the chicken in a pan 8-10 minutes a side. Adjust the fat and lightly saute the onions and garlic. Add broth, tomatillos, jalapenos and chicken to pan. When chicken is done (~15 minutes) remove to cool. Skim any fat (I use a stick blender) and puree what is in the pan. The recipe calls for straining it, but if you like it a bit more chunky leave it. Shred the chicken meat and return to the pan with the cilantro. Adjust salt/pepper (add cayenne if you need it) to taste and you have a great soup (I'll sometimes add a little lime juice to taste as well). Serve with sour cream and/or shredded cheese.

There are plenty more recipes on how to use tomatillos on the internet if these don't interest you.. try

Jalapeno Chicken
easy and elegant!


1 jalapeno pepper, sliced into rings
1 chicken breast, thawed and sliced lengthwise, thin
1 cup spinach
1 tomato, sliced
1 slice provolone cheese
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste


Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste, or with any other seasonings you may prefer.
In a skillet, sear the chicken breasts, about 2 minutes each side, then reduce heat to low and cook until chicken is done throughout. Use a bit of cooking spray to avoid sticking.
In a separate pan, cook the spinach until soft.
Once spinach is done, transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with Worcestershire and minced garlic.
Place spinach mixture atop the chicken breasts.
Cover spinach with tomato slices and jalapeno pepper slices.
Top with provolone cheese.
Cover the pan until cheese is melted.