Thursday, June 28, 2012

FRIDAY CSA delivery the week of the 4th

Due to INDEPENDENCE day festivities
(the parade in Marine on St. Croix starts at noon!)
and because of popular member demand...

Our 5th week's CSA boxes will be delivered on
FRIDAY instead of Wednesday!

Mark your calendars!
If you will be out of town for the week arrange to have a friend or neighbor pick up your box!

Land Grab

30 years ago, on the island of Jersey, a potato farmer's daughter told two treasure seekers that she and her family often found old coins in their fields during harvest time...they'd fill a sack and plow the rest under, so the story goes.
These two adventurers, intrigued, have been hunting up ancient buried trove ever since, for a specially granted 10-15 hours per year, in the potato fields. Now they've unearthed a reported 50,000 celtic and roman coins from Julius Ceasar's day, worth an estimated 15 million dollars.
They are not the only ones who are beginning to look to farmland for treasure.
Foreign investors from all over the world are buying up large farms, aiming not only to sink their money in land, but in some cases farm it from afar, or rent it out at a price to those willing to "take advantage of rising food costs" and turn agribusinessmen. In some places, like in Africa, these absentee owners have displaced subsistance farmers and are causing some worry in local communities, as they make use of local rivers and streams filling huge tanks to irrigate fields. In other places they are being welcomed as a possible business opportunity for locals, a chance to move up in the world from small farmer to paid employee. Big agriculture is being sold in out- of- the- way places now, not really because it makes sense for the communities stamped with these large absentee-owned farms, but because its starting to make sense for the absentee investor.
But, as Olaf, the Swedish farmer in the movie "Sweetland" remarked at a shared dinner with a banker relative, "Banking and farming don't mix."

Last Sunday we spent the afternoon just up the road on a
neighbor’s front lawn with out heads tilted up at the clouds- making quite a
change for us from our usual daily following of dirt, earthworms, beetles, and
ground-bound plants. The “Embrace Adrenaline” Scandia Trapeze club meets every
weekend in summer at Sherri’s house- and practices the fine art of flying on
her massive trapeze rigging- which was a birthday present to her from her
loving husband, upon discovery of a new nagging interest in soaring.
Many of the members are well past 40 years old. The space
which they inhabit while “flying” and “catching” is very finite. It can’t be
more than 40 ft….and yet what a world is contained between the bars, the
rigging, and the poles. An untold interior life is magnified on the trapeze for
each flyer chalking up and scaling the rope ladder to the board, gathering new
courage to leap off into a space maneageable only by the strength in their
fingertips, arms, and core. Comeraderie is high amongst them, all circled
around this unusual art….uplifted by a successful salto, or a good “catch” or a
return bar almost grabbed.
I could have stood spellbound for well on 6 hours had not
the familial obligations of meals and picture book moved me. There is a certain
familiarity we have as farmers with the aerialist on the trapeze. Like the
flyer and cathcher, the dream of the small farm is only achieved through
constant vigilance, timing, a juggling act of many preceise actions which, in
toal, add upto something which can inspire on sight…the trapeze artist traces
lines against the clouds, our own motions are a corrolary, tracking across the
contours of the earth. The exileration they feel in the their mere 30-40ft of
space up in the rigging is similar to the full human experience and range of
emotion we receive within the relatively small boundries of the farm’s property
line. It has long been my suspicion that given the profound dignity of each and
every human person, and the breathtaking beauty of any given natural landscape,
becoming truly content- and not just content, but also truly a-fire with the
grand glowing goodness of life ,becoming sparked with joy in living and
breathing inspired to further growth…all this happens with finding out how to
exist within a relatively small sphere so that your whole attention is given
to it, you are not emotionally or physically invested anywhere else but rooted
to one spot. Children are so good at this. It’s why they are the ones to find
the fuzzy white catipillars, the ants’ nests, the antique piece of jewelry
unearthed from the little spot of sand at your doorstep…they will, at any given
moment drop to their knees and discover a hidden world at their toes…this is
more accurate a view of reality than the adult one we wander about in, judging
to be real only what we have a use for or a want of.
During the shift from agriculture to agribusiness (a shift
which began with the undustrial revolution and seemed helped considerably by
the war) there was a a huge push to eliminate the small family farm. A
committee report from the Agriculture Department Chamber of Commerce from as
far back as 1945 described small farm units as “economic and social
liabilities”. Farmers, according to this committee, did not make fro good
consumers…and therein lied much of the problem. They were too fulfilled and
provided for on their small farms, feeding their neighbors to have the ambition
necessary to attain a higher standard of living , and acquire the technology
required for frowing thousands of acres of commodity crops that the U.S. could
use in foreign trade deals, or political manuervering in the world, using food
as a gargaining chip. So began the wholesale swallowing of small farms by
agribusinessmen, and the public policies aimed at thelping them out….aimed at
ousting “the little guy” You may remember the USDA’s “Get big of Get out”
mantra. But I’ll tell you what we lost with the small family farm. We lost
personal stewardship of the land ( a problem which continues to show up in our
drinking water and our collective top soil loss) and we lost many important
lessons in life which taught us to look for wonder and fulfillment on the
home-front. (You know, the Wizard of Oz point.)
With foreign and out of state
investors now making grabs for American farmland (and African and European) the
work our CSA members are supporting on our little farm is so vital. Farming as a business venture, from afar, without the chicken poo on your shoes and no sun in your eyes is not going to end well for the land, local communities, or the investor himself. Food security is not about having enough to scare big and small nations into fighting on our side, or trading with us. IT is about a system of production in the hands of as many as possible. It is achieved by backyard, next-door, and down-the-road means. Grow it. Buy it from a neighbor. Seek out a farmer down the road and keep him on the map. Because that map is getting smaller. The print is getting larger. And farmers are fewer and far between. We need to wake up and shake things up.
"Stay tight" is what the trapeze artists say, reminding eachother to pull in their abdominal muscles remember their core, and keep their limbs firm and together in order to avoid chaos in the net and in the air. "Stay tight" they say. I hear them. When they say it I hear "Stay home." Stay home, and FLY.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Worth a thought

"PLANET EARTH does not belong to corporate interests, nor to governments, nor to the fashionable collective conscience of the moment. She belongs to herself, with a delicate but critical nod to biological life – all of it! Humans have taken for themselves a temporary leasehold on the planet. Somehow that was allowed over these last 100 years to slough off to the corporate boardrooms. This is not a good thing.
To earn the right to continue living on this planet, we need to find simple, direct solutions to human interaction with all other forms of biological life. We need to find ways that our time on this planet is beneficial for all. Wresting control of the land, air and sea from corporate interests is vitally important. It can start by accepting as axiomatic that every one should have a piece of land to care for. And by ‘every one’ we are speaking of individual human beings."

-LYNN MILLER from the Small Farmer's Journal Website

Swimming Holes and Ghost Stories

"Mise en place." The fundamental starting point to all good
cooking and bread baking. It means “everything in its place”. Cooking is all
about timing, and having your ingredients measured out and to hand is important
for the perfect simmer, sizzle, and sauté. Bread Baking requires precise
measurements of flour, water, salt, yeast…a work surface to develop the dough....a
place for it to rise and shape, and a hot oven. Mise en place. Good life
requires mise en place too, as a principle to build upon…Summertime always
reminds me of this, beautifully. With the first few week’s of CSA deliveries
underway, and the bulk of the heavy transplanting loads behind us, we take a
breath…quit early one evening and leave the daily work in it’s place, allowing
leisure to resume some sweet existence in our lives once again.
In bread baking there is a technique of resting the dough
after an initial mixing. Peter Reinhart describes this in his “Bread Baker’s
Apprentice”. The French call this period autolyse. He tells how during this
period of rest the protein molecules complete their hydration and begin bonding
on their own...causing more complex gluten development later when you finish
the mixing process.
Churchhill knew about autolyse. He never let a day go by
without his customary nap. He recognized that great things can come from a
small rest. Great doings from small nothings. One of my favorite anecdotes from
David Monson’s memoirs are about Summer evenings after the heavy load of farm
chores and field work, growing up on the next door neighboring Oak Hill Farm:
“But when it was hot in the summertime…when all the work
was done up and it was getting late in the evening, we would start to go off to
Square Lake to go swimming. As we started off and got to the next door
neighbor, the guys there would be ready to go and the nest neighbor and the
next neighbor and they’d all be ready to go. When we’d get to the lake there would
be lots of guys there ahead of us and some would come behind. We’d be a great
big gang of guys all swimming and carrying on you know. We’d be diving and
throwing each other overboard like we were pitching them off a diving stand.”
Autolyse. Then comes the best part:
“When it got real dark, then it was to get to shore and put
on our clothes. It was no hurry to bet back home then. That was story time.
Some would tell about hunting stories, and some would tell about trapping
lines, and it was just like you were in a library where there would be a lot of books read, but they were all told by
the boys that were good at story telling. Sometimes they would get to ghost
stories….some would tell ghost stories so good that you could almost see the
ghosts if you would just use your imagination.”
Wednesday afternoon, in the drizzling rain, after
deliveries were finished. We snuck off to Square Lake too. I watched my girls
soften into smiles, sighs, laughter, and cries of joy. Sometimes parents need
it spelled out for them…and I felt like I’d hit cloud nine when I heard
Bothilde squeal “I’m so happy” as she bobbed up and down on the little waves. I imagined a big old gang of boys splashing
eachother and hollering 90 years ago in this same spot, free from the very
grounded work of the farm for one evening. Aware of the paradox, it struck me
that children back then had more responsibility laid on them, more expectation
in one sense, and yet were more child-like than our children today. As a
nation, we continue to foster abilities in our children that are marketable,
yes, but further and further from their primary needs. Our children can text,
send emails, upload videos on You-Tube, and Skype. They can do logarithmic
equations, tell you all about climate change, and explain quantum physics. But
how many of them can tell you how much a chord of firewood is, how to make a
pie, how to bake bread, or slaughter a chicken for Sunday supper, or how to
speak to an adult? Children of 90 years ago were taught how to use trapping
lines, how to use knives, tie knots, drive horses. These things weren’t put
into their hands because people eschewed “safety” but because “safe” meant
knowing how to do these things for others and yourself, to be able to make it
in life…quite literally. Make a bale of hay, make a makeshift halter to lead a stray
cow, make a meal, make a shelter. But if their bodies were more hardened to the
elements, the rain and the sunshine, the heat and the cold, and the work on the
farm, their minds were, at the same time, very much more free. Free of the
pyscho-babble we continually spoon upon our children in our modern age, asking
a toddlers permission to go somewhere, or “honey, be careful, be careful honey!”
or “go and play” instead of “grab a spoon and help me stir this pancake batter!”
And then we shuffle them off to dance and soccer and computer club and Sunday
school and play-dates, busy saving time, not passing time…and somehow autolyse never happens…and our children
simply sluff off their childhoods early. Gone too soon is the fascination with
butterflies and bees. Playing in the dirt for hours:a thing of the past. “Bored”
suddenly stumbles into the vocabulary…and most painful of all: the light in the
eyes, a light of wonder and delight, dimmed. All these straight A students,
ready to shuffle off to a “good college”, at the same time unable to feed,
clothe, and shelter themselves without a plastic card to swipe. The weakened
Adulthood we find ourselves in today is the direct result of a non-existent
childhood. The mires and bogs of self-pity, self-help, and selfishness we
gossip with as adults begin with the absence of real mires, real bogs, and real
self-less ness experienced in childhood, as a valuable part of a whole family
and community. I preach to myself as much as to anyone.
We all of us desperately need that Grandmother with the
rolling pin standing in her apron at the back door, calling us in for supper,
and threatening a good wack to anyone who comes to the table without washing up
first. We need that bastion of solid tradition, culinary reliability, firmness,
and softness in one personage, a woman in the kitchen in no need of liberation,
for it is from there, she rules the world and nurtures each new generation. We
need a reminder that the very first and most important crop we grow is our
children…and two things are needed for their cultivation:
Mise en place and Autolyse.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Introducing our Farmstead "Honey-White" Cheese shares!

Hefty wedges of fresh cheese made from the creamy Jersey milk of our resident milk cow, Honey.
$20/4 weeks of cheese.
Your share furthers our artisanal efforts.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Pull it
Shake it
Bind it
Bathe it
Stuff it
Make it
Pluck it
Bag it
Box it
Now go
eat it.

*the veggies, not us!

Strawberry and Onion Salad Dressing:

Fill a jar 1/4 full with extra virgin olive oil.

Add one third that amount of Balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp dijon mustard.

Thinly slice up 1-2 fresh onions and toss them in the jar.

Now for the secret ingredient. Take a chubby pinch of brown sugar and drop it in the jar when no one is looking. SHAKE.

Thinly slice strawberries and marinate them in your dressing.

Pour over your salad, crumble some fresh chevre on top and ENJOY!


The first bite of a June strawberry is like new blood in the veins. There is only one thing to do.
Storm your local berry patch and buy them by the flat. Proceed to kitchen for to make fresh STRAWBERRY PIE to celebrate berry season!

June Strawberry Pie

Whisk together:
1.5 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
Mash together with 1/2 C butter and 3 Tbsp cream.
Press into a pie pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Trim the tops off of 6 cups fresh strawberries.
Reserve 4 cups in a bowl, and pour the other two cups into a blender. Puree them.

In a saucepan combine:
1 C sugar
1/4 C cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt

Whisk in 1/2 C water

Stir in the pureed strawberries and 2 Tbsp lemon juice.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Put half the reserved bowl of strawberries into the crust. Pour half of your pureed mixture over them. Top with the other half of reserved berries, and lastly the rest of the pureed mixture. Chill for 4 hours to set. Serve with GENEROUS dollops of freshly whipped cream.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Coming soon: our new farmstead cheese "Honey White" made from our resident Jersey's creamy milk. HAPPY EATING!

First Harvest

Some days we live the life of a Country Western song:
“Lord you could have taken me.
You could have taken this dear wife of mine.
The thing that I jist can’t understand
Is why my pick-up had to die.”

Other days it’s life as if within the pages of a cheap romance novel:
“The slender bodies of the red and white onions, fresh from
their evening baths, lay prone upon the table. Beads of water still clung to
them as they drew toward them the couple, who, swallowing desires frothy and
numerous trembled at that first touch as they grasped the onions to their
breasts and fled to the kitchen with them to do thus and so.”

Sometimes it’s a Greek Tragedy:
And so he promised them, lettuces, beautiful lettuces, the
first to greet his eye upon his return home, if he could leave their company
with his life. But upon his homecoming the deer had munched them all, and the
lettuces that met his eye had their hearts eaten from them. “A FIE ON MY
PROMISE” he cried as he cast himself to the earth and wept over his folly and
But most often than not, we live the life that is a
poem. Each day and expression of some
deeply meant matter of the heart. And Wednesdays are especially lovely, as we
greet our farm share members and are given a glimpse of their plans for kitchen
adventures with their boxes of food fresh from our field. Their joy and
excitement add fuel to our fire. Before this season is up we’ll have a
veritable bon fire of good going on here on the farm…Delivery day is the day we
are always bowled over by the mutuality of Community Supported Agriculture.
Battling flea beetles and potato bugs in the field during the week is not the
full picture of what this life is. Our members remind us of that.
Onions and garlic are two of the very best friends of the
human race. Not only do they help to rid the body of bugs…they fill the kitchen
with such a mouthwatering aroma that strangers stopping by for the first time
will leave all social protocol behind and bound towards the door or open window
with the words “are you cooking something?” flying from them as if conjured
against their will by geni.
They are the basis for pasta sauce, stir fries, and the
stuffings for omelets. For those of you ladies with a meat and potatoes man in
the house, tucking a saute’ of fresh onion, garlic, and spring greens into a 2
egg omelet with a good grated cheese is one way to gain a convert to the world
of kale, Asian greens, and chard.
Our first CSA box this week came with a “bag of green magic”.
By far the headliner of the mix is the softly smoky Asian green, Shungiku. It
is the culinary answer to vitamin deprivation, to frozen pizza, and iceberg
lettuce. In addition to Shungiku, Mustard Greens, other Asian Greens, and baby
chard all make up the mix. For
adventurous salad eaters, liven things up with a handful of them...Our favorite
thing to do with a bag of greens, however, is to saute’ up some onion and
garlic (send out those loving tendrils of home cooking out into a soul starved
neighborhood) and add all the greens and a few red pepper flakes…cook them
down, add a few glugs of soy sauce and serve over rice. Better yet, save your
cooked rice from last night’s pork chops and add it into the veggie mix for
fried rice.
Radish tops are edible. We fold them into omelets or stir
fries. They will draw energy from the roots (radishes) so remove them asap and
store them separately in your fridge.
Despite our best intentions, most of us still drag our heels
when it comes to eating our greens…but “green rapture” is what the early season
is all about! It’s a way to welcome summer body and soul- and it is a matter of
only 10 minutes in the kitchen, with a glass of wine in one hand and a chopping
knife in the other while listening to Eva Cassidy sing her heart out, and
viola! A dinner or lunch or breakfast fit for the 1 percent. It would be a mistake to leave this kind of
food to trendy restaurants you can’t afford to frequent with your kids in tow…bring
home the raw materials for inspiring culture and home comfort…and call down
minute miracles into your frying pans. Thank God for good food. Simple food.
Simply grown. Amen.