Monday, May 19, 2008

Week 2, CSA News

News from the Farm . . .

Currently living and farming at Elmwood Stock Farm are the fifth and sixth genera-tion of the Bell family to farm in Central Kentucky. Over the generations the farming operations have varied in overall degrees of diversity and utilization of specific crops and/or livestock but there have been some fundamental consistencies handed down from one generation to the next. There have always been family sized operations, usually over 100 acres and under 500 acres, big enough to support the family, but no bigger. Each farmer utilized a mix of livestock and crops, with consistent, planned rotations of livestock grazing on pasture and the seasonal crops. Passed down is the knowledge to plant a diverse mix of forages for livestock and the utilization of fall cover crops to prevent soil erosion and protect the topsoil during winter.

Some specific practices added by the fifth generation to the family-farming recipe include the extensive use of no-till row crop production starting in the early 1970s. This early conservation practice is now a backbone for organic production. Elmwood was one of the first farms in the area to utilize greenhouses instead of outdoor field beds for transplant production. Early models were home-built structures with low cost engineering, but healthy, sturdy transplants during wet, blustery springtime proved the benefit of the system. Always having livestock as part of the diversified operation, Elmwood began raising and selling registered breeding stock instead of only commercial livestock, eventually specializing in the Black Angus breed.

The farm's management now includes an increase in the volume and diversity of retail food crops and livestock, and less dependency on traditional wholesale marketing outlets. Crop production has added management intensive but highly efficient plasticulture and the dripline irrigation system. Produce quality is en-hanced, evaporation of irrigation water is reduced, and while necessary to produce vegetables, more water is conserved in food production. Elmwood's soil fertility program uses less manufactured fertilizer and more mined natural minerals, spreading less animal manure but more compost, and results in less focus on treating insects or disease and more focus on producing healthy plants in healthy soil that are less attractive to such predatory problems.

Early generations depended on the large family to perform all of the daily chores and neighbors to assist in the crop harvest. While not possible today to rely so much on family and friends to perform farm work, much of the current crop production and livestock management does still depend on manual tasks. Mostly family works in the winter months while the summer crop season requires seasonal help for the labor -intensive vegetable crop production and direct-to-you distribution of the fruits of the labor. The diversification of the type and number of crops has increased since years past, with over 240 varieties of different vegetables this year. As there is a renewed interest in eating locally produced foods, a diverse product offering is required and a longer season of availability is desired. Ongoing efforts at the farm to meet these customer demands may make it possible for more generations to continue farming at Elmwood Stock Farm.

The photo above shows Cecil Bell, along with family and neighbors, adding water to the transplanter while putting out the crop near the Elkhorn Creek in Scott County.

In Your Share . . .
Items will vary depending on your harvest and pickup day and the share size - every share may not have every item listed.

Enjoy another week of fresh asparagus with a new recipe below. Added to its popular taste is the benefit of Vitamins A, B-complex, C and E.

Bok Choy – organic
This week’s harvest finds the popular Asian vegetable, Bok Choy, ready to enjoy. It can withstand the cooler temperatures better than some, and will keep on growing even if frosted. Bok Choy is said to be high in calcium and vita-mins, but low calories of only 24 per cup serving.Use both the stalk and the leafy greens, either together in a dish, or chopped and prepared separately. If stir-frying, add the stalks first as they cook a little longer than the more tender greens. Though loved by flea beetles (which have somehow started their quest for brassica vegetables even in cold temperatures!), taste and flavor of the bok choy will not change if there are a few holes in the leaves. Store in a plastic bag or other closed container in the refrigerator, leaves will wilt prior to the stalk.

Green Oakleaf Lettuce – organic
This week’s lettuce is a tender, green variety called Emerald Green Oakleaf. Remember that the sooner you can wash and process, the longer you can store your fresh greens. It does really payoff to acquire a salad spinner that helps to remove the wash water. Your refrigerator will dry out most items if not stored in a closed container.
Concept Crisphead Lettuce - organic
This Batavia type of dense head lettuce offers a sweet flavor while flourishing in our cool temperatures. Remember that the sooner you can wash and process, the longer you can store your fresh greens. It does really payoff to acquire a salad spinner that helps to remove the wash water. Your refrigerator will dry out most items if not stored in a closed container.

Spinach – organic
Your spinach harvest this week is the first of the spring planting. Earlier spinach to date was harvested from fall plantings that had good roots established and was able to grow leaves early in the spring.Enjoy as a salad, or added to pasta, quiche, or a frittata – if you choose to steam, it will wilt way, way down!

A couple of sunny days seem to make all the dif-ference – everyone gets the yummy berries this week. Store refrigerated and wash right before eating or using.

Garlic Greens – organic
This will be the last week of garlic greens, the center stalk begins to toughen up a little which is what we want to make the bulb. Find a new recipe below.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Sesame Grilled Asparagus
a Food Network recipe

Wooden toothpicks or bamboo skewers 1 pound asparagus 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 clove garlic, minced (or use your garlic greens)2 tablespoons sesame seeds Salt and black pepper

In a shallow pan, soak skewers in cold water for 1 hour, then drain and set aside. Preheat grill to high. Snap off the woody bases of the asparagus and discard. Skewer 4 or 5 asparagus spears together, using the toothpicks or 2 bamboo skewers, forming a raft shape. In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic and stir with a fork to mix. Brush this mixture on the asparagus rafts on both sides. Season the asparagus with a little salt and lots of pepper. When ready to cook, place the asparagus rafts on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds as they grill. You can serve the asparagus as rafts or unskewered.

Coconut Curried Bok Choy
recipe from Harmony Valley Farm
3 tsp olive oil
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
2 T yellow curry powder
2 tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp lime juice
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
½ C cilantro, chopped
1 head bok choy

Cut bok choy into bite size pieces, keeping the stems separate from the leaves. In a medium sauté pan, heat oil. Stir in curry powder, salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook about 1 minute. Add bok choy stems on the bottom of the pan and layer the greens on top. Pour coconut milk over the top. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until stems are tender and the greens are wilted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, lime juice, and cilantro.

Parsley-Green-Garlic Vinaigrette
recipe from San Francisco Chef Daniel Patterson

6 T fruity extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 to 3 stalks green garlic, chopped, dark green parts
2 T Champagne vinegar
2 T lemon juice
¼ C chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper.

Prepare a grill or set an iron skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, lightly oil the stalks and cook them for about 2 minutes. Season with salt, and mince. In a bowl, combine the green garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Just before serving, stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over baked cod, grilled chicken or steamed asparagus. Makes about 1 cup.