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Archive for the ‘Freshly picked’ Category

or through the right lens, it all looks so bountiful,
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and beautiful. DSC_5750And it is.

The farmer looks so happy. When not drop dead exhausted, he is!

DSC_5725But there is a reason that organic vegetables cost more than conventionally grown, and that the farmer has to have his back adjusted.

Without chemicals, there is a much greater use of the hands and the back.

For every row of tomatoes (or beans or peppers or potatoes) that beat the disease and the insects, there are often one or two rows of those that don’t survive.

Behind every tender okra lies a plant that itches the farmers so badly that they have to wear long sleeves in the heat in order to pick it.

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Beneath many of the beautiful butterflies and moths lie their progeny – caterpillars that eat great holes out of the plants:DSC_5742I remember the first time that I bought an organic pepper. I was flabbergasted by the price. It was soon after falling for Nicolas, 15 years ago. I went to the Dekalb Farmers Market to buy food for a party. It was in December so, duh!, pepper was not in season, not available locally and the one I chose was orange, so had stayed on the vine a long time to turn that color. I didn’t think seasonally or locally then. I hadn’t yet farmed in the middle of winter (hands freezing in the outdoor sink’s water to rinse the greens) or in the dogs days of a Georgia August.

Now, I get it.

This post resulted from Nicolas mentioning that some new customers don’t want to pay for the tomatoes. All he really wanted to point out was that the heirloom tomato at your local farmers’ market was not picked green; rather, it was allowed to ripen on the vine. Faster methods of ripening the tomatoes wouldn’t allow nature the time it takes to bring forth the best quality. I just wanted to add that it isn’t just time, but also loving, back-breaking, slow attention that has gone into bringing forth this fruit.

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DSC_5253This summer, we had more sweet corn than any previous year. Gillen did most of the work to make it happen. He made some money on it too! But it is never enough corn. We love it so. In the end, the worms took over and we didn’t have as much as we had hoped. Next year, we plan to grow three rounds of it, at least.

It is delicious, of course, simply boiled and slathered with butter and sea salt. Jesse actually prefers it raw. But I found this recipe from an old issue of Bon Appetit and we really liked it this way too.

From the August, 2003 issue of Bon Appetit. This recipe was created by a reader from Atlanta, Tracey Medeiros:

4 servings: 4 ears of fresh corn                                                                                                                                                                                                                      6 tbls. olive oil                                                                                                                                                                                                                               1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese                                                                                                                                                                                 1 garlic clove, minced                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 tbls. fresh lime juice                                                                                                                                                                                                                 1 teaspoon ground cumin                                                                                                                                                                                                          1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (we like the local Italian guy’s (Zio Micu’s) organic sauce at the Morningside Market a lot! But the kids didn’t want this in the corn)                                                                                                                                                                                                     1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (sorry for the crazy formatting; I’m tired of fighting it, so have decided it works : )

Cook corn in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Whisk 5 tbls. oil, cheese, garlic, lime juice, cumin, and pepper sauce in medium bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add corn and saute until heated through, turning frequently, about 2 minutes. Brush corn with some of Parmesan cheese mixture.  Turn corn and brush with more cheese mixture. Cook until coating begins to color, about three minutes.  Transfer corn to platter. Mix cilantro into any remaining Parmesan mixture and brush over corn.

We ate it with Helen’s beautiful eggs, tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella cheese.

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Passion Fruit

Here are a few of the flowers that you can find at the market or Local Farmstand store this summer.

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DSC_5275These are the fruit of Helen’s passion for beautiful flowers.

Of course,  she is also growing Passion Fruit:

DSC_5118Helen has many talents. One of them is seed saving. I took several pictures of her process with the tomato seeds over the past several days and will post that tutorial soon. Right now, we are getting ready, the kids and Nicolas and I, to go to a showing of Food, Inc. in Atlanta. It will be followed by a Q & A with Nicolas and some other organic farmers. I’ll try not to come back raving about food policies here ( just with a photo of Nicolas looking smart: ). I’m sure I’ll be recommending the movie. It’s supposed to be great.

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We eat seasonally and don’t put up a lot of food, so by the time a vegetable or fruit’s season rolls round again, we are very anxious to reconnect. This is why we can stand to eat so many tomatoes for months in the summer. Plus, they are just that good.

There’s simple gazpacho, with peppers, tomatoes and garlic (yet to be blended):DSC_5655

Sometimes, we get crazy and add cucumbers and red onions:DSC_5656Then, there’s the many kinds of tomato sauce. Here, I was preparing a lot in order to freeze some for the winter. I boiled a big pot of water and submerged the cored tomatoes for about thirty seconds in order to easily peel off the skins. But this was before I got a powerhouse blender. I am curious to see how we like it with the peel left on. I hope we like it. It sure would simplify the process.

DSC_5014Sliced with “stuffed burgers” (stuffed with chopped herbs, english peas and carrots; invented and built by Jesse):DSC_4055Salsa! Here, just with cilantro (not from the farm, unfortunately) and garlic:

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Much of the time, we just eat them sliced with coarse salt. Sometimes we’ll add Buffalo Mozzarella and basil or some bread and mayonnaise, or a pizza crust and mozzarella cheese. It will be the end of August before we get tired of them.

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DSC_5161The guys were off the farm and joyfully waiting to be served many courses of good local food. It was a good time. Last night, Nicolas was invited to speak at Duck’s Cosmic Kitchen as part of a series of local-only meals that locavore, Virginia Dupree, has been organizing for three years, with Duck’s help. There is always a waiting list. It all started with an email to her friends to gage interest in eating an all-local meal at a local restaurant. The response was huge and immediately grew to include many more people than just those she knew. Now, these dinners always have a long waiting list. This is so much a reflection of Virginia’s enthusiasm but also of this particular town. Decatur, GA is pretty wonderful. Our meal was too – tomato pie, Nicolas’ greens in a salad with local cheese, local, humane-certified steak with Vidalia onion rings, orange and red watermelon with blueberry sorbet.

I feel inspired to share more of my own local meals here. We had a great one tonight (though with many fewer courses). A medley of many to come soon, as well as a tutorial with Helen about seed-saving.

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We are grateful for those of you who buy our vegetables. But those who just fly or hop on in and treat the farm like a giant free buffet? No gratitude for these guys.

Sometimes they are pretty. One could mistake this white flying pest for an innocent, even ethereal, sightseer. No. This is the parent of the green European Cabbage Worm who feasts on all brassicas, such as broccoli and cabbage.

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Mostly, I want to whinge about the grasshoppers. The grasshoppers are a huge pain in the neck, hopping in and out of the high tunnels, all over us even, scarfing down everything they can reach (well, not everything). We use semaspore bait. This stuff is pretty interesting if, like me, you are fascinated, in a scientific way, by animals who eat their young. Grasshoppers eat their young. The young eat the semaspore, which has been spread all over the vegetables. It is wheat germ that has been infected with a virus. The young then infect the adults upon being eaten.

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The solution to the cabbage worm, as well as many other uninvited guests, is a low toxic pesticide called Spinosad (discovered on a Carribean island by a scientist on vacation!). Here is our employee, John, a former cheerleader champion now using his skills to bring the beneficial insects, and us, to victory. He’s cheerfully carrying a full backpack of the Spinosad .

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The solution to the pests below, the Japanese Beetles, is to have a farmer pick them off. This was once one of my jobs. I got a manicure before our wedding. I had to bring in a professional. Japanese Beetle guts stain the skin.

Look at him, moving on up, as if he owns the place.

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I can’t leave those of you (who may generously show up after all this time) with such creepy images.

I’ll end with a few of July’s beautiful vegetables and the beautiful workers who take such good care of them.

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Here is Elizabeth, who works with Helen on the flowers. DSC_4890The beginning of a bouquet:DSC_4901Carrots:DSC_4264

Just one of the many varieties of tomatoes: DSC_4894Recipes, tutorials and the Belgian farmer to come soon. My hot weather swoon is over. I’ll be posting more regularly. Truly.

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From the Taste of Seeds of Change flyer:

Throughout history, human beings have used thousands of plant species for food, many of which have also been domesticated.  Today only 150 plant species are cultivated, 12 of which provide approximately 75 percent of our food and four of which produce over half of the food we eat. This involution has increased the vulnerability of agriculture and impoverished the human diet. As a result, many local crops that have traditionally been important for feeding the poorest sectors of society are now underutilized or neglected.

-Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations

This morning, our farm hosted a “Taste of Seeds of Change”, a field day that allows farmers, chefs, gardeners and consumers to sample different Seeds of Change varieties, to see them growing in the field, and to ask farming questions.DSC_3271

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DSC_3319DSC_3276DSC_3317DSC_3279This seed company has been growing organic seeds for twenty years. Though we do also buy lots from High Mowing Seeds, from Johnny’s and from other smaller companies, Seeds of Change currently has “the largest number and variety of commercially available seed.”

They did a wonderful job organizing this field day. All of the varieties (and there are many) that we grow from them were listed in a hand-out that was given to each visitor. It gave a thorough description of each plant. The recipes that were included in the folders they distributed were enticing. I’ll post them here as I try them.

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