March 29, 2008

Week 30

So, where were we anyway? Oh yeah, the conventional farmer with the cheap herbicide and the easier life. Well, here’s what happens. At first it looks awesome. Total kill, total clean. We even change our attitude as to what is tolerable. ANY vegetation in the field apart from the crop we’re growing is unacceptable. But here’s what starts to happen over 5-7 years. Weeds that are slightly resistant to the herbicide slip through your program and weeds that aren’t are annihilated. Now guess what? The only weeds you’ve got are the resistant ones. So, the good farmer heats up his mix with a little something that will take out the problem. It works for a while and our guy can relax. Problem is, there’s soon a totally unheard of weed that refuses to die. Personally, I can easily identify 100 weeds by common name, but until 15 years ago, I’d never even heard of flax leaf fleabane as an example. It became our biggest nightmare. Now the careful farmer is forced to create a witches brew of toxic expensive stuff. Next, because he no longer cultivates, the ground seals up and won’t take a good drink. No problem, add some soap or gypsum to the water and you’ll be OK. Our farmers are the most resourceful folks in the country and we pride ourselves in problem solving. Vince Petrucci taught us in Vit 101 that “Farming draws together into a unified whole, the loose skeins of knowledge from many closely and distantly related fields of knowledge and capitalizes on them in a purely monetary sense to the fullest possible extent” Vince correctly laid it out for our young minds, but did you follow what just happened with something as simple as a weed? The farmer either became a chemist, or he had to hire one to breathlessly keep ahead of the problem. That’s not the end of it. The wild life disappears from the farm, because those weeds that provided cover for their babies are gone. But wait, there’s more. By sterilizing the soil
surface, the soil itself starts to lose microbes needed for proper health.
My intention here was to continue on with an overview of pest control and fungicides, but I’m going to run out of space again. We might get to it another day, but the principles are the same. Cheap pesticide leads to resistant pest. Initially inexpensive fungicide leads to resistant fungi. In our own bodies, antibiotics that cured everything don’t work very well anymore. I’m not an anti business, “They’re coming to take me away ha ha” sort of guy. Just making some observations from here on the farm.
Back to the weed. Not one in the history of mankind has ever developed resistance to plow steel or a shovel. We now kinda like our winter weeds. They die when it gets hot anyway. Only get a foot or so tall which doesn’t bother our trees and vines. Choke out the obnoxious weeds. There’s no sign of flax leaf fleabane anywhere anymore. The quail and pheasant have recovered quite nicely and all is well with the world. Thanks for indulging the farmer’s thoughts.

For some of you Rainbow Chard will be a new adventure. Others have been asking for it and patiently waiting for this day.
Chard can be cooked in many ways and as a rule of thumb you can use Rainbow Chard in any recipe that calls for spinach. It may, however, have to be cooked a little bit longer. If your recipe calls for just the leaves, as with the recipe you will find on this newsletter, don’t throw the stalks away. They can be cooked as you would asparagus and eaten separately. The stalks can also be sautéed, or if they are tender can be finely sliced to make a colorful addition to salad.
Chard may be steamed, sautéed, or braised, and it can be added to soups, stews, frittata, quiche and casseroles. It is related to the beet but is milder than the greens found on beets. If you have very tender leaves it makes a tasty addition to sandwiches and salads.
Store your chard unwashed, and wrapped in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use your chard wash it in cold water, in the sink, agitating the leaves and repeating the process until you no longer have debris in your water. As with other leafy vegetables this is important because sand and other debris tend to nestle in its leaves.
Chard is a power house of vitamins and minerals with in excess of 100% of the daily value of vitamin K and A. It is also rated an excellent source of magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, vitamin E and fiber. How can you not give it a try?

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Navel Oranges
Mark Nakata, Caruthers
-W. Murcott Mandarin Oranges
Rick Schellenburg, Kingsburg
Hans Wilgenburg, Dinuba
Grimway Farms, Bakersfield
-Red Onions*
John Tobias, Hollister
-Green Leaf Lettuce*
-Red Leaf Lettuce
Frank Icardo, Lamont
-Red Potaotes
-Rainbow Chard
-Baby Asian Turnips*
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

Often when a subscriber misses the add-on deadline of 9:00 am Monday, they ask if it can be done after the fact. Our website is not designed to do that, and we cannot take payment at the site. Plan ahead! You have from Monday to Monday to order your add-ons for the next week..

Several of the add-ons offered on the Abundant Harvest website are perishable. Once they are picked up by Abundant Harvest they are, at all times, kept refrigerated. In fact, the chicken and raw milk are not only kept in a refrigerated truck they are also placed in an ice chest filled with ice. As the temperatures warm we want to remind you how important it is to take these products directly home and refrigerate them, or bring an ice chest and ice to the delivery and place them in there until you can get them home. If you do so you should have no problem with the freshness of the products you purchase.

As you all know delivery day can get hectic. It is important that you, or the person picking up your order, know exactly what you ordered and paid for so that you, or they, can check before leaving the site to make sure you have everything you ordered, and the right size box. We try not to make mistakes but it does happen, and it can get very costly. THANK YOU!

Rainbow Chard Swiss Rolls Preheat Oven to 375º

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil ½ cup shallots, sliced
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 bunch Rainbow Chard, washed, stems removed and cut into ribbons
1 package phyllo dough ½ stick butter, melted
4-8 slices Swiss cheese

Place a stockpot over medium heat. Coat bottom of the pan with olive oil and sauté shallots and garlic until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Add the chard and season with salt & pepper. Cook until the chard is wilted and tender. Place the cooked chard in a strainer and cool in the refrigerator until chilled. Squeeze any excess moisture from the chard before continuing. Lay out 1 sheet of phyllo dough lengthwise, from left to right, brush lightly with butter and season with salt and pepper. Place another sheet of phyllo on top and repeat until there are 4 layers. Evenly cover phyllo with slices of Swiss cheese, leaving 1 inch uncovered at top and bottom of sheet. Spread half of the cooled chard across the bottom of the phyllo sheet from side to side. Start at the bottom and carefully roll the phyllo up and around the chard like a sausage. Fold the ends inward to seal. Brush the top with butter so it won’t dry out and make another log with remaining ingredients. These can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Place the logs on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy. Let rest and slice with a serrated knife into 2 inch pieces. Serve hot or at room temperature

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