THIS WEEK'S HARVEST
Heirloom & Slicing Tomatoes, Eggplant, Sweet Peppers, Tendersweet and Farao Cabbage, Purple Daikon, Cured Cabernet Onions, Italian Late Softneck Garlic, Dino Kale, Rainbow Chard, Lemon Cucumbers, Persian and Japanese Slicing Cucumbers, Summer Squash and Zucchini, Rainbow Carrots, Galia Melons, Baby Napa Cabbage Bunching Greens, Little Gems and Jester Summer Crisp Lettuce
Husk Cherries See week 8’s newsletter for harvest tips
Cherry Tomatoes: See week 7’s newsletter for harvest tips
Amethyst Green Beans: Gleanings
Frying Peppers: Shishito, Black Hungarian, Padrón / See Week 2's newsletter for harvest tips
Jalapeños: Located below the frying peppers
Pickling Cucumbers: The end is near * 2 gallon season limit * See below for instructions *
Wild Blackberries See week 8’s newsletter for locations
Herbs: Italian Basil, Tulsi Basil, Thai Basil, Purple Basil, Italian Parsley, Rosemary, Lemon balm, Lemon Verbena, Perennial Cilantro, Annual Cilantro, French Sorrel, Onion Chives, Garlic Chives, Shiso, Tarragon, Oregano, Thyme, Chamomile, Mints, Dill, Anise Hyssop
Flowers! The dahlias are starting to bloom, just up the hill from the gnome homes! Don’t forget to adda dahlia or two to your bouquet this week!
Bramble Tail Homestead Grass Fed Raw Milk Herdshare
As many of you know, this land is home to Bramble Tale Homestead, a grass fed raw milk herdshare and true gem.
Their herdshare program works similarly to our CSA where member-owners of the herd receive a portion of the milk produced by the herd, calculated weekly on a percentage basis. Actual amount will vary throughout the year as production changes, but for most of the year it is one gallon per week per share. (Half gallon per half share, etc) There is no milk for 6-8 weeks each spring before calving. Bramble Tail also offers a value-add share (think yogurt and cheese!)
Raw milk — from healthy cows raised on grass — is a nutrient-dense and alive food, containing active nutrients, healthy fat & protein, immune factors, vitamins, minerals, enzymes & healthy bacteria. The Jersey cows are rotationally grazed through the grasslands of our diversified and collectively owned land, playing a vital role in the regeneration of our landscape: sequestering carbon, creating habitat for wildlife & feeding our community. It’s an incredible experience, trust us, we’ve been members for 5 years!
For more information email Aubrie and Scott: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a new planting of Italian Basil located to the left and up hill of the picnic bench when you’re facing the hill. This means we get to retire the old planting which means it’s PESTO TIME! We invite members to take home two whole basil plants from the old planting. Just snip the plant at the base. Make sure you’re in the old planting.
Okay, all of of our field tomato varieties are present and reporting for duty. It’s time we explained who everyone is…
Brandywine: A quintessential pink heirloom, “rich, loud, and distinctively spicy" according to Johnny's Selected Seeds
Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye: Dark pink with green stripes, this sweet and rich tomato was developed by the tomato breeding specialists at Wild Boar Farms in Napa.
Cherokee Purple: Another classic heirloom, particularly good for BLTs
Big Beef: A classic red beefsteak
Speckled Roman: A deliciously sweet paste tomato that's also good for fresh eating
Aunt Ruby's German Green: A beautiful monster that is green when ripe, this tomato is Kayta's favorite for fresh eating. First introduced by Ruby Arnold who's German immigrant grandfather saved the seeds. You'll know Aunt Ruby's is ripe when it gives just slightly to the touch.
Black Krim: A Russian heirloom often described as having a bold, smoky flavor. Black Krim and Cherokee Purple look quite similar, though Black Krim tends to have more pronounced green/brown shoulders.
Green Zebra: A delightful miniature tomato, tart and beautiful. Ripe when yellow-green.
Estiva: This is the standard red slicing variety that we have been enjoying for months, coming first from the greenhouse and now the field.
Goldie: Our favorite orange tomato, sweet and fruity.
Amish Paste: Classic paste tomato from Amish farmers in the Midwest. These tomatoes are not as distinctively elongated as other paste tomatoes and often blend in with red slicers.
Striped German: Gorgeous, smooth, fruity giants.
LAST COUPLE WEEKS OF PICKLING CUCUMBERS
This heat wave has made the end of our pickling cucumbers imminent. If you have not picked yet, and would like to, now is the time. Please do so this week or next. They are not long for this world.
Picking instructions: Bring something you can estimate 2 gallons with, or one of the white buckets below the sign-in table to pick into. Find the pickling cucumber bed out on the farm marked with yellow flags. They’re in the far left field. Comb through the plants gently, doing your best not to step on the vines or the adjacent bed. The ideal sized pickling cucumber is around 4 inches long and 1 inch thick. Bigger is great. Please don't pick them much smaller than this so they can size up for the next pickers. If you use the farm bucket, please transfer your cukes to another container and put the bucket back below the sign-in table. Check the box next to your name that says you have picked.
Check out Kate Seely’s tried and true pickling cucumber recipe for pickling instructions.
HEARTH FOLK SCHOOL
We’re rich in amazing co-conspirators here at Green Valley Farm + Mill. Our newest neighbors, Hearth Folk School offer workshops and series classes on skills such as willow basketry, hide tanning, fiber arts, woodworking, blacksmithing, timber framing, and more. Check out their website to learn more.
Upcoming classes include:
Fiber Basketry: August 30th
Beaded Earrings: September 1st
Hide Tanning: September 4th - 8th
Fiber Basketry: September 9th
NOTES & REMINDERS
Green Valley Road Closure: There is road work happening on Green Valley Rd. and the section is closed from the Sebastopol/Graton connection of the 116 through the Manzana processing factory. To detour, follow the detour signs and/or take Graton Rd., to Sullivan. Sullivan will connect you back to Green Valley Rd. You can also take Green Valley Road from the Forestville/Guerneville connection to the 116.
More Eggs in the Creamery: Aubrie set up a relationship with Green Star Farm, a wonderful West County pastured egg and meat producer, in order to meet more demand for eggs in the creamery. Let us know if you don’t know where to locate the eggs. Thanks, Aubrie!
Garden gate: Sorry about the broken main garden gate to anyone who’s struggled opening it lately. The post is rotten and we’ll need to wait to winter to fix it. Remember, if you don’t feel like messing with it you can always access the garden from the easy little gate behind the greenhouses.
Pint Baskets: Please remember to return / re-use your farm pint baskets. We’re getting low!
VOLUNTEER WEDNESDAYS, 8:00-10:00 AM
Interested in some farm therapy? Come out on Wednesday mornings to help us tend the garden and farm together! Find us in the garden or out in the main fields on Wednesdays from 8:00am 'til 10:00 am. People of all abilities welcome, we’ll find something comfortable for you to do!
The Dog Days of Summer
The sun beats down, the hills are bleached gold, and the wind blows hot… the dog days of summer are here.
The term “dog days”, for the late summer, traces back to the ancient Mediterranean, where people connected the night sky return of the brightest star, Canis Majoris (aka Sirius, aka “Orion’s Dog”), to the sultriest days of late Summer when, as Virgil said, “the Dog-star cleaves the thirsty ground.”
As Marin naturalist and tracker Richard Vacha brilliantly observes of our Mediterranean climate in his book The Heart of Tracking, the early dog days can be a raucous, frolicking time for wild canines as they feast on the fattened prey and tree fruit of the summer and as pups leave the den and come into their own. (The wild origin of the naming of the star?)
But as summer wanes, the dog days turn into a scarce time, a spent time.
“For an animal,” Vacha writes, the late-Summer-early-Fall “can be as tough to endure as an East Coast winter. Food is scarce, water is scarce, and green vegetation is crowded into riparian corridors, drawing the animals that depend on these resources closer together. The animals who prey upon them have shifted correspondingly. Territorial patterns are all in great flux as the expansive cycle of the summer season slowly winds down.”
On the farm, this shift into the dog days —their abundance and scarcity — has been clear.
Our harvests are heavy with fruit: Tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, squash, eggplant and peppers all laid out next to the first full, cured onion bulbs. The wild blackberries are laden. In the garden the first flowers and herbs are following the wild grasses, tapping out and throwing seed, making pods. Even our giant pumpkin, Dr. Pumpy, is calling it quits — a little earlier than expected (thank you heat wave?)
In our staple field crops, if July was an outward explosion of verdant green growth, August is a hunkering down, a drawing nigh, a focused inward stare toward the serious work of setting fruit, bulging bulbs and tubers, and making seed. The corn is silking and forming husks as pollen and spent flowers rain down from tassels above. The jubilant winter squash flowers have wilted and metamorphosized — green and gold orbs now swell in the shade of sun battered leaves. The potato flowers are wilting as well, as the plants look to their secrets swelling below in the black earth.
And as the wildlands are scorched to gold more of her inhabitants turn to the farm — a watered green oasis — for succulent meals. The wild turkeys and their fluffy feathered young regularly visit the fields now, snipping off hydrating bits of lettuce and chicories, as the bolting sun takes snips too. (The turkeys and cleaving sun are both are to blame for last weeks lean lettuce and greens harvest.) Hungry-thirsty rabbits raid the melon rows every night to savor sweet liquid honey. A gopher gobbled up last week’s bok choi succession (but spared us this week’s baby Napa cabbage).
The sweet relief of the first Fall rains will come to us all soon. Until then, keep cool, move slow, and enjoy the abundant fruits of these hot, languid, dog days of summer.
See you in the fields,
David and Kayta
“Fox in a Coyote Bush” illustration by Kayta from The Heart of Tracking by Richard Vacha from Mount Vision Press