8/16/2019 - Week 9 - The Dog Days of Summer

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

IMG_4287.JPG

U-PICK

  • Strawberries

  • 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!)

1 (2).jpg

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: brambletailhomestead@gmail.com

PESTO BASIL!

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.

2019 TOMATOes

Okay, all of of our field tomato varieties are present and reporting for duty. It’s time we explained who everyone is…

Top row R to L: Brandywine, Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye, Cherokee Purple, Big Beef // Middle row R to L: Speckled Roman, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Black Krim, Green Zebra // Bottom row R to L: Estiva, Goldie, Amish Paste, Striped German

Top row R to L: Brandywine, Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye, Cherokee Purple, Big Beef // Middle row R to L: Speckled Roman, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Black Krim, Green Zebra // Bottom row R to L: Estiva, Goldie, Amish Paste, Striped German

  • 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

Screenshot 2019-08-16 19.38.36.png

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!

FARMER’S LOG

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.”

Fox in a Coyote Brush-2.jpg

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

8/9/2019 - Week 8 - Blackberry Picking

THIS WEEK'S HARVEST

DC67D352-DD19-40C7-A67E-4502F76BCF74.JPG

Tendersweet Cabbage, Fennel, Purple Daikon, Cured Cabernet Onions, Italian Late Softneck Garlic, Green Curly Kale, Rainbow Chard, Lemon Cucumbers, Persian and Japanese Slicing Cucumbers, Summer Squash and Zucchini, Heirloom & Slicing Tomatoes, Rainbow Carrots, Galia Melons, Arugula, Assorted Lettuce

U-PICK

  • Dried English Shelling Peas Gleanings

  • 🚩Husk Cherries See below for tips

  • Amethyst Green Beans: See Week 5’s newsletter for harvest tips

  • Cherry Tomatoes: See below for a rundown of our varieties

  • Frying Peppers: Shishito, Black Hungarian, Padrón / See Week 2's newsletter for harvest tips

  • Jalapeños: Located below the frying peppers

  • Strawberries

  • Pickling Cucumbers: 2 gallon season limit * See below for instructions

  • 🚩Wild Blackberries See below for tips

  • 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

  • Flowers!

The Desiree Potatoes in full flower. We highly recommend a trip to field 3 which, aside from a few beds, is a full canopy of greenery photosynthesizing fall food for us!

The Desiree Potatoes in full flower. We highly recommend a trip to field 3 which, aside from a few beds, is a full canopy of greenery photosynthesizing fall food for us!

PICKLING CUCUMBERS seek pickers!

Cory Brown’s stash

Cory Brown’s stash

We’re coming to the last few weeks of pickling cucumbers and we’d like to find a home for all of them. We’re going to try a new method.

If you haven’t yet picked the season limit, please sign up for a specific time slot on the new calendar in the barn. After this week we will open it up to second round pickers.

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.

HUSK CHERRIES

Husk Cherries (aka cape gooseberries, aka ground cherries) are a delightful, extremely sweet little nightshade fruit wrapped inside a cool little "wrapper" that kids love. Just peel the papery wrapper off and pop them in your mouth! Husk Cherries are ripe when the wrapper is golden or white. (Green = unripe). Look low down under the canopy of leaves for the ripe ones. In fact, the ones fallen to the ground are often the sweetest.

597CD5FD-3EBE-4C25-B380-002282283DF5.JPG

WILD BLACKBERRY PICKING

Offering wild blackberries to someone in Sonoma County at this time of year is like offering sand to someone at the beach. But if you live in an area without good access to wild blackberry brambles, we’ve got some good ones here on the farm! They are are starting to go off and you're welcome to pick! We’ve marked two of the better patches with pink flags: They are located on the back fence-line, behind the fields; if you’re standing at the head of the cherry tomato rows facing east, they are to your left devouring the far fence.

2019 CHERRY TOMATOES

2019’s cherry tomato lineup, from L to R: Supersweet 100, Pink Princess, Copper Beauty, and Sungold cherry tomatoes

2019’s cherry tomato lineup, from L to R: Supersweet 100, Pink Princess, Copper Beauty, and Sungold cherry tomatoes

We planted four cherry tomato varieties this year. They are starting to go off. Here’s who we’ve got out there:

  • Supersweet 100: A classic red cherry tomato. Ripe when deep scarlet red. We find they get sweeter a day or two after harvest.

  • Pink Princess: Developed by an Oxen driving seed saving wizard in Massachusetts, this gem is becoming a GVCFarm favorite. Mellow, sweet, almost melon flavored, quirky sizes and egg shapes, in a firm, matte, soft pink skin. Ripe when pink.

  • Copper Beauty: Our first time growing this one and we’re loving it. A larger, oblong cherry. Mellow, very low acid, sugar sweet. Ripe when auburn red, with a metallic gold to green stripes.

  • Sungold: The sun... captured. An unbeatable classic. Ripe when deep orange. Candy sweet, super productive, it's not summer until you've had a handful of Sungolds.

A carrot lover’s sample share from last week

A carrot lover’s sample share from last week

VOLUNTEER WEDNESDAYS, 8:00-10:00 AM

Interested in some farm therapy? Come out on Wednesday mornings as help tend 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!

REMINDERS

Pint Baskets: Please remember to return / re-use your farm pint baskets. We’re getting low! (Tip: Try using just one pint basket to pick into and transferring to a separate container.)

2019 Harvest Pick-up, June 22nd - December 21st.

  • Saturdays from 9am - 1pm

  • Tuesdays from 1pm - 6pm

    U-pick 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset.

If you ever cannot u-pick something due to illness or injury, please let us know and we can pick for you.

FARMER’S LOG

Looks like there will be some good blackberry picking this year after that wet spring. 

The Himalayan Blackberry, as you know if you live near any semi rural patch of Northern California, is a perennial "frienemy". Most of the time it is a formidable enemy: Thick pointy thorns, olympic level runners, canes as thick as a broom handle. Invasive. But oh-boy the berries. It tries its best to make up for the scratches, back aches, and lost territory in August.

Whether here on the farm, or on the side of a random road, here is Seamus Heaney to wet your appetite for some glorious, if fleeting, wild blackberry picking…

* * * * * *

Blackberry Picking

For Philip Hobsbaum

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

-Seamus Heaney

The Death of a Naturalist, 1966

* * * * * *

See you in the fields, 

David and Kayta