A COVER CROP PRAYER
It is a scary time we live in. After thinking for a moment last Saturday, as it drizzled, that Sonoma County had escaped the worst of this fire season, we once again awoke in our new reality and began harvest at dawn to a red sunrise with smoke rising from the Kinkade fire raging 30 miles Northeast and the biggest wind event of the year heading our way.
At times like these, it is hard to find hope in the smoke. What prayer can clear blackened air thousands of years in the making? What force can stop a tide like this?
On Thursday morning, Kayta and I attended the Daily Acts annual Ripple the World breakfast, catching glimpses of the smoke plumes in the hills near Geyserville on our way up Hwy 12. The Veterans Memorial Center was packed. Local leaders, mayors, congresspeople, farmers, teachers, healers, gardeners, and quite a few CSA members ate quiche and breakfast cake together. The founder, Trathen Heckman, spoke of the feeling of being in the middle of a swarm of bees as they focus in on a new hive spot.
The force of all those little wings beating in the same direction, he said, is a powerful thing.
We returned to the smoky farm around 11 am and knocked out the last field transplanting of 2019 —kohlrabi and lettuce. We put away the transplanting shovels, gathered ourselves, and felt a huge internal switch flip on the farm: With all of the human food planting for the year accomplished, we can now turn our focus full force to cover cropping.
Kayta and Anna cleared furrows and broadcast potash. I mowed old crop residue. Then we broadcast cover crop seed.
Broadcasting cover crop seed the old fashioned way is like a dance — and one of the most pleasant things you can do on a farm. You walk back and forth in the furrows and step - reach in the bucket - step - throw - step - reach in the bucket - step - throw. When you get the hang of it you get a spray of seed fanning out before you, like droplets of water, suspending for a moment, and then falling down on the earth. The more mesmerized you become, the more even your spray.
When kissed with water, those little seeds sprout. First the grasses: Barley, oats and triticale. Then the legumes: Bell beans, vetch, peas and clover. The grasses rise fast, suppressing weeds, providing shelter for the legumes, and sinking deep roots in the earth to nourish and hold the soil through the winter. The legumes weave their tendrils and teardropped leaves between the grasses and form succulent clusters of nutrient rich nodules on their roots.
With the warmth of late winter and early spring the cover crop explodes with growth. The farm becomes a waist-high sea of green, crested with white bell bean, purple vetch, and crimson clover flowers.
Then we mow this beautiful mass into the soil, where it feeds the life within it — and our crops — for years to come. In four years of doing the cover crop dance (and some other dances) we've increased the soil organic matter in our soils by 3%. That's 75 tons of organic matter (mostly carbon) sequestered in the soil — home where it belongs.
Yesterday, walking through the smoke, the cover crop dance became a prayer. Step - reach in the bucket - step - throw, "Forgive us." Step - reach in the bucket - step - throw, "Please accept these seeds as an offering.” Step - reach in the bucket - step - throw, "May they give back some of what we have harvested.” Step - reach in the bucket - step - throw, "May they help heal our broken relationship to this earth.” Step - reach in the bucket - step - throw, "May these steps be steps in a new direction, steps on a better path, a path towards home."
We've broadcasted cover crop many times but the prayer never felt this urgent or so powerful. Because instead of the prayer of solitary farmers, we felt the power of this growing CSA community behind us, supporting this farm, supporting regenerative practices like these, praying with us, and stepping together in a new direction.
That gave us hope.
See you in the fields,
David & Kayta
P.S. Come broadcast cover crop seed with us this Wednesday morning during volunteer hours!
THE MAGIC OF CORN IN THE KITCHEN AND GARDEN with Lindsay Dailey
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2ND: 10AM - 12PM | FREE
Want to make tortillas and tamales from Green Valley corn? CSA member, ecological educator, and deep student of corn, Lindsay Dailey will demonstrate how to grind corn for flour, discuss recipes, and explore the alchemy of nixtamalization which makes corn sticky in order to make masa for tortillas and tamales. While we work, Lindsay and the farmers will talk about the natural history and mythology of corn and discuss planting, growing, and saving seed from this amazing plant in the home garden! And then we'll eat some fresh made tortillas! Yum!
THIS WEEK'S HARVEST
Jester Acorn Winter Squash, Le Reine Fingerling Potatoes, Leeks, Italian Softneck Garlic, Dazzling Blue Dino Kale, Brussels Sprouts Tops, Purple & Green Cabbage, Cauliflower, Fennel, Mixed Loose Beets, Hakurei Japanese Salad Turnips, Loose Rainbow Carrots, Little Gem & Oak Leaf Head Lettuce, Spinach, Fancy Fall Salad Mix (with Shungiku, Mustard Greens, Frisee, and Radicchio)
JACK-O-LANTERN PUMPKIN! 1 per share season limit. (If you are sharing a share, please coordinate with your group as to who takes home your pumpkin.)
Cherry Tomatoes: LAST WEEK!
Herbs: Italian Basil, Tulsi Basil, Thai Basil, Purple Basil, Italian Parsley, Rosemary, Lemon balm, Lemon Verbena, Vietnamese Coriander, Cilantro, French Sorrel, Onion Chives, Garlic Chives, Tarragon, Oregano, Thyme, Mints, Anise Hyssop, Culinary Lavender, Lemongrass
Flowers! There some really nice new Zinnia and Cosmo beds to the left of the cherry tomatoes
Frying Peppers & Jalapeños: LAST WEEK!
Jester Acorn Winter Squash: A true gem. The sweetest Acorn squash we've ever tasted. A hard ribbed shell hides pudding-sweet flesh. A good Jester can be among the sweetest of all winter squashes. David's favorite. Try halving long ways, scooping out the seeds, and roasting at 400 until you can poke a fork in the skin and the flesh is soft and creamy. Add water dashes of water to the baking sheet while roasting to keep squash moist. Eat straight out of the shell with a spoon like pudding! See week 18’s Newsletter for a description of each Winter Squash we grew this year.
Hakurei Turnips: Hakurei are back! These beloved, crisp, sweet turnips are meant to be eaten raw, on a salad, or straight as a snack. They can also be roasted, and the greens are also delicious cooked. The Indian dish saag was traditionally prepared with turnip greens.
Brussels Sprouts Tops: The growing tips of young Brussels sprout plants are like sweet delicate collard greens. Try sautéing them with oil, salt and garlic.
Don’t forget to come adopt a Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin, waiting for you out on the farm! Find the double blue flags down in the Eastern-most beds of field 2. 1 per share season limit. If you are sharing a share, please coordinate with your group as to who takes home the pumpkin.
PRESERVING THE HARVEST
Pesto Basil: Our Italian basil plantings in the garden are done, which means you can take home full plants to make pesto! Please limit yourself to 5 plants to start and we’ll see how much interest there is.
FALL COOKING WORKSHOP
Fall Foods Cooking Class with Sarah Kate Benjamin
Saturday, November 16th: 10am - 12pm | $15
Join CSA members, herbalist, chef, and cofounder of The Kosmic Kitchen, Sarah Kate Benjamin for a cooking workshop featuring Fall farm produce and herbs. The kitchen has long been seen as the heart of the home and a sanctuary. It is a space to feel nourished, connected and inspired by the magic of healing foods and herbs. Though most of us have busy and full lives, having a foundation of everyday herbs and rituals helps us to feel less overwhelmed about nourishing ourselves and our loved ones. Together, with our hearts and hands, we’ll create simple side dishes and a quick supper with produce and fresh herbs from the farm for the cooler seasons. Cost $15 and includes small meal; please bring your own bowls and utensils to save on waste
NOTES & REMINDERS
Plastic Phase Out: We will no longer be supplying plastic or plastic-substitute bags at farm pick-up. If you have a bunch of extra plastic bags at home could you please bring some to fill our recycled plastic bag station? Remember to please bring your own produce bags and/or participate in our bag recycling station!
CSA Pick-up Schedule: Tuesdays, 1pm - 6pm // Saturdays, 9am - 1pm. Last pickup of the year is December 21st.
Volunteer Wednesday: Interested in some farm therapy? Come out on Wednesday mornings to help us tend the garden and farm together. Come find us in the garden or out in the main fields on Wednesdays from 8:00am 'til 10:00 am. All abilities welcome, we’ll find something comfortable for you to do!