Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Up and coming

Anyone else feel like 2010 really snuck up on us? Here are a couple things to put on your brand new calendar:

Intern applications due January 15

If you've spent much time at Green String, you've probably heard about what an awesome experience our interns have here. Though the three-month terms go by awfully quickly, the days are packed with all the experience, learning, fun, and good food that they can handle. Interns leave with a diversity of experience and knowledge in sustainable agriculture so they can pursue their own exciting futures in the field! (No pun intended, I swear.)

The deadline for spring applications is coming up, so if you think you or someone you know would like to spend March through May in our little farm immersion program, go ahead and download an application at http://www.greenstringinstitute.org/internships.html.

Farm Tour Saturday, January 2

Our monthly farm tour is this Saturday, and whether you're an intern hopeful or not, we're sure you'll enjoy this educational stroll through the farm. Meet us at the farm store at noon if you'd like to join us. We ask for $5 per person from those who can afford it -- but no one's turned away.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Hours

Please note our holiday hours:

Christmas Eve, Thursday, 12/24
open 10am to 3pm

Christmas Day, Friday, 12/25
closed

Saturday, 12/26
closed

New Year's Eve, Thursday, 12/31
open 10am to 3pm

New Year's Day, Friday, 1/1
closed

We will be open our regular hours (10am to 5pm) all other days.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December Newsletter

Read the full newsletter online
Download the PDF

In this issue:

In the Store

Topping the list this month, five different kinds of cabbage! Yup, it's winter alright. read more

Farm News

As the year draws to a close, we can't help but reflect on what a great year we've had at the farm... read more

Winter Crops

There are so many blessings of living in our little corner of the world. Our ability to grow crops year-round feels particularly special during these shortest days of the year... read more

Recipe: Kohlrabi Slaw

Swap out celeriac for kohlrabi for a twist on the French classic, céleri rémoulade. This recipe makes a little extra rémoulade, so use it on its own as a salad dressing, on burgers, or on fish... read more

Recipe: Persimmon Pudding

Serve this nutty, rich dessert to finish off a special winter meal. For a moister pudding, try covering the pudding with foil during baking... read more

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Green String Fest *Update*

String Fest is only a few days away! Are you ready? We're gearing up over here at the farm: bales of straw flying around the barn, reconstructing the oven, big pots of stock bubbling on the stoves. Oh, and we have some exciting news to share!

We've added two more great bands -- Indian Valley Line and Goldfinch -- who'll be playing acoustic sets throughout the day.

Adding to the fantastic guest speaker line up will be Mark Pasternak of Devil's Gulch Ranch.

Organizations spreading the word on their good work will be the Sonoma Open Space District, Petaluma heroes Daily Acts, Marin Organic, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, goat cheese by Hanna Hart of Toluma Farms, & sustainable farmworker housing architect James Monday.

Don't forget to dress warm -- there'll be fires and heaters and of course the unbounded warmth of good people, dancing and enjoying themselves! Can't wait to see you all!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November Newsletter

Yikes, the newsletter's late this month! Sorry, we've had some internet/computer difficulties recently. The month's almost halfway over, but I hope you enjoy the newsletter anyways!

Read the full newsletter

In this issue:

In the Store

The store's filled with the very last of our summer goodies and the beginning of winter specialties. It's a great time to eat local! read more

Farm News

First, a very exciting announcement: our fall interns are putting on a special event this month, and you're all invited! String Fest will take place on Saturday, November 21, and will feature speakers on sustainable agriculture... read more

Local Handmade Gifts

As a Green String Farm customer, you probably already know how important it is to buy local. We hope that by eating our food, you've also learned how rewarding it can be... read more

Recipe: Glazed Beets

Beets' naturally high sugar content makes for a deliciously rich glaze when you reduce their cooking liquid. Serve this dish with couscous or brown rice (see below) for a satisfying autumn meal... read more

Recipe: Leeky Pilaf

Plain brown rice can taste a bit too much like health food for some of us, but with just a little butter and added flavor it's transformed. Leeks' mild creaminess pairs nicely with the rice's nutty flavor... read more

Recipe: Poached Quince

Quince, the pear look-alike, raises more questions in the farm store than anything else we sell this time of year. The fruit is too hard and bitter to be enjoyed raw, but takes on fantastic flavor when cooked. If you're not feeling ambitious enough to make the traditional Spanish quince paste, membrillo, try poaching instead... read more

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

GREEN STRING FEST!!!


When: November 21st, 3-10pm
Where: Green String Farm. 3571 Old Adobe Rd. Petaluma, CA 94954
Cost: $10, kids get in free. Barter accepted, no one will be refused.

String Fest is a celebration of the growth of local sustainable agriculture, cuisine and music. Hosted by interns at Petaluma's Green String Farm, the festival will feature local organizations, food purveyors, lectures by several of the Bay Area's most recognized agricultural and sustainability leaders as well as sets of live rock and Americana music by up and coming Bay Area musicians! Join us at the Green String Farm for an evening of education and fun!

Green String Fest Lineup

3pm - Network/ Meet and Greet! This is your chance to meet and talk with local organizations and local food vendors from Marin and Sonoma counties who are creating change in our local communities. Find out who is supplying healthy food for you, your family and friends and how you can support them. Some featured organizations include Slow Food Movement, Petaluma Bounty, Malibu Compost and more!

4pm - Farm Tours Join us for a half hour tour around Green String Farm, interns leading the tour will teach you about natural process farming and a sustainable way of life. Interested in the intern program? A separate half hour tour will be given of the Green String Institute.

5pm - Lecture Series Hear from Bob Cannard (Green String Farm/ Cannard Farms), Aaron Lucich ("We Are What We Eat" movie), and Ross Rubin (Sonoma County Bee Keeper)

8pm - Live Music! Rock out to the sounds of North Bay's group Faith in Phantoms and the Green String Farm Band. End your evening with great tunes and a whole lotta dancing!

Much More... Delicious food from Green String Farm served throughout the day, hot drinks, & kids activities.

See You At the Farm!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Daily Acts’ Ripple the World Fundraising Breakfast

Erin Axlerod, a former Green String intern, asked me to post an announcement for this event she's putting on with Daily Acts. It sounds like it'll be a lot of fun! Be sure to let Erin know if you'd like to attend!

RSVP:
Join hundreds of inspiring green leaders and citizens at

Daily Acts’ Ripple the World Fundraising Breakfast (Free, Organic)

Thursday, November 5th 8AM - 9:30AM
Petaluma, California

The season's fast approaching....to RIPPLE THE WORLD! Daily Acts has converted thousands of square feet of public lawns to food production sites. We are partnering with Petaluma Bounty, Rebuilding Together Petaluma, and Petaluma Water Resources & Conservation on October 24th to transform 7,000 square feet of City Hall Lawn! We conduct sustainability tours and workshops to make people aware of the ecological crises we face, while inspiring them to act! Please join us to celebrate our work and raise the vital money which sustains this organization!

RSVP to Erin Axelrod (previous green string intern) by emailing erin@dailyacts.org or calling 707.789.9664

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hi there, Winter!

Anyone else notice how suddenly the hills turned from brown to green in the last few days? It means winter's on its way, and I can't wait.

On the farm, summer's the season of huge harvests, production gluts, and lots of hard work. During the warmer months, everyone at Green String works around the clock, and the rewards -- tomatoes, berries, eggplant, and all those seasonal delights -- are well worth the effort. But as the days get shorter, colder, and rainier, things begin to slow down. Zucchinis give way to pumpkins and delicata squash, and long days in the field give way to long evenings in the kitchen. (Well, less long days in the field. The crew, interns, and other staff around here are the hardest workers I've ever known, no matter the season!)

We still have plenty of bright, sunny fall days left before winter's truly here. We're spending our time winterizing chicken houses, getting the winter crops planted, and the interns are learning how to chop wood for their stove. Those calm, cozy nights by the fire aren't too far off now.

Friday, October 2, 2009

October Newsletter

In this issue:
  • In the store
  • Farm News
  • Canning Revival
  • Recipes:
    • Blistered Padróns
    • Fresh Tomato Soup
    • Roasted Eggplant

Read it online
Download the PDF

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Soil tour

Alright, I know we've already announced the farm tour this weekend, but I'm so excited about it that I've got to push it a little more.

On Saturday, two of our fantastic interns are leading a walk & talk around the farm. Matt and Federico are planning a great little lesson on soil health that should interest experts and novices alike. Ever wondered what's the big deal about compost, humus, minerals, and cover crops? The interns will walk you through it, figuratively and literally, and explain the Green String methods of soil improvement.

If you'd like to come get your hands dirty, meet Matt and Federico at the farm store at noon on Saturday. Make sure you wear good walking shoes! If you've got a moment, drop us a line at jenny@greenstringfarm.com so we know how many people to expect.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Return of Family Days, Farm Tours, and more!

I'm very pleased to say that, after a break for the crazily busy summer season, Green String Farm is once again offering community events. We have a really fantastic bunch of interns who run all of these events. If you want to learn more about the farm and maybe get your hands dirty, this is for you!

Farm Tours

This Saturday, and the first Saturday of each month, our own farm interns will lead a 90-minute walking tour of Green String. Each tour will focus on a particular theme, so repeat visitors can see and learn something new each time they come. Examples of tour themes:
  • orchards
  • water use
  • vegetable varieties
  • integrating animals
  • sustainability
Tours leave from the farm store at noon, so make sure you get there on time. Wear good walking shoes, bring water, and be ready for a bit of a hike! We suggest a donation of $5 per person. RSVP: jenny@greenstringfarm.com

Family Day

The third Saturday of each month, we'll have fun activities set up for children and their parents. Arts & crafts projects and games will focus on basic concepts of natural food and farming, like compost, animals, and water. Come to the farm store at 2 to meet us for an hour of fun, and stay for some farm fresh snacks after. Suggested donation $2 per person. RSVP: jenny@greenstringfarm.com

Community Workday

Every Thursday from 9am to noon, join us for a morning of light labor. Volunteers help us harvest, control weeds, and work closely with interns. There's lots of time for talking, so it's a perfect opportunity for home gardeners who want to ask questions about how we farm. It's also great for people who, like us, find dirt very therapeutic. We'll send you home with a free bag of produce as thanks. There's no need to RSVP, just meet us at the farm store at 9am.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Padrón Peppers

"Padróns are the new jalapeños!" DeeAnn exclaimed to me (after dictating the recipe below). It's a good thing she's so excited about these little peppers, because we have a TON of them.

We have just shy of two acres of padróns in the fields, and the recent heat has made those plants very happy. If you've come into the farm store recently, we probably haven't let you leave without at least a handful of them!

When the peppers are small, they're almost always sweet and mild. Every once in a while, though, you'll get a spicy one. According to Wikipedia, there's a bit of a saying to go along with this: "Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non" (Galician for "Padrón peppers, some are hot and some are not") The larger peppers are more likely to be spicy, but like all hot peppers, that capsaicin in the seeds is the culprit for the most part -- so removing the seeds makes them quite a bit milder.

Stuffed Padrón Peppers

Grab your favorite cheese and you'll have a classy summer appetizer in no time. Serves 4-6
    Ingredients
  • 12 medium to large padrón peppers
  • about 1½ cups grated monterey jack cheese or queso fresco
  • oil
  • salt
  • juice of 1 lime or lemon
  1. Cut tops off of peppers and scoop out seeds. Discard.
  2. Stuff each pepper with about 2 tablespoons of cheese.
  3. Brush or rub each pepper with a very small amount of oil.
  4. Bake on a baking sheet for 10 minutes in a 400°F oven. Sprinkle with salt and lime juice and allow to cool briefly before serving.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September Newsletter

Well, we're getting back on track with monthly newsletters. The September issue (a.k.a. the tomato issue!) is now available online. Check it out! Here's what we've got:
  1. In the Store: an abridged list, because there's SO MUCH!
  2. Farm News
  3. Heirloom Tomatoes
  4. Recipes:
    • Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
    • Pappa al Pomodoro
    • Herbed Fresh Tomatoes
Mad props to Melissa for writing this one. The lady knows her tomatoes!

Web version | PDF | Hard copies available at the farm store | Sign up for the mailing list

Monday, August 31, 2009

And Then There Were Three

The summer stint has come to an end and though they were loathe to leave, the interns said their farewells to Green String Farm on Saturday, packed their felco pruners, and went off in their respective directions. Some are on their way to graduate programs in agriculture and social work, while others plan on starting farms or even suburban gardens in neighbors' backyards. Because this group had such diverse interests and backgrounds, it is inevitable that the seeds they gathered over the course of the summer, bearing principles of natural-process and sustainable farming, will be spread far and wide through their influence. That is the hope, anyway.

When I say that the interns said their farewells, I ought to say that most of the interns did so. As it turns out, three of the interns could not be gotten rid of and I count myself among them. Julie, Courtney, and I will still be around, helping Bob out on his farm, learning more about natural-process farming, and, well, living the dream. On that note, I leave these words of Henry David Thoreau (how fitting!) for my departing fellow interns, in the hopes that they go off, do good work, and grow good things.

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

Bye, summer group; welcome new interns!

-Melissa

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Things to do when you're drowning in zucchini, part two

There is a second part to my plan of attack against the onslaught of zucchinis, another way to use them up, without really making me feel like I'm eating the same thing, all the time, every day. Aside from canning- which is essentially a procrastinator's way of eating zucchini- there is one other little trick. Hide it in a dessert of course! When I worked as a baker, the one certainty with which I began every morning was that I would need to bake at least twice the amount of zucchini muffins as any other kind. Always. People love zucchini desserts. Perhaps we think they're more healthy?

In any case, the thought of zucchini desserts led me immediately to one taste-memory: Janet's zucchini bread. Janet has been my next door neighbor for over twenty years and, when we were growing up, her daughter and I were best friends. We even built a little brick pathway between our houses so we could run back and forth without having to go all the way around the driveways. Every year, without fail, Janet makes zucchini bread for Christmas and passes out loaves to all the neighbors as gifts. I never ate it as a child, but now, having grown out of that silliness, I adore it.

This morning, when I woke up- with zucchini on my mind- I decided to call my dear neighbor and finally get the recipe after all these years. I always knew that this recipe was special; Janet's zucchini bread is sweet and moist and slightly fragrant and...just perfect in a way that I could never before identify. Now that I've got my little paws on the secrets, I get it. You'll see the tricks below. The holidays come early this year!

Janet's Zucchini Bread


Makes 2 9x5" loaves
Ingredients
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1/8 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (Janet uses untoasted walnuts)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour 2 large or 3 small loaf pans.
  2. In a small bowl, combine eggs, oil, and sugar, and beat well. Then mix in zucchini, lemon peel, and extracts.
  3. In another, larger bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients except the nuts.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Add nuts when all is mixed.
  5. Pour batter into pans and bake for approximately one hour, until loaves are set and a knife inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things to do when you're drowning in zucchini, part one


Sometime last week, I promised Jenny that I would help her run the zucchini recipe marathon, but I got so busy that until this point she's been valiantly carrying the torch all alone. Now, it's my turn to take the baton and continue the rather futile attempt to exhaust our massive zucchini supply. I come bearing recipes and a secret plan to stem the tide.

Here's the problem: when you're drowning in zucchini, you must, inevitably, tire just a bit of eating them. In that scenario, you must preserve them to eat sometime in January or February when, perhaps as a result of your courageous effort to eat as locally as possible, you find yourself surviving on turnips and garlic with nary a zucchini or squash plant in sight.

I've been there. When I was living in Boston, I, rather foolishly, vowed only to eat produce grown in Massachussetts. In August, that plan worked just fine, but come December, I was dying for something green. It was then that I decided to learn to preserve. For beginners, boiling water canning is the best, most fool-proof method of making your zucchini last. There are several steadfast rules of canning that you should absolutely know before you begin- the best primers that I've found are in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving and the Joy of Cooking. They are both easy to read and comprehensive for the home canner.

That said, I give this recipe to you in the hopes that it will keep you from getting so desperately over your head in zucchini that you covertly hide it in the handbags of every house guest you entertain from July through September. You're welcome.

Zucchini Relish


Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. A little on the sweet side, but works perfectly as a nice subsitute for that creepy neon green relish that so often graces the bun of the hot dog or hamburger. Makes about 4 half pints
Ingredients
  • 2 cups finely chopped zucchini, about the size of your pinky nail
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet green pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  1. Combine zucchini, onion, green and red peppers; sprinkle with salt; cover with cold water and let stand for two hours
  2. Drain; rinse and drain thoroughly.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, add vegetables and simmer twn minutes
  4. Pack hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. You may have more liquid then you need to put in the jars.
  5. Remove air bubbles; adjust two piece caps and process for ten minutes in a boiling water canner.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mac 'n Cheeze 'n Zuke

Well, I was going to post a recipe for zucchini bread, but my adaptation of Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe in The Bread Bible was really disappointing.

Anyone have a good zuke bread recipe to share?

In the meantime, here's last night's super-comfort-food dish.

Mac 'n "Cheeze" 'n Zukes

I was vegan on and off for a couple years, and though I eat dairy now, I still make macaroni and faux-cheese -- with nutritional yeast instead of the real deal -- because it's got a great flavor that you can't get anywhere else. Mix in some zucchini, and you've got a pot full of creamy awesome. Disclaimer: some people seem to a have an innate hatred for nutritional yeast. If you're one of those people, you're probably better off mixing zucchini into your own recipe for mac 'n cheese. Serves 4-6
    Ingredients
  • 12-16 oz medium-sized pasta (like rotini), cooked al dente
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1 dried cayenne pepper, chopped
  • kosher salt, to taste (three pinches or so)
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast, plus some for topping
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tasty olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ white onion, chopped fine
  • 2 medium white Lebanese zucchini, sliced into sixteenth-inch rounds
  • more salt! more pepper!
  1. If you have a dutch oven or any other oven-safe pot that will hold the dish, it's nice to use that to build the sauce, then pour in the pasta and bake it all without dirtying an extra dish. If you don't though, a casserole dish does just fine.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°. Over medium-high heat, melt butter and add flour when hot. Stir to get rid of any lumps, and cook until the mixture has slightly deepened in flavor and smells nutty, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add milk and water, whisking constantly. Add soy sauce, mustard, cayenne, and salt. Lower heat to medium-low and cover until thickened and boiling, stirring occasionally. Stir in nutritional yeast and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, and then add pasta. Pour into casserole dish if you need to.
  4. Top with a tablespoon or so of nutritional yeast and a good drizzle of olive oil. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, heat the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. After it foams, add the onions and a good pinch of salt. Stir and cook until onions are soft, a couple minutes.
  6. Add zucchini. Toss occasionally until zucchini slices are soft and translucent. Top with more pepper. (Zucchini loves pepper!)
  7. When the pasta comes out of the oven, mix the zucchini into the pasta. Allow to cool before serving -- that thick sauce is like napalm!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Zucchini Scramble

I have to admit, almost all of my zucchini recipes consist of grating and sautéing zucchini, and then adding it to something.This recipe is a particularly simple version of that formula, with only eggs added to the zucchini. The result is surprisingly good, with an almost souffle-like consistency.

Zucchini Scramble

Serves 2

    Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small green or Ronde de Nice zucchini, grated
  • heavy pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • pepper, to taste
  1. In a small skillet, warm olive oil over low heat. Add zucchini and salt.
  2. Cook, stirring, until zucchini has turned translucent.
  3. Beat the eggs and stir into zucchini. Stir slowly until eggs have set to a custard-like thickness. Don't wait until it looks dry, or it'll be rubbery!
  4. Add pepper and serve.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zucchini Comfort

A few years ago, I got a moderately bad case of the flu while I was living in Boston, 3,000 miles from where I grew up. I was in such a crummy mood, and all I wanted was a little homey comfort. My then-boyfriend asked what he could do to cheer me up, and I told him I was craving my mom's style of sautéed zucchini. So he borrowed my phone to call my mom, and got this recipe:

Sauteed Zucchini

Quick, easy, warm, and delicious. Like so many Mom recipes, it's impossible to give exact quantities for ingredients - just go with what looks good. Serve with Kraft mac n cheese or filet mignon, or absolutely anything else. Stir into a creamy sauce for something truly special.
    Ingredients
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • garlic, chopped fine
  • zucchini, grated
  • salt and tons of freshly ground pepper
  1. Melt butter in a wide skillet. Add olive oil.
  2. Add garlic, sweat for a minute, and then add zucchini.
  3. Cook over medium heat until zucchini has turned translucent.
  4. Add salt and pepper, and serve before it cools off too much.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Zucchinis take over the world!

I walked behind the farm store today and my jaw dropped. THERE ARE SO MANY ZUCCHINIS. We've got good ol' green zucchinis, delicately striped romanesca zucchinis, globe-like Ronde de Nice zucchinis, and beautiful, eggplant-shaped white Lebanese zucchini. And suddenly, there are a million of each.

Now I don't know about you, but I find this kind of thing incredibly exciting. I've never understood how people can complain about vegetable gluts -- there's that much more to enjoy! Plus, zucchinis have been my favorite vegetable for as long as I can remember. There's no such thing as too many zucchinis.

There is, however, such a thing as not enough recipes. If you only know a couple ways to cook a zucchini, you won't be able to enjoy the tremendous swell in production. Even the most die-hard fan (i.e. me) can't eat the same pile of grated and sautéed zucchini day after day.

In the interest of spreading the green, squashy love, I'm going to post my very favorite zucchini recipes here over the next few days, and hopefully some of the other Green String Farm folks will join me too. We'll see how long we can keep this up!

Zucchini Bisque

This very, very creamy soup is one of my grandma's creations. It was one of my favorite dishes growing up, and I have a sneaking suspicion it was one of my mom's favorites when she was a kid too. It's a great way to use up those larger zucchini that aren't great for other applications. Oh, and if you make extra, serve the leftovers cold for lunch the next day -- it's like a squashy version of vichyssoise. Serves 6

Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1½ pounds zucchini, grated, shredded, or chopped
  • 2½ cups broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • small handful basil leaves (about 20), cut into ribbons
  • 1 cup half-and-half (or ½ cup milk and ½ cup cream)
  1. In large saucepan, melt butter.
  2. Saute onion until limp.
  3. Add zucchini and broth to onion.
  4. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  5. Puree zucchini mixture in processor in 2 batches, OR use an immersion blender to puree.
  6. Add salt, nutmeg, pepper, basil, and half-and-half, and stir until well mixed. Taste for additional seasonings.
  7. Serve hot or cold.

Monday, August 10, 2009

August Newsletter

Okay, so this month's newsletter is really late, but hey, it was my birthday last week! Cut me some slack. :-D

View the newsletter online
Download the PDF

Our list of produce available in the store keeps growing and growing! Summer vacation for the kiddies may be drawing to a close, but for some of our favorite veggies, the season is only beginning.

In this issue of the newsletter, we tell you a bit about our beef (did you know that we had beef?) and share a recipe for meatloaf that comes -- no joke -- from my boss's mom. We also have a new recipe for zucchini, and easy directions for a fresh tomato-basil sauce.

We hope you enjoy this month's newsletter! Remember that you can stop in at the store to grab a hard copy, and email jenny@greenstringfarm.com to get on the mailing list for next month.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On the nature of square dancing and potato salad

When we set out to throw our barn dance, we had many goals in mind; we wanted to have a big party in the big barn; we wanted to fundraise; we wanted to raise awareness about the farm and the institute, we wanted to bring our community together.


Now, having lived through the exciting event that was our barn dance, we've decided that it was that final goal that was really the dearest to our hearts. We wanted people to get to know us and the farm, perhaps see why we love this place so much, yes, but we also wanted those same people to meet one another. It is rare, after all, to really meet with one's neighbors these days.


That is where square dancing comes in. For our barn dance, we had a caller named Tina, who stood with her band at the end of the barn and told us uncoordinated chickens what moves to make, when to hold hands, bow to our partners, and do-si-do. We formed long lines, held hands with complete strangers, and skipped down the length of our barn like children. There is something about square dancing that makes you put your guard down. For one thing, everyone looks just plain silly and so no one feels silly alone. And for another, the dance goes on whether you know your dance partner or not, and if you don't grab on to someone, you'll be left behind.

We read, recently, a beautiful account of that night that really brings to light this community-building aspect of our dance, and asks some really great questions about the relationship between communities and nature in our culture today; go here to see it: http://dailydialect.wordpress.com/

Now, at the barn dance we made a special dinner for our musicians, that we designed to be friendly and familiar, because we wanted them to feel like our neighbors too. Only one dish would do. We firmly believe that many a neighbor has bonded over this ubiquitous dish, that graces the table of every American summer block party and bbq: potato salad. It brings people together, especially if you buy the potatoes at your friendly neighborhood farm stand. Try some!


Potato Salad with pickled onions

Serves 8-10
Ingredients
  • 10-12 large potatoes, washed and cut into 1 1/2-2" cubes
  • 2 cups of green or yellow wax beans, washed with the stems cut or broken off
  • 1/2 cup pickled onions (or more if you like), recipe follows
  • 1 batch mustardy mayonnaise, recipe follows
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
  1. Put cubed potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Cook over high heat until they come to a boil and add a tablespoon or more of salt to the water (just enough so that you can taste the salt). Turn the heat down so the potatoes are at a very low simmer and cook until they are tender but not mushy.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, put a small pot of water on to boil, and add salt to taste again. Have a small bowl of ice water ready, next to the stove. When the water in the pot is at a rolling boil, add the beans and cook until they are tender, but still a little crisp, then add them to the ice bath to stop their cooking. When cool, drain the beans and cut into thirds; set aside until the potatoes are done.
  3. When potatoes finish cooking, drain them and put them, still in the collander, in an empty sink to dry out and cool, covered with a dish towel.
  4. When potatoes are barely warm, toss with the mayonnaise, pickled onions, blanched green beans, oregano, and 1-2 tablespoons of the onion pickling liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine.


Pickled Onions

Ingredients
  • 4 medium sized onions
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chili flake
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
  1. Peel, halve and thinly slice onions and put in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Combine all other ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Take hot pickling liquid and pour over onions. Allow to cool and refrigerate at least overnight before using.

Mustardy Mayonnaise

Ingredients
  • 2 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place yolks in a medium sized bowl with a damp towel underneath it, to keep it from sliding around while you whisk
  2. Beginning just one spoonful at a time, alowly add the oil to the egg yolks in a drizzle while constantly whisking, waiting until each bit of oil is absorbed before adding another spoonful. Eventually the mixture will begin to be a more pale yellow, and will thicken. At this point, it is okay to add the oil straight from the container in a steady stream, whisking all the while. It should continue to thicken until, when all the oil has been added, you need to add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.
  3. Grate or finely chop the garlic and add to the bowl along with the mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper and taste. Adjust seasoning if you need to.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Invitation

No recipes or news today, just an invitation.

Here's the thing, for some time now the interns have wanted to throw a party. But, we've also been contemplating ways to help grow the Green String Institute- especially its budding library. So we decided to throw

A BARN DANCE!

Come on down to Green String Farm on Saturday, August 1 for a good old fashioned, foot-stomping hoe-down. We're starting with music, an outdoor picnic, and family activities at 5:30 pm, followed by a raffle, a silent auction, beer and Cline wine, and, best of all, dancing and live music at 7:00pm.

For just a five dollar donation, (or more if you're feeling generous!) you can have a great night at the farm, and help support the education of future farmers. Tickets are on sale at our farm store, or at the door.
We hope to see you there!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Napa Style

Among the interns, there is a running joke about living ‘Napa style.’ It all started one night as a few of us gathered around the tiny brick fire pit- fire box, really- that sits in front of our house. We started a fire, opened a bottle of wine, and decided to forego cooking dinner in the nam e of keeping our kitchen clean. As we stayed warm by our little flame, the setting sun illuminated the grape vines that grow over the hills in front of the intern house.


Clearly, this was the good life. This, we decided, must be living Napa style- a little work, a little wine, a little good company. Since then, the definition of what is, and isn’t, Napa style has been the topic of much debate among the interns, and amuses us as we weed and hoe around the farm. Is it still Napa style if Micaela plays her cello as we sit around the fire? What about if Erin brings out the drums? (Probably not with the drums, we decided.) What about the frog chairs that Bob brought us to sit in, that we love dearly and are also clearly made for children? Maybe those are more Greenstring style.


In any case, we try to gather for these kinds of evenings often, finding that it relaxes us after a long day, and makes us stop to appreciate our beautiful surroundings. We’ve also added a little good food into the mix. Everything is cooked over our little fire, and nothing is complicated because that, we’ve all concluded, would decidedly not be in good Napa style.


Here is our most recent creation- a twist on our Napa style favorite meal, the ubiquitous bread and cheese. In this case, we make use of the farm’s apricots, grilling them until they start to caramelize along their edges, sprinkling them with opal basil, and placing them atop crispy grilled slices of baguette slathered with fresh goat cheese. The tanginess of the cheese provides the perfect complement to the sweet, smoky apricots. Who says fruit always has to be used in dessert? Serve this alongside a glass of a nice, dry white wine and feel the relaxation start to sweep over you- that’s definitely Napa style.


Bruschetta with Grilled Apricots and Goat Cheese

Makes 8

Ingredients:
  • 4 apricots, halved and pitted
  • 8 slices of baguette, cut on a diagonal
  • 4 oz young goat cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons basil, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper
  1. In a small bowl, toss the apricots with 2-3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste
  2. Brush one side of the bread with olive oil and, on a hot grill, place the slices, oil side down to toast for 2-3 minutes per side, until the oiled side has nice grill marks
  3. Grill the apricots, cut side down, until they are tender and caramelized along the edges
  4. Cut each apricot half in half again and toss with the basil
  5. spread about one tablespoon of goat cheese on each slice of bread and top with two pieces of apricot

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Part 2 of Meet the Interns

Better late than never! Especially when it comes to getting to know the Green String Interns. Here's some info on the second half of the group; again, we wrote these little biographies about one another, with a touch of humor and much appreciation for everyone's unique personalities. Come and visit us soon!

Tim- Though his devoted family drove him all the way here from Omaha, Nebraska, Tim looks and talks just like any California surfer. He makes muffins and milkshakes at midnight, hides garden snakes in the pocket of his poncho, and is our go-to man whenever we need to start a fire. We’re not exactly sure when he garnered all this information, but Tim seems to have all the answers; if we want to know where the mint is growing or where the owls nest, we ask him. He also made pizza out of pasta dough; what a magician.

Sierra- Born in the Sierras, if Sierra were a vegetable, she would be a chili pepper, not because she has a spicy personality- which she does- or because she’s small in stature but rather strong in personality- which she is- but because she loves spicy food so much, we’re actually worried she’s already turning into a pepper. She's rarely seen without her sunglasses and a bottle of Kombucha in one hand, but don't let her stylish exterior fool you. Having lived and taught in Vietnam for a few years before moving to the farm, Sierra is often undaunted by things- like chicken harvesting-that are difficult for other interns. Just don't ask her to parallel park. That, she's sorry to say, she can't do.

Brooks- Brooks is going to be an excellent father. He already is, in fact, to a patch of potatoes. He feeds them compost, minerals, and tea, dresses them with mulch, and watches over them daily, even comparing them with other patches just to make sure they’re on the right track. Before he adopted the potatoes, he worked as a legal assistant in Washington D.C., but doesn’t seem phased by his transition to farm life. He continually impresses us all with his ambitious, if lengthy, cooking events, and his perpetual thirst for the answers to our questions on the farm. Don’t know which plants are members of the nightshade family? Brooks will look it up.

Julie- A.k.a. "Googi," our Julie has already made herself famous for culinary creations such as apricot syrup and hands-down the most 'de-lish' beet burgers you have ever tasted! And let’s not even get into her skills as a sourdough samurai. Look for Julie with her sidekick, Courtney - undoubtedly the cutest pair of friends - giggling and planning the details of their aforementioned future taco-truck-inspired farm stand restaurant, Le Petit Cheesy Robin. If you can't tell which one is Julie, look for the signature blue, purple and green plaid shirt and the bandana bow atop her adorable head!



Jennifer- Jen is all about the four B’s: Berkeley, burning botany, biceps, and Bernards. UC Berkeley Master of fire ecology, turned farmer and mini ranch owner, Jen commutes all the way from Berkeley in her 1971, tomato-red, Indiana Jones jeep just to play (or in her case, work hard) on the farm with us. Though her most impressive attributes are a sparkling personality and smile, Jen is the true agricultural athlete among us all, having earned her biceps of steel and glistening tan pushing wheel barrows and herding cattle. She has a secret knowledge of botany- “oh that? That’s mimulus aurantiacus,”- is considered our resident animal expert, and often fills the silence while we hoe tomatoes by telling us engaging stories about her beloved baby St. Bernard.

Zuleika- We knew Zuleika was special when she raised her hand on her first day of class, after a heated discussion of cover cropping, to ask her very first question of farmer Bob Cannard: “what color is my aura?” Within the first few days of her, albeit late, arrival to the farm, she knew everyone’s astrological sign and, the animal that would best represent them. Youngest of the group in age, but not in spirit, Zuleika constantly surprises us with her astute, penetrating observations about ourselves. Tall and, dare we say it, a little majestic, this beautiful native of Venezuela dances as naturally as if she were walking, loves to go out in the city, and can sometimes be caught talking to the birds nesting around our house or in the trees.

Wafaa- Wafaa is French. And Moroccan. She dances Tango. She creates cakes without recipes and cracks eggs on top of pizza. She often says, “I surround myself with beauty—physical beauty, beauty of the heart and of the mind.” But she herself happens to look beautiful in rubber boots and fluorescent yellow gloves. She speaks in an accent that makes all things sound edible—people, plants, farm tools. She sweeps into the kitchen every morning, always with bright colors and curly hair, and sometimes with almond croissants. Yes, she is as delicious as she sounds. Yes, she is too modest to appreciate this description. And yes, we all kind of want to be her.

Melissa-"Melissa, can we please have mayonnaise with every meal?”. This question pretty much sums up how the interns feel about anything that Melissa creates in the kitchen--whether it is mayonnaise, hand-made tortillas, or mashed turnips with goats milk. We immediately want more and we immediately want it every day. Even if it’s just poached eggs. Though a professional cook in Boston, and a soon-to-be culinary student in Paris, Melissa will not be found only by the stove; she might be wandering the orchard at 6:00am eating unripe apples, wandering the fields searching for the perfect place to hoe, or simply laying on her back in the middle of a deserted vineyard and gazing up. Melissa is more than just one vegetable—she is an entire salad. This is partly due to the fact that, no matter the meal, Melissa an always be heard exclaiming, “I can’t wait for the salad!”

Friday, July 3, 2009

July Newsletter

As always, we're a little late with the newsletter, but we're pretty sure you'll enjoy it anyway.

View the newsletter online
Download the PDF

In this issue, we let you in on some of the exciting goings-on this summer, reveal the secret to happy chickens (here's a hint: it's easy), and share recipes for farmy comfort food: glazed radishes, creamy zucchini pasta explosion, and peaches & frozen cream.

We hope you enjoy this month's newsletter! Remember that you can stop in at the store to grab a hard copy, and email jenny@greenstringfarm.com to get on the mailing list for next month.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Meet the Interns

During his first meeting with us, head farmer Bob Cannard gave each of his new interns the opportunity to introduce themselves to the group and to ask him one question, whatever they wanted. Several of us, myself included, went with general questions of the type “what is your favorite_______?” or “what______do you especially like or look forward to?” However, much to our delight, Bob refused to be circumscribed in such a manner, answering always that he preferred a diversity of anything- the diversity of fruits and vegetables rather than one or two in particular, the diversity of colors (though if he must choose, perhaps he would say green).

With a few weeks behind us now, the interns are starting to understand that we too reflect this appreciation of diversity; we represent a wide range of unique backgrounds, ages, sets of values, and goals for the future. Nonetheless, we each find ourselves here, growing together on the same plot of land, and prospering all the more for having encountered one another.

We thought you Green String supporters might be a little curious about those intriguing creatures- the interns- that you see roaming about the farm whenever you visit the farm store. To introduce ourselves, we have, as a group, composed these humorous, truth-based descriptions of one another, which you may read should you be curious what types of people come to live and work on a farm for their summer vacation.

As a general rule, we are a friendly breed and, though our hoes are sharp, we only wield them against malicious weeds. In fact, we’ve even been known to offer freshly baked bread to complete strangers. So, if you see us around, don’t be shy; we love visitors.

Since there are a whopping fifteen of us, we'll be making this a two part series, so check in later this week to read about the other half of the group.

Aryeh- Within the first forty eight hours of his arrival, this San Diego native was newly christened "Marcus Aurelius." Since then, Marcus has done a fabulous job of living up to his emperor's namesake- he reads Homer aloud at breakfast, manages to leisurely sleep in an hour later than everyone else and is quik to jump on a tractor as if it were his private chariot. Still, Aryeh is rather like a cabbage: many-layered. It turns out he can ride his bike ninety six miles, build beautiful chairs in the woodshop, and isn't even afraid to swim in the compost tea pond.

Courtney- Abbreviator extraordinaire, if Court were a plant, she would be grounded, like a carrot, and generous, like a pomegranate. So let's just call her a pomegrot. Kind, clever, and a graduate of UC Berkeley, this San Fernando Valley girl still gets lost occasionally and hopes someday to open, along with her tent roommate Julie (see next installment), a little farm-stand restaurant called Le Petit Cheesy Robin. Look for it soon...

Ellen- Ellen has the most startling eyes you’ve ever seen and exudes the energy of all her amazing life experiences. She may claim to be stubborn but never hesitates to laugh at herself even while inspiring her fellow interns to become agricultural athletes with her incredible hoeing capabilities. If there were such an animal, this Petaluma girl would be a tropical owl, whose beauty and intelligence emanate from within.

Jason- Old McCobb had a farm, and if you go there, you’ll find Jason and his compost tea…backpack. Papi, as the other interns call him, is considered the oldest and the most dedicated of the group. Creator of the best PB&J and GC (grilled cheese) sandwiches this side of Old Adobe Road, we all think of this Floridian much as we do our compost- multi-layered, full of life, constantly giving, and nutritive to our bodies and our souls. Oh yeah, and sometimes he smells of fish emulsion, but the plants sure do love him.

Micaela- In the light of the morning, we often see Micaela’s silhouette through the translucent walls of the compost toilet, the installation of which she enthusiastically supported. This native of Durango, Colorado is a talented musician and, like an otter swimming through seaweed, weaves her laughter-filled stories and enchanting music seemingly without effort. Micaela hopes to help reform America’s food system, one beloved purple-topped turnip at a time.

Abby- This Minnesota native is, as she would say it, a bay-g (bag) of surprises- sweet and spicy as the lentil-plum soup that has become her signature creation. Yogi, mother to puppies, kittens and all God’s creatures, this talented cook loves to feed people and hopes to have her own restaurant one day.


Erin- Though hilarious, her sense of humor takes some getting used to. Flighty and stunning as a butterfly, Erin learns and teaches as passionately as she spades a garden bed. Her contagious laughter echoes throughout her hometown of Petaluma, where she articulately wanders, searching for the next chapter in her book.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dining Club Rive Gauche

Joanne and Keith Filipello of Wild Thyme catering in Sonoma host occasional dinners at their place in El Verano. This time, they're featuring Green String produce, meat, and music (provided by the Green String Farm Band, of course). It ought to be a lot of fun. Here's the facts:

Dining Club Rive Gauche


June 24, 2009
Featuring
Green String Produce and the Green String Band
playing original and traditional music
"with the grand plan of trying to make people happy."
Local, sustainable food and music

I. Green String Egg & Herb Fritatta
II. Seasonal Lettuces with Caramelized Beets & Goat Cheese
III. Spit Roasted Green String Goat
Summer Vegetables Sautéed in Green String Olive oil
IV. Eureka Lemon Curd Tart
Coffee

$30 or 25 euro per person
service not included, service non compris
bring your own wine, no corkage
Wild Thyme Library,
on the left bank of Sonoma Creek

19030 Railroad Ave
(between Verano Ave. and Grove Street in beautiful downtown)
El Verano, California 95433

reservations required
707 996-WILD (9453)
<wildthyme@vom.com>

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June Newsletter

Well, the newsletter's up a little late, but at least it's up!

View the newsletter online
Download the PDF

In this issue: farm news, how to look at a plant, and recipes for Chris's fancy-shmancy rocket pesto, my yummy (wummy?) fusilli with white sauce, favas, and rocket, and easy-shmeasy tomato couscous.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hello, Goodbye

Oh no! It's the end of another internship semester at Green String! Saying goodbye is never easy, but all good things must come to an end.

Sean, who's been here for four months, has headed back to his home in San Luis Obispo to spend time with his family and pursue future gardening adventures. Phil, Cody, and Mark are gallivanting around northern California -- they plan to pass some of the time working on other sustainable farms. Hannah has generously offered to help the new interns with their transitional period, and will be sticking around for a couple weeks before she goes to Minnesota for a summer of leading camping and kayaking and outdoorsy fun with Outward Bound.

The powers-that-be at Green String haven't managed to get rid of all of us interns, though. Katrina's staying on for a second semester before she moves up to Oregon in the fall. And I don't think they'll ever figure out how to shake off me and Chris! This week we switched from being interns to real-life employees. Let's just hope we don't blow it.

Though we may be sad about all the great interns leaving us, there's not too much time to mope -- we've got fifteen (count 'em! Fif-friggin-teen!) new interns for the summer semester, and they're quite an enthusiastic bunch! I'm embarrassed to say that I'm nowhere near knowing all their names (yet), so once they all get set up on the blog I'll leave it to them to introduce themselves.

In all the insanity excitement, publishing the June newsletter's been put off -- it should be ready by Thursday, though, so check your inboxes. (You know you can get the newsletters emailed to you the very second they're published by emailing jenny@greenstringfarm.com, right?)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Farmer's Market Tomorrow

Green String Farm, along with many other local and regional farms, will be at Walnut Park tomorrow to kick off this season of the Petaluma Farmer's Market! We're excited to get out there and share our food with people who may not have heard of us.

Tomorrow Allie, Chris, and Phil will be there hocking our veggies from 2pm to 5pm, so why don't you swing by and say hi?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Easy lunch for a hot day

Thanks so much to everyone who came out for the Farm Fair yesterday! All of us interns got to strut our stuff and share some of what we've learned in our time here. We all had a great time despite the heat, and we hope you did too.

I want to share a couple recipes that I just got typed up today -- right after we had them both for lunch. They're sooooo easy and delicious, perfect for a hot, lazy Sunday. =D

Savory Wilted Chard

These hearty greens are wilted pretty quickly, and then they're braised briefly with a flavorful dressing. We like chard for this dish because it requires minimal preparation (no tough stems to remove), and because it seems to hold its shape after wilting better than kale or spinach. Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon hot mustard -- dijon is nice
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoons flavorful red wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shoots green garlic, chopped
  • 1 cayenne pepper, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • (optional) 1 teaspoon honey
  • cooking oil, to cover bottom of pan
  • 1 lb swiss chard, sliced horizontally into 1-inch strips
  1. Combine mustard, soy sauce, wine, olive oil, garlic, cayenne, pepper, and optional honey in a small bowl and beat until combined.
  2. Brush oil on a wide pan or pour out a small amount, just enough for a thin layer, and place over medium-low heat.
  3. When oil is heated (you can tell because it will "shimmer" slightly) add a large handful of chard. Cook until the chard begins to wilt, about a minute, and then stir until the chard has lost considerable volume.
  4. Push chard to the outside of the pan, apply more oil if necessary, and add another handful of chard to the center of the pan. Cook this next batch as before.
  5. Repeat the previous li, being sure the stir the already wilted greens occasionally to avoid burning, until all the chard has been wilted.
  6. Stir in the mustard mixture, boost the heat to medium-high, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow to cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring, until liquid has thickened to your liking.
  8. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately. You can also let it cool to eat at room-temperature -- this is best if you've added the optional honey, otherwise it might taste somewhat sour.

Tomato Couscous

The tomato sauce we sell at the Green String store is an unflavored, no-funny-business sort of product, so you can just as easily make pasta sauce as soup, or, my favorite, a big pile of tomato-infused couscous. If you keep your pantry stocked, you can make this dish in less than 10 minutes. You can also class it up a bit by sweating some leeks or green garlic in the pan before adding the sauce, but it's delicious without it too. Serves 2-4
  • 1 pint tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • leaves from 1 or 2 sprigs dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • (optional) 1 dried cayenne pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cups quick-cooking couscous
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • (optional) grated Parmesean cheese or nutritional yeast
  1. Place tomato sauce, vinegar, oregano, salt, and optional cayenne in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add couscous and briefly stir to combine. Cover and turn off heat.
  3. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and add olive oil, pepper, and adjust seasoning. Serve and top with nutritional yeast for an umami taste or Parmesean for something more traditional.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Farm Fair

On Saturday, May 16, the interns of Green String Farm are putting on a special event to cap off three months of living, learning, and working on the Petaluma farm. Everyone is invited to the Farm Fair, which will feature workshops, hands-on projects, incredibly fresh food, and more.

The interns and other members of the Green String community will share some of the knowledge we've gained from the farm in quick, hands-on workshops. Most of the workshops will be one hour long and repeated throughout the day, so participants can rotate through the different workshops and get a complete experience. You're encouraged to join in on as little or as much as you'd like; come for the whole day, or just stick around for an hour or two.

The event will run from 11am to 5pm. We'll accept donations to help offset the cost of the event, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. We're just excited to get people out for a fun day on the farm! Below is a schedule for the day:

All Day (11am - 5pm)

Adobe brick making: Join Miguel Elliott of Living Earth Structures at any point in the day as he demonstrates how to make traditional style adobe bricks using earth from on site. The bricks will be used to build an earthen bench at a workshop the following week.
Family day: Join intern Jenny for arts and crafts, games, and fun lessons about gardening, farming, and nature. Kids of all ages can come and go throughout the day.

Hourly (11-12, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5)

Farm tour: Intern Mark will lead one-hour walking tours of the farm. Participants will see our different crops and animals, and get an insight into Green String's farming practices. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a bit of a hike!
Compost and compost tea: Intern Phil will discuss the basics of compost and compost teas, focusing on beneficial microbes and a do-it-yourself approach.
Plant life cycle in an hour: Intern Sean will give you a condensed version of Growing Plants 101, beginning with seed-starting and ending with harvesting.

Lunch! (12-1)

We're making a ton of pizza with homemade dough and different veggies from the farm. You haven't truly lived until you've tried intern Chris's arugula pesto pizzas! We'll also have plenty of salad fixings available.

Afternoon (3pm - 5pm)

Greenhouse building: Intern Chris will share the Green String method for building a very simple mini-greenhouse. The group will begin with scrap wood and a roll of greenhouse plastic, and end up with a small greenhouse very similar to those that we use at the farm to start seeds for most of the year.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Outstanding in the Field Dinner

Outstanding in the field is having a dinner at Green String on July 2nd.  Though i've never been to one of their events, I hear that they do a good job.  The idea, generally, is that they pick a farm and a chef, and have the chef cook a dinner at the farm, which is served at long tables in the fields where the food was grown.  The chef we're paired with is Chris Lee, of Eccolo in Berkeley.  He's a good guy and a great cook, and we're excited to have him to the farm.  
If you're interested in attending, check out the Outstanding in the Field website, where you can buy tickets and get an idea of what they do (and also of their other events - they have quite a few planned throughout Northern California this spring).

May Newsletter

It may be a few days late, but hey, better late than never. The May newsletter is now online for all to see. Check out the web version or the PDF, or drop by the farm store to pick up a printed copy.

You can also join our mailing list if you'd like to have future newsletters emailed to you as soon as they're ready by sending a message to jenny@greenstringfarm.com.

In this issue, we answer mind-boggling questions such as: What's in the farm store? What's new at the farm? What the heck is compost tea? What do you do with these tiny artichokes? What about fava beans? And how do I make strawberry shortcake?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

what are you doing?

what're you doing?

not too much?

you should plant some strawberries. actually you should go back in time and plant strawberries a month ago.

because then you'd be a month closer to strawberry shortcake.

well, whether or not you are inspired to plant strawberries or not, here is what you need to know about once you track down those elusive flushed cheek flashes of the seasons first tiny strawberries.

cream biscuits (poached from alice waters with some interpretations)

ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
as much or as little sugar as you want (up to 2-3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon baking powder
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
1 cup heavy cream

preheat the oven to 400 degrees. stir the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together and then cut in the butter, mix until it has the consistency of coarse meal. pour almost all of the milk into a well in the middle and mix with a fork until it comes together . here's the important part, you have to let it be, don't fuddle about with it too much, as soon as it has started coming together and holds together well, knead it a bit in the bowl and then turn it out onto a floured board and roll until it's 3/4 inch thick (if you want to have a more manageable size to deal with you can cut it in half first and have two pieces to work with). cut into whatever shape you'd like, squares, circles, unicorns and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, brush the leftover cream on top and bake for 20 minutes or as soon as they are cooked through and golden.

eat a bunch of those with honey and peanut butter and just imagine the next part falling into place...the strawberry compote. stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Up and Coming This Week (and beyond)

I hope everyone had a great Earth Day and got a chance to enjoy the Petaluma Butter & Eggs Days festivities!

Workday

With the longer days and off-and-on hot weather, the farm is bursting at the seams with life, and there's a ton of work to do! We interns have been spending our mornings clearing up our rhubarb, strawberry, and garlic patches, and we're at least trying to harvest our artichokes as fast as they're cropping up. It's truly an exciting time to work on the farm, and we'd love it if you'd join us on Thursday mornings from 9am to around noon. Coming to a workday is a great way to get face-time with Green String staff and interns (and who doesn't want that?), enjoy a few hours of rewarding work, and even take home a free bag of veggies for your trouble. There's no need to sign up, just meet us at the farm store around 9.

Family Day

We skipped Family Day last week so that we could go downtown and watch the parade. This weekend it's all back to normal though, and for Family Day we'll be talking about seeds. How does each little seed contain so much life, so much magic? What's the best way to plant them? And what're they made of, anyways? We'll look at these questions and more on Saturday at 10:30am. Make sure you reserve your spot by signing up in the farm store or sending an email to jennycade@gmail.com with the number of participants (that is, kids + adults). As always, we'll bring lunch at around noon.

Farm Fair

Mark Saturday, May 16 on your calendars, because it's going to be a fun day. We're throwing a big party, and you're all invited! There's going to be food, music, and a ton of workshops, plus an opportunity to live "A Day in the Life of a Green String Farmer", put on by a few of our interns. We're still banging out the details, so stay tuned for more information!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Events, events, events

Because having Saturdays off is just not our style.

Family Day

We were going to talk about parts of a plant for our Family Day last week, but instead we spent the morning checking out baby chicks and a two-day old orphaned goat that the interns have adopted. (More on that little cutie to come!) So this Saturday, we will cover parts of a plant, answering questions such as, "How do roots work?", "What do flowers do?", and, most importantly, "What parts of plants can I eat?" We'll also do a related arts and crafts activity, and maybe, just maybe, the aforementioned baby goat will make an appearance so we can all get our cuteness fixes in.

As always, the fun starts at 10:30, lunch is around noon, and we ask that you please sign up at the farm store or by emailing jennycade@gmail.com. Oh, and a reminder: there will be no Family Day on Saturday, April 25 so we can all go get our parade on at the Butter and Eggs Day extravaganza!

Farm Tour

After lunch on Saturday, we're going to offer a farm tour! I don't think Green String Farm has ever had a real tour open to the community, so this is pretty exciting (well, it is for me, anyways). From 1pm to, say, about 3pm or so, we'll walk through part of the 140 acres that the interns and bajillions of plants call home. Our focus will be on the ways that our farm mimics natural systems and works with nature, particularly in regards to animals, compost, and cover crops. We'll also have plenty of time to answer questions, whether it's about our farm or home gardening.

We're running out of room for sign up sheets in the store, so if you'd like to join us for the tour please email me. Please feel free to come at noon and join the Family Day folks for lunch, but let us know so we can plan for it. To cover the cost of staffing for the tour, we'll accept donations ($5 a person would be plenty), but no one will be turned away if they can't swing it.

Work Day

Yup, we're still doing work days! If you come at 9am on Thursdays, we'll put you to work for a few hours and even send you home with some goodies. Activities are different every week, and we try to get involved in as many different aspects of the farm as we can. It's a great opportunity to learn, and we have a lot of fun while we work. There's no need to sign up, we'll meet you at the farm store. Be sure to wear comfortable work clothes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Leek mania

We're in the middle of an unexpected glut of leeks—the warm weather and longer days has our leeks sending up flowers, and we're picking them as fast as we can. We at the intern house are also cooking and eating them as fast as we can, and we haven't been disappointed in a dish yet.

Leeks make an excellent substitute for onions most of the time, though the mellower flavor is occasionally insufficient. The best applications are soups and sauces, where they give a creamy background character.

Of course, there are plenty of recipes that call for leeks outright. Alton Brown of the cooking show "Good Eats" has devoted an entire episode to leeks, with recipes like Grilled Braised Leeks and Leek Rings (you know, like onion rings).

When I think of leeks, I think soup—potato leek soup. (And then I drool.) The only problem is, we haven't got any potatoes on the farm now, and we won't for a while. What we do have is turnips—Allie and Sean found a forgotten field of turnips a couple weeks back, and the gigantic roots make a fine substitute for potatoes. I'm betting you could use any starchy veggie, really, though beets would sure look interesting.

The following recipe is adapted from From Julia Child's Kitchen, which I picked up at Copperfield's a couple weeks ago and have been reading cover-to-cover. This Potage Parmentier is the very first recipe in the book, and has such an appealing description that I had to make it right away.

Leek and Turnip Soup

"What a delicious soup, you cannot help saying to yourself as you breathe in its appetizing aroma, and then its full homey flavor fills your mouth. There is nothing to mask the taste of those fresh vegetables—no canned chicken stock, no enhancers, preservatives, additives—nothing but the vegetables themselves and a final enriching fillip of cream or butter. This is homemade soup in its primal beauty, to me, and although I love many others, it is leek and potato that I dream of."

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups sliced or minced leeks
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 cups (about 1½ pounds) turnips (or potatoes), peeled, and roughly chopped or neatly diced
  • 2 cups milk
  • (Optional) a dash of heavy cream or a small pat of softened butter for each serving


  1. Melt butter over moderate heat, stir in the leeks, cover pan, and cook slowly for 5 minutes without browning.

  2. Blend in the flour, and stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes to cook the flour without browning it either.

  3. Gradually stir in the water, being sure to blend thoroughly, followed by the salt, pepper, and turnips.

  4. Bring to a boil, and simmer partially covered until the turnips are tender, about 40 minutes.

  5. Remove from heat and stir in milk.

  6. Purée with a blender, mash with a potato masher, or leave as is, depending on your preference.

  7. Ladle into bowls and serve with optional cream or butter, and maybe some fresh herbs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Parts of a Plant at Family Day this weekend

Our second family day, last Saturday, was super fun! We had a smaller turnout than the first event, but that didn't keep us from learning about farm animals and the multiple roles they play on our farm.

This Saturday we'll be at it again, and we hope you'll join us. We'll learn about what the different parts of plants are, what they do, and a bit about how they work. I'm betting the rain will let up by then, but just in case it doesn't we'll set up a cozy space in one of our barns for games, activities, and arts-and-crafts.

As always, we'll bring fresh bread and sandwich fixings for anyone who'd like to join us for a very farmy lunch at noon.

Please RSVP by emailing jennycade@gmail.com or signing up in the farm store.

I look forward to seeing some of your shining faces on Saturday morning!

P.S. We will not be hosting Family Day on April 25—we'll all be down at the Butter and Eggs Day Parade!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chicken Fiascos

April 3rd
There is no better time to be at a thriving farm then the start of Spring. I have been gone for the past week and the first thing I did when I came back to the farmhouse at Green String was say hello to all the animals (fellow interns included). The 75 baby chicks were twice the size they were then when they arrived and the old timer hens were pecking the grass at their feet. Among our roosters, Favorite (as Jenny calls him after the Green String Farm band’s song ‘favorite chicken’) had seen better days and his strut was more of a slow moving hobble as the other roosters asserted their reign. After greeting las gallinas, I walked over the bridge (actually the bed of an old bigrig), across the trickling stream and through the vineyards to the farm store where I said my hellos to the goats and sheep by feeding them handfuls of weeds just beyond the reach of their nomadic enclosure. At the farmstore I picked out what vegetables I wanted to use in that nights dinner…..in just one week of absence the farm now had turnips, asparagus, carrots and yellow beets at the store. I love the beginning of a new season for any kind of produce but you can’t beat fresh asparagus! I walked back to the farmhouse with the setting sun at my back. The following day I took a ‘getting grounded with nature’ hike as Bob Cannard calls it. A lot happens in a week on a farm and especially at the height of Springtime. I needed to see the budding blossoms, the changing colors of greens that come with rich soil and thriving plants. The contrast of the cloudless blue skies and the rolling green hills lined with vineyards and vegetables is one that will make you thankful for the mindful farmer. A stunning landscape that words could never do justice. I walked deeper into the farm then I had ever previously walked discovering creeks and an ever-increasing variety of wild flowers. Hiking down into the creekbeds and crawling over barbwire to get back on the path to the farmhouse, I felt grounded with nature. My hike was a success. I came back to the farmhouse and another delicious, farmfresh dinner was well under way.

On this morning’s agenda we were to prepare the beds and plant the tomato’s in our garden and fix the fence around the chicken’s so that they had more room to roam and more grass to munch on. Sean and I went to work on the fence and when Jenny came out to collect the eggs she found Favorite keeled over on his back with his little, scaly chicken legs pointing to the sky. Chickens have interesting habits- one of which happens to be eating the flesh of their dead brothers and sisters- so before they had a chance to find Favorite (alias Old Man Struggle), we had to move him. Jenny got close and his leg kicked….oh great, he was still alive. Jenny, being the other vegetarian of the house, went to get Mark to end Old Man Struggle’s struggle. While Sean and I continued to fortify their grassy kingdom, we tried our best to keep the other chickens off of Old Man Struggle. When they started to horde around poor Old Man Struggle, Sean dropped what he was doing and went to defend a dying roosters dignity. Instead, Old Man Struggle got a second wind, hopped up on his little talons and ran around like the saying goes….‘like a chicken with his head cut off.’ Sean acted on instinct and knowing he had to kill the sickly rooster, he swung his shovel full swing at Old Man Struggle‘s head. We had not seen Old Man Struggle move that fast in days and it took Sean’s emerging alter ego ‘Bonzai Sean’ to finally end the struggle with repeated blows of the shovel. He was a hearty rooster but after seeing him on his chicken coop deathbed his reign as a worthy rooster was over. Minutes later, everyone came out to see the end of Favorite aka Old Man Struggle but Sean and I had cleaned up the evidence of the beheaded rooster, burying him with the other already decomposing chickens and all that was visible were the feathers scattered in the dirt and the horde of chickens pecking at the site of demise. Back to work. We finished fixing the fence and an hour later we opened the gate isolating the chickens from their grassy knoll…freedom, food and fresh air!! Just another morning at the Green String Farm.

Hannah Huntley
Intern and Chicken freedom fighter

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Newsletter

The April newsletter is now available online and at the farm store. The first page is overflowing (literally) with farm news and an introduction to the Green String take on composting. We've also included two very quick and easy recipes: sautéed kale and quiche.

We also email the newsletter at the beginning of each month to our mailing list. If you'd like to get on the mailing list, send a message to jennycade@gmail.com.

April's newsletter and past issues

Monday, March 30, 2009

Family Day

On Saturday we held our first ever Family Day at the farm, and it was quite a success! We had about a dozen kids, plus parents and a couple grandparents, and everyone got to play a microbe game, learn about how soil fulfills many of plants' needs, and investigate different soil samples. We also took a brief walking tour of the farm and had a fresh lunch of veggies from the stand and warm-out-of-the-oven bread. To put it briefly: it was a blast.

To all of the families who joined us, thanks for coming, and I hope you had as much fun as I did. To those who couldn't make it this week, I hope you can join us this weekend, for our second ever Family Day! Yup, we're making this a regular Saturday morning thing, and everyone's welcome.

Next time we'll learn about the role animals play at Green String. We get more than eggs from our chickens, and our sheep, goats, and bees are multitaskers too! As always, please wear clothes that you don't mind getting dirty, and a water bottle wouldn't be a bad idea either. We'll bring food for anyone who cares to join us for lunch after the activities.

To help us prepare, we ask that you please RSVP with the number of participants (kids and adults) you plan to bring. Email jennycade@gmail.com or sign up at the farm store.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Farmy Mayonnaise

If anyone tells you homemade mayonnaise isn't worth the trouble, they don't know what they're missing. Fresh eggs have extraordinary emulsifying power, and you can't get much fresher than Green String Farm's eggs -- we rarely have eggs for sale that are more than a day old.

Homemade mayo does require raw eggs, so if you're worried about salmonella -- particularly if you have anyone in the house who's pregnant or who has an immune disorder -- stick to store-bought mayonnaise, but for those of us who like our yolks runny, this is as good as it gets.

Experiment with different spices and herbs for specialty mayos; our current favorite is ½ teaspoon smoked paprika and a small pinch of ground ginger. We can't wait for summer to bring basil-mayonnaise -- there's nothing better for topping a veggie burger.

Smear on any kind of sandwich or blend it into your favorite vinaigrette for a tangy, creamy salad dressing. Former intern Julia has been known to feast on leftover popovers smothered with curry mayo in the wee hours of the morning, and we think she's onto something great.

Ingredients
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground spices (paprika, turmeric,
  • curry powder, ginger, mustard, etc.) or 1 tablespoon finely chopped herbs
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup safflower oil
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together yolk, salt, sugar, and spices until very well combined.
  2. Add half of the lemon juice and whisk until creamy.
  3. Drizzle the oil in very slowly and continue to whisk. Begin drop-by-drop until you have the hang of it.
  4. Once you have incorporated half of the oil, add the remaining lemon juice, then return to drizzling in the remaining oil.

Friday, March 27, 2009

hungry in the morning

hungry in the morning is definitely the best time to recollect epicurean delights from the night before. so i will do so...we had a LOT of food left over from helping to cater a rotary club dinner (PARTY ALL NIGHT!), so i made a leftovers feast last night. i had nearly 5 hours to do so, but even with less time and a bit more preparation all of this stuff can be done easily. of course there was soup, since we still have loads of leek, carrot, celery and onion tops, so you can refer to my last post about that, we also had a massive partially cooked baby blue hubbard squash leftover. it had been roasted for about 4 hours the day before and put onto pizzas, i decided to do an appetizer with the remnants.

tea poached squash with gorgonzola and pine nuts

ingredients
  • 3-4 cups squash, roasted and cut into appetizer sized bits
  • full kettle of tea (i used english breakfast with some mint leaves and honey)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar (you can use more or less depending on the squash you use)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

after heating the tea kettle, put two teabags in and let steep for 5 minutes. add any tea additions you might like, no milk though. get a large flat bottomed pan to poach the squash in. pour the hot tea in and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. bring to just below a boil and add the pieces of squash, in preparing them it is a good idea to not cook them completely so they still hold their shape and don't get too mushy. poach the squash for 20-30 minutes, testing them with a fork every few minutes. once they are fork tender pour them through a colander and set aside to dry. put the poaching liquid on medium low to reduce while you finish up. arrange the squash on a cookie sheet and sprinkle the crumbled gorgonzola and pine nuts on, if they are refusing to stay on the squash press them into the (hopefully) softened squash a bit. put them in a 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes. pour the reduced tea liquid on after you have taken it out of the oven and it has cooled somewhat...might be a good idea to delay making them while the liquid reduces so it can get nice and thick, i didn't, and i regret it like nothing i've ever regretted before. not really, it was delicious anyways.

we made some lentils and roasted a huge bowl of veggies in broth and white wine with pepper and lemon and combined them, the other thing i feel worthy of a mention and recipe is the carrot cookies i made, which was partially stolen from the doubleday cookbook (this book has got everything, including how to kill turtles and prepare pigeon pie).

carrot cookies

ingredients
  • 1 cup of carrots (cooked, mashed and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla)
  • bit of cinnamon
  • bit of nutmeg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind

preheat the oven to 350. cream the butter til it gets fluffy and slowly add sugar while beating (i used a spoon and fingers which makes for delicious clean up). after the sugar has been added and beat in well, mix in the carrots, egg, almond extract, spices and orange rind. also if you have any dried fruit or nuts laying around the kitchen you can throw them in too, maybe a quarter to a half a cup. sift flour with baking powder and salt and gradually incorporate. when it's all mixed together and delicious grease a sheet pan and drop the cookies on. put em in for 15 minutes or so, until they start turning brown. the recipe said it makes 5 dozen but they must have been making the cookies minuscule to make 5 dozen...i made about 2 dozen.

yum

-chris