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)

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!


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 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 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."


  • 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 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… 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

April's newsletter and past issues