Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Plant Sale this Saturday

Green String Farm, Bob Cannard, and his Spring 2010 Interns present

dirt CHEAP plant SALE
Saturday May 22nd 12-3pm

at Green String Farm Store
3571 Old Adobe Road
Petaluma, CA 94954

will be in attendance playing good-time farm music

FOR sale
~raised with love, priced by the Economy of Generosity~
Dirt Cheap Veggie & Herb Starts
Perennials, Ornamentals, and Bob Cannard's Crushed Rock Garden Mineral Supplement
1000 descendants of the original 2nd Street Japanese maple

~refresh and nourish the organism that is you~
Farm Agua Fresca, Chilled Sobre Vista Verbena Teasan, Jam Stand and
Wyoming Sweet Biscuits. Bring your favorite drinking jar if you remember.

We'll be brewing fresh compost tea to take home with your purchase.

Farm Tours and riveting natural process agriculture conversation will be afoot.

email Green String Sprinterns (Spring + Interns) if you fancy
green string store # 707.778.7500

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May Newsletter

Read the full newsletter online
Download the PDF

In this issue:

In the Store

see the list

Farm News

All of the back-and-forth weather we've had this spring -- a week of sun, two days of rain, a week and a half of sun, another day of rain -- has made planting difficult... read more

Featured Veggie: Baby Artichokes

Come into the farm store on a good picking day, and you're likely to find yourself facing Artichoke Mountain!... read more

Upcoming Events

Farm tour and family day... read more

Recipe: Marinated Baby Artichokes

Loaded with tasty herbs and olive oil, these marinated chokes are great to add to salads and sandwiches, or just to have as a tangy snack. Make a big batch all at once and stash them in the fridge if you want to have them on-hand. read more

Recipe: Weeknight Favas

Fava beans can take a long time to prepare, and even something as simple as fava soup can take hours or shelling, blanching, and peeling. When you're not up for that kind of time commitment, but you're still jonesing for those delicate beans, try this easy method instead. read more

Recipe: Green Garlic Tomato Sauce

For those of us who dream of juicy, sweet, bursting-with-flavor tomatoes, this is a tough time of year; it's been 8 or 9 months since the last taste of fresh tomatoes, and we've still got another few weeks to wait until they're ready again. Whip up a nice pasta sauce using good quality canned tomatoes to help you through the home stretch. read more

Friday, April 23, 2010

Preparing baby artichokes

The artichokes that we grow at Green String are best enjoyed when they're still pretty small. If an artichoke is smaller than about 3 inches in diameter, chances are it hasn't developed that furry little inedible choke yet -- which means you can skip the normal artichoke procedure and eat it (nearly) whole.

Baby artichokes still take a bit of prep work, but you'll make up for the time when you pop the whole scrumptious bud into your mouth. Yum.

Step one: remove tough outer leaves

The farm nerd in me wants to point out that these "leaves" are really sepals. But that's not important, what's important is that you take off several layers of these -- until you get down to the tender leaves. (Or sepals.) Keep peeling away until they're pale yellow, and only green on the tips.

There's no need to throw the extra leaves out though! I like to boil them for ten minutes or so, drain, pop them in the fridge overnight, and have them with some homemade mayonnaise for a light lunch the next day.

peel off several layers of leaves until you get down to the tender yellow leaves

Step two: trim and peel

Lop off the top of the artichoke -- either where it turns green, or if you've got a thorny bud on your hands, cut it so that you remove all the spikes. Next, take a vegetable peeler and get the very outer layer of the stem off; this gets rid of the bitter, silvery-gray layer. Cut off the very bottom of the stem, but leave the rest -- it's the best part!

trim and peel

Step three: cut into lovely little pieces

Quarter the artichoke for quickest cooking. You can also halve it or leave it whole. Notice that there's no choke layer in these babies -- it goes straight from leaves to heart.

Artichokes start browning as soon as you cut them, so it's a good idea to have water with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice ready (acid stops the browning process) BEFORE you start prepping. Unless you're dealing with a whole mountain of artichokes, put some acid in your cooking water and get it up to a simmer before you start cutting -- then as you finish prepping each artichoke, toss it into the pot. The few minutes of cooking between the first and last artichokes won't make too much of a difference.

quartered and ready for cooking

Step four: cook. Then eat.

Once prepped, baby artichokes are wonderfully versatile. For a simple preparation, boil them in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes if you like them quite soft, or 5 minutes or less if you like them al dente. Then serve with your favorite artichoke fixings -- mayonnaise, butter, olive oil and garlic, or whatever strikes your fancy. I also like to cook them until they're a bit uncooked, then toss them into a thick, creamy sauce (with browned butter and green garlic, or lots of fresh sage) and serve over pasta. You could also dress them up with a tangy marinade and serve them in a salad, or slather them in beer batter and deep fry 'em, for a treat like Fremont Diner's wonderful artichoke fritters.

Got any other suggestions for baby chokes? We'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April Newsletter

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In this issue:

In the Store

see the list

Farm News

It's spring, and life on the farm is starting to pick up the pace. We're all spending our time planning and starting seeds for the summer, and trying to keep up with picking the artichokes... read more

Featured Veggie: Green Garlic

Everyone loves artichokes and asparagus, but for a spring delicacy that you won't find in the supermarkets, we suggest green garlic... read more

Upcoming Events

Special Farm Trails event, farm tour, family day, and community workdays... read more

Recipe: Baby Artichoke Sauce

Using baby artichokes -- with a diameter no more than 3 inches -- makes for easier preparation, since the buds are picked before developing an inedible choke. Serve this decadent sauce over fettuccine. read more

Recipe: Sautéed Fava Greens with Green Garlic

Fava greens are the leaves picked from the tops of young fava plants. The leaves taste very similar to fava beans, with a texture like baby spinach. This rarity is a true farm treat. read more

Recipe: Herbed French Lentils

French green lentils have so much flavor that a couple simple additions are enough to make them a tasty dish on their own. read more

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Family Day on Saturday

Saturday, March 20th
2pm - 3pm
Meet at the Green String Farm Store
$2 per-person fee requested, not required

This Saturday, two of our lovely new interns will be leading some fun activities for kids and parents. The theme for the day is edible flowers, and participants will get to pick and eat some of early spring's prettiest and yummiest blossoms. We'll also take some time to meet the farm animals.

The beautiful sunshine we're enjoying right now is supposed to stick around through the weekend, so it's the perfect time to play on the farm!

Family days are geared for elementary-school-aged kids, but we can set up alternate activities for younger children too. Make sure to wear clothes and shoes that can get a little dirty!

Questions/RSVP: jenny@greenstringfarm.com

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Newsletter

Read the full newsletter online
Download the PDF

In this issue:

In the Store

see the list

Farm News

Everything around the farm is looking cheerful these days, with the bright yellow of mustard flowers on every hill and field, and the blue skies of almost-spring... read more

Featured Veggie: Swiss Chard

Recently, our red Swiss chard has been getting all the "oohs" and "ahhs" at the farm store... read more

Upcoming Events

Farm tour, family day, and community workdays... read more

Recipe: Creamed Chard

Our take on the classic dish is just as creamy and comforting as the original. read more

Recipe: Couscous Pilaf with Beets

A quick farm-fresh meal for weeknights. read more

Recipe: Broiled Asparagus

As luck would have it, the best way to cook asparagus is also the easiest. The broiler's flames bring out the sweet tenderness of the spears and lightly crisp them on the outside. read more

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A universe of stars-a field of suns

Last week I learned that it is, in fact, possible to see more of Orion than just his belt. Lying upside down on the deck of the Green String schoolhouse, three of us interns shared a moment of clarity and saw Orion in his entirety for the first time. Meanwhile, as Lansing Christman describes, in the fields around us there is blooming "another universe of stars, a slope of blossoms". The flowers are coming out one by one, creating new constellations in the fields and trees, and it is a very beautiful time at the farm.

We interns had a great week, starting with a wine tasting session with the Cline/ Jacuzzi Director of Winemaking, Charlie Tsegeletos. Next came a visit to a couple-thousand-year-old bay tree during a class on tree surgery.

But the highlight of the week came on Saturday, when, after a long and harsh winter deprived of blood-red root vegetables, we harvested BEETS for our Winter Harvest Dinner with Petaluma Mentor Me. Kids, mentors, and interns all had a blast harvesting vegetables and salad greens, then chopping, cooking, and enjoying a lovely winter's feast. Hearty food and much merriment was shared, culminating in what you may call a bit of a barn dance.

Did I mention we had beets? That brings me to the official recipe selection of the week. Hailing from the dark, dark, sasquatch-laden forests of the far northwest (Seattle), I give you:

"Back to Your Roots Cookies"

Things you will need:

1 cup Butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup cooked, mashed beets (or carrots!)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamom

Things you will need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Then mix in your mashed beets (or carrots!), egg, and vanilla, and set aside. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cardamom. Add the dry ingredients to the beet mixture and blend thoroughly. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is slightly soft and the bottoms are beginning to brown. Makes about 30 small-ish to medium-ish, beautiful red cookies.

* To add a little something-something, I mixed in some chocolate chips with the dough. Probably about a third of a package, so the chocolate does not take center stage but still says hello.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Natural process agriculture

I have been an intern at the Green String Institute for a little over two months now. Shortly my introduction to natural process growing, under the teachings of Bob Cannard, will be coming to an end. Though I am returning to my home of the Pacific Northwest, I will be taking with me important lessons for what is actually possible in the transformation to sustainable agriculture that is needed.
There are varying thought processes that define different practices for how nature truly grows. Teachings of Masanbou Fukoka and Bill Mollison are two prominent philosophies/practices in this area. Bob Cannards life observing and interacting in a natural food system, has brought him to the teachings that I am currently receiving. Natural process farming has three main tenets (as I see it); full maturity of crop cropping systems, actively aerated aerobic compost tea, and broad-spectrum mineral application. Though there are many other practices being used on this farm, through the use of these three practices soils that have been destroyed by our previous culture are now coming back to tilth. Thus the end goal of providing for humanity while leaving the land better than when we started is achieved.
The machines and animals of our ancestors destroyed the native forests and ecosystems, replacing it with poor management. Soils became compacted, supporting low level life forms, as nutrients and minerals washed away with the feet of soil. This land is riveted with gullies that continue to form as the scars from our culture cement our attitude towards nature. But this is changing…
I’ve worked on various biodynamic, Permaculture, and organic farms—mostly throughout the NW—and none have rival the full potential that is the Green String way. Not only does natural process farming build soil, reinoculating biological communities with broad-spectrum nutrients and minerals in conjunction with soil organic matter; it is also easy. These methods are able to be applied on a large scale; big enough make the large transition we need from industrial agriculture to local sustainable agriculture and small/effective enough so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.
This has given me hope. I have hope for our future, when erratic weather conditions due to global warming, peak oil, consolidation of corporate agriculture, loss of biodiversity ,and economic/ social instability leave little room it. Slowly our culture is realizing that naturally grown food makes more sense than the herbicide ball from industrial agriculture, and that it tastes better. Slowly with time, we can make this tremendous shift back to growing our food near our homes, and we can also move into a new era where humans take responsibility for our role upon Earth and grow a future more prosperous and bountiful than ever imagined.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

lessons learned in a cardoon (or artichoke) field

cardoons take finesse: to spell, to cook, to find. or maybe not finesse, but savvy. they are wonderful when prepared with some caveats and with friends with whom it gets along (heavy cream [yes, do it, don't skimp] breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese) but can be like eating stringy packing thingies if they are not picked well or undercooked. if follows then that all you gastronomically inclined folks must be wondering.

"how do you pick good cardoons?"

patience mostly.

early on (think right now) in the season for cardoons and artichokes they are few and far between, artichokes much more than cardoons, but more on them in april when there will be billions.

cardoons, if you really want to get technical are a specific sort of naturally occurring cousin of the globe artichoke of which there are many cultivated varieties. traditionally you pick the entire cardoon plant before it has opened completely and you get nice small, usually blanched stalks. but you don't get anything else after that, nothing grows back. so once, when we ran out of true cardoons for a restaurant order, we cut some artichoke stalks and lo and behold, they preferred them. makes sense, they are so closely related as to be indistinguishable once prepared and cutting artichoke stalks means the entire plant is not killed, so long as not too many are taken from one plant. so it worked out for both us and our customers.

but it doesn't make finding the nice ones easier. when i say a nice one, i mean a fairly large stalk that is free from bubbles it's entire length (which indicates hollow or soft stalks) and is firm enough to resist a hard squeeze between thumb and forefinger. obviously old or damaged stalks are no good.

so there you are, out in our front cardoon-ichoke field, it's lightly raining but you can see sun a couple miles away, 52 degrees and you wonder if the people glancing at you from their cars on the road do so with envy or pity. you have five boxes to fill and you start at one end where the plants are mostly small but there is a cluster of larger ones. you dismiss several plants around you as you pull one or two stalks to look down them and see large bubbles the whole length. as you move toward the cluster of larger plants you check a few smaller plants that might just be long enough. you feel at the base of the stalk and it seems good, so you cut three from the plant and keep walking, none of the cluster of large plants is any good. didn't somebody say that cold is what helps the stalks harden up completely? well, definitely not frost, cut a cardoon stalk when it's frozen and see if the restaurants appreciate getting an entirely floppy useless box of cardoons, you let your mind wander as you try more and more, accumulating perhaps one cardoon per twenty tested. after half an hour you take a look at your box and notice a few smallish bubbles higher up on the stalk of a few of them. they're still usuable though, right? to know for sure you take your knife and cut one about midway down the stalk and discover a marked hollowness that was not even hinted at from the look of the base of the stalk. curses follow, you had three quarters of a box picked, but now it looks more like half a box with the three from that first plant tossed out. exasperated, you continue, the box is getting heavy so you set it down and concentrate only on seeking out those nice, big, solid stalks. no, bubbles, no, too small, no, not firm, too small, bubbles, none of these are any good, oop, old birds nest, here's two good ones, too small, bubbles, uh-oh...where did you put the box. it was right behind that one plant, right? or in the next row over? you carry around the two good stalks, sure that the people in those cars are laughing riotously as you wander around searching for your lost farm box, you can just hear them.

to avoid this situation, avoid being overly single-minded. avoid being in a hurry. embrace the weather and your soaking wet pants. don't lick your lips after picking cardoons all day, the bitterness from the plants sticks to them, and definitely don't rub your eyes unless you like having watery, itchy eyes for an hour or so.

these are all lessons learned in a cardoon field, now i've gotta go get three more boxes, see ya.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February Newsletter

Read the full newsletter online
Download the PDF

In this issue:

In the Store

see the list

Farm News

We have 200 (adorable) baby chicks coming in this first week of the month, which means that in another year we'll have many more eggs... read more

Featured Veggie: Turnip

It's hard to think of a vegetable that's as under-appreciated as the turnip... read more

Upcoming Events

Winter's Harvest Supper, Farm tour, family day, and community workdays... read more

Recipe: Cardoon Gratin

Cardoons have all the flavor of their close relatives, artichokes, but are significantly easier to prepare. read more

Recipe: Paprika-Glazed Turnips

This buttery, tasty dish will make a turnip-lover out of anyone. read more

Recipe: Crispy Lacinato Kale

Cook kale over high heat and it transforms into a crispy snack. read more

Winter's Harvest Supper

Green String Farm is proud to present a Winter’s Harvest Supper. In collaboration with Mentor Me Petaluma, Green String Farm would like to invite community members to the farm to enjoy a meal entirely harvested and prepared by Mentor Me Petaluma mentors and mentees.

Feast along with the Green String interns and Mentor Me Petaluma. Put on your dancing shoes for dinner, live music and hearty merry-making beginning at 5:30pm. Tickets available at the Green String Farm store.

Saturday, February 20th, 2010 5:30-8:30 P.M.
Green String Farm Barn 3751 Old Adobe Rd. Petaluma, CA 95494
Sliding scale $25 to $50

All proceeds donated to Mentor Me Petaluma.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Delicious Intern Fun

Hi All, 

 Your faithful Green String (W)Interns have made a New Years resolution to take advantage of the short days and cozy fog blanket of winter to motivate ourselves to kick off our muddy boots, snuggle up with a hot-toddy and get online and update y'all on the farm goings-ons! 

Right now we are spending a lot of time in the kitchen to keep warm in front of the stove and the oven, baking bread and making soup. Here is one of my favorite hearty, healthy  and easy to make winter soups. Courtesy of my Aunt Lo... 

* items available at Green String Farm Store

Winter Squash and Apple Soup 

*2 winter squash (spaghetti, red kuri or acorn)

3 c. apples, peeled and cored (Fuji or Gala)

*1 large onion, roughly chopped

3 c. apple cider

3 T. butter

*2 T. fresh sage, chopped (or 1 T. dried)

*1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 T. dried)

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley for garnish 

Bake whole squash in a 375 degree oven in a shallow roasting pan until tender.  Remove from oven and cool.  Split squash in half, scoop out seeds and scrape meat from skin. 

Sauté onions and apples in butter until golden.  Add spices and herbs.  When cool, scrape contents of pan into a food processor or blender.  Deglaze pan with 1 c. cider, and add to blender.   Add baked squash to processor and puree.   

Place puree in a deep saucepan and add remainder of cider.  Heat gently and adjust seasonings to taste.  Garnish with chopped parsley. 

Chicken broth may be substituted for cider, if a less sweet soup is desired.  For a richer soup, cream or creme fraiche may be added. 


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January Newsletter

Read the full newsletter online
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In this issue:

In the Store

Cabbage, lettuce, and squash, oh my! read more

Farm News

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that we’re the kind of folks who get really excited about vegetables. Winter veggies may seem somewhat less thrilling... read more

Crushed Rock

Bob Cannard has been using crushed volcanic rock for over 30 years to increase the vitality of the soil. Properly applied, crushed volcanic rock increases... read more

Upcoming Events

Farm tour, family day, and community workdays... read more

Recipe: Winter Tomato Soup

A blast of summer’s goodness in winter’s favorite form -- soup! Serve with grilled cheese the next time you need some serious comfort food. read more

Recipe: Simple Squash Soup

Try out different kinds of squash for this thick, rich soup, like pumpkin, red kuri, pink banana, and hubbard. read more

Recipe: Hearty Greens with Sausage and Blue Cheese

The bright greens and reds from collards and chard in this dish bring a little color to gray winter days, and sausage adds a little umph! read more