Thursday, May 26, 2011

For New Customers

Welcome to Foothill Farm

We have been farming this soil for 20 years.  It was organic from the first day, 10 years before the Government decided to make rules and regulations for organic.

Our farm practices
We were the first registered organic grower in Santa Clara County.  We do not use pesticides or herbicides.  We make compost and buy organic compost from Zbest.   Our farm inputs include endomycorrhizae, remineralization both with greensand and fines from Santa Clara Valley, blood meal, bone meal, dolomite lime,  Organic Sul-po-mag, fish emulsion, kelp, and feather meal.  We have no employees.  We have occasional help from friends or relatives, our adult children and their friends.  This our family farm.  Our children were raised here, my brother lives next door and is raising his children here.

Traveling Chicken House
We also raise free range laying chickens and support a colony of feral cats.  And yes, we treat them all with kindness.

Seeds and Plants
Our seeds come from all over the world.  Most of the folks we buy seeds from are like minded and farm in the same conscientious way that we do.  We also raise and save our own seed.  Most of what we grow you won't find in a store and often not even at the farmer's market.

Heirloom Tomatoes
Every year we conduct trials to test old and new vegetables and farm practices.  We are running concurrent field trials of upland rice, rare tomato varieties,  kenaf, Italian heirloom dry beans and a new corn for polenta/baking.  We are also collecting wood char for an experiment with terra preta, a form of carbon sequestering.  In 2011 an onion trial to develop an onion suitable for San Martin.  In 2012 we worked on a carrot and melon trial.  What's new for 2013?  New types of beans, garbanzos, and black-eyed peas - Cicers and Vignas.  Although you won't taste these this year, you will in future years.

We cooperate with other farmers, sharing research and trading seeds.  We also share information with the USDA and the Istituto di Genetica Vegetale in Bari, Italy.  We help other farmers by offering their products to our CSA.  In 2012 we worked with Oils of Paicines to bring organic olive oil to our customers.  For 2013 we have asked a small farmer in Alaska to make soap for us.

We deliver in Morgan Hill at People and Planet on Mondays and door to door in Morgan Hill and at the Santa Clara Valley Water District on Wednesdays (this drop is ONLY for District employees).  New this year:  Poolside in San Jose on Wednesdays (this drop off is only for Presentation High School).  During the spring boxes may be delivered every other week, and in the summer, every week.  We are limited to 20 families. 

The cost per box is $35.  There is a $30 NON-REFUNDABLE fee to sign-up.  You can quit anytime, as long as you give us a week's notice.  You can go on vacation and not pay for your box, as long as you notify me a week in advance.  You can also cancel your box on Sonday of any week or skip a box, if you have too much produce.  However, if you forget to tell notify us, you will be charged for the box.  If you have an emergency such as a sick child or you can't make it to pick-up your box, notify us by e-mail the morning of your delivery by 9:00 a.m.  We will cancel your box at no charge.  Once we pick for you, the box is yours and you will be charged.

You can specify allergies or dislikes of vegetables or other items and we will not put them in your box.

The boxes are packed for a family of four.  If you are a vegetarian, you will find that you will run out of produce before the week is out.  If you are an omnivore, pretty much you should have plenty of veges.  You can specify no eggs.  Eggs are up to the chickens, but normally you will get eggs once a month

If you do not cook, you will not like our CSA.  We provide a wide diversity of food, best suited to those who like to experiment and try new things, or old things.

We try to provide interesting products to our subscribers at no charge.  We make bread or baked goods, jam, juice, salsa, pickles, dried vegetables and fruits.  These are prepared in our own kitchen with supplies from our own farm and neighboring farmers.  Please return the jars when they are empty in your box/bag.  We recycle everything, again and again and again.  Questions about ingredients or recipes are always welcome.

Seasonality and Timing
Sign-ups are generally in January.  That is when the seeds for summer crops are started.  It happens that sometimes folks drop out and there is a place open mid-season.  The main season is Memorial Day through Thanksgiving (May-November).  Some years we start as early as April and end in December.  All farming is weather dependent.  The fall season runs from December through March.  There are only 5 spots for the fall season, as much of the farm is resting and so are we.   We work 7 days a week through the season.  There are no tomatoes in May and there is no lettuce in July.  The boxes change with the season.  The above photo of the box was taken in September, at the height of the harvest season.

Boxes and Bags
We assign 2 bags or 2 boxes per customer.  You must return one when you pick up the next one.  For example if you pick up a bag on June 2, when you come to pick up your next delivery on June 16, we expect you to turn in a bag.  Likewise at the end of the season, we expect you to turn in all bags.  If you do not want to be bothered with this, please provide your own bags.  If you have 2 bags or boxes out, your next delivery will be packed in whatever I can find to pack them in.  If you don't return the bags/boxes you will be charged $25 each for them.

Choices Choices Choices
1.  Once a week box $35.00 - Packed for a family of 4 - $140 a month.
Note that some months have 5 weeks!
2.  Once a week bag $25.00 - Packed for a family of 2. - $100 a month.
 Note that some months have 5 weeks!
3.  Box every other week $35.00. - $70 a month
4.  Bag every other week $25.00. - $50 a month

To simplify bookkeeping, I'd like you all to pay by the month, due at
the beginning of the month, with your first delivery.  Please put your
payment in your box or mail it to me.

We will start up in April and go through September.  If you suddenly find you have a change of circumstances and are not able to pay, please let us know.  We'll work it out.

The farm is always closed for 4th of July.  We donate all produce to the food bank that week.  As many folks are on vacation that week, it just seems to work out.  If you need extra produce for an event or holiday gathering, let us know and we'll see what we can do. 

Visiting the Farm
Please call or e-mail ahead.  Never on a Wednesday or Thursday as we are busy picking.  Fridays are the best day to visit.  Please no pets and wear sturdy shoes.  This has been a farm for over 100 years and the archeological evidence has turned up shards of glass, nails, chess pieces, hinges, bolts, bones, etc.  None of which are pleasant to find with your feet.  (So far there has been no gold, diamonds, or treasure beyond the beauty of the earth and growing things).

See May 31, 2010 for the general info on becoming an intern.  Want to spend a day as a farmer, learn how to can?  It can be arranged. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SCVWD CSA - May 25

What's in the Box?
Look at those Peas and Greens Go!

Peas, Fava Beans, Lettuce!, Swiss Chard, Mint, Lemons, Onions or Green Garlic (just for you J), Rat Tails, Radishes.

And this weeks special gifts:  Strawberry Jam & Organic Olive Oil.

Baked Radish Chips

5 radishes
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. paprika
Thinly slice the radishes.  Steam in microwave 5 minutes.  Put in a bowl with spices and stir.
Oil a pan and bake the chips at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Flip the chips and bake for another 10 minutes.

Spring is Here
I love these.  Nothing says Spring is here more than Favas, radishes and lettuce on the farm.  We like Favas so much that Leo and I crisp up many a leaf before there are really favas.  Making Fava Bean leaves is really easy.  I dissolve a little salt in some water and swish the leaves in it.  I then lightly oil a frying pan and put it on high.  I drop the leaves in one by one and flip and remove them.  Leo stands and gobbles them as fast as I can make them.  Now that the beans are here.  I want them for every meal.
Golden Peas

Fava Beans:

To store Fava Bean pods, place them in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator right away. The pods will keep for five to seven days in the refrigerator.

Store cooked and peeled Fava Beans in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days at most.

How to Prepare There are three steps to preparing a Fava Bean:
    1.    Removing the beans from the pod.
    2.    Blanching the beans to soften for easy removal of the outer shell.
    3.    Peeling off the outer shell before eating or cooking to end with a bright-green, soft-scrumptious bean!

Cook beans in a large saucepan in plenty of boiling water until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the bean. Drain well and rinse with cold water to cool. Peel outer shell of bean before eating.  They can then be eaten like edamame, or Leo’s favorite...spring garlic & olive oil, lightly sauteed and sprinkled with oregano.

Fava beans have a long tradition of cultivation being among the most ancient plants in cultivation and also among the easiest to grow. It is believed that along with lentils, peas, and chickpeas, they became part of the eastern Mediterranean diet in around 6000 BC or earlier.   Fava bean seeds were used by the Greeks to vote with (black was no).

Coming Soon Potatoes

Foul Medammas
1/2 onion chopped
couple of cloves of chopped garlic
1 medium tomato
1-2 cups of shelled favas
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. chilli powder
1 1/2 T. Lemon Juice
1/2 c. parsley
Sauté the onion and garlic in a large, non-stick skillet for about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 4 minutes. Stir in the fava beans, cumin, and red pepper, and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash the fava beans lightly, right in the skillet, until most of the beans are mashed. Scoop into a serving bowl, and mix in the lemon juice and parsley. Serve with warm pita bread.

Coming Soon
There's lots of great looking produce coming your way, the potatoes are getting close.   This is the first of the peas, so the serving will be much more generous barring any help from gopher beastie.  There will be more lettuce,  garlic, more greens, kale, and some day, if the weather stops dropping below 45 in the evening, we should have corn, beans and tomatoes.... last night it was 37.   As a comparison, this week last year we were eating potatoes, not just admiring them.

Dumb Cluck has finally hatched out her one and only baby chick.  We're calling him Little Pecker.  George, the Rooster is very proud.  If she quits sitting on him, and hiding him behind her fanny feathers, I'll take a picture.  He's a cutie.

Have a great week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Requiem for Holstein

Services were held for Holstein the Barn Cat this morning.  I've been calling him for 3 days and he hasn't shown up for meals.  Holstein is usually the first one to the feed station.  He comes trotting up whenever I call him.

I began to worry yesterday evening and told Leo that it was highly unusual and all.  This morning he drug himself as close as he could get to the feed station and then slipped away.  He came to tell me that he was trying to answer my call.  It was the best he could do.

Holstein and his two brothers adopted us.  We don't know why, but we've fed the three of them for a year.  Holstein was never as pretty as his brothers or as handsome as his mother.  I think if he was up for adoption he wouldn't have been the first choice.  But, beauty is only skin deep and Holstein was always the cat who tried to be a good farm cat.  He never tried to come in the house, or sneak into the food dish.  He was affectionate while you were feeding him, and left the other cats and chickens alone.

Most cats would like to have families.  Adolph, his brother would like to move into our house.  Rocky would like a family with a little girl, so he could get a lot of love.  Holstein was happy being a barn cat.

Thanks Holstein for letting me know.  You were a good barn cat.  That'll do.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19 CSA - People & Planet

What's in the Bag?

Artichokes, strawberries, lemons, peas, radishes, mint, onions, chives, lettuces and greens - Swiss Chard/Kale/Lambs Quarters/Portulaca, Eggs, and rat tails.

This week's special gifts:

Strawberry Jam and Olive Oil

Our farmer friends at Oil of Paicines have graciously given us a great price on Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced from the Mission olive trees.   The folks at Paicines gently pick their olives as they are turning from purple to black so that their oil has a distinctive buttery flavor.  I have included a sample size of this oil.  If enough of you want to order the 250ml bottle, they'll give them to us at $10 a bottle.  You can check them out at

This week at the farm we planted squash, melons and rice.  Now rice is not something that we normally grow, but with the recent addition of human genes to rice, I figured I better put some in and save the seed.  Kind of like this balloonist can fly over my farm without permission, so GMO can contaminate our food supply.  I started this year growing our own corn for the farm and rice.  Next year we hope to include wheat and barley.

Rat Tail Radish
You'll be delighted with this vegetable's versatility. Add chopped pods to a salad to give it some zing. Try pickling them. (William Woys Weaver provides a good recipe in his book "Heirloom Vegetable Gardening.") They are superb in stir-fries
Add pods to a crudité platter, or just surround a bowl of dip with them at a spring gathering. No one will know what they are, and you might want to think twice before saying, "Those are rat tails." Of course, kids love the name.  I like them lightly crisped in olive oil.

Pickled Rat Tails
Strip the rat tails from the stalk put the pods in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Cover and chill 30 minutes.  Drain the liquid and rinse to remove the salt.  Add 2 T. rice vinegar, a dash of pepper and splash of Sesame seed oil.  Chill for 8 hours and eat.

From a Distance
Here's a rare view of the farm taken from on top of the hay.  Doesn't it look orderly and tidy?  There's no bugs, no weeds, no disease.  I guess sometimes I just need to step back to realize how beautiful it all is.

Topiary Cow.  The kind Leo says I can have.
1/2 cube butter, room temperature
2 t. of lemon
Sprig of Mint
4 sprigs of Chives
1 T of parsley
3 Radishes, washed, trimmed and chopped

Beat the butter until smooth, add lemon juice, herbs. Spread on bread. Toss radishes on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper. The secret to this great recipe is really fresh radishes and great butter.  Leo and I took a tour of the McClelland Dairy in Petaluma.  Now that's butter.  I have cow envy.  I also got to milk a cow and make cheese!

You all know that if you can eat it on toast, I love it, jam, butter, beans and Cheeessseee! 

Strawberry Jam Salad Dressing
1 T. of Jam
1 t. of  Dry Mustard
1 T. of Rice Vinegar
1 T. of Olive Oil

Put it all in a jar and shake, or put it in a bowl and stir.  Add salt and pepper or herbs, zest of lemon as desired.  Lasts for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

Remember, to wash your produce, just before use.  Eggs are unwashed, please wash just before you use them.  Eggs are from the last 8 days.  They will last 2-3 months.  Remember, really fresh eggs do not make good hard boiled eggs. 

Have a great week.  Please, if you still have a bag out, return it when you pick up.  May 2nd, next bag...I hope...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Potatoes and Hay
This was one of my father's favorite expressions.  As a child I never knew what it meant.  l didn't know that hay that was rained on was ruined.   Bob Woods is 70 years old.  Every year he does our hay for us.  He pretty much does everyone's hay in South County.  He's got the experience and equipment.  On Saturday night as Leo and I were frantically planting before the rain, Bob and his helper had already mowed 200 acres of grass, baled and stacked it and round about 8 pm were putting a tarp on it.

Farming is still about making hay when the sun shines.  Some days you don't feel like weeding, or raking or bucking bales of hay, but when the sun is out, you have to do it, because tomorrow is too late.

Otis the cat loves hay.  He says he wants to drive the Zamboni...the hay maker....I know a Zamboni is an Ice maker, but you try and tell that to Otis.  Every year as soon as the haying equipment arrives, he's out there climbing on everything.  Just in case you can't see his silhouette above on the left, here it is again while he admires the view.

So where's my CSA?
Okay, the weather has been less than cooperative, but the garden always helps out.  People and Planet, you will have a delivery,  Thursday, the 19th.  Peas, greens, artichokes and more.  Strawberries is another crop that doesn't like rain, so I harvested them and turned them into jam.    There may not be enough berries for this week.  SCVWD you will have a delivery on May 25th

A Word about Jam...It's not made in a commercial kitchen.  I make it at home in small batches from what grows here on the farm, or what comes locally from other organic farms.  This is is the basic ingredient list for every jam I make:   Fruit, sugar, Pomona's Pectin, lemon juice. That's it.

Peas and Greens
You are not required to eat my jam.  If you don't want it, don't eat it, or?  leave it with Mike or Leo and they'll send it back to me.   

There are no guarantees or warranties on any baked goods or jams, pickles or anything that come from my kitchen.  You are free to take them or leave them.  I never charge you for jam or baked goods, they are gifts.  Enjoy them if you wish. 

Talk about wild weather...the roof blew off the traveling chicken house and landed on top the barn.   Dorothy are we in Kansas?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 4th and Gee it's Hot

Okay, who took my Spring?  Spring (noun) the season after winter and before summer, in which vegetation begins to appear, in the northern hemisphere from March to mid June.  It's 90 degrees!

For the record the record in San Martin for May 4th is 77 degrees (2004).  This is not Palm Springs.  It's not supposed to be 90 degrees in May.  The peas don't like it.  I don't like it.  It's creepy and it's going to ruin the roses.

I have a big and beautiful rose that only blooms once a year.  Now, I like to have it hang around just long enough so that I can make a jam that has rhubarb, rose petals and strawberries.  I call it Spring in Jar.  I send it to Greenville to remind them that yes, spring will come to them. Well the berries are here, the roses are here, but the rhubarb is still asleep in Greenville, where it's a balmy 75 degrees, but they are still having frost at night.

What's up?
Casey picking Strawberries
Corn, peppers, tomatoes, first of the green beans, spring greens, potatoes, more peas, radishes, eggplant, peppers, melons and cucumbers have all poked their heads out of the ground and look great.   ---- 

Coming soon to a box near you:
Swiss chard, radishes, artichokes, fava bean leaves, and more.  People and Planet May 19, SCVWD May 25.

Still to go in the ground:  more green beans, more flowers, the Italian Bean Trial, more onions, okra and squash.  Well, I'm off to water some more.

Chicken update:  One more lazy hen decided to give up sitting on her eggs.  We're going to call her Mazie.  If anyone sees Horton, send him our way.