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Thanksgiving Holiday Planning

Every year for the Thanksgiving holiday we offer an additional special Holiday Box ($35) full of traditional Thanksgiving meal items for your celebration. Not only can you schedule a Holiday Box to be delivered the week of Thanksgiving, but also the week before and the week after. You can have this box delivered along with your regular order or in place of your regular order. The box menu is as follows (*denotes local):

Holiday Box Menu

Granny Smith Apples, 2 lbs.*

Cranberries, 8 oz.*

Satsumas, 3 lbs.

Breadcubes for Stuffing, 1 lb.*

Celery, 1 bunch

Acorn Squash, 1 ea.*

Green Beans, 1 lb.

Garnet Yams, 2 lbs.

Carrots, 2 lbs.

Yellow Potatoes, 3 lbs.*

Onions, 1 lb.*

Remembering Neighbors in Need

If your celebration includes helping the less fortunate who live in our community, we would like to partner with you by giving you the opportunity to purchase a discounted Holiday Box for $25, to be given to local food banks the week of Thanksgiving. Last year 174 Holiday Boxes were donated and this year we’d love to have a greater impact. The volunteers at the food banks have expressed again and again how wonderful and satisfying it is to be able to supply people with fresh produce. Please call or e-mail us to set up this donation.

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Organic, Conventional, and Chemical

I was reading in one of my farm papers and I was drawn to an article about biotech sugar beets and how this massive farm company (19,000 acres) was so thankful that the USDA had deregulated GMO sugar beets. I have actually met the president of this farm company a few years ago, which is also why the article caught my attention. I have been following the GMO debacle for years. What really set me thinking was a new shift in thinking.

In the past, farmers have been categorized as either conventional (those that use synthetic chemicals) or organic (those that don’t). But this president was also thankful that the USDA allowed GMO sugar beets, because one of his field managers said, and I paraphrase, “I was going to quit if I had to go back to conventional farming.” What this means to me is we have moved from two types of farming paradigms to three. We now have organic, conventional, and chemical farmers now! That field manager didn’t want to go back to using plows, discs and mechanical weeding, he just wants to plant, spray, and harvest. Talk about having to reread and reread and reread that statement. I am so grieved by this thinking. We are moving farther and farther away from the ability to farm without Monsanto’s GMO laced poison crops. Sure there are pockets of farmers like ourselves, but there are literally hundreds of millions of acres of acres now being farmed chemically and using GMO crops that it will be harder and harder to turn the tide on this trend.

We need to win this battle for good food. There are two ways to win this fight. First, don’t buy GMO products. This alone would cause these companies to change farming practices. Right now the money is too good to change. Hit them in the pocketbook and we will see change. And second, labeling. MANDATORY LABELING of GMO foods will “encourage” farmers, processors, and marketers to change more quickly when the public shies away from GMO products.

Future generations of people deserve the right to eat real food, from seeds that are not injected with pesticides and herbicides, grown in soil that is alive and fertile. That is what we believe and that is how we farm.

Thanks for being co-laborers in this fight for good food.

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Butternut Squash & Apple Soup Recipe

When squash and apples meet, the result is delicious. Enjoy!

Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 16 ounces cubed butternut squash, about 1 large squash
  • 1 small leek, cleaned and sliced, about 1/3 cup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup cubed apple pieces
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

PROCEDURE:

  1. In a dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the butternut squash and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. If the squash begins to brown, turn heat to low.
  2. Add the prepared leeks and garlic to the pan with the squash. Saute for 1 minute. Add the apples and saute for another 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Cover the vegetable mixture with the broth and water. Add the bay leaf. Simmer over medium-low to low heat until the squash and apples are very tender, about 7-10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  4. Transfer mixture (carefully) to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add the maple syrup, sage and half and half or cream. Blend again until combined. Taste and then season with salt and pepper according to your preference.
  5. Serve immediately. Garnish with cream, sour cream, and/or additional sage leaves if desired.

*Recipe courtesy of Simple Bites.

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What a Hit!

Alright, truth be told, I didn’t know what to expect when I announced to my team that we were going to have a Squash Fest. Having never hosted an event like this and with such short notice, I was thoroughly blessed to see so many of our customers on Friday and Saturday. An even bigger shocker to me was the turnout of seniors and super seniors.

In my mind, I imagined several young families coming out to “see” where their box of good comes from. While young families did show up, it was our “more mature” customers who wanted to buy squash, and lots of it. We even had repeat shoppers. Three customers in particular came back the second day for more of their favorites. As a farmer, it really blessed my heart to know they wanted more of the food that I grow and that it was worth the second trip in order to “stock up.”

Saturday was also a production day for us, so we had a crew out harvesting squash and bunching spinach. With all the activity of my crew working, customers picking, and tractors in the field, one customer commented that the picturesque scene remind her of Norman Rockwell’s artistry.

To help sort and accumulate the pumpkins into nice piles, I enlisted the help of a few young strapping boys. My crew, after handling several thousands of pounds of squash, was thankful for their help. So, thank you Caden and Chase for your help. And, of course, thank you Brenda for bringing your boys out to the farm.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, we harvested lots of squash that we will be sending your way over the next few months.

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Gluten-Free Fennel Apple Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 (medium to large) fennel bulbs stems removed and diced
  • 2 large apples (I used Honeycrisp), peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot
  • Sauté onion over low or medium heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and almost browned
  • Add fennel and apples and cook for 5-10 minutes until they start to soften or brown
  • Add chicken stock and thyme
  • Puree soup in small batches (for safety purposes) in a Vitamix/food processor until smooth and creamy
  • Reheat soup and serve

From www.elanaspantry.com

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Cover Crops, Soil Fertility, and Labeling

We have planted all of our open ground to cover crops this fall. Cover cropping is the practice of covering your fields or gardens with a living crop. It can be wheat, vetch, rye, peas, clover, and even weeds. The purpose is to maintain organic matter in the soil, which helps hold nutrients in the growing zone areas of the soil. Another purpose is to prevent erosion.  Down here where it floods, a lot of bare soil can move around quickly, but ground that is covered rarely erodes.  Also, the cover crop will take nutrients up into the growing plant and hold those nutrients all winter in the plant, preventing them from leaching away in the soil.

In particular, with our rainy winters, nutrients can migrate out of the upper six inches of soil and be lost. The loss of nutrients is a big deal because those nutrients represent lost money to the farmer and in the spring more fertilizer will need to be purchased to replace what nutrients leached away. But even more importantly, our environment is impacted when minerals are leached away and end up in rivers, streams, lakes, the ocean, and even work their way down to aquifers. And polluting our drinking waters with excessive agricultural chemicals and nutrients is not wise.

While farming can be a culprit for water table issues, in areas like the Puget Sound  our urban neighbors have a huge impact with the use of lawn and garden fertilizers and chemicals. Sadly, agriculture usually gets targeted for this issue because a lot of the urban chemical use is upstream of farmers and is filtered through the flood plains on their way to the ocean. Another reason the regulators sometimes blame farmers for water pollution is because, quite frankly, farmers represent less votes (approximately 1% nationally) than urban corridors.

On our farm we plant cover crops so we can grow healthier food, prevent erosion and feed our soil microbiology in the spring.  Without healthy soil, you can’t have healthy food. And if American’s health issues are an indication, American farmers should change their farming methods!

I think we could change the health of the American food supply by doing two simple things: first, start requiring labeling for GMO foods and secondly, before any farm subsidy is given out, the farmer needs to demonstrate that their soil fertility is being maintained by submitting soil samples. By doing these two things we would radically change the direction of our food supply for the better.

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Each day deserves to be special

Slowly backing my car out of the unfamiliar driveway, I watched my friend shuffle for her keys and lead her two young girls into the house they were staying in while visiting from out of town. As I drove away, tears began to well up inside me as I thought of my friend carrying on with her life after suddenly losing her husband just two months prior.

It is so cliché to come away from that scene and think that I will live my life differently, as her tragedy was a reminder of life’s frailty. Driving the ten blocks back to my house, I imagined myself collapsing into my husband’s arms, shaking from tears and trying to squeeze out the words, “I love you.” But by the time I got home my mind was already focused on tomorrow’s activities and all that needs to be done in and around my home. I said a quick hello to my husband and then set about my to-do list.

Our days are so filled with activities: lists of things that need done, children to care for, a home to clean, businesses to tend to, etc. It’s too easy to forget that at any moment it could all be gone.

For me, food has the ability to gently remind me of life’s gift—that this place is temporary and we are just passing through. Often when we eat, we have a moment to press “pause” on our day. I hope that perhaps we can press “pause” for a bit longer.

On the days when meals become another thing to simply cross off the to-do list, I try to remind myself that, as with life, food is a gift. Taking a few moments to slice fresh tomatoes and to top them with goat cheese, basil and olive oil, provides me the soft, sweet reminder that this day deserves to feel special. Each day deserves to be special.

Food is used to aid in celebrations, to welcome life, honor unions, and mark traditions. When an ordinary day is marked with a meal that feels somewhat out of the ordinary, then suddenly I am reminded that each day is a gift and there is no reason for it to feel like every other day. Life is far too short.

by Ashley Rodriguez

Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. Read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com