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Posts Tagged ‘csa’

Earlier in September, I conducted an email interview with farmer Margie Pikarsky about the Oriental Fruit Fly quarantine, and how it impacts the Bee Heaven Farm CSA and the upcoming Redlands GrowFest!

Q: How does this quarantine affect Bee Heaven Farm and the CSA? What are you growing that’s affected?

MP: Luckily, this is just as farmers are gearing up for the start of the winter growing season, there is not much exposure to row crops, and plenty of time to put preventive treatment programs in place before harvesting begins of susceptible crops like squashes, tomatoes and beans. We are starting treatment with Spinosad as soon as we can get our hands on it, beginning the 30-day countdown.

As far as BHF, we’re essentially done with avocado harvest. Carambolas will be dehydrated, seagrapes are already harvested and frozen awaiting delivery, items previously harvested were already delivered. Guavas will be pulped and frozen or dehydrated, allspice berries have been harvested and frozen.

I don’t anticipate much problem with the CSA. I have to take precautions with incoming listed items (they are kept in protected storage, coolers are sealed), offloaded when they’re going to be packed, and packed and transported in a protected manner, in a sealed truck). Listed veggies include squashes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, beans.

Q: How does the quarantine affect the upcoming Redland GrowFest!?

Seedlings and fruiting plants that are currently NOT bearing fruit are not controlled. So we can sell our seedlings with no problem. Fruit trees, as long as they are stripped of any fruit (no matter how tiny), can be sold as well, so GrowFest! will be able to go off with minimal disruption.

In fact, listed items coming in from outside the quarantine area (currently, Health and Happiness Farm, Verde Farm, and Paradise Farms, for example, are outside the QA), can be sold, as long as they are protected. Displays can be protected by using a screened enclosure or other covering (this applies to fruit stands). The screening cannot touch the fruit, and the mesh has to be <4mm. I’m sure we’ll think of creative ways to pre-pack/bag listed items, but remember a lot of things like baby greens and herbs, for example, will not require any special handling.

Q: How long is this quarantine in place?

MP: The quarantine is in place for a minimum of 2 life cycles of the fly. First one is 30 days, second one is 32. If a third is needed, it would probably be 45 days, as their life expectancy lengthens with lower temperatures.

Q: What do you and other growers in the quarantine area have to do?

MP: Everyone within the quarantine area is asked to meet with FDACS OFF eradication program inspectors and enter into a compliance agreement, which spells out what they need to do. There are separate sections for growers (including homeowners), harvesters, packers, shippers, processors, lawn service/tree maintenance, sellers and dealers, charity (gleaners, soup kitchens), etc.

If you are outside the quarantine area, it’s business as usual, except that a) you have to protect any listed product going into or transiting through the quarantine area, you cannot receive listed product grown within the quarantine area without proof of treatment and compliance, and it must arrive fully protected (safely enclosed).

If you are inside the quarantine area, you cannot move listed product off your property unless it has been treated. There are 2 options: a) pre-harvest treatment for 30 days (with no positive finds near you during that time), or b) post-harvest treatment.

Post harvest treatments are limited here. Organic growers essentially have only the pre-harvest treatment option open. Chilling is an option, but unrealistic, except perhaps for carambola. There are a couple of other possibilities. You can consume the items on-site. You can process the items (freeze, dry, cook, grind), and then they are free to move off-farm and out of the quarantine area.

Other options that may be available to non-organic growers may include a combination of cold and fumigation, but it looks like only a fumigation treatment is available for avocados, as they cannot take cold storage in the temps or times required. TREC is looking at some short treatments. If they achieve kills and they can replicate the results, they may be able to approve it.

Q: Where did they find the fruit fly, and when?

MP: The core of the quarantine area is 1.5 miles around the positive finds. They are pretty much within about 1/2 mile of each other, roughly centered around 100-200 Avenues between 180-188 Streets. In these areas, multiple male flies were trapped (the highest something like 45 in 1 day). There were a couple of locations where larva were found. There was a female trapped as well.

In the areas around positive finds, anything on the list is stripped of fruit. The fruit is disposed of in an approved manner that prevents contamination. Traps to catch females are set. Soil surrounding positive finds is drenched with an approved pesticide (there are three, one of which is a Spinosad product approved for use in organic production), and surrounding trees are sprayed with the treatment (which is a bait). Male pheromone traps and female yeast traps re placed in the area. Utility poles are also sprayed up high. The OFF is a strong flyer.

Q: What else do CSA members and farm customers need to know about the OFF?

MP: The biggest single thing I’d say is: unless it’s already processed (jams and jellies, baked in bread, etc) don’t give away fruit, don’t accept fruit from someone else. Don’t say “I’m going to take this because it’s fine. Look, there’s no bugs on it! He’s my friend and I know he takes care of his plants. One will be OK.” No. This fly doesn’t care how well you take care of your plants, and you can’t see the eggs inside the fruit. It has no natural enemies here.

This is ONLY for a limited time. It’s imperative we get rid of this fly. It’s absolutely the worst pest. I’m sure most folks have heard about the Medfly – well, the list [of host plants] for that is maybe 20 lines long. The list for this fly is 13 PAGES long! Every fruit you can imagine is on it, every fruiting vegetable is on it, and many ornamentals too – even Ylang Ylang, for example.

We cannot allow this fly to become established here, because if it does, it will be truly devastating. So everyone tighten their belts for a couple of months and work together to do this.

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Saucy Kohlrabi

White (actually light green) kohlrabi

White (actually light green) kohlrabi

Kohlrabi, that crazy looking bulbous vegetable with large drapey leaves, is at its peak right now. It tastes like a blend of cabbage and turnip, and its name means precisely that — Kohl = cabbage and Rabi = turnip. You can throw it in a salad, or cook it like you would turnips or cabbage. The greens are similar to collards and can be prepared the same way. For those on an ultra-low carb or paleo diet, you can blanch the leaves to soften them, and then use them for wraps.

Kohlrabi started getting harvested in mid-November. It was the mystery dish at farmer Margie Pikarsky’s Thanksgiving Day dinner at the barn. Guests were trying to identify the light colored chunks, covered with sauce and chopped greens. Potatoes? Nein. Kohlrabi? Ja! Give thanks for  that unusual German brassica that was a favorite of Emperor Charlemagne.

Kohlrabi with white sauce

Kohlrabi with white sauce

At Thanksgiving dinner, Margie recounted the tale of when she and her family were traveling in Germany one summer a few years ago. Late in June, they found themselves in the southwestern corner of the country somewhere near Weisbaden. “Imagine a small urban, self-contained neighborhood about six blocks wide, surrounded by farm fields,”  she described. She didn’t remember the name of the town, but she did recall the name of the B&B — the Black Eagle — where they stayed the night. For dinner at the restaurant down the street, they ate farm fresh food.

“I don’t remember the main course,” Margie said, “but they were just starting to harvest peas, so there were baby peas, and baby carrots. They had kohlrabi served with a white sauce made with milk, like scalloped potatoes.” The tour guide they were traveling with said they were eating a typical German farm meal. “Here’s a vegetable you don’t know,” he told the hungry travelers, pointing to the saucy dish. “Nobody from America knows this.” He was expecting to stump Margie, who took a bite and said, “Know this? I grow this!”

In the version of this dish served at Thanksgiving, Margie chopped up the kohlrabi tops, sautéed them until tender, and served them with the bulbs. Mmmm tasty, enjoy!

If you want more kohlrabi and didn’t make it to Pinecrest Market on Sunday, you can go online and order some at the Bee Heaven Farm web store.

Lots of kohlrabi at market.

Lots of kohlrabi at market.

 

Kohlrabi with White Sauce

Ingredients:

4 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cubed
Kohlrabi greens, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
oil for sautéing greens

Directions:

1. Place the kohlrabi and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until kohlrabi can be pierced with a fork, but remains firm, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Place kohlrabi in a bowl, and cover.

2. Place the butter into the same saucepan, and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and stir until the mixture becomes paste-like and golden brown. Gradually whisk the milk and reserved cooking water from the kohlrabi into the flour mixture, stirring until thick and smooth. Stir in the cream, 1 teaspoon salt, and nutmeg until well blended. Continue whisking until sauce thickens, then cook 10 minutes more. Stir in the kohlrabi, tossing to coat evenly with sauce.

3. Heat oil in another saucepan. Add chopped kohlrabi greens. Cook until tender, and serve with the sauced bulbs.

Serves 8.

Based on the recipe here.

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They might be giants

One never knows what’s going to turn up in the barn on Friday, when it’s time to pack the CSA shares. Last week, it was zucchini and other squash from Worden Farm. Most were average sized, some maybe a bit on the small side. But, there were a few that Chris Worden slipped in to the order that were a bit larger — “as big as a baseball bat,” he warned Farmer Margie Pikarsky.

Farmer Margie with giant squash.

Farmer Margie with giant squash.

But Margie begged to differ. “This is a bowling pin,” she told me, holding up a yellow squash. “And these are clubs,” she added, holding up two giant green summer squash. They certainly looked like they had heft, and could hurt somebody’s noggin.

Zucchini the size of her arm.

Zucchini the size of her arm.

“It’s the size of your arm,” I pointed out. We put the vegetable side by side with Margie’s forearm, which normally appears sturdy and strong. But next to the giant green club, her forearm looked thin and frail. Now that is a monster of a vegetable!

Stuffing the boats.

Stuffing the boats.

But it didn’t stand a chance against the hungry farmer. Out came a big kitchen knife the size of a machete and whack hack smack the clubs were split in half. Their innards were carved out with a spoon to make boats, no, dugout canoes one could use to traverse the Everglades. Those insides were tossed into a bowl along with heirloom tomatoes, scallions, pepper jack cheese, crumbled organic corn chips, a few seasonings, and maybe a few other scraps that were lying around.

The stuffed zucchini baked in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Out came these delicious marvels, one per person. And that was all you needed to fill you up for dinner. Yum!

Bet you can't eat the whole thing!

Bet you can’t eat the whole thing!

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Unpacking the shares

Last Friday, the CSA share boxes were stuffed to capacity, both the family and small sizes.

As soon as I opened the flaps of the family share box, I saw its contents were packed solid, with each vegetable fitted carefully in its place, just like a puzzle. I knew I was going to have a problem remembering where everything went, after I was done arranging and photographing.

So I pulled out my smartphone and snapped pictures as I started to unload the contents. They were my map — and now I share them with you in the form of two short animations. Dive in!

Family share animation

Family share animation

Small share animation

Small share animation

 

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Mud pie

Black sapote pie getting gobbled up by the farm crew. Only crumbs were left.

Black sapote pie getting gobbled up by the farm crew. Only crumbs were left.

Black sapote is called chocolate pudding fruit because as the fruit ripens, its flesh changes from green to dark brown, like rich chocolate, and develops the consistency of pudding.

I suggest calling it mud pie fruit, because your hands get wonderfully messy as you prepare the fruit for eating. The soft pudding-like flesh smears on your fingers as you dig out brown shiny seeds and their membranes, and peel off papery skin before eating. Hands get messy fast! Fun for those who enjoyed making mud pies back in the day — only this “mud” is much tastier. Mmmmm lick those fingers, it’s too good to waste!

If you haven’t already gobbled up the fruit from last week’s CSA share, here’s a recipe for a pretty good mud pie made with black sapote. Or you can skip the crust and bake the filling in custard cups, then serve it chilled, with or without whipped cream.

The recipe is by Noris Ledesma, but I’ve made a few tweaks (in italics). Feel free to make your own changes to make this your own.

Black Sapote Pie

• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 tsp. each ground cloves, cinnamon
• ½ tsp. salt
• 2 eggs
• 1½ cups mashed black sapote (about 5 fruit)
• 1½ cups coconut milk
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1 unbaked 9″ deep-dish pie shell

Mix sugar, salt and cloves in small dish. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in black sapote and sugar/clove mixture. Gradually stir in milk and vanilla. Pour into pie shell. Bake 15 minutes in a preheated 425°F oven; turn temperature down to 350°F and bake about 30 minutes more or until firm. Serve with whipped cream.

 

Farmer Margie Pikarsky recommends Wholly Wholesome organic whole wheat pie shells. I found them at Whole Foods and Publix.

Recently I brought a Mud Pie to treat the hard working crew at Bee Heaven Farm. I managed to grab a picture of the pie before it disappeared. We didn’t have whipped cream, but that didn’t take anything away from the experience. One person suggested adding a pinch of allspice, which I’ll try the next time.

If you have more black sapote fruit than you need for pie, you can clean and freeze the fruit. It will keep for about 6 months.

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What do I do with the fennel?

The start of the CSA season couldn’t come soon enough! This summer, even though I tried to shop for local produce at nearby farmers markets, it was all too easy to backslide, and to gradually eat less and less fresh food (other than mangoes, avocados, and salads). Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetables. But there’s something about opening up a packed-full box of produce and just diving in.

This Friday, as I set up to take photographs of the shares, I felt that familiar thrill as I opened the first boxes of the season. Oooh, what’s in here? Star fruit, yum! Followed closely by, what am I going to do with fennel? Will I even like it? No matter, I’ll try anything once. And there’s a recipe for caramelized fennel in the CSA newsletter. But still, what do I do with the tops??

If anything, belonging to the CSA has introduced me to new things that I never saw or tasted before. If they weren’t in the box, I would never have tried them or known about them. I remember feeling really adventurous eating black sapote and canistel,  and took to saying, “You won’t find that in a grocery store!” Belonging to a CSA delightfully stretched me out of my comfort zone of eating.

Photographing the shares is a great privilege. I get to see in advance what’s in the box, and share it with you on this blog and in the farm newsletter. It amazes me every week how farmer Margie and her crew manage to cram all that goodness into one box. Easy enough to dismantle it all, but don’t ask me to repack it the same way!

Opening the first box of the season.

Opening the first box of the season.

Arranging different items for the photograph can be tricky. This week the challenge was — what do I do with the fennel? Its fluffy fronds take up so much space. Does it go in the front? Off to one side? In the back? There’s a lot of tweaking things, and stepping back to peer through the viewfinder. Once it looks right, click click click! What you see is what you’ll get, no faking. The most I’ll do is use some hidden props to hold things in place. No matter what’s in the box, the recurring challenge is, how do I place each item so you can clearly see what it is. The picture has to be distinct in black and white for the printed newsletter, too.

Once a farm volunteer asked me, “Do the veggies speak to you?” Always the smart aleck, I shot back, “Yeah, they say eat me!” She looked disappointed. Truth is, they do speak in a gentle whisper, beseeching like any divalicious model, “Make me look good. I want people to love me.” And I do want them to look attractive, vibrant and three dimensional. It’s my weekly zen practice, as it were.

And then I get to cook and eat my subjects. Fun! Dinner’s ready!

 

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artisanal fair

Saturday, September 28, 2013
12 noon to 4:00 pm
Free admission

The Wolfsonian Museum is teaming up with local farms and makers of food products for this all-about-the-local-food-you eat event.

Artisanal Fair @ The Wolf and CSA Sign-Up is a fantastic opportunity to meet your local farmers. Come find out more about local food grown by Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm and sign up for one of her Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm shares.

Teena Borek from Teena’s Pride CSA and Muriel Olivares from Little River Market Garden CSA (sold out for this season!) will also be there. Buying from a CSA a great way to support a local farmer, and get fresh produce every week during our harvest season.

Participating local food vendors include: Cao Chocolates, The Cheesecake Gallery, Dauphin Kaffee artisanal coffees, Freakin’ Flamingo jams and jellies, Pop Nature popsicles and paletas, Proper Sausages, and Simply Sharon’s “treats that heal.”

At 2:00 pm, take a special guided tour of the current Modern Meals exhibit. It will be led by museum staff and Teena Borek.

This event is co-presented by The Village Stand gourmet shop and Slow Food Miami.

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