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Persephone Farm Pears

Beautiful, but not perfect (looking) pears grown at Persephone Farm.

(Excerpted from our weekly CSA subscriber email written by apprentice Rachel)

What’s been on my mind lately…food waste. Not the most glamorous subject, but an important one. As subscribers to the CSA of a local farm that practices sustainable agriculture, well, you’re the choir about to receive a sermon. But for those interested in going a little deeper into issues related to the mega-industrialization of agriculture, and those of us (like you) doing our small part to seek out food that’s both more delicious and healthier (for everyone), there’s always more to learn.

One of my favorite recents reads is The Third Plate, by chef and farmer Dan Barber of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture outside New York City. Barber pushes us to rethink the way we eat, to work towards practices that are healthier for us and our (current and future) environment. It’s a fascinating book, and a lot of interesting things are coming out of Stone Barns, too. One I recently ran across on the Stone Barns website is an essay on food waste, “The Good and the Bad of Saving the Ugly.”  Author Jane Black writes about a legendary peach farmer (if there can said to be such a thing) Mas Masumoto:

“With water scarce in California, peach farmer Mas Masumoto decided to try something different. This summer, he used between 20 percent and 30 percent less water to grow his Gold Dust peaches. The tactic produced an intensely flavored fruit, but one that was about 20 percent smaller than normal. His loyal retail outlets — stores like the progressive Berkeley Bowl — took them. But customers weren’t buying. After years accustomed to buying peaches as big as softballs, shoppers saw the smaller fruit as flawed or somehow unworthy.”

See the rest of the article, and have a look through the Stone Barns website. Would you dare to eat a smaller peach?

As CSA subscribers, you’re already doing so much help fix what’s ailing our broken food system. As you know, at Persephone, we don’t use chemical inputs, rely heavily on manual tools and the sweat of our brows, and eat all the vegetable seconds ourselves! Very little goes to waste on this farm; it’s one of our most fundamental principles, in practice from reusing berry baskets (thanks for returning them!) to building our own compost from farm food scraps and crop residues. It’s not easy, and as you know, it’s not necessarily cheaper — in fact, sometimes it’s just the opposite. Our irregular-shaped fruits and vegetables sometimes sustain a bruise in those square boxes we put them in; and if you find a worm or bug once in a while in your food… well, we do our absolute best to wash and scrub out all the crawlies, but at least you know we’re not using poison!

What else can we all do? Think about our food choices, rethink what’s beautiful: the perfect, round, huge peach?  Or food that has an optimal balance of taste, nutrients, and responsibility to the earth? We’re glad you’re helping us do what we do. Thanks as always for your support!!

Photo: Leslie Newman

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Recipe by Melissa Clark, from the New York Times collection of recipes “30 Ways to Do Justice to Summer Tomatoes.”

INGREDIENTS

1 ¼ pounds very ripe tomatoes; a mix of varieties and colors is nice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste
6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, more as needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups leftover or rotisserie chicken, including some skin (about 1/2 chicken)
1 tablespoon capers, drained and patted dry
1 6-inch length of ciabatta or baguette (about 4 ounces), preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 sprigs fresh oregano
Chopped fresh basil, for serving

PREPARATION

Cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Using a large chef’s knife, mince 1 of the smashed garlic cloves. Add a pinch of salt and using the flat side of your knife, smash into a fine paste. Add garlic paste to the tomatoes along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is thickened. Remove the skin from the chicken, shred the meat and combine with the vinaigrette. Roughly chop the chicken skin and set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet over high heat, add 1 teaspoon olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add the chicken skin and capers. Cook while stirring occasionally until the skin is crisp and the capers are beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

In the same pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, bread cubes, the remaining smashed garlic clove, 1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1 sprig of fresh oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook while stirring occasionally until toasted and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. When cool, discard the garlic and thyme and add bread cubes to the tomato mixture. Add the leaves of the remaining uncooked thyme or oregano, the shredded chicken and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter or individual plates and serve garnished with the capers, chicken skin, chopped basil, and freshly ground black pepper.

4 Servings

Recipe on cooking.nytimes.com

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EcoFest-Award
Stillwaters Environmental Center presented the 2013 EcoFest Sustainable Business of the Year Award to Persephone Farm at EcoFest, June 8 in Kingston.

The award reads “For their outstanding service to the Earth — by promoting and supporting our healthy eating habits, and by using organic, healthy farming practices to protect their ecosystems, and be being a strong supporter of our local community.”

We are touched and honored. Especially coming from an organization as esteemed as Stillwaters. It truly means a great deal to the farm. Thank you Stillwaters!

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Subscriber boxes waiting for pickup late last summer

First pickup and orientation is June 5th

Hors D’oeuvres • Lots of New Information • Garden Tour • First Produce Pickup

Shares still available! If you know of anyone who might be interested in joining us, please spread the word.

CSA subscribers: You are invited to bring your family and join us for an evening at the farm. Wednesday, June 5, 5:30 – 7:30 pm. See your summer vegetables growing! Taste a leaf of sweet Fennel or sour Sorrel as you stroll the fields. (No dogs please. Our chickens and peacocks are free-ranging) It is quite important that at least one member of each subscriber household attend. After this meeting, our pickups will be on a self-serve basis and must run smoothly for everyone to get his/her share of the just-harvested bounty.

We’ll explain the system at the orientation, as well as sign you up for bread, cheese or egg shares, or other delectable additions to our own farm’s harvest, if you’re interested. Each of these is an add-on to the CSA, a delicious way to support local producers, and an opportunity to collect an even more abundant basket each week.

Your first vegetables of this season will be ready for you to take home. The distribution will come at the end of the evening for new subscribers. Returnees may pay their balance, grab veggies and go if you like. Bring a bag or box to carry your bounty down the driveway. Please park on Midway or in the designated pasture area halfway up the drive. Our parking area at the orientation site is limited, please, to those who cannot make the 100-yard walk up the hill.

Your final payment will be due at the orientation. Most full shares have already paid a $250 deposit—the balance is $400. Split shares sent a $150 deposit and have $350 remaining. Checks should be made payable to Rebecca Slattery (Bainbridge Island) or Louisa Brown (Indianola).

Rebecca, Louisa, Bill and our apprentices are very excited to see this program starting for another glorious season. We look forward to meeting all our new subscribers and seeing the familiar faces of friends and neighbors.

If you have any questions, please call Rebecca at (360) 297-1877.
PERSEPHONE (Greek Goddess of Spring, Flowers, and Rebirth)

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Apprentices Lauren, Cait and Felicia getting the veg ready.

Apprentices Lauren, Cait and Felicia prepping the broccoli & spinach

Today is opening day of the Bainbridge Island Farmers Market. We’ll be there every Saturday, come by, say hello and pickup some of our fine, fresh produce. Here’s hoping next Saturday it will be a little warmer!

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