This Weeks CSA Share 11/21/2019

Farm Stand is Open Tomorrow 9:30 til 2pm

Good morning. Here is what is in the CSA shares this week.

Butter Lettuce
Bell Peppers
Pumpkin Squash
Green tomatoes

It has been a while since we have caught up. Besides manning the farm stand with Rachel, I would say that writing and detailing our own recipes, sharing pictures and telling stories about the farm experience are pretty much my favorite things to do. I rarely have time to do them anymore. I have had to shift and contort in order to continue to be able to farm. 12 years ago, when we started this CSA, share cost was five dollars more. Water costed 3 times less. Land wasn’t ridiculously expensive. Gas was 1.25 cheaper. Tools, soil inputs, pretty much everything needed to farm has gone up significantly in a short period of time. A fifteen hundred ft roll of irrigation tubing cost 68 dollars in 2007. now, it is 178. The guy who I used to hire from time to time for 12 dollars an hour, now wants 20. He was already making more than me at 12!

None of the farms that were around when I started are still in business. I don’t know how many of you remember Suzies Farm. I watched them for a couple of years and with the help of Ingrid at Blue Sky, I basically copied their CSA contract and used it to start Blue Sky Ranch CSA while still volunteering for Barry up at Milpa Organica. Barry shut down the following year. Lucille and Robin farmed Suzies until a couple years ago. They put the concept of local CSA on the map here is San Diego.

In all the years I have been doing this blog, I don’t think I have ever spoke negatively about anyone or anything except for maybe bugs or the weather. It was a real disappointment to see how they went out. The San Diego food scene has changed significantly since I started farming. Its gone full circle. I believe the real local food buzz exists between small farms and neighbors connecting one on one. And I don’t mean that as a metaphor for chic restaurant owners or farmers market managers with dollar signs in their eyes using the idea of hard working farms as a personal currency to lure wealthy tourists and locals alike to partake in their instagram worthy, quasi virtuous wares. The real local food buzz happens when proprietors of a small farm connect with neighbors on a one to one basis over the food grown at the farm. That rant is over.

I do like the way things are now. With the farm stand and the CSA, everyone comes to us. We get full credit for every carrot we grow! Unfortunately, growing food small scale for profit in southern California is challenging and not practical. But it is rewarding. It is one of the most important things I do. I work my other job so I can farm. The fact that I can do that makes it all okay. I still consider myself one of the luckiest people I know. I cant tell you why I farm local organic. Some people will say things like “for the environment” or “social justice” and “to fight climate change” or “because GMO”. Those are all good reasons. And I am for all of those things. But if those are your reasons for farming, either you don’t actually farm, you only just started farming or you are likely growing food for a non profit organization that pays you whether the crops fail or not.  Throughout the years, Ive shared my passion for working with nature and experiencing the joy of community through food and service. But I have never been able to put into words why I keep getting up, going out and farming. It’s like breathing.


This poem by farmer John from Angelic Organics almost describes it perfectly.


I’ve written plenty in the last few weeks about the obstacles in farming – the decay of buildings, the unreliability of help, the capriciousness of weather, the uncertainty of bugs and blights, the financial horrors. So, do you wonder why I farm, why anyone would farm? It’s kind of hard to say…

Our neighbor showed up this week and said, “I got the arthritis bad, but why wouldn’t I after 30 years of beating up this body – broken bones all over. Broke my ribs twelve times working with those cows, broke both ankles, dislocated my shoulder, had to milk with one arm in the air. Whatcha’ gonna do? Cows gotta be milked. Couldn’t get any help. We offered sometimes up to ten dollars an hour, and we couldn’t get kids to show up more than two days. You gotta get the cows milked. It just got so I did it myself – didn’t care what was busted.”

Our neighbor didn’t say exactly why he farmed; it’s just not farmerly to talk about such things out here. But I noticed in his speaking that there was something he liked very much about farming, or he wouldn’t be doing it.

Another farm family nearby is legendary for getting their crops in first. They move fast, all ages, in a spritz of tobacco juice and beer. Even the 80 year old grandpa, his hip smashed by a bull, races to the barn at 5 in the morning. Several of them are missing toes and fingers from machinery accidents. The last finger the family lost didn’t even stop the haying.

It’s hard to explain just what causes a person to stay in such a life. For me, as I miraculously type with all ten digits, I think about when I suddenly went from a fleet of cars and trucks and an arsenal of machinery down to nothing in the early eighties.

My boots were worn out, and I didn’t have the money for another pair. My mother bought me boots. I will forever remember the exquisite sensation of walking what was left of this farm, secure in my shiny rubber boots, feeling somehow that those boots had restored me to the land. The land has a feel underfoot that melts me to it.

And then there’s the smell – our machine shed has a smell of eternity, a musty ancient fragrance from before my birth and into the hereafter. There’s the rhythm – the barn door opens and closes; the swallows return; the brome grass swishes.

On NPR, Susan Stanberg interviewed a Mayan girl in the Yucatan Peninsula (through a translator). She wanted to know why the girl weaved all day long. The girl didn’t answer to Susan’s satisfaction, so Susan persisted.

“Is it because you can sell your weavings for money?”


“Do you weave because your ancestors weaved and it’s a way to stay connected to your people?”


“Do you weave because you love the rhythm and the patterns of weaving?”


“Why do you weave, then?”

“I just weave.”

I don’t stay on this farm because brome grass swishes; that’s a fringe benefit. The closest I can describe my bond to farming is a shudder I get, an irrepressible vibration when it’s time to work the fields. I can be eating, sleeping, or having a great conversation, and when the time is right to plow or plant my body registers some mysterious sensation, an irresistible beckoning. My legs take me to the work, put me on the tractor; I am all surrender. And the joy of pushing dirt around, the ecstasy of spraying potentized silica, the thrill of organizing little dots of green into straight lines on bare soil – these invoke in me a subtle delirium.

For two years I toured rural Illinois with a play I wrote about a farm family losing its land. Audiences wept and laughed. Once an old man caught up to me backstage. He said, “Let me tell you how to farm. There’s only one way. You farm ’til you’re down to your last nickel. And then you keep farming until the nickel’s gone.”

Like a drug, the land can lure a person into destitution. It can overshadow ones love for others. The land can embolden, exhaust, ennoble. It can nurture, destroy, sustain.

I don’t know why I farm.

I just farm.

The tomatoes aren’t the prettiest in late November. They still beat the pants off what you can get at the store. For halfway ripe tomatoes, put them in a paper bag in the warmest part of the kitchen to ripen up.

We added a few green tomatoes to the bags. The idea of making fried green tomatoes was intimidating to me. Growing up in California and having no southern influences in my life, the first reference to fried green tomatoes I ever experienced was in the name of the movie. Honestly, I thought the idea of frying green tomatoes was a joke until a few years ago.

Now, I have them a couple times in spring before the first tomatoes ripen. Often, a new tomato plant will set more fruit than you know it can mange to carry to ripeness. This makes for a fine excuse to prune a few bushes for a batch. I also have them a couple times in late fall, early winter when I know the plants will not be around much longer and that the first frost will likely damage the remaining green fruit.

Choose a simple fried green tomato recipe online and as long as you follow the recipe, you will be very satisfied. If you have some experience making fried green tomatoes, here is a most decadent and creative truly southern Recipe.

Bell Pepper Babaganoush

Jalapeno Persimmon jam
Lacto Soda
Fermented Spicy Ketchup
Beet Kvaas
Fermented Olives
Plum preserve
Sour Kraut
Fermented gardiniera
Mango salsa
Chow Chow
Pomegranate Meade made by Greg and Cass at Alpine Ranch

Like I said, I wish I could spend hours sharing our ferment and preserve recipes. If i did that, I wouldn’t have time to provide the food. And that is where I think my best talent lies. Hopefully, you might get an idea and look into it. Fermenting is such a satisfying way to process excess CSA food. Nancy does a fermented foods class at the main farm house at Alpine Ranch. I promise to give everyone a heads up when she schedules her next class.

See those trees behind Tocayo? They are olive trees. There is a fruit fly that likes to lay eggs on the fruit of the olive. It is our intention to start putting up vinegar traps on each tree. There at least 40 trees and we can use a few liter sized plastic bottles per tree. Feel free to bring bottles to the farm stand tomorrow. If you would like to leave some bottles at one of our pick up locations, let us know so we can be sure to get them. And if you want to help put up the vinegar traps, I’m sure we can get you on a project somehow okay? Just send me an email or a text if you have any questions.





This Weeks CSA 10/3/2019

Farm Stand Is Open TOMORROW Saturday 5th 9:30 til 2pm

Passion Fruit close to being ready!

Here is what is in the CSA this week.

Golden Honeydew Melon


White Sapote

Big Eggplant


Butternut Squash or Spaghetti Squash or Sucrine Du Berry or Delicata

Bell Peppers

Bag of Chile Peppers, Tomatillos and Green Tomatoes for Roasting


Summer Squash

Now is a most energetic time of year. Crippling heat has subsided. We can once again do more than simply water the garden and sweat while harvesting copious amounts of summer produce. We move into action. Early fall season in southern California is a magical time where a farmer can do almost anything. The greenhouse is full. We replace tired out Squash and Tomato plants with rows of young baby Bok Choy and Lettuce. We seed Broccoli and Candy Cane Beets while still harvesting Jalapenos and Melons from the current production field. Spring holds a hand while summer reaches through the membrane of fall to caress winters coat. The circle completes here.  The snake eats its tale. If summer is bounty, Fall is wholeness.

I want to tell you about three new items you might have received and maybe have been wanting to know more about.

Rachel found the Rampicante Squash seeds on the Baker Creek website. This Squash is an old world Italian variety. Rampicante is basically a cross between a summer squash and a winter squash. It’s slightly orange inside like a Butternut and is prepared like a summer squash.  This squash is so rare that I have found no recipes online. It works in any summer squash recipe. It’s firmer and nuttier than regular summer squash.

White Sapote is a soft tropical fruit that ripens like an avocado does. There used to be a video of a seemingly normal person giving an informative review of the White Sapote on Youtube. That video appears to have been removed. Apparently, one must be at least, slightly bizarre and moderately eccentric in order to have a White Sapote video up on Youtube. Here is the least bizarre and eccentric video I could find. Watch as he eats a pile of Sapote off the back of his little car! For those of you who have not met me, I am kidding. They are all funny and cute videos. This one is short and to the point. He describes it well.

Sucrine Du Berry is another rare Italian Squash from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. We are extremely pleased with the flavor and texture of the pumpkin like flesh. We have done a blended Thai Curry soup. We made on desert style with honey and Creme Fraiche. Now that Halloween is around the corner, we will wait a few weeks until the persimmons come in and we will make a persimmon pumpkin pie with Sucrine Du Berry.

We put a brown bag in your CSA this week. Its a lot of what you need to make a stellar roasted pepper salsa

From the top left- Chimayo-Hatch-Jalapeno-Poblano
From Bottom left- Cayenne-Tomatillo-Green Tomato

The Cayenne and Jalapeno are hot. The Chimayo and Hatch are medium. The Poblano are mild to medium

Peel the Tomatillos, slice the green tomatoes, cut an onion and place everything on a baking pan with a few cloves of garlic. If you want to roast a red or yellow tomato and a few bell peppers from your CSA bag, go ahead. Turn on the broiler and broil until everything is good and blistered. Turn everything over and do it again. Let everything cool and then pull off as much skin from the peppers as you can. Its no biggie if a few of the peppers don’t want to give up the skin. Do not spend too long on one pepper. Definitely take your time to get all the skin off the Hatch peppers. Hatch skin is super thick and waxy. The rest just add texture and complexity. Some folks don’t remove the skins at all.  Remove as many seeds as possible but don’t fret over a few.

Here is what my first batch of roasted salsa looked like. The next batch had more peppers and I burnt everything a little more. Don’t be afraid to burn the veggies a little bit. The flavor is amazing.

Once your roasted veggies are cool. You can either put them in a blender or you can chop them finely. We chose to chop finely. Then, we put everything in a bowl and we added sea salt, lime, cumin powder and dried oregano.

Have you ever just thought you couldn’t do something and you never even asked yourself why? Roasted Pepper Salsa was one of those things for me. For some reason, I thought I needed some kind of fancy barrel roaster like they have at the fair. This style of salsa has never been my favorite to eat from the store. It’s my favorite to make at home now.

There is a middle eastern stew that you can make and it uses over half the items in the bag. We make it vegetarian. I am sure it would love some lamb or beef as well.

In your favorite cooking oil, saute big chunks of Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion, Tomato, Bell Pepper. Steam a few peeled potatoes on the side. Once the veggies are browned, add the chunked steamed potatoes. Pour in veggie or beef stock. Add chopped parsley. Sprinkle in some curry powder or 7 spice. If you prefer more of an Italian stew, chop in some fresh basil and a few dashes of balsamic vinegar. Want a french stew? Try herbs de provence. Warning!!! THIS IS COMFORT FOOD. Serve with salad and Ciabatta, Pita or Baguette.



This Weeks CSA Share Contents and Farm Stand Hours.

Farm Stand is open tomorrow 9:30 til 2pm

Here is what is in the CSA this week

Spring onions
Carrots are back!!
Red butter lettuce
Summer squash
Butternut squash
Bell Peppers

Persian Eggplant Stew

Curry Thai Butternut

Apricot Basil Grilled Cheese

We are about 85 percent planted for summer. Pretty soon, it will be too hot to plant. We are in a good place to be almost 100 percent planted out by next week. Ramon and his son have been helping me every Saturday for the last 5 weeks. I am really looking forward to spending some more time sharing our personal recipe experiments at home as well as listing all the new foods coming up. Much progression has transpired in the last 6 weeks. I wish all of you could transport yourselves right to the garden and pass some quality time with us in the garden rows. There’s so much I want you to know about how this summer season has gone. For now, the food in the bags will do the talking for me.

Thanks for eating. It’s your most important job in this relationship! We appreciate it.


This Weeks CSA Share and Farm Stand Hours

Here is what is in the CSA this week

Beautiful big beets with perfect greens for saute
Spring onions
Bag of large leaf arugula
Red Russian Kale
A few mini butterhead type lettuce

The hot fire of a grill does certainly bring out the earthy sweetness of a beet. This weeks beets are a good size for grilling.

The celery we grew this spring is super aromatic and strong in flavor. Wonderful for a soup or roasting or chopping up for fresh eating in salads. Not so wonderful as a raw stick to be used as a delivery system for say, peanut butter or hummus. Commercial growers use tubes that they put over the celery in order to blanch the lower stems. This results in a less nutritious product. It also increases bug and insect problems. Since we don’t use insectiside and our intention is to provide nutrition that cannot be acquired through a regular grocery store, we grow our celery like we do.  We tried this celery soup recipe with some basil. Yum!

The Farm Stand will be open today Saturday 9:30 til 2 pm

We will have everything we had last week. We might pull some peppers.


Here is what is in the CSA share this week

New red potatoes
A few apricots
Summer squash
Romaine lettuce
Giant spring onions
Cauliflower or Cabbage

We are about to experience a two or three week gap in our carrot harvest. Carrots are one of the staples that we try to have in the shares every week. After harvesting potatoes, onions and beets, it was clear that we should harvest up whatever carrots are in the rows in honor of a root veggie roast opportunity.

Its no secret that arugula loves apricot. Arugula loves apricot almost as much as it loves  goat cheese…..and nuts…and vinaigrette.

The farm stand is open today Saturday 15th 9:30 am til 2 pm





This Weeks Food 6/7/2019

The farm stand will be open Saturday from 9:30 til 2 pm. We will be digging up some fingerling potatoes, a variety of summer squash, lots of lettuce and a variety of other fresh vegetables and herbs. Come on down and load up or text ahead. We will pick it for you.

Harbinger….{A person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another}. When you’ve farmed continuously for over a decade, all that there is consists of a chain of harbingers. Holding hands across the seasons from one point, around and back to the same point, and around again, and again. Can you guess what this lonely sun golden cherry tomato is a harbinger of?

If you guessed this, you are probably not too far off. Early cherry tomatoes tend to indicate a heavy fruit set for the main tomato crop in the garden. A good tomato year would be just fine with me.

Cucumbers are just about to blossom. There won’t be fruit for a few weeks. The summer squash is finally blowing up. We have some new varieties this year. We also have some volunteer crosses that came out nice. Peppers don’t do much in the ground until right about now. The warmth of this last week has them blossoming and making tiny fruit. We are particularly excited about a hybrid pepper we decided to grow. It is called Big Jim. Its basically an improved Hatch Chili that can get a foot long. Imagine the peppers you see being roasted at the fair. These are those but a little bigger.  Folks really liked all the Poblanos last year. We also Jalapenos and a few other peppers this year. The butternuts are way ahead this year. They are already growing fruit. Spaghetti and Delicatta are just getting started. We also planted Blue Hubbard and my favorite “Pink Banana”. Egplant might end up in the bags pretty soon too.

Here is the list of contents for this weeks CSA

Spring onions

Bunch of edible flowers

Big head of broccoflower


A few summer squash


Head of romaine

Head of green lettuce

Butternut Squash

Here is a recipe for Garlic Roasted Cauliflower with Summer Squash

Grilled Spring Onions

Cilantro Butternut Squash Soup

One last announcement. I wish I had more time to talk about how much I loved this film. I don’t think I have endorsed a farm film since I told people to watch “The Real Dirt On Farmer John”. That was probably 10 years ago. The Bigest Little Farm is playing at the Landmark now.


The farm stand will be open tomorrow 9:30 til 2 pm

What We Are Eating This Week 5/16/2019

Farm stand will be open Saturday 9:30 til 2pm tomorrow!!

Here Is what the CSA is eating this week.


Spring Onions

A few Baby Squash

Swiss Chard

Fennel Fronds

Purple Cauliflower or Broccolini

Bag of Red Leaf Lettuce Mix with Radish Sprouts

Multi Color Beets

Green Romain Lettuce

A few

A few months ago, we had unusual weather in Alpine. We have trays of vegetable starters at the farm. But I also care for starters at home. These starters were out in the open on a late February night and they got completely dusted with snow. Not having much experience with how to get compact snow off of tender baby plants, I did the best thing I could think of. Fortunately, we don’t have carpet in that room. Otherwise, Rachel probably wouldn’t have been laughing so hard when she saw how I was attempting to resuscitate the veggie babies in front of the fireplace.

I wanted to share this because I think it is funny and rare. But also, I think its important that you know that your food often goes through some extraordinary circumstances before it ends up on your plate. I once had an entire flat of seed grown heirlooms slide out of the back of the truck while on the way down to the farm. A nice couple saw the whole thing, quickly scooped them up and chased me down Alpine Blvd until they could get my attention.

The flat in the bottom front of the picture is the fennel in your share this week. So is the Romain right next to the fire. The spring onion too!

Fennel Frond Recipe for Pesto

Swiss Chard with Onions

We appear to be in the midst of some more unusual weather as of late. The farm stand been closed due to rain every 2nd or 3rd week since January. The weather report is calling for 5 days straight rain for Alpine starting Sunday. Once this unseasonable rains lets up for the summer, Our hours and days will be consistent again. Lets make the farm stand happen tomorrow ok?

We are going to open the farm stand tomorrow 9:30 til 2pm. We have all kinds of good stuff. We will also have a limited amount of summer squash and baby bok choy.

We hope to see you there.