CSA Box Content Pictures

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Yikes this food is so ugly!

Here at Ananda Valley Farm we support the ugly food movement!

This means everything we grow, we will put in your box, regardless of conventional standards of visual appeal.  In Europe there is a real "ugly food movement" where groceries will sell these "seconds" at a discount.  In America it hasn't caught on yet, instead sadly, about 1/3rd of all produce is thrown away at the farm because it doesn't look uniform enough.


If you get one of these in your box, hopefully you'll appreciate
the unique personality each carrot brings.

Lettuce deserves a special discussion.  We've decided to include almost all the lettuce heads without extensive pruning or cleaning.  So you'll probably be getting ones looking like this and maybe even a little dirtier.

Typically lettuce going to a grocery store or farmer's market would be extensively "pruned" as above.  The outer layers of leaves would be removed, many times over half the total lettuce head would be tossed to get down to the pristine leaves inside.

 However these outer leaves are still great.  Usually it is just the edges that are browned.

You can just cut off the brown edges and be left with a great tasting and looking leaf.  So by including these outer leaves the amount of good lettuce we can deliver to you increases significantly.
We hope you will appreciate this extra lettuce, even though it means more cleaning time for you.

AVF newsblog May 26, 2016

We just finished our first harvests and packings!

 Standing in the cooler with packed boxes.

 Cheerful box blessings

Counting peas.  Please don't cook these peas, they taste much better raw.  The farm crew is trying to only pick the big ones right after they plump out and have the maximum sugar content.

 Classic box 1

 Family box 1

Classic box 2

Family box 2

Notice every box isn't the same.  Sometimes, especially early in the season, we'll have some of a vegetable but not enough for every box.  This year if we have enough for half the boxes we'll include it and then the next time the other half will get it.  This week only the coastsiders received radishes, so the next radish crop will go to the subscribers "over the hill" as people in Half Moon Bay refer to the valley.  The valley subscribers this week though did get some squash instead.

Asha asked "what is this???" holding a star zucchini squash. We'll be planting more of these.  Most people think they taste better and the plants grow lower to the ground and so don't get blown away in the strong coastal winds.

Next week preview
Next week we'll probably be harvesting:  Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Kale, Peas, Squash
and we might harvest, depending on sunlight:  beets, carrots, kohlrabi, wild Indian spinach

Thanks for all the nice comments many of you have sent. We especially liked this one:

"We just picked up our first box, and happened to meet the farmer himself at the East West Bookstore. I think you and he both would have been amused to see us when we got home. My two little boys promptly starting eating everything straight from the box. Carrots, peas, and lettuce down the hatch, dirt and all. They were delighted with it all. Not their usual reaction to vegetables! They did eventually decide that chard, beets, and squash probably ought to be cooked first, which is good because I am looking forward to using those for dinner! Thanks again for sharing your magnificent produce with us." ~ Holly B., Santa Clara

Happy Harvests,
AVF Team

Photo Gallery

Farm interns Claudia and Andrew.  Andrew just came to spend a month with us from Canada.  He's looking to learn all about organic farming/

 Greg, the farm's first coastside subscriber, is the first one to pick up his box at the farm.

Bird troubles follow up.  The last protective measure worked and kept our very intelligent farm birds away from the pumpkin seeds.  I did have to add wood to the outside of the sheets as the first time the sheets went up the bird pecked several small holes through it.  Luckily not big enough to get through.  But without the wood outside I'm sure the bird would have gotten through.  Next year we'll need to find a more elegant solution.

Final score:  Farmer 1, Bird 6

Sunday, May 22, 2016

First Harvest Coming Up

It's time for the first harvest of 2016 at the farm!
We'll be picking, packing, and delivering boxes this week.
If you would like to help out, come out to the farm either Tuesday or Thursday morning.

First week box should contain:
    Green Butterhead Lettuce Heads
    Toscano Kale
    Red Radishes
    Swiss Chard
    Sugar Snap Peas (just a few)
    Red Beets

The first few weeks will be leaner than the more abundant harvests to come.
This spring has had extra challenges with strong cold winds, slowing down the crops.
We are learning which crops are most "wind resistant" and which ones are not.

The first harvest of Sugar Snap Peas.  We'll just have a few in each box as a treat, as they are very labor intensive to pick and the wind has limited their production.  These are best just eaten raw right away.

Green butterheads will be the first to go into the boxes.  We are also growing green romaine, red butterhead, and red oakleaf.  We've tried several new varieties this year to make sure we get the best tasting lettuce.  In particular we are trying new red lettuces, since last year we were quite disappointed with the taste of the red (albeit beautiful looking) lettuce we grew.  Of the 3 reds being tried, 2 of them taste great, while one of them turned out bitter (phew! had worried all 3 would be bitter).  About 150 heads of this bitter lettuce will be fed to the chickens, who probably will consider them a gourmet treat.

Red Oakleaf lettuce transplants on their way to the field.

Some of the harvests that our interns are living off of.  You'll be getting these peas, carrots and radishes in the first box.  It will be a little while longer before the squash plants are producing enough for all the boxes.

What's a normal carrot:  1 head 2 legs,   2 heads 1 leg,   or 1 head 1 leg  ??????

We've been putting bamboo stakes around the broccoli and cauliflower to keep the winds from snapping them.  Even so the winds are taking a toll on the early plantings.  Even if the wind doesn't snap the stems, it can stress the plants enough to cause them to go to seed or flower too early before a head of broccoli or cauliflower has formed.

This row of Kohlrabi has withstood he winds admirably. We'll be growing more of this in the early spring season going forward.  And we'll include some easy recipes for cooking this unusually looking, but tasty vegetable.

Assembling boxes, we needed a lot more this year!

Sage, one of the interns, decided this was the season for a crew cut;  Master Barber Cain officiating.

We had a few warm days this spring.

Laxmi has returned this year to look after the chickens.  She loves them and they love her.

Colorful eggs on a cool, misty morning.

Enjoying a new bench by the yurt.

This group of Saturday morning volunteers are planting more Cali lilies at the end of the pond.

Bird troubles.  A very bright bird snacked on most of our pumpkin and hard squash seeds before they got a chance to sprout.  After losing the first planting, I put some totes over the seedling trays.  The bird promptly went under the totes and ate the seeds again.  Farmer 0, bird 2.

To protect the pumpkin seeds, I built a cage around the trays and covered it with bird mesh.  The bird promptly poked a hole in it and ate the seeds.  Farmer 0, bird 3.

Next I reinforced the cage with steel mesh.  The bird promptly found a 1/2 inch opening between the table and base of the cage.  Farmer 0, bird 4.
I put some wood stakes around the base to cover the 1/2 inch opening.  The bird pushed them aside an ate the seeds again.  Farmer 0, bird 5.

This should work ...  Put thick electrical tape all around the base to cover the hole, no way a bird can peck through this.

No need to peck through, the bird just peeled it off.  Farmer 0, bird 6.

Well, I forgot to take a picture, but yesterday I put a bed sheet under the trays and tied it up around the sides, not way to remove it.  The bird could possibly poke a hole through it ...  I'll find out tomorrow when I return to the farm.

Last year we sprayed neem oil, an organic pesticide made from neem trees, to control flea beetles and aphids.
This year we are going entirely "no spray", "no pesticide".  Not even organic ones.
So if you get some "holy" Bok Choy or a few aphids with your kale and cabbage, realize that you are getting healthy, pesticide-free produce. Our soil, the bees, (and hopefully you!) will appreciate this earth friendly approach.

The neighboring farm spraying herbicides (and probably also pesticides) on their field.  Their plants now look great, no pests, no weeds, just unseen toxins are included.  We've decided including unseen toxins is too high a price for clean looking vegetables.

A swarm of bees formed around the orchard, hopefully they'll find a permanent residence nearby.

When driving into the farm one morning, a quail family decided to run out into the road, in front of oncoming traffic.

Plenty of long rows of zucchini and yellow squash are growing.

We'll have plenty of summer squash, even though the wind has blown a few away.  The plant by my foot was snapped n the wind.

We've learned that the low growing star shaped summer squash, doesn't get damaged by wind.  Luckily the star squash also taste better, so we'll be planting many more of these this year and in the future.

Cali lilly flowers bloomed profusely during our wet spring.

A scene from our spring grotto where water percolates up.

Meditating by the pond.

The wet spring allowed the California Poppies to flourish this year.

Our streams runneth over.

A far view of the field from a couple months ago.

May beauty and light fill your days.