Table of Contents
1) In Your Box this Week
2) Farm News
- Organic Certification
- Outstanding in the Field
- Log into Your Account
- Tee Shirts Have Been Mailed out
- UpcomingÃ‚ Potluck Dinner at the Farm
- Seeds Ordered for our Summer Round of Veggies
- A Permaculture Class Tour
- Amy Rinnger's Insights about Eggs
- Alert! Call to Action: Tecolote Farms
- People and their Food Consumed in One Week
4) Quotable Food
- Austin Organic Gardeners Club Annual Plant Sale
- Spring Plant Sale and Garden Festival
- A Passion for Plants: An East Austin Garden Fair
6) Vegetable Storage Tips
7) JohnsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Backyard Garden Contact Information
- Broccoli Delight Salad
- Carrot-Cheddar Casserole
- Deceptive Delicious
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1) In Your Box this Week:
Salad Mix or Baby Chard
Coming soon: Baby Arugula and lettuces!
This list is subject to change depending on availability and quality of crops on harvest day.Ã‚ YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll find the most accurate packing list on the homepage of our website.
- Organic Certification: Brenton and I were able to complete this years paperwork (and get it filed on time!) for the Farm's Organic Certification with the Texas Department of Agriculture. This required, among other things, lists and supporting documents of crops planted and harvested, any soil amendments or fertilization applied, details on our methods of propagation, pest management plans and our crop plan for the coming year. Now that this step is finished, we will wait to hear from the state inspectors who are required to personally check out each organic farm every year. It's an excellent recap of what we've done for the last 12 months and how we've planned for the future.
- Avocados: G & S Groves of Round Rock has supplied us with some amazing organic avocados this week.Ã‚ G & S Groves has organic fruit orchards (they also supply us with organic oranges and grapefruit) located inÃ‚ the Lower Rio Grande Valley and a farmstand located at 8221 North Ware Road, McAllen, TX. While searching for information on growing organic avocados in Texas, I came across two Austin Chronicle articles by M.M. Pack, published August 1, 2008.Ã‚ I've reprinted excerpts from both articles here; a very interesting read :
The avocado tree, Persea americana, is a member of the laurel family, related to cinnamon, bay, and sassafras. Along with corn, beans, and peppers, the fruit was one of the staples of the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican diet. Archaeological evidence indicates that wild avocados probably originated in South-Central Mexico and were cultivated throughout Mexico, Central America, and South America as early as 7,000 years ago.
The first published Western account of avocados is from 1518, when conquistador MartÃƒn FernÃƒ¡ndez de Enciso described the fruit he ate in Colombia. When HernÃƒ¡n CortÃƒ©s entered Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) in 1519, he found avocados an integral part of sophisticated meals consumed by Aztec Emperor Montezuma, including a sauce of mashed avocado, tomato, and onion called ahuaca-mulli.
The Aztecs called the fruit ahuacatl, the same word they used for testicle, believing them to be aphrodisiacs with male-strengthening properties. Food historian Sophie Coe tells us that avocados were critical to the low-fat Mesoamerican diet because they contain up to 30% oil. Spaniards transcribed ahuacatl to aguacate; in a 1526 report to Charles V of Spain, New World chronicler FernÃƒ¡ndez de Oviedo describes a paste similar to butter that is "very good eating."
With the Spanish conquest and European exploration, avocados spread around the CaribÃ‚bean and ultimately to the Pacific, the PhilipÃ‚pines, and Southeast Asian countries. The first mention of avocados in English was in 1672 by W. Hughes, physician to King Charles II, after visiting Jamaica. He calls them "one of the most rare and pleasant fruits of the island. It nourisheth and strengtheneth the body, corroborating the spirits and procuring lust exceedingly." During the 1700s, avocados became known as alligator pears, subaltern's butter, midshipman's butter, shell pears, and Spanish pears. George Washington wrote of "agovago pairs" while visiting Barbados in 1751, but confessed he really preferred pineapples.
Avocados in Texas aren't a new idea - in 1895, John Bourke, a U.S. cavalry officer stationed on the Texas-Mexican border and an avid anthropological observer, wrote: "When the custard-like pulp is beaten up with egg, oil, vinegar, and spices, it makes a most delicious salad and when sliced seems to be equally good. This fruit resembles a pear in shape; is purple in color; the pulp is sweetish and can be eaten raw."
The Texas Avocado Society was formed in Weslaco in 1948 as an association of growers and horticulturists seeking promising varieties from Mexico and Florida to develop a major commercial crop for South Texas. While the Texas industry didn't quite take off as hoped, the sociÃ‚ety's research and development legacy remains.
Happy Guacamole Eating!
- Outstanding in the Field: There are hints of a late September pecan orchard dinner in the works. Last years feast was a great success and we hope to repeat the event annually. Keep an eye on the Outstanding in the Field's web site for upcoming details. Ã‚ Last year the event sold out before we were able to announce it to our CSA members. We'll post more info in our blog as we have details regarding dates and making reservations.
- Log into your Account and check details regarding pickup, renewal and changing your orders. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great way to save time and improve accuracy of all our subscription.
- Tee Shirts have been Mailed Out: Carrie sent out the recent tee shirt orders this week. If you have not received your order yet please drop us an email.
- UpcomingÃ‚ Potluck Dinner at the Farm: We are planning this years potluck for sometime in April. Bring a dish to share and come have dinner with us in the orchard. Meet others interested in local food and be entertained with live music and games. You don't have to be a CSA member to participate.Ã‚ Bring your family and friends, too. I'll let you know when we have finalized a date.
- Seeds Ordered for our Summer Round of Veggies: Okra, southern peas, watermelon, muskmelon, summer and winter squash (12 varieties in all!), and cucumber seeds are all on their way to our doorstep. Will has already started planting the sweet corn. We take special care to ensure that all our seeds are organic or untreated which means we buy from some of the best seed producers around the country.Ã‚ We are also finishing up orders on this year's flowers- for beauty and pest control. Two kinds of Sunflowers, Zinnias, Cosmos and Alyssum.Ã‚ Opening the seed boxes as they arrive has been a true delight, it feels like aÃ‚ special occasion every time I see a new package arriving full of little, healthy seeds.
- A Permaculture Class Tour: On Saturday February 28th Dick Pierce, who teaches through Austin's Permaculture Guild, brought his current design class out to the farm for a tour. Brenton has been participating in this series of classes since he stared growing veggies on Holly Street (at the original Johnson's Backyard Garden).Ã‚ Mr. Pierce has utilized Brenton's farming activities (along with other area organic farmers) to illustrate aspects of sustainable design. If you're interested in taking the 10 week course contact the Austin Permaculture Guild.
- Amy Rinnger's Insights about Eggs: Recently a CSA member called with questions regarding small eggs she had been finding in her weekly order. I asked both Brenton and Amy Ringger about their thoughts on this subject. Here's what they had to say:
Amy has two batches of chickens that are currently producing eggs. One of the batches, Golden Sex-links, hatched around May 1, 2007. These are theÃ‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ chickens that are currently producing the large eggs. The other batch of Barred Rocks hatched around May 1, 2008.Ã‚ Chickens aged less than one year are known as pullets.Ã‚ Between the ages of 18 - 24 weeks most pullets will begin to lay eggs. They will be small at first but will get bigger and more uniform as the pullet matures.
Brenton also added that this does not mean the smaller eggs are in anyway inferior. Quite the opposite; the benefits of pullet eggs are clear to many chefs who see a noticeable difference in recipe performance with pullet eggs.Ã‚ Omelets have a lighter texture, ice cream is more luscious and many pastry chefs actually prefer pullet eggs. Consumers have been conditioned to think that "bigger is better" so they go for the large and extra large sizes in the supermarkets. These eggs are likely to be from older, adult hens and will be lower in quality than the smaller eggs from the adolescent pullet hens.
Ringger's will be retiring 500 Golden Sex-link hens this April/May. They will be replaced with a new batch of Production Reds.Ã‚ Amy asks that you contact their farm at 512-923-2053 if you are interested in either the retired 2 year old hens, which will continue to lay for some time, or for butchering your own stewing hens.
- Alert! Call to Action for Tecolote Farms: Please take the time to look over the following information that has been circulating around the Austin organic community recently.Ã‚ Our action as a community could really make the difference in the survival of Tecolote Farm, who have been experiencing some pretty grave water issues.Ã‚ This will be addressed at a Commissioner's Court meeting this Thursday at 1:30.Ã‚ Please take some time to join us there in support of David and Katy and voice your opinion to our local elected officials and keep our local food supply safe and protected. For more info on the farming water crisis in Central Texas check out the Austin Chronicle's November story on this subject....and there was also an in depth feature on Tecolote's water problems last July in the Chronicle.
Action Alert - Help Solve Tecolote Farm's Water Crisis
Tecolote Farm has been providing locally-grown, organic vegetables to the Austin area since 1993.Ã‚ It is a vital part of and gives much value to ourÃ‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ community.Ã‚ Recently they have suffered a water crisis.Ã‚ Water levels in Tecolote Farm's well dropped dramatically, and then went completely dry, soonÃ‚ Ã‚ after Travis County installed nearby high-production wells used to water recreation fields a few miles away.Ã‚ At first, Travis County officials indicated that if they had caused the problem, they would help fix it.Ã‚ Since that time, several highly-qualified hydrogeologists, including ones with extensive experience in studying and working with the local aquifer at issue have confirmed what Tecolote has always known:Ã‚ that the high-volume pumping by the County was at least a significant contributor if not a major cause of what has happened to Tecolote's water supply.There is some hope.Ã‚ This coming Thursday, March 5th, the Travis County Commissioner's Court will be considering whether to make good on the County's promise to help solve a problem that they (at least in part) created.Ã‚ There are a number of workable options that have been mentioned.Ã‚ However, we are still facing an uphill battle.Ã‚ This is where your participation is needed and we urge you to act via the following options:
Option 1. Email the Travis County Commissioner
Commissioner, Precinct 4Ã‚ - Margaret GÃƒ³mez - firstname.lastname@example.org - 854-9444Below is suggested text for such an email.Ã‚ Feel free to add to it by discussing your relationship with Tecolote or how important it is that our local governments support those within our community who produce local, healthy food, and that Travis County not contribute to the demise of Tecolote.
Please send an email very soon - preferably by this coming Monday (3/1) - but by no later than Wednesday (3/4), letting your County Commissioner (or all of the Commissioners including the County Judge) know how important it is to you that the County step up to the plate and help solve Tecolote's water crisis which they had a hand in causing.Ã‚ Please Email or Call Your County Commissioner Now. Below is a list of the names of the email addresses of the County Judge and the four Commissioners.Ã‚ Please send an email to your commissioner and cc the County Judge.Ã‚ If you don't know who your county commissioner is, just send the email to all of them.List of County Commissioners and their email addresses and telephone numbers:
County Judge - Samuel T. Biscoe - email@example.com - 854-9555
Commissioner, Precinct 1 - Ron Davis - firstname.lastname@example.org - 854-9111
Commissioner, Precinct 2 - Sarah Eckhardt - sarah.Eckhardt@co.travis.tx.us - 854-9222
Commissioner, Precinct 3 - Karen Huber - email@example.com - 854-9111
- Suggested text:Dear ___:I am a supporter of local, sustainable agricultural in Travis County.Ã‚ It has come to my attention that the Travis County Commissioners Court is considering action to assist Tecolote Farm solve its water crisis. I also understand that several scientists believe that recent heavy pumping by Travis County is at least a significant contributor to or cause of Tecolote Farm's recent crisis.
It is very important to me that Travis County does what it takes to assure that we keep the local farm and not contribute to its demise.
Option 2. Call Your County Commissioners
You may call your commissioner's office and let them know your views on this issue. See the list above.
Option 3. Attend Work Session/Show Support in Person
The meeting at which this issue will be considered is scheduled for Thursday, March 5, 2009, at 1:30 PM. The location will be: theÃ‚ Ã‚ Commissioners' Ã‚ Courtroom, 1st Floor of the Ned Granger Administration Building, 314 West 11th Street, Austin. Feel free to attend and show and voice your support inÃ‚ Ã‚ person.
Thank you in advance for getting involved in this important issue.
- People and their Food Consumed in One Week: This photo essay was sent to me from a friend in Seattle and I thought it was well worth sharing.
Japan: The Ukita family of Kodaira City
Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25
Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11
Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07
United States: The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week: $341.98
Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09
Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27
Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53
Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55
Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03
Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23
- Austin Organic Gardeners Club Annual Plant Sale. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 7. Vegetable, herb transplants, ornamentals. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road. 443-7187, www.austinorganicgardeners.org.
- Spring Plant Sale and Garden Festival.9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 7. Vegetables, herbs, plants and flowers for sale. Sunshine Gardens, 4814 Sunshine Drive. Free. www.sunshinecommunitygardens.org.
- A Passion for Plants: An East Austin Garden Fair.10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 21. At third annual fair, learn how to landscape with edible plants for you and the neighborhood wildlife. Free expert garden advice. Fun, educational activities for kids, including bugs, bugs and more bugs. Govalle Park, 5200 Bolm Road. Free. 854-9600.
4) Quotable Food:
- What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?Ã‚ ~Lin Yutang
- Broccoli Delight Salad, a family favorite from my mother
1 bunch broccoli, chopped 4-5 cups
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 lb. bacon, fried and crumbled
Above can be prepared and refrigerated overnight. When ready to serve mix the following and add:
1/2 cup mayo
Last add 1 cup sunflower seeds
- Carrot Cheddar Casserole, this is from one of my favorite recipe books More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. The book meets all of Grits requirements for a great cookbook (see January 27th's newsletter). It is a collection of recipes gathered by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources. My mother gave me this copy in 1978 as a gift. The cookbook has been updated a few times since then but I prefer the original, partly because it is stained with the remnants of years of cooking and has my hand writtten notes through out it.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine in a mixing bowl:
3 cups cooked mashed carrots (about 1 1/2 lb.)
3 eggs beaten
2 cups milk
1 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/3 cups crushed crackers (reserve 1/4 cup for topping)
2-3 T softened butter
1 1/3 t salt
1 T chopped parsley
Mix well. Turn into a greased casserole and sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Bake 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
- Deceptive Delicious : Mandy Denslow, who is currently on the waiting list for Johnson's Backyard Garden CSA, was concerned about how to get her kids eating all those fresh veggies that will soon arrive.Ã‚ So, she has passed along suggestions to help spike the interest of kids who may be a bit veggie shy.Ã‚ Here are two cookbooks she recommends.
Deceptive Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine
We would love to share your recipes, too! Please email your favorites to firstname.lastname@example.org
6) Vegetable Storage Tips:
We aim to grow and package our vegetables to maintain the highest taste and nutritional quality possible. However, once theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve left the farm itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s up to you to keep them fresh and nutritious. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no refrigeration at the CSA drop points so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best to pick up your box as early as possible. Here are some additional tips on how to store this weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s share:
Spinach, Kale, Chard, Lettuce, Salad Greens, Bok Choy, Braising Mix and Cooking Greens will stay fresh in the crisper for 4-7 days and should be kept in plastic bags. Any bunch greens can be freshened by cutting an inch of the bottom stalks and soaking the entire bunch in cold water for 10 minutes. Place in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few hours to revive.
Cabbage and Celery have a fridge life of up to two weeks. Wrap celery in plastic.
Broccoli will last 4-7 days in plastic bags in the crisper.
Oranges and Grapefruit are best kept at room temperature of 60-70 degrees and used within two weeks. Do not store in plastic bags.
Checkout our storage tips on our website for a more complete guide, and of course, feel free to contact us with any questions. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is your guide for how to can, freeze, dry, pickle or ferment just about anything.
7) JohnsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Backyard Garden Contact Info:
JohnsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Backyard Garden
9515 Hergotz Lane, Box E
Austin, TX 78742
Office Phone: 512.386.5273
Office Hours: M-F 8am to 12pm